Why Some Women Start Dating Soon After Husband’s Death

I have been confused by many things in my life. But I would say that, by far, the thing that has confused me the most is being comforted by a boyfriend while I cry about my husband.

Yup. That’s a doozy.

I would imagine that it’s confusing for him as well. I mean, if my husband were here…my boyfriend wouldn’t be. So it’s got to be a little difficult to say to me, “I’m so sorry he’s gone” because if he wasn’t we would have never met. But since he’s my best friend, too, that’s what he says. And he means it.

How did this happen? How did I get here? How did I go from being married for 11 years to dating for 3?

I think so often about the beginning of my widowhood and I’ve made it no secret that I started dating what some people would consider “early.” I’ve often said that that was because my partner had been ripped from my life, suddenly and without warning, and I wanted that void filled.

I wanted to skip the part of dating where you wonder whether or not someone will call (or in this day and age text, IM, email, or message in some other way) and the other games we all play no matter what age we are. I wanted to catapult right back to where I was – comfortable, sure of my rock-solid relationship, taking care of someone I knew would take care of me.

So while the perception may have been that I didn’t “love my husband enough” and so I immediately started dating, the exact opposite was true: I loved him so much that I wanted him back without missing a beat. I wasn’t ready to grieve him. Because I loved him too damn much.

But there was another reason for it. I had all of this love to give, a specific kind of love that was his and his alone. It was the kind that keeps people together for a lifetime. The kind that isn’t exciting, but sure and definite. The kind that was born the moment I said “I do” back in 1996 and kept growing from that day on.

And then he was gone. But my love wasn’t.

It was like my heart had a defective homing device that was sending out signals that weren’t being received. It was such an empty feeling, knowing that I had it but that it had no place to go. And it wasn’t just missing saying “I love you” before hanging up the phone; it was the whole package – the nurturing someone else, taking care of someone else, knowing that someone is enjoying his life a little more because of what you’re bringing to it.

All of that, being thrown out there into the world, without that one person to accept it.

Where does it go? Does it dissipate? Does it eventually reach someone overseas who sits up suddenly and says, “Hey. Somebody out there loves me!”

No, really. I’m asking. What happens to it?

I was such a fool to think, when I first started dating, that the love I have for my husband could be given to anyone else other than him. It can’t. It’s all his. Just as the love I have for each of my children is individual and sacred, developed for each one of them and impossible to change, the love I have for my husband is his and his alone. But the heart is a complex, ever-changing, and infinitely expandable thing. It makes room when needed (and, yes, can sometimes close in order to self-protect).

So while I cry on my boyfriend’s shoulder about how sad I am that my husband is gone, never does that mean that I wish my boyfriend wasn’t here. And when I smile, laugh, and accept the love that’s right in front of me, that doesn’t mean that I don’t wish my husband could somehow be here, too.

It just means that my homing device must still be putting out a weak signal after all of these years. And that someone was paying attention enough – looking for my specific signal – just waiting to receive it.

Catherine Tidd 2012


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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  • Catherine, this is wonderful. I so get your wondering about where that love went. I recall that feeling too. A year after my partner died I began (or rekindled) a relationship from years earlier. It was SO lovely and SO sad at the same time. Just to be held again was wonderful, but by the wrong man! Like you I had only ever considered loving my partner / fiancĂ© for the rest of my life and here I was with another. Over time I realized that this new love was not a replacement, but rather a totally different kind of love. It made me realize that I could love again, something I had not imagined. I know that’s what Bob would have wanted for me too and feel blessed in that knowing. Even though I am no longer in that relationship it still revealed a lot to me, like how love works (and doesn’t) and how much we all want to love and be loved.

  • heart broken widow says:

    Good for you that you had the courage to find someone to love you again. I lost my husband of 31 years almost 15 months ago & the pain of him no longer here is unbearable. It is so sad to me that I will never be held, kissed or loved the way he loved me. My days & nights are lonely without my best friend & lover. Not sure in your 50s where you would even meet someone again. I cant imagine my years ahead without someone to love or love me because I too have so much love to share. No one knows the pain & heartache unless they too lost their soulmate. Be thankful you have found someone again that you can enjoy a smile, a hug and a kiss goodnight!

  • Laurania says:

    I too am going through this I started dating about 14 months after my husband passed at first it kept be going then I met someone who fell in love with me and I fell in love too my love is so different but my insecurities don’t change I have been dating him for 7 months and he has shown me how to love again