Dating a widower is one of the most challenging and, at the same time, rewarding things you’ll ever experience.
Will it all be moonlight and roses? No! Will this be the hardest test of your love? Yes. Will you pass it? It’s up to you.
You see, dating a widower comes with many bumps in the road, especially if you’re the first person he’s let into his life after his late spouse passed away.
But if the love is real, you two can overcome each one of them. Here is exactly how to do it!
7 Must-Know Tips For Dating A Widower
When you’re dating a man who lost his wife, you can forget almost every piece of relationship advice you’ve ever heard. Trust me: this situation is completely different and has an entirely new set of rules.
Here are some professional dating tips for having a relationship with a widowed man.
Be aware of the situation
Before you start your new love with a widowed man, you have to be fully aware of what you’re getting yourself into.
I know what you must think: we all had exes, and every partner you get involved with will have a past.
After all, you’re both grown-ups, and you wouldn’t like being with someone who has absolutely no history in the dating world at all.
Well, this is your number one mistake: thinking that being with a divorced man and a widower is the same thing. Trust me when I tell you that these two situations can’t be compared.
This might sound like a harsh truth, but the fact is that your new boyfriend probably would have never divorced his late wife. He didn’t decide to continue his life without her.
Their marriage didn’t end because they stopped loving each other, because someone found new love, or just because they chose it was better to part ways.
Therefore, you can’t expect this man’s emotions to shut off overnight.
He doesn’t hold grudges against her, he didn’t get tired of this woman, and he doesn’t resent her for anything.
I’m trying to say that she didn’t become a part of his past because of something either of them did – this was nothing more than fate.
Also, if the two of them have kids, he is the only one taking care of them now. This is especially important if we’re talking about smaller children.
The full responsibility for their upbringing is on the back of this man only. Among other things, it means that you’ll be living with them if you two plan to have a serious relationship.
So, you have to ask yourself if you’re ready for all of this. It’s okay to have second thoughts because getting involved with a widower is nothing like any of your previous relationships.
Remember one thing: it’s way more honest to back out timeously if you feel like this is too much for you than to torture both of you for years.
Allow him to grieve
I’ll be deadly honest with you: just because this man decided he’s ready to go out in search of new girls or made a dating profile on a dating site, it doesn’t mean that everything will be perfect for him from the start.
In fact, there will be good and bad days. I’m not referring to your relationship here only: I’m talking about his grieving process.
It doesn’t matter how long it has been since the love of his life passed away – there will still be moments when he’ll think of her and even miss her.
What you need to do is give him a chance to grieve the loss of a spouse.
No, this doesn’t mean that you should allow your entire relationship to be dedicated to her. After all, you need a fully devoted partner and not someone who will constantly cry over his deceased wife.
However, please have some understanding for this guy, especially on important dates.
Give him some space and time to visit his wife’s grave on the anniversary of her death or to see her relatives or friends on her birthday.
This isn’t a sign that he doesn’t love you. It’s not a sign that he hasn’t healed or that he lives in the past, either.
On the contrary, it is just a confirmation that you’re in a relationship with a human being – not a robot who can shut off his emotions whenever he feels like it. Trust me: this kind of behavior is completely normal.
You should be happy that he shares his feelings with you. This man clearly trusts you enough to show you his vulnerabilities.
On the other hand, if he sees that you’re bothered by his occasional grieving episodes, they won’t stop – he’ll just start hiding them from you. He’ll shut this part of himself off, and he’ll continue mourning in silence.
Consequently, this will form a deep rift between you two, and that is the last thing you want to achieve.
Let’s be clear about one thing: it’s not your duty to go around fixing broken men. You’re in no way obligated to heal their wounds or to glue their shattered hearts back together.
This would be what I’d tell you if you got involved with a toxic manipulator who tries to justify his evil actions with his emotional unavailability. But this is not that kind of scenario.
Yes, this man is crushed into pieces. I won’t lie to you: a part of him is broken beyond repair.
However, nothing that happened was his fault. Besides, you thought things through, and you knew very well what to expect.
He didn’t deceive you into this relationship. Therefore, you were familiar with his entire situation.
So, you consciously choose a man who survived the death of a spouse. Well, when you did that, you chose his emotional baggage as well.
Therefore, you have to go especially easy on this guy. He is not like any other man you’ve met before.
He has wounds you can’t even grasp, and his pain is beyond your reach. So please, be super gentle with him.
When you two fight, pick your words carefully. Don’t dare hit him below the belt and use his loss of a spouse as a weapon against him.
Most importantly: remember that this man suffers from abandonment trauma. Whether you like to admit it or not, one of the most important people in his life, unwillingly abandoned him.
So it’s natural that he’s terrified of something similar happening again.
So, please, don’t threaten to break up with him when you’re in the middle of an argument unless you really plan on doing it.
There will be moments when your partner will have the desire to talk about his late spouse. Don’t see this as an attack on you or your relationship – see it as something completely normal.
If you see that he is willing to share a few details about his marriage or his wife – let him. Not only that: show curiosity.
Show this man that you want to get to know all parts of him, including the ones concerning his deceased spouse. Trust me: he needs your encouragement.
He needs to see that you’re genuinely interested in his stories and don’t feel threatened every time he mentions her.
Once again, your entire relationship shouldn’t be an elegy to this woman. But if you want for you two to create a deep bond, be prepared to hear about her, as well.
Respect the memory of his late wife
Just because this man’s wife is dead doesn’t mean she died from his memory, as well. Whether you like it or not, he’ll always remember her one way or another.
It doesn’t mean that he still sees her as the love of his life. He might miss her as a friend, the mother of his children, and as a life partner.
Either way, it’s your job to respect the memory he has of her without trying to erase it.
You’re not here to take this woman’s place. As much as you try, you could never fill the enormous void she left behind.
However, it means that you can make new memories without touching theirs.
It doesn’t mean that you can’t build a new relationship with this man without disturbing his past relationship.
Be honest about your expectations
What do you expect from this relationship? Do you see a future with this man? What are your main goals regarding your romance?
First and foremost, you have to give yourself the answers to these questions. You have to be clear about what you want and how much you’re capable of taking.
Once you get to the bottom of your desires, talk to your boyfriend honestly about them. You’re a part of this relationship as well, and, naturally, you want to know where you stand.
Please, don’t be scared to speak your mind. You have to be clear about whether you’re wasting your life with him or if you’re getting closer to something you truly want.
This is especially significant if you’re not a widow or a divorcee and, more importantly, if he has kids and you don’t. Don’t get me wrong: these differences are not signs that you two can’t make it work.
However, they can be crucial for your future together.
You don’t have to tell him about them on the first date. Nevertheless, as soon as your romance starts to get a little more serious, it’s time for both of you to put all the cards on the table.
The most important thing is for you two to be on the same page.
It doesn’t mean that all of your expectations will be realized when you talk about them – but if you have similar goals and aspirations, you’re good to go.
Consider yourself lucky
I won’t lie to you: you’re in a tricky situation. You’ll probably go through some hard times you wouldn’t experience otherwise.
However, despite all of this, the truth is that you should consider yourself lucky.
Out of all women in the dating scene (including the ones he met in person or through online dating apps), you’re the first person who managed to break the shield around this man’s heart.
You’re the only one who was strong enough to really get to him and to make him understand that he found love. The only one he opened up to without the fear of being hurt.
You already know that this guy is extremely fragile after everything he’s been through. But not only that: he is also incredibly careful.
He can’t afford another loss. He doesn’t plan to jump from one relationship to another, exposing himself emotionally to every girl who comes along.
Instead, he will only give a chance to a woman he knows he can trust.
He will put his heart in the hands of a woman who is powerful enough to carry him and who has what it takes to deal with his demons.
So, he picked you for the job. He saw your kind soul, and he trusted you enough to give you the possibility to hurt him.
If that doesn’t make you special, I don’t know what does. Please, don’t take this privilege for granted.
Cherish the trust this man gave to you, and don’t waste it!
5 Don’ts Of Dating A Widower
Here is a list of things you shouldn’t even think of doing while in a relationship with a widowed man. The things that will only chase him away from you and make you feel miserable.
Don’t compete with his late wife
The number one thing you shouldn’t think of doing, no matter what is to compete with your partner’s late wife. I’ll be honest with you: even if you try, you’ll lose.
This might sound harsh, but it’s only the truth. Why? The answer is pretty simple: because she is not among us anymore.
I’m sure you heard the famous Latin proverb: “De mortuis nil nisi bene; de vivis nil nisi verum.” It means, “Of the dead, (say) nothing but good; of the living (say) nothing but the truth.”
Well, the fact is that your boyfriend’s wife was just human. Even though you should, under no circumstances, think, let alone talk bad about her (after all, you have no right to do so), she had her set of flaws, just like the rest of us.
However, trust me when I tell you that he doesn’t remember her imperfections.
The moment she passed away, your boyfriend forgot everything that annoyed him about her, and he forgot each one of her little quirks and the things that drove him crazy.
As amazing as their marriage was, they argued just like every other couple. However, the moment she passed away, he forgot each one of their disagreements.
Instead, he just remembers the good things. When he thinks of her, he thinks of how beautiful, intelligent, and amazing she was.
He remembers how she made him smile or how she took care of him. He remembers the little things: how happy he was on their wedding day and how she made his favorite breakfast.
And that is how things should be. This is the woman he spent years next to, and, naturally, he thinks fondly of her.
However, on the other hand, here you are – alive and well. There you are, with all of your imperfections and traits he doesn’t like.
So, if you start comparing yourself with this woman’s ghost, who do you think would win?
Don’t rush things
We’ve already discussed the importance of expressing your expectations timeously and having similar goals. Nevertheless, I didn’t point out how crucial it is for you to be patient with this man.
The worst thing you can do is rush things. I’m not talking about sealing the deal here only – I’m talking about seemingly little things every relationship consists of.
I won’t lie to you: this man will need more time than any other guy to give himself to you completely. Don’t expect him to commit to you overnight.
Most importantly: don’t expect him to let you in all the way just like that. He’s spent a lot of time grieving, and during that time, he’s built thick walls around his heart.
So, it will take you quite a while to tear them down. Instead of pushing him too hard, do it step by step.
Trust me: if this man feels that you’re forcing him into something he is not ready for, he won’t run into your arms. Instead, he’ll get cold feet, and he’ll run away from you.
This is exceptionally important when it comes to his kids if he has any. Just because you think it’s time to meet them and become a part of their life, it doesn’t mean that you’re right.
You are not the one who makes these calls – he is. Maybe he thinks that his children are not prepared to meet his new partner just yet.
Or he isn’t sure about your relationship. After all, he can’t introduce them to every woman who enters his life without being certain that it’s the real deal.
Either way, give him the chance to decide on his own, without you interfering.
Don’t be too nosy
Remember how I told you to show curiosity when it comes to the topic of his late wife? Well, that doesn’t mean that you should be nosy about her and their marriage.
While there are people who heal their souls by talking about their loved ones in heaven, there are also those who don’t enjoy talking about them at all.
Beware that this is an extra tricky situation. You’re this man’s new girlfriend, and he might feel uncomfortable talking to you about his late wife.
Maybe he feels like he’d be betraying her if he shared some information with you, or he just doesn’t find that subject appropriate.
Either way, it’s your job to respect his wishes instead of intruding.
I bet that you want to find out as much as possible about this woman. You’re eager to know who he loved so much and who was such a huge part of his life.
But I’m begging you: do not snoop around. You might not see it as being nosy but trust me – he will.
Don’t put effort into finding more about her behind his back. Don’t ask around about her life, and don’t put the pieces of the puzzle together in your head.
Just let her rest in peace.
Don’t disregard your feelings
Until now, we’ve mostly been focused on your boyfriend’s feelings. I told you that you should be careful around him, advising you to be patient and understanding.
All of that is great, but it seems that you forget one thing: YOURSELF. You’re an equal partner in this romance – please never forget this.
So, please, don’t spend all of your time being at his service. Naturally, you want attention, effort, and love as well.
This is nothing to be ashamed of. You love this man, and you want him to love you back.
Not to love you as a second-best, but to treat you as his girlfriend. Sometimes, you’ll be tired of this entire situation, and as harsh as this might sound, you won’t care about his late wife.
You respect her, but you just want a “normal” relationship and a chance to enjoy some time with your boyfriend without having to walk on eggshells around him. Well, that is right.
Yes, you signed up for this, but it doesn’t mean that your feelings should be disregarded in the process.
Don’t be intimidated by his late wife
The final ‘don’t’ of dating a widower is feeling threatened by his deceased spouse. I bet you know the feeling: it’s like whatever you do, it will never be enough, and you’ll never be like her.
Well, guess what: you shouldn’t try being her. You’re a woman with your own set of qualities, and you have a place in this man’s life, regardless of his late wife.
The worst thing that can happen is for this entire situation to ruin your self-esteem. This won’t only be catastrophic for your relationship but your entire being and life as well.
You might leave the relationship, but your core confidence will be permanently ruined. And you don’t need that.
You don’t need to impose some unnecessary insecurities on yourself just because you’re threatened by some woman’s ghost – as crazy as this might sound.
I’m not saying to think poorly of this woman. I would rather advise you not to think about her at all, but I know that is utterly impossible.
Instead, I’ll just ask you not to idealize her. She wasn’t better than you, and there is no reason for you to think of yourself as not good enough only because she existed.
Trust me: your man will feel this. He will sense that you don’t respect yourself enough, and he’ll start treating you with disrespect.
He’ll see that you don’t love yourself the way you should, and he’ll follow your lead.
If you show him that you don’t deserve much from him, he’ll give you breadcrumbs just because you settle for them – it’s as simple as that.
Believe me when I tell you that you’re worthy. Besides, despite what happened before, this guy is by your side – he chose you, and you chose him. And that’s what matters!
4 Possible Horrors Of Dating A Widower (And How To Solve Them)
As you might have realized up to this point, being with a widowed man is not all fun and games.
Instead, you’re likely to run into numerous problems you never experienced in your previous relationships.
There are some most common issues most couples in these kinds of romances tend to face daily. I’m not here only to name them: I’m here to give you a solution to each one of them!
He hasn’t introduced you to his loved ones
Maybe the most common problem women have when dating a widower is that their man refuses to introduce them to their loved ones, especially his kids.
Let’s face it – in a regular relationship, this is a huge step ahead.
It is a sign that your relationship is serious and a guarantee that it’s going somewhere. You’re not some nut job who expects her boyfriend to involve her in his life right away.
However, after a while, you see this as a natural course of events. You two have gone through all the dating stages, but it seems like he is hiding you from everyone around him.
In some cases, that is exactly what he is doing: it’s not just that your widower hasn’t introduced you to his family and friends – they don’t even know that you exist.
You can be full of understanding as much as you want but come on, what woman wouldn’t be offended by this treatment? What woman wouldn’t see it as a red flag?
The first thing that goes through your mind is that he isn’t dating you exclusively. He’s probably seeing someone else besides you, and that’s why he is keeping you a secret.
Or is he ashamed of you? Maybe this man doesn’t see you as a good fit, or he thinks that he can do better, so he doesn’t want the people around him to look down on his choice.
Well, this is what I would offer you as a valid explanation for your trouble if this were any other relationship.
Nevertheless, since you’re dating a widower, neither of the provided options are necessarily true.
How Do You Solve It?
Remember how I told you not to rush things? How I advised you to be patient with this man?
Well, now is the time to take my advice more than ever.
I’m not here to tell you to barge in on his family gatherings uninvited. I’m not giving you a guide on how to stalk and “accidentally” run into and introduce yourself to his best friends.
Come on, let’s come back to solid ground. You’re not a stalker, and you shouldn’t appear where you clearly are not wanted.
The bottom line here is that your boyfriend not wanting you to be a part of his life can have numerous meanings.
It is possible that he just doesn’t feel ready for this huge step. Or you think your relationship is more serious than he does. Maybe he is still testing the waters to see where the flow takes you two.
On the other hand, this isn’t necessarily a sign that he doesn’t love you enough. Maybe he is just being extra careful and is more comfortable with taking baby steps.
How can you know which one is true? Well, first and foremost, if you have your doubts about his behavior, you need to talk to him about it openly.
It’s not enough to throw hints that you would like to meet his loved ones. Disregard your ego and express your wishes.
Tell him that you would like to be more included in his life and that you think it’s time he introduces you to those closest to him.
Maybe he completely forgot about it, and the situation changes after your convo.
If this doesn’t work out, tell him that you suspect that he is hiding you from the rest of the world. Don’t accuse him of doing so (unless you have firm evidence) – just talk to him frankly about the way you feel.
I promise you that he’ll give you a valid explanation.
Animosity from his surroundings
But what happens if the man you love makes you a part of his new life, but that doesn’t go as planned? What when he introduces you to those closest to him, they end up not liking you?
Worry not because this is a common scenario in this situation. This animosity usually comes from his children, regardless of their age.
Look, as painful as this is, you need to understand them, especially if we’re talking about little kids.
They see you as a threat, as an evil stepmom trying to replace their mother whose loss they haven’t processed, and as a woman trying to steal their dad’s attention from them.
But it’s not unusual for others in his surroundings to dislike you without ever actually putting any effort into getting to know you.
They might feel like they’re betraying the memory of this man’s late wife if they become friends with you.
Even though you understand the situation, it still has to be resolved one way or another. Well, this is the healthiest way to do it.
How Do You Solve It?
Every piece of dating advice will tell you the same thing: not to take these attacks personally.
This man’s kids, friends, or even his in-laws don’t hate you because of your traits – they hate the fact that you’re the new woman.
Their animosity towards you has nothing to do with your sense of self-worth. It shouldn’t devalue you or ruin your self-esteem.
Secondly, please, let time do its magic. Don’t go around trying to make them get to know you or begging them to love you.
They all just need time to get used to the idea of your presence. After a while, they’ll all realize what an amazing person you are.
Finally, don’t intervene in your man’s relationship with these people and don’t even think of coming between him and his kids.
What matters is that he loves you, and at the end of the day, they have no duty to like you at all – they just have to respect you and the role you have in his life.
Let him be the one to resolve this problem and set up a time frame in which he has to start working on that.
However, if you get the chance to talk to his kids, please make it clear that you don’t have the intention of replacing their mother.
Instead of trying to impose authority or demand respect, offer them your friendship – that will be more than enough.
Being his psychologist
Sometimes, when a man sees that he can come to you with every single problem going on inside his head, he starts to take advantage of your good listening skills.
He doesn’t do it deliberately – he just sees you as his shoulder to cry on and the only person who will never hang up the phone on him.
Well, in your case, this can become an issue. Before you know it, you’re no longer this man’s girlfriend.
Suddenly, you’ve become his comfort, a friend who helps him heal his wounds and who is only there to give him a hand while grieving.
As kind-hearted as you are, and as much as you want for him to be better, this approach to your relationship will ruin your mental health.
It will make you feel miserable and unloved. Besides, this shouldn’t be your primary role in this man’s life.
How Do You Solve It?
I’m trying to tell you that dating a widower isn’t equal to being his psychotherapist. Yes, you should be supportive – nobody can argue against that.
You should be there for him, and you should help him heal, but never at the detriment of your own emotions and, most importantly, at the cost of your mental health.
If this man has a hard time processing his late wife’s death, nobody can judge him for it. But in that case, he is not ready for a new relationship.
If this sounds familiar, it’s time to talk to him about this problem. He may change his attitude once he realizes his mistakes.
Either way, it’s pretty obvious that he still hasn’t processed his loss. Nobody’s asking him to forget that his wife ever existed, but the trouble is that he hasn’t healed.
In that case, it would be best to ask for professional advice. Ask him to go to therapy.
If this is too much for you to handle, break up with him and tell him to try and contact you when he is better. Don’t worry.
This is not a selfish thing to do. You’re just giving him time to recover, so there is no place for feelings of guilt.
If you’re single and still interested in him after he’s healed, you can always rekindle your romance. If not, you two were never soulmates.
Even in that case, you’ll forever remain the person who gave him the push he needed towards recovery.
You two have different expectations
Let’s picture a situation: Your widower boyfriend already has kids. He had a marriage and, therefore, has put that personal experience behind him.
So, now, he wants to enjoy his widowhood, as brutal this might sound. His biological clock isn’t ticking, and he doesn’t see himself getting married again anytime soon.
Maybe he doesn’t plan on having any more children. Or he doesn’t want his young kids to have a stepmom and doesn’t want to think about marriage until they’re all grown up.
On the other hand, unlike him, you’re not a young widow or a divorcee.
You can’t wait to have a family. You see yourself as a wife and a mother and don’t plan to waste years with someone who has a completely different life perspective.
How Do You Solve It?
Of course, this is just one possible scenario of every widower and widow dating, and your relationship doesn’t have to go in this direction at all.
But I’m sure that you get my point and understand why you need to come clean about your expectations.
If this is the case, you can either find a middle ground or part ways. Trust me: remaining in this relationship and expecting the other person to change their attitude will be completely in vain.
It will lead you both to resentment, and you’ll just waste your precious time.
Abel Keogh is a dating expert on widow dating. Talking from personal experience, in his books, Dating a Widower, Life with a Widower, and Marrying a Widower, he gives dating tips for those who survived the loss of a spouse but want to get back into the dating scene.
When is the right time to move on? How do you do it? Is it better to make a dating profile on a specialized dating website for young widows and widowers or actually go out there and meet new people?
How do you introduce the new partner to family and friends? How do you prepare young kids for a new woman in their lives?
These and other questions are answered in these books.
Even though it is primarily directed at widowers, this book can also help out young widows mourning the loss of their late husband.
After all, women deal with the same problems after losing a spouse, including widow dating, feelings of guilt while rebuilding their new life, troubles while looking for a healthy relationship, and red flags to avoid on the dating scene.
I’ll be honest with you here: dating a widower is not easy. Besides all the issues every romantic relationship brings along, this one offers a range of other possible difficulties.
Turning this romance into a healthy relationship will require even more patience, time, effort, devotion, and, most importantly, love than usual.
People say that only a widowed woman and a widower can make it work. But don’t let this discourage you if you don’t fit the description because I promise you that you too can have a successful relationship.
All you have to do is follow my lead, and everything will be as perfect as possible. The only question is: “Do you think that you and your partner have what it takes to succeed?”