How to Date After the Death of a Spouse
The death of a spouse can be one of the most devastating life events one endures. You have lost your partner as well as a great degree of stability and direction in your life. Healing from such a loss takes time. However, it is completely normal to want to find love again after losing a spouse. Figure out when’s the right time to date and learn how to rejoin the dating pool.
Exploring Your Readiness to Date
Take your time.Don't be in a hurry to start dating once you have lost your spouse. You have spent many years with this person, and whether your relationship was happy or not, you should fully grieve before moving on. Remember, there is no right or wrong way to grieve, and there is no exact time when grieving ends.
- If you are unable to discuss your spouse without an extreme emotional display, you may need to wait longer before getting back in the dating game. In the meantime, take good care of yourself by eating well, getting physical activity, and avoiding behaviors that jeopardize health, such as drinking or using drugs. Join a grief support group or see a counselor.
Don’t believe you have to let go.Yes, you will have to move on and live a life without your loved one. But, you don’t necessarily have to “get over” the loss. “Getting over” a death implies that you will somehow return to normal at some point. Considering how closely interconnected your life was with your spouse’s, returning to normal is impossible.
- What you want to strive for is acceptance. Learn how to integrate the loss into a new identity in which you plan for a future without your beloved. It can help to fill your social calendar with new and exciting activities, such as checking out books from the library, getting a part-time job if you are retired, taking up a new hobby, participating in group fitness classes, or adopting a pet.
Figure out what you want.The object of dating is not to replace your spouse. You may long for someone just like your previous love, but having such a desire will only lead to disappointment. Think about what qualities you would like to find in a new partner. Be realistic – having a laundry list of desired traits will make it hard for you to find a match.
Release guilt.It’s common for widow(er)s to feel a sense of guilt for wanting get back out on the market. You believe it is a betrayal of your spouse to smile at a new man or enjoy coffee with a new woman. You must release these feelings and recognize that you are, indeed, single. Your spouse would want you to enjoy the remainder of your life as you see fit.
Entering the Dating Scene
Attend more social events.Fill your social calendar with events where you can meet new people. Attending the same events you went to with your spouse may make you feel out of place going alone. Find new group activities that you enjoy and forge new friendships, opening yourself up to the opportunity of meeting potential dates.
Create an online dating profile.The courtship process may not have been carried out online before you were married. You may cringe at the idea of searching for dates online. You’ll be surprised to learn that many widows or widowers find successful and quality matches on many popular dating sites.
- Be sure to practice online dating safety when connecting with others over the web.Refrain from posting your contact information like addresses, phone numbers, or email addresses. And, check your security settings on other social media platforms.
- Does a potential match seem too good to be true? Do your due diligence in verifying that the person is who he/she says by googling their name or conducting a reverse image search of the profile photo.
- Always make first acquaintances in public places and drive yourself to the meeting. Ensure that someone else knows where you are going and the time you anticipate being home. You may even consider bringing a friend along to sit at another table during the date.
- A good rule of thumb is daytime dates for first meets in a public, casual setting, such as a coffee shop or ice cream parlor. When you do progress to a dinner date, you don't have to pick your date up from her home or vice versa. It's perfectly acceptable to drive separate cars and meet up at a restaurant.
Take it slow.Wait until you feel comfortable progressing the relationship to do so. Don’t rush things. Take your time to truly get to know the other person, and examine your interest and/or feelings for this person before advancing the relationship.
- Don't be afraid to keep it casual and simultaneously see several people before becoming exclusive with one. Refrain from feeling the need to hurry up and settle down again. Take the time to have fun, enjoy yourself, and see what compatible dates are out there for you.
Going on a Date
Look your best.Chances are, it’s been quite some time since you’ve been on a first date. Show respect and consideration for your appearance by showing up properly groomed and in well-fitting clothes. Ask a close friend to come with you shopping and select a few items that can help you feel most confident on your date.
- You don’t have to undergo a major makeover to date, but it’s nice to look and feel your best. Working out and grooming can help you feel better. Plus, exercising and staying active lifts your mood and promotes a positive outlook.
Aim to have a good time.Start the date off with a smile and a positive attitude. If you are feeling at all hesitant about the dating process or uncomfortable with the person, cancel the date and give yourself more time. Both of you deserve to be with someone who is fully present and enthusiastic about dating.
Examine your expectations.Even when it’s with the right person, dating can be a roller-coaster of shaky beginnings and false starts. Accept that a successful relationship may not be the outcome of your first month of dating, or even your first year. Exercise a positive outlook by going on each date with the mindset that even if you two don’t make a connection, you will have met someone new and interesting.
- Applaud yourself for getting back out there, and leave your expectations at the door.
QuestionIs it proper for a women to ask a man out?
M.A, Clinical Mental Health CounselingM.A, Clinical Mental Health CounselingExpert AnswerSure — just as proper as it is for a man to ask a woman, or a woman to as another woman, or a man to ask another man. Instead of worrying about what is proper, ask yourself what is right for you. If you feel comfortable and want to date this man, then go for it. Be prepared to hear any answer he might have and accept with grace and understanding if it’s not the answer you hoped for.Thanks!
- You are brave for choosing to date again after losing a spouse. Take pride in your courage to rejoin the dating circuit.
- Get a haircut, manicure, or buy a new outfit. Do something out of the norm to mark this new chapter in your life.
Video: How Sheryl Sandberg Found the Courage to Date After Her Husband's Death | SuperSoul Sunday | OWN
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