Two women. Two widowers. Two problems. Dating a widower can be like walking in a mine field.
By Tom P Blake - Finding Love after 50
Dating a widower can be risky and challenging. Widowers need time to heal. Today, two women share their experiences with dating widowers and ask for advice.
Marie said, "I met a widower online on a Catholic Match service (Vietnam vet, cancer survivor and then bone marrow situation because of Agent Orange, counseling for Post T Stress Disorder), dated for three months. He pursued me with many dates every week, and 3-4 phone calls a day."
"He was interested in making a commitment; we would only date each other. July was a great month. He was happy and made many plans with me ahead of time.
"August 9, during our fifth month of dating, was the second anniversary of his wife's death. He told me it would be difficult for him. After that, we had a few more dates (fine) and then he became emotionally detached.
"On August 21, he said he did not know who he was, was still in love with his wife, his work was troublesome, he had an upcoming trip to Asia (including Vietnam), and he tried to fall in love.
"'Not you, it's me,' he said. He left very quickly; I haven't heard from him since. He never went off of Catholic match even though he said he would.
"Have I figured it out myself?"
Tom's comment: I told Marie that he's right, he is the problem, not she. The greatest risk in dating a recent widower is that he hasn't healed properly--which this man hadn't--although he likely believed he had. Besides him not loving Marie, he had other serious issues that could have complicated her life, plus he was still on the Internet looking. I suggested she gratefully and quickly move on. Too many issues she can’t correct.
The second woman, Sue-not her real name-said, "I am a divorcee of over a year. I have been dating a man from my church I've known a long time. His wife died eight years ago.
Widower’s wife’s photos in his house
Sue said, "I am wondering about something. His wife's pictures are still all over the house. There is a picture of her on one side of the bedroom and one of me on the other side.
"He still puts flowers on the altar in her memory at church, yet everyone knows that the two of us are seeing each other. He was very dedicated to her and loved her very much. I'm proud he did; that shows he was a good man.
"Is it time for him to stop with the memorials? When I go to his house, I feel like I am in her house. I'm not jealous but it feels a bit strange."
Tom's comment: I told Sue I understand the way she feels. But, how widowed people handle the memory of a deceased spouse is a very personal and individual thing. If the relationship gets more serious, he will have to decide about the pictures.
If he and Sue decide to marry, or live together, it might be a good idea if they moved into a neutral home, one where neither clings to memories.
Dating a widower is like navigating a mine field. You may get through it ok, but it's unpredictable and there is risk as well. Widowers may believe they are ready to move on, and then reality sets in. Women need to protect their hearts so they don't end up being the ones who get hurt.
I have written an ebook titled, “Widower Dating. Gold Mine or Mine Field.” Here is a link to my bookstore on this website:
Part 2 – Readers responses to above article
Even though last week we wrote about Sue and the widower she's dating from church, she's still confused.
She wrote, "My widower has told me he is in love with me and hopes that one day we will be married. He wants to wait until I have all of the loose ends tied up, so to speak, with my former marriage. My ex and I still have a house for sale; the realty market is terrible now!
"I'm thinking you are saying that when the time is right, my widower will stop putting flowers on the altar in his deceased wife's memory and will take her pictures down. I think he should make that decision and I don't want to mention anything to him. If he loves me, he would have already put her pictures in a drawer.
"If he wants a future with me, I shouldn't have to read in the church newsletter that he put flowers in memory of his wife, shouldn't the flowers, instead, be in my honor?
"I've never been in a situation like this. I've always been the most important person to a man I have dated. Sometimes I wonder if I'm the most important even though he says he has moved forward and is ready to have a life with me. I'm very confused. Help!"
Tom's response: Don't even think about making a commitment to this man until the pictures are down and tucked away. His wanting to wait until you sell the house is a blessing in disguise. Buy yourself a huge bouquet of flowers and display them where he can see them where you live. When he asks who gave them to you, tell him "A secret admirer." Stop being confused, just enjoy the present as it is. Marriage could be a disaster with him.