Widower Wednesday: Second Chances

In the comment section (#25) of a recent Widower Wednesday post, Annabelle writes:

I have looked at this site a few times before deciding to go ahead and give things a go with the guy I have been dating for the past 3 months. After being convinced and seeing good signs he had moved on and wanted a new start I decided to give him a go.

But yesterday – like so many stories I have read – the same thing has happened to me like so many others and I really believed it would not…..

I have heard it all, I love you, I want to build a future with you, you are amazing and then yesterday – he feels a difference in how I feel for him and how he feels for me.

She goes on to describe the widowers actions and how she felt when the widower suddenly and unexpectedly ended the relationship. Then she asks the following question:

This is so confusing….. is it over or do you think I should just walk away and not even give him a second chance?

Whether or not to give a widower a second chance is a great question and, unfortunately, one that many women who date widowers have to answer.

There’s a part of me is sympathetic to the widowers who end relationships only to think they might have made mistakes.  I know what it’s like to want to date again and have a serious, committed relationship while still trying to sort out the internal feelings of grief and moving on. These feelings can lead to conflicting emotions and uncertainty about whether the relationship they’re in is the right one.

And I’ve personally benefited from second chances. Those who have read Room for Two or have been following this blog for awhile know that if it wasn’t for a second chance, my relationship with Marathon Girl would have ended after our first date. (Of course, my second chance involved a second date. I never got serious with Marathon Girl’s hopes only to abruptly end the relationship because I of mixed emotions.)

However, I also know what it’s like to start and continue a relationship just for the sake of having someone fill the hole in one’s the heart. I know what it’s like to tell someone you love them when deep down you know the relationship isn’t right just because you miss having someone special in your life and, later, to unceremoniously dump them. Personally, I think most widowers who ask for second chances fall into this category.

Widowers who tell their girlfriends they love them and want to spend their life with them only to dump them usually aren’t worthy of second chances. In my mind most widower come crawling back because they miss the company, companionship, sex, and other benefits of a relationship – not because they’re ready to move on. Widowers will pursue women they truly love. They won’t unexpectedly end the relationship or have doubts about moving on. They’ll figure out a way to check their emotions and make things work.

So, should you give your widower a second chance? Generally I advise against it. Most women who email me that have given their widower second, third, or even fourth chances generally end up getting their heart broken again and again. I think the saying “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me” applies to this situation.

However, if your gut (not your heart) tells you he’s worthy of a second chance, draw a line in the sand and take control of the relationship. Let the widower know how you expect to be treated and that if you have the feeling he’s not ready to move on or is serious about the relationship, you’ll end the relationship. Keep your eyes wide open for any red flags. And it he steps out of line, don’t hesitate to end things.