How will I ever start dating again? When’s the right time to head out on that first date? What if I decide halfway through the date that I’m not ready to find a new partner? Is it wrong to date someone else?
The nerves and guilt surrounding the decision to start dating again can be hard to grapple with. And trust us when we say that nobody – literally no one – finds it easy to say ‘yes’ to their first date after the death of a spouse.
If the time has come for you to download a dating app or one of your friends has told you they’d like to set you up with a friend of theirs (cute!), we have some tips for you. Before reading them though, it’s important to remember that every individual is different, and it’s up to you to decide how you want to approach the dating world, and when you feel ready to.
How long should I wait before I start dating?
We wish there was a ‘right’ time to start dating again. You might find yourself feeling ready mere days or weeks after your partner’s death, or it might take you years before you start feeling any semblance of readiness.
Make sure you take the leap into the dating world when you feel ready to, and never compare yourself to others. Just because your friend went out on her first date 3 months after her spouse died, doesn’t mean you have to follow suit.
Before putting your feelers out, consider why you’re looking for a new partner
When a spouse dies, and the initial wave of support that comes along with arranging a funeral has passed, the onset of loneliness can be immediate. If you spent every day with them, fell asleep next to them every night, or were used to having them accompany you to the supermarket, their presence will be missed immediately.
We all want companionship; it’s in our nature to. Just make sure that you aren’t seeking to fill a gap or hole when you enter the dating world. Rather, start dating because you’re ready to find love again, and ready to give a new relationship your all.
Be honest with them, right from the get-go
There’s no shame in letting the person you’re on a date with know that your spouse has passed away. And there’s no shame in telling them your intentions. Whether you’re ready to jump straight into a relationship, or would prefer something a little more casual, make sure you share your intentions at the start and give them context as to why you might need to take things a little slow.
Remember that loving someone new doesn’t mean you can no longer love your spouse
That might sound crazy or unfair, but it’s true. If you never fell out of love with your spouse, chances are you never will. Them not being here doesn’t mean you have to stop loving them, and falling in love with someone else doesn’t mean you have to either. Love isn’t linear, and accepting that you can love both a deceased spouse and a new partner at the same time is often the first step to getting yourself ‘back out there’.
‘Widow brain’ is a thing! Here’s what we know about it.
Following the death of a spouse, widows can experience mental confusion or brain fog in the months that follow. Sometimes, ‘widow brain’ can manifest itself in small random things (like forgetting where you put your keys), and at other times, it can manifest in larger things (like misremembering the name of someone important you recently met, or forgetting the birthday of a family member).
If you’re planning on making big decisions – like choosing to start dating again, becoming ‘official’ with a new partner, or even getting married to them – take a moment to step back and reflect on whether or not you might be ready to make such a large decision. If the answer is yes, that’s great! If the answer is no, maybe push the decision-making process back a little and reassess in a few months time.
Falling in love with someone new can be part of the healing process
Time stands still in the days, weeks and months that follow a loved one’s passing. And then before you know it, your friends and family are going back to work, planning holidays, and organising exciting activities. Life goes on after someone dies, even though we feel like it shouldn’t.
Giving yourself the opportunity to fall in love with someone new can be an important part of the healing process (although, as we mentioned before, never force a new relationship on yourself or someone else just because it feels like you have to). It can remind you that love, happiness, joy, comfort and warmth can exist even though your deceased spouse is no longer with you. It can remind you that life is worth living, that there’s always good amongst the bad. It can be a wonderful gift, at a time you might need it most.
Allow yourself to embrace this fully. Falling in love again can be a wonderful experience – allow yourself to enjoy it in all its glory.
Setting foot into the dating world after a spouse has died isn’t easy, and if you haven’t dated in today’s modern age, the experience can feel even more daunting. Our advice to you? Take things slowly, do what feels right for you (and don’t let other people’s opinions influence whether you take that leap or not), and try your best to embrace the beauty of dating… even when it feels almost impossible to.
Chances are, your spouse would’ve wanted you to find love and happiness again. Because you absolutely do deserve it.
Getting your affairs in order is the best way to make your wishes known. When you write your legal Will with Willed, you can even leave messages for those that remain. Get started today at willed.com.au