How to Date After the Death of a Spouse

The death of a spouse presents challenges that the death of a relationship does not, although both have the same result -- you are left alone.
A woman receiving a rose from her date in a restaurant.A woman receiving a rose from her date in a restaurant.
When you're still in love with your husband or wife, but that person is no longer there, you need to figure out how to eventually move on. You may feel anxiety about starting a new relationship, being intimate again or losing the memory of your spouse.

Intimacy Issues

Intimacy, both physical and emotional, may feel like a major stumbling block when dating after the death of a spouse.
Understanding that you can love again helps to minimize some of the stresses that you may feel when it comes to intimacy issues. This is likely to take time and the ability to mentally move on. Doing so doesn't mean that you forget about your departed spouse, but instead you're opening yourself up to finding someone new. It's OK if you aren't yet open to the idea of intimacy with a new partner. Perhaps finding a companion to share dinners or other activities (minus the intimacy) might be the choice that feels best to you right now.

New and Different

As time goes by and you feel ready to start dating, you may still feel unsettled about dating someone new.
Your new relationship is likely to feel different than your previous one. Remind yourself that your new date or partner isn't the same person as your spouse. Don't expect him to act the same, treat you in the same way or for you to have identical feelings for him. Allow your new relationship to take its own path and don't expect it to look like the one you had with your former spouse.

Jumping Back In

Aside from the emotional issues that come with letting go and moving on, it's common to experience some anxiety over dating again after what may be many years of being coupled.
It's normal to worry that you won't know how to meet a new partner or that you won't know how to act on a date. This feeling is magnified if it's been years or decades since you've had to date. If you're not sure how to meet someone new, and you're sure that you're ready to, ask a friend to fix you up. Get yourself out there socially, and start meeting new people. This doesn't mean that you have to go to a club or look for singles at a bar. Take it slow and try out places where you'll find someone who has mutual interests. For example, join your library's book club, take a class for adults in an area that you have an interest in or join an adults' social club at your religious institution. Another possibility is to opt for an online dating site.

Suddenly Sad

You've given yourself time, seen a therapist and feel ready to date.
You meet a woman and ask her out. Even though you like her, you suddenly feel sad and thoughts of your lost loved one flood in. It's normal to feel a renewed sense of loss in the face of a new relationship, according to licensed psychologist Suzanne Phillips on the PsychCentral website. Before you run from this new relationship, understand that these blue feelings don't always mean that you should put on the brakes. Instead, it's likely that these feelings are simply telling you that your spouse will always hold a special place in your heart. That said, you can turn the sadness around by thinking of happy memories and the fact that you'll make new -- and different -- ones in the future.

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About the Author

Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.