You’ll Make Many False Starts

One day, it’ll hit you that you’re in a “good” place. You’ve sat with your grief and you’re ready to open your heart to love again. You either join an online dating site or you ask friends and family to be on the look out for a potential match. Then, as you scroll the countless pictures of men on OkCupid, Tinder or Christian Mingle, you’ll find yourself looking for your husband. No, not a potential new husband, but your husband who died. You’ll want to feel that instant connection or find someone who reminds you of your late spouse. You’ll grow frustrated.

It’s okay. You don’t have to date today. Take time to make sure you’re not looking for a clone of your spouse.

You’ll Think You’re Ready Because the Calendar Says It’s Time

It’s been a year, maybe two years since you’ve lost your spouse. You’re in all those widow groups and see other members dating and falling in love six months post-loss. But what about you? Haven’t you been lonely long enough? There is no timetable for grieving. If you’re not in a healthy place – despite it being three years or even 10 years post-loss – any relationship you enter is almost doomed to fail. The calendar can’t tell you it’s time to put your heart back out there again. Only YOU know when you’re ready to dip your toe back into the dating pool.

The Judgment will be Swift

“She’s dating!” “Isn’t it too soon?” “What would her husband think?” “Do you think she was cheating this whole time?”

The commentary on your life will increase. Everyone—from your parents to your children to your in-laws to the old lady at the grocery store—will offer their input on your dating life. You’ll have to ferret out which advice is being given from a place of love (“Mom, we don’t like the way he treats you”) or one without merit (“I just don’t think (insert late husband’s name here) would be okay with your dating, period”).

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It’s Not One and Done

It’s very rare that a widow finds she is a great match with the very first person she dates post-loss. Times have changed since we dated our spouse. You’ll kiss many toads along the way trying to meet a potential partner. The key is to not let one bad date cause you to throw in the towel. If you truly are wanting to date, keep at it. You’ll discover things that were once “must-haves” really aren’t that important in this phase of your life.

A Widower Isn’t Always the Best Option

You’ve lost a spouse, he’s lost a spouse. Sounds like a perfect match right? Not always. In a perfect world, it would seem that two people who have lost a spouse would ride off into the proverbial sunset and live happily ever after. What often happens is that both people aren’t on the same page with their grief. A widow might be looking to get remarried right away while the widower, tasked with caring for a sick wife for many years and/or raising children, is wanting to pursue his own interests and focus on himself (or vice versa). Be open to all dating prospects.

You’ll be Tempted to Rush Things

You’ve met a guy, lucky enough to make it to the fourth date. You’ll want to scream it from the mountain tops that you’ve met your soul mate but be careful. Are you falling in love with the possibility of love or are you appreciating the relationship for what it is currently – right here in this very moment. Are you overlooking red flags because you just want to be done with dating? Are you settling because you’re lonely?

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You’ll Expect Too Much

You can’t ever recreate your marriage. That’s not to say that you can’t have an incredible second marriage, but it won’t be THE relationship you shared with your late spouse. After decades together, your hubby knew you to your core. You can’t expect that of a relationship barely a year old. Just as it took time to develop, shape and mold your marriage, your new relationship will require the same. Be patient if he doesn’t immediately “get you” the way your spouse did.

There will be Guilt

In those moments of complete joy, the sadness will hit you. You’ll wonder how you can be widowed yet so happy. How your heart – once broken – can be full again. You’ll feel unworthy. But know that you are deserving of every bit of happiness that comes your way. If you’re not yet dating or haven’t met the right one, keep this is mind: You are worthy and deserving of another great love story!

Mom to a feisty preschooler, Kerry Phillips became widowed at age 32. She runs an online support group for young widows and widowers venturing back into the world of dating and is a blogger for The Huffington Post.

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