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Things You Should Know About Dating a Widow or Widower

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Dating never feels easy. People have messy lives and messy feelings, and even in a traditional dating relationship, challenges arise. Yet what if you’re in a non-traditional dating relationship?

If you’re dating a widow or widower, you’ll have some unique situations that don’t always happen when you’re dating someone who hasn’t been married before. Yet just because it won’t be easy doesn’t mean it can’t work. If you care about that person, then there are definitely ways to move through those challenges and build a loving relationship together. Here are some things to be aware of if you’re dating someone who’s lost a spouse.

Take it Slow

Getting to know someone new takes a long time. Especially if they were married for a while, it can be hard to feel the same way about someone else. Pressuring them to feel as strongly as you do may make them feel like there’s something wrong with them as they try to open up again.

Pull out all the stops on your patience skills. If you’ve found someone you really could see yourself staying with for a long time, then they are absolutely worth the wait. Spend time getting to know them and waiting for them to open up to you.

Maybe you’re the one looking for love again after the death of a loved one? Check out Promenad, a great place for singles to meet.

Don’t Ask Too Many Questions When Dating a Widow

One approach to dating a widow or widower is don’t asking a lot of questions about their deceased spouse. You want to try to be understanding and welcome conversations if they want to talk about it. Yet you should also be careful about asking too many questions. Sometimes they won’t be ready to talk about it or open up about those precious memories. Losing the one you love means that those memories become even more special, and sharing them with someone else can make them seem less personal or less magical.

Check with your partner about whether they want to share. Make sure they know that you won’t be offended if they choose not to share, and that you aren’t expecting anything.

Talk With Someone

It can help to take a class or talk to a therapist to help you find the right approach to having a relationship with a widower. A counselor can help explain the stages of grief if you’ve never heard them before. They can help you identify which stage your partner may be in.

Your therapist can help you process your new relationship, and they may even be able to recommend ideas for being supportive of your partner. Sometimes all it takes is an outside perspective and a listening ear, so a counselor can be a great resource.

If your therapist can’t help you out on your own, they may suggest bringing your partner in to help you talk through the situation. Getting a professional to help navigate some awkward conversations can be helpful.

The most important thing is to approach every new circumstance with sympathy. Be conscious that it’s awkward or difficult and move through it together.

Navigate New Territory With Grace

Does your partner still see their deceased spouse’s family? Are they especially close to them? Is your partner still displaying photos of their deceased spouse throughout the house? If that makes you uncomfortable, sit with that feeling for a little bit. See if you can figure out why it makes you uncomfortable.

Then decide whether to approach that with them. Sometimes you need to be understanding, and sometimes you may want to bring something up if it’s an issue.

Be Analytical

There is no straight answer to when should a widower start dating again. If you’re dating a recent widow or widower, there’s always a chance that it could be too soon. If you feel it’s too soon, but they don’t, then have a kind conversation about it. They could be looking for a rebound without knowing it, and you could get hurt if you’re that rebound.

Even subconsciously, they could be looking for someone to fill that void left by their spouse. You’ll never be what they’re looking for because you aren’t the same person. It’s too much pressure on you to try and be what they need.

Before someone can be ready to date again, they have to make it through the emotional labor of grief. One of the warning signs is that they constantly compare you to their deceased spouse. They may also talk about the death a lot, trying to process it. These are parts of the grieving process, and they may not be ready yet for a new relationship. If that’s the case, you need to get out while you can. These situations can become pathological or obsessive, and while it can be treated, you shouldn’t have to go through that with them.

Be Kind

Does the widow or widower you’re dating have children? If you’re coming to a situation where there are more people involved than just your partner, it can be a challenge. Those children may feel resentful, or they may not be ready to meet you. Take a gentle approach, and discuss it with your partner. While more serious relationships will eventually warrant a meeting, it can be better to wait for that meeting a little longer than with other more traditional dating relationships.

Be as kind as you can. Every situation is tough when experiencing a loss, and often there is no standard of behavior or rule about how to act.

Be prepared to be excluded, especially if there is a tradition or regular activity that used to include their deceased relative. Don’t force yourself into the party. Sometimes it’s okay to be on the outside.

Non-Traditional Love

If you’re dating a widow or widower, you’re dealing with a new situation for both of you. Using the tips above, you can successfully navigate the difficult or sad times.

Remember to take it slow and be kind, using as much grace as you can muster to get through each new situation that arises.

Ready to start dating again after the loss of a spouse? Read online magazine about dating and try the Promenad!

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