Most questions that hit my inbox come from women who are currently dating or married to a widower. The other day, however, I got a question from someone who hasn’t dated a widower but wants to go out with one.
In the email she told me about her neighbor whose wife passed away last year. She’s had casual conversations with him both before and after his wife died in the neighborhood and at the church they both attend. She never thought about him in a romantic way but now finds herself attracted to him and wants to get to know him better.
The problem is that she’s noticed a bunch of red flags that made her think the widower wasn’t ready for another relationship and she’s hesitant to open her heart to him if things aren’t going to work out. After listing off red flags (still wearing a wedding ring, still posts on late wife’s Facebook page, etc.) she asked me how one can know if a widower is ready to date or have a serious relationship again.
I thought she asked a good question and it was worth a Widower Wednesday post.
Let’s say you met a widower and felt a connection to him but knew about or noticed the following issues:
· He has photos of the late wife in every room of the house
· He wears a wedding ring on his chain around his neck
· He recently bought and renovated the house that his late wife wanted to buy right before she died
Would you think that widower was ready to start a new relationship?
Most readers of this blog would probably say that he’s not ready. After all, how could someone someone who was still wearing wedding his ring or have photos of the late wife everywhere be ready to start a new chapter in his life?
Well, those three red flags are the same red flags Marathon Girl noticed when we started dating.
Was I ready to move on? At the time I thought I was. I had been dating a couple months at that point and had a semi-serious long distance relationship going on. (Read Room for Two if you want all the salacious details.) But looking back it was obvious that there was a lot of work I had to do before I could truly open my heart to Marathon Girl.
So what got me to take the photos down, take off the wedding ring, and sell the house and marry Marathon Girl?
Well, it was my love for Marathon Girl, of course, but until I fell in love with her (officially happened on the second date, BTW) I didn’t have to make a choice between moving forward with someone else and muddling through life as a widower. My love for Marathon Girl forced me to decide what was more important: pictures on the wall of my late wife or her feeling comfortable in my house? Keeping a ring on a chain around my neck or her feelings or wanting to be number one in my heart? A home that had a lot of sentimental value for me or a home where we could start fresh and raise a family together?
Marathon Girl won every single time.
The point of the story is not to let outward red flags dissuade you from getting to know a widower better. Just because he’s wearing a wedding ring or walls covered in photos of the late wife doesn’t mean he won’t remove the ring or take down the photos for you. Odds are he’s still wearing the ring because he hasn’t had to make that choice or found someone worth taking off his wedding band for.
The only way you’re going to know if a widower is really ready to move forward is for the two of you to get to know each other better. Maybe you’ll know on the first date that he’s not ready. Maybe it will take more time to figure that out. But odds are the widower doesn’t know what he will or won’t do until he’s has to choose between a new love and his existing life.
So move forward cautiously with your eyes wide open and see what happens. If you choose to remain on the sidelines, you’ll never know if he’s ready.
Update: I’ve posted about a video response to this post here.
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