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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Dating over 60 – Profile interpretation

Profile interpretation can be a kaleidoscope view if you have no idea who your next best is going to be. Successful online dating can be accomplished with a basic outline of what you will tolerate and what melts your butter. If you are certain of age range, divorced/widow(er)/separated/other status, location, and height/body type, you have a solid start.

The following is an unscientific synopsis of profile categories:

Non-existent:     They have not written a damn thing. This individual is trying to be mysterious, hide something, is disinterested or lazy. You will have to guess who they are!

Family oriented:     This is an abbreviated version of ancestry.com. There are references to the ship manifest and the number of generations back their proud family heritage commences. It may also include where their offspring were educated and their whereabouts at the present time.

Work resume:     A profile of someone who is only and truly their “employment”.  Frequently this individual will utilize acronyms only the corporate division on the 36th floor of their ivory tower would be familiar with. (“I was the FEVP for the KMA in Intercourse, PA from 1980 to 1989”)

Really busy:     This individual will have multiple paragraphs of their weekly/monthly schedules which may include when they snowbird to Miami, dinner/babysitting with the grandbabies every Friday, canasta, hot yoga, water aerobics, massages, bingo, tailor appointments, dental cleanings, concerts, on and on and on.

Physically fit:     This profile includes and exhaustive list of their bicycle tours, gym schedule, spin classes, weight lifting, competitive swimming and lots of photos of their magnificent physiques.

Honest:     This is usually a summary of needing a place to land. They are either seeking someone to cook, clean and run to the pharmacy or an exchange of duty for a place to live. The jurisdiction of the remote control is negotiable. Favorite pastimes is watching television, going to the grocery store and doorbell pizza.

Romantic:     This may be a sexual soft porn under the guise of “romance”. There may be vivid descriptions of where they want to place their hands, pda, wrapping legs together on the couch, full disclosure of what they like to see you wear or not wear. Provocative and titillating photos may be included.

Heartbroken:     Words of grief for a deceased love of their life. Marriage or relationship tenure included, frequently with photos of the happy couple during much happier times.

World traveler:     Lots and lots of photos of themselves standing on top of the Rock of Gibraltar or in front of a pyramid. This may be professional or personal travel – info included in a lengthy description of being cosmopolitan, with a penchant for exotic cuisine. (pig lips)

Materialistic:     Look at my McMansion, motorcycle(s), breast enhancement, yacht, fishing boat(s), Rolex watch, swimming pool and deck, hot tub, outdoor kitchen, cabanas, diamond pinkie ring, Dodge Viper, Louboutin shoes, swim up bar, customized golf cart, cloned dog and wine collection!    

Your Next Prospective Love:     This magic profile will read as though the writer is whispering in your ear and that once-in-a-lifetime feeling of “they get me” encompasses over you.

It helps to have a plan for prevention of being overwhelmed with information. Relax – enjoy the magic carpet ride as though you were reading mini biographies. It is especially enjoyable if you have a high interest in every type of individual. It is a glorious cross reference of mankind and womankind.

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Dating over 60 – Profile photos

You’ve made the delicate decision to enter the infinite universe of internet dating. In preparation for your dating extravaganza debut, profile photos become your personal billboard. Usually, we don’t take a portfolio of photos of ourselves unless they appear the be the strained and twisted selfies.

Photos taken within recent months will provide a realistic replica of who you are. Action and activity provide a sense of your true persona. It doesn’t have to be jumping on a trampoline or swan diving off a diving board to prove how young you are. Laughing in the kitchen, posing near a historical landmark or Buc-ees statue, adjusting sails on your sailboat, serving food at a charity event, chasing your dog and typing the next great American novel will add interest. Next time you are lounging near a fire pit, ask your cousin to take your picture. Show who you are! Candid shots of putting your tractor away at sunset will create more buzz than a selfie taken in your lounge chair, wearing a wife-beater, watching television.

If you think the selfies you took in the bathroom mirror, toilet in the background, is your best shot – it is not. Is your dream date image one of Preparation H on the shelf behind you? This blog post is primarily directed to daters over 60 years of age. A photo found of you 8 years ago is obviously going to tell the viewer, it is an old photo. What do you think your first impression will be if your photo is dark brunette and you are now super silver? As Popeye used to say, “I Yam What I Yam & Dats What I Yam”! It is unrealistic to think your appearance haven’t changed since George W was in office!

It has been written; professional photographs are the most desirable. Professional photographs taken by someone brave enough to tell you, it isn’t a good idea to include your 25-year-old daughter, in a mini skirt, laying on a table, in a provocative pose, in front of you. Let the professional do their job.

Group shots with the office gang, church volunteers, family reunion, Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders, your seven sisters or brothers, all the grandchildren or your kids is a distraction. Your prospective sweetheart wants to see what you look like. It doesn’t help to label the image. He or she may think your co-worker is a lot better looking.

 Individual headshots and head to toe shots are best. If you were told in 1973, you look spectacular in a speedo or thong swimsuit, survey those unfamiliar with you before posting your recent shots. If you’ve paid to have a ton of surgery to enhance your looks, go for it. This is definitely a “confidence call” on your part.

Photos with your ex’s and deceased partners usually does not invoke sympathy unless this is your goal. You may not be prepared to jump into the dating pool until you are ready to share your time and life with someone new.

We are all beautiful and handsome. Evoke humor, engaging eye contact and confident body language during the next Kodak moment! There is someone out there for each person. Best wishes and “smile”!

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Dating over 60 – Interview or Interrogation

First dates and initial meetings can stress out the savviest dater. Text and telephone conversations are important in making the first impression a positive outcome. There is a fine line in crossing over into interrogation mode when trying to get to know someone. Innovative and engaging conversation should never feel like a job interview either.

Telephone conversations before the first meet and greet/date is a necessary step in determining if you may be compatible for any kind of relationship. If the candidate starts talking and doesn’t take a breath for 45 minutes, it may be a sign their favorite subject is themselves. Telephone conversations relay a wealth of information. You may be informed their number is a landline. In the current world, having a smart phone for anyone leaving their love nest, is almost a necessity. If you agree that your prospective love interest is just fine living in 1996 – be prepared to do anything technically specific to survive for them. An example would be ordering their “senior coffee” at the kiosk in McDonalds!   We all wish for the caller using a movie star voice, a comforting attitude and an enthusiastic welcome to share words with you.

You may be an experienced public speaker, but occupational theatrics may not be your best bet when making a love connection.  Your experience with outside sales spiels may make your clients roar with laughter during the 5-star lunch your corporate expense account is paying for. If you are the comedian in your bible study, gauge your new audience before delivering the punchline, “Jesus Christ, are you still in the bathroom”!

Consider the comfort of your date before shooting off closed-end questions, such as:

  • Where do you live?
  • How many kids do you have?
  • Do you work?

A one- or two-word response stops the conversation. Open-end questions will open a conversation for a response of more than a “yes” or “no” answer. Conversation starters allow an extension for showing interest without being invasive. Instead of:

  • Where do you live?     What is the best thing about living in WhereTheHellAmI, AL?
  • How many kids do you have?     How grand of a production is the holidays at your house?          
  • Do you work?     What interest keeps your heart happy during the week? Skydiving? Dating Coach? Map maker? Car jockey? Rocket scientist?  

If you feel like you are sitting in a tiny room with a bare light bulb burning above your head, tell Sargent Joe Friday to step back with the rapid fire of questions. You are under no obligation to disclose anything which makes you uncomfortable. A great response is to just stare back at your date with a smile on your face. State in a firm tone, “I’d rather not answer that.” You are the judge calculating if the question is innocent or digging for private and unjustifiable nobody’s business but your own!

The interviewer/date may start off with where they grew up, in a nuclear family of five in suburbia and hula hoop lessons all the way around. The information may bleed into the college and employment resume. If every single one of their work titles and positions is stated, take a deep breath and excuse yourself to wash your hands. You will be in a position to re-direct the conversation upon your return.

The expectation is that you release the elevator pitch of your “Wonder Years” to determine if there will be a second interview. Your 30 second announcement, 75 words or less can be as vague or as specific as you wish. You are in the driver’s seat when it is your turn. Inserting humor can lighten the direction of the banter into a natural flow of getting to know each other.

Be authentic and true to yourself. If the initial dialogue did not meet your expectation, you may have a humorous story to share later. Remember, it’s a date not a marriage commitment – at least not yet!

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Dating over 60 – Putting yourself out there

If your last date was in 1991, your nerves will get jangled just thinking about sitting across from someone summing you up like a new Silverado. Your bumpers and upholstery are being analyzed. It can bring someone with rock confidence to brain freeze.

You will have second thoughts and third ones too. Don’t overthink it. Put it in perspective.  Keep your expectations to a minimum. It isn’t a lifelong commitment – it’s a drink, a latte’ or dinner.  Keeping it simple will ease the process. It isn’t advisable to plan a twelve-hour extravaganza, a long-distance day drive or meeting the “family” for the first time out. Hearing about Cousin Eddie over calamari is a lot different than sitting across a booth from him in Denny’s or Starbucks!

Safety is your highest priority. Meet your date in a public place. Don’t let your perspective new friend strong arm you into a long-distance drive to the mountains or beach in their vehicle until you know who you are truly involved with. Being in their vehicle makes you a captured and captive victim if circumstances gun out of control. Keep your cell phone easily accessible for all happenstances.

It is a fact, those you meet while out and about will be more receptive to striking up a conversation. If you are a willing participant, meeting your future next partner may be a simple grocery store encounter. Marriages have evolved over asking the butcher what to do with a lamb shank. Personal interaction with grass mowing neighbors, home improvement customers, lingerie shoppers, waiting room hostages (the county appraisal office and car dealerships) and good-looking clients have yielded lifelong friendships. This does not require you to be “dressed for success” every time you leave the house. Tuxedos and chiffon evening gowns are not required for a conversation in the proctologist waiting room!

Depending on your sense of adventure, European river cruises, African safaris and visits to the Taj Mahal can open a plethora of cosmopolitan encounters. Unless they’ve won the trip on a game show, the means to afford it, desire for the experience and the ability to express the pros of eating escargot can be a plus. World travel provides more than the prospect of meeting a life partner. It amplifies your own sense of self.

A previous neighbor met his last 3 wives through his bible study class. Meetup, volunteering, Events & Adventures, fitness centers, Toastmasters, take a class – learn a foreign language for your next trip, eat at the bar or diner counter and present your confident self.   As with any venue, a common denominator does not always insure a sound and safe relationship. Follow your intuition. Balance all emotions. Gather as much info as possible without strategic interrogation tactics in play!

Dating over 60

After becoming a widow in my fifties, it took me a few years to determine I wasn’t dead. Stepping over the edge of an emotional cliff, I was urged by a friend to go “on a date”.

The gentleman who did the asking turned out to be a dreamboat. He was never the problem – I was. It was the weirdest experience- an out of body surreal head trip. The last date I had been on was in 1991. I didn’t even have a pager let alone a cell phone back then! There was inadequate dating resources. Friends, websites, documents, white papers, know- it -alls or words in the wind to travel on this new adventure appeared to be scarce. When I would locate an article for dating over the age of 60, it was as if a millennial was using an addlepated aunt as their focus for hooking up with a geezer for a quick sit in the nursing home garden. It was horrifying.

My friends were married – now I understand what the “black widow syndrone” is – which I’ll save that opinion for another post. Hitched people were unable to relate. When I’d ask for advice, they tried but it was out of their recent (like 40 years) area of expertise. They also couldn’t comprehend the present and previous grief that would have to transcend into a new life stage. When your hopes and dreams dissolve into dust instantaneously, you have to reinvent yourself. It isn’t a quick process or available for 2nd day Amazon Prime delivery.

So, I yanked up my big girl gutchies, pulled my shoulders back and dove head first into the deep end of the over 60 dating pool. The fears of being too old, wrinkled, opinionated and nervous were flying around me like a cloud of hungry bees. Being tenacious with the focus used in previous occupations to accomplish a project goal, I pushed forward.

Experience has taught me most people are kind and respectful. It is with extensive research, dates, occasions, interviews and encounters the following posts have influential basis. This is not everyone’s experience or guide. My personal advice is use your common sense and intuition. Stay safe and protective of who you are.

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