Should Widows & Widowers Only Date One Another?

r-DATING-AFTER-WIDOWHOOD-large570As year 3 of my widowhood arrives on July 31, I look back on this time as a blur of change and longing for my husband. However, there have been wonderful gifts as well. Seeing my adult children from a new perspective; making wonderful new friends, many of them suddenly single as well; and helping to start Pairents, our social media site for 50+ people based upon their adult children’s social networks.

Throwing myself into new activities — challenges, I should say, seems to be my biggest coping mechanism. This summer I’m well into Intermediate Sailing lessons, flying into Racing Sailing next. And, I’m learning to kayak. For those who are into dating, I’ve found an article on dating between widows and widowers by sexuality advocate Joan Price, the author of Naked at Our Age: Talking Out Loud about Senior Sex and Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk about Sex After Sixty.

This article spoke to me because of the following quotes:

  • When they are talking with animation and suddenly sink into silence and sadness, I understand.
  • When they bring up anecdotes about their wives, I get it.
  • When they slip into present tense talking about their spouse, then correct themselves, I remember how often I’ve done that.
  • When they talk vulnerably about their grief, I know I can do that, too.
  • When they laugh and talk about their future changes they want to make in their lives, I know what it took to get to that point.

The sudden swing into ‘silence and sadness’ is so present for me 3 years later that I had to share this. Last Sunday, I sailed with a woman who has been a widow for 20 years who confided that it is still awful to be without her husband. But she gets out a lot with friends, sails, golfs and has a business. Another dog-walking friend, also a widow for 17 years, is pretty much in the same mindset.

Joan Price’s piece goes into the differences in dating expectations for all widows and widowers. “How long does it take to be ready to date? I don’t know. We’re all different. Don’t judge us if we think we’re ready, then realize we’re not. We’re not grieving for a time, then suddenly done with grief — it’s a spiral: we cycle in and out of grief. We can feel that we’re truly ready to date, and then we’re struck down by missing our beloved powerfully.” Perhaps we do understand each other best.


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