So, you’re dating a widower. He’s a little older and calmer and seems more ‘settled’ and sure of himself than a lot of other men you’ve been with. And yet, you’re still looking for signs a widower is serious about your relationship.
According to research, widows and widowers face a lot of issues, ranging from financial burdens to low self-esteem as a result of the stigma placed on widowhood. We’ll be honest with you. No matter how old you are or how much life you’ve lived, there are no easy answers when it comes to relationships. In fact, if you’re looking for 5 signs a widower is serious about your relationship, you might have even more of your work cut out for you.
Not to scare you off, but a widower has way more emotional baggage to work through than someone who’s never lost a partner or spouse. But, don’t lose heart. We’re here to dig deep and help you figure out 5 signs that a widower is serious about your relationship. To answer all your questions, we’ve turned to psychologist Ridhi Golechha (Masters in Psychology), who specializes in physical, mental, and emotional health counseling, for insights.
How Do You Know If A Widower Loves You?
For starters, is it even possible to have a serious relationship with a widower? Yes, it is. Ridhi explains, “It is a myth that you can fall in love only once. Humans can fall in love again. If he is consistent with you, shows up when you ask for help, and shares his intimate details with you, these are some of the sure-shot signs a widower is ready to move on.”
How to tell if anyone loves you is a pretty loaded question. After all, everyone has a different way of saying and showing how they feel about you. There’s no singular way to show love and commitment. Some people make grand romantic gestures, shower you with gifts and roses and then, after love-bombing you, might disappear.
And, others prefer smaller, more intimate gestures such as remembering your favorite flavor of popcorn when you go to the movies. Maybe they’ll let you pick the music during a road trip, or always text you to ensure you reached home safely. That’s not to say those making big gestures are always the sort who gaslight you later; it’s just that different people have different ways of showing affection and emotions.
The behavior of a widower could go a long way in telling you that he is slowly but surely becoming serious about you and wants to build a healthy relationship. Maybe he introduces you to his children, maybe he starts opening up to you more. Perhaps one day you’ll notice he’s got a photo of you in his wallet. You’ll have to look more carefully than usual, to figure out the 5 signs a widower is serious about your relationship.
5 Signs A Widower Is Serious About Your Relationship
A study found that people whose spouses had just died had a 66% increased chance of dying within the first three months of losing their life partner. This phenomenon is known as the ‘widowhood effect’.
Not only do old widowers grapple with such issues but the young ones do too. Losing someone you love takes a heavy toll on your physical and mental health. And giving your heart to someone after this trauma is extremely difficult. Ridhi explains, “When dating a young widower, many possible scenarios can play out:
- He is unsure about you because he feels no one can replace his deceased wife
- He is not very serious about you
- He is not ready for a commitment (therapy helps a lot in the case of commitment phobia)
- His children/other people in his life are preventing him from imagining a future with a new woman
So, dating a widower is no piece of cake. You’ll have to put in some work as well in order to build trust in the relationship and so on. Let’s look at 5 signs that a widower is serious about your relationship, and your hard work has paid off:
Related Reading: Top 9 Tips To Build Trust In Relationships
1. He’s open to talking about the future
This is a pretty basic tenet for any romantic relationship but more so when you’re dealing with a man who has loved and lost a partner. If you’re planning on marrying a widower and living in his house, do plenty of checks to make sure he’s on the same page as you are.
Ridhi points out, “To solve relationship problems with a widower, you should always be up for an open/honest conversation. Let them know what you’re looking for and what your ideas of intimacy are. Also, ask them about their fears about intimacy and how open they are to committing again.”
“I was dating a man who had lost his wife a year ago. I wasn’t the first person he had dated, and I thought he was getting serious about the relationship,” says Pamela, “He seemed genuinely interested in me and I thought we could make it work. But I soon realized that the minute I brought up the future, he would clam up and become vague. Maybe he just wasn’t ready, or maybe he just wanted a no-strings-attached relationship. Either way, it didn’t work out, because we wanted different things.”
Now, it’s true that any relationship hits a snag when you want different things. But with a widower, it’s possible he just doesn’t want anything serious because planning for the future terrifies him. He’s lost someone so close and so dear to him and they had plans for the future too. So, if he’s not talking about future vacations, moving in together and so on, or refuses to engage in that conversation at all, maybe it’s time to figure out how to move on.
There is a chance you could change his mind, and how wonderful if you could. But, don’t spend too much time on a man who doesn’t want the same things as you do. As someone once said, trying to change a man is like walking through molasses – a lot of effort for very little result.
2. He talks about his wife and grieving, but doesn’t let it affect your relationship
Ridhi emphasizes, “It is always okay to want to reconstruct ideas of love. For example, if your mom cooked for you, your idea of love would be associated with cooking for you partner or expecting them to cook for you. But if he is trying to reconstruct the same, ‘exact’ relationship that he had with his deceased wife, then your widower friend is a walking red flag.
“If he criticizes you and compares you with his late wife, then these are signs a widower is not ready to move on. Statements like “My late spouse was always available for me and took care of me but you don’t” are signs that a widower is still in his grieving process and not emotionally equipped to make new memories.
One of the 5 signs a widower is serious about your relationship is that while he remembers his wife with affection, he’s not so hung up on his grief and loss that he is unable to form a healthy attachment to you and your relationship. There’s respect and love for the partner he had, but he’s genuinely ready to share his heart and his hearth with you.
Mind you, if he’s constantly saying nasty things about his wife, that’s definitely a relationship red flag. Sure, on the surface, we like to hear some rude things about a partner’s ex, but to run down a woman who is no more doesn’t sound like the kind of man you’d want to be with long term.
How long does it take a widower to fall in love is a tricky question. On your end, respect that he has memories and maybe children that he shared with another woman. Remember that somewhere, a piece of her will forever remain in his heart. Maybe he can only give you his whole self, bit by bit with time. But you can see real effort on his part to love you the way you deserve. When a widower talks about his late wife:
- Pay attention to what he says, how he says it, and how often he brings her up
- Be gentle and give him time; dating may be new/alien to him
- Don’t pressure him to do anything he might not be ready for
- Maybe encourage individual and couples counseling if you think it is needed
Remember, there’s no harm in talking to a professional to work your way through what could be a challenging time and relationship for both of you. And, if professional help is what you seek, remember, Bonobology’s panel of experienced therapists is just a click away.
3. He introduces you to his family
“I’ve been dating a widower for over a year now,” says Charlie, “We met on a dating app, and while we did hit it off instantly, he was a little wary of getting too involved. He had lost his partner after a prolonged illness and wanted to focus on being there for their two young daughters. He’s not one for grand gestures; again, I think he fears that over-the-top love might not last and he’ll be left alone again. But his daughters mean everything to him and I knew that if he included me in their lives, it meant he was serious about me.”
Related Reading: 21 Dos And Don’ts When Dating A Widower
It took nearly a year, but finally, Charlie was introduced to the two daughters. “We met for lunch. I remember quaking in my shoes because I was convinced they wouldn’t like me. They were old enough to remember their mum, and no child takes kindly to another person in their sole remaining parent’s life,” Charlie remembers.
As it turned out, the two little girls cautiously warmed up to Charlie. A few months later, they all went on vacation together, and it was then that Charlie knew her partner was serious about the relationship. “We’ve been together three years now. We’re not thinking about marriage but we know the future belongs to us, together, all of us. I’ve stopped feeling insecure in the relationship,” she smiles.
How do you know if a widower loves you? Ridhi answers, “After a relationship has reached a serious stage, a widower should be able to introduce you to people who are important to him. His children, his close friends, and so on.” The widower’s behavior in love is that of a man ready to move on and risk his heart. He’ll be eager to include you in all his life activities and connections, once he has taken his own sweet time and once he trusts you enough. No halfway measures here.
4. He’s genuinely interested in your life
It’s easy for a widower to be completely wrapped up in himself. His grief, his loss, and if he has children and is raising them alone, he can be impervious to anything outside of his immediate responsibilities and orbit. Now, there’s nothing wrong with a widower being focused on himself and his kids, of course. This doesn’t mean you’re dating a narcissist.
But if you’re after a long-term, loving relationship or if you’re looking at marrying a widower and living in his house, you need to make sure he’s ready to invest in you, in all of the complex multitudes within you. Ridhi says, “If he truly cares about your feelings and makes gestures like giving you extra time even when he’s struggling with time, it means he is ready for a serious relationship”.
“I dated a widower who turned out to only want a nurse for his ailing mother,” says Miley. “I would understand if he wanted a partner to help him take care of her, but he didn’t want to do anything, yet expected me to be a caregiver within three months of us dating. He wasn’t interested in me as a person or as a partner.”
In any relationship, it’s important that you be recognized and accepted for who you are, for all that you are. If you’re dating a widower, you need to be extra cautious that he’s not expecting you to be just like his former partner, or merely someone who can raise his children or be the ideal daughter-in-law. Watch a widower’s behavior if you’re with one:
- Does he ask about your day?
- Is he interested in your hobbies, your work, and what you want out of a relationship?
- Does he want to know you as a person, or is he only looking to see how neatly you’ll fit into his already orderly life?
5. His actions speak at least as loud as his words
Sounds pretty basic, doesn’t it? Of course, we all know that words, while very important, can simply be pretty empty vessels devoid of true emotion. It’s the actions that really matter, the little things, the big things that they do. The times they go out of their way to make you happy and take care of you. That’s definitely one of the 5 signs a widower is serious about your relationship.
“I was in my 40s, and I’d been seeing a widower for a few months. He was in his 50s, and I did find him a little set in his ways, so I really wasn’t sure where things were headed. He was always telling me he genuinely wanted me in his life, but still, I was dithering,” says Jasmine.
And then, something happened that had her making up her mind almost immediately. “I had to go to the gynecologist and I hate going to the doctor alone. I was telling him that the day before that I was a little scared and I had what is called white-coat anxiety, which comes on whenever a doctor is about to examine you,” Jasmine remembers.
Related Reading: Does He Love Me? 10 Signs To Tell You That He Loves You
The next day, he was waiting outside her house to take her to the appointment. “I’m pretty certain he’d never accompanied anyone to a gynecologist. He really seemed like the sort who would cringe at the word ‘uterus’. But he drove me to my appointment, came into the doctor’s office, and didn’t bat an eyelid. Afterward, he bought me an ice cream because that’s what he always got for his son after a doctor’s visit. That’s when I knew,” says Jasmine.
How long does it take a widower to fall in love? Well, there’s no time limit as such for finding true love. In many cases, it might take longer than other relationships, because, again, there’s a deeper, more complex past that could keep coming back to haunt the present and your future together.
Red Flags When Dating A Widower
Things can get really complex if you have lost someone too. Ridhi Golechha explains, “Trauma bonding is when you both have gone through similar traumatic childhood experiences/dysfunctional relationships in the past. You end up attracting the same kind of relationship.
In such a relationship, the passion/intimacy is very high and the sex is pretty great. But the emotional connection is weak as a traumatic bond is all about pleasing the other person.” That being said, let’s look at some of the sure-shot red flags when dating a widower:
- He is not telling other people about your relationship and keeping you as a dirty little secret
- He keeps comparing you to his late wife and asks you to behave/dress like her
- You constantly find yourself trying to fill someone else’s shoes and are never able to win against a memory
- He has taken his own sweet time to deal with the sorrow but is still not able to imagine a future with you
- You feel like you always have to force him to admit his love for you
- He doesn’t share any emotional intimacy with you and treats you like a rebound, to meet his physical needs
- When dating a widower, make sure you have open and honest conversations with him regarding the future of the relationship
- Relationship problems with a widower can arise if he keeps comparing you to his late wife
- Falling in love with a widowed man will require you to be patient and empathetic
- If he shows genuine interest in your life, he may be genuinely invested in you
It’s prudent to remind yourself that if his grieving and the loss keep overshadowing his feelings for you, falling in love with a widowed man could turn into an exhausting relationship. In this case, even if he is falling in love with you, his past will keep intruding, to the point where he cannot acknowledge or accept his feelings for you. End the relationship in this case – remember, no relationship is worth losing your peace of mind and dignity.
But hopefully, your widower is open to new love, ready to move on, and loves you for exactly who you are. When a widower talks about his late wife, we hope it is with fondness, a little sadness, and affection, but without it interfering with the connection he shares with you, otherwise, you could be looking down the barrel of a potentially toxic relationship. Don’t rush his affections, physical or emotional, allow him his space to make peace with his past and grow together in love, while respecting each other’s memories and sharing your vision of the future.
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