Thought Catalog

10 Things To Know Before Dating A Widow

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Clem Onojeghuo

1. Take things slowly.

Most widows gladly kissed the dating game goodbye the moment a ring was slipped ever so sweetly onto the third finger of her left hand. That was it. She was done with the frustrations of dating and happy to leave that part of her life behind. So when she finally feels ready to move forward after the loss of her husband, she isn’t just deciding to date again; she’s surrendering herself to an entirely new world — a giant, unprotected, terrifying new world. While it’s true that from time to time she may need a little push out of her comfort zone, be aware that each little step she is taking for you is the equivalent of climbing a mountain for her.

2. Embrace her past.

Do not make it taboo for her to talk about. Do not make him taboo for her to talk about. You will push her away faster than you know by expecting her to keep her past in the past. Realize that she will always have love in her heart for her husband no matter how much time has gone by. But that does not mean that there isn’t room for new love too. She is working hard to find balance between her past and present beyond what you can see. If her past did not exist, the part where she entered your life wouldn’t either. So embrace her. All of her. She will appreciate you more for it in the long run.

3. Be mindful of family and friends.

Remember how those little steps she’s taking feel like climbing a mountain for her? Bringing you around family and friends is even bigger than that. These people watched her lose her knight in shining armor. In that moment, each individual family member, each individual friend, stepped up to take the place of her protector. She knows without words that every single one of them have her back. She can feel them guarding her as if she had her own personal little army. She’s not just going to bring anyone around. She’s only going to bring you around if you’re important to her. If you do happen to make it that far, be respectful. These people haven’t seen her interact romantically with anyone besides her husband for a long time. It can be difficult for them. After all, she’s not the only one who lost her husband. They lost him too. Sound intimidating? Of course it is. But, if you’re as wonderful as she thinks you are, then her family and friends will quickly pick up on that as well.

4. Don’t lead her on.

She isn’t the typical girl you’ve dated in the past. If you’re not interested, or even if you’ve become less interested over time, then you need to step up and break things off. I would imagine no one wants to be “that guy” who hurts the widow’s feelings. As much as she may take an interest in you, leading her on will only make her resentful and full of regrets later. Look at it this way, she has already been through the worst possible scenario she could think of in her life. She can handle you breaking things off with her. Yes, it might be difficult. Yes, it might hurt. But you owe her the truth. She will find a way to make it through.

5. Divorce does not equal loss.

Your divorce is not her loss. It’s just not. It’s possible there are similarities between the two life events. Maybe your divorce also brought you immense heartache and sleepless nights. Maybe you had to go through your own kind of grieving process to get through it all. Maybe your divorce felt similar to losing someone in your life. But, at the end of that day your ex is still walking upon the earth and breathing beneath the stars. You still have the peace of mind of knowing they exist. She no longer has that peace of mind.

6. Children may be a sensitive topic.

More often than not, widows have children. It’s rare to find one who does not. Either way, there are several things to keep in mind. If she does have children, you entering her life is not going to be easy. Her children most likely are not looking for a replacement, and a replacement is not what you should be. You are taking on an entirely new role in all of their lives. Show them love. Show them kindness. Be there for them when needed. Earn their respect. Let them see that you are entering their lives because of your love and admiration for their mother.

If the widow in your life does not have children, it’s very possible children may still be a difficult subject for her. She dreamt of the family she would start with her husband. That dream was lost the moment she lost him. Be aware of those sensitivities. Understanding this will help you to comfort her down the road.

7. You’re getting a fair chance.

Some men seem to have it in their heads that they’re not getting a fair shot with the widow they’re pursuing. They wonder if they’re constantly being compared to her husband. The truth is you’re not. She knows you aren’t him. She does not want you to be him. She does not want you to replace him. If she is giving you the time of day in the first place, you’re definitely getting a fair and equal chance with her. The only time you will end up being compared to her husband is when you put yourself in that position. You are an apple and he was an orange. Until you try to make yourself an orange, the two are separate in her mind. The quicker you accept that the better off the two of you will be.

8. Watch making assumptions.

There are stereotypes about widows in the same way there are stereotypes about many aspects in life. Be sure to get to know the widow you’re after before assuming who she is as a person. Just because she is dating does not necessarily mean she’s looking for another spouse. Just because she still wears her ring (or his ring) does not mean she’s incapable of moving forward with her life. Just because she has kids does not mean she doesn’t want more. Or vise versa. Just because she has no children doesn’t mean she wants them at all. There wasn’t a guide book telling her how to cope with the world as a widow after her loss. She’s figuring these things out. Keeping an open mind and listening to who she is individually will assist you in seeing where she stands.

9. There will be sensitivities.

She has been highly affected by this loss in her life. It’s changed her outlook on the world in a way that could only be seen through her eyes. Pay attention to the things you do, and to the things you say, according to her life experience. Widows have lost their husbands in every way imaginable: illness, age, murder, war, suicide, accidents, you name it. However her husband’s time may have come to an end, she is going to be intensely aware of it and because of that you should make it a point to be aware too. If her husband committed suicide do you think she is going to appreciate hearing you say, “kill me now” after you’ve had a rough day? Or what if you carelessly forget to text her when you get home, but she’s staying up all night worried because the last text she didn’t receive was followed with a phone call saying, “your husband has been in a fatal accident”? Sure these are things you may know nothing about, but that’s all the more reason to take the time to know them. It shows your respect for
her.

10. Love.

The amount of love a widow has to offer is remarkable. When she has truly fallen for you she is going to love hard and love fast because she has already felt how wonderful it is and that it has the possibility to be lost again. She will not be seen wasting her time on a person who won’t bring her immense happiness during her time left on earth. Her time is valuable. Her love is valuable. She knows that if the two of you just so happen to make it all the way, to be partners in life, that there is still a 50% chance you will be the one to leave this earth before her. Even knowing that, even knowing she may have to relive her worst nightmare all over again, she continues to take relationship risks in the name of love.

What a beautifully, powerful kind of love.

If you are able to receive a chance for a love like that, hold on tightly. TC mark

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