Dating After Death
I met a widow the other day for a walk. How weird that we can be widows in our 40s. Cancer, accidents, suicide, murder…it happens more often than you’d think. Wives and girlfriends left behind to pick up the pieces. Part of picking up the pieces means dating again. I asked her about her experience.
Since her husband died last winter, she has dated a lot. “Are you meeting guys online?” I asked. “No, just going to parties. You’ll find that at a certain point, you will stop being invisible, and start to attract guys easily. A few friends said that I was glowing. I’ll be talking to a guy and mention that my husband died less than a year ago and suddenly, I am the most interesting woman in the room.”
I replied, “Yes, I have never felt more like a ghost then walking along a busy sidewalk with no one even noticing me. Then, as I was leaving the playa, barely two months after his death, a friend told me I was glowing. I have heard it a few times since. I have also been getting hit on recently.”
“Feels good, doesn’t it? Enjoy the distraction. You need it. It will help you with your healing. Just be aware of a few things.”
What we talked about next was new and eye opening.
The first thing she talked about were Fantasy Relationships versus Real Relationships. “Fantasy relationships are important,” she said. She told me about another widow friend of hers who had met a guy at a conference. Married with kids, they hit it off. He went home, and they messaged each other a bit. She realized that she was doing a lot of fantasizing about him. She’d make up conversations in her head that they would have. She imagined dates with him. She quickly realized that she was having a better relationship with him in her head, and really, he wasn’t even available.
I remember having fantasy relationships when I was a kid, but it had been so long that I felt embarrassed for her. My friend showed me that her fantasy relationship was nothing to cringe at, not now, not as a widow. They are a fun distraction and can help when you are feeling lonely and sad about your loss. They can be comforting, romantic, and safe.
“Just remember to also have real relationships,” she added. “Otherwise, you actually are lonely and sad. You need to get out there and feel desirable and loved again.”
She has made a promise to herself to not be in a monogamous relationship for one year. She is dating a few guys, having fun, and walking away when it stops being fun.
I won’t make that rule. I don’t want to close myself off to any new relationships, and if being monogamous makes sense, I want to be open to that. The one rule I am sticking with is not moving backwards. I won’t go back to any person I have been with before. There is a reason why I chose monogamy with Rupert, and the others fell away easily. He raised the bar, and there is no reason to do anything but move forward. The other rule I am considering is no guys with motorcycles. This is a hard one for me because I think every guy I have ever dated has had a motorcycle (or was too broke to own one and had a bass guitar instead, but that is another story for another day). Making this rule is scary and it feels like I am cutting out some great guys, but I keep imagining how I would feel every time my motorcycle riding lover came and went – terrified I would get another call like the one I received on July 3rd. While there are no guarantees in life, I cannot be triggered like that. Maybe for a year? Maybe forever. I’ll start with one year. No dates that ride motorcycles for one year.
I chatted with my 14 year old daughter today about a guy who has caught my eye. Then I felt really badly:
Ugh I don’t want you to be raised by a mom with tons of boyfriends. I thought I was done. 😦
its okay. I know you found the one already but its okay if you want to find a new ‘one’
Thanks honey. I’m glad you understand. There’s more than one right person for all of us in the world. I don’t believe in one soulmate. It happens to some people, like grandma and poppy, but most of us fall in love many times throughout our lives.
wow thats cool. lessons from mom
I am not sure what I want to find. Maybe I will enjoy dating lots of guys throughout my life. Maybe I will find a “new one,” as my kid suggested. All my friends and family want me to fall in love and find a partner again. Sure, that would be nice. I would like that. It isn’t likely to happen soon, but who knows. Occasionally, the question of whether or not I am ready comes up. I cannot answer that. I can assess each situation as it comes, and when there are no answers, I can do like the doctors do when a treatment isn’t clear.
Wait and see.