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Why is dating a widower so hard

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After my husband and I separated, I didn't think I would ever fall in love again. I had two little children and couldn't imagine being in another relationship. I felt unlucky in love, as if perhaps I didn't deserve to be happy.

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Besides, I hadn't dated in 15 years Why is dating a widower so hard, now, didn't know where to begin. By then, every single person I'd met had baggage, including me, so it never occurred to me that dating a widower would be different from dating anyone else. I didn't even really consider the possibility that a first date might lead to a second.

But from the get-go, I could tell James was different. The conversation flowed easily, he was funny and interesting…we ended up going on that second date, then a third. When he asked me to date him exclusively a few weeks later, I was ecstatic— but a few months into our relationship, something weird started happening.

There were a series of days when, inexplicably, he wasn't himself. He was quiet and sad and didn't want to talk. I knew what it felt like when a man wasn't interested in me anymore—that's how my marriage had ended. So when he would clam up and be distant, I had a familiar sickening feeling. We met for a drink at a quiet neighbourhood bar, where I cut to the chase. I can't do it," I told him, too sad to drink my wine. I hoped ending things would spare him the trouble of dumping me and spare myself the pain of having yet another person leave me.

I was beside myself: I couldn't believe things were ending when everything had been going so well. Only now, James was ready to talk. Certain days of the year are hard for me, and I've just got through some very difficult back-to-back anniversaries," he explained, his eyes fixed on his lap. I'm just trying to cope as best I can; it has nothing to do with you. I really like you and I like where this relationship is going.

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He looked up into my eyes and stretched his arms across the table. His warm hands enveloped my own.

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It hadn't occurred to me that he was going through a rough patch; because of my own history, I assumed it was something I had done. I didn't yet know enough about his life or about grief to understand his personality or the dates that would be difficult for him. When he communicated his feelings, I felt as though I understood him, like we were connecting on a deeper Why is dating a widower so hard. I realized then that this man was different kinder, deeper, stronger and more compassionate—than anyone else I was likely to meet.

As a newly single mother struggling to get back on my feet, I had my own set of issues and insecurities; dating a widower on top of it all wouldn't be easy, but I had fallen in love. I "Why is dating a widower so hard" to try. My situation isn't as unique as you might think. Inabout 1. According to research conducted by the Pew Research Center in the United States, 19 percent of those who are currently divorced, separated or widowed report using online dating.

And at the same time as this group has become more interested in dating, she has also seen a shift in perceptions about them. They want to meet someone in a different space, someone who knows how to love.

A delicate balance As in any relationship, James and I have challenges—but some of the things we face are specific to his widowed status. For example, in the five years since we went on our blind date, I've learned to give James space on significant dates, such as on his late wife's birthday, their wedding anniversary and the day she died.

Since our near-breakup early on, I've marked those days on my calendar so I can call to say I'm thinking of him and see if I can help. Being in tune with your partner's needs is often the best thing you can do, says Roy Ellis, a grief counsellor with the Nova Scotia Health Authority in Halifax. Your awareness itself can be a lovely gesture. Maybe you don't need to be involved and you can give your partner the space he or she needs to continue that grief work," he says.

I've also learned that, contrary to the proverbial "five stages of grief," how we mourn doesn't fit into easy steps. In fact, the psychiatrist who first identified those stages, Dr. In other words, watching for signs of denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance is no way to tell whether a mourner is ready to move forward. Rather, many grief specialists champion the "companioning" philosophy espoused by author, counsellor and educator Alan Wolfelt.

They believe that the process is individual and that bereaved people tend to know when they are ready to move forward. According to this model of grief, mourners have six needs that must be met Why is dating a widower so hard order to reconcile their loss: But this isn't a checklist and there's no time frame for completion, or a particular order in which they must happen.

Having a way to remember the dead, to honour and acknowledge them, especially when the mourner has children, can be healing. It's meaningful and may offer comfort. Finding your way For the first few years, James commemorated special days only with his close family, but recently, I've been invited to participate by attending an annual memorial service and being with his family to remember his wife's birthday.

I'm happy to support him in this way, much as he has supported me through my divorce—but the truth is, it can be hard for me emotionally. Sometimes, I'm sad for days afterward. I want to weep thinking about what an unfair loss James, his family and his wife suffered.

I can't imagine what it must have felt like for his wife to be diagnosed with a terminal illness as a young adult, to hear she was going to die. But I've come to understand that grieving is a healthy sign. Even if the process hurts, it brings James' family and friends together. I've seen how remembering and celebrating his wife provides them with strength to continue on. We have been companioning without realizing it. As much as I grieve with James and his family on sad days, I've also had a hard time coping with his loss on great days.

It's embarrassing to admit, but sometimes, I've felt guilty for dating James. I've seen his late wife's beautiful photos, can sense how wonderful she was and feel how much she was loved—how much she still is loved. I've dissolved in tears, overwhelmed that James and I are on a romantic vacation together when he should have been with the love of his life, his wife.

How was I ever going to fill her shoes? How would I measure up? What if I couldn't? As difficult as these feelings are, experts say they're normal. Your relationship is new and unique. Just because those feelings are irrational doesn't make them any less real, and it's important to deal with them, says Ellis.

He suggests looking within at why you're feeling insecure. Take stock, Why is dating a widower so hard out what's hurting and share it with your partner, but not in an accusing way," he says. Overcoming feelings of insecurity isn't easy. As Ellis says, "You have to learn to integrate the presence of the deceased in a new relationship the way you don't in divorce. With divorce, you're out; with death, you've got to come to terms with the fact the other person is still loved and recognized.

Talk therapy In order to do that, though, you have to communicate. I knew I had to tell James how I was feeling, but it was difficult to have that conversation, to admit my insecurities.

Tears streamed down my cheeks and I felt awash with shame. But James was patient and loving and told me his wife wanted him to be happy. Talking to him made me realize I couldn't change his past, but I could have a future with him—and I was helping him move forward, which is what his wife wanted.

Over time, I've grown to believe that we don't have only one "Why is dating a widower so hard" mate for life. It's possible to love more than one person.

When you have a second child, after all, you don't stop loving the first; you make more room in your heart. And now I see that grieving is good, that talking about fears and sadness can be healing. I know not Why is dating a widower so hard compare, not to think of myself as an inadequate replacement for the woman he really wanted.

James and I know too well that life can be fleeting. We understand that time is precious. We are taking things slowly—not rushing to combine families or get married—but when I look into his eyes, when I hold his hand on good days and bad, I know we are moving forward together. Success factors Five tips from the experts for building a healthy relationship with a widower. Communicateeven if it hurts, says Suzanne Farmer, a psychologist candidate register at Cornerstone Psychological Services in Halifax.

You have to be able to communicate these feelings. It's not a Why is dating a widower so hard about you," says Calgary-based psychologist Maureen Theberge. See your partner as a whole person. His experience of loving someone and having that person die is just part of his story. Be ready for sudden mood swings. The best way to prepare yourself for the possibility is to have discussions about intimacy in advance.

Be open to a new life. Expert tips on how to get back in the dating game and meet someone new. How one woman found love with someone who had lost it. Recommended 7 helpful tips that will get you back in the dating scene after divorce By: That's what makes widower dating, widow dating or building a connection with a widower/widow that much more difficult. After all, you or your potential partner. "I've noticed that my other clients are more open to dating a widower now "Ask your partner what you can do to make those tough days better.

When you're dating a widower, you're entering an area of dating that not many Do realize that widowers can make wonderful partners. Losing someone is always hard, but losing a spouse is a profound experience that.

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