Dating a widower is unlike any other dating experience you would ever have. Due to the unique challenges and difficulties it presents, the usual rules and etiquette that come with this don’t apply. This is why you should be equipped with the knowledge of how to deal with dating widowers.
So, what are things to consider when dating a widower? They had just lost someone significant in their lives, which means it is important to be patient, understanding, and empathetic of their grief and healing process. The right time will come when he’s ready to go on a serious, committed relationship with you.
This article discusses everything you need to know about dating widowers, what are things to know before embarking on this journey, red flags to look out for, tips for a healthy relationship, and more!
When you’re contemplating whether or not you should date a widower, the most important thing to remember is that, at the end of the day, they are still men—they behave, think, and grieve like men.
If you think of them this way, you can better equip yourselves with an understanding of their actions and motivations. You can then clearly distinguish if they’re ready to start a new relationship with you or if they’re simply looking for a rebound.
Moreover, it is also crucial to empathize with a widower’s feelings and employ healthy communication so you can properly navigate your potential relationship with him. Be patient, respect and support his grieving and healing process, and foster a lot of trust.
5 Things to Consider When Dating A Widower
Before embarking on a new journey in your love life, mull over your thoughts about the things to consider when dating a widower. Afterward, ask yourself, are you really prepared to go down that line?
1. They Lost the Love of Their Lives
This is the most important thing to remember when dating a widower. He has lost someone who meant the world to him, someone he promised to love and cherish for as long as he lives. A relationship ended by death is a loss unlike any other.
The loss and grief he feels are immeasurable, and it would take some time for him to truly heal. It’s also important to know that the mourning period for everybody varies greatly. You may even find yourself being second in his life for a long time, and while that is difficult, that’s just the reality of life.
If you’re willing to accept that loving a widower is a slow process of relearning love and reopening himself toward someone else who isn’t his deceased wife, then proceed with caution.
2. They Require Romantic Relationships to Deal With Loss
After losing a spouse, it’s normal for widowers to feel like they’ve lost the purpose of their life. Everything they’ve built for themselves is now broken, and they would want to fix that—and what better way is there for them to do so than finding another woman?
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with dating months or even weeks after losing a wife, but this raises the problem that most widowers who start dating immediately are still grieving the loss.
As such, most widowers in this situation are not emotionally and mentally ready to commit to long-term relationships with the women they’re dating. In the end, he would probably tell you he isn’t ready to move on just yet.
3. They Will Stay in Relationships With Women They Don’t Love
Because widowers want to fill the gap in their hearts that their previous spouses left, they are willing to get “serious” with women they don’t actually love. They’re just in love with the idea of love, with the idea of having another woman in their lives again.
Loneliness can powerfully influence their behavior to the extent that they’ll attach themselves to any woman who shows even the slightest bit of interest in them. As long as they have someone who will hold them and tell them all the words they want to hear, that’s already enough for them.
The only silver lining is that widowers can only fake these relationships for so long. Later on, they will be ridden with guilt and the nagging feeling that they’re not loving you the way you’re supposed to. At this point, they will likely tell you that your relationship isn’t working out.
4. They Pursue Women They’re Interested In
Generally, men will pursue any woman who catches their interest. And what are widowers, if not men? If they find someone that they know they truly love, they will put aside their grief and heartbreak and pursue them wholeheartedly.
However, it will be difficult to tell whether they’re serious about the women they chase, but you would definitely know if they are. It’s important to remember that the process of fully healing from their loss doesn’t happen overnight.
5. They Can Only Love One Woman at a Time
It’s very easy to con yourself into thinking that if you’re just patient enough and that you’ll constantly be there for your man while he grieves over the loss of his spouse, he’ll move on eventually. While this has its benefits, you can also be setting yourself up for failure!
Widowers can only love one woman at a time, which means while he’s still mourning, they’re only devoted to one woman and one woman. All their thoughts, attention, and feelings are geared towards her.
This means that widowers who are actively moving forward from their late wives and are now ready for a long-term, serious relationship would shift all their utmost attention to you and your happiness.
What to Expect When Dating a Widower With Children?
What’s more difficult than dating a widower is if he had children with his late wife because that’s a whole new level of complexity. Here are things you should be ready for, specifically with regards to their children:
- They may still be grieving over their mother’s death
- They don’t have any concrete understanding of how their father could ever move on and replace their mother, so this type of reaction is completely normal.
- They may exhibit childish behavior, even if they’re grown adults
- You may never win them over, no matter how much love and respect you show them
- You need a widower who can say no to his kids and prioritize his happiness (only if the kids are grown adults)
- You may not spend as much time as you both want if the widower has children who are minors and are therefore in need of parental supervision
- You would have to be more understanding if he needs to juggle time with kids and with you
- You should avoid becoming jealous of the time and attention he gives his children, especially if they are minors
- You cannot control what the kids think of you, but it is still worth it to treat them with love, kindness, and respect anyway
7 Signs A Widower Is Serious About Your Relationship
Usually, widowers would go back into the dating scene about a year after their spouse died. However, this could depend on other factors such as age, if they had children in their marriage and the length of their relationship.
Here are signs that he’s serious and ready to commit to your relationship:
1. He Introduces You To Friends and Family
If he wants to take it to the next level, he should be able to introduce you to the important people in his life. This includes his closest friends, family relatives, and most especially, his children, if he has any.
Keep in mind that this process may be slow because his friends and family may also be hung up on his past relationship with his deceased wife. He also needs time to feel comfortable enough to make you a permanent part of his life.
If you’ve been dating for several months, but he still hasn’t introduced you to any of his friends at the very least, and you feel like you’re being kept like a secret, then he’s not in it for the long haul with you.
2. He Talks About The Future
This is the bare minimum for any romantic relationship, but it’s an even bigger deal when you’re dealing with a man who has lost a beloved wife. If you plan to get serious with a widower, make sure that he’s on the same page as you are.
The best thing to do is to sit it out and talk with him. If he becomes vague or changes topics real quickly whenever you bring up the future, then he just isn’t ready for a commitment yet.
However, when he voices how open he is to committing again to experience romantic intimacy with you and that a future with you doesn’t terrify him, then he’s definitely in the same boat. Remember: this step takes time, and the only way for you to know is if he tells you straight up himself.
3. He Doesn’t Let The Memory of His Wife Affect Your Relationship
A widower is serious about you if he talks about his wife, his memories with her, and even his process of grieving and healing, but he won’t let that negatively affect your relationship or where you stand in his life.
In other words, he will prioritize you. Although he may talk about his deceased wife with affection, you can tell that he isn’t hung up on his loss and grief. You can see that he’s putting up an effort to care for you and even love you the way you truly deserve.
4. He’s Genuinely Interested in You and Your Life
If he does any of the following, then he’s ready to embark on a serious and committed relationship with you:
- Takes interest in things that matter to you
- Ask you how your days or nights went
- Wants to know more about you as a person (i.e., he asks about your hobbies, nature of work, personal beliefs, etc.)
You will notice that he makes the effort and the time to look beyond his own life, feelings, and mourning to share the parts of yours that matter to him. To put it simply, he becomes invested in you.
Additionally, he should be seeing you for you and loving you for you. He doesn’t want to change who you are or fit the mold his wife left. He just wants you, plain and simple.
5. He Includes You in His Life
If he includes you in his life, especially during the most important events or in the most crucial aspects, then he definitely sees you as someone he would be committed to romantically.
Ask yourself what he usually does in his free time. What are the things or the people that are important to him? And does he manage to include you in these?
He should be willing to become emotionally intimate with you by opening up about his stresses, worries, and fears, as well as his happiness, achievements, and goals.
6. He Learned to Live Life on His Own
You should be able to ask if he’s spent some time alone or with friends, participated in his hobbies or found new ones, and found happiness in the simple act of living by himself. If he says yes, then he’s ready to jump back into the dating world.
A widower who’s ready to start a relationship will have confidence in himself that he won’t rely on women to fill the voids in his life. He should be able to date for the sake of dating and not because he wants to find a rebound for his deceased wife.
7. He Pursues You Consistently
It’s all about how his actions align with his words. Consistency makes for a great foundation and builds a strong relationship later on. Making you feel special should at least be one of his priorities.
If he constantly calls or texts you throughout the day, plans dates often, surprise visits you, or simply makes an effort to make whatever you both have work, then it’s a big sign he’s ready. He should be able to show his loyalty, integrity, and genuine affection both through words and actions.
7 Tips for Dating a Widower
Whether you’re dating someone who’s been widowed quite early on or someone who has had a decades-long relationship with his late spouse, you should still approach the relationship with patience, support, and understanding.
Here are some suggestions you should keep in mind:
1. Take Things Slow
When dating a widower, remember that they may still be grieving over their loss or still have leftover feelings of guilt for their deceased wife. It’s important to not rush things and just simply enjoy each other’s company in the meantime. As they say, time heals all wounds.
Be patient and understanding; don’t throw yourself into the relationship immediately. Allow them time to adjust to a potential new love in their life. It can save you both the emotional heartache if you wait for him to be ready to be committed to you.
Moreover, when you take things slow, you will know the widower’s true intentions with you: if he’s dating you for real or if he’s dating you because you fill the emptiness in him.
2. Talk to His Children If He Has Any
Letting his children know that you’re not there to replace their dead mother, especially if they are minors, is essential. You have to properly explain to them that you’re an addition to their family and not a replacement.
Tell the kids that just because you’ve become a part of their lives doesn’t mean that they have to stop loving and caring for their mother. The same goes for their dad too. There will always be a special, irrevocable place for their mother in their lives.
3. Respect His Late Wife’s Memories
Although everyone has their emotional baggage, a widower has had an even deeper, more painful journey. You should understand that it’s nearly impossible for him to forget all of his deceased wife’s memories, especially since he had to deal with her death.
Rather than trying to surpass the late spouse’s memories or erase them from his mind, simply embrace the fact that he wouldn’t be who he is today if not for his past. Be mature and show respect so you can show him that you can form a relationship built on trust and acceptance.
4. Communication is Key
Communication is an important factor for any relationship to thrive, but with widowers, it’s even more crucial since it plays a big role in building a strong relationship with them.
This entails being able to honestly and openly convey your thoughts well but also being an attentive and compassionate listener. You both should be able to safely share your thoughts and emotions with each other without any judgment.
This also helps the both of you to navigate all the hardships you have to face together as a couple.
5. Be Flexible and Limit Your Expectations
Take into deep consideration that the widower you’re dating may be out of the dating scene for a long while, depending on how his previous marriage lasted. This means that dating is something entirely new to them now, so lower your expectations.
Understand that they may be readjusting to having a new relationship with someone new after losing someone significant to them. If you’re not flexible, you might end up being full of anger, hurt, disappointment, and resentment toward him. Again, communication will drastically help you with this.
6. Exercise Patience and Show Your Support
Seeking love after the death of a spouse is a difficult process, so it’s important to become supportive toward a widower and exercise utmost patience. Offer a listening ear, be gentle in your behavior, employ more empathy, and be there when he needs someone to lean on.
If he experiences emotional fluctuations or great difficulty in moving on, be patient with that, too. There will be days or moments when he feels overridden by memories, sadness, or guilt. Just simply be there for him; that is already enough.
At the same time, you should be able to feel when he’s becoming too much. You’re not his therapist, and he shouldn’t treat you as such. If you feel like it has become too emotionally draining to be with him, communicate with him openly and honestly.
7. Actions Will Speak Louder Than Words
Never listen to a widower’s words, no matter how flattered or wanted they make you feel. Sometimes, the grief is so strong that they would do anything in their power to fill that gap in their heart, including telling you whatever he thinks you want to hear.
Focus on his actions instead. If he truly wants you and is serious about pursuing you, his words and actions will naturally align. For example, if you still see him sporting his wedding ring or if he still has pictures of his late wife all over his house, it’s clear that he isn’t ready yet.
6 Red Flags to Look For When Dating a Widower
It’s time to take those rose-colored glasses off so you can make better decisions and be on the lookout for any potential red flags before deciding on dating a widower.
1. He Treats You Like A Secret From Friends and Family
Widowers who are ready to move forward with their lives will not be afraid to let the whole world know about the new, special woman they love. So, if he hides you from his friends and family, it might be an indication that he’s unsure of his feelings for you.
He might say that he’s worried about what his friends and family would think or that they wouldn’t be totally open to the idea of seeing him with someone new, but if he truly wants you, then he wouldn’t give a damn about what other people say.
Don’t let him keep you like a secret because it’s not like you’re playing the role of a mistress—you shouldn’t tolerate being hidden. Additionally, you should see this red flag as his inability to be honest with you since he can’t even be honest with other people.
2. He Constantly Compares You to His Late Wife
It’s normal for widowers to be attracted to women who have either (or both) similar physical appearance and personality traits as their deceased wives. This is because, deep down, they think they can have the same meaningful connection with anyone who looks or behaves the same way as their old wives.
However, if he keeps comparing the both of you often, then that’s a big waving red flag right there. He clearly hasn’t moved on yet and isn’t ready to commit to serious relationships. He may even be still harboring guilt towards starting with someone new.
Don’t let yourself continue living under the shadow of his deceased wife. Although it does take some time and patience before they can truly move on, think, and reassess your life priorities—do you think it’s worth the wait to invest in him emotionally?
3. He Says He’s Not Looking for Anything Serious
As I have mentioned multiple times in this article, he may just be looking for someone to fill the void and emptiness that his late wife left. You might just become a victim of a rebound relationship, and obviously, unless you’re okay with a no-strings-attached situation, that isn’t okay.
Here are some signs you can look out for to know whether or not you’re in a rebound relationship:
- Little time has passed since his late wife’s death, and they’re already dating you.
- He keeps conversations surface-level, indicating he doesn’t want to know more about you or that he’s interested only in physical intimacy.
- He becomes emotionally unavailable—he pushes you away if you get “too close” for his comfort.
- You have an intuitive feeling that you’re being used
- Your relationship with him moves slowly and quickly at the same time
- He sends you mixed signals (i.e., their interest runs hot and cold) and is not straightforward about his feelings
- He doesn’t share much of himself, or he doesn’t allow himself to become emotionally vulnerable with you
4. He Doesn’t Want to Make it Official
Understandably, moving on doesn’t come easy for widowers, which is why you should always make sure you know what you’re getting into before dating someone who’s recently lost a wife.
However, if you’ve already been waiting for a long time or if he himself says he doesn’t want to move forward with a new relationship with you, it’s time to walk away.
He would even go so far as to introduce you as a friend to everybody else or avoid being seen in public with you. If he performs these evasion tactics, you know exactly what’s up and what to do about it. Don’t settle for men like this!
5. He Rushes You Into Commitment
This is quite the opposite of the previous red flag, but it happens, too. If a widower is too eager to start a new relationship, he may just want a quick and easy relationship to fill the emptiness in their heart.
You can quickly tell that this is the case if he says he wants to get serious with you but doesn’t make any effort to know you or establish a solid foundation for your relationship.
Remember: healthy and committed relationships are built on mutual understanding, trust, and respect, which takes quite some time to develop. So, if he’s rushing, that could be a bold red flag.
6. He Neglects Your Needs
A widower may still have lingering grief and guilt over their deceased spouse, which is reflected in the way they struggle with moving on or being happy with you in a new relationship. He may still be preoccupied with his own emotions.
If he neglects your needs—say, he isn’t providing you any attention, emotional support, intimacy, and affection—whether it is unintentional or otherwise, it’s still a big sign that he isn’t ready to be with you just yet.
A healthy relationship requires both parties to be committed, supportive, and responsive to each other’s needs. If one of you isn’t feeling any of these, then it’s best to walk away.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Can widowers fall in love again?
Yes, they definitely can, but it takes time. Widowers falling in love with a new woman again isn’t something that happens overnight—it is a slow process. This is why you should assess if you’re ready to invest in waiting for the day he finally moves on from his deceased wife.
2. How long should I wait for a widower?
It depends on how long the man mourns for his deceased wife. It can take anywhere from months to years, but generally, the rule of thumb is to wait for at least six months to 1 year before approaching a widower.
It’s best to give him space and time to process his emotions and adjust to a new life without a wife. Rushing into dating will just muddy all his thoughts and emotions and will eventually cause problems for both of you down the line.
3. Is dating a widower difficult?
Yes. It has its own challenges and difficulties, that’s for sure. Dating a widower is emotionally taxing but also very rewarding if you’re patient enough. Everything will come smoothly to you if you’re willing to wait for the right time and if you can safely navigate the relationship.
Dating a widower may seem like an emotionally taxing experience, but it proves to be worthwhile in the end if he manages to move forward and commit to a serious relationship with you. However, if he only wants to date you to fill the void his deceased wife left him, it’s best for you to walk away.
Josephine Fuller is a contributing writer for dailytimesblog.com.
She is a Licensed Relationship Therapist, and She has been researching love and relationships for over 20 years. She specializes in relationship therapy, intimacy building, and existential exploration. She’s also an astrologer who uses the stars to explore and explain her unique perspective on life. With a special blend of wit, wisdom, and insight, Josephine brings the heavens down to Earth in her writing about astrology.