REMINDER! If you’re engaged or married to a widower or even divorced from a widower, I’m looking for real life stories to share in my next book Marrying a Widower. If you’re interested in submitting, read the submission guidelines then email me your story. Submissions are due February 15—that’s one week from today!
Occasionally I’ll get emails from men who are dating young widows. They stumble across this blog, read it, and want to know if I’d give the same advice to someone who was dating a widow as someone who was dating a widower. Since I’ve seen to gotten more than normal of these questions of late, here are my thoughts on the subject:
For the most part, my advice would be the same: The widow should make you feel like the center of her universe and you should expect the same kind of behavior from her that you would from a single or divorced woman. Like widowers, widows are ready to stop grieving and move on will figure out how to put their feelings for the late husband in a special place in her heart and give the rest of it to you.
Where I have a hard time offering advice is how widows move on from the late husband to the next husband. Widowers are a lot easier. Once they find someone they really love they put their feelings for the late wife to the side fairly quickly and move on. Widows are, well, more complicated. Yes most of them eventually move on but the process seems to take a lot longer. Why? I have no idea.
The best explanation I’ve read comes from Annie who wrote earlier this year:
Biggest difference between dating a widow versus a widower, off the top of my head, is that women tend to comb through the still smoldering ashes of any relationship once it is over – regardless of why it ended – and they will do this until the ashes cool, go stone cold and even begin to scatter to the wind as often as they feel the need to (or have an audience for it) until they “get over it”. And by “get over it”, I mean put the experience into a context that they can live with to an extent that allows them to move on. Men don’t seem to do that as much or as obsessively.
Men are good at this acceptance thing, which is not to say that you won’t find men who brood or are endlessly bitter about past failures or lost love, but you find far fewer of them than you do of women. I have yet to meet a woman who can’t recall for you, in minute detail, how her first love evolved, blossomed and eventually went up in flames. Minute detail.
You read about first loves reuniting a lot these days thanks to Mark Zuckerberg, but I am willing to bet that the women will spin tales about how they never got over the guy and how their subsequent loves and even about marriages that never held a candle to the first love. Ask a man about his first failed romance. Go ahead. Ask. He might remember the sex, or the lack thereof, but he won’t be holding a lit flame. Nor will he necessarily be compelled to reignite it if he is okay with where he currently lives his life. Men ground themselves in now, which is why a woman’s obsession with past, or future, perplexes and/or irritates them. Most men went on to have love, children and good lives with nary a backward glance at that first love. Sure, they may be pleased to have a second shot later in life with a girl whom they can only recall as a girl, but if they’d never heard from her again – they’d have found someone else to be happy with. Because that’s men. Practical in a cold-blooded way that (most) women aren’t.
What she writes sounds true to me but I’m not a woman or a widow. In countless ways women are still an enigma to me. I know on the occasions I’ve talked face-to-face with (young) widows, I can tell they approach grief and moving on very differently than (young) widowers. It’s not a bad thing just an innate difference between the sexes. You know, the Mars/Venus thing.
That being said my main advice to men dating widows remains the same: You should feel like number one when you’re with her and shouldn’t have any doubts or concerns whether or not she’s ready to start a new life with you. If you don't feel like she's making you the priority, re-evaluate the relationship and don't be afraid to move on. As for how widows sort through a relationship and move on, I have no idea.
Any widows, women, or those dating widows who have insight about dating a widow this please leave a comment. I and men dating widows would appreciate the insight.