Dating for Widows: Now May be the Time to Cast Your Line

Dating after a spouse-loss is kind of like standing on a ledge with a bungee cord attached to you.  You sweat, hoping that that bungee cord is gonna hold.  You may be ready to take the plunge. Or you may take one look at the view (which looks just fine without the addition of our innards splattered below, thank you very much) and step away.  Or, standing on the ledge, we may need a friendly push from a well-intentioned friend who we may be mad at while we’re swinging but once we’re on firm ground we’ll give them a big ol’ hug.

Push.

I don’t want anyone reading this to think that I am insensitive to the fact that some people just aren’t ready.  I know that and I completely respect it.  But sometimes I just think that many people don’t think there are any other good fish in the sea.

So, let’s think of it like this:  If you’ve cast your line before–what are the chances you caught the only good fish?

I won’t deny that during the dating process, sometimes we just come up with that smelly boot.  But every once in awhile, we hook on to a keeper.  I understand that some people don’t want to put themselves out there, don’t want to invest themselves anymore.  They don’t feel like there is anyone who will understand what they’ve been through and accept them for it.  “Shoot,” I remember thinking, “What if I meet someone and we’re talking and I start crying???”

Well, given the number of people in the world, what’re the chances of you dating that one person who has led a perfect life?

Being where we are, it’s been hurtful.  We’ve all been through transitions with relationships in our lives.  Our friendships have changed, how we interact with our families has changed.  But I’m betting that most of these changes really haven’t been so bad.  Oh sure, the transition from who you thought your friends were to who you really bond with was excruciating.

But now that you’ve been through it, isn’t it better?

You’ve found the people you can most be yourself with. You can let your “freak flag fly” as they say in The Family Stone (I love that movie).  And because of that, even if your friendships are fewer, they’re more meaningful.  They’re deeper.

Those friends who have weathered the storm with you will always be there.  Those friends who couldn’t, well, I hope you’ve come to the level of acceptance that that’s their problem, not your’s.  And if (heaven forbid) anything catastrophic should happen in their lives, I’m sure they will think back and realize that they should’ve been more Oprah with you and less Jerry Springer

And those new friends you have made, they know who you really are and accept you for all of it.  And they love you even though you’re yourself .

So, what makes you think it would be different in a new romantic relationship?  Who’s to say that the new you might find something even more meaningful and even deeper than what you had before?  Because you’re there–that’s you now.

And if you hook something you don’t want, throw it back and cast again.

I hear so many people say that what they had was perfect.  That they lost their soulmates and that they will never find that again.  And you know what?  I’m not going to argue with that.  If that’s the relationship you had, you’re right.  That’s rare.  But it was rare before you found it.  And you still found it.

Here’s a thought.

If that person was your soulmate then and now you’re a different person, who’s to say you won’t find the soulmate for the person you’ve become?

I think that’s the closest to algebra I’ll ever come in my adult life.  The truth is, I’ve changed so much that even if my husband met me NOW, I don’t know if he’d even ask me out.  I’m more independent.  I’m more direct.  And my sense of humor has taken a downward turn into the land of Sick and Wrong.

So, if I’m different, why would I expect to find the same relationship?  Shouldn’t I expect to find someone who can handle the “new” me?  Why would I want to find the exact same man, who was perfect for who I was, but may not fit the person I’ve become?  And couldn’t that person just be floating out there, waiting for a hook?

Waiting…for me.

Catherine Tidd

More Articles Written by Catherine

Catherine Tidd is a widow and the Founder of www.theWiddahood.com, a free social support network dedicated to anyone who has lost a significant other. She is also a writer, public speaker, and mother to three young entertaining children. She received a degree in English from Rollins College in 1998 and has since worked as a writer, editor, Marketing Manager, and Event Planner. Originally from Louisiana, Ms. Tidd currently lives in Denver, CO. To read more of Catherine's work, visit http://widowchick.blogspot.com

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  • Lori says:

    I thank you for this post. I have often thought many of the things you speak of in your article. My husband, who had cancer, gave me the gift of making me promise that I would not remain alone.Often through this journey I have felt guilty about things that I do, but at some point I hear my husband say to me, Lori, I want just want you to do what will make you happy! That what he always wanted. I do also think as you do that a soulmate maybe different at different times. I think about my husband and think that if I had met him when he was younger, I would have never even looked at him with the things he was doing back then! So maybe this is where I am at now, maybe this is true for the next person I will have a relationship with! At least, I hope so. I went to a wedding this weekend alone, and had a great time even felt happy and content in my own skin, It gave me hope for tommorow!

    • Well, Lori…I think the best way to deal with this situation is to have hope. We can have bad days, weeks, months, but as long as the hope is there we know it will pass. And it sounds like you have that! It’s good to hear.

      I’m so glad that your husband told you he didn’t want you to be alone. I would think that that’s true of about 99% of our spouses…they would want us to be happy. I wish they all could have been able to say that to us. I think a lot of people might be more willing to try again if they had heard that from their spouse. But you’re right…what a gift it was to you that he actually said it.

      Feeling comfortable in your own skin is an AMAZING feeling! For me it kind of comes and goes, but when it happens that is when I feel my happiest. Just knowing that I have the power to make myself happy and that another person around would be nice, but it’s not required…love it!

      Thank you so much for your comment! I wish you the best of luck!

      Catherine

  • Jan says:

    As I read your article, I went back to when I met my husband, back then I certainly was not the person I am today but I am still the same person I was when he died suddenly four years ago. I was always the confident, secure, independant woman that I am today, for he was the one that helped me develop into whom I am four years ago and today. I may now be a bit more independent, do I hear my husband telling me, go out and have fun, of course, but remarry or share my life with anyone, that is not going to happen. My friends say never say never, but I had the best why would I want the rest? What I have seen out there, there is no man that could ever reach the level that my dear late husband did, there is no man out there that will make me happy again, understand me or put up with me as he did. That is just the way it is and always will be. You may think I have shut my mind to dating again, no I tried it, cast my line in the water, dipped my toe in the water, and quickly cut the line and put my toe back in my shoe, it wasn’t for me then and probably will never be for me.

    • Dear Jan–

      How lucky you were to have a spouse who taught you to be such a great person and who you know would want you to be happy! I agree with you…dating is not for the faint of heart. After awhile, I looked at it almost like job interviews and I felt like I was just trying to brush up on my people skills. I guess I started to look at it as if I was networking (weird way to look at dating).

      Only YOU can do what you feel comfortable with. I can only hope that one day, life pleasantly surprises you when you least expect it. It sounds like you’re due! :>)

      Best of luck to you!
      Catherine

  • Deborah says:

    Catherine, I liked you article, although I’ve pretty much took the stand that I would never be interested in dating again after losing the man that I loved. I have to say that, had we met when we were younger, it probably wouldn’t have worked, we were different people then. We did share a love that I don’t think could happen again and I am grateful for the life I shared with him. Dating is not a priority to me but you did give a fresh perspective and I guess anything is possible. Deborah

    • Hey Deborah–

      Thank you for your comment. Believe me…I never thought I would be dating at this time in my life. Most of the time (when I first started dating), all it did was make me miss my husband more! I think once I started trying to just have fun with it and not take it too seriously, that’s when I started to enjoy it a little more. But, as we all know, when or if to date is a completely personal decision. No one can make it but you and not one person should judge you either way.

      But, if anything…you could always look at it as a free meal! Ha ha.

      Best of luck!

      Catherine

  • NLU says:

    I agree with your quote:

    “If that person was your soulmate then and now you’re a different person, who’s to say you won’t find the soulmate for the person you’ve become?”

    You are so right when you say that you change after the death of your spouse. I’m not the person my beloved husband married. I have become stronger, more independent and very vibrant. Going thru this journey has opened my eyes to many different paths and I’m living my life the way my beloved would have wanted me to live, HAPPY!
    I have found a person who I can connect with on so many different levels. He has put a smile on face again and has brought so much happiness. I listen to my Angels and they have sent me messages that this person in my life is the one not only my Angels but also my husband has sent me signs that he is the one.

    I said that exact samething when my husband passed away, that I would never find anyone else, no one would want to put up with me, my ways and accept me for who I am, but there was someone and I have reunited with him. After 32 years he has come back into my life and I have found myself to be the person that I knew that I could always be! That is “ME”
    I know it’s not for everyone, everyone is different.
    Just be happy for who you are and what you are becoming today! Live life to it’s fullest! Remember to love yourself, always keep your partner/spouse in your hearts, and keep the memory alive!

  • pamy says:

    i have been challenged especially with your quote that say :if your husband was your soulmate and…………:for sure i lost my husband 3years ago and i do believe he was so so unique to me and to our 2 children he left me with.For some time i have been blank, empty, disoriented completely because i was left with nothing to continue with but to start allover again from negative zero. But am now slowly geeting back to normal and hoping for another soulmate who will again love the new, reformed pamela. i have been encouraged to forge ahead afresh and i do believe that before very long, my man is on the way.

  • bernie says:

    Catherine,
    Dating can’t think of the word without thinking of young people again. My beloved husband died 3 years ago and our marriage was great. Everyday something makes me think of him but I have not stopped my life.
    A safe dear old friend found me and we have been seeing each other for 8 months now and I have found myself singing, dancing, and smiling more. I can handle problems easier just knowing I can talk with him. Will we marry….no I know that marriage is behind me now but can I have a fulfilling relationship with him and the answer is yes.
    Fun is the agenda now…I hope all of us widows can have. One day at a time is my moto and I have moved forward one day at a time. Will graduate with a Masters degree in 20 days one journey that I started with my husband and will finish with my new significant other.
    We are only bound by our grief…my husband never wanted me to have grief and I am sure he is smiling as I am now.
    Thank you for the significant insight.