Dating. Often just the word “Dating” can elicit a shudder, a negative response, or prompt a memory of that awful first date you went on that caused many moments of wondering if you were on a reality television show that places people in awkward positons and leaves you wondering “is this really happening to me?” Those same dates become the cornerstone conversation with your friends over dinner, until you all laugh until your stomachs cramp and there are tears flowing out of your eyes.
Recently, Dating Again as a widow or widower was the topic of a Widow Care Connection group. Eight widows gathered and the conversation went in many directions. Naturally, one of the first topics brought up was HOW exactly to meet someone as a widow or widower. As one can expect, many of the same ideas are brought up among friends when considering this age old question. Of course, the experience is much different after losing a spouse. Some of our widowed members had been with their late husbands or wives their entire lives. “We were inseparable. You didn’t see us apart, ever”, or, “she was my soul mate” are often how stories of these marriages begin.
For widows and widowers, the idea of dating again is especially cumbersome. Entering into a new relationship, discovering how to do that, feeling comfortable with someone again, when to start dating and identifying where your identity as a widowed person all comes into play. The most beautiful part about dating again is that the choice is entirely yours. Here are some of the “Hows” discussed at the Widow Care Connection event:
- Online dating – answering questions like “What do you do in your spare time”, “How would you describe yourself”, “what is your favorite genre of music”, are approached in this avenue and can make it a little easier for dating, especially if you have not dated for 10, 20, 30, or even 40 years. Regardless of the years removed from the incredible loss, some of our widowed members do recommend online dating as an easier way to ease on in the dating world.
- Online Group Meetings – there are some websites, such as meetup.com, that seemed to be a popular starting point for both getting to know people and meeting other potential suitors. It is generally agreed upon that to date, you naturally turn to where common interests lay. Whether or not it is attending art exhibits, going to movies, running, hiking, or dining, there seems to be a meetup group for everyone’s interests. While not an actual dating website, meetup has been the starting place for some widows and widowers who want to engage in an interesting activity with other people who have shared interests. It is certainly a way to gain a level of comfort through interacting with others, putting yourself out there, and remaining open to opportunities.
- Through a friend – Surprisingly, while interacting with our members, I have found that being set up on dates by a friend or acquaintance has not seemed to be a popular choice. It seems this comes from the idea that grief is misunderstood by many people (see prior blog post). Friends often do not understand the experiences of widows or widowers, and this can often lead to a desperate attempt their end to just wanting to set someone up on a date, regardless of practicality, common interests, or personality. From experiences shared among our widowed members, it seems as though this attempt is more derived from self-soothing behavior for the friend to “do something”. Of course, our friends know us best, and this route of dating can be very successful when done with positive intentions.
- Organically – You are running an errand. You are at church. You are in the frozen food aisle, comparing prices between brands of ice cream on sale. You look up, and there “they” are. You know the one. The person you know nothing about, but your eyes lock, you have an instant connection, and everything else falls aside. Your peripheral vision becomes blurry and everything slows down, except for your heart rate. You exchange information, you go on some dates, and the rest is history….or is it?
Regardless of the way you choose to begin dating again (or IF you choose to date again), you will always have had a very significant relationship that was a part of your life. Of course, those relationships had their ups and downs, like every relationship. Far from seeing the marriage with rose tinted glasses, individuals who have been widowed do not necessarily believe the marriage was “perfect” – no – but it was theirs. The good, the bad, the ugly. The hard, the “impossible”, the irresistible. The familiarity, the pet peeves, and the love. When deciding to date again, you will inevitably meet someone and the relationship will encompass all of the same ups and downs. Whatever your choice, understanding yourself and your journey as someone who has been widowed will help immensely in the process of finding love again. And understanding yourself will most importantly lead to the love and care you will show for yourself.
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