I have been hesitant to write about this for a very long time, but after speaking to a widow who is in the early stages of her journey, I thought this might be helpful.
I began dating about a year after Howie died. I didn’t know if I was quite ready, but a friend told me about a guy who was “perfect for me” and she was hoping I would go out with him before someone else “scooped him up”.
The first words he said to me when we spoke on the phone were “So, I hear I’m your guinea pig”. It was a great opening line and, when we both laughed, I had hopes that the date would be a good one. It was. We dated casually for a couple of months. All in all, a great first experience.
After that, I went on a few dates that didn’t amount to anything, and a few that turned into minor relationships. One of them was a widower whose story was similar to mine, but it just didn’t work out.
I eventually met a guy on my own (no dating sites, not a set-up) who I assumed would be another short-term thing. Great guy, but for many reasons I did not think he was someone I saw as long-term.
Long story short, we dated on and off for about two years. Eventually, instead of seeing the reasons why he wasn’t good for me, I began to see the reasons why he was. I just wasn’t fully ready earlier. We have been happily in a committed relationship for the past three years. He has brightened my world.
Being a widow/widower in a relationship is a lot different being divorced or never married. Everyone has their baggage, but a widow has a whole different set:
- Timing – is it too early to date? Or have I waited too long? There is no right answer to this. Everyone should date when they are ready, and not listen to anyone who tries to judge.
- Kids – this is a two-parter:
- Worry – we worry that our kids will feel like we are trying to replace their dad, and how they will be affected by our dating.
- Time – we don’t have any. There are no every other weekends and nights during the week that we have to ourselves. Depending on the age of our kids, it can be extremely difficult to begin a relationship like this.
- Spouse’s Family – yes I know – they should understand that we need to move forward. If we are lucky (I am), they do, but we cannot help but feel sad for them to witness this.
- Friends – our new relationship is with a whole new person. This changes things, but that can sometimes leave us feeling, “where do I fit now?”.
- Your Home/Sleepovers – this situation can be weird, especially when kids are involved. It just is.
- Sleeping Out – I refer you back to #2 section 2 – we always have our kids.
- GUILT – this encompasses everything. We feel guilt in all we do. We survive while ours spouses do not. There is A LOT that comes with this – it can affect every aspect of our lives. Kids, family, work, friends – it is just there all the time.
I am lucky that I met a very understanding guy. This is not to say we don’t have issues when it comes to my life – we do, but we are able to work them out.
I am sure that many people judge widows when it comes to our navigation into the world of dating and relationships, no matter what decisions we make. That’s ok. Those who aren’t in our position are lucky but, having never been there, they can never understand it.
Widows are all different and so are our paths. Some choose to date and maybe even marry right away, some choose to not date for years, and there are a lot of scenarios in between.
We all do what feels right for us and our own situations but we all hope for a bright future.