Death of a spouse is a life-altering episode that is extremely difficult to overcome. The memories and pain continue to haunt you for a long time especially if it was a strong, long and beautiful relationship. But with time, as the grief ebbs, a woman feels the need to have a companion. The first relationship after being widowed requires delicate handling as there are a lot of complexities involved.
This is because even if you are ready, starting afresh romantically requires a whole new attitude and brings forth a new set of challenges. You need to be prepared for the anxiety and scare you might experience.
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First Relationship After Being Widowed- 18 Do’s And Don’ts
There is always that dilemma of how soon is it to start dating again after being widowed. The truth is – there is no fixed time. Some people might take months to get over their trauma, others might use a relationship as a crutch to get over their grief. So it is important not to judge yourself or let others judge you.
Whenever you decide to enter the dating arena, be sure of what you want from the relationship. As mentioned above, you alone can decide the fate of your life, and how soon you want to begin it depends entirely on your state of being. That said, here are some ways you can ease into your first relationship after being widowed.
1. Ask yourself if you have overcome the tragedy
Before embarking on any serious relationship, ensure that your grief period after losing a spouse is well and truly over. It would not be fair on the other person to get into a rebound relationship after death of a loved one.
The worst mistake you can make is to seek a replacement for the loss because you can’t stand the idea of being alone. This is how you end up making mistakes and regretting getting into a wrong relationship.
2. Realise if you are emotionally ready
You might be open to the idea of dating but are you emotionally ready to offer a commitment? If you are still haunted by the memories of your former partner, if small triggers upset you and you feel hesitant to get intimate with anyone else, it’s a sign that you are still not over your ex.
In this case, it might be worth your while to give yourself some time before entering a new relationship or at least plunging deeply into one. You should of course, be open to meeting people and seeking out companionship or at least enjoy a good, healthy friendship.
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3. Don’t feel guilty
First and foremost, remove guilt from your mind. Do not feel embarrassed about wanting to date again. When you go out with a new person and it ends up in you getting your first kiss after widowhood, the intimacy may definitely lead to some confusion within you.
You are probably getting the attention from a man other than your husband after a long time. This might even lead to sex and that would be a bold step to take initially but don’t get intimidated by the thought. Just go with the flow.
4. Deal with intimacy issues
Seeking intimacy after death of a spouse is a common problem among widows and widowers. In some instances, there is a bizarre sense of guilt – as if your former partner is ‘watching’ you – that prevents you from having sex.
At the other end of the spectrum, some widows and widowers seek sex without commitment, more as a means to release their pent up loneliness. This can be quite confusing to someone who seeks intimacy with a widow or widower as they might not really know where they stand in a relationship.
5. Decide to what extent you want to reveal yourself
Remember that the person you are now seeing is coming from a different space and place. When you enter your first relationship after being widowed, it is natural to unburden your pain onto him.
But it’s always best to approach this a bit carefully and take your time into revealing too much about yourself or your past. Decide beforehand what you want to share with him and what you would rather keep for later. You may open up slowly as you get more comfortable.
6. Take it slow
If there is one top advice for a woman entering her first relationship after being widowed, it is – go slow. Take your own time to build a comfort level. Let the decision about where you want to take it, be yours alone.
As we said before, there is no right time to start dating again after losing your spouse but once you do end up being in an exclusive relationship, take each step with a sense of self-awareness. You have undergone a severe tragedy and you would not want your past to overshadow your future. So give it time and let it breathe.
7. Communicate and be candid
Going into the dating arena can leave you with mixed emotions but if you find someone you connect with, do not hide your true emotions and vulnerabilities. Be honest with your potential partner and don’t give mixed signals.
It doesn’t mean you bare your heart at the first instance, just that you need to be honest about your intentions, fears and desires. This will help you develop your relationship in a healthy way. If you still feel for your late partner, tell him that and ask for time to get over it.
8. Consider the other person’s feelings too
Several times, a widow gets together with a widower and it might be a good match considering both have been through the same pain. Despite the advantages to such an alliance also be conscious of the relationship problems with a widower that may occur.
If both are ready to leave the past behind and start on something new, it has the potential to be a great relationship. But if both are coming with their own baggage of pain, it might not exactly give you the happiness you seek and deserve.
9. Prepare a plan for the children
If you are a widow with children or a widower with kids, be sure to engage them when you enter a relationship, lest there be complications later. Sometimes children can be quite testy and might object to their mother seeing a new man after the death of their father. So you have to know how to work on your relationship with stepchildren.
It would be best if you introduce your new love to them only after you are sure of yourself first. Let your children know about your loneliness and need for companionship. It will require a lot of maturity on your as well as your partner’s side to forge a bond with the kids.
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10. Work on your ex’s family
When you begin a new relationship after being widowed for a while, you might face some awkwardness from your ex spouse’s family. The fact that their former daughter-in-law can be with a new man can be a bit difficult to accept for your late husband’s immediate and extended family.
This is especially true if you all were rather close-knit. Depending on the depth of your relationship with them, try and get them to see your point of view. Assure them that they are not losing you because of your new relationship.
11. Let your friends meet your new man
It’s not just your children, you also need to consider your close friends and their reaction when you enter your first relationship after being widowed.
Initially, be prepared for some awkward moments as there might be people who knew you when you were together with your ex spouse.
It can even come as a surprise for your friends circle especially if they weren’t aware that you had started dating again. So it’s best that you gradually introduce your new beau to your friends and acquaintances. This will also help him feel secure and show that you are willing to move on truly.
12. Spend time together
As with any new relationship, when you start dating someone after a bereavement, you need to spend time with the person to judge him and his compatibility with you better. Go for a short break or travel with him.
If you both are okay with it, you should also take children along (assuming you have introduced him to them). This will help you decide whether his habits, lifestyle, mannerisms etc match yours in every away in case you see there is a possibility of a long-term commitment or even marriage.
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13. Never ever compare
It depends entirely on the relationship you shared with your late spouse but when you enter your first relationship after being widowed, stay away from the tendency to compare your current partner with your ex spouse.
Often, death of a person leads you to idolise him or her more and you may end up placing them on a pedestal. It may lead to unfair comparisons with the new person who deserves to be judged on his own. Comparisons can be the biggest drawback when it comes to developing a relationship after death.
14. Don’t let the past hinder your present
If you have attempted dating after a long time and have decided to cement your first relationship after being widowed, take special efforts to ensure that the shadow of your earlier marriage does not mar the new bond.
It can be reassuring to find a new partner who is sympathetic to your grief but talking too much about your ex or the moments you shared together in your past relationship can hamper your new relationship. Don’t spend your entire date talking about your past.
15. Be open to new connections and friendships
When you start dating again, you are not just meeting one person but several others through him. While in your former marriage, you and your spouse would have had common friends, you will make new ones in this new relationship.
Be open to forming fresh friendships, developing hobbies that you hadn’t thought of before and gaining new life experiences.
A committed, serious relationship is not formed with just one person but his entire circle comprising family, friends, colleagues etc. So don’t isolate your relationship from the larger picture because of your past.
16. Make your date feel special
It is easy to forget this rule when you enter a relationship after being widowed for some time but remember your potential new boyfriend deserves attention and care. Whatever be the real truth of your previous marriage, you would have been in a committed exclusive relationship until death cruelly broke the chain.
This might make it easy for you to forget to make your date feel special. Treat him in a way that he does not feel insecure by the ghosts of the past. Make him convinced that you have truly moved on and are willing to focus on him.
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17. Look after yourself
Grief can impact people in different ways. The depression caused by the death of a spouse can often lead you to neglect yourself, emotionally and physically. But to move on and build a new life, you need to take care of yourself.
Do whatever it takes – hit the gym, give yourself a makeover, do not feel guilty about the desire to look good and attractive again. These simple steps of self-love can lead you to perhaps discovering a new love. Invest in yourself and watch how your life changes.
18. Remember to give yourself another chance
Not all relationships end up in fairy tale. It can be possible that your first relationship after being widowed might end up in disappointment. He might not be the soul mate you were looking for after the death of your husband.
But let that not deter you from giving romance another chance. Treat it as a transition that you needed to heal from the pain of the past and get you ready for your real good relationship that will take you into the future.
A relationship after widowhood can work out beautifully if you are willing to give your love and energy to it. Yes, the dynamics might be slightly different from the past but the emotions remain the same so don’t allow any fear or guilt to come in the way to real happiness.
There is no fixed period as to when a widow or widower should start dating. The only rule that one can follow is to ensure that he or she is fully ready to start a new relationship and is not held back by the memories of the past.
You can start meeting new people either through friends or even dating apps. Be open to any method of dating so long as you can connect with a person and feel comfortable opening up to him.
Widowed means a person who has lost his spouse due to death. A widowed person may be single legally if he doesn’t marry again but if he enters a committed relationship, he or she would not be considered single.
If you are dating a widow, do not probe too much into the marriage or the cause of death of her spouse unless she is herself willing to talk about it.