From the inbox, a recent widower writes:
I've been widowed almost one year and have read most of your blogs, and your book Dating a Widower, so I could both prepare myself for, and be able to diagnose, any issues as I embarked on this next phase of life. I'm in my early fifties and my wife of more than 20 years passed away after an 18-month battle with cancer. I have two children who are both young adults.
With the support of the kids, I began dating in September and over the past four months have had numerous dates, most of which were pretty good. It took me some time to get comfortable with the process, but I had done the introspection and knew I could open my heart (to coin a phrase). I was ready and there have been no issues in that regard throughout the dating process.
Recently, I've had two situations where I was on second/third dates with the same person where they expressed concern over being the first "relationships" since I've been single. The dates had gone fine; we had connected well and I was getting a sense that things had potential to move forward into something greater. I found it concerning that, in two specific cases, things ended because they couldn't get past the thought that they were headed towards rebound relationships.
I suppose it could be a function of their own journey's (both divorces) but not sure if you or your reading population have experienced anything like this. It's as if a widower needs a resume of failed relationships to get others comfortable that they're in a good place and ready to build a life with someone. Dating in middle age is a challenge on many fronts, but this particular issue has me baffled as to how I approach the topic, or more appropriately, deal with the concerns. I've actually said to judge me on my actions not my past, but to no avail.
Sorry for the ramble but really perplexed. Thoughts?
Thanks for reaching out. Sorry to hear about your wife but glad that you’re moving forward. It’s good that your kids are supportive of you dating again. That always makes it easier.
First, I’m glad you’re doing some research and doing your best to go into the next chapter as prepared as you can be to deal with some of the possible challenges that lie ahead. While it probably won't solve every issue, it will certainly help you avoid the most common mistakes widowers make when they get back in the dating game.
Second, the concerns that the women have about being a rebound relationship is normal. I recieve lots of emails from women who have just started dating a widower and are worried that he’s not ready to move on. Even if they see potential in the relationship, they don't want to be the rebound girl.
The best way to deal with this concern, in my experience, is to acknowledge that their concern is legitimate and you’d feel the same way if you were in their shoes. Then assuming you feel this way, tell them you’re willing to take things at whatever speed they’re comfortable with if they feel like moving forward. What’s important is that you’re honest them about your feelings and intentions about wanting to move forward and the speed you're willing to do so.
Just keep in mind that dating a widower isn’t for everyone. Some women will think it over and simply won't want to deal with it. There's nothing you, me, or anyone else can do about that. You’re doing the right thing by dating as often as you feel comfortable. Eventually you’ll find someone who’s willing to move forward with a widower and will be willing to give you that chance you’re looking for.
Hope this helps,