Note: The following is an excerpt from Dating a Widower: Starting a Relationship with a Man Who's Starting Over.
Chapter 6: Sex and Intimacy with Widowers
Before I dive into this topic, I want to warn you that this chapter isn't for everyone. Each person has their own views about sex and when it's the right time to become intimate with someone you love. I'm not going to tell you when you should or shouldn't sleep with a widower. That's a personal decision you have to make.
The audience for this chapter is women who are thinking about becoming physically intimate with the widowers they're dating, but are worried that he might just be using them for sex instead of taking the relationship to the next level. If this sounds like you, keep reading. If not, I encourage you to at least give this chapter a try. If you're not ready to start thinking about intimacy, skip to the next chapter. You can always come back later when the time is right.
When it comes to sex, most widowers find themselves in a tough spot. When their wife passed on, so did regular sex. The desire for sex is one of the reasons widowers start dating again. As a result, there are a lot of men who will quickly jump into bed with someone, even if they don't have any intention of having a long-term, committed relationship with that person.
My inbox overflows with emails from women who regret sleeping with a widower, only to be dumped the next morning. They feel used and manipulated. If this is something you want to avoid, here are some things you should know that will let you know if the widower is just looking for sexual release or a serious relationship with you.
Men and women view sex differently. Most women tend to view sex as a way to get closer to the man they're dating and a way to up the commitment level. Widowers, on the other hand, generally don't equate sex with commitment—at least, not early on in the relationship.
Even if you give him the greatest sex he's ever had, sex in and of itself won't make the widower want to commit to you. If widowers can get sex from you without giving you their heart, they'll do it. It doesn't matter that he's been married before. Sex won't equal commitment unless he really has feelings in his heart for the woman he's dating.
It's okay to say no to physical intimacy right away. A widower who's interested in a long-term, committed relationship will never pressure you to sleep with him. He'll patiently wait until you're ready to take this step. Widowers who are just looking for sexual fulfillment will usually complain or threaten to end the relationship if they don't get sex as soon or as often as they want it.
A widower who wants the relationship to be more than just a good time in bed will make his bedroom a place where you'll feel comfortable. That means he'll remove any photos or personal belongings of the late wife.
A widower who wants to sleep with you while his late wife stares at you from the nightstand or wall probably isn't looking to move on. The same applies if he still has her clothes in the closet and her toiletries in the bathroom. His late wife didn't have to sleep with him while a photograph of his past girlfriend hung on wall. Why should you be treated any differently? If he's ready to love again, making over the room where the two of you spend intimate moments shouldn't be a big deal. It also shouldn't be something you have to ask him to do. It's something he should do on his own.
- Widowers Don't Equate Sex with Commitment
- The Widower Won't Mind Waiting
- The Late Wife Won't Be in His Bedroom
Occasionally I'll get an email from someone who's in a physical relationship with a widower but feels like her performance is being compared to the late wife. This feeling usually doesn't come from something the widower said or did, but the natural insecurities that often come with wondering if you'll ever measure up.
Most widowers don't expect you to be the late wife. Instead of comparing yourself, work on creating a sexual relationship that is unique and fulfilling for the two of you. If you're feeling compared or unfulfilled, talk to the widower about what's working and what's not working in the bedroom. Get the late wife out of your head and concentrate on making the experience something both of you will continue to enjoy throughout your relationship.
Stories of Women Dating Widowers
My fiancé has never made comparisons between his late and me. He appreciates the fact that I am different, and he let me know that from day one. But early on, he wanted to share a couple stories about sex and the late wife. It was his way of showing that he was eager to do whatever he could to please me. Both times, I shhhhed him gently.
"What went on in Vegas should stay in Vegas, if you get my drift. I think your late wife would agree."
I don't talk about my bedroom history with anyone, period. Nor do I want to know anyone else's. This has been a personal policy I've always upheld out of respect for myself and for past lovers. Even my future husband doesn't get an exemption. A few times, his curiosity about my sexual past had led me to pull the "Don't ask, 'cause I'm not telling" card on him.
What's important is how you and I enjoy each other now, not what I used to do with someone else. He nods and thanks me for the reminder.
It was his wife's robe, hanging on a hook in the bathroom, that ended our romance. I hadn't meant to date someone who was involved with another. Call me old fashioned, but I'm not into threesomes, and I have enough self-respect not to cast myself as the "other woman."
My first date with Will was great. We went to dinner and didn't stop talking for a good three hours. During that date Will told me about his late wife, Christine, how they had been married for 40 years, and that she had died of cancer two and a half years ago. However, when Will talked about his home he referred to it as "their" house and where "they" lived. A little confused, I tried to clarify if there was someone he lived with, but he insisted there wasn't anyone else. When I finally went to his house, the living room was one that had been preserved, almost eerily so, since the day Christine had died. There were easily 20 pictures of the woman spanning their entire married life displayed on every piece of furniture, wall, nook and cranny.
Our relationship progressed, and over the next few months, Will and I saw each other several times per week. I enjoyed his company, craved our incredible sexual encounters, but felt that there was a part of him that was absent—present but not accounted for. I also questioned his allegiance. His constant use of plural pronouns and references to Christine made me think that he'd give anything to have her back in his life. Given that he couldn't make that happen, I wondered if I was a mere consolation prize. Wasn't I worth more?
It was a Sunday morning after we had made love. Will always wore a gold necklace with a medal on it, and I had never really looked at it closely before. I asked him about it now, and he told me that it was a medal of St. Christopher then explained that his wife had wanted a St. Christopher's medal after completing her first bout of chemotherapy. They had searched and searched for just the right medal until they found this one. St. Christopher is the patron saint of travelers, and Christine wanted to be protected by her namesake for whatever lay ahead.
It was a very touching story, but the weird vibes descended upon me again, this time in a heavy shroud. Was Christine somehow with us every time we had sex? Was she somehow hypnotizing me when Will and I were doing it?
I went to the bathroom. I looked up at the two bathrobes hooked to the back of the door, and I couldn't help but ask Will if one of the robes was Christine's. He said it was. She had been dead two and a half years and still had a hook in the bathroom for her robe?
And then it hit me. I was with someone else's lover, not mine. I couldn't get out of "their" house fast enough. I phoned Will later and told him I felt like I was part of a threesome, and it didn't feel good. I mentioned his pronoun usage, the photos, and the necklace. He said he was sorry I felt that way, but he really liked his life the way it was. He thought the best thing for us to do was not to see each other.
And just like that, it was over.
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