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by Rebecca Cooper-Traynor

Understanding Grief: Dating After Losing Your Spouse

Losing a spouse feels like the worst thing that can possibly happen to you. It’s a devastating loss that nobody is ever prepared for, and everybody processes the grief differently.

What’s worse, it’s inevitable that your well-meaning family and friends won’t hesitate to offer to introduce you to someone or help you put together a dating profile. Are you really ready for this?

While dating won’t be even fathomable at first, there will come a time when the pain subsides, and there is room in your heart for love again. Just know that you can love more than one person in your lifetime. You can hold space for many people in your heart and mind, and you are worthy of being loved again.

Overcoming The Guilt

For many people who have lost a spouse, the thought of dating again is fraught with guilt. Even when your partner’s wish was for you to move on with your life and find love again, this does not ease the guilty feelings. You’ll worry about your in-laws, your children, your mutual friends. What will they think?

We feel it is essential for you to let your family and friends know that you’re choosing to date again. It’s not about having a discussion about it or receiving their blessing; you are letting them know that you still have a lot of love to give and you are ready for the next phase in your life.

The Evolution of Your Heart

To be clear, you are not replacing the love you feel for your spouse when you meet someone else. Your new love will likely be very different, and that’s okay. Over the years, you’ve grown, and the experience of losing a spouse will always be part of who you are. It’s important to honour the love you shared, but you also need to make room for new adventures.

Choosing a partner isn’t easy under the best circumstances, but when you’ve lost a spouse, there are many additional things to consider. Some qualities take on greater importance, like empathy, being a good listener, and understanding your circumstance. They don’t also have to be a widow/widower, but they do need to be open, caring, and understanding. You need someone in your life who won’t be jealous of your memories or your grief, because that’s not going to go away.

Here are a few things to think about that might make the process a little easier:

1.      Engage a Dating Coach

Speak to a dating coach about how to date after losing a spouse. If you were off the market for a long time, you’ll need lots of guidance and support. Dating doesn’t have to be complicated, but it sure helps when you are prepared for what’s to come.

2.      Keep Your Past Relationship Talk To A Minimum

Don’t talk to your new partner too much about your spouse that passed. No one enjoys hearing a lot of stuff about past relationships, especially early on. It might make you appear that you’re not emotionally ready to move on and will minimize their value. Be conscientious of how much time you put into that line of discussion, and don’t let it define your connection.

3.      Look Around Your Home

Before inviting your new partner over for the first time, put some of the photos of you and your spouse away. You don’t have to erase them from your environment completely, but many new partners will feel that you’re not quite ready to date if your walls are still filled with photos of your departed partner.

4.      Don’t Be Afraid To Take Things Slow

Everybody’s different. If you meet someone new, it might be so intense that it feels like a rebound relationship, or it could go the other way, causing you to pull back. These are both normal responses. Take the time to get to know your new partner. That way you’ll be sure you’re getting into a relationship for the right reasons – because you love that person, not because you’re craving intimacy.

Starting to date again after losing a spouse isn’t easy, but if you feel you have more to give, you should not give up on finding love. It is possible to love more than one person in your lifetime, and you still have a lot to give.

When you’re ready, Match Me Canada is here to help. Reach out today to learn more about us and find out how to get started.