Anyone who has lost a spouse to death knows how the healing process is mixed with many emotions. For many, the experience is like losing a part of one’s own identity. Providing dating advice for widowers is an especially delicate task because the widower’s feelings are often complicated. He wants to experience love and companionship, however still feels loyalty to his late wife. This is true for widows as well.
However when compared to widows, however, widowers appear to be much quicker to remarry. A timeframe identified in the 1930’s is still the accepted average today. From the time of the late wife’s death to the time of the widower’s next marriage, the average length of time is two-and-a-half years. I have witnessed this with my own clients.
Women, on the other hand, are more likely to work through their grief and wait for just the right relationship — assuming they decide to have one. As a matter of fact, the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that ten times as many widowers than widows over 65 remarry.
So what is good dating advice for widowers who are looking for a real relationship and not just a replacement to their dearly departed wives? Here are some guidelines from both experts and widowers themselves:
The dating process for widowers needs to start with self-honesty. Have you taken the time to grieve? Are you truly prepared to move on into a new relationship, understanding that your relationship of today won’t be just like your former one? Can you love a new woman for the person she is and not expect her to be just like your late wife?
- Embrace your grief.
The grief process has no timeline. And it isn’t a linear process. It’s different for everyone and is influenced by factors like how and why the death occurred. Was it old age? Was there a drawn-out terminal illness? Was there a tragic accident? This will determine your readiness for a new relationship.Caregivers who love their spouses through long terminal illnesses are often grieving along the way and are sometimes able to move on more quickly. Regardless of the circumstances, it is important that you don’t allow others to dictate how long your grieving should take and when it’s time to seek new love.What’s important is that you honor the process so you don’t complicate your new relationship with unfinished grief.
- Don’t try to replace your spouse.
There is a saying that “when there is a death in a marriage, women mourn, men replace.” No woman wants to feel like a replacement for the only woman you really loved.You don’t have to deny your love for your first wife in order to move on and love someone new. Every person is unique and worthy of love in his/her own right.Remember that we are all here to teach each other something essential, and relationships are all about reflecting one another. If you find yourself seeking a living model of your late spouse, it may be too soon to date.
- Polish up.
It’s easy to get stagnant in a marriage. You get so used to your comfort with one another that you stop thinking about trying to be attractive. And if you were caring for a sick spouse, your image and self-care may have become last on your list to consider.Since now that you’re considering to date again, it’s important that you think from the perspective of the woman you want to attract. Men rarely hesitate to describe all the physical attributes they want in a woman. Well, women want men to be attractive and fit, too!In this regard, dating advice for widowers is no different than dating advice for non-widowers. Care about how you present yourself and be the man the woman of your desires will be attracted to. Buy some new clothes. Strive to lose the excess weight you may have turned a blind eye to. You may want to seek help of an image consultant to update up your wardrobe and look.
Make it your goal to make a good impression. You’ll be surprised how good it makes you feel about yourself when you do this.
- Get involved in something new.
Join a social group. Take up a new hobby. Take a cooking or wine class. Go dancing if you don’t have two left feet! The point is to open yourself to new things and new people. Not only will you increase your chances of meeting interesting women, you will make yourself more interesting in the process.
- Be yourself.
Women are intuitive. They can tell when a man is being fake or letting his ego get the better of him. Just be genuine and honest. Vulnerability is a very attractive quality, especially when coupled with laughter.
- Know that feeling guilty is normal at the beginning.
Losing a spouse to death is unlike losing a spouse to divorce in that the separation isn’t a choice. It’s only natural to feel guilty and awkward when you start dating again — as if you’ve been caught cheating.If the budding relationship is healthy and happening at the right time, that feeling will naturally fade after a few dates. If you can’t shake the guilt, it may be too soon to start dating.Also, just as you would want your spouse to seek a new relationship if you were deceased, remind yourself that you wife would want you to be happy and want you to move on too!
- Don’t make your date your therapist.
Even though men are inclined to seek companionship as quickly as possible after the loss of a relationship, it is still your responsibility to do your own work.Of course you will talk about your late wife now and in the future. Remember, if your date is sitting across the table listening to stories about your marriage or your wife’s passing, you are missing the opportunity in the moment. And if she is repeatedly trying to make you feel better, then you probably still have some healing work to do. And, this wonderful woman may not accept a future date with you.
- Focus on her.
Be a gentleman. Show interest in her — her interests, hopes, dreams. If listening hasn’t been one of your stronger qualities, make it a point to learn how to listen with genuine interest.Experience this person as someone who is completely unique and not as someone auditioning for a role as a replacement for your dearly departed wife.
When I give dating advice for widowers, I always ask if they are looking for just companionship or a real, lasting and committed relationship. If they are looking for the real thing, I encourage them to take their time and figure out what they truly want at this stage of their life. And I work with them to achieve clarity on what they want in a woman, in a relationship…and for their whole life vision!