How Do You Know If a Widower Is In Love With You

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Image by Gregory Jordan via Flickr

A good number of Google searches bringing readers to this blog lately have been searching for proof that their widower boyfriend loves them. Why they are searching the Internet for the answer to a question that only their widower can provide, I hesitate to guess though I bet I could.

How do you know if any man loves you?

Cher would tell you it’s in his kiss, but it’s in his actions. Does he act like he loves you?

With men (and women too really, the whole “Venus and Mars” thing is mostly based on stereotypical crap), words will only take a person so far if there is nothing concrete to back them up. Concrete as in action.

What’s the guy doing. Or not doing. That leads you to question his “I love you” in word or deed?

Or are you engaging in the centuries old female pastime of reading between a man’s lines like they were leaves at the bottom of a tea-cup? And if you are doing that – quit it. Now. Step away from the high school cafeteria table where you once giggled and obsessed about boys. It was okay then. You were learning about the whole relationship boy/girl exchange, but as an adult woman, the only thing you are ever going to get from it is a big fat bruised ego.

My advice, and it’s hardly revolutionary, is simply ask.

“Do you love me?”

“Are we an exclusive couple?”

“Where is this relationship going?”

And no, it’s not pushy or stalkerish or demanding to ask some very basic questions of the guy you are in all probability getting naked with on a regular basis*. If it’s not too soon to have regular “sleep over” dates than it is not too soon to ask questions when you feel that love is in the air and he, for reasons unclear, doesn’t seem to be feeling it too. You’re a grown woman and this is your life. Speak up.

But, his wife is dead. He’s grieving.

He’s also involved with you. Having sex with you. Insinuating himself into your life and your affections. Although I have been told – by widowed folk – that sex just happens because of the loneliness and pain of loss. It doesn’t. Sex never accidentally happens. Show me a “sex accident” and I will recant, but until I am offered proof, I will maintain my disbelief.

A widowed man who comes a courting, regardless of where he is in the mythical grief process, is perfectly able to deal with the fallout, the good, the bad and the ugly.

Cut no man (or woman) slack because they’ve been widowed. It’s no different from the divorced guy whose “wife screwed him over” or the never married guy who’s “afraid of commitment because of that girl who dumped him once … a while ago”. It’s bullshit excuses. The ones that people use because they know they’ll work. The stereotypical guy whose been too hurt to open his heart again routine has rewarded many a man with the cake sans having to bake it for himself.

A widower loves you when his actions say so. He will not retreat or play “now you see/hear from me and now you don’t” games. Pictures of his dead wife are not adorning his nightstand and his home does not resemble Miss Havisham‘s ballroom. He doesn’t cower under the weight of disapproval from children, in-laws or friends. And even if he has moments where the past intersects with the present, chances are quite good that he will never let you know it.

You will be his priority, his joy and future. He’ll have told you so in a thousand different ways consistently and happily. And he will have taken steps – in the words of Captain Picard – to “make it so”.

But if you are here because you are still not sure – and you don’t believe me – then ask him how he feels and what’s going on. You owe that to yourself.

*And if you are helping out with his children, practically or actually living with him – you are well past the point of having the right to know for sure.

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115 responses to “How Do You Know If a Widower Is In Love With You

  1. Hi Annie

    Just wanted to check in with you and give you an update, I asked a question back in October…I believe you were right, his meltdown was a rethink…We tried to get back together around Thanksgiving and he was still crazy…Still drinking alot,his moods still running hot and cold, He bought me a beautiful expensive necklace for Christmas and gave me his late wife’s sports car to drive after i had been in a wreck…he wanted to help me buy a car( I declined) then flipped on a dime again, and said we were just friends, he wasn’t ready, he then got upset because I stopped wearing the necklace….I put up with this nonsence for about 2 more weeks and told him I was going to start seeing other people, not to force his hand but because I didn’t see this going anywhere and he refused to seek help. In the meantime I had met a man at work, who I would talk to, he had asked me out when he heard I was dating again and then I found out he was a widower, I told him NO!!! Well he was respectfully persistent,he even had his son who is in the air force and worked at the white house to put a plug in for him…So i agreed, and I am so happy I did and did not judge him being a widower by my previous experience, he was definitely ready to move on, Unfortunately they were in process of a divorce when she got sick and died…so that is a whole different dynamic, anyhow long story short, He just proposed and I accepted, we have been dating for 6 months now, and there have been no red flags..My entire family adores him, all 5 kids…and the feeling is mutual with his family, So my story has a happy ending, just a very unexpected one.

    • Ha! I wouldn’t trust him, nor any other widower after my own experience with the species. They can rot in hell with their enshrined, normally bitchy, dead wives and some of their awful ‘adult’ children so far as I am concerned.

      I would delay the marriage to this critter, do not rush it.

      After 18 months of an engagement to my widower I leaned that ‘he could not make major property decisions with someone he had only known for 3 years.’ Meaning he could move in with me and give his own house to a useless bitch of a 26 year old daughter.

      He moved in with me and did this without my consent.

      I would never trust another widower so long as I live, and I would cram a bedside pic of an dearly departed up the fellow’s butt by now, if I ever saw another such thing.

      Zero tolerance for widowers here.

      • Alison,

        I am sorry you’ve had a bad experience. My personal opinion is that it’s not widowhood that makes some people bad prospects. These were qualities that were always there and that some other woman simply put up with or learned to deny existed or enabled.

        My own husband was straight-forward and future/relationship oriented right from the beginning. No games. And I don’t think he is an anomaly. It’s who he is. Character counts and some men don’t have much regardless of the situation.

        It’s good though that you know what you need and know your boundaries. That is important to establishing a relationship with whoever you might meet. As long as you are honest, yourself, communicate and are willing to walk away – you should be okay and game players tend to keep their distances from ladies like us.

    • I am so glad you came back to update and that you have found your happy ending.

      So many people – and not just those who dated widowers – are afraid to do what’s really best for them because they fear that they won’t find another relationship. Probably a holdover thing from when we were young and first dating and getting into relationships. But it’s always best to put your own needs front and center and to ask yourself what is really best for you. In addition, just being clear about what’s going on and not tolerating disrepect.

      I wish you the best in this new relationship. Congratulations!

  2. Please advice.

    I am dating a widower. His wife died 2 years ago. He is very attentive and does everything a good man should.

    I just cannot sleep in a room with his dead wife’s ashes and pictures. How do I tell him without hurting him?

    • First know that you are not being unreasonable if any way to want the place where the two of you sleep to be a late wife free zone.

      The only way to tell him is just straight forward and honest. How he takes it is mostly on him, but you can probably influence the outcome a bit by the tone of the conversation.

      If, for instance, you’ve been sleeping in this room with him without voicing your concerns or you let him know that you were okay with it at some past point, you can simply say that you thought you could accommodate him but this is all new to you and it turns out, you really can’t.

      I know there is a tendency on the part of women who date widowers to try and be super sensitive to issues like pictures, clothes still in the closet, etc. but the thing is that when you are moving on and dating, a widowed person also needs to be super sensitive to make sure that they are not asking things of their new partners that isn’t reasonable.

      A picture or other sentimental item in your living room or office is one thing but in your bedroom, where you are sleeping with someone else? Not so much. That space needs to be clear of lost loves. Urns especially.

      You say that he has been great so far. He is very likely to be understanding and great about this too. And if he isn’t, it’s an opportunity for you to decide if he is really the person you thought he was and if you want to continue seeing him.

      Do what feels right. Be honest and yourself. That’s what you’d do in a relationship with a guy who wasn’t widowed, right?

  3. I I Been dating this guy for a month and a half I decided to have sex with him now I feel he don’t want me me anymore I text him he respond to my text two days later but he call and apologize for not responding to me I call he didn’t answer I call from another number he answer he said I will see you later when I get back I said no he said yes I hung up It’s two haven’t heard from him I’m I moving to fast or is he not ready yet I ask to talk but got no answer what should I do

    • Only he can answer that and he appears to be ducking you.

      Look, relationships/love are a risk. We take a chance at every next and more involved step. Sometimes, we’ve communicated and been around the other person well enough and long enough that we know what the outcome of each progression is going to be. Sometimes people fool us and turn out to not be as committed as we are.

      If this were me, I’d let it go and if he were to show up at some point in the future, I ‘d be very, very careful before I allowed him to close again.

      But this is you. What do you want? How do you feel about someone who is avoiding you after having sex? Can you trust this guy now? Do you want to?

      He is just a man you’ve been dating. You have no obligation to anyone but yourself and in my opinion, women don’t put themselves and their needs/wants first often enough in the beginning stages of relationships.

      Focus on you. Is he good enough for you? Is his current behavior respectful of you? What do you want?

  4. hello, i have been dating a widower for almost a year. He is a great guy and has asked that i move in with him and try to see if we will work out. Pictures of his wife is present everywhere. One time i had to ask him to put away stuff, if he wants me to come around once in awhile….to give me space…he did remove his wife’s clothes and empty a drawer for me…but their house which she designed….is filled with her memories, the car even has a picture of her before she passed. i actually knew both of them in the 1990′s when i was in a relationship of my own. i have since been divorced for 14 years and him widowed for 7. i have grown kids in college, he has 2 still in grade school. He had plans of retiring…and talks about growing together. Maybe i am afraid of commitment. Maybe i am afraid of getting into a relationship and rearing kids again. Maybe i am afraid of getting hurt and being the background person in his life. i am an established person. He is too but will it work? Do i take the plunge and if it works, thank goodness and if it doesn’t…..i get hurt and go back to where i belong….that is 8 hours away? Please advice.

    • You make this sound like a bit of a coin toss.

      Heads you win. Tails you lose.

      There seem to be a lot of issues here like taking on the raising of young kids again, his environment being still very much late wife oriented, your feelings of being second best.

      Have the two of you really sat down and discussed any of this to the point of resolution? In my opinion that is where you need to begin. Having a talk. A real one where you are both honest about what how you see the present and what you want for the future as a couple. And then, see where things are and how you feel.

      Everyone deserves to be happy and to start in a place where they have a decent chance of being so. Love and relationships don’t have to be left up to the fates to decide. You can direct it. But it begins with have a conversation, or several, with your guy.

  5. I have been in a relationship with my W for just a little over 2yrs now … he lost his wife of 27 yrs to cancer about 4 1/2 yrs ago… she was his one and only his first sex and first serious relationship …
    when we first started getting serious he told me up front he did want to remarry .. ever. i had such a connection/chemistry with him that i just said ok but in the back of my mind i thought maybe he would want to down the road. He has still not changed his mind, he is still very adamant about no marriage.
    he told me he loved me with in 2 months…. I have met all his family and even his in laws briefly. They all accept me being with him. about after 6 months he put the photos he had of his wife in his bedroom away, he said he did it showing respect for me… he has told me that he wants to spend the rest of his life with me that he loves me more than i could know, he is a good man VERY unlike my past serious relationships where i have suffered mental and physical abuse.. we live in different states, he in Va and i am in WV its a 3 1/2 hr drive one way. We have been doing this long distance thing our whole relationship. He has always planned to move to WV because he grew up here and has some family here, we see each other on average about every 3 weeks and spend 4-8 days together . we attended the same high school but different years. He is 57 and i am 49..

    We have had our ups and downs, i have quite the past ( party girl) he knows this,
    he knows i have been with a lot of men where as he was only sexually with his wife for over 30 yrs total and then he says only 2 others besides me since her death…. we have had trust issues because of my past history and had some disagreements involving me going out to hang out with friends on occasion … he feels that i am putting myself in situations that would cause me to be hit on by men i have been with before… i have always assured him i will not cheat, i am not a cheater but he was so bothered by it that i said i would not go out without him being with me, anymore. This does not bother me so much as i have lost my desire for that lifestyle as i have gotten older… another issue he has is my like for being noticed for my appearance, i posted a photo of myself in a bikini on my facebook simply because i thought i looked damn good for my age in a bikini…he however said i was just putting myself out there for someone to make lewd comments and why did i feel it necessary to look for reaction from people… I, in no short order, told him that i was proud of my appearance and thought his implication of my actions just told me he thought i was just being a slut.. i told him i was very pissed off that he had even gotten upset because i have other such photos on my facebook, he later apologized and felt very bad. He said he has just never had a relationship like ours before and was feeling more jealous than he thought he ever would he thought he was past having these types of feeling again. I do my best to reassure him all the time that i am only his and will be faithful.

    Now here the past few months i have been really thinking about him not wanting to marry again, i know he feels that is LW was the only woman he wants to see as Wife and even told my daughter that he just did not have the feeling he should in order to want to marry me, he said they just were not there… this has really bothered me a great deal.. i have tried to no avail to deal with this issue but i feel more and more that i am not good enough to be his wife, that his heart is so entwined with his love for her he has shut off any possibility …. He claims he loves me deeply and wants to be with me for the rest of our lives…. i, for the life of me, can not understand why i can’t just be happy with what we have..I love him so very much but him not wanting to make me his wife is really undermining my self worth… i have been thinking of end it and just moving on i know it will be heart wrenching because i love him so much, this is the love i have wanted to feel for so long and thought i would never feel it again…. i don’t know what to do i am devastated…

    • The not wanting to marry again thing comes up in relationships more often than you would think and usually is due to the fact that the reluctant person is well into middle age or beyond and feels that marriage is just something he/she has done and doesn’t need to do again regardless of how he/she might feel about their new partner.

      And for the record, always take a man at his word. When a man says he is never marrying again it’s because a) he is done with marriage or b) you are the “one”.

      In my opinion,it’s a deal-breaker whenever it is one person who feels this way and not the other. If you were both fine with a relationship sans license, this wouldn’t be an issue. Being on the same page, regardless of the issue, is super important for a good relationship.

      So, the question you have to ask yourself is “how important is being married to me?” If the answer is “very important and I don’t see myself being able to be content without it”, you have your answer.

      It seems though – from your description – that you and your boyfriend have a few other issues like his trusting you for a start and perhaps his comparing your relationship to the one he had with his late wife. Neither of these things are relationship enders as long as you two can discuss them and work through them and that might lead him to change his mind about marriage but I wouldn’t count on it.

      Bottom line is that you and he need to talk and how the discussion goes and whether you both decide there is the acceptable plan for going forward will likely tell you all you need to know.

      One final thing though. You put some emphasis on the fact that you have more diversity in your love/sexual history than he does and I get the feeling that you believe that makes him a bit less experienced?

      He was married for 27 years. He may not have had variety but he knows what is necessary in order to keep a woman and that is not info or experience that every man his age can boast of so perhaps give him a bit of credit for knowing more than you think he does.

      Have a talk with him. Be honest. This is your relationship too. If he needs to move closer or move in and there has to be a wedding in the future sometime after – just tell him so and assure him that you are well aware that he wonders if it can do marriage successfully a second time and let him know that you think he can. Then sit back and listen to what he has to say. Communication is key.

      Good luck.

      • I have been dating my widower for 4 months, we met 3 months after his wifes death. She had a 3 yr battle with cancer and they were married 16 years. We had the talk is he ready to date and he said he was, he claimed he lost her a year before she died due to the cancer and things have been great. We clicked immediately and have more in common with one another than we did our spouses( Im divorced) He is 52 and I am 49…We , click on every level…He has dealt with guilt from the get go, he told me his feelings for me are so strong he feels as if he did not love her enough, he has already started talking long term future and marriage, and got a vasectomy so I couldn’t get pregnant, that being said we have only made love
        5 or 6 times because he is so scared of an oops..or so he says..He has spoiled me, spoiled my children, felt as if this relationship was mandated by God…I mean we have never had an issue…I was bothered by her pictures still up, ashes on the mantle etc..and he said he would get to it he just wasnt ready…Suddenly, out of the blue he called me and told me we needed to talk, he had a melt down, said he could not put her behind him as he was so focused on me, he loved me but not as much as he felt he should, and how could he because he still loves and misses her, said he worried about me, and did not know who he was anymore..whether he is Ginas husband or my future husband…I mean he had a meltdown…I said are we breaking up, and his reply was yes, no, I dont know I just need time to get my head straight and i cant do that because when I am with you I cant think straight..So after 4 months of talking everyday, texting everyday, seeing each other 3-4 times a week all I have heard from him is an occasional text thanking me for my understanding, and asking for time…I asked him if he just wanted to break up and we move on, he said no, just give him time, he will not respond to my texts and Ifeel as if I was blindsided…I understood that at times he seemed distant and when I wo!
        uld ask
        if he was okay, he would hug me and say yes, he wasnt going anywhere and for me to please just hang in there while he got through his crazy…I would also like to add he has withdrawn considerably from his friends and family other than his children( not hers, they did not have children)I’d like to add his children love me, mine do him as well, they said I saved their dads life, he was on a
        3 month drunk they said until I came along…should i give him his time and if yes, how long, he is a gem and worth the wait, i just dont want to get hurt all over again…thank you for any insight you can give me..

        • Should you give him time? I don’t know. I would say that the odds are more in favor of his meltdown being a rethink that will lead him in another direction and that you should think of you and your kids first. However, I know of situations where meltdowns have led to greater understanding, formulating plans for moving forward and long-term commitment – though the latter happens less frequently.

          While I don’t discount that widowed folk tend towards running with new happiness/relationships and allowing themselves to be blind-sided because they really think that happiness and grief can’t co-exist. That one has to be dominant and cancel out the other. My personal opinion is that some people simply can’t let themselves be too happy or move on due to the external pressures surrounding what widowed should or shouldn’t be doing in the first year or two after their spouse dies.

          In other words, happiness, moving on and being in a new relationship are choices that we make. Grief is not a checklist of activities and events that must be accomplished before life can move on. Life moves on from the minute after one is widowed. You can acknowledge it and learn to deal and live or you can drink too much, isolate yourself, wallow, and hurt other people with the one step forward/two back games. The choice is yours.

          Your guy had a drinking problem after his wife died, which is – to me – a sign that he is probably a candidate for more professional help than most grieving folks need. And for you, it’s a red flag suggesting that he doesn’t handle strong emotional overload very well.

          If you want to pursue this relationship, I would suggest that you remember that this is not all about him.

          Yes, he is a widower and he has shit to deal with, but he started a relationship with you purposefully and that gives you the right to expect certain things. For one, not being shut out. He may be isolating himself from all but his kids, however, he claims to love you and not replying to texts or phone calls is simply beyond the acceptable. Grieving is no excuse for treating anyone this dismissively – especially someone you say you love.

          It’s not an intrusion for you to text a quick “How’s it going?” and for him to respond “Okay, thanks and you?”

          In other words, your concern and love should not be something he can opt out of being calling a “I need space” time out. That’s not fair. That’s kinda playing the widow card.

          Second, don’t make this an open ended short of “break”. In addition to occasional check in’s with each other (he should initiate too), there has to be a time limit and an expectation that he is doing something active to figure out how he feels and what he sees happening in the future. This could mean counseling, attending a grief group, seeing his doctor to make sure that nothing physical is amiss – whatever. But if he is just sitting around his house waiting for lightening to strike and grief to be over that says to me that he isn’t thinking about any kind of future at all. He is just settling in for the duration, and you can wait and play back/forth games or not. I would suggest not.

          Finally, I know from having talked with other women involved with widowers that you are going to follow your heart’s lead on this no matter what I might say. I don’t think this is the wrong approach necessarily. You know you and you know him and you know the situation.

          However, I would caution you to put yourself first. Your needs. Your hopes. Your desires. Forget about what’s transpired and what he promised and what you two planned. Focus on where things are at right now and decide what you want for yourself and your kids going forward. Have expectations. Tell him what you need and remind him that your relationship is a separate issue from his grief. He needs to man up a bit.

          It’s okay for you to want certain things out of your boyfriend even if he is dealing with issues. One of the things I tell widowed folks is that you have to be able to be a real partner in a relationship or don’t get into one. If a widow can’t juggle both, it’s best to wait on the dating. Taking a step into dating is a signal to the world that you can handle the residual grieving while moving on because dating often brings up grief issues, and if you aren’t able to do justice to both, dating shouldn’t be something you are doing just yet.

          I can understand how you feel. And men do this bait and switch a lot even when they aren’t widowed. I wonder sometimes if it isn’t coded in their DNA somewhere. But don’t feel too sorry for him. He is a grown man. He choose to start a relationship. He should understand that this sometimes will ask more of him due to his loss than it would of someone who isn’t widowed. That’s just reality and he shouldn’t expect special consideration at your expense because of it.

          Look out for yourself. Expect the same consideration from him as you would from a man who isn’t widowed. Wait as long as it feels okay and reasonable for you to do so. Don’t put your life on hold.

          He will figure this out or he won’t. There isn’t much you can do for him to help with this. Grieving isn’t a couple’s activity.

          Speak up. Ask for what you need in order to make this work. If he loves you and wants a future, he will be willing to take the steps to make this happen. A man who truly wants to be with a woman can and will move mountains to make that happen.

          Good luck.

  6. As a widowed young woman (29 years old) currently in a relationship with a widower (he is in his early 30′s), I have to say I disagree with some things in this post. The biggest offenses I have with this article are “his nightstand doesn’t have pictures of his dead wife” and the bit where you say being widowed is no different than being divorced or broken up with. I still wear my engagement ring and my boyfriend still wears his wedding ring. I have a couple of pictures still on my wall, and he on his. This does not mean we love each other less, or that we are not ready to move on. It simply means that we devoted parts of our lives to other people, people we knew and loved BEFORE we even knew each other existed. These other people did not break our hearts, stomp on them, cheat on us, divorce us; we did not fall out of love with them. We will always love them. And that’s ok. They have left our lives here on this earth, and we had met afterwards and are starting a new life together. That doesn’t mean that we don’t talk about our pasts. We share stories. If someone loves you, they don’t keep things to themselves. And also, to say that having your husband/wife die is the same as getting a divorce or getting your heart trampled on is just insulting. I’d rather go through a divorce or have the love of my life cheat on me rather than ever having to go through holding someone I love deeply in my arms while he took his final breaths ANY day. It is not the same. If someone breaks up with me, I know they don’t want me anymore. That’s not the case when someone dies. One last thing. If my current boyfriend never spoke about his deceased wife and got rid of all evidence of her existence, I would think there was an issue. To love someone that much and just erase them? That’s just as bad as engulfing yourself in their stuff. There’s a happy medium. And I’m happy to hear silly stories he tells me, and happy to see he is a very loving man. The fact that she will always live on through him makes me love him MORE. And from the opposite perspective, I would have never gotten into a relationship with someone who I couldn’t talk to about my past. I have a tattoo with my deceased fiance’s name. There is nothing wrong with honoring those we lost in ways we find comfortable. Let me ask you this: If it was my best friend who had passed away, would anyone care if I had pictures around? Once someone dies, the love you had for them when they were alive changes. You move on, you fall in love again. Such is life. But that loves always exists, and when you marry someone, there’s no reason that love should ever die, and no reason they should suppress their feelings. For all of the people wondering if their widow loves them, don’t judge that based on if they talk about their deceased spouse, have a few pictures around, or still have some articles of clothing in their closet. Moving on doesn’t mean getting rid of everything. It’s a mental and emotional thing, not a physical one. If you can’t deal with the fact that this person will always love their deceased spouse (not more or less than they love you, you can not look at it that way – it’s a different type of love) or if you get uncomfortable seeing a picture or hearing a story, then you should not be in a relationship with a widow/er.

    This is all just going on the fact that the widow/er isn’t taking advantage of playing the “emotionally damaged” card. I’m just saying that it’s NOT the same as a divorce or break up, and there’s nothing wrong with holding onto sentimental items or keeping a few pictures up.

    • In terms of dating again, it doesn’t matter how you ended up back in the game. Break-up, divorce, or widowhood, the rules for re-engagement are the same, and those widowed who think otherwise very often end up hurt and/or hurting someone else. Widowhood doesn’t get a special status and believing that it does is likely to lead a person away from re-coupledom rather than toward it. In other words, you don’t get a gold star and a passing grade in “relationships” because your partner died on you before he could break up with you.

      Dating and marrying someone who hasn’t been widowed, as you and your boyfriend have, is a very different ballgame. I have discussed it in various posts but it is too rare a thing to bother writing a separate post on.

      I do know widowed who have re-coupled and their dead spouses are evidenced – though not prominently – in their homes, but I don’t think these folks are the rule simply because they make up such a small minority of any already very small minority of people.

      And I’ve had this discussion a million times in the last eight years and I have heard the arguments you set forth more times than I could possibly count, and just as an aside, I’d like to point out that much of what you have to say about divorce and the reasons for it are trite, insulting and cliche. Couples who really love each other end up divorced just as often as people with miserable marriages end in widowhood. Be careful when trotting out made for tv generalizations.

      While I am on the subject of generalizations, I tend to err on them when writing about widowhood dating because a broad net covers more people and it’s impossible to hit on all the possible scenarios unless someone shares their example via a comment. So generally speaking, this post illustrates the most common mistakes and the best way to avoid them, keeping in mind that one should also take advice with a grain of salt and apply only what is applicable and what works to his/her own situation.

      I’m glad to hear that you have found love again and that all is well for you mixing the apples of your past with the melons of your now and the papaya of your future. Fruit salad works for some people. Those who it doesn’t work for, usually end up here – reading this.

    • OMG what a crock of shit! wawawa, Ya your a widow so what get over it. Im sick of this poor poor me altitude,. I been involved with a man over a year now and its the same record, one minute its good the next its bad. When we met he didn’t have the courage to tell me the truth that she was dead, he said he was separated which would have had a huge effect if I would have know and not dated him, I didn’t find out tell months later after feelings have started to grow. And now its a fucked up mess every time we go any where there’s a story how him and miss perfect did this or that, I DONT CARE, this is my time. If he wants to have a relasonship with a corpse be my guess, Im living! I have emotion’s and feelings. I don’t deserve being on tis emotional roller-coaster and I want off, but every time he comes telling me it will get better.

      • Okay, but did you actually read what I wrote? Because basically, I agree with you that someone who is doing the things he is, and allowing others in his life to pull stunts too, is not ready to date.

    • I agree… divorce is different than a death in that when handed a death sentence we don’t have a choice, but what I disagree with is… the heart can discern between a divorce and death!! When the heart hurts it hurts!! I don’t believe there are areas of the heart for divorce, death, deceit, etc. They’re ALL matters of the heart… And when I was divorced I can assure you it was like a death to me and the widower I dated for a year and a half agreed that my pain was not less than his because my partner of 26 years was still breathing and his was not!! Just my opinion!!

  7. Thank you for your informative website, Ann.

    I am in a 3 year relationship with a widower that is being torn apart by his youngest daughter, age 26. Have no problems at all with the elder one, who has been nothing but kind and welcoming,

    My widower had a long marriage which ended in his wife’s death from cancer 15 years ago.We have been very happy together, got engaged after knowing each other a year. For two years we did not have an easy time, he was injured at work soon after we met, I gave him all the support I could through a lot of medical issues that stemmed from this.

    I have always been uncomfortable with his house, which was purpose built as his martial home for his LW. It did have the frozen in time effect, and he did have a shrine in the bedroom. Which he removed on my request.I have a nice home myself, with no baggage attached to it re ex’s having lived in it. He talked about renting his house out. I made new curtains for him, throughout. He badly needed them anyhow, and I also hoped this was a step along the path to renting it out,

    Last summer he asked his younger daughter, who lived out of province and was experiencing a financial struggle in a high rent apartment, if she would like to come home and live in his house.. She accepted and a nightmare has ensured ever since.

    I was just reading the book ‘Motherless Daughters’ about how some young women do not grieve properly and end up with arrested emotional development. The book also points out that the youngest child can also take it the worst. This girl was 11 when her mother died. I understand from her older sister that she was always ‘high maintenance’ even prior to losing her mother. By now I conclude that ‘arrested development’; in this young woman’s case equates to full blown Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

    She came home like a whirlwind, with a $5000 professional moving van in tow. She had a lease on her rented apartment, so we were caught off guard by the haste with which this occurred. She called all the shots.Since she was the one who had got out of the lease it was difficult not to allow that, time wise. She refused to either sell (her sister’s idea) or put into store (my idea) her furniture, ridiculously over large for her father’s house.

    She picked a deliberately quarrel with me a day or two before her van arrived. I now see intentionally to get me out of her way,so she could walk all over her father unchecked. She went through his place like a tornado, throwing some stuff into boxes and a heap of stuff, including quite a lot of his furniture out onto the lawn. Not to say that a clean out was not overdue, and I had been hesitant to do so myself for fear of offending either him or one of his daughters. What a joke!

    It was absolutely appalling. She also told him that if I ever kicked him out now she was in there he was going to the old folk’s home.In April this year we discovered that she had told her sister that when she took over a small second mortgage on her father’s house it would be hers. That had never been said to her. Also I was furious to discover she had been in the house for months on end paying only for her power, heat and phone/cable TV bill. Yes, she working, in quite a good job and she had brought a b/f with her who was also contributing.

    She barely gave anyone besides her young nephew anything worthy of the mention for Xmas, pleading poverty. I have recently found out she bought herself an expensive leather coat shortly after Xmas. Her sister now tells me she has a pattern of not chipping in on joint presents.Selfish, Narcissistic, people run in this family on both sides. My fiance’s late father and his youngest brother. His LW’s grandfather and her mother.

    In April I tackled my fiance about her not paying up on this mortgage and had told this story that she was going to have the house lock stock and barrel for taking it over. Her sister also revealed in April that this spoiled brat had been buying herself outfits.

    My fiance’s remedy to this was to tell this damn girl she was ‘renting to own’ by taking over this mortgage. She could not even have the manners to stop texting on her cell phone during this conversation with him, until he threatened to throw her phone out a window.

    We have since seen a counselor who proved totally useless. It was a free service, clearly we need to see someone much better. But either of us have private health insurance and we are very short of funds.

    We had each had a solo session with the counselor prior to joint ones starting. He had told me that he had told her that it was ‘inappropriate to make major property decisions’ with ‘someone I have only known for 2 or 3 years.’, I had asked him why in God’s name he couldn’t just sell that house, and his older daughter had also said as much. So it IS appropriate then, to make ‘rent to own’ agreements with an irresponsible, obviously on the take, immature 26 year old?

    Luckily this never got into any legal format. Seeing she was not going to get Dad’s house for a song she dumped her b/f pretty shortly and has now taken up with an old flame with a good job and his own paid for home. She is transparent as glass to me. Her father makes every excuse for her. It always falls back to this she lost her mother when she was 11 line.

    In our joint session with the counselor she first asked what was the major problem for us. I said ‘X’ his youngest daughters name. When she asked him what he thought about that he stridently said ‘I made a commitment to MY daughter to let her live in MY house.’

    That hit me like a slap right across the face. Chief commitment – to daughter – not to me. Counselor was too much of a drip to pick up on a huge red flag like this. I tried to bring up boundaries, limits, she wouldn’t go there. Must be a twit that is allowing some adult child to rule her, so sees no better.

    Later in the session he also said if he sold his house he wanted it to stay in the family. That means go to that little minx, there is no one else who wants it. His elder daughter has no interest in it whatsoever,

    I feel that little minx has set herself up in there like a pseudo version of his LW.Pulling all his strings, subconsciously. And deliberately trying to oust me as a threat to HER (not her and her sister’s HER) inheritance.

    I threw him out. Right now he is sleeping in her former bedroom on a futon bed. While she sleeps in the main bedroom on a king sized bed she had to put in there with a shoe horn.

    He is accusing me of making him live out of a suitcase. I feel very badly about it, and I know he is not in great health. But what else can I do. He’s got the cart completely before the horse. His daughter’s calling all the shots, and has done ever since she arrived last summer.

    She is highly manipulative and she is going to play every angle.

    Sorry this is so long, I curse the day this little fiend came home.

    • Maxine,

      Sounds like your W has quite the interesting daughter.

      I have read a bit of the motherless daughter stuff but while I agree that growing up without a parent poses issues that take some kids longer to cope with than others, I tend to side with your W’s older daughter’s assessment – her little sister has always been this way. She just doesn’t have her mother to keep her in line and it’s clear that your W doesn’t have the stomach for it.

      If if were me, encourage him to sell the house to the girl. That house is her power over him and you so long as he owns it. Once it is hers, neither of you need concern yourselves with it or her games again.

      Regardless of her issues, she enjoys being a brat and probably knows very well what she is doing. Dump the house. Visit on neutral territory and just ignore her as much as you can. The status quo gives her power (which I imagine will be the case in the future once she has children to hang over your heads but that’s a battle for another day.)

      Some people are just not nice people. She likely would have been just as annoying to her own mother because that’s who she is. People like that are best dealt with sparingly and with as little emotion as possible. And sometimes they mature out of it once others stop feeding their games with reactions. I have a little sister like this and when the rest of the family simply stopped reacting and responding in a manner that made everything worse, she eventually gave up and mellowed.

      The comment that your W made to you about his house. Hurtful but likely he felt his parenting and judgement were being attacked in front of a stranger. No excuse, but unless he does this often, chalk it up to the circumstances – but I would have let him know that it was hurtful, if it had been me.

      The biggest thing about step-children is recognizing that it takes time to build relationships and that your W doesn’t have better children hiding in a closet somewhere. This is as good as it gets. All you can do is be you and control your emotions and reactions to avoid being sucked into this girl’s need for control and drama.

      Oh, and I believe there is a statute of limitations on how long a parent should chalk up bad behavior to the child’s grief. It’s a very short time period and in my opinion, this girl is about a decade and change past it. She is not doing this because her mother died. Partly it is her personality but mostly it’s because she can. Ultimately it’s up to your guy to put his foot down. But if he doesn’t, can you live with this? That’s really the question. How do you go forward as a couple if this is going to be the norm.

      I wish you luck. Adult children, whether they are step or bio, can be big issues in relationships.

      • Thank you very much for your prompt and thoughtful response.

        I wish I could encourage him to sell the house to her. Sell it at proper market value, with some reasonable allowance taken off for her being his daughter. But could she be relied upon to pay a mortgage? She and the b/f she brought back from out of province with her have now broken up, He’s gone home.

        My fiance has been angry with the pair of them for not doing much in terms of upkeep.. Her thoughts run to Home and Garden magazine decorating and renovations not practical things, painting decks and eves, pumping septic tanks etc. She had told her sister that when she took over the small mortgage and the house was hers. (I choke, I really do.) she was going to take out a further mortgage for $60,000. She had a laundry list of vanities: New bathroom, new kitchen, major landscaping, on and on.

        Basically she thought she was going to get a $200,000 ball park home for the balance on a mortgage that was originally around $30,000 and he’s been paying on it for at least 8 years. So maybe $20,000? Pretty good deal! And immediately jack that up to $80,000.

        I can see, what fiance cannot probably see, Next stage after all her proposed improvements, had this occurred, was ‘flip it’ get her money out.’Move up the ladder.’ She works in a profession where she rubs shoulders with a lot of rich, snobby, shallow people. She seems to think she should be able to live just like they do.

        I do not believe she has any genuine emotional attachment to my fiance’s house. He does, she does not. His is made worse than ever as it is on land that was in his family a long time. It is not just the LW family home issue going on for him over it. It is a roots thing.

        Everything her sister has ever had she always wants. Her sister just got married a year or so ago, and her new husband’s grandpa gave them a building lot for a wedding present. So sis is building a new house. Difference is that sis and her new husband have been responsibly saving together for years, and already sharing a home, on which they had gathered a fair bit of collateral.

        The younger one always wants what the older one gets, but for nothing. My fiance gave the older daughter a car when she was 16. But she had to do the weekly grocery shop and run other errands for him. Driving younger sis to some of her activities. Poor older sis! She had to be ‘mom’. Younger one turns 16, starts crying that she wanted a car too. Never used for anything but her own pleasure and freedom to see friends.

        I can’t see younger sis being able to afford to take on my fiance’s house reliably with a mortgage, even if he knocked $50,000 or so off for her . She has already proved to him that she can’t prioritize between vanities and vital work as a home owner. He is at least insisting any major projects, beyond paint and wall paper, get run past him first.

        If she was more responsible I would have a lot more time for her, even if she was still being nasty to me. That seems to be a stepmother’s lot. She could be a lot worse, she is not on drugs, drink, half a dozen kids already etc.

        She would play my fiance for all he was worth if she had that house.

        In any event I think her keen interest has dropped off now she sees he is not going to give it to her for taking over a pittance of a mortgage. BOOT went the marginally employed house husbandish, boyfriend! I guess she figured she could no longer afford servants under the current terms.

        Now she is all over this guy with his paid off, modern, all mod cons house.The poor sap! He’s doomed, she is a real first class beauty, and charmer when she wishes to be one.

        She does not want her dad’s house with all its inconveniences. Wood stoves etc. Her dad is an old fashioned thinker.

        I think she will get engaged to this new fellow of hers over the winter. He is an old flame with a keen interest. He proposed to her in the past but she rejected him. Went out of province with some flashy fellow who let her down after a year or so.

        Maybe at Xmas he will present her with a ring, then she will , move out, and leave her father right in the lurch, House empty over the winter, us paying for all the bills and upkeep. She did not find it comfortable in his house last winter, wood heat means work. Even though she has her galley slave now ex b/f stoking. We are stunned by the amount of wood they used. Stunned, and she was still running the back up electric heat to death.

        Her sister says of her everything has to be right now, for her. She cannot think ahead,cannot save up, cannot wait, everything has to be in the NOW.

        She is playing catch up now on a newly wed sis with a brand new modern house. By the way she did not even buy her sister a wedding present. More ‘joint presents’. Fiance and I bought the newly weds a long weekend honeymoon getaway, at an exclusive but fairly local to us resort, 50% each, most we could afford a long weekend one, we put younger sis’s name on our card, she contributed nothing. She did not give us so much as $25 towards it.

        She would not have even given her a wedding card if I had not bought an extra one and thrust it upon her to write.

        My fiance is a really decent, giving fellow. All this is such a sin. He went through so much to bring up those two girls alone. Plus a terrible illness with his LW. Up and down cancer roller coaster,3 or 4 years of it. He is in the medical field himself, so they gave him a lot of instructional courses and allowed him to do a lot of home nursing of the LW. Far more than the average layman would be permitted. The rough end of this, the dirty end. This lady was in hard shape in her last year. She was a beautiful woman I see by her pics, she dwindled to a kind of a half mad nothing. Cancer going to her brain, doped up on morphine, Desperate she said a load of hurtful thing to him. ‘What will happen to MY children?’

        He got the girls and more or less himself, though all that, he made sure they both got the education they desired. Both girls, to both, to both their credits, have made good use of their educations.

        I don’t want to blubber all over your site. So I am going to call off for now. But I thank you for keeping your comments public on here and a small resource, maybe a beam in an ocean for the shipwrecked, at times.

        God bless.

        Maxine

        • You can “blubber” all you like and you are welcome for the public forum. If it helps someone, I am glad.

          It’s not easy to let go of guilt where parenting solo is concerned and your guy can only do that for himself. He shouldn’t feel guilty. He did his best and it was obviously quite good b/c the older girl has done well. Difficult children sometimes have to be left to flounder and find their own way at some point. It’s hard, though, to let them.

          Try not to take anything to do with the younger girl personally. She is who she is and would be regardless of your presence or her dad’s assistance. Be supportive of your W but perhaps take less of an interest in the younger daughter and just let that play out. Eventually, things with the house will resolve and this stress will be removed from your lives.

          Again, I wish you both the best of luck.

  8. Hi Ann. I have a question about dating a Widower and it’s a tough one – I can’t find any other close examples on the internet or in books about what I’m going through. My widower dated and married the woman he met from teenagehood. They were 16, together for 10 years before being married for 15, several children (now nearly grown) and it’s been 13 years since she died and he has been with no one else – not even to date as he was raising children. He’s a lovely man who doesn’t talk about her and has no possessions around the house, but I have some question marks anyway. He never had sex until he married which was at 30 and never had it for that 13 years after his wife died but he can’t ‘perform’ with me as he has ED. We have tried drugs, books, exercises, sensate, counselling everything you could think of. in 3 years we have only managed it about twice. He has had all the medical tests. The doctors and the books and the counselling all say it’s not medical but psychogenic. He blames the fact he didn’t have it for so long but there are signs it’s anxiety related. I can’t get past the fact he could do it with his wife (who didn’t even enjoy it) but he can’t get any response from me. I’m only 38 and he’s 49 and I was understanding and supportive for the first 1.5 years but now I get upset and there is little intimacy and I am sinking into depression even though I’m trying to fight it. I’m very very worried that in some way it’s related to his marriage and that even if he’s unaware, it’s because on some subconscious level he can’t move on. . He says he was very happy in his marriage but she never once initiated sex in all their marriage. I’m the opposite and yet he can’t respond. What’s going on there? He says it’s nothing to do with her in any way but maybe it is? I’m starting to lose my self esteem, feel dead and trapped and thinking that my physical life is over at 38. I love this man, he seems emotionally healthy, loving, kind and caring but I am concerned we are heading for ‘companions’ and without ever having had that passion and I don’t want a marriage where we are like brother and sister when they didn’t have that. I can’t help compare in this way and I fear for our future. We were going to try for a child but also that’s out of the question because of the ED and as he has other children I feel we have nothing to bond us all or connect us all together. I don’t know what to do, I don’t want to hurt him but a fulfilling, passionate, exciting and varied sex life was going to be the one thing that I could offer him that she couldn’t and now there seems no hope left. Our hearts are both broken over this issue. Samantha Ann.

    • I know that it’s hard and scary to run into issues when you’ve committed yourself fully to a relationship, and sometimes things work out and relationships continue. Sometimes they don’t. Remember that what is important is you. You deserve someone who is committed as you are to building a good relationship and a future together. If he ends communication with you, I don’t know that there is anything you can do, but it would be a shabby move on his part that speaks loudly about his true character.

      In my opinion, men give chase and they usually flee from women who chase them. Very sexist and 19th century but usually true.

      Don’t borrow trouble or imagine the worst right now. He is on holiday. Contact him when he returns, if you don’t here from him, and then make your plans from there, but a man who abruptly ends communications, and is vague about why, is trying to avoid telling you something most of the time. It’s up to you if you want to play that kind of a game with him.

    • Since medical issues have been completely ruled out (and I am going to assume this means specialists too like urologists and endrocrinologists) and you’ve been down all the counseling paths (does this in include help for the anxiety issue?) then you may have to accept that the ED is going to be an issue that the two of you will have to deal with – if you are to stay together – and that compromises are going to have to be reached.

      For example, just because he has ED doesn’t necessarily rule out intimacy. There are – and I am sure you know this – ways that he can satisfy your sexual needs and that they two of you can be intimate minus intercourse.

      And even couples where the male isn’t able to perform sexually – for a variety of reasons – have still been able to conceive a child thanks to advances in reproductive medicine (a reproductive endrocrinologist is who you want to consult probably but start with your regular GYN).

      There are lots of ways around the ED, but the big question is … will this work for you?

      Imagine that a year or five from now, nothing has changed in the ED department but perhaps you’ve been able to work on the intimacy and maybe have worked with a DR on the having a child issue (or have decided to adopt even), will this be enough?

      The thing you always have to ask yourself – and be honest when answering – is “if nothing changes or only changes a little or the change involves a LOT of work, will I be okay with that?”

      It’s no trick to love someone and stay together when things are going as you want them to. It’s harder to accept that the future you dreamed of is not going to happen and you might have to alter your expectations or give up on some of them.

      There is nothing wrong, by the way, with knowing what you can and cannot live with or without. Sometimes we try everything and we can’t make things work.

      And the widower thing? Though it is possible that there is something related to his LW that is at the root of his ED, it is just as likely that there isn’t. It’s been quite a long time since her death. His lack of memorabilia means nothing really nor does the fact that he doesn’t talk about her. People’s grief and remembrance styles are quite varied and 13 year is a long time. Time enough and then some for him to have moved on. And it is equally just as likely that this has nothing to do with her lack of sexual initiating and your being more outgoing style. Don’t forget, some people just naturally have lower sex drives and get along quite well without it. What suited the LW just fine doesn’t work for you. It could be as he says – he got out of the habit and has developed an anxiety issue that is the realculprit and maybe treating it specifically is what is called for.

      Perhaps another conversation with your guy is in order?Be honest about your fears for the future. Maybe you both decide to this relationship is worth exploring some work arounds like sex sans intercourse and assisted baby-making and maybe not. Maybe you decide that enough time and effort has gone into this and sexually your needs don’t match and that’s a deal breaker. Whatever you decide, it’s probably not going to be easy. You’ve been dealt a difficult romantic hand. Can you be okay with it if nothing really changes? Can you be okay with parting and starting over and still maybe not finding what you dream of (because that is a possibility too)?

      In the end, the question becomes how much do you mean to each other and is it enough to find mutually satisfying solutions?

  9. dear ann,
    i am on my late 40′s, still single but had 2 relationship before but unfortunately it did not succeed. I met a widower, who was eventually my high school classmate, exactly a year after he lost his wife. He and his son just stayed in our country for 2 weeks and we met a week before they were about to leave. He invited me for a dinner, and its just a casual dinner. then they go back to their country and he start chatting me. After a month of chatting we officially became boyfriend and girlfriend. He used to tell me to wait for him for a year ad he is going back here in our country to marry me or get me to their country. We constanly do chat, video call, text everyday as in everyday for 2 months. His son even says hi me on our video chat. I used to get jealous of his late wife but eventually i become over it. I almost break him up coz i saw a picture of him with another girl but he promised its just a picture. so i believe him.But one time in our converstation we talk about his coming back here but he said he is not sure anymore coz he has no money yet, so i ask so there is no assurance anymore that he is coming back here, and he said yes no assurance, it will depend on his money next year, maybe if not next year, 2 years more. that what he answered to me. which i was schocked coz he seems that he will not do something for him to come back here next year. So i think about that converstation on my mind that maybe he is not serious with me.
    Then his family have a vacation for a week. He text me but not that often as he used to do but i understand coz he is at the vacation and he has no time for him for us to do video chat or skype. But to my surprised when i open my skype i saw him online and i chat him but didnt replied. Then he texted me he just woke up he said and i ask him that he is online but he is not chatting me and who is he chatting to. and he answered that he leave his phone open that is why i saw him online, but i told him that when i go online i saw him offline first then he goes online, so how come he is telling me that it was online the whole night coz he left his data in his phone open..Then i texted him that is ok if he is chatting someone else. And he just replied ok too. Now we are not chatting for 2 days now and this is the first time ever happened to us.But he is still at their vacation. So please tell me why he is not chatting/ texting me anymore for 2 days now, but i dont want me to text first first coz he lied to me I really love him and he was the answered to my prayers and it seems i am pushing him away for being too demanding? What if he get back from vacation and still dont chat me? What should i do… Thank you so much in advance
    I

    • Long distance relationships are difficult because of the demands on both people to make extra time to communicate and not everyone is cut out for this. It could be just the distance and lack of being physically present with each other that is causing this current issue. Also, in the beginning of a relationship, whether it is long distance or not, it’s exciting because it is new and people tend to go overboard – wanting to text, chat, etc as much as possible. Eventually this has to settle down into a pattern that works for both people.

      But I don’t think you are being demanding by wanting him to clarify his words and actions since they don’t seem to be in line with what he has said and done in the past. A relationship is a fifty/fifty thing and one partner doesn’t get to do all the driving of it.

      If he has changed his mind, he owes you a definite answer to your questions. Don’t forget that this is your life and you should put yourself first. Is this really the guy for you? Is a long distance relationship with only a vague promise of a future together really what is best for you? Don’t worry so much about him. Think about you.

      Not every relationship in real life works out. We date to figure out our feelings and sometimes we find that our feelings change or that in the glow of first attraction we overlooked issues that we can’t continue to overlook as a relationship progresses. Long distance relationships work out even less often than those in real life because the distance makes maintaining them so much harder.

      It does look like your boyfriend has or is in the process of changing his mind. But even if he isn’t, it looks like the two of you need to have a serious talk about where your relationship is going and establish a firm timeline for getting the two of you in the same country. Good luck.

      • hi ann,
        thank you so much for you immediate response, do you think he is cheating me because he doesnt want to answer my question regarding his being online on skype, and if really wants to talk to me even he is on his vacation he has find time to go on line to skype and yet didnt chat me? so how can we talk if he doesnt text me anymore now for 2 days? im i the first one to chat him or just wait for him to come home this sunday? what if he didnt text or chat me still even he is back home? so what does he mean by that? and in our 2 months i really felt that he really loves me, on my birthday he suprised me with a gift sent by his friend here in our country and sent me bouquets on our monthsary…but something changed now.before we used to video call for hours and there one time happened we video call on skype for 15hrs straight bec. we both dont have work that time. and that is the time i saw his pic with other girl in Fb, but i believe coz he commented on fb that he had a girlfriend already to ease my doubt on him.before he used to send me morning messge on text and on fb. but now no more, he used to tell me also that i always think of negative things, and told me also that he treated me his wife already, my other doubt on him is last month his sister went here in our country and his sister ask him if he wants his sister to met me but he said not anymore coz his sister is going to be busy,, and he said if i introduced you to my family i want to be with you.that is his reason for not meeting his sister here.so pls advice me what to do if he continue not to text or chat me? i really love him and i see my future in him already, and he is the answered to my prayer but i dont know whats happening to us now..i dont want to sound to him that i am the one who loves him more that i needed him more.thank you again in advance.

        • I know that it’s hard and scary to run into issues when you’ve committed yourself fully to a relationship, and sometimes things work out and relationships continue. Sometimes they don’t. Remember that what is important is you. You deserve someone who is committed as you are to building a good relationship and a future together. If he ends communication with you, I don’t know that there is anything you can do, but it would be a shabby move on his part that speaks loudly about his true character.

          In my opinion, men give chase and they usually flee from women who chase them. Very sexist and 19th century but usually true.

          Don’t borrow trouble or imagine the worst right now. He is on holiday. Contact him when he returns, if you don’t hear from him, and then make your plans from there, but a man who abruptly ends communications, and is vague about why, is trying to avoid telling you something most of the time. It’s up to you if you want to play that kind of a game with him.

        • hi ann,
          you are such a big help for us people who has a heart trouble. when he gets back from vacation and he still didnt communicate with me,, i guess thats really over for us.. coz he should be the one to commnicate with me first coz of what he did to me, as much i wanted to communicate with him. i dont want to coz i might get hurt if he will not reply and i dont want to sound to him that i want him badly in my life, so if really wants me and serious with me, he will do the first move when gets back…thats is my opinion.pls your advice again ann…coz i guess 3 days or 4 days will be enough space for him/ us
          to think about us..thank you so much again…

  10. Hi Ann,
    I met this guy at work a couple of years back and was instantly attracted to him. Once I found out he had a gf and a baby on the way I shut out any possibilites of anything growing. Instead we were just co workers, as we got to know one another we became cool. I thought to myself “Wow if he were single we’d be perfect for eachother”. Fast fowarding..I left that job we lost touch and 3 years late I find him on the internet. We email and he informs me his wife (which was his gf when I met him) had passed months ago from cancer.
    We kept in touch, met once for drinks, caught up, and became great friend confiding in one another. I moved away and we continued our friendship. I did grow feelings but vowed that I would not let it be known nor allow it to get in the way of me being there for him as a friend. About 1 1/2 yrs after us being friends long distance he confessed he thinks I was great and when he thinks of a future woman he thinks of me. I told him I felt the same. He was surprised I felt the same. He asked once if I would move in with him when I moved back home..that convo dissapated.
    It’s been about another year and a half since we told eachother how we felt, I’ve gone home twice to visit since then and both times he made an excuse that he could not get together with me.We don’t talk on the phone anymore. We text on birthdays and I randomly check up on him…when we do text once every couple of months he asks if i’m still single and when am I moving back. Now im moving back home…I still have feelings, but I know he posts up anniversaries, thoughts, and has old photos of his late wife online..should I give him a chance, leave him be, or do you think he’s just done with me and afraid to tell me so?

    • Men generally don’t make casual inquiries about your relationship or living status, but on the other hand, he knows how you feel and since that exchange of info, he has backed off considerably.

      You have a couple of options. Let him know you are moving back and then see what he does once you are there. Or when you are back and settled in – ask him out on a date and make it clear that it is a date and see what his reaction is.

      I would go with number two and this is why. You’ll know. One way or the other, you will know how he feels and where you stand – friendship only or something more.

      If you want to go the guess game route. His pronounced lack of communication with you seems to indicate that perhaps he has moved on from the idea of you and he, but I am not a fan of reading into things because you can be wrong as often as you are right. The direct approach, while it might not turn out as you hope, is better because there is no dragging things out and analyzing this and that conversation, email, FB post. You ask. He answers. And then you know.

      And just a side note about his posting on anniversaries and whatnot. It’s probably more an indication that he has no current love interest. We all tend to dwell on the last love until they are displaced by the new one. The reasons behind the ending of the relationship – divorce, death, break-up – don’t matter. The only fix for lost love is new love. So we hang onto to the last one until we have someone new to take their place. (And yes, widowed scream and holler about this replacement theory thing but only b/c it is true and it’s a truth which packs a lot of sting.)

      I don’t think he is afraid to tell you anything. You were/are a potential that couldn’t be realized because of bad timing or geography. If you want this to change, you will have to do something proactive about it. This means risking and perhaps he isn’t worth that risk. Only you can decide. Good luck.

      • You’re great and definately on point! Thanks for that! I will go with option 2 and ask him on a date. I would rather know even if it’s not the turnout i’d want it will bring the end result quicker than me reading into things and wasting our times. =0)

    • hi ann,
      you are such a big help for us people who has a heart trouble. when he gets back from vacation and he still didnt communicate with me,, i guess thats really over for us.. coz he should be the one to commnicate with me first coz of what he did to me, as much i wanted to communicate with him. i dont want to coz i might get hurt if he will not reply and i dont want to sound to him that i want him badly in my life, so if really wants me and serious with me, he will do the first move when gets back…thats is my opinion.pls your advice again ann…coz i guess 3 days or 4 days will be enough space for him/ us
      to think about us..thank you so much again…

  11. My husband was married 20 years to the mother if his three children. She passed away from cancer after a four year battle. He went online a few months after her death for companionship, we met and married a little over a year after her death. We talked and talked about grief and love and expectations as I needed to be sure he loved me and didn’t just need and want a replacement. Now it’s five years later and I am pregnant with our first child and my husband is having an affair. He says he has never really gotten over the death of his first wife and married me too soon. And while I know he still isn’t over her loss I believed him over and over when he said he loved me and chose me and felt that God and his deceased wife had brought us together. Now, he says he has strong feelings for another woman and though he says he loves me, he is just not sure what he wants. He says he married too soon because he didn’t want to be alone. I thought we were happy. I am torn. I was raised to never stand for a man cheating on you. But I’m pregnant and our child will have such a hard life as a child of divorce. Was it all a lie? Was I a fool to get involved with a widower? Or is he just using that as an excuse for his bad behavior? Thanks for any insight.

    • Kristi, I am sorry you find yourself in this situation, but – and this is just my opinion based on the info you’ve provided – I think he is lying to you now. It’s far easier for him to use his late wife’s death as an excuse for his affair than it is for him to admit that he simply has broken his promises to you. There is a statute of limitations on how long you can use the widow card to shield yourself from owning your decisions and mistakes and six years puts him well beyond this.

      Did he date and remarry too soon? It’s possible but in your situation, I kind of doubt it. It sounds as though he had plenty of opportunities to discuss the “too soon” aspect in the discussions you had. If there were doubts, they would have come up. He is just conveniently revising history to suit his needs now.

      The important thing now is – again in my opinion – you. You are pregnant and you’ve just received quite the emotional blow. What’s best for you and your baby should be your focus. You were not a fool and you entered into this marriage in good faith because he gave you no reason not to. He is in the wrong and he seems to be trying to get you to think that somehow you played a role in this by getting involved with him early in his widowhood.

      Regardless of one’s grief, they are still responsible for their actions. Your husband can’t use a long dead wife as a way to avoid ownership of his cheating or to explain away the fact that he is playing both you and this other woman (because if he is telling you lies, it’s a safe bet that he is telling her lies too).

      You need to do what is best for you. It’s too bad that the late wife isn’t around to tell her side of that marriage because men don’t usually suddenly become cheaters.

      Do you have a close friend or family member you can confide in? Someone who will be able to look at your situation and help you sort through the facts so that you can decide what steps you should take next? If not, perhaps consult a counselor or clergy person. It’s good to have someone to talk to in real time when big issues need immediate attention. And just to be even more safe, talk to a lawyer and find out your legal options too.

      In the meantime, don’t take his behavior personally. This was not your fault. He is a big boy, and he is responsible for himself. Make him own this by not taking it on yourself as something you have to fix or feel responsible for because you can’t fix this. Concentrate on you, your baby and what needs to happen for you both.

      Good luck. I hope things get better for you soon.

  12. Hi Ann,

    I have met the man I’ve been waiting for all of my life. I’ll be 40 this year with 2 failed relationships, one of them being a marriage. After I divorced my husband, I stayed single for 2yrs to get myself right, mind and body. I dated, even had a fly by night almost serious relationship, until I decided he wasn’t what I was looking for. I was on a dating web site when I met that “fly by night” guy and after I split from him I joined that site again. I was only back on for a week when I was messaged by my current boyfriend. Despite our height difference I took a chance on meeting him. I truly enjoyed our conversations and we had so much in common. When we met for our first date it was like a fairy tale date. I was swept away on that first meeting. I was so comfortable, I really enjoyed him. He had told me during the date and that he was afraid to tell me because he felt it would scare me off that his wife had passed away. I have never been in that situation, so I told him how sorry I was to hear that and kept an open mind. They were married for 6 years, and on and off for about 5yrs prior to that. After getting to know each other more he decided to take a chance and open up to me. He doesn’t have a very close relationship with his own family and never talked to his friends about his problems, but he told me about some things about his marriage. He told me he felt like he settled for his wife. They didn’t have much in common. He said they were more like good friends, but he didn’t have that “in love” factor. He said he really doesn’t know why they married. Some of the things he has told me about her has me to where I really don’t like her. He said that I am everything he has ever wanted and more in a woman. He feels like we are soul mates. He wishes we had met in high school. I feel the same way, but the problem I am having now is the fact that I feel like I’m the “other woman” when I’m at his home. After only 5 months of being together we are talking about marriage and having a child (he doesn’t have any, but I have 2 girls), In his home he still has pics up of his deceased wife, a shrine on his fireplace with her ashes. He asked me before I came over for the first time if I wanted him to take stuff down, it was really important to him that I am comfortable. Of course at first I said no, I would never ask that of someone, this was her home too. Now that I’m head over heels in love with him it is really starting to bother me. He took down all the pics in the bedroom because that is where we sleep, some pics in the living room. He has pics of us up, it feels like a threesome sometimes. When I walk past her memorial pic and ashes I try to think to myself that is a really good friend he lost., Apart of me is feeling like deep down he is not ready to move on because he is so concerned about not making any of his friends, family or her family feel uncomfortable about our relationship. Her Aunt had come to town to clean out all of her stuff a month ago and I kind of got the cold shoulder from her, not that she was mean to me, but not the welcome I wanted. He told me the minute I move in and we are engaged that everything comes down and put away. I feel that if we are talking marriage, it should come down now. I told him “what do we do with our past relationships? We pack them up and put them away”. I’m not going to lie, I still have pics and cards from my kids father, pics of my ex husband. But it is not out in the open, it is stored away in my closet and I never pull them out. The pics of my ex husband will be thrown away when I actually get the time to throw things away, but the pics of my children’s father will be given to my kids. I’m at a loss, I feel since these things are still lingering on I feel he is not ready to let go. I feel so hurt and really bad for feeling this way. I don’t want to lose him, he is the best thing to ever happen to me. My friends and family absolutely love him, but they feel the memories should be packed away. Am I being unreasonable?

    • No, you are not unreasonable. You are in a serious relationship where marriage and babies are being discussed and planned. But you missed a golden opportunity at the start when he offered to take everything down. You went the “I should be understanding and good person route” when you should have said, “Ok, do you need any help?”

      It’s not too late. Be honest. Tell him you really thought you were fine with it but now that your relationship is even more serious, you realize that you are not. The stuff has to come down. There is nothing magical about the actual engagement or moving in that says “today is the day stuff gets put away”. It’s an arbitrary deadline that seems to be for the benefit of family and friends who, frankly, should be of lesser importance than you, your relationship and future plans.

      About the Aunt. My husband’s late wife’s family has always been supportive of him, our relationship and all that goes along with that. However, in the beginning, there was varying degrees of stand-offish-ness and me feeling awkward and unwanted. Depending on circumstances (closeness of the guy to in-laws and children involved) this will vary and some friends and family will take their sweet time coming around and some might never. It’s something that goes with the territory and time will sort it out. In the meantime, remember that it has nothing really to do with you. You are just the convenient focal point. It’s their issues and their problem. As long as your boyfriend is not condoning rude behavior, things just need time.

      Your family and friends are just reacting to your feelings. That’s natural but probably not helping you cope. I usually didn’t confide much to mine about issues that came up. Their indignation on my behalf didn’t solve anything. Perhaps you could put some of the topics off-limits to them “thanks but I can handle this” and stick to only have discussions about things like this with your boyfriend. He is the only one who can help resolve this anyway and the more people involved the more drama. Drama is unhelpful even under the best of circumstances.

      You are not a bad person or selfish or unfeeling for having the very normal reaction to another woman’s stuff all around. Some would call it jealousy and maybe it is, but that doesn’t make it a wrong reaction. She is dead. You are the love, future wife and possibly mother of the kids. You should be in the number one spot. It’s really pretty simple.

      Complicating this are his confessions to you about his feelings for her and their relationship. I am a big believer in not ever going down this path. I know very little about my husband’s intimate relationship with his late wife in terms of details and whatever problems they might have had. They were together 27 years – straight out of high school – so it wasn’t as if every moment was perfect or that they didn’t have issues with each other. That’s normal for a marriage. I just don’t know what those problems and issues were and that’s the better way to go because I would – naturally – take his side over hers. Why not? I love him and she is mostly a stranger to me. Perhaps it would be better if you and he stopped discussing her except in general terms. Nothing can be fixed or changed now and focusing on now and your future is a better way to spend time.

      In the long run, the stuff will be put away. People will come to accept you and he as a couple. Life, events and time have a way of moving us forward and eventually making the things that are vexing us now seem trivial in hindsight. You are perfectly normal. And things will work out.

  13. Hi Annie,

    I have been dating a widower for 14 months, he was married for 25 years and she had only been dead for 7 months when we met on a dating site.

    He is a really lovely guy and we have had some good times, but he is now beginning to pull away. When we first met he said he wanted to take things slowly but that he did want a committed relationship. Now 14 months into it he doesn’t feel he can commit at this point. Whilst he has said he is fond of me he has never told me he loves me and introduces me as a friend. I really love the guy, however he now thinks I am too pushy and have been pushing for marriage. Whilst I would like to think there is a future with him, I think it is too soon for marriage, but I do want to feel that I am in a committed relationship. I am I being childish / foolish to walk away, or is he just making excuses.

    I know he really, really loved his wife an I am unsure if he will ever move on. I have read that a widower will move on when they have met the righ person.

    Please advise.

    • A widower is still a guy, and as you point out, a man in love is ready to move on. While it sounds like you have a pleasant dating relationship, it may be that the intensity of the feelings is one-sided and sadly, you seem to be the one who is more “into it” than he is.

      This happens. Even in situations where no one has been widowed. That’s what dating is about really, right? Getting to know someone and deciding how committed we’d like to get. We can think we’ve met the right person but that person has to feel the same way in order for things to progress to the next level.

      It’s not pushy, however, to know what you want and to ask for it. If you are dating because you want to be married someday, at some point, you share this information with those you date. So you are not childish or foolish to leave a relationship that you don’t see as heading in the direction you want for your future. Knowing yourself, your needs, your wants and having a plan is called being in charge of your life.

      He may be making excuses and trying to get you to hang around until he knows what he wants or finds someone he wants more, or he could simply be afraid or unwilling to tell you the truth – that while he likes you, enjoys what you two have, he doesn’t see himself marrying again or at least marriage with you.

      Either way, you are not going to know unless you have a frank conversation. Discussions are at the heart of all good relationships. Sharing how you feel and how you see things and asking for his honest assessment too.

      If he needs more time, then you establish a timeline but be ready to walk if you go that route. Never issue empty threats. That’s not “grown-up” and it’s a good way to end up a doormat.

      Or maybe it is time for the two of you to part – as friends or not.

      Not every dating situation ends at the altar, but if being married (and having kids perhaps) is what you want for yourself, it’s better to find out where you stand and make plans for yourself accordingly. Until there is a commitment, your primary concern should be you and what is best for you.

      You deserve to be loved and happy, don’t forget that. And good luck.

      • Hi Ann,

        Thanks for the kind words, I am finding it difficult to talk to friends about this.

        I guess you are right – I love him and he is still in love with his wife.

        The marriage thing only came up because he brought it up very early on in the relationship – he wants to be married again and come out if it in a box. …

        I think he probably does want his cake and eat it, I do feel a little used in that I have been used in someways to get him back in the dating sceen.

        I also feel you are right in that he does or did like what we had, possibly the intimate side of things, but was never ever seen as wife material to him.

        In someways I don’t really need marriage as I am too old to have children.

        Kind regards,

        Elle

        • You should do what you feel works best for you. If that means a relationship where you are more into it than he is, and this is really okay with you, you certainly wouldn’t be the only person who has ever done this.

          But it doesn’t sound like you are happy.

          I know the media puts out this image of men who know their minds and use women without thought or remorse, playing with their feelings and taking what they need without giving much back, but I don’t think the majority of men set out to do that. It just ends up happening because they are lazy = for lack of a better word. It’s work to communicate and be honest and it usually results in the other person leaving to find someone who will give back. No one really wants to be in a relationship where they love and give more than the other does.

          This is a generalization, but one I think is pretty apt. People back in the dating world after being out for a while – for whatever reason – often harbor feelings for the last person they loved. Only a new love of equal or greater intensity is going to change this. The old or late love isn’t really being actively loved as much as they are a security blanket, a way to hang on.

          So, it isn’t that he is still in love with his late wife. The love feelings will always be there, but he hasn’t found similar or greater love with you.

          As I said before, this isn’t a reflection on you or him. Attraction occurs, stuff happens and it continues to grow for both or it doesn’t. There are a lot of possible mates for us in the world but everyone we date will not be that “one”.

          Don’t be hard on yourself. And don’t feel that you’ve wasted time either. Every relationship is an opportunity to learn something about ourselves and further refine our goals. Have a talk with him. Figure out for sure where he stands and then think about what you want and where you want to be at the end of the year and years down the road. It should be about you and what will make you happy.

      • Hi Ann,

        Thank you, I know I have messed up but you live and learn and as you say, if there is no committment then I am my own main concern.

        • Don’t be so hard on yourself. It’s not messing up to want a relationship to work out or to give it time and space to do so. This, perhaps, just isn’t the right match up for you, given your dreams and goals.

    • Elle, I was in the same situation, met my W a month after, hit it off so well. Things progressed rather quickly and I fell in love with him. All of the sudden, everything changed. He wasn’t ready for a committed relationship but he didn’t want me to leave him, he wanted me to stick around because he said eventually he would be ready. He went thru good days and really bad days, and let me tell you there were more bad days than good days, and I was there through it all. I found myself more concerned about him and his feelings that I just forgot about myself. When he got really depressed he tended to push away from me and that was really difficult. I know he loved his wife and will always love her but at least now I know he loves me too. We are still together, I haven’t met his children yet, that might be a long time still before that happens but now he says he loves me, that took about 1 1/2 before he even said those words to me. I finally asked him where we stood as a couple and if he could see a future together, he said he does and he would not want to be without me. Hopefully things with his children will get better, they are not ready to meet me but at least now they know I exist and that he has a girlfriend. We are in a committed relationship with each other, and he is a really nice guy and I do love him and want him in my life but this has been the hardest relationship I have ever been in, felt like a rollercoaster ride, every day was different. I completely understand what you are going through and hopefully things get better for you and if he doesn’t want to lose you he will make the changes that are necessary. Good Luck, Sonia

      • Hi Sonia,

        Thanks for the reply.

        Not sure if he wants me to stick around or not, I doubt it – think he sees me as too needy not light enough and wanting commitment that he can’t offer me at this point – if ever.

        I know he wont or is unwilling to change he is now enjoying his freedom. He nursed his wife for a long time and now wants some fun, see what is out there play the field a little I guess. Whilst I did and do love him, i feel it is now time to move on.

        Elle

  14. Hi Ann,

    I started a relationship a couple of months ago with someone that lost his fiance suddenly over a year ago. He’s definitely still in the grieving process but it is more from the traumatic experience of the way he lost her. Our relationship has been wonderful. We are each other’s best friend and it’s like a fairy tale, as cheesy as that sounds. It’s definitely developed quickly into the love that many never get to experience. He’s told me that he believe his fiance picked me for him. He told me on our third date that I scare the s*%( out of him because he can see himself marrying me and being with me forever. He attempted to end it right there saying that he hopes when he’s ready I will still be interested and available. But then he continued to pursue me. After over two months of taking things slow, easing into things it exploded. He told me that he loves me and he doesn’t want to lose me or go on not talking to me but that something is holding him back from committing. That to be in a relationship with me he needs to give 110% to treat me the way I deserve to be treated. He even stayed with me to console me for 6 hours as we both cried and talked about everything. We decided to attempt to stay friends and nothing has changed. We still talk all the time and have made plans, even a month out. He has never really once said that his feelings are directly associated with the lose of his fiance, however he has said that he’s scared because the last person he loved was ripped away from him. What I can’t tell is if this is the general man excuse of committal issues and I should just break all ties and run for the hills or is remaining friends, close friends the best and working through his grief and fears. I just feel that if he does feel the way he acts and talks that he would break down the walls and move forward. Of course this is a quick synopsis but I’ve never dated anyone that has suffered this type of experience and want to make sure I’m protecting myself but also realizing and accepting the situation he’s in. Thanks for any advice!

    • Susan, I apologize for the delay in responding. I was on holiday.

      Moving on is not something you can help him with. Grief just isn’t a couple’s activity and it’s not really a friendship one either. You can certainly be there, listen or whatever if he initiates, but it is his to do and he has to decide he wants to before anything can happen. Moving on is a choice and it appears he hasn’t made the choice to move on, or he would have done so already.

      Run away then? What do you think? Because really, this should be about what you want and what is best for you. You have no commitment here and at best just a friendship that has been more and may or may not be more again but that’s entirely up to him (it seems) and really, you should have a lot more say in your own future than simply hanging around and hoping he catches a clue.

      If you know what you want, you ask for it. He can say yes, no or let’s work on this, but now you have just as much input as he does. And that is how it should be.

      Widowed people sometimes fall into the grief trap, thinking – incorrectly – that time or effort is going to make the death of the person they loved suck less. It will always suck. You choose to dwell in that or you choose to move on and accept that a really bad, unfair thing happened but that doesn’t mean that the rest of your life has to be defined by this or that you can never be happy again.

      Happiness is a choice. He isn’t choosing that and you would like him to but can’t figure out a way to help him, so let me say this again – you can’t help him. He must help himself. He will when he finds a good reason to do it. You might be that reason and you might not be. Happily dating widowed is as much a matter of timing and good fortune as it is dating someone who hasn’t been widowed. Sometimes we hit it off and stars align and sometimes it doesn’t work.

      If you want a relationship, hanging around and hoping isn’t going to get you there. Asking and expecting work better. Most of all, put yourself and your needs, hopes and dreams ahead of being his emotional caretaker. He has suffered a tragedy, but he is still a grown man who is capable of understanding the finer points of why a woman would want to cultivate a friendship and more with him and that not putting his mind to helping her could cost him someone and something that could be awesome.

      Good luck. And remember, you deserve everything you are hoping for and your priority should be you.

  15. I have been dating a widower for 8 months and I’m a widow myself. My husband passed 6 1/2 years ago, my boyfriend’s wife passed almost 2 years ago. We met through a mutual friend & fell hard & fast for each other. I am ready for a relationship but he is not. During our 8 months together, things will be great for a while & then go downhill because he feels he’s “cheating” on his deceased wife. We moved in together after 3 months of dating, yesterday we sat down & had a heart to heart talk. After all was said & done, I am moving out in a couple weeks. He needs his space & I respect that but it’s still very hard. We will remain friends, but I want so much more with him. I understand his feelings, God knows I wasn’t ready to date much less live with someone not even 2 years after my husband passed but it still makes me sad to leave him. I’m honestly hoping space will help him realize we are meant to be together but time will tell I guess. Thanks for listening.

    • I’m sorry that things didn’t work out the way you hoped.

      If you’ve read much of what I have written here about widowed relationships, you’ll know that I don’t put much stock in the readiness theory. Relationship opportunities come along and we take them and work on them, or we don’t.

      There is nothing magical that occurs with the whole loss/grief thing when new love looms. We still feel much of what we felt before – sadness, missing, longing, regret – and dating/loving again only complicate and intensify these feelings by adding the surreal aspect of trying to find love when you have this old love flitting about you like a ghost.

      Moving on and loving again are choices we make. And a new relationship is just the same as a lost relationship in that it requires effort and being present and committed to the now and the future rather than continually looking back to the past. In my opinion, people who use the past as a way to dodge what’s not working in the now are playing the widow card in the worst way.

      But I am years and years out and six years remarried. My perspective is not new and raw anymore and I have worked through any conflict of interest that there was in the beginning.

      It’s possible that you two might figure this out to, but right now, your main concern should be you and taking care of yourself. You have only done what most people do = moved on, loved again and tried to rebuild. That’s normal and healthy and what was right for you. Don’t let this setback deter you from the life you want to have again.

      • Thank you for your response. Everything you said is true but your last paragraph really helped. I’m hoping this break-up and me moving out into an apartment under my daughter & granddaughter :) will be a new, fun & exciting chapter in my life. My boyfriend & I are parting as dear, dear friends. He means the world to me & always will. In that respect I’m glad we’re still going to be friends & talk & hang out once in a while but that’s not going to stop me from having my own fun :) The day I move out will be very hard on me & him I’m sure but you’re right I need to focus on me & I am hoping I can do that………..eventually :)

        • You have a plan and that’s good. First steps. You will be okay and eventually, everything will be okay. Good luck.

  16. Hello Ann:-)

    I just kind of need some friendly advice. I have been involved with a widower for over 5 years now. However, we have been friends 3 years before his wife passed. He has three children. Two girls and one boy. His girl’s ages are 11 and 18. His son is 24. I have been in so many up and downs with this man, I really don’t know where to start. First let me start by saying, he is 21 years my senior. Although, I know he really loves me because he has said it many times. I have been there for him during his wife sickness and well after. It is amazing how well we connect despite the age difference. It just seems like recently he wants to slow things down. I’m in school and will be for the next seven years ( I want to be a doctor one day). He keeps telling me he doesn’t want to rush anything because his kids are still coping with the lost of their mother. Too, he says he wants me to focus on school. I don’t know if he is just making excuses to keep me waiting indefinitely. He is a very handsome man and he has his own business. I’m not sure if he just wants to “play the field” or if he really just needs to focus on his kids. He keeps telling me he doesn’t want to rule out the future, he just isn’t ready yet, like he thought he would be. He has also said, when the time is right, he will no. He said when we become exclusive he wants to treat me better than any woman he’s been with. But at the end of the day, those are only words. He’s proven himself in the past but I think his wife passing is really getting the best of him. He is a really good man, he gives his kids the world. I have never loved a man so much in my life. But, I’m wondering if I should wait. Is this normal behavior. His kids, especially his older daughter were really close to her mother. I don’t know if he is truly just looking out for his kids best interest at heart. And not just stringing me alone.

    • Does he tell you he wants to date others? Or for you to date others? Or that he wants a casual relationship now and that may change?

      There are widowed who take their time figuring out what they want now and in the future. They devote a lot of the energy that once went to care-taking and marriage to their children, if they have them. They sometimes date and even get more than a bit involved with someone new. All fairly normal.

      I agree with your Widower that you usually “know” when you’ve found the one or the next one. It’s not something that’s easily explained but you know it. And I will add that, in my experience, when men have found the one and they know it, anything that stands between them and the one becomes a detail to be taken care of. They don’t generally slow down and ask for more time or come up with a list of side projects to work on before settling down. Men are – generally – doers. Their actions are more indicative of where they are than their words.

      Plenty of couples have dealt with one of them in school and starting/blending a new family at the same time. Not to say that it’s easy, but it’s doable.

      He could be using his kids to put the brakes on and if you suspect that he is uncertain and trying to hedge his bet a bit (aka string you along) then it’s better to ask and know then to regret it later when more time and attachment has occurred.

      I really don’t think most widowed set out to hurt people romantically. They just get caught up and when reality intrudes, they go into damage control mode rather than stop, think and really get a feel on what they feel and want for themselves. Children who are struggling, or even openly opposed to their widowed parent dating, can spell big trouble and some widowed simply don’t want to deal with it.

      The only way you can know anything for certain is to sit down and have a conservation. Just be honest about what your hopes are for this relationship. His response will likely give you the info you need to decide what is best for you. Don’t forget you. Until you are in a committed relationship, you are your priority – as much as that flies in the face of romance.

      I have seen relationships that seemingly weren’t destined for long term become quite strong and wonderful when both parties were willing to talk and tackle each issue as a team. Communication is key. Being on the same page is vital. Good luck to you.

      • Thank you so much for advice. My situation is much more complicated than what I actually posted. This situation actually is really messy. I met this guy three years before his wife passed. We were co-workers. Well not really co-workers, but worked in the same facilty. I was 23 and he was 44. So there’s a huge age difference. He was married and, I too, was invovled with someone else. However, we became really close friends. There were many of times where I choose to walk away(knowing we were becoming too close). Although, I made many attempts to stay away, we somehow ended up back in each other lives. The last time was when he found out his wife had breast cancer. For some reason, I felt th need to stick by him and just be a good friend. During this time he was extremely grateful. After his wife passed things slowly started to change. However, I was willing to leave my current relationship, because I thought that it would be the right thing to do. Considering how me and the widower can’t seem to let go. It seems like he has a lot of guilt because of the feelings he had for me while he was married. He won’t admit this but I know it is true. I know he cares about me, because he is always calling me to make sure I am okay. We talk almost everyday. At any rate, to answer your question if he wants to date…I’m not really sure. He is so invovled with his business and his kids, he doesn’t go out much. He has told me that there are quite a few older ladies who are interested in him, but he isn’t interested. Before he has said he would be wasting his time, because they aren’t me:-) it’s so confusing because he wants to do right by me. He keeps telling me that he is still in love with his late wife. He feels he need to completely get her out of his system( which i don’t think he ever will) before he makes concrete plans with me. Yes, and he is definitely devoting a lot of his time to his kids. Which I dont have a problem with. I admire a man that treat his children well. I’m so sorry I am rambling but I just really need to vent. It’s just that I’ve known this man for almost 6 years. It has been the most draining relationship I have even been in. I also forget to mention that I try not to intiate the communication, I let him take the lead. I believe in giving space, because I know how important it is for him to find his feet. Therefore, I try not to reach out because I know if he wants me, he knows how to find me.

        • I also forget to mention that the widower was married for 25 years. They were together for a total of 32 years. They’ve known each other since highschool. She was his first serious relationship. I just never dealt with this before. I want to be patient and wait. But for how long? This man is 50 years old. I think he is worth the wait. But I don’t want to wait until he is 60 to marry him. That only means that I would be getting the short end of the stick. Meaning that life is short, and I may not have that much time with him. He also keeps saying how he doesn’t want to jump out of one marriage and suddenly get into another one. I don’t know what to think, I am so confused.

        • My husband met his late wife when they were in high school. They were together 27 years. 25 of them married. She was his first love and first series relationship. When I met him, she had been dead just 4 months. At 5 months out, he told me that he didn’t want to be “just friends” and wanted us to explore the possibility of a future together. That was January and we married in June.

          When men know what and who they want, they act. They don’t make excuses or ask for patience.

          I am not saying that it isn’t work to move on and that there is no emotional fallout because that wouldn’t be true, but it’s not virgin territory. Widowed people meet new loves and move on decisively all the time – especially when they are younger.

          50 is not all that old. Someone in good health could expect another 30 years perhaps, but you are correct that you will not be getting the prime years. Your firsts – marriage, children – will be things he’s done already. And you run the risk of being a young widow – maybe with young children – yourself. Life is short and he may well outlive you too but statistically probably not.

          Perhaps you need to list the pros and cons and talk to someone who knows you better than I do?

          As I said before, my go to is cards on the table where love and marriage are concerned. Both things can be difficult enough to manage without the added complication of not really being able to have a frank discussion about the needs and wants of both parties.

        • Ah, I see now.

          Since you are not dating and “just friends”, I think you are right to not bring anything up. It would be out of context. This does leave you stuck in limbo however in terms of your own emotional life/needs. You both have really busy/full lives in terms of career and perhaps just maintaining the friendship, ignoring the mixed signals but also not closing yourself off to the possibility that someone else might enter your life – and be able to engage in a full relationship – might be the way to go.

          One thing, you mention that he says he is still in love with his wife and wants to get her out of his system before moving on. A lot of widowed fall into the fallacy that you somehow can get closure and put things to rest and that this is a necessary step in the equally made up idea of grief being a process. All untrue. What really happens is that something or someone makes you realize that moving on is a choice and that “closure” is really the day you decide to stop dwelling in the past and start living in the now and planning for your future in the same active way you did before your spouse died. Most grieving people come to this realization sooner or later but there is a small subset who will never let go. There isn’t much you can do to help him figure this out. He will in time or he won’t ever.

          If you decide to maintain the friendship as is and wait and see, be aware that your friend is considered a prize in his age group. I don’t know too many widowed men – especially middle-aged ones – who weren’t actively chased. My own husband fended off quite a few ardent widows. Women in the middle-aged group have fairly slim pickens really b/c most men are married and those who are single – still or via divorce – are often single for very good reasons. Widowers too have this mystic about them. They are seen as being excellent mate material due to the fact that they crossed the “til death do us part” finish line. So you might end up being his friend while he dates others – because he will probably date and the fact that he talks about it and is aware that he is being sized up means that he isn’t has closed off to the idea as he might think he is.

          But, the bottom line is you and what is good for you. Please remember to put your needs, hopes and wants as the number one consideration in any of the decisions you make concerning this friendship and whether or not to wait for him. My personal fallback is being honest about how I feel and what I want, it’s not always gotten me what I want where relationships with men are concerned but I have twice met men who appreciated my forthright approach and the both married me, so I believe that just being yourself and being a cards on the table (when you sense that the moment is right) is always the best approach. You do what you need to for you. Be yourself. Be true and honest. Don’t be afraid to say what you think or feel. You should be free to do that in a good friendship or relationship without worry.

          In the meantime, if you are looking for a place to vent or just talk about things, you are always welcome to comment here or you can check out Abel Keogh’s Facebook group for those who are dating/married to widowers. The group is a mix of women – some give better advice than others – but everyone there has been where you are. Sometimes that’s the most important thing.

        • Thanks for your advice Ann:-)

          Wow…that is really good. Your guy didn’t waste anytime. I honestly believe my situation is much more complex than the average one. I’m still in a current relationship…that I am reluctant to leave because it’s a sure thing. On the other hand, the widower guy will not take things further because of my current relationship (planning for the furture and things of that nature). However, he doesn’t want to pursue anyone else because I know he truly loves me. He prefer that I leave on my own, because he doesn’t want to be the cause of me leaving. But, ofcourse I don’t want to leave for “just” a relationship. Marriage has to be involved. But this is something that the widower isn’t currently ready for. Finally, that is the gist of what’s truly going on. I know I am being unfair to the other guy because I know in my heart the widower guy and me are more compatible.

        • Well, I didn’t waste time either. When something has potential, it deserves all your effort and attention.

          My opinion still stands. If you know what you want, you say so. You’ll never get your heart’s desire waiting around for fate to line the stars up in heaven. We aren’t gifted with our lives and futures. We make them.

  17. I had been a divorced mother of 2 children for about 13 years before I met Bob. Bob had lost his wife and after 6 months of grieving had decided to step out and start dating again. He had only gone out on a few dates with a few other women before we met. Through a well known dating website we discovered each other. After meeting for dinner and hitting it off we have been together now for 3 1/2 years. I can honestly say that I am very happy and grateful to have met Bob. I will say however at times it has been difficult for me. It was very obvious from the beginning that he had and still does love his wife very deeply. I have never discounted this notion and have learned to understand that she is and her memory will be an ongoing element in our lives together. I have never questioned or criticized her presence in this way, but rather welcomed it as an ongoing stage of the grieving process. Just recently has marked the 4th anniversary of his wife’s passing. I know that this time is difficult for him and his 4 adult children as well as numerous family members/friends and watching /feeling them experience the emotions of grief as the wound reopens is as heart wrenching for me too. Even though Bob and me have been together for years now…don’t live together yet however we have been discussing the options and possibilities…I stress over the reluctance he seems to be experiencing in expressing his love for me verbally. I know he cares deeply for me and shows his love and devotion daily in many other ways. I come from a family where the word “Love” was not an everyday commonly used expression of our feelings, because we didn’t discuss our feelings openly as a family. Now, after all these years, I understand what it is to experience the love and generous affection from another person. I know he understands how I feel about him, I don’t want to put undue pressure on him to “express” himself and now having researched several resources feel reassured that one day he may in fact “break the ice” so to speak and tell me how he truly feels about me. It amazes me how much emphasis this simple 4 lettered word carries! How it is so broadly discussed and dissected yet stressed over by the masses as a sought after end all in the pursuit on the road to happiness. I guess that in a long-story-short revelation the fact is …LOVE is an emotion that is meant to be felt not necessarily a word that HAS to be spoken!

    • What matters most are actions and that both of you are satisfied with your relationship, which you seem to be but yet, you hope that someday your partner states his feelings out loud.

      It is difficult when the widowed partner engages in obvious behaviors that show their continuing emotional involvement with their late partner via anniversaries or memorabilia. but as long as he consistently demonstrates that this in no way diminishes you or what you have, this is something that you simply learn to not take personally. Not always easy but many people do it. However, it’s not an issue, in my experience, that ever completely becomes a non-issue. Even after seven years with my husband and nearly seven years of marriage, I sometimes get knocked off track a bit when photos pop up on Facebook or anniversaries spark discussions that remind me, I am the second wife. It’s silly maybe, but feelings are not always rational when the heart is involved.

      My own father was not particularly verbal, so I didn’t grow up with a shower of “I love you’s” but both my late husband and my current husband have been different stories. Perhaps I sought this out as a reaction b/c this is important to me. If hearing the words are important to you, just say so. There is nothing wrong with simply asking for what you need occasionally and it needn’t be seen as demanding or needy. How else do we build relationships that suit us if not by communicating our needs. Just waiting for the other person to someday intuit our needs usually leads to built up resentment. Women, and men, have the right to participate in their own relationship by asking for, and expecting to get, what they need from their partners in order to feel secure and loved. Unless one is demanding daily affirmation that is at toddler level of expectation, I don’t find the need to hear “those three little words” all that out of line in a mutually committed relationship, and people who say “Well, that’s just not me to say that” are copping out.

      My usual take on this kind of thing is point out that people’s basic natures aren’t really changed by tragedy. If your guy isn’t effusive with you, he probably wasn’t with his late wife either. Could he learn to be? Sure. But he has to know that this is important to you or he is unlikely to make the effort.

      Bottom line always is that you and your partner are both happy and feel that needs are being met.

      • Thanks Ann,
        I appreciate your insight on this subject! I believe I will get the hang of it (expressing my inner feelings) and will be more forthcoming in doing so! Fear has played a big part in my life when it has come to this and the only thing that this approach has done for me is create undue stress and the onset of depression. I’m done with being afraid of expressing my feelings! If the people around me LOVE me then they will listen and take our conversations to heart. Thanks again, Kate

        • You are welcome. If we can’t speak up in our own relationships, there are bigger issues afoot, but it’s my opinion that most things can be easily resolved with communication.

    • I too went through this as well, I’ve been dating a widower for a little over two years now, we met a month exactly after his wife passed away, they had been together 14 years and have two children together. Everything happened so fast with us, we just really get along so well. The thing with him is he could be fine and happy one day and the next day he is sad and extremely depressed, I try and comfort him and be there for him when he needs me and I know that he loves me, it took him almost two years to say the i love you thing. I love him and would love to have a future with him, I sometimes just don’t see that happening, i feel like I will never live up to his LW, because from what he says she was perfect. I too feel like i’m a good person, good mother, etc, i just don’t think I will ever live up to what she was, and I don’t want too, I’m my own person, but when you hear it from him telling you that, it kind of hurts. HIs children haven’t met me yet and they aren’t ready to meet me either and I understand, I’m not trying to pressure anybody, but will they ever be ready? It’s just a really hard situation, if I would have known this relationship was going to be this hard, I would of thought about it twice.

      • You are far more understanding than I would be if I hadn’t met a man’s children after two years of dating. That’s actually more time than is actually needed to wrap your mind around the fact that your mother is gone but your father needs to move on and live. At this point, they are stalling in the hopes that you will just give up and go away. But that’s just my opinion.

        I have said this before but it bears repeating, his loss of a wife gives him no special status in your relationship. You and your feelings should carry equal weight. If you are being careful, not saying how you feel, what you want or asking for what you need because you are worried that he will break it off if you do – that’s a bigger problem than his kids using the grief card to try and manipulate their dad.

        Relationships have their ups and downs and certainly require work – not all of it hard, but they shouldn’t be the source of you questioning whether you are good enough or not. And really, most widowed people who date and remarry do not find the process to be traumatic nor do their partners.

        So, are his kids going to come around? Not until he makes it clear that this is what they have to do. Kids of all ages take their cues from their surviving parent.

        Are relationships with widowers hard work? Not any more so than relationships with divorced or never married men are. If it is, conversations need to take place. Honest ones where you get your say and he has his and then middle ground is found. Drama is for teenage romances. Adults should have outgrown this and dead wives are not good excuses for thoughtless or bad behavior.

        Finally, and this is just advice I am tossing out for you to ponder, take or ignore, quit trying to comfort or be there for him when he is grieving. It’s not a couples activity. This is his to cope with and not a problem for you to solve.

        My husband was four months out. We went from friends to dating in about a month and he told me he loved me before we’d even met in person (it was as long distance relationship). His daughters were shocked and upset at first but immediately insisted on meeting me and even though they were clearly still grieving, they were nothing but polite, kind and supportive partly because they were raised properly but mostly because their father made it clear that his life and who he choose to love again was not their call.

        The most important thing in any relationship situation where things are not progressing smoothly is to put yourself and your needs/feelings first. Take care of you. Speak up. Don’t be afraid to ask and expect to get what you asked for. A man who loves and wants you in his life will move mountains across oceans to make sure that you stay and are happy. Men who hem-haw, want time and understanding and yet don’t seem to be doing anything proactive to change are probably still not sure that you are the one. Not always but often.

        I hope things work out for you, but I think you might have to take some steps to jumpstart this if you want that to happen. Good luck.

        • Thank you for your advise. His youngest daughter is 11 and he says that she doesn’t want to meet me yet and that he can’t make her so he’s going to wait until she’s ready. When he talks about the future, I just don’t see myself in it, but then there are times when he talks about buying a huge house for all of us but that’s once in a while. He says he loves me, I make him happy and wants me in his life, but sometimes the things he does or says say different. I know I have to sit back and think of what it is that I want and although it would hurt me to not be with him because I do love him, at least i won’t be always wondering where I stand in this relationship. Thanks again.

        • 11, huh? And calling the shots? That’s something you need to think about. 11 year olds seldom give back power that their parents cede to them.

          But it’s a good thing to think about what you can live with and what you can’t. Think about it as though it were a life plan or goal. Where would you like to be next year or the year after and what has to happen to make this a reality and do you think things will fall into place with a little work?

          This is your life. You need to do what’s best for you. Maybe he is it and maybe he isn’t but you’ve put in two years and are you any closer to the life you see yourself living? You deserve that life. Is he the one you can create it with?

          You will figure it out.

        • I have alot of thinking to do and hopefully if he really loves me like he says he does, he will make the changes he needs to make so we can be together. I just want to be happy and altough I love him and it would hurt me to walk away, I know i can’t continue a relationship where there is no future for us. Thanks again for your great advise, i needed to hear that.

      • I’m kind of in the same situation you are. One minute my bf is fine and wants a relationship with me, the next we’re done. Well we are done now, I’m moving out tomorrow BUT we are best friends and will stay in touch, thank God. His kids love me, they are all older & some have families of their own and we will stay in touch as well but it’s still hard. I have been a widow for 6 1/2 years and he has been one for not even 2 yet, after we moved in together after dating for 4 months he realized he wasn’t ready for a live in relationship. Sucks yes because I feel for him more than he does for me but I’m actually ready for some “me” time. I have never lived alone in my 53 years and I need it now lol I’m moving into an apartment right under my daughter & granddaughter so that will definitely help. Have given up on men for a while & going to concentrate on me for a while, see how that goes. Good luck to you & all the best…….hopefully the best to me too :)

        • I need some “me” time too, lol. It’s hard because I’m so used to him being around, because although we don’t live together, he’s always over at my house, spends the night alot (his kids and him are currently staying at his mom’s house) I haven’t lived with a man for over 10 years, so having a man around is nice, and I miss that, but at the same time I know he’s not completely happy, because he’s with me and my kids but has to be away from his kids at the same time. My daughter just recently had a baby, so I’m spending alot of time with them, keeps me from thinking too much on my own stuff. Good luck to you too!

  18. When I was a young girl just out of High School a mentor friend said to me
    if there is anything you ever want to know just go to the library and look it up
    and chances are someone will have written something on the subject.. any subject.
    Wow, he’s been dead for a long time and I think of him every time I Google
    something.

    I disagree with one thing you said , that I am not going to get closure.

    You have just given me all the closure I need.

    With much gratitude!!!!!

    • I am glad about that. So many take to the “library” known as the Internet in search of the elusive thing aka closure and don’t ever find it, but they weren’t really looking for it. They were looking for ways to fix relationships retroactively.

      Closure is really something you give yourself when you decide it’s okay to let go.

      Good luck and thanks for adding to the conversations here. There is not much info out there and even these comments are places where someone else can find insight.

  19. Its me again, I hope you can put all of this together..when I first went into the
    widowers home as a female friend I saw the photo’s everywhere of the late wife
    and knowing he had just ended it with his 2nd GF I said no wonder it didn’t work
    out ..you have to put all these pictures away of the late wife and make a women
    feel special. Then our long friendship/courtship proceeded and when are relation
    ship evolved into intimacy he still didn’t. How could we be intimate in that bedroom.. OK feelings aren’t black and white but
    what about simple respect for a (living) women’s feelings. How could we ever be intimate in that bedroom with the photo’s. doesn’t it say somewhere around here that’s a no no and Isn’t the man suppose to pack all
    that up without being asked and besides I had already tipped him off a
    long time ago in regards to women in general.

    Thank you for your thoughts

    • I am not disagreeing with you about the pics and what they imply to a new love in terms of readiness and respect, nor that they send contradictory messages. But for some widowed, there is no contradiction. However, I think they are confusing the on-going feelings we all have for our deceased spouses with the active state of love and respect we had with them when they were alive.

      Relationships change over time. All of them. It is to be expected. Nothing is immune to the effects of life moving forward. The relationship btwn a couple changes with one of their deaths. It enters a different “phase” if you will and this is where it gets problematic for some widowed. They can’t/don’t recognize this. They continue to behave as though the relationship is active when it isn’t. Hence pics and celebrations of birthdays and shrines and whatnot.

      For some, the introduction of new love pushes them to put things away and realize that focus should be on the new partner. For a few, this doesn’t happen or they try to convince the new partner that things like dead spouse pics staring at them while they make love to someone else is the normal state of things. It isn’t.

      Your Widower (after 3 girlfriends) isn’t likely to change – though one can never say never. Change is usually prompted by need and he simply seems to not feel the need. It’s not a reflection on you. It’s totally his issue and an issue for the next woman – because there likely will be one.

      Not all widowed men behave like this and those who do really shouldn’t be given much slack. There is no good reason for this behavior. And it’s not just men, widowed females can be just as insensitive and prone to the absurd notion that having lost a spouse entitles them acceptance of things that most other people would get called on the carpet for.

      You told him what you thought and he ignored you. I think you know all you need to. You are not going to get closure on this and you aren’t going to fix him. Men who behave like this as widowers probably have always been insensitive. Widowhood doesn’t turn a pig’s ear into a silk purse. If a person had issues or was a jerk or a drama queen or whatever – they still are after being widowed and sometimes more so.

      Obviously you felt he had potential or you wouldn’t have gotten involved but at some point (sooner rather than later) potential has to realize itself. In this case, it doesn’t seem that it will. You didn’t do anything wrong. This is his to own.

      • Thank you so much for your comments. I have been in a relationship with a 68 yr old widower for over a year now and he was married over 45 years, his wife dying after a sudden illness. The 3rd anniversary is coming up. Our relationship is all I’ve ever wanted and he is always respectful and affectionate. However he has not ever said he loves me (says it took him 10 years to tell his wife that) and a photo of her is on the living room wall as well as a family photo overlooking his/our bed. He still wears his wedding ring. Reading your posts has me realising there are things I need to know now and I need to be thinking more of myself, my needs and my future.

        • Carolyn, I am glad if anything I have written has been helpful. I would caution not to see trouble where there isn’t but if there are things you feel need clarifying, a relationship should be able to weather conversation on any issue.

  20. I have recently broken off with a Widower. We had a long courtship without
    intimacy for 6 months…then on a trip we took intimacy happened…he has been
    professing his love for me for a long time but the next time I visited his home
    as a guest (he was not there) and at his insistence to sleep in his bedroom because
    he had prepared it especially for me..so I walked in and there were the pictures
    on the nightstand beside the bed (he and the LW on honeymoon).
    I can’t tell you how I felt. He wanted me to see them!!
    The plot thickens..How could he truly be mourning her when I know he had
    a girlfriend while she was dying. The late wife was his third wife with no children.
    They were married 7 yrs and she was sick for 2. There seems to be something
    so….creepy about these photos and he now gives me the jeepers creepers.
    They seem to be a lie or something and I can’t figure out what purpose or
    benefit they could serve him. I am his 3rd girlfriend since his wife died and
    he compared me to her and said that we were a lot alike but I don’t think so!
    This site is so informative and supportive. I feel as if I have discovered a wolf in sheeps clothing. She has been dead 4 years.

    Ann, you are a Valuble Source on this subject!

    • If you’ve read anything at Abel Keogh’s site, you’d be familiar with the idea of “wallpaper” in which men become blind to their surroundings. Pics and things – after a while – cease to register. They are like white noise or wallpaper b/c they’ve been there so long they aren’t noticed. If the pics bothered you or prompted questions – you should have just asked. Nothing good comes of filling in blank spaces with your own imaginings.

      And as I said earlier, feelings are not always simple and it is possible to still feel the deep love you had for your late spouse but be just as in love with your new partner. It’s a difficult concept for non-widowed to grasp but ask any widowed person and they can attest to the veracity.

      The bottom line though always is you. If something is telling you that this isn’t right, listen to it and take the appropriate steps. Not every relationship works out and progresses to commitment. And not every widowed person wants a new permanent love. Many are content with serial monogamy to see them through the rest of their lives.

      I am glad you are finding the site valuable. I am just one source and one opinion. I would also recommend Abel’s site and the message board he runs on Facebook, which is private and made up of current/ex girlfriends and wives of widowers.

      Good luck to you and remember to keep your own well being as your primary goal. You deserve happiness.

  21. What purpose do the photos on the nightstand serve if the W had a girlfriend
    while the LW was sick and dying? The LW was wife #3 and Love of his Life..the
    marriage was 8 years and 2.5 ill. I was the 3rd GF. and she has been dead 4 yrs. He has told me so many times he loves me it made me sick (he compared
    me to her. said she and I were a lot alike. I don’t think so. I would never believe
    he is truly mourning. What is the real meaning of the photo’s other than he’s just
    not into you.. there is some other meaning. I broke it off with him because I
    just was not that into him especially the photo’s..CREEPY

    • There is one widow blog that I know of where the widow in question carried on much like she was in the constant throes of new grief even while she was in a relationship with a widower. If you’d read her posts, you might have been surprised be the fact that she was dating at all b/c she clearly wasn’t ready. I also know of a woman who was married and mourning her boyfriend (it was a polyamorous situation). She loved her husband but deeply mourned the boyfriend’s passing.

      So it is very possible your former boyfriend really was mourning all through his relationships and still had sincere feelings for you.

      My own husband wasn’t even a year out when we married and the first anniversary of the LW’s death fell about two months into our marriage. It was a difficult time for him but I knew he loved me throughout.

      Feelings and their expressions are seldom black and white even in cases where the depth of them can be questioned.

      While I agree with you that a picture by the bed when sharing it with someone new is a red flag, there are those who have no issues with it.

  22. I stumbled onto this site also, I had been to some others that were informative but
    this one said what I already new (my smart brilliant intuition that women have).
    Man thinks he’s saying by pictures of the dead wife everywhere,
    “look how sweet I am to morn her” even though i want to …… you!” Just use your

    intuition isn’t it pretty simple? Do you notice I use the word Man and not widower.
    This widower thing to some men is a trap to play on women. “See if your good enough and jump through endless hoops and then you die I”ll put your picture up there with hers.” Wouldn’t it be nice if we could have a talk with the dead wife and
    find out what really went on. To all the men who have put the pictures away
    before they have a date into there home this is not meant for you God Bless.

    My feelings on Photo’s (shrines)
    There has been so much tragedy in my family..mental illness and suicide,mental
    retardation, accident disfigurement.. that when my Mothers house had to be sold and my angry half sister went and took all the family pictures because she thought that I would be really upset instead was so relieved that she took them. what would
    I do with them except remember the good times but ultimately
    they would make me sad because of the way it has ended and who would I
    give them to? My only child has schizophrenia and thanks to surgery she will never have children. I want to move on and not grieve over a history that I had no control over.

    Good men put them away when they are ready to move on to date (save them
    for their children)
    I do have a small handful of photo’s mostly recent ones.
    Ann, your words ring loud and true.
    Aude

    • I appreciate your comment. There are women who would rather not hear what we all know to be true – that you will know when a man is in love with you by his actions – but I chalk this up to the way we are socialized as young girls. It’s difficult to put aside that training to jump through hoops and prove ourselves. In a relationship there should be mutual establishment of love and commitment.

  23. I arrived at your blog, seeking as so many of us are in times like this. Needless to say, I have found exactly what I was seeking. The straight, no chaser, right to the point with no accusations kind of truth. Like a punch to your gut when you’re looking the perspective from the other side. So much truth in this. Thank you for this post. I look forward to absorbing as much as I can from your other posts. What a valuable resource I’ve stumbled onto, absolutely nothing to make light of here. Thanks for the reality check.

  24. I CAN RELATE A OLD FRIEND OF MINE LOST HIS WIFE AND WITHIN 2 WEEKS OF HER PASSING WE WERE INTIMATE I FEEL SO CONFUSED CAUSE NOW ITS LIKE A EMOTIONAL ROLLERCOASTER ONE DAY WE ARE FINE AND THE NEXT HE JUST WANTS TO BE FRIENDS SO I REALL DONT KNOW WHAT TO DO EXCWPT BE PATIENT AND ACCEPT IT FOR WHAT IT IS BEACAUSE WHATS DONE IS DONE WE BOTH REGRET WHAT WE DID BUT IT WASN’T A MISTAKE SEX IS A VERY NORMAL THING BETWEEN TWO PEOPLE WITH CHEMISTRY BUT IT JUST HAPPENED TO QUICLKY STILL PRAYING THAT THINGS WORK OUT

    • Yes, chemistry occurs and sex can happen. If it were me, I wouldn’t put too many eggs in this basket. Even though relationships do sometimes grow from just sex, the odds say it is just as likely that a long-term serious relationship won’t happen either.

      Taking each day for itself and being ready to accept what may or may not come next is probably a good strategy. In the meantime, live your life and expect to be treated well. Don’t be a secret. Don’t accept hurtful actions or words. Your widower is just a guy at the end of the day and as a grown one, he does still know what is and isn’t acceptable behavior when it comes to be involved with a woman, even if you aren’t officially anything yet. Grief may explain and even motivate but it doesn’t make treating someone poorly okay.

  25. To make the whole picture more complicated: Me, the LW and widower made friends several years ago. Me and him felt attracted to each other however because of him being married did nothing about that. His wife felt very threatened by his fascination with me and demanded him to stop our friendship (she also used to be a friend of mine). He did what she asked for. Several days after her funeral he called me. I was reluctant to meet with him but eventually decided to go as I felt that I should support any person in such a situation no matter what would have happened before. From that time we used to meet every Sunday just as colleagues and discussed mainly issues related to his grief. We were very open about our personal issues at that time I also told him a lot about myself and my current problems. During those conversations he revealed a lot of truth about his marital problems (i.e. his wife used to be in relationship with another man, also he found out that she was lying to him about her fertility problems as well as she used to treat him in an abusive way). I also spoke to another close friend to his wife who confirmed the above as a truth. Also I was shown by the widower email box of LW where she was complaining about how much she realized that I would have been a better choice for her husband than her.
    We got close to each other and soon made love and decided to become an exclusive couple with an intention to move in together in the nearest future and to commit into a long-distance relationship.
    Do I feel better knowing all these things? Do I feel more secure in the relationship? Not at all. I consider myself as a part of play between the two of them. I keep wondering why I am told all these sort of dirty stuff. Whether our early relationship could be a way of dealing with unresolved issues in their marriage or taking revenge on her? He says that despite all these ugly things she had done to him he felt happy with her and still loves her.
    My boyfriend also keeps telling me that I was chosen many years ago. I do not feel chosen as he decide to stay with his wife without even declaring any intentions of being with me at that time. I consider these rather a desperate attempt to make me more secure or to justify his actions? It’s a strange thing this does not let me build up our mutual trust but makes me even little bit suspicious about his sincerity with me and himself about his feelings.

    • Certainly the past and any anger or guilt complicates a situation, but at some point, the past needs to be acknowledged for what it was and for what can’t be changed and then simply left behind.

      If most of your relationship is centering around these past issues and they are influencing what’s going on now, maybe it’s time to simply close the door on that stuff and figure out if you can go forward without dragging the baggage with you.

  26. We have been a couple for 8 months. I asked him to name what he feels for me. He replied: If I did not feel anything for you I would not be with you for such a long time. Why is it so hard for him to say he loves me? Probably, it is because he does not and he never will. However, I am still trying to give us more time and let our feelings grow. We are making plans for our future together but for me it is crucial to name our feelings before we decide to make the next step (i.e. lving together).

    • It’s important for you to be able say how you feel and to feel secure in his feelings before taking any steps, I agree. You should not feel like you have to walk on eggshells and should be able to say “I love you” and plan for a future without worrying if he is going to change his mind.

      Eight months is a long time and it’s not, depending on the circumstances and personalities. Some ppl move quickly. Some are more careful.

      However, you are right to question his evasive answer to your direct question about how he feels. Men who are sure seldom give replies like that, but, again – it doesn’t mean he doesn’t love you or that he won’t someday love you. There are people who simply don’t express their feelings verbally. It’s up to you to decide if you can live a life like that.

      If you are content waiting for him to catch up to you, there is nothing wrong with that.

      • Thanks, Ann. He keeps telling me that he wants me to feel secure in out relationship. Also, he aksed me once what I needed to feel that way. This could be the answer. I also realize that we both need time. Take into account that it’s been only one year since his wife passed away so suddenly.

        • The important thing is that you can discuss things. Communication is key. And the next time he asks you what you need – tell him because a relationship can’t be one-sided. You both need to be able to express your feelings, ask for what you need and not be afraid that doing so will be a deal breaker.

          I agree that there is a time factor, but when a widowed person engages in a new relationship, he/she doesn’t get a pass on being present and putting his/her new partner’s needs forefront. It’s actually one of the signs of readiness for dating really. If you throw the “widow card” a lot, you might not be ready. It’s really not fair to ask your new love to wait on you while you “get over” things. And the reality is that you are never okay with having been widowed. You simple make up your mind to move on and build a new life.

          I hope things work out as you hope.

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  37. Ann,

    I really enjoy this post for all of its honesty and unsentimental insistence on taking responsibility for ourselves. I have been following your blog for a while now, and I consistently appreciate how straight up you are about things that others can sometimes tiptoe around.

    Being a widow myself, I kind of take the attitude that I’ve been through so much, I’ve earned my warrior stripes and need to step up to the plate now. Of course, my husband was a chronically ill man who was raised to believe that nobody owed him anything just because he was sick, so you know self-indulgence was really not favored in our household. He tried never to use his illness as an excuse for bad behavior. At the very least, I try to honor his memory by holding myself to the same standard vis a vis my widowhood.

    I agree. We do ourselves a complete disservice and let irresponsible partners off the hook when we make excuses for their bad behavior. If we all held each other to higher standards, I’ll bet people would start to shape up quicker than we thought possible. Ultimatums are very powerful, don’t you think? In the worst case, they help weed out people we shouldn’t be wasting time with from our precious lives (really, can we afford to waste another moment on draining or even toxic bullshit?), and in the best case, they push us and our loved ones to higher heights than either of us thought possible.

    Gratefully,
    Deborah

    • Warrior stripes. I like that. And they do come with a responsibility.

      When I was a young woman, I wasted myself and my time on men who played the “emotional baggage card”. I bought into the Cosmo Girl’s credo that if I was patient and quiet about my own needs, someone would eventually note that. But that’s not how it really works. People who are happy are true to themselves and don’t offer up their lives as sacrifice or hostage in hopes of some distance reward.

      People – and by people, I mean women – will do what they want, but at the very least, I hope that they will choose themselves as often as they sacrifice themselves. Even 50/50 would be an improvement.

      Thanks for reading and for your comment.

    • Sigh, I don’t think it’s just a widowed thing or even a dating a widowed thing. Women in our society are not socialized to look to our own feelings first or to speak up and ask for information or simply to be treated with respect due to us b/c we are thinking, feeling and living beings. So much angst (and time suck) could be avoided w/ a little more Q&A. If a person decides to continue on with someone with less than stellar relationship skills at least they should have all the information necessary to weather it.

      But, and you know this about me, I don’t think any trauma is bad enough to warrant mistreating others. It’s tempting, and the universe knows I have given in to it in the past, to wallow and seek pity and excuse one’s behavior b/c “I’m grieving” but that doesn’t make it okay. The best friends I had – called me on the widow stuff. They were compassionate and sensitive about it, but they didn’t shirk from pointing out the fallacy in my coping mechanisms when necessary. The worst thing you can do for someone who is grieving is excuse them or feel sorry for them. You can be compassionate and still demand that they behave themselves. As a teacher, I learned that kids will rise or fall to the level of expectation. Adults are the same. You get what you expect.

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