Dating a Widower, more thoughts

A while back, I published a whole post explaining why I typically defend widowers who are dating against the advice of columnists who specialize in the particular foibles and hazards of dating widowers.


That doesn't mean I think widowed people (men or women) deserve any kind of special consideration when dating, either.

Too often I hear young widows (we usually say "under 55" just to have SOME answer) speaking wistfully of dating someone who "gets it," meaning, in our code, someone who's also widowed. It seems like it would be easier than "cleaning up" one's grief for the dating market or dealing with divorced men (about whom we can be quite judgmental). We get misty eyed thinking that this widower would understand the troubles we've seen and that there would be so much less guilt involved in the new relationship.

Well. This is as Hollywood as it gets.

Widowed men are only human. They can behave badly when dating. Maybe not worse than other men, but if a woman enters the relationship with misty rose-tinted gaze, when she's most vulnerable (and especially if she's decided to short cut knowing whether she's ready and committed to dating... because after all he's "just like" her)... it can get ugly. Widows are vulnerable enough... don't make yourself MORE vulnerable by dating someone who you feel is owed any special treatment. His loss is no more romantic than yours, after all.

Yes, you can live happily after after (once per person). But don't overlook the practical aspects of your situation: there are far, far fewer widowed men available at young ages, and no matter your age, there will always be fewer widowed men available. Dating is -- for many of us, at many times -- a numbers game. You need to have the largest pool available... and the clearest idea of who you are (not JUST widowed) and the most critical perspective on who you're considering to share your life.

Don't get all fairy-tale on this... a widower is just another man to be considered for his own merits and flaws. I'm suggesting that widowed women are more susceptible to this, but Abel's column (and the other Dating a Widower sources) tell me that widowers are getting the same kind of affirmative action from single and divorced women in the marketplace. Preference that I doubt is ever given to widowed women when they date.

Everyone deserves love, but everyone also deserves the right partner and to be taken seriously enough that they can be seen for who they are.


Janine said...

My experience of dating a widower was very from fairytale-like.
He had been widowed for 8 years, I was 2 years out.
His two daughters were very young when their mother died of cancer (4 & 7). My six were all teenagers and above when their father died suddenly.
Nothing had changed in his house. Her clothes still hung in the closet, the 80's "country look" was still on the wall and the furniture. He had no desire to update his home.
Of course, these aren't deal breakers, but as FW says, be aware of what your getting yourself into. Just as you think your husband was the love of your life, so does the widower.
And it's very difficult to compete against a dead wife.
Everyone has baggage.

annie said...

Any man could take advantage if you foolishly decide to make a mission of them. In my younger days, I dated single and divorced guys who used their "heartbreak" to their advantage b/c I was naive enough to feel sorry for them.

The whole romanticizing the dating of "our kind" seems to be a peculiar stage of grief that for most is a passing one. While it might be true that another widowed person understands things that understanding has to stem from a similar view of grief. My husband and I aren't believers in the Kubler-Ross theory or soulmates or even "love of my life" stuff. We are both more, "shit happens, you deal and then you move on" kind. Consequently there wasn't much angst about new love, remarriage and definitely neither one of us saved our late spouses's toothbrushes or kept closets for them in hopes of an apocalypse and their resurrection.

It really all comes down to wanting to move on. Men and women who want to move on and recouple/marry do and those who don't, or are ambivalent, generally don't or come up with other arrangements.

Men (and women) have been mistreating each other in relationships for who knows how long. It's not a "widow thing". It's a "being a human being who prefers companionship thing". The best thing anyone who wants to date, or maybe marry again, can do is know what they want, who they are, communicate it clearly and be willing to say "I don't see us working out" when relationships stray off into the parasitic rather than mutually beneficial territory.

Supa Dupa Fresh said...

Janine, WOW. Thanks for sharing your experience.

Rose ~ from Oz said...

I have just spent about half an hour visiting this site, and may I say it is absolutely a breath of fresh air, needed so badly, I just hope people find it easily.
I hope many people can find their widow/twin to help each other to lighten the load. I cannot join as my blog is not grief/widow focussed per se. I wish each and every one of you a tiny little piece of comfort and understanding. You are all amazing.

Anonymous said...

Would you add my blog to your list?
I was widowed July 2010

Supa Dupa Fresh said...

Annie, thanks as always for sharing your thoughtful response.

Thanks for taking a peek. Glad to have your support and happy to make a new friend, always! We have loads of Aussies on the site... helps keep the chat room busy at odd hours!



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