You promised to love your spouse “until death do you part,” but you never dreamed that line of your vows would be so poignant, so soon. We’ve gotten a slew of questions about this topic over the years, so we’ve chosen the top three most commonly asked dating questions for this post. Here are some personal opinions born of observation and conversation that we hope help you on your journey.
How do you know when it’s time to move on?
An excellent question. The answer: you don’t. You don’t know—there’s no perfect time, there’s no right moment, you just choose to move forward or you wait. Our advice is to listen to your own intuition as you take baby steps. Reading articles (like this one) about dating after the death of a spouse is a great way to gauge your own feelings. Once you’re comfortable thinking about dating again, get comfortable talking about it with others. Mention that you might “get back out there” to your kids, your neighbor, your grocery store clerk, whomever! Listen to your feelings as you talk about this step. Is there excitement? Nausea? A little of both?
Grief makes sure that you won’t be ready all at once. It takes time to gently chisel away at the shell grief has created around you. Remember that there is no “correct” timeline, and that no one’s opinion matters as much as your own. You’ll find a way to let some light back in, a little at a time!
It’s been years since I’ve been on a date. How do I even do that anymore?
Many people who are trying to date after the death of their spouse fall into the trap of thinking they have to adapt the way they get to know someone to “how it’s done” nowadays. It’s true that there are a lot of networking resources that didn’t exist 20 years ago—online dating being the most prominent—but if you can’t wrap your head around creating an internet profile to find a companion, then don’t feel pressured to do so! Stay true to who you are now, not who you think you should be or who you were 37 years ago. Take a cooking class, spend time at the rec center, talk to someone at the bank. There is someone out there doing the same things, hoping to find you.
How do I talk about my deceased spouse on a date?
A beautiful question—you want to be true to your own feelings and thoughts, but without scaring off your date. The first few outings are to get to know each other, and the subject of past relationships is bound to come up. Don’t censor your thoughts or bottle your emotions; it’s important to let you potential partner know you can be vulnerable and that you are still experiencing grief. However, avoid comparing your date to your spouse, in both words and thoughts. Constantly comparing the two will only cause your date to feel like they’ll never amount to the person whom you’d really rather be with, and those thoughts will poison any relationship.