Dating after your partner dies

Sometime after the death of your spouse, you will think about dating, especially if you liked being married. This may be in a month; it may be in.
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Why Do Widowers Date Soon after their Wife Dies?

The same thing happened when Glenn McGrath moved on from the death of his wife Jane from breast cancer and remarried. While most people were happy for him, there were murmurings about the speed at which he became enamoured with new spouse Sara, who he started dating about 10 months after losing Jane. Magazine covers, photo shoots, paparazzi everywhere — it was amazing how a nice man getting engaged to a nice women became national news.

I should know, because I had to negotiate a path through that minefield after my wife Kate died from breast cancer in She had fought heroically against this scourge of a disease for 10 years, all the while being an amazing mother to our three young sons.

Dating After Death of a Spouse: What Do You Owe a Deceased Love?

But there came a point when we knew her time was almost up, and as a family we prepared for her passing. I replied the only way a man should in that situation: Rory Gibson with his beautiful wife and kids before she passed away.


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I want him to find a nice lady to go out with. Your Dad has so much love to give.

There’s no “right” time to begin dating

She was younger than my wife, a childless divorcee with a personality almost exactly the opposite of Kate. Where Kate had been quiet, thoughtful, shy and warm, my date was outgoing, brash, loud and overtly sexual. Exactly what I needed. I wanted to go out to dinner and not have a conversation about cancer.

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I wanted to get laid. The reason people are startled when someone resumes dating with what appears to be unseemly haste after the death of a loved one is a misalignment of grief. When Kate died, it signalled the beginning of the end of the deep, searing grief that the boys and I had lived with for years.

It's okay to talk about your spouse, of course, because she was a big part of your life and her death continues to affect you, so grief is a topic for discussion. But if your wife, or your grief, dominates the discussion every time you go out, you're probably not ready. You can go out with someone without calling it a date, and without any thoughts of it being romantic or leading to marriage. You can just enjoy an evening out and make a new friend. If there's a spark there, fine. If there isn't, fine. Sparks are fun, but you may need to get out of the house and be among people more than you need romance.

Now is a good time to take stock of your life, because the last time you probably did this was 10 or 20 years ago.

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Ask yourself a whole bunch of questions. What did you like about being married? What did you dislike? Was there something you wanted to do that was set aside because of the marriage or the illness of your spouse -- like hike the Appalachian Trail for six months, or live in a yurt on an island off the west coast of Scotland? Do you want to move to a different part of the country? You have the opportunity to figure these things out and try new ideas.

Then, when you start dating, you and the other person will know what you want. Try living alone for a while. Discover who you've become. Maybe you'll find that you want to live alone for a time and see other people only socially.

John Bayley, the husband of Iris Murdoch, the British novelist and philosopher, "fumbled" around with two women after Iris died not knowing what he wanted in a new relationship, or what the women wanted who showed up on his doorstep. When he realized that he wanted companionship, he began dating a woman who wanted the same thing.

You're in control of your life.


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Nothing has to happen if you don't want it to, or if you don't feel ready. Now that you can respond in romantic ways to people you find attractive, you may feel unsure about your ability to casually chat and be interesting to other people. You may have forgotten how to flirt. Build up your confidence by talking with people you find attractive at social gatherings. If they're married, don't flirt. Simply talk like you're a human being and not a man.

The minefield of dating again after the death of a spouse

You know what I mean. Don't try to be the one in control or pretend that you know everything. After you date someone for a while, you will know if you want more from the relationship. Whatever you do, be honest with yourself and be honest with the other person.