Dating Recently Widowed Man

Reply Sun 21 Oct, 2007 09:24 pm
Hi everyone. I am new to this so please bear with me.
I am a 41 year old woman who has recently divorced her alcoholic husband of 20 years. I was in a very mentally abusive marriage for the last 10 years and had no plans of dating anytime soon. Of course, we all know how that goes.
Now I have found myself falling in love with a man that I met at my sister's church. Our meeting was accidental and I had no idea that 6 weeks later I would be feeling this way about another man. I have some major issues though and I would really like any info or other's opinons on my situation.
This man that I have been seeing is a very recent widow. His wife of 26 years died June of this year of a brain tumor. When he asked me out I knew about this and it was a very big concern. However, he tells me that he did the majority of his grieving earlier this year when his wife started going downhill. She was basically brain dead for the last 6 months of her life. He has also told me that there were times in their marriage when they had talked about divorce but when she got sick he of course stayed with her. I do know that he had a very rough time when she died because he told me he would cry until he would throw up. He hates being alone and is the type person that will not do well alone.
Now, I am sure you are thinking that this is way too soon for both of us. I have just come out of a 20 marriage of hell to an alcoholic and I have also 3 children that I am still raising. My kids are 18, 16 and 10. But I can honestly say that I did do the majority of my grieving way before I ever left my ex. We were not sleeping together because I couldn't stomach the smell of liqour on his breath and our room smelt like a brewery. I do need to say that I left him 6 months ago and the divorce was just recently final.
I know I am falling in love and finally with a man that is nothing like my ex. He doesn't drink, doesn't say vulgarities with every breath and him and I both were raised baptists and think a lot alike in many areas. We both miss each other during the day and can't wait to see each other after work. He has told me he loves me and I do think that he does. The problem is I don't know if he is just latching on to me because he is so lonely or if I really am someone truly special to him. He hates being alone and has made that very clear so it concerns me that I am just someone that is filling that lonliness. How will I ever know? We have talked about this and I have expressed my concern that I want to make sure that I am that special person and not just a warm body for him to fill his lonely nights and days. Actually, we are together just about every minute that he is not working except we have not been together overnight since I have children living at home. But we certainly have been intimate and it is so wonderful. I just feel so happy right now but also scared to death of getting hurt. I know he wouldn't do it intentionally and I know there are no guarantees.
I would just like to know if there is anyone who has been through anything similiar to this and can offer any words of advice. I do not want to end this but I also want to look after myself and him as well and want to make sure we are doing the right thing. Thanks
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Type: Discussion • Score: 27 • Views: 24,602 • Replies: 44
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Reply Wed 24 Oct, 2007 07:50 am
It sounds to me that both of you are going into this with your eyes wide open. That's good. You are aware of the pitfalls and the risks and you're both adults. Sure, things may not work out, there may be other issues that crop up that have nothing to do with his past or yours, but as you've said, there are no guarantees out here.

You could be his transitional woman. That's very, very possible. But he could be your transitional man as well, opening the way for other men to come into your life. Who knows what's down the line for either of you? As long as you're aware, what else is there for you to do to protect yourself? Not alot. And it's much too late to say that you shouldn't have started the relationship in the first place so, have fun, continue to enjoy one another and whatever you do, don't ruin it by worrying too much but be prepared for the possibility that he will probably not be your last man.
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Reply Wed 24 Oct, 2007 07:56 am
greenshany- Welcome to A2K! Very Happy

eoe has said it all. I cannot add much to her wise words except just keep your eyes and ears open, and your sense of humor. Whether this is a transitional relationship, or a more permanent one, there is something to be learned.
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Reply Thu 25 Oct, 2007 11:53 am
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Ginger LaSalle
Reply Fri 31 Oct, 2008 05:47 am
I'm not sure there is something wrong with someone who hates to be alone. I honestly think we are not meant to be alone, some of us just get better at it over time. Life is short and what would be so bad about falling in love when so many things point to the potential for a happy, solid relationship. We can all conjure up doubts about who we are starting something with, and friends who might tell you it is too soon based on their conventions don't know what they are talking about unless they have been there. No matter how careful you think you are being your relationship could crash and burn for any number of reasons - one of you could die tomorrow - but those are not reasons to stop something that seems very right from happening. Seize the day!
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Reply Thu 9 Dec, 2010 06:02 pm
I just met a man that lost his wife a few months ago. He told me he was ready to start over again. I was very worried about it to. He has a young daughter at home and tons of responsbiblity that I do not have. i have found he is not as open as i want him to be i have to ask the questions. I have asked for more time and found out that he is not ready for that. I my sistuation he has decided to stop see me adn get his life together. I am totally crushed and feel i was the transistion girl. I have to respect that he needs time to be himself and figure things out. i feel like he should have done that before he met me but he needed me for some odd reason. I realize that he is probably not coming back. I just hope that he finds happinesss. In you situation take it day by day dont rush things you both need time. if I could do it over I would have put less pressure on him and let him chase me when he was ready!!-sara
Reply Fri 10 Dec, 2010 01:24 pm
Continue to be his friend. People grieving need that.
Yes, he needs more time. Just "months" is not enough.
Perhaps he is going to grief therapy. I hope so.

It's not easy to be in YOUR shoes.
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Reply Sun 26 Dec, 2010 08:48 am
Recently I was matched with a wonderful man on eHarmony. I was aware that he was a widower, but had no idea how recently his wife had passed (4 months ago from a sudden accident) until after we had been through a lengthy correspondence where it became clear we have much in common and share similar views/values. I have been amazed at this man's self awareness as well as his openness to discussing his feelings about his love for his wife (they had the kind of love I have dreamed of having). He is not running from his grief, he is headlong into it as he actively grieves and is fully present for his young son. They both have many family and friends who are helping them find the balance between grief and moving forward.

I too am grieving the loss of the man I thought I would spend the rest of my life with. The ending of this relationship was not sudden, but I am still feeling deep sadness over the loss of a great love and friendship.

It should be added that I am a trained mental health professional who is aware of the issues his son is likely facing and I would never try to be a "replacement" for her to him. I believe once it is established that his father and I really are going to be in a relationship then, and only then, should I meet this child. It would not be fair to him to suffer another loss. If our relationship progresses to the point where I was involved in this child's life, I would be very comfortable talking openly with him about her and being respectful of keeping her memory as his mother alive and in her rightful place of honor.

Logically I know I am treading dangerous waters. I am aware that I may be a "replacement" or a "transitional person" just as this man could be for me. But I am also aware that with what our belief system is that by being fully aware of the present we can experience many emotions at once. I think we both are afraid of being hurt and of hurting the other so it is with respect of that that we cautiously move forward embracing all the conflicting emotions we have. We're attempting to honor the loves that we still grieve, but experience the joy that we find ourselves also experiencing.

My questions are these: Am I deluding myself that this can be more than a respite from our current grief? I worry that even with our seeming awareness of our reality that it really is just an intellectualized form of denial. How do I be fully present AND protect myself at the same time? There appears to be a battle between logic and emotion going on inside me which is at once exciting and confounding, and ultimately exhausting.

I am open to all words of wisdom any of you who have been through this experience might share. Thank you.
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Reply Sun 26 Dec, 2010 12:54 pm
Sara I'm so sorry you are having to go through this loss. I worry I may be in a similar situation in time (why I got on this discussion site looking for wisdom from those who have been through it.) Right now we are taking thing slowly but I'm sure (or should I say "fear") there will be a "wall" he hits at some point in the future.

I haven't put any pressure on him (we're too new into the relationship) but I think you are giving sage advice which I will try to heed. I know that if/when he backs away, it will likely not be about me or something lacking in me, but rather where he's at as he deals with his own grief process (and it is indeed a process).

I hope that you are aware of the fact that it's most likely the same case with you and your fellow (although it feels very personal.) I hope you can enjoy the bittersweet memories of the time you shared together, and know that you gave him the gift of a companion as he went through this difficult process. May you find a man with some of the same wonderful qualities which attracted you to him, BUT, who is at a place where he is able and willing to fully engage in a relationship with you at this time.
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Reply Sun 26 Dec, 2010 02:01 pm
May -
If you are a therapist, then you know:
SUDDEN deaths take longer to even process, much less grieve.
4 months ago??Holy crap!
He hasn't even PROCESSED it yet!!!
He is in shock!!!

Sorry, but you are not a "transitional" woman - you are a diversion.

Just be a friend now and encourage him to attend grief counseling sessions offered by the funeral home or other agency.

And don't even think about entering his child's life right now.

Too soon, dear. But, you should know that!!
Reply Sun 26 Dec, 2010 08:05 pm
Thanks for the reply Punkey. I agree that I am probably a diversion. But, let me be very clear: I have NO intention of meeting the child at this time. As a therapist (and a woman with common sense) I do know that it is too soon. If (and that's a big IF) his father and I would end up dating I would wait longer to meet this child than I do if it is just a divorce situation.

In a divorce situation I usually wait 2-3 months (depending on the age of the child and circumstances) as I don't think it's fair to the child (or me) to form a relationship and then if the relationship with the kid's dad didn't work out it's another loss for the kid.

In the case of a sudden death like this, I would want to be as sure as one could ever be that I would be a part of this family's life before I exposed the child to another loss. It would be doubly cruel to expose the child to another significant loss so it would mean not meeting him for several months.

I think that right now, the father and I are establishing a friendship of support as we both grieve our own losses. Even though we met on eHarmony, I cannot believe that he really is ready to date. Only time will tell, and until then I will walk a delicate balancing act of being in the here and now (friend) and not project anything (fear or love relationship) into the future.

(And for the record, he is in counseling...not with me, with another therapist)
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Reply Mon 27 Dec, 2010 03:25 pm
It seems like a level headed match, take it slow and just be friends would be my opinion. Some people can take years to get over the death of a loved one.
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Val Monroe
Reply Tue 4 Jan, 2011 02:00 pm
I am also in this same kind of situation with the exception of its been a little more time and he's already been in a few short term relationships. He has guilt over causing the accident and had been married for five years but calls her the "love of his life". I'm taking things slow and he has asked me to help him organize and remove some things from the home. I honor and respect the love he had for her and am being patient. My biggest fear is that he won't allow himself to love someone else. We've discussed that he should keep her memory in his heart and things will be different with someone else but can be just as good, if not better. Potentially, we have 20 years to be together. I've been reading and found this..."When his desire to give is greater than his need to receive" then he is emotionally available. Each individual who loses a spouse will deal with it differently...dating someone else isn't going to heal the wounds, only time will.
I guess my own insecurity is that he has glorified his relationship with her so much that I don't feel like I can live up to her standards in his eyes. So I'm trying to keep a realistic perspective and balance and patience is necessary.
I hope things work out for those of you dating widows/widowers.
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Reply Tue 4 Jan, 2011 02:48 pm
Val - I attended 2 grief sessions. There were very few men there.

I found that as time passed, the participants in the group began to look at the relationship more realistically. They began to share some of the irritants of the deceased, or even the bad times in the marriage. A few even found out that their spouses were cheating on them!

I hope your fella gets to attend a grief counseling session or two. Most funeral homes sponsor them, some churches. There are counselors who specialize in grieving. You don't mentions children. For their sake, he needs to go.

Allowing the deceased to be "human" is a big step. I hope your fella can do that. Otherwise, you will never be able to live up to her - and he won't be able to love again fully.
Val Monroe
Reply Tue 4 Jan, 2011 03:32 pm
Both of our children are grown and has attended therapy. I just noticed that he referred to her as the love of his life shortly after losing her on a web page. Things may change and I'll continue to be patient for awhile. We are attending church together and my feeling is that given time, things will work out. Thank you for your reply.
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Reply Sun 3 Apr, 2011 12:09 am
Hi all.

I know that it's been a while since anyone posted on this topic, but I have some recent experience of this "issue" and I hope that someone can give me some advice.

I am 48 and divorced, and have recently started a relationship with a very recently widowed man. (His wife died of cancer in January this year, i.e. 3 months ago). We have actually known each other for about 25 years, but we lost touch many years ago. I contacted him when I heard about his wife and things just sort of developed from there.

Things are going well between us, although obviously it’s difficult sometimes because he is still grieving for his wife (they were together for 23 years).....he still talks about her in the present tense and he often cries when he is confronted by memories of her. He still has all his sympathy cards displayed in his living room and her toothbrush is still in the bathroom. I have only been to his house once since we started our relationship.....usually he comes to mine because it’s easier for both of us. I am happy to listen when he talks about his wife (he says that it helps to talk to me) and I am there for him when he is upset.

He says that he loves me and cares about me, and in a lot of ways he treats me much better than any man I have been with. He is romantic and sensitive with a sense of humour which matches mine. If we ever have a disagreement, he is happy to talk things through in a calm and rational manner. We have talked a bit about the future and “where this is going”, but it is very early days and so far we have pretty much been taking one day at a time. But we have not ruled out the possibility of a future together.

We have been sleeping together (and I mean literally sleeping!) almost since the start......we haven’t had full sex yet (we are working up to that!) but we both enjoy the closeness of cuddling up together in bed.

Obviously there are several issues here (the main one of which has to be “Is he really ready to move on?”) but the main problem that I am struggling with at the moment is the fact that he doesn’t want to tell any of his friends/family about me. He says that he will tell them when the time is right, and he is happy for me to tell people on my “side”.....so far I have told a few people that I am seeing someone but I have not mentioned anything about the fact that he is a very recent widower. This is because I know how it will probably look to other people, so of course I understand why it would be difficult for him to tell people who he is close to.

At first I didn’t mind about this, but I have to admit that it is beginning to get to me that none of his family, friends or colleagues even know that I exist. I am aware that a lot of the people who he knows will probably not approve of me or our relationship, and I am prepared for that. I don’t want to push him into telling people before he is ready, but on the other hand I don’t want to be kept secret indefinitely!

Does anyone have any experience of this situation? I have read all the posts on this topic and although it seems that a few people have been dealing with the general issue (i.e. dating a recent widower), nobody has mentioned any problems associated with telling people (or not telling people). I was just wondering if anyone has any advice about the best way to handle this?

Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to read this.

Miranda x
Reply Sun 3 Apr, 2011 12:45 am
Hi MirandaB, I dont have any personal experience with this but can imagine what it might feel like if I lost my wife. I think that he feels a little guilty after 23 years of wedded bliss to find someone else.
I imagine he doesnt want to tell his friends because of what (he thinks) they would think of him for taking up with "another woman", and what will they think of you, will they like her will they hate her that kind of thing. Maybe he just wants to be sure about you, to build up the trust that keeps a good relationship together. He's probably never given it that much thought really men do that you know investing in emotional thinking is not a strong suit for a lot of guys
How long after his wifes passing di you two get together.
Really i dont think it should trouble you as much as it seems to but of course women feel things diffeently to a man.
As a man I am compelled to offer solutions to problems where many times women just want to talk and be listened to so bear with me.
Bide your time and allow him to build his trust, your man has suffered a huge emotional and physical loss from his life do what you can to support him. If you are the right person for him he will eventually accept you into his extended life and definitly dont take his wife's toothbrush away.
Reply Mon 4 Apr, 2011 02:58 pm
Hi Miranda,
I lost my wife 11/22/09 and started dating a friends sister 3 months later. We were together for 10 months, I broke it off twice during this time and eventually dumped her. I'm not proud of it, because she didn't deserve that. It took me like 2 months to say she was my girlfriend and was very hard to introduce her to friends and family, I felt very quilty. She would say I was the best man she'd been with and it would hurt inside knowing that I had no feelings growing towards her. The truth is she never had a chance. I was married for 18 years and to this day my heart belongs to my wife, I tried to move on and hurt someone along the way. It's been 4 months since I broke up with her and I'm still not over my wifes death or ready for a long term relationship.
Please be aware that it sometimes takes years for someone to heal mover a death. It's hard to give your heart when it belongs to someone else. Right now he needs the companionshp, he doesn't want to be alone. Cause we think when we're alone and depression, sadness, memories set in.
I hope it works out, I really do. But just know that it's gonna be difficult at times for the both of you.

Reply Tue 5 Apr, 2011 10:57 pm
@ dadpad

Hi dadpad.

Thanks for your reply.

Our relationship actually started 7 weeks after his wife died. I know how it sounds, which is why we are both being sensitive to the feelings of his family and friends (a lot of whom were her friends too).

As I said before, I have only been to his house once since we got together, but I will probably be there again soon.....if his wife’s toothbrush is still there, I will understand. I would never be so insensitive as to remove it or even to suggest that he do so.

I appreciate what you say about biding my time and supporting him.....I fully intend to do this. I am happy to listen and provide a shoulder to cry on when he talks about his wife. In fact, just the other day we were talking and he commented on how understanding I had been.

You are probably right re what you said about his reluctance to tell people.....this "issue" is getting to me more than it should. I do genuinely understand why he is finding this difficult. We actually had a long talk about it yesterday, and he said that he is thinking about telling his brother about me, to "test the water" before he tells anyone else. I assured him that I am not putting any pressure on him to tell people, and he said that he wants to tell people soon because he is sick of having to lie to people about where he is going and who with.

So.....time will tell, I guess. I will continue to be patient and show him that he can trust me. And I will trust him to tell people when he feels that the time is right.

Thanks again for your advice and input.

Miranda x
Reply Tue 5 Apr, 2011 11:49 pm
Hi roachssd.

Thanks for your reply.

I'm sorry to hear that you had such a difficult time with the relationship that you had after your wife died. I'm sure your ex-girlfriend appreciates how difficult it was for you and that you never meant to hurt her.

I'm also sure that one day, when the time is right and when you are ready to move on, you will meet someone who you can be happy with.

As for me, time will tell whether or not my relationship will work out. We talk a lot about everything, and we have agreed to always be honest with each other. So I think we will just continue to take one day at a time and "see how it goes". Which is really all that anybody can do about anything in life!

Thanks again for your advice, and I wish you all the best for the future.

Miranda x

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