As research for my soon-to-be-published widower dating guide, I’ve been reading biographies of former widowers including Thomas Edison, Joe Biden, Paul McCartney, and Pierce Brosnan. It’s been fascinating to read how they dealt with the loss of their first wife and fell in love with someone else. When I started reading these biographies I wasn’t sure what to expect as far as the details of their personal lives, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised to see many similarities in their stories and the ones that arrive in my inbox or on the Dating a Widower Facebook group. Though I’m saving the detailed stories for my book, I thought I’d share some similarities and insights over the next several columns.
Today I’ll use their experiences to address a question that’s asked frequently by readers: What can I do get my widower out of his funk and fall in love (with me) again?
Edison, Biden, McCartney and Brosnan all wrote or talked about the hole in their hearts and lives the after their first wives died. Each man, however, dealt with his loss in his own way. Edison, for example, threw himself into his work. Biden just kind of floated through the first year or so as a U.S. Senator just doing enough to get by. No matter how they dealt with it, they all felt their lives lost a sense of purpose and direction without their wife.
Where their stories become the same is when they fell in love with woman that would eventually become their next wife. All of them felt that spark return. They become more passionate about their work, their families, and life in general. Biden, for example, got more involved with the day-to-day business of being a United States Senator and decided to run for re-election. Brosnan took more acting jobs and became more involved in charitable causes he believed in. They all felt more of a reason to push forward with their goals in life because they found themselves head over heels in love again.
So what did these women do to make these widowers open their heart to them?
Not a single thing.
That’s right. They didn’t do anything special to “heal” the widower other than be themselves. They just happened to be the right person to come into the lives of these widowers at the right time. Although it wasn’t always smooth sailing for some of them, there wasn’t any of begging or cajoling Edison, Biden, or Brosnan to move on or open their hearts. The widowers were in love enough to move forward on their own because they wanted to move on.
Don’t misunderstand: I’m not saying that some relationships are fated to work while others don’t have a chance of succeeding. What I’m saying is that there’s nothing you can really do to make a widower fall in love with you other than be yourself. Widowers have to want to move on for another relationship to work out and it takes love, real love, for that to happen.
It’s easy for widowers to let grief mask his true feelings or for women dating them to ignore red flags because he’s “grieving.” Don’t let that happen to you. Not every dating relationship turns into something serious or long term. That’s true of all relationships—not just ones with widowers. Don’t feel bad or worthless if you’re not the right one. Odds are you’re a better match for someone else. The sooner you recognize that he’s not ready to open his heart at this time or the two of you aren’t a good match, the sooner you can move on to something more fulfilling and meaningful.