Dating Tips For The Widowed

Dating Tips for the widowed

If you’re coming to dating following the loss of a partner, you may have a number of questions and worries.  Below, we’ve collected together some of the most useful advice we’ve read about dating following a bereavement.

1. There are no rules

Arguably the most important advice is that there are no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ ways to go about dating following a bereavement – because we are all different, and we all process grief in different ways.  Listen to yourself, chat to close friends or family, and make decisions which are right for you, in the moment.  If you change your mind about something, or something changes and you find yourself feeling different, that’s absolutely fine.  This is your life, and no one else is living in your shoes.

2. Take your time

That said, there are some pieces of advice which you might find useful.  For a start, try to pace yourself, and not rush into anything.  Following such a dramatic life change it can be easy to make rash decisions, partly as a distraction.  Ease yourself into the dating process, and make sure you are ready to start the process of looking for a partner again.  Be honest with yourself about how you are feeling and what your expectations are.

3. Don’t try to replace your partner

One of the things widows and widowers who have gone through this process talk about is trying to replace their partner.  Try to be honest with yourself, and recognise if you are simply trying to fill the void.  While people often have a ‘type’ of person that they are attracted to, be careful that you are not actively seeking out people who resemble your husband or wife.  Sometimes the most healthy thing can be to meet someone who is very different, so that you draw less comparisons.

4. Look for the right type of relationship

The other thing to keep an eye out for is trying to step back into the same relationship you had.  The sad reality is that it’s not possible, and even if you meet someone quickly after your bereavement, it’s likely to take a long time to find the level of friendship and companionship you had with your partner.  Be honest with yourself and others about what kind of relationship you need right now.  You don’t need to search for something heavily committed right away.  Companionship, or a more casual romantic relationship might be simpler options while you are healing.

5. Remember who you are

Many widows and widowers comment that they felt like they lost a part of themselves when their partner died.  And it can take some time to remember exactly who you were before your bereavement.  Take some time to process who you are as a single person.  What do you enjoy doing?  What hobbies make you feel like ‘you’.  Spend some time focussing on yourself.  

6. Feeling guilty is normal

If you start dating again after a bereavement, it’s likely that there will be times when you feel guilty.  At first you may feel you’re being unfaithful to your husband or wife.  Later on you may find yourself forgetting your grief, and then feel guilty that you are forgetting your partner.  These feelings are perfectly normal and you aren’t doing anything wrong.

7. Be honest but don’t overshare

Something widows and widowers often worry about is when to mention their relationship status.  The simple answer is that there is no right or wrong time.  If a dating site allows you to define your relationship status as ‘widow’ or ‘widower’, then this might be the simplest way to make others aware.  Alternatively you may wish to wait a few dates before telling someone.  Something to bear in in mind is not talking too much about your partner in the early stages.  Try not to use dates as therapy.  If you find yourself talking too much about your husband or wife, then you might not be ready to date and might need to talk to someone who knows you better instead.

8. Avoid dating as a distraction

We all date for different reasons, and while loneliness can be a valid reason to search for a romantic partner, try not to use the dating process as a distraction from your grief.  The reality is that you need to grieve properly, and come to terms with your loss.  Be fair to yourself, and to the people you are dating.  It’s not fair to use others as a distraction.

9. Consider dating other widows and widowers

You may find you gravitate to other people who have suffered a similar loss.  Depending on how long ago you were both widowed, you may find this an easier option, because the other person understands your feelings of guilt, and is going through a similar process.  

10. Try not to draw comparisons

When you get back into dating, and begin meeting new people, try not to automatically compare them to your partner.  I know it might be easier said than done, but try to appreciate each new person on their own merits.

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