For the most part these Widower Wednesday columns focus on knowing whether or not the widower you're dating is ready for a relationship or simply looking for companionship. Today, I'd like to focus on a two behaviors that will send a widower (or any man for that matter) running for the hills. It's something I've seen an increasing amount of in my inbox and on the Dating a Widower Facebook group so I thought this would be a good place to address it.
The behaviors? Being insecure and whining.
Most men don't like being around women want him to constantly reaffirm that he loves her. They don't like listening to a stream of problems they want the widower to fix or, at the very least, listen to. Men simply aren't wired that way. Men like women who like themselves. They hate criticism, nagging, and whining.
An example: Before I dated Marathon Girl, I had a serious relationship with a friend. (Full details of this relationship can be found in my memoir Room for Two.) Because it was a long distance relationship, we could only see each other every four to six weeks. As a result, most of our communications was spent on the phone or emailing each other. (This was in the days before texting was popular.)
At first things went fine but after a month or so I noticed that most of our conversations was her either getting reassurance that I loved her and a daily list of all the things and problems in her life. After several months of this it got to the point where I found our conversations emotionally exhausting. I no longer cared about her the problems with school, student teaching, or trying to find her first job. I wanted to hear positive stories and things she was doing to solve these problems. When we had face-to-face time, just about everything focused on her need for validation or all the issues in her life. It drove me nuts.
When I started dating Marathon Girl, it was the exact opposite experience. Yes, Marathon Girl had problems (who doesn't) but for the most part they weren't the front and center of every conversation. And when they did come up, Marathon Girl was wise enough to know what problems I could solve or help her with and which ones she needed to fix on her own. And after we had one of these conversations, we'd move on to something more positive.
For example, the first time I called Marathon Girl by my late wife's name, we had a five or 10 minute talk about why it had happened, how it made her feel, and what we were going to do if it happened again. Then we went outside and spent the next hour playing basketball. It wasn't an long, tear-filled conversation because it didn't need to be. We talked about it, figured out a solution, and moved on to something more positive.
Marathon Girl also didn't spend tons of time fretting about whether or not I loved her. She felt confident in herself that if our relationship came to an end, she'd find someone better who also didn't come with a bunch of widower baggage. She pretty much let me know that her life was fine before I came into it and if things didn't work out between us, she had marathons to run and medical school to prep for if things didn’t work out. That attitude was one of Marathon Girl's most attractive features.
So next time you find the widower withdrawing from a relationship, take a few minute and see if it's because the widower's not ready or if you're the one driving him away. If you want a widower (or any man) to enjoy being around you, feel confident (or fake confidence) about yourself and your life. Stop dwelling on every bad thing or suffocating the widower emotionally. That kind of behavior respells men. Focus on the positive and you'll find that the widower can't get enough of you.