A man gets hurt dating a new widow. Recent widows can be risky to date. Readers explain why in Part 2
By Tom P Blake - Finding Love after 50
I often warn women about dating recent widowers. Not that widowers are bad people, they aren't. It's just most have a heck of a time recovering from their loss and aren't ready to make a fresh commitment. Women often get hurt dating new widowers.
But it's not only widowers who can be risky to date. Recent widows can be risky to date, as Rich, a personal friend of mine in southern Orange County, California, experienced.
I met him through my Dana Point deli. He's a solid guy, tall, handsome, in shape, sense of humor, financially set. A man I'd feel comfortable introducing to a woman friend.
Rich, 67, met "a beautiful woman," age 62, while having breakfast two years ago at a coffee shop. She'd been widowed two years after a 37-year marriage. "I was very aware of the dangers of being the first relationship after her husband," Rich said.
With that in mind, he started dating her. "I believed that we connected. Her mother, sister, brothers, and friends really liked me, blessed the relationship, We had a number of wonderful trips together to Hawaii, Florida, Wisconsin and Las Vegas.
"We developed a relationship that I thought would end in marriage. These were her words and I thought her true intentions. I felt we'd be one of your great success stories of the years," Rich said.
With all of those trips together and the blessings of others, who can blame Rich for thinking they had a future together? But, unknown to him, the widow had issues.
Rich explained, "Sometime this spring, something changed within her, and without my knowledge, she went on Match.com. That, of course, created problems for her as she contacted and met different men, and continued to see me while hiding the other activities.
"It all came to a head on Labor Day weekend; she walked away from this very loving, caring, and affectionate man." When Rich was at her home, she got a call from a man. When she hung up, he said, "What was that about?"
She replied, "I'm seeing other men." The news shocked him. He said, "Later that weekend, we talked, she told me she wanted to put our relationship back together. And then even later that weekend (it was a three-day weekend), she abruptly changed course."
Rich suggested and offered to pay for counseling, thinking perhaps she hadn't properly grieved. But, by then, she was already dating two other men.
He's puzzled: "I don't know the reason she chose to break the relationship. She was the only widow I ever dated. I'm not sure if it was bad luck or bad timing. It was something she was missing, but could never articulate what needed to be adjusted, changed or fixed." He doesn't know if it was the "never healed" issue, or if there was something she felt he lacked.
"Nobody likes to be deceived, betrayed, and lied to. At this age, I truly thought the games were over," Rich said.
So what's next for Rich? Two months ago he said, "While I hurt like hell, I am convinced that there is a terrific, loving woman out there that I will connect with."
I saw him this week. He's recovering nicely. He's able to laugh at himself and even at the relationship. She's trying to make amends but he has trust issues with her. Perhaps she realizes she lost a good man. We don't know her side of the story and I've never met her.
"What do you think?" Rich asked.
"Even if she can prove to you that she's corrected the issues that caused her to seek other men before, be very skeptical of putting your heart at risk again," I said.
There is nothing more damaging to a relationship than breaking a mate's trust.
Rich promised to keep me posted.
Part 2 - Dating new singles can be unpredictable
Last week, I wrote about Rich, a 67-year-old man, who had dated a 62-year-old-woman for close to two years. They were in a committed relationship, got along great, traveled together and talked about marriage (her idea). When they met, she had been widowed for 21 months, after a 37-year marriage.
Then, out of the blue, she revealed she was dating other men she met on Match.com. The news caught him totally off guard.
Several of you speculated why recently widowed/divorced people, including the widow Rich was dating, act unpredictably when first dating again.
Lynne said, "I am a 58-year-old widow of just over two years. I was married for 23 years. When you become a widow after a long marriage, (especially if you are relatively young and active) something weird happens. As devastated and upset as you are, you also discover yourself again, and you go a little bit nuts.
"As nice as Rich may be, there is the call of the wild for a woman who has been with one man for so long. It's part of finding out who you are now, after being a partner for so long.
"Rich should know that the breakup was, most probably, not about him, but about she trying to identify herself."
Edie wrote, "I have been in that exact same situation. The person you are dating doesn't have to be a widow or a widower to experience the 'match.com thing.' I am experiencing this dilemma right now with a man I'm seeing."
Jon said, "She doesn't know what she wants and he shouldn't be part of her experiments. This is typical behavior for the newly divorced. It has happened to me several times."
Pam added, "Rich is lucky in a way - he saw her change before they married. My experience with a widower was similar - only his true colors didn't show up until after we were married. We started dating less than six months after his wife died, dated only five months before we became engaged, and married less than six months after that. The marriage lasted one year and 9 months, a terrible mistake from day one!"
Peggy shared her experience, "This summer I met a man, 63, online. He'd been widowed six months, so I knew to take it nice and easy with him. We were getting to know each other; I was his first date since his wife died.
One evening he said he was dating another woman. We had tickets to a concert that Saturday, I offered to buy them. He said I could have them, so I invited a girlfriend.
Well, the @#$% showed up, with a date. He almost fell off the balcony trying to look for me and then following me with his eyes when I took a break at intermission. I'm sure his date noticed; they didn't stay for the whole thing. I sent him an email the next day telling him how uncouth that was.
Shirley said, "Both men and women who are recently widowed discover Internet dating and are so dazzled by opportunities that they lose judgment. After being married for many years, we don't expect much attention or opportunities to meet others, and lo and behold, there are these websites, photos, and come-hither profiles.
"The widow is now in adolescence, thrilled that men are interested in her, and she will do this for some time---until she realizes that she 'lost a good one.'
"We women are very cautious about dating recent widowers, even the best of them, for they are not capable of commitment without qualifications and problems."
When dating someone newly single, be prepared for the unpredictable. And even though everything seems peachy-keen, remember Lynne's words from above, beware of the call of the wild.
Nick, 83, gets realistic
"Thanks for helping me resolve my question about being realistic at 83 (Nick had asked me about the prospect of dating women in their 60s, I told him to get real), I realize how important a role one's health plays in starting another relationship.
"I'm a widower after a happy loving marriage of 62 years. (I took care of my wife for 11 years with Alzheimer's disease.) We are in a very vulnerable age for serious health problems. I have a severe hearing loss and wear hearing aids which would turn many prospects off.
"This made me realize that there would be other health problems of even a greater concern. I decided that what I have been doing is probably the best solution--if there is any. I attend senior activities weekly (dancing, lunch etc)at a local Senior Center. I live in a large apartment complex of mostly seniors and do my best to meet the single women at social events and I work out daily in our workout facility.
"So far, however, I haven't met anyone I would like to develop a relationship with. So I will continue to attend social functions and other activities where I can meet single OLDER women. Your newspaper articles and newsletter have been very helpful. I have asked Santa to bring me my ideal woman (like my wife was) for Christmas."