I was recently asked to contribute to an article in a US publication, about the whys and wherefores of dating a widower. This is a really tricky one to answer as there’s no right or wrong answer. Every situation is individual and different.
If you find yourself in this situation, here are a few quick guidelines to bear in mind:
- Ascertain discreetly how long it is since she died – he may not be ready for another relationship, even though he thinks he is.
- Don’t rush it – go at his pace.
- Know that anniversaries and special days will possibly be painful – even many years down the line
- Don’t ask him about his late wife unless he raises it and if he does, let him talk about it. Don’t try to offer advice – all he wants is a witness to listen his pain.
- He may want to avoid certain places where they went as a couple.
- Set your own boundaries – beware of being compared to her, or incessant talk about her.
- Watch out for warning signs – if he appears to be stuck in grief and it gets pathological then get out. He may not be emotionally available right now – but keep the door open if you want to.
- Has he got baggage by way of children? If so, can you cope with it? Don’t try and be their mother. The best you can hope to be to them is a good friend. Be prepared for potential animosity from his former in-laws as well as his children and even friends.
- Manage your expectations of him and the relationship. He may still be fragile. Give time time.