Let's say you're dating a guy who pledged his undying love to you one day but the very next day became withdrawn told you he wasn't ready for a relationship. Let's say you dated him for several months and he exhibited this erratic behavior on a consistent basis. Would you stay with this guy or end the relationship? Most people would realize he wasn't ready for a serious, committed relationship and would move on. What if you were dating someone who was exactly the same as person in the previous paragraph with one notable exception: this man also happened to be a widower. Would you be more tolerant of his behavior hoping that he'd eventually commit or would you end things with him?
Unfortunately, there's a tendency to put up with behavior from widowers that women wouldn't put up with from single men. Slap the widower label on someone and suddenly their widowerhood becomes an excuse for all sorts of screwy behavior. If the he's not willing to commit to you, it's because he's still grieving. If he gets angry when you try to talk with him about your relationship, it's because his wife died. If the widower keeps the house like a monument to the dearly departed wife it's nothing to worry about (he'll move on eventually), it's because he's still sad. If he tells you he feels guilty about spending time with you and needs some space -- well, you get the point.
If you're involved with a relationship with a widower, you should expect the same treatment from him as you would from anyone else you were dating. Don't let his widowerhood give you an excuse to cut him some slack. Yes, dating a widower comes with some very unique issues and challenges, but that doesn't mean the widower is allowed to put you through the emotional wringer whenever he feels like it. And you shouldn't enable his bad behavior by excusing his unwillingness to have a loving, committed relationship because of his marital status. Men will generally rise to whatever standards you hold them to. If you lower the bar, they'll find a reason to meet your lowered expectations.
When I was dating Marathon Girl, it became readily apparent that she wasn't going to change the way she wanted to be treated simply because I had lost a wife and daughter. She let me know early on her reservations about dating a widower and told me if she didn't feel the relationship was moving forward, she had no qualms about ending it. She was not going to settle for someone who wasn't going to treat her like the number one woman in his life.
Marathon Girl was patient when hard moments came and always willing to listen if I needed to talk, but her high expectations made me realize something: if I really wanted a serious, committed relationship with her, I was going to have to make the necessary mental and emotional effort to move on. Excuses would not be tolerated. Marathon Girl's high expectations are one of the main reasons I was able to move on and marry her as quickly as I did.
Your relationship with a widower should be moving forward to marriage or wherever long term goal the two of you have for the relationship. There may be a day or two where things don't go as planned, but all relationships had bad days. Ninety nine days out of 100 the widower should make you feel like you're the number one woman in his life. If he's struggling in giving you the loving, committed relationship you want, in a loving, caring way let him know how you expect to be treated. And don't be afraid to let him know that if he's not meeting your expectations, you will end the relationship.
Remember that not all widowers are ready for a serious relationship. Some widowers date simply because they want company. Some date before they're ready -- while they are still heavily grieving for the loss of their wife. And some know they can use their grief as an excuse for getting away with a lot of bad behavior. You need to make sure you're not dating one of these men.
If you're not looking for something serious but want a relationship that comes with extreme ups and downs or abusive behavior then sit back and let the widower take you on an emotional roller coaster. However, if you want a loving, committed relationship then demand the same treatment from him as you would from any other man you were dating. If a widower really loves you, he will treat you like the number one woman in his life. He won't let his grief or loss serve as an excuse. He will do what it takes to make you feel loved and important. He will not only tell you that he loves you but show you that he loves you. He will treat you the way you deserve to be treated.
Don't settle for anything less.
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