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Dating a Widower — What to Expect

Back in the dating scene? Perhaps you are recently divorced and now you find yourself exploring available men online. A widower pops up. Have you heard that widowers are great dates, who know what they want and are ready to get it?


Not necessarily so. Let’s look at some facts. 

dating a widower

What To Expect when Dating a Widower

Many widowers have been married to only one spouse.

Many have been married for several years—in some cases, more than forty years.

Many have had comfortable, long-term relationships and have gotten secure in their daily existence.

Some may not have ever dated another woman, because they married the first woman they ever met.

A lot of older widowers have grown children; in fact, many may even be grandfathers.

Many may not want to live alone.

Widowers often need a woman’s touch around the house. They might be used to a wife who did all the domestic things for them, such as the laundry, grocery shopping, cooking, or even fixing a running toilet.

So you see a widower online, and you are thinking, “What a great catch this man is! He’s one I would be glad to snag!” Not having done your homework and investigated the challenges, you are encouraged.

Let’s look at that list again, and you may see some challenges.

A man who has been married to one woman for over forty years can be challenging. This man has little experience with women, other than his late wife. Dating may be the last thing he ever expected to be doing again.  He has probably been taken care of, coddled, and somewhat controlled. He feels he had the greatest marriage of the century. This type of man may have a hard time with the thought of  a girlfriend or future wife.

What about the widower who keeps his late wife’s clothes, phone messages, and pictures all around?  He takes you to a nice restaurant and much of the conversation centers around his deceased wife.He just wants to tell you all the special things they did together. Perhaps he invites you to his house, but everywhere you go, even the bathroom, reeks of her. You try not to get your feelings hurt; but alas, it is impossible to believe that he wants anything to do with you, when her presence is everywhere. You wonder why you are even there.

Then there are the children. He may keep you hidden from them at first, not knowing how they will react to their father with another woman. Or, he might introduce you, but they may not want to meet you, or get to know anything about you. They do not want a replacement for their mother. As innocent as you may be, you are now a threat.

Such a man may tell you that he is working through his grieving process and that he is trying to learn to love someone again. “Trying” to love you is not a phrase you want to hear. It is reminiscent of a kid who is trying to like broccoli.

If this advice sounds negative, it is only meant to provide women with a jolt of realism, and to provide widowers with an eye-opener. A widower can be still married in his mind, often feeling guilty, as if he is cheating on his beloved, deceased wife. As the new woman, you want a man who will see you for yourself, as an equal partner, not as a “mistress” he feels guilty about.

Does this situation get better with more time?  The answer is complicated.

Some widowers get married very quickly after their loss. They want companionship and security again.  Then there are those who wait, and wait, and wait some more, unable to commit.

Some men get used to being alone, even though they say they don’t want to be by themselves.

If a woman is there at the right time for a widower, then she is in luck. Otherwise, it may be a long haul. Timing may be crucial.

Should a woman take a chance and go with the flow? Maybe.  It takes some time for a widower to deal with the loss of his wife and be able to accept another. A woman must be in synch with her time frame.   If patient, you may end up with a gem. Widowers can have wonderful qualities, if you are able to wait it out.  But if you are expecting something to develop faster, and if you have expectations of coupling with gusto, your plans may end up in sadness.

Realistically, it takes special effort by both parties to develop a bond after a spouse has died. So don’t give up immediately. The gains may outweigh the losses. A woman must carefully evaluate the qualities of a widower and then talk to him openly about her needs. She must get some answers and then make an intelligent decision to wait or leave.  It’s not like buying a car and knowing you can trade it in a year or 2 later if it isn’t what you want; this one is for life.


Licensed Relationship Counselor, Author of 3 books, Helping couples re-discover the love & fulfillment in their marriage/relationship. http://BarbaraJPeters.com

7 Responses to Dating a Widower — What to Expect
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    July 31, 2014 | 2:03 am

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    September 10, 2014 | 10:07 pm

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  7. Cata
    March 23, 2015 | 2:06 am

    While I feel compassionately for anyone grieving any kind of loss, and would always ever extend warmth, sympathy and love toward them… I would, think twice about ever again risking falling in love with anyone who asks me to put my own happiness on hold for them to ‘finish’ grieving or for their family members to offer their own approval. Another blogger once said, something like (and I paraphrase), ‘those who use their grief to manipulate and control others are the worst kinds of assholes.’ I would have to say, I agree… but, I would offer a bit of latitude for anyone who says, ‘My grief made me do it.’ You may not have been trying to control and manipulate but you may have done so anyway… and if so, maybe its part of your grief process to take responsibility, and apologize… all that stuff about letting time do that for you is just a bunch of bullshit.

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