Dating and the widow. The widow and dating. I really hope Mum isn’t reading this, but I’m sure she is (hello Mum!)
Won’t lie, this is a tricky one to write about.
Though I feel like this is the one that might potentially stir up a little interest due to its somewhat taboo nature, so here goes.
Losing a husband is f**king awful, and as I’ve discussed before, all you can feel on so many levels is absolute loss and devastation.
But an aspect of becoming a widow that is often glossed over and quite a taboo topic, is dating again – though now I am a widow, I’m not sure why it is.
Prior to Craig dying, I may have read here or there of someone that had lost a husband or wife or partner, and moved on ‘quickly’. I admit, I was probably the first to say ‘wow, that was fast, seriously, how could they just move on like that?’.
I now wholeheartedly apologise for those thoughts. Who am I to pass judgement on someone else, and until you’ve walked in the shoes of someone that has lost someone, how can you possibly have any idea.
And what even is quickly? And who the hell says they are the judge of what is or isn’t too quick for someone to date/re-partner/marry/engage in a casual relationship?
And I don’t think anyone ‘moves on’ from losing a partner, they simply move forward. And part of moving forward is potentially being intimate with someone.
At some point in a widow/ers stage of grief, you will quite simply miss intimacy.
Sure, your family and mates have given you hugs and A LOT of sympathetic pats on the shoulder, but there’s nothing intimate about that. And when you’ve been in a relationship with a partner and they’ve died – whether that was one month, one year or two years ago – it’s a long time to go without having someone hold your hand, kiss you, hold you, have sex with you and be attracted to you. It’s a long time to go without having someone that is truly invested in you.
It’s really tough and so underestimated when it comes to grief. And as widows/ers we are already battling enough, without the judgement of others for the choices we make when it comes to dating or repartnering. We shouldn’t be made to feel embarrassed or that we have to hide, we are already isolated enough. Widows/ers are human too and while anyone can survive without intimacy, unless we have some sense of it in our lives, it’s hard to thrive.
So now onto the big questions.
Have I dated? Yes.
And how did it go? Like much of how my life plays out it has been strange, confusing, emotional, fun, embarrassing and down right funny.
Because it’s difficult enough to be dating in the modern world these days, without the added bomb drop a dead partner brings. I mean think about it. It’s hardly a conversation that sparks romance! While it can be amusing sometimes, it’s often awkward and exposing and can leave you feeling very vulnerable. And it’s confusing as to when you bring that information to light. Do you hit them with it right away, two dates in, six years later!
And should someone ask if you have ‘baggage’ where do you tick the box that says ‘excessive’? Though in defence of my fellow widow/ers, I like to think we’re a pretty well adjusted bunch, with a great attitude towards life. Most of us have a pretty good sense of humour and we’re also incredibly good looking.
Also, how on earth does one even ‘date’ these days? It’s safe to say I’ve been out of the game for a while, and not only out of the game, I now have a child in tow. So I hardly have a raging social life. Do I internet date? Get mates to set me up? Wander the streets with a sign saying ‘widow on the loose’?
As you can see I have a lot of questions when it comes to the dating game!
Do I feel guilty? No. Because I know Craig and I know he would only ever want the best for me and to continue living my life and to be happy. So there have been no feelings of guilt at my end and I really back myself on this. I also like to think Craig would be laughing his head off at the awkwardness he brings to these situations too. A bit like ‘You can be single, but I’m not going to make it easy’, his very own payback!
So back to my love life. There have been some very funny experiences. From having a date crashed by an effusive French man, who not only sat down and ate our pizza but proceeded to give my date a hard time about his choice of shirt, and then asked me if I wanted to go out with him instead. To meeting a honeymooning couple while overseas who took a rather keen interest in me. Needless to say an awkward conversation ensued with a very polite ‘I’m flattered, but it’s not really the direction I’m looking to go in’. And probably the one that takes the cake, having a guy over for dinner. Only to have the dinner date crashed by my very own mother and child! Oh how my mum and I laughed and laughed (we didn’t laugh, well not for a while).
Dating can be such a daunting and an overwhelming process as we not only are trying to navigate new relationships and connections, but also navigating the thoughts of others. We are also working through our own thoughts and feelings too as we embrace our new identities. We’ve hardly chosen this path for our lives, so it can be complex and take time. There is no guide book for this next step. So, if I can impart anything, it is this. Give us widows and widowers a break when it comes to dating. After all we’ve been through, the least we deserve is a little joy and laughter in our lives. Your judgement certainly won’t be accepted here.
To my fellow widows/ers on the dating scene. I know it’s complex, I know it’s tough, I know it’s awkward and I know we’ve had our confidence knocked, but let’s back ourselves and ensure we know how worthy we are, whether we choose to be in a relationship or not.
I have no idea what the future holds for me when it comes to this. I certainly can’t predict it. However, no doubt there will still be plenty of laughs, awkward moments and who knows, maybe a happy ending one day.
Want a little tongue-in-cheek look at the stages of grief? Read the post where Jo Introduces her 10 extra stages of grief.