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By Tom Blake
Steve, a recent widower, contacted me about dating. He wrote, “I just ‘stumbled’ onto your Finding Love after 50 website, trying to educate myself on dating and my next phase in life. I became a widower in January of this year after a terrific 40-year marriage (together 44, married 40).”
“I am 66 and still working. My wife suffered an accidental death. She was an only child, and I am now responsible for her parents, ages 94 and 93.”
“To get myself moving, I have gone on a couple of dates. The dates went OK, but I have no plans to continue calling them because I see no willingness on their part to continue dating, let alone, have a relationship.”
“My guy friends say I am wrong to give up. I say to let the women ‘get motivated.’ I would like opinions from both genders.”
To comply with Steve’s request for opinions, I asked my On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter readers for their inputs. Some responses:
Kit said, “I’ve been a widow for 25 years. I urge Steve to get out with groups of people.
He will be ready to move on with another woman when stripping his home of his wife’s special touches does not break his heart. I suggest when he is ready to sell his home, he will make a new place for himself to be comfortable in his singleness. It’s then that he will be ready to form a new relationship.”
Nikol emailed, “I was in a widow and widower support group. My experience with new widowers was they were all in the same big panic to replace their wives. This panic usually lasted two years, and after this period of adjustment, some of them relaxed a bit.
After they learn to live alone and make a nest, they become more comfortable and don’t think about marriage as much.”
Thomas shared, “Regarding men wanting to replace the wife they lost, they rush into it too fast. I have a very good friend who did just that and he is not a happy camper after 10 years.”
Stella was direct, “Steve, at five months widowed, the full impact hasn’t even hit you yet. Allow yourself time to go through all the stages of grief. Get out and about, have fun and be patient. Your time will come.”
Sally stated, “My dad was married to my mom for 42 years, then he married the church casserole ladies: Verna for 15 years, then Clara five years, then he dated Hazel (at 93) who said to him, ‘No, I won’t marry you because all of your wives die!’ She was funny, and they enjoyed a friendship until dad died at 98. He loved the ladies. Some men just need a wife, nurse or a purse.”
Maria said, “Steve is just lonely right now and he’s rushing forward. I’d be scared off if I was asked out by a guy whose partner died five months before.”
Joanie suggested, “Steve might consider taking dance lessons. There are always more women than men, and it’s a way for him to get out into a social scene, meet many women without having to be on a date, and eventually he will meet one who is compatible with him.”
Tom’s thoughts: Likely, the two women that Steve dated sensed he wasn’t ready for a relationship. After all, he had been with his wife since he was 20 years old. What often happens when a new widower begins dating, a nice woman falls in love with him. A little later, he realizes it’s too soon and pulls the rug out from under her, resulting in a broken heart for her. Not good.
Socializing with new people is important, but entering a dating relationship too soon usually doesn’t work. Widowed people need time to grieve and heal. Besides, he is caregiving his deceased wife’s elderly parents, which is admirable. Most women will not want to interfere with that.
At 66, Steve is still young. When his head is clear and his heart is ready, he will meet some very fine women. But for now, he needs to heal and learn to be on his own.
Tom Blake is a Dana Point resident and a former Dana Point businessman who has authored several books on middle-aged dating. See his websites at www.findingloveafter50.com; www.vicsta.com and www.travelafter55.com. To receive Tom’s weekly online newsletter, sign up at www.findingloveafter50.com. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.