Dating a widow/widower

I wish there had been a post/article like this when I became a widow. There may have been one crawl across my screen – I may not have been ready to comprehend it. Experience with dating as a widow has a different perspective, seven years later. “Experience” is the key word. Widowhood requires a reinvention of who you are – who you are going to become and what do you want. When you lose your spouse – you also lose your future. Dating is part of your personal reinvention.

I did not consider any dating for over 3 and a half years after my husband passed away. It never entered my hemisphere. Everyone has a different timetable. Dating is a major decision. Without getting into the psychological process of grieving, the experiences of others have become enlightenment as well as confusion within the dating arena.

Dating a widow/widower can present a weird ass set of circumstances. From a widow’s point of view, you are asked about your previous marital status. If your date is divorced and proclaims he’d shit in his ex’s designer purse the next time he sees her – it may be difficult for them to hear you had a perfect fairy tale, long term marriage. Let’s face it, deceased spouses are sometimes put on a pedestal. To be clear, some are not.

I know a widow married for 42 years to an emotionally abusive man. Because of a cultural, religious upbringing, she would not divorce him. She patiently waited for nature to end her nightmare. She is now married to the love of her life, at the age of 70. She now realizes what her life could have been.

Another brief encounter with a widow of 4 months, shocked me as to how ecstatically happy she was to be free to visit her adult son and grandchild in another state. Her deceased husband forbid her to travel. She had never held the remote control in their living room in over 32 years. She hadn’t seen her adult child in 8 years or met her grandson. This woman was shopping for a new wardrobe and a complete set of Estee Lauder in celebration of being free.  

You can proclaim you have “no baggage” but we all do. The most confident of widower men have told me how ready they are to be in love again. Meanwhile, they talk about their dead spouse like they are there stirring my coffee. “Alice always says a vacation is good for the soul”! I thought “Alice” was the third wheel at our dinner date. “Their home” has photos of “Alice” prominently displayed. There’s no problem with a family portrait in the hallway but the formal portrait adorning the fireplace is quite the competition with an elegantly coutured ghost. Her monogrammed back scrubber (which matches his) is still in the master shower. Her “fuckin’ duck” collection is scattered throughout the kitchen. He is quick to point out, “Alice” collected ducks!

Guys, guys, guys – I don’t want to date you and “Alice”! When “Alice” is the primary character within your conversation, it tells me there hasn’t been enough time between your wife’s death and the present. As difficult as it is to do things alone, experiencing new events – watching a new movie, reading a book, skiing, mixology, riding a motorcycle, swimming nude will present subjects of interest other than “Alice’s” penchant for sleeping on the left side of the bed. I’d rather hear your opinion on politics, sex and religion!

Then, there’s the “quick draw” widower! This one is on the move for an immediate replacement wife. After a casual introduction, they want to show you their assets – big ass house, speed boat, crotch rocket motorcycles, a set of matching jet-ski’s, state of the art gym equipment and sparkling Wolf appliances! It makes you feel like a speechless mannequin, not being able to get a word in edgewise. This is a perfect mode of operation – they don’t care if you have an opinion as long as you know how to cook and pick up their dry cleaning and prescriptions. During the tour of their home, they point out where you can park your Jeep and how much closet space, they will allot to you! This type doesn’t even give you the opportunity to quietly state you have absolutely no intention of moving in after the third date.

You may find a widowed sweetheart who thrives on being sympathetic, constantly reviewing memories of their previous partner.  Obviously, if there are young children involved, losing their mother/father is a heartache which never fully heals. This would present a distinctive set of circumstances.

My viewpoint is one from an over 60 widow with adult, independent children. My previous marriage was all my dreams come true. It has nothing to do with any new relationship. Our experiences are our own. A comparison is unfair. I did have a few silent meltdowns along the way when a new relationship said or did something unfamiliar to my usual expectations. I had to learn the necessary coping mechanisms by diving into the deep end. You will encounter those who are not as understanding, patient or kind. That’s why they call it “dating”!

Depending on how long you have been single, time will change who you are as an individual. You will no longer be the half of the previous whole. I call it “coming back to yourself as an individual”. Person standing on top of a mountainYour deceased spouse/relationship is a part of your history. It is important to show respect and appreciation for the newby sitting in front of you. Consideration for their feelings is the priority of the moment. It is their turn. Make it new.

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