Dear Abel,

My wife passed away a little over a year ago. We were married for 17 years. I started dating six month after she died. After dating around for a bi,t I finally started dating someone exclusively last month. She’s a great woman and I feel fortunate to have such a smart, attractive, and wonderful woman to get to know better.

The problem is that I can’t sort out my feelings about her. I like her, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t know if I’m love with her or just happy to have someone in my life again. I don’t want to be like so many widowers I read about on your blog that string along women just because they want someone—anyone—in their life instead of a serious relationship.

I feel like I have a million feelings I’m trying to sort through and can’t make heads or tails of them. How do widowers know when they’re really in love again?

Thanks, W.

Dear W:

What a great question! The answer is surprisingly simple: You know you’re really in love again when you have the same feelings for the new woman as you did the late wife. Love is exactly the same the second time around as it was the first time.

This is something I wish I would have known when I was first dating again. Before I met Marathon Girl I got serious with a girl whom I’ll call Jennifer. Whenever I was with he,r there was something in the back of my mind that kept telling me the relationship wasn’t the right one for me. Like you, I was dealing with a million different feelings and thought I was feeling that way because of guilt or not having fully grieved the late wife.

Then Marathon Girl came along. With her, the relationship never felt wrong. Several times early in our relationship it freaked me out that I had the same feelings I had for the late wife. Then one day it I realized the reason I felt this way was because I loved her just as much and that there’s wasn’t anything wrong or weird about having those feelings.

Whether or not you have these feelings for the woman you’re currently dating is  something only you know. And maybe it might take a little more dating before you know for sure. But I hope this will help you sort them out and know whether or not you want to continue the relationship.

Abel Keogh

Abel is the author of the relationship guides Dating a Widower: Starting a Relationship with a Man Who's Starting Over and Marrying a Widower: What You Need to Know Before Tying the Knot as well as several other books. During the day, Abel works in corporate marketing for a technology company. His main responsibilities include making computers and software sound super sexy, coding websites, and herding cats. Abel and his wife live somewhere in the beautiful state of Utah and, as citizens of the Beehive State, are parents of the requisite five children.

More Articles Written by Abel