Dating again after the death of a spouse

For the first year after her husband Mort died of cancer, Mary Childs, now 68, looked mainly to her two sisters and her quilting friends for comfort and a social connection.”I couldn’t do much more than that,” says the Lakewood, CO, retired nurse.”On the one occasion that I attended a couples’ function with friends from our past, I was totally uncomfortable.” Indeed, many people who lose a spouse often feel like when it comes to socializing, it’s a couples’ world.

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You can just enjoy an evening out and make a new friend. When he realized that he wanted companionship, he began dating a woman who wanted the same thing. If you haven’t dated in some time, you may feel unsure about your ability to casually chat and be interesting to other people.

Now that you can respond in romantic ways to people you find attractive, you may have forgotten how to flirt. After you date someone for a while, you will know if you want more from the relationship than casual dating.

But if your wife, or your grief, dominates the discussion every time you go out, you’re probably not ready. Was there something you wanted to do that was set aside because of the marriage or the illness of your wife—like hike the Appalachian Trail for six months, or live in a yurt on an island off the west coast of Scotland?

You can go out with women without calling it a date, and without any thoughts of it being romantic or leading to marriage. Sparks are fun, but you may need social time more than romance. Do you want to move to a different part of the country? In Elegy For Iris, John Bayley, the husband of Iris Murdoch, the British novelist and philosopher, writes about how he “fumbled” around with two women after Iris died not knowing what he wanted in a new relationship, or what the women wanted who showed up on his doorstep. Don’t try to be the one in control or pretend that you know everything.

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