Deciding to date after being widowed can be difficult. First, you must deal with the inevitable heartbreak, sadness, grief and anger you will naturally experience after losing your spouse. Those feelings may never fully dissipate but will gradually lessen over time. When making the decision to date, expect to deal with your own possible misgivings and guilt, as well as the questions and concerns of those close to you, such as your children, siblings, friends and in-laws. When you do decide to date, take it slow and have fun. Remember, the goal is to put a smile back on your face.
Give yourself time. Dating after being widowed is often more difficult than dating after divorce because there was no agreement to separate from your spouse. Give yourself ample time to mourn for your spouse, yourself, your loss and the drastic change in the future you envisioned. Dating before you've completed your mourning period will be uncomfortable and unsuccessful. Loved ones may try to urge you to become romantically social after a certain amount of time, but listen to your own inner guidance. You will know when you are ready.
Expect to feel a bit awkward. Depending on how long you were married, you may have been absent from the dating scene for a long time. You're older and wiser, but also less knowledgeable about how men and women connect. With social networking sites, casual physical relationships, online dating and speed dating, your mind might be whirling about how to simply meet a nice, normal person who wants to get to know you. Be patient with yourself and learn as you go.
Explain your situation. Make sure the person you're dating knows you're a widow. Let them know you need to take things slow because you're still healing. Feel free to talk about your spouse as much as you need to, but be careful not to turn your date into a psychiatrist or to compare them to your spouse.
Discuss your choice with your loved ones, especially your children. Depending on their age and how long their parent, or step-parent, has been deceased, they may not be ready for you to start dating again. Listen to their concerns and lovingly address them. Explain that this is ultimately your decision and no one you date could ever replace your spouse in their lives.
Expect to feel guilt. Widows and widowers often feel guilt when dating because they still feel married to and in love with their deceased spouse. This is perfectly normal and will subside over time. When the feelings arise, remind yourself that your spouse is gone, the love and life you shared together was an irreplaceable blessing and know that your spouse would want you to be happy. It might help to put yourself in your spouse's shoes, knowing you'd also want him to move on and enjoy the rest of his life.
Expect to be surprised. Although your spouse is gone and no relationship with another will compare to the one you shared, remember that love can sneak up and surprise you at any age. Lightening does strike twice in the same place.