The death of a spouse is heart-breaking at any time but when one is young and full of plans for the future, such an eventuality can leave a woman feeling that the ground has slipped from beneath her feet. If you have come to know such a woman who has been widowed quite young and feel yourself attracted to her, here are a few things to keep in mind when dating her.
Very often men like to take the upper hand in a relationship and because of this they can seem to come on too strong when dating a woman. However where a bereaved woman is concerned, you have to more sensitive of the situation. Understand that she is not playing hard-to-get like other women but merely taking time to start feeling normal again and get on with her life. Also use words with care around her, for instance don’t talk of the “baggage” she brings to the relationship. She may find the term insulting and feel that her husband, life story and heartache are cheapened by such terminology. Even when you are invited into her house and life, don’t prompt her to take down the photos of her late husband. Unlike in case of a breakup, a widow has no reason to put away the memories of what may well have been a loving and fulfilling marriage.
Thus she may feel rushed and hurt if you insist on doing away with memories of her past. Keep in mind that though young, dating other men is a relatively new experience for her. It has been some time since she has gone out with new men for the purpose of dating and she may still be shaky about its associated expectations and behaviors.
Give her time to grieve
If you are dating a widow, find out whether she has given herself enough time to grieve over the loss of her spouse. This means fully feeling and then letting out the emotions of anger, fear and sorrow caused by the loss. This is especially important in case of a young widow who may feel pressured by friends and family to “move on”. If she tries to do this too quickly, there may be a bottling up of emotions which may eventually become unmanageable and harmful. So if you find that she has suddenly become withdrawn, sad, reclusive, angry, it is likely that she has not grieved completely and the pain of the loss has come back in a much harsher way. Try talking to her about it and if you can't, see if there is a close friend of hers, you can talk to about it. Every bereaved person, no matter how short a time she may have been married, needs to go through the grieving process in order to open up to newer possibilities in life and relationships.
Let her take the lead
When you are dating a widow, keep in mind that she has gone through a traumatic experience and may be still emotionally vulnerable. So take things slow and let her set the pace of your relationship. Also be prepared for ups and downs as you get to know each other. She may want to draw back for some time for no apparent reason. This is likely to be the result of mixed feelings on her part. As a woman she may want to seek out your company but as a former spouse, she may still be battling feelings of guilt over dating other men. Also there may be unexplained fluctuations in moods. A perfectly romantic moment between you two may suddenly be ruined by a memory or an object having past associations. Again special occasions like birthdays and anniversaries may be particularly difficult times to go through – both for you and your date. Make sure you enter the relationship with a healthy self-esteem or else you may find yourself feeling jealous of the deceased person and impatient with your date to move on.
No need to fight a ghost
If you really like the woman you are dating, you may be tempted to step in her husband’s shoes in order to offer her emotional and practical support. However this would be an unwise thing to do since you will be setting up yourself for constant comparisons to the deceased person. The widow, in fact, may need reassurance that you are not trying to be a replacement for her lost spouse. Rather be yourself and let her enjoy your company.
A date or a companion?
When dating a young widow, especially one who has been recently bereaved, it is better to start as friends and see where it goes from there. What you might see as attraction may just be her way of having some companionship and she may not be ready to move further. On the other hand a woman who has lost her spouse may be looking for someone to fill the void in her life whereas you may be dating simply to meet an interesting woman. If you are not yet ready to enter a relationship, make sure she understands this. A widow is already coping with feelings of sorrow and loss and it would be unfair for her hope where none lies. Above all, be someone she can have a good time with. Help your date to forget that she is widow even if it is just for a couple of hours. Make her feel special like any other woman out on a date. Have fun and do something exciting together. If she wishes to talk of her loss, let her but move on to another topic when she is ready.
Consider implications in case things get serious
However if you do want a relationship with her, go ahead but with patience and understanding. Remember that you are getting into a situation that will require more tact and forethought than a normal relationship. If she is young, it is likely that she has a baby or a toddler from the marriage and may feel torn between her maternal duty to and her desire to live her own life. Though the two are not mutually exclusive, having very young children may lead to a restricted romantic life so ask yourself if you are prepared for that. Also consider how your date is financially placed after the death of her husband. Take your time in the relationship if you find she sees you merely as a provider of comforts and luxuries which she may not be able to afford anymore now that she has lost her husband. At the same time be wary of overachievers who use their financial success as a way of hiding their pain. Sex could be another issue – being young herself, she may have her sexual needs and yet be racked by guilt at the prospect of making love to you. Understand that she needs to be comfortable with her own feelings and the new relationship. Only when she feels the time is right, will she be able to enjoy sex – with or without the possibility of commitment.