For those who have experienced the loss of a partner, deciding to start dating again can be a very challenging experience. Many widows and widowers find that it’s of great comfort to start dating by meeting other singles who find themselves in a similar situation; singles who can relate to the loss of a partner and can empathise with the difficulties of moving on. If you feel you’re ready to find companionship and connection, register for EliteSingles’ Widow Dating today.
Finding love after loss
Moving on from losing a partner can be one of the hardest things you’ll ever have to do. As psychotherapist Hilda Burke explains everyone’s experience is different and there are no hard rules about when to move on:
When a relationship ends, many of us liken the experience to a bereavement. Indeed, the process of grieving and gradual recovery can follow a similar pattern to that of bereavement. So when a partner dies, the grieving is not only for our beloved but also for the relationship itself. It’s a double loss. Yet, feeling the pain of loss doesn’t have to mean giving up on love. Armed with the right mindset, it is possible to begin to respectfully move on. Widow dating doesn’t mean replacing beloved memories: instead it’s about learning to make room in your heart for both your treasured past and your bright future.
Moving on at your pace
Each person’s experience of bereavement is different and unique. To try and quantify an ‘average duration’ for grieving and recover is futile. Burke expains this through a personal anecdote, ‘Recently I met the mother of an acquaintance of mine in the park. During our brief chat, she revealed quite a lot about herself – she explained how she had been in a very loving marriage for over 40 years until her husband died suddenly of a heart attack. Within a year, she had become involved in a serious relationship with another man, something that she did not expect.’
Burke asks, ‘Does this mean she loved any less than if she still wore the mantle of grief? For some of us this may be hard to fathom but moving on is a deeply personal experience and what feels right for one, may feel inappropriate for someone else. I think the most important thing about ‘moving on’ is only to do it when it feels right for us. And this may not always match the expectations of our family and friends. It’s something we can only know in our hearts.’ That said, once it does start to feel right, there are a few tips that might make it easier to take the plunge with widower or widow dating.
Remember your partner accurately
A key challenge when dating again is idealising our deceased partner and the relationship we had with them. As the relationship ended because of a death, we can feel that it would never have otherwise ended. In that sense, it can hold an ‘eternal’ quality in our hearts and minds, with our dead partner being elevated to the position of a ‘martyr’.
Of course, no matter how close our partner came to being ‘ideal’, we all know that no one really can be. That’s why it’s vital to remember your partner for who they were. Accurately remembering a lost loved one enables us to keep them in a place of honour in our hearts whilst also making space for the possibility of new love.
Don’t compare or contrast
Whether widower or widow, dating again can bring you comfort and companionship after loss. Yet, to really see the rewards of this, it is important to remember two things: you musn’t compare (try not to think about how someone new is similar to your previous partner) and you musn’t contrast (likewise, try not to focus on how the person you are dating is different to your ex.)
The danger with comparing and contrasting is that anyone new will be measured according to an unachievable ideal. To bear this in mind is important for anyone serious about beginning to move forward. Again, this isn’t about replacing anyone or denying their memories – but it is about giving each love in your life their own space.
The future is up to you
In The Dragonfly Pool, Eva Ibbotsen writes ”you cannot stop the birds of sorrow from flying overhead, but you can stop them nesting in your hair.” This is a great mindset for anyone dipping a toe in the widow dating pool: whilst you can’t stop grief and sadness paying a visit, it is up to you how long you let them stay. This is true of both the past and of anyone new you might meet.
Indeed, you cannot expect that every new date will be perfection but you can approach them with the right frame of mind. Do give yourself a chance – if your attempt at dating ends in tears, be kind and patient and applaud yourself for having given it a go. Remember to keep taking chances with love and with life. That’s the way forward.