Dating tips for widows & widowers
As a widow or widower, being invited out on a date could be an aspect of being single that you dread rather than look forward to. This can be regardless how much your friends and family try to include you. If you’ve been used to having a partner at your side, it’s likely you’ll miss their companionship and feel out of place in mixed company.
With this in mind, there may come a time when you’ll want to actively seek out someone to share your life with again. Having had over fifteen years of experience helping widows and widowers return to the world of dating, we’ve built up some useful, tried and tested tips.
Read below for our top ten tips for widows and widowers wanting to date again:
1. Be sure you really want to do this
It may sound obvious, but give the idea some serious consideration before you actively start looking. If there was some sort of catalyst that brought you to this moment, what was it and are you sure this is not just a ‘knee jerk’ reaction?
Also, make sure it’s your decision. It may be that there are people close to you who think it would be a good idea for you to start dating. But this may not be the right move for you at this moment in time. This being the case, let them know you’ll consider this option when the time is right, but currently, you’re comfortable remaining single.
2. Be prepared to make the transition
Whether you’ve been widowed for three months or three years, try and imagine you’re about to go on a first date. Does the prospect of inviting some romance back into your life fill you with enthusiasm? Are you sufficiently healed to entertain thoughts of romance with someone new?
Accept that whoever might bring this romantic attachment is someone who could bring you happiness and contentment in their own way and not someone you should compare with your late partner.
3. Drop the ‘guilt complex’
It’s no surprise that widowed singles contemplating another relationship often suffer immense feelings of guilt. This is not to be ignored.
If you feel guilty about meeting new people, you probably won’t be putting your best foot forward. Talk to friends and family about these feelings and they may be able to allay any negative thoughts you’re having about dating again.
If you cast your mind back to when you were single, and how you felt about yourself and your identity then, it might help guide you to feeling more confident about the person you are now.
From her book ‘Second Firsts’, Christina Rasmussen states:
‘Grief opens your heart so you can undergo transformation. But it is up to you to take this expansion and spread it everywhere in your life. You must understand that while grief has opened up your heart, your brain will be telling you to hide and play it safe.’
When you feel ready, encourage yourself to rise to the occasion and be the person you are right now.
4. How will you meet people?
First of all you should explore the options open to you.
Niche dating sites will be useful if you’re looking for a particular kind of relationship. A site specifically for widows and widowers will put you in touch with others who will be most able to relate to your situation. Most dating sites and apps give you the opportunity to specify your status and describe what you’re looking for in a potential date.
Joining groups where there is a particular activity or interest is another method of meeting other single people.
Sometimes a good friend will know ‘just the right person’, and bring you together. This can be no more hit-and-miss than dating sites or meet-up groups and is worth consideration.
Whether you seek the help of friends or treat it as a private endeavour, follow what feels right in your heart.
5. Seek out those who can relate to your grief
Building friendships with other widows or widowers provides a greater chance you’ll relate to each other. From a romantic perspective, any widow or widower you decide to date will be more likely to understand if you want to take things slowly. There’s nothing worse than being under pressure in any area of a relationship.
In this scenario, you will both be experiencing a similar set of emotions as you get to know one another. This should help to ground the relationship in a deeper sense, and provide an understanding of each other’s feelings.
6. Looking for something more physical than emotional
If you’ve been missing the physical side of romance then you will need to understand this is probably the reason you’ve been thinking about finding a partner. This is nothing to feel awkward about as long as you don’t mislead any potential dates into thinking you’re looking for something more substantial. Having a good friend with whom you can share a healthy sex life, along with a sound platonic relationship, might be difficult to find but is certainly not impossible.
A sound friendship might progress into love for each other, if the connection is right. Ultimately, it’s important to be clear about what you’re looking for.
7. Personal information
Don’t give away too much in the way of personal information in your profile or on a first date. As a widow or widower you could be perceived to be vulnerable and until you properly start to get to know someone it’s best to keep the conversation lightweight and generalized. Keep things positive and upbeat and try to come over as self-assured as possible.
If someone shares a problem regarding money, it’s probably because they’re after some of yours!
8. Be the best version of you
This point cannot be overlooked. Having been widowed, you may feel a part of your identity is wrapped-up in your previous partner. Having said that, being the best version of you is about expanding the possibilities of who you are right now and being excited about what might be in store.
A new relationship could be a defining moment, bringing about positive improvements to your life and how you feel about yourself. Keep in mind that self-confidence is a defining quality – and it shows!
9. Approach your first date with an open mind
If this is your first experience of dating since losing your partner, it’s important to approach the whole event with an open mind. Have a few ‘conversation openers’ ready, and likewise a couple of ideas in case you want to abandon the date (for whatever reason). It’s easy to misjudge a person, so aim to keep initial subject matter light and relaxed in order to build rapport slowly.
It goes without saying you should let someone close to you know where you’re going and who you are meeting. This might sound a bit drastic, and in the majority of cases is completely unnecessary, but it’s better to play safe.
Don’t give up if things seem not to be going according to plan.
Seeking love after losing a partner can be an emotive time. Be sure in your heart you really want to do this, be ready to make this transition in your life and don’t feel guilty about moving on – you’re only human!
Decide whether or not you want to join an online dating site or perhaps try some other method of meeting new people. Connecting with other widows and widowers will probably make those first steps easier.
If a physical relationship is on your mind, that’s OK, but tread carefully. Be the best version of you and have an open mind about what to look for when a dating possibility comes your way.
The best things in life are worth waiting for and if you don’t meet that special someone straight away, keep trying. Our experience has shown that patience is definitely a virtue and taking your time will allow you to find a relationship, which is just right for you.
Founder of Widowsorwidowers.com. Writer/Blogger. Publications include Huff Post UK, Esme, High 50 and Living Better 50.