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Dating someone who has lost someone very dear is a very delicate situation. For one, the person may still have strong feelings tied up in the previous relationship and it’s untimely end. This could lead you to question that previous relationship. However, that shouldn’t stop you from pursuing a relation with a widow or widower.
You probably date a lot. But the person you want to date most likely isn’t. So you need to take things slowly. In fact, they most likely have not dated for a considerable length of time that they may have forgotten how to approach it again.
Claudia Jean, creator of a seminar series on a mid-life dating, says "there may also be a lingering sense of ‘cheating’ that must be worked through. Unless you are recently single, your dating skills should include the ability to be still and let this wonderful human being move toward you."
Ask questions early on
Susan Shapiro Barash, author of Second Wives: The Pitfalls And Rewards Of Marrying Widowers And Divorced Men and a professor at Marymount Manhattan College says "It’s best to be forthright…". Ask questions about the wife/husband, how long did the marriage last, how long has he/she been a widow/widower.
Some widow/widowers say that dates who ask them about their departed spouse say made it easier for them. They admit that they didn’t feel like it was something they had to bring up or avoid during conversations out of consideration for the date’s feelings.
Put yourself in your date’s shoes
Think of how you want to be treated and how you would feel if you were in that position. Claudia Jean says think about "How do you want to be loved? What if you predecease the love of your life? Do you want loneliness to follow your spouse to his or her grave, or do you want to have the love you had for each other move forward? Wouldn’t you hope that the new love would be fond of your memory?"
It may take great effort of your part but you need to know yourself and feel secure enough to handle your date’s erratic feelings. Claudia Jean says "As the potential new love interest, your sense of self needs to be centered enough to allow your date to deal with putting a passed love in perspective.
Then your date can discover where you might fit in with his or her future. She further adds that "When you encourage and validate the love your date has felt, chances are good that the same ability to love will move forward towards you. If you need immediate assurances, move on".
Some widows/widowers say that for the relationship to work, they need a partner who is secure enough to let allow their partner (the widow/widower) to deal with his/her erratic feeling and help them with these without feeling threatened.
Watch for red flags
It’s a good thing to be understanding and supportive, but if your potential love interest is not ready t o move on yet, you know what you must do. But what should you look for? Barash says "If your new love interest constantly talks about the former spouse, this is not good.
"If your new love interest constantly talks about the former spouse, this is not good. "If after a few months of dating, this goes on and the deceased partner’s clothes are still in the closet or his or her voice is still on the message machine, it’s a sign that [your date] is not ready to move on."
According to experts, the key to creating a healthy relationship is " is to manage your own emotions while giving your date some time to manage his or hers". It’s definitely a delicate balancing act, but it’s not impossible. Barash says "The stages of grieving are finite, and eventually your date can make a relatively clean break. That is the goal – to start fresh together without comparing the deceased spouse to the new love interest."