Although you may initially feel like you couldn’t possibly experience romance again, once you’ve had time to grieve, reflect and adjust to what’s happened, many people in your situation begin to think about dating after bereavement. Often, single widows and widowers can feel guilty about these new feelings, but our dating experts agree that nobody should feel they aren’t allowed to love again, or that they’d be betraying their spouse’s memory if they did. We want our users to know how they can make dating after the loss of a partner work for them, so visit our page for more information on widower / widow dating, including how to decide you’re ready to move on.
There’s also tips on what you should do once you begin dating again, so definitely check it out. For now, our dating experts talk more about what to consider once you feel like dating after bereavement:
Timing is everything: the grieving process can take anywhere between 18 months to 2 years on average, but if your partner died after a long-term illness you may have begun grieving before they passed away. It’s different for everyone so you shouldn’t give yourself a strict timeline, but remember that if you feel ready 1 year or 10 years after you become a widow or widower, then that’s what’s right for you.
Choose dates carefully: once you dip your toes into the dating pool it’s essential to make sure you pick your date, and date location, carefully. That’s why online dating works well for widows and widowers dating for the first time, as you can chat to your potential date beforehand and decide in comfort whether they’re going to be what you want. It also helps you to mutually pick a place that isn’t going to hold upsetting memories for you.
Do confidence building exercises: one thing many people don’t consider is that when you’re a widow or widower, you may have been married for a long time. And that means you probably haven’t dated in even longer, so why not do some confidence exercises to calm any pre-date jitters. You know what works for you: smiling in the mirror, reading your favourite quotes, trying out a new joke at work, running round the block – go ahead and get prepared, so you can walk into your date with confidence in your appearance and personality.
If it’s not right yet, that’s fine: remember, the timings aren’t the same for everyone and you may discover that you’re not ready to date again yet after a few encounters or even later. If it’s a casual thing, then thank them for their company and exit the situation gracefully. If it’s become more serious, have a chat with your date and tell them you’re not quite ready to take the plunge. You never know – you could gain a new friend from it, or at least someone who’s willing to wait with you until you want to try dating again!
It’s your decision: well-meaning friends and family may try and set you up, especially if you’ve been a single widow or widower for a long time. While that’s nice, if you’re not ready for it or feel you don’t need their help, then tell them! They’re doing it out of kindness (if misplaced!) and should respect your decision if you’d like to be single for a while longer.
Build up emotional confidence: as with the physical confidence exercises we mentioned above, it’s important to make sure you’re emotionally confident, too. That’s because losing a spouse is one of the hardest things we can experience,and along with feelings of guilt you may even feel resentment or abandonment. We understand those feelings, and that they can translate into hurt at the slightest rejection. Spend time with loved ones to emotionally rejuvenate and prepare yourself for any possible small hurts that may come your way with dating after bereavement.
Above all, we want to reassure you that there should be no pressure involved in dating after you’ve lost your spouse. When you’re a widower or widow, dating might be another thing to worry about, but it shouldn’t be like that. Dating should be fun! Once you’re confident that you want to try again, take a deep breath and try it out – your way, on your terms, and make dating after bereavement work for you.