Dating, for a widower, can be an emotionally daunting step taken months or even years after his wife's death. While it is a difficult step, a 1996 study by the University of California in San Diego found that romances or marriage after a spouse's death correlated with better psychological well-being than remaining single. Men generally are able to re-enter the dating world faster than women, according to the study, with 61 percent of men but only 19 percent of women remarried or in a serious relationship 25 months after a spouse's death. Follow these steps to make the dating process easier, but remember that every situation is different, and don't hold yourself to a rigid set of standards when it comes to dating again.
Determine that you're ready to date again. There is no right or wrong time, so make reentering the dating world your decision. Ignore friends or family who tell you that it's "too soon" if you're ready. Similarly, don't let people push you back into dating if you don't feel ready. Consult with a therapist if you have conflicting feelings.
Join a local grief support group for other widowers. Not only will you benefit from hearing others' experiences of dating after a wife's death, but you also will widen your circle of friends so you are guaranteed to have an understanding ear when you begin dating again.
Decide how you want to meet potential dates. Internet dating sites such as eHarmony and Match.com provide detailed matchmaking criteria and cater to those seeking long-term relationships more than many other personals sites do. One site, widowsorwidowers.com, caters specifically those who have lost a spouse. If you don't care for Internet dating, join a class or group activity that interests you and where you are likely to meet single women with similar interests.
Brush up on dating etiquette. That relaxed level of familiarity you had with your wife might leave you forgetting the basics like opening the car door for your date. Be prepared to make mistakes and learn from them.
Talk about your deceased wife during the date. While your instinct might be to avoid the subject, you should feel free to share happy memories or answer your date's questions about your marriage. If your date is hostile to such reminiscences, this will only add to the guilt you may feel and will cause problems in the long run. At the same time, avoid monopolizing the conversation with talk of your wife, and avoid comparing your date to her.
Take things slowly, even if you feel that you're making a strong connection with your date. Don't allow your desire to replace lost companionship and intimacy to let you rush into a sexual relationship or marriage faster than you normally would.
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- Be prepared to defend your date from well-meaning friends and family. If they ignore her or treat her rudely, speak to them privately and ask them to change their behavior.