Learning how to find love again after your partner dies
Only you know when you are ready to start dating—the timeline is up to you, no matter what others may say.
When you do start meeting new people, be cognizant of how much you want to share initially.
Think of dating as a way to learn about yourself and have new experiences, not just a way to find your perfect match.
And remember, it is important to be around people who lift you up right now—including the people you date.
When a spouse or a partner dies, the idea of dating again may be a frightening and daunting prospect.
You’ve already given your whole heart to the person you love most in the world. So being with someone new, or even opening your heart to such a possibility, may seem unimaginable, or even wrong.
In addition, it is common to feel that you’ve even lost a part of yourself when your partner dies—adding confusion to an already acutely painful mix of emotions.
But at some point, as you begin to accept the painful fact that your loved one will not be a part of your future, you may feel ready to move forward in your life. If for you that means learning how to date and find love again, keep three things in mind as you take the first steps.
Wait until you’re ready
Remember, there’s no specific timeline to “get back out there,” as well-meaning friends and family may be encouraging you to do. But only you know when you’re ready to dip your toe back into the dating world.
In some cases, you might even think you’re ready, but when the moment comes for that very first date after your loss, you may realize you’re not ready at all. And that’s OK.
It takes a lot of guts to be open to meeting someone new when you’ve experienced such a profound loss. For some people, it’s months or even years before they’re ready.
And remember, dating again isn’t a prerequisite for healing. It’s just a step, in a series of steps, you can choose to take as you create a new life without your partner.
Some people fear that if they dating again after the death of their partner they are dishonoring their memory. But as F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote, “There are all kinds of love in this world, but never the same love twice.”
In other words, although your heart may never completely heal from losing your partner, you’re still capable of loving again. It won’t be the same, nor would you want it to be the same.
Decide how much you want to share
When the thought of sitting down with a stranger for a drink or even for dinner begins to feel less daunting and more like something you want to do, if only to have someone new to talk to, there are a couple different ways to navigate this.
Once you start dating, whether you’re meeting people through apps or through friends, it’s perfectly OK to share as little or as much information about your partner’s death as you choose.
Death remains a taboo subject in our culture, and on a first date you unfortunately may have to deal with your date’s fears and anxieties—putting you in a position of comforting them when you just want to have a cocktail or a coffee and some friendly banter.
You have experienced a major loss, but it does not define you. And it doesn’t have to dominate every conversation.
Decide ahead of time what you’re comfortable with putting out there. You have experienced a major loss, but it does not define you. And it doesn’t have to dominate every conversation with a new person if you don’t want it to.
Another way to ease the struggle of how much and how soon to share information about your late spouse: join a dating app for widows and widowers. Especially for your very first outing after the death of your partner, a date with someone who understands what you’re going through may be the most comfortable of all.
Try to enjoy the experience without expectations
Since we all deal with loss, pain, and grief in different ways and we live in a culture where death is far too often a whispered word, don’t expect the first person you meet to be a match. Dating is still a trial-and-error process. Remember that your feelings, your emotions, your broken heart are valid, and not everyone is emotionally intelligent enough to understand that.
But every outing is an opportunity to get to know parts of yourself you might have forgotten were in there—and to learn more about the person you want to be as you stake out a new life.
A key thing to remember is that you want to be surrounding yourself right now with people who lift you up and understand you, and that includes the people you choose to date.
While love may not be the key to happiness, per se, going out with new people, enjoying life, and having new experiences are things that bring happiness into our lives.
There’s also the companionship factor. As we get older, companionship becomes more and more important. It not only brings love to your life, it helps stave off depression, gives you someone to laugh with, and someone to rely on. We all deserve happiness, and we all deserve to love and be loved. Depending on where you are in your grieving process, you might not be able to fathom dating anytime soon. But when you’re ready, and you will be eventually no matter how long it takes, think of dating as honoring the memory of your partner who died.
They would only want the best for you. Moving forward and enjoying life again is the highest honor you can give them ●
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