To date – or not to date – a widower?

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January 28  |  Grief & Bereavement, Love & Relationships, overcoming adversity, Self-Help, Women ageing, Women and love  |   Cynthia






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.

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Mindful dating v internal elephants

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February 23  |  Dating, Dating Coach, finding a relationshp, finding love, Love & Relationships, Mindful communication, Mindfulness, relationships, Self-Help, Women and love  |   Cynthia

Nail biting

Anxiety is a perfectly normal emotion to experience, when you’re in the early stages of dating a new, prospective partner.  But it needn’t be a nail biting experience, if you take a few moments to pause, reflect and go about dating in a mindful way. Below are some quick tips on how to prevent the butterflies in your tummy, from morphing into a sabotaging date-wrecking herd of elephants, rampaging around in your innards.

Be prepared

Like the scouts, being prepared for all eventualities is key. This may not sound very sexy and spontaneous, but if you were applying for a new job, if you’ve got any sense, you’d be doing research on the company you hoped to be employed by. Why should it be any different with a prospective lover?  I don’t mean for you to start stalking his bestie, drive past his pad at midnight, staring longingly at his closed bedroom curtains, or make an absolute tit of yourself, in any other way.  But undertaking a little bit of pre-assignation investigation will help quell your nerves on The Date, and won’t necessarily turn you into a latter day female Inspector Clouseau of “Pink Panther” fame.

Brainstorm potential topics of conversation.  Find out what he’s interested in and read up on it. Be aware of current affairs but stay well clear of contentious topics such as sex, politics or religion –  the first few dates aren’t the time to regale him with your salacious intimacy “previous”.  These topics are potential date-busters!


Pamper yourself so you feel at your very best.  Don’t wear anything that will make you feel self-conscious – ie a décolleté which is so extreme, that if you’re not careful, you’ll end up tripping over your own boobs. Nor should you wear a dress which is so frigging short, your prospect can see your tonsils.  There’s a time and place for everything and this isn’t it! If you’re unsure, ask a trusted friend for input.  Safe is one hell of a lot better than sorry.


Give yourself plenty of time to get there. Plan the best route beforehand, leaving room for error, such as getting lost, tube strikes, people under a bus etc.  Sit quietly before you leave, and practise some very simple, mindfulness breathing.  I realise you may be so worked-up that your head resembles a washing machine in the spin cycle – but that’s only  reason to meditate more.

Practising mindfulness during the date

Listen to your prospect more than YOU speak!  Remember to practise deep, slow breathing during the date – not so fast that you hyperventilate and you need to engage in emergency breathing into a brown paper bag. This could be somewhat embarrassing! Simple and calmly is best. By so doing, you’ll avoid speaking at the speed of a machine gun engaged in active combat.  And speaking of guns – for God’s sake keep your powder dry. I repeat – don’t tell him your deepest, darkest and dirtiest secret. That’s first date suicide. And don’t drink too much either unless you’re not bothered about potentially presenting yourself as a neurotic, desperate lush!

Trust your instincts

If you do as I suggest, you’ll be far more in tune with the other person’s vibes. Trust yourself and your inborn instincts. If something doesn’t feel right, then it isn’t! If you’re super anxious, keep the first few dates short. Meet for coffee, a drink, lunch – then if all seems to be going swimmingly – you can take it to the next stage and meet for dinner. Remember – you’re not dating Prince Charming, just a regular guy who’s probably as nervous as you are.  Believe it or not – men suffer from dating nerves too.

Enjoy yourself!  That’s the whole point of the date – and remember, there are no true faux pas dating gaffes – just learning experiences. If it doesn’t go to plan, then keep breathing, don’t be hard on yourself, put it behind – and try again.

Have fun!




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Minding the communication gap

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November 16  |  Mindful communication, Mindfulness, Mindfulness meditation, relationship communication  |   Cynthia


We live in a time where mindfulness has strongly come into vogue.  I believe this to be a very good thing as being more mindful, especially in our personal relationships, can only be positive.

In the area of couple communication, it’s so easy to hear what’s being said through our erroneous filters, and then to overreact to it – strongly. More often than not, this is down to not only poor communication – but also our deeply personal, historical “stuff”.  Good communication is lifelong ongoing work.

It’s back to the basic relationship principle again  – that we unconsciously drag everyone from our past into our current emotional set-up. That includes mother, father,Uncle Tom Cobley and all.

This is where practising communication mindfulness can be so helpful.  When you put this into operation, you become increasingly able to pause, “mind the gap”, and clarify what’s actually being said, as opposed to what you think is being said. When you do this, you’re far, far less likely to get your relationship knickers into a twist.

There are plenty of good mindfulness courses available but I strongly recommend that you sign up for a face to face one. You can’t “get” it from just reading a book on the subject and I also believe it’s infinitely better to make the commitment to physically attend course on mindfulness training, over an eight week period. You then have not only the expert trainer in front of you, but a supportive peer group who are also on the same journey as you. You’re also far likelier to stick to a committed mindfulness practice, if you feel “accountable” to the rest of the group!

Peter and I meditate together every single morning at 7.15 am. Believe me – we’re both incredibly busy people.  However, we both find that our short joint ritual pays relationship dividends.

We used to have a bit of a joke about our dreadful modus of communication.  Peter would say something completely inocuous, and my filter would pick it up in a totally injurious way. One day Peter made light of it and piped up “Spillman he say he love you – Namllips he say you’re a piece of shit”. If you’re quick on the trigger, you’ll immediately realise that Namllips is Spillman backwards.  I’m sure you get the point! I’m relieved to say that these days, Namllips is pretty much dormant, and only occasionally emerges for a brief airing, before we take corrective communication action.

There’s a zen saying that states, “you should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day — unless you’re too busy. Then you should sit for an hour.”

Mindfulness isn’t a fad. It’s here to stay. It’s scientifically proven to work, so do yourself a huge favour and search for a course today.

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If Love Is Blind, Marriage Is An Eye-Opener

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March 11  |  Uncategorized  |   Cynthia

Many of us have regarded the recent union of erstwhile famous model Jerry Hall, and billionaire Rupert Murdoch, with abject horror. I must admit I’ve been amongst the incredulous ranks of the Doubting Thomases.  We ask ourselves, apart from his billions, what can Jerry possibly see in Rupert? Surely the best wedding present he could possibly receive, would be a caseful of Viagra. At the ripe old age of 85, isn’t this is going to be a case of “death in the saddle“? I had an uncle who met his demise, whilst on the job with his mistress, causing extreme embarrassment to his nearest and dearest – and I suspect it can’t have been much fun for said mistress, to find herself being rapidly jettisoned from the throes of passion, to having to extract herself from beneath a corpse, “in flagrante delicto“, as we lawyers say. Having said that, for my uncle, could there really have been a more fun way to go?

The point is, what floats one person’s boat, may not necessarily float another’s.  One man’s, (or woman’s) meat, is another man’s poison. And very often why this is the case, isn’t necessarily obvious to an outsider. In my new self-help book, “From Dinner Date to Soulmate – finding love at any age“, I discuss the expectations we all have and the emotional filters we operate through, when selecting a partner.  These are commonly unconsciously tainted by our past experiences, going as far back as childhood, and the “commands” we were indoctrinated with, by our parents and other supposed caretakers.   Then, in ripe adulthood, we can discover that we repeatedly choose the same type of unsuitable partner, ending in a tsunami of tears.  Einstein said that madness is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results. This wisdom has never been more clearly manifested, than in the arena of intimate relationships.

Take my beloved third hubby, Peter.  His “previous” include an array of not what you might term conventionally beautiful women.  One had a gammy leg and another used to remove her false teeth every night, carefully placing them in a glass on her side of the bed. The point being, that beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder, and frankly it’s none of our business anyway!

As for myself, I was an ardent “beardist“, all my life.  I did NOT do beards and bald patches. When I met Peter in 2002, on our second date, I brazenly pointed to the offending facial fuzz, exclaiming, “and THAT will have to go“. It was almost the end of a beautiful potential relationship.  Which just goes to show that what I knew about healthy relationships 14 years ago, you could have written on a postage stamp.

I’ve discovered that often what we think we want in a partner, ie no beard, bald patch and must be over 6 foot tall – isn’t necessarily what we need. It takes a lot of  inner work to deconstruct the illusions we’ve created, but without The Work, the painful lesson will be repeated until it’s learned. In my book, I cover this aspect fully, and provide a plan for successfully doing just.

I very quickly learned to love that quirky beard and the sexy little bald patch, just as much as the man who sports them. Indeed, the latter provides a useful signpost, from the back of any aircraft, preventing me from mistakenly hurtling myself onto the lap of the bemused man in row 14 instead of the correct seat.

So Jerry and Rupert – I wish you “bon courage et bonne route” together – and don’t forget to relocate to an area where there are excellent primary schools!



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