It can be awkward to start dating again after the death of a spouse. It may cause the person dating again to feel guilty or betrayed. It might also elicit feelings of bewilderment and anxiety among friends, family, and others who knew the departed spouse well.
If you’ve just lost a spouse and are seeking to date again, here are 10 recommendations to help you navigate the dating seas successfully.
1. When you decide to date again is up to you
There isn’t a set amount of time that one should wait before dating again. Grief and the process of moving on are personal experiences for each person. Some people date for years, others for weeks, and still others never date again. Don’t let others tell you that you’re moving too quickly or waiting too long. Before you take that step, make sure it’s something you’re truly ready to try.
Five months after my late wife’s death, I began dating. Is it too soon? Some of my friends and relatives agreed with me. But after five months, I felt ready to at least try dating again. I have no regrets about dating that s, even though it took a few dates to get the swing of things.
2. Make sure you’re dating for the right reasons
Take some time to figure out why you want to date again if you feel the urge to do so. It’s perfectly acceptable to date when you’re lonely or want some company. People who are single date for the same reasons. However, if you’re dating with the hopes of filling the emptiness left by the loss of a marriage, it’s not going to work. Dating, on the other hand, allows you to open your heart to someone new and experience the unique and exquisite thrill that comes with falling in love again.
3. Feeling guilty is natural – at first
I felt like I was cheating on my late wife the first time I went out to supper with another woman. I was flooded with shame and betrayal as we walked into the restaurant. I kept gazing around the restaurant the entire time we were there, hoping to see if anyone I recognized was there. I assumed that if someone spotted me out with another woman, the first thing they’d do would be to hurry and inform my dead wife. It may sound foolish, but I couldn’t get rid of that feeling all evening. I went out with someone else a week later. The same sentiments of guilt were present, but they were not as strong. It took about five dates for the feeling to vanish completely, and I was able to enjoy the company of the woman I was dating without feeling guilty.
4. It’s okay to talk about the deceased spouse – just don’t overdo it
Unless you’ve been friends for a long time or have known your date before, your date will be naturally curious about your spouse and prior marriage. It’s also fine to bring up the subject of the spouse when you’re first dating someone. Answer any inquiries he or she may have about your marriage, but don’t talk about the dead or how happy you were. After all, your date is the one who is now present. And who knows, he or she could make you ecstatic for years to come. Talking about the past all the time may give the impression that you’re not ready to move on and start a new relationship. You may reassure your date that you’re ready to start a new relationship by demonstrating that you care enough to get to know them.
5. Your date is not a therapist
Would you want to go out with someone who was constantly complaining about her problems? Dating isn’t a form of treatment; it’s a chance to spend time with someone else and enjoy their company. Seek professional treatment if you find yourself dating only to chat about the sorrow in your heart, how much you miss your spouse, or difficult situations you’re going through. Spending $60 per hour on expert assistance is far more cost effective than spending $60 on dinner and a movie. Besides, your date will have a more memorable night if the focus is on him or her rather than on you and your problems.