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

Love Love Love

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.

283 thoughts on “How Do You Know If a Widower Is In Love With You

  1. Good Morning, I hope all is well.

    My wife passed gently into the early morning hours — the silent time. Revelers usually down from the past evening and the early birds not quite yet roused . . . around 3 a.m.

    I sit here typing my thoughts and some whip through my mind leaving only downed branches of thought, scattered and incomplete.

    For me, there seems to be two types of love. There is a living love. And there is one after that person is no longer in your sphere – whether through death or otherwise.

    A living love is nourished and strengthened every day as you enfold your arms around what life has placed along your path that day, week, month . . . year. A love that is fueled by all your senses. The taste of a kiss, the touch of an embrace, the smell of her hair, the sight of her sleeping so gently and the sound her laughter. This love is a powerful magnificent thing.

    I was lucky, I believe, to understand it at the beginnings with Susan. I was lucky enough to understand it was a thing that was to be handled so preciously despite its unbreakable nature. I was lucky enough to understand I would do anything to feed it, grow it and surround myself in it. Is it not the breath of life? Like living in that moment of first holding your child? The power and size of it unfathomable.

    If I’m honest a small spot in the back of my mind always thought a thing such as this is not meant to last. It burns so bright, like a candle lit at both ends. Susan and I were both lucky enough to understand we held something very rare and we treated it as the breath of life. Like your only source of water, like the precious seeds you would harvest after each growing season….we would let nothing contaminate it, stunt it, influence it’s growth.

    And here lies the difference between a living love and it’s other. The process of sustaining a living love instinctually still remains after Susan has left but the fruit of my labor as harvested through my senses will never again be realized. A perennial flower no longer will bloom. This is my dynamic in grief. Instinctually we still keep sharp the ability of our living love’s labors – our gardening skills, so to speak — but yet at what purpose? It is circular and maddening when in the throes of grief.

    Eventually, all the nourishment and the energy received from a living love is used up leaving you with a beautiful, glorious and magnetic thing . . . . a memory. Millions of memories, a warehouse full of jewels. A wealth beyond imagining that can never be spent or used to fuel the living love. Rather it is the food of the other love.

    We can survive on memories but it is just that . . . survival. It is not life lived, ever changing, growing, learning. But there is a danger with the food of this other love. Initially, it does sustain. Initially, you tend the garden instinctually of that of a living love. Believing the jeweled memories are enough to sustain you forever. For the older it does I suppose. To browse through a lifetime of memories. Their stockpiles from the harvest of the living love so large they would never run out. They have but to pluck a jewel off the shelf and gaze at it awhile to pass the time. Lovely.

    Everyone’s stockpile is different. Grief is unique to us all for that reason. The process of grief is living off the stockpile of love you have harvested during your living love until it is gone. Then you have to decide to find a precious source of water again so you can begin planting and using the gardening skills learned through a living love. To bank the fruit derived from taste, touch, smell, sight and hearing. To begin building the stockpiles again.

    Lately, I wish there was an easy way to determine if my harvest is gone. I wish I could look into the barn and see nothing remaining as a sign to pack up and look for a new well.

    For now though, I am enchanted by the emeralds, rubies, diamonds, pearls, sapphires . . . .

    People say you will know but I seem to be in a quagmire. Can you feel the same boom boom the heart did back in your early 20’s when you are almost fifty. It seems my mind is interfering with my heart.


      1. Yes, I’m most certain it can.

        I agree it happens all the time.

        But with someone with plenty more years under his belt and the experience and wisdom(?) that comes with it, will it feel the same? I can’t remember what it felt like. Would I recognize it if it sat in my lap? Am I waiting for something that might never arrive? I feel ready. And have been doing this “dance” for awhile. I’m not sue the heart can feel the same exactly. How could it when presented with a different stimulus? Does one love an apple the exact same way one loves an orange? Is accepting this different love my conflict? Love has many sources . . . love for one’s children, family, friends and your spouse. Do you think the well you drew from in the past is the same as what you draw from now? I’ve have feelings for several “dance” partners but they fizzled. I wonder if I had explored those further they could have blossomed into this “boom boom” of which I seem to be waiting for. After one date I knew with my late wife. It is perplexing and I am having fun figuring it out but not entirely fair to those who ask me if I’m ready and I reply I know I am. But life’s path is a bit rickety and fickle. I can’t help but feel I might have missed a chance to build a friendship into love by waiting on those mysterious drums in my head or my heart. This seems a very dangerous and circular thought pattern.

        I had twenty five years of bliss . . . . a deep dive. Swimming in the shallows is fun but the rewarding stuff lies below. You understand this I’m sure.

        Oh, and thanks for your thoughts with me and those you present on your site. It’s comforting to realize we are all bumbling and fumbling around on the path.

        cheers and Happy Holidays to you and yours.

  2. After 2.5 years of being together I still have to contend with being around friends who still look at me like I’m the mistress. Although his daughter has extended the olive branch so to speak she still excludes me when it comes to her dad and his future. We live together and share gardening but it’s always your yard looks good dad. Little things like that that compound the message over time that your dad’s grief cushion and nothing more. Your not a valid partner in his life. Your just someone he brought in to fill the lonely hours and chilly nights. He says to hell with what other people think and it’s what we feel about each other that is most important. I agree but it still bothers me to be dismissed by those I must be around socially. People can be jerks in the name of grief sometimes….the almost nightly phone calls that trip down memory lane leaving me to sit and scroll on my phone and act like the exclusion is not bothering me. Sometimes I feel there is the need to keep the grief raw and alive…I don’t think she or anyone else means to be a jerk but after hundreds of these reminders of loss it really feels their grief agenda is to keep him in that frame of mind rather than be happy he has found love and happiness in his life with me. I think it is selfish and self serving….and unfair. To the point where my 2.5 year silence out of respect is about to be broken and people will undoubtedly become offended when I finally assert myself as not the invisible mistress they have painted me in as.

    1. People will be shocked more likely because they had no idea that they were hurting you, in my opinion.

      It’s also my opinion that the onus on clueing the daughter into the fact that you are the present and the future is on your boyfriend. He is allowing this by simply not correcting her. For example, “Yes, our yard looks great. K and I have been putting a lot of work into it.”

      If it helps, 2ish years is still pretty raw for young adult kids but this does change. When is individual but both my step-daughters eventually moved past the stage where I was just dad’s wife.

  3. I am shocked about what I am reading here. I really don’t know who you are, but for me you seem to be a chauvinistic, completely uneducated about the grief and holding a lot of grudges woman. Please stop spreading the nonsense about the guys using the grief as an excuse. You are doing a lot of the harm to the grieving people as well to those who would love to form a relationship with such.
    Unfortunately dealing with the grieving person is not the same as with the singles and the divorcees. We don’t hate our ex spouses, we did not choose to leave them nor to leave the singles life . Talking about the deceased is the part of the healing process, having a photos as well, either for ourselves or for our kids.
    Those things don’t mean that we cannot fall in love and love fully another person on the contrary. We know the meaning of the love till death, sacrifice, compassion and lot more than other people don’t.
    I agree that the grieving person should look for the counselling, be open with the future partner and respect their wishes, but as in every relationship should not feel need nor pressure to the nonsense like, you have to hide all phots, never mention your wife, bla bla bla.
    Grieving is not a year or even 10 year process. You can happily love someone and live with someone and still be grieving. That is a very short summary, I am not an expert in that regard, but please, please think before you publish.
    For anyone looking for an advice on this blog, please do more research.
    I understand you can censor my reply and with what you are trying to preach here I wouldn’t be suprised. If you will decide to do so, please at least try to educate yourself. Remember ‘What goes around comes around’ .
    Thank you.

    1. I think maybe you should reread this because it appears you missed the point.

      I am not talking about widowed people who have a few pictures or whose spouses normally and naturally come up in the course of conversations. I am talking about people who play games and use their late spouses to gain the upperhand in relationships. That’s wrong. And being widowed doesn’t give someone a pass.

      1. No it doesn’t, but you have put every single one widower/widow into that basket, as have been mentioned in the different comments under your other articles. I think you want to give a good advice, but it might actually have an opposite effect. That’s my opinion anyway. I am not saying I am right, but I hope the readers will not take your advice at face value. I wouldn’t .

        1. I have never encouraged anyone to take my advice.

          I think people bristle when they see themselves in something and start wondering if it truly applies.

          I am widowed. My husband was widowed. I have a fair number of widowed friends. Some have remarried and some haven’t. I count a number of people who’ve married widowed folks among my friends too.

          What I’ve described happens – more than it should – but certainly not all the time.

          People can take what they want or need from the post and the comments. At the end of the day, however, they have to make decisions based on what’s going on in their lives and follow their best instincts. And as I have told many people who’ve come here, it’s good to sit and talk things through with someone in your real life who actually knows you and your situation.

        2. i dont want to open pandora’s box here…just putting in my two cents worth, the avice annigirl gave me was to think about what he was offering was what i wanted for in my life, and was it enough. i too, bristled at the opnion, but after 4 years, and 8 years of his wife passing, i had to say, im sorry, i dont have that kind of patience, this isnt what i need or want in my life. i truly did love and care for him, but sometimes that isnt enough to make a relationship work. i’m sorry.

      2. You are absolutely correct and not being harsh towards the situation. What I got out of your words were that you are totally understanding and that a photo is fine along with positive conversation about the passed spouse. I think you are just wanting to see that your relationship is moving in a healthy loving manner. You would like to see signs that you are becoming his future and his priority and love. I think that if the widowed wants a real partner and and has found new love that they must make a conscious decision to make a fresh start and not have too many reminders to keep them from moving forward. They must make ther new love the first priority and try a little harder than most relationships. It is very hard for both people. By no means do I think that the past should b erased and everything thrown away with no talk of the late spouse. But I do think if they are ready to move forward and have found someone who they want to start a new long term relationship they must focus on that. Nothing important should b discarded or thrown out. Important items pictures. Rings jewelry cards letters. Clothes. Etc. should be put in a very nice spot and kept forever. But they should not b out and part of everyday life. It just does not help either party. Conversation about the late spouse should be fine and discussed openly because that was/is a very big part of earlier life. But also in order to move forward in a healthy manner you must move forward with your new life. And too much of the past will just keep ur life in the past. The widower must also realize it is difficult for you and make steps to show u that you are his future and make sure that you feel loved and make sure the comments are made to make sure you feel number one and also the actions. Wen u are living together and taking care of the house together it should b mentioned as both of ur house or both of ur garden or flowers look nice. The clothes should b put away and you should have closet and drawer space. And not everything has to b done overnight but slowly steps over time to show u his love and the direction ur relationship is headed. Just steady progress and the widowed should want to make steps to show love a care and make u feel loved. I am referring to a widow or widower that is truly ready to start a new life. The past does not need to be forgotten but it’s not healthy and a new relationship will not progress if the past is all around. I do not think u should ever ask to have pictures or clothes or items put away. I think if the widow is ready and loves you they will slowly over time want to show u they care and show you that you are ther love and future and moving forward and taking these steps show you that u r wut they want. Words are nice but it’s all in the actions. Believe me I found out the hard way after giving all I had. My love. My care. My life and I listened to all the words and I should hav known better by certain actions and little progress. She was widowed 11 years and we lived together for 5 but I knew in my heart she was still living in the past and therefore we really couldn’t have a fair shot at a real future. Very sad. I hope the best for anyone that reads this

        1. That is a very accurate summation of my own situation at present, thank you. Its been 2.5 yrs since my widower wife of 50 yrs passed away, and I really dont know if he will ever put her photos and jewelry out of sight, it hurts me when we go to fl for the winter and he brings her 8×10 photo along, and puts it on the end table in the living room. He says he don’t ever want to forget her, and that he don’t want to. We do not live together, only for 2 months in winter. Any suggestions on if I am being played? He says he loves me, but I wonder if its me or is it i take away some of his lonliness…

        2. When my dad died, my mom thought about dating and then decided no because she was happy on her own even though she missed having him around. My uncle however has always had a girlfriend since my aunt died. Long term relationships. He’s since outlived two girlfriends and his current relationship is well over a dozen yrs along. He’s never lived with anyone though. Always maintained separate homes but there’s no doubt in my mind he was/is serious about his post wife relationships even though they are different than the one he had with my aunt.

          Does your relationship make you happy? Can you count on him to be there for you if you really needed him? That’s really all that matters.

          But, I do think that if this is making you unhappy, it’s probably worth a discussion because your feelings matter too and it’s your relationship as much as it is his.

    2. Hugo,
      I dated and was even engaged to a widower. I can see “sometimes I cry” is coming from a place of hurt. When a widower/widow decides to date they should consider the role of the person they are dating and be clear. Nobody wants to be 2nd place to a third party in a romantic relationship. I understand grief does not ever end and its a different dynamic than dating a divorced person. The problem is where the widower is in their grieving and if they are truly ready to date or be in a relationship with another person. Be clear if you are just looking for a companion and let the other person know so they can decide a companion is all they want to be. As far as those besides the widower who loved the deceased person….they should be welcoming to your new love if they care for your happiness. It can be difficult for those still grieving to understand when a widower has a new love in their life. They, however, are not the ones who should decide when and who a widow/er should date. That is selfish.It also keeps the widower/widow feeling guilty and stuck in their grief. It takes a strong woman to be supportive all the time to hearing stories of a past love who was lost from the person they love. Most people entering a relationship would like most of the focus to be on their new relationship. I think it is possible to respect the past and those in it and still have an open heart to love a new person and their future. There has to be a balance and both parties need to be respectful of each others’ needs. No, I do not give full passes to behave badly because you lost a loved one whenever you feel like it just because you want to play the widow/widower card.Life is for the living. I broke it off with my widower because I realized he was still too influenced by outside grievers and probably still needed a lot of grief counseling before he could decide if he could honestly love another woman ever. I did this out of love and honesty, not to be mean or selfish.

      1. Sarah. Thank you for taking your time and reply to my comment. Well, what can I say? I think I posted my comment some six months ago. Ha ha. I would probably reply to myself in the similar way as you did. That Grief thing does all sorts of things with my head. In the last few months I’ve started few relationship and it is enough to say they didn’t last long. Yes, I have admit to myself, that I was looking for a companionship, someone to listen to my painful stories and finally for a sex. Everyone of them has finished when I could not accept a new woman in a place of my wife. When I’ve noticed that the women are looking to be a new number one. From now on, I’m not going to express any opinions, as they are completely biased. And I think I will need some counselling, which I hate to think of. I just cant see me getting over my wife and can’t see some counselor telling me, that it is up to me to move on or get stuck.
        I’ve explained all of that in a very simplistic way, so please don’t judge me 🙂 . There is still long way to go .
        In a meantime Very Merry Christmas to everyone. Another lonely one, not a great prospect when you are 39. Not great at any age !
        Have a good one.

        1. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Counseling might not be as bad as you think and the end goal isn’t “getting over” your wife but trying to figure out what life going forward for you will be the one that works best for you.

          Merry Christmas.

    3. Omg thank you for letting me know that he can still grieve and love again!!!!! i’m always in conflict thinking that how is it possible he can love so much while missing his late wife….the pics and the talking doesn’t bother me….what hurts me he is almost 60 years old and his daughters don’t want him to be with anyone again….so he is in the middle wanting me to be part of his journey but he feels guilty not wanting to hurt his adult kids. to see him once a week is so hard because he doesn’t know what he’s going to say where he is….it’s so sad that he just can’t stand up to them. I need your opinion……

  4. I need you to help me. My best friend passed away some 1 year ago. I have been there for her fiancee since the day she left us. We would call on a daily basis to console each other and we got so close. We would have memorials for my best friend with him on the same date she died every month just to share the good things we loved about her and the bad and weird things too. Recently he started hitting on me. He said he is interested in starting a serious relationship with me that would lead to marriage. We even just started dating. He was left with a now one year old boy who I love so much and he says he would love for me to care for the kid the same way my best friend would have done.
    The problem is that I am in a two years old relationship. I will feel guilty leaving my boyfriend for this widower although I have developed stronger feelings towards the widower and I agreed we could date. He treats me so well better than my boyfriend. He is so caring. My boyfriend and mostly have fights and he even hit me once but still during the love peaks I enjoy every moment.
    i don’t know what to do. I love the widower. He loves me too so much but I don’t want to let go of my boyfriend and am also scared of what my other friends would say if they found out I am dating this widower who was a fiancee to my best friend. please help me. what do you think?

    1. You have two issues. Maybe three.

      First, you are in a long term relationship that has issues.

      Second, a guy who you’ve been helping working through you’re own grief with has expressed interest in you for a long term relationship.

      The possible third is that you seem to believe that other people’s approval or disapproval of choices you make that are none of their business carry weight.

      What to do? You should do what you want to do and what you believe is best for you and your future given the information you have to work with right now.

      In my opinion, this would involve having honest conversations with both your boyfriend and you widower friend. At his point, you only owe yourself primary consideration and whatever you decide, you might want to ask yourself if you will still be okay with that decision in a few months or years even if it doesn’t work out as you hope.

      Your best friend died. That’s bound to change your life, your outlook, your priorities. And notice that I say “your” because it’s about you at this point. Whether you want to expand that to you and boyfriend and the future or you, widower and his child is what you are deciding.

      And by extra careful with that child. You, boyfriend and widower are adults with agency but that child is simply at the mercy of adults decisions. So thoughtfulness about baby is important.

      I don’t know you. I don’t know your hopes and dreams. But I do think they should get a say as well.

      So, what do you really want? Think about it and then have some conversations. Lay out the expectations. Remember, these two men have hopes and dreams of their own.

  5. For the most part my relationship with my widowed boyfriend is really great. I believe he loves me and he wants my love in return. We’ve been together for 2 years. His late wife passed away almost 3 years ago. I sold my house and we have been living together now for about 6 months and plan to buy a home together that’s just ours when I get closer to retiring. He is already retired and I have a few years to go. We have committed the rest of our lives to be together although he has said in the past he never wants to marry again. I don’t know why but I do believe it’s because he still feels married to his late wife :(. We have some speed bumps that pop up and I get pretty sad. Not often he will say something that just emotionally smacks me down. They are things like hearing “I miss my wife”, ” I wish she was here”. It’s very hard to hear him say how much he loves me and hear these things too. I believe he loves me but in my mind I hear him saying he loves her more and wishes he could have his old life back….he does not say it often but when he does it really makes me feel like a consolation prize and very sad. It makes me feel her absense is more profound than my presence. Am I being too sensitive? Is this normal? It really messes with my head. I would never say something like that to him about my ex…..but then again an ex is not really the same thing as a death of a spouse. I want to be understanding but at the same time not feel like as you said “shit on burnt toast”. He and I have talked about it and he feels awful if he says something that hurts me…but in his hosnesty these things get said from time to time 😦 I wish I had a way to process it better or apply some logic to it that keeps the funk from occurring when it happens. Some magical words to tell myself so my esteem does not crash and burn the way it does. I love him and he loves me. But I feel he did not choose me that life and loss put him with me and he’d opt for that life and I could disappear in a poof of smoke and my time in his life be glady gone if he could have her back. Granted it only happens maybe 1% of the time and the other 99% is great….that 1% is a real gut kicker. I’m sorry I don’t want him loving me and missing her too. It sounds selfish I know but it makes me feel not good enough. It makes me feel like I said a consolation prize.

    1. You’re not selfish.

      You’re also not a consolation prize though I know it’s hard not to feel like that.

      You are normal. You’re feelings are normal.

      I can’t speak to what your boyfriend’s thoughts are on whether he’d opt for his old life over the one he has with you, but I can say as a widowed person myself – I wouldn’t wish my present away for the past.

      I think most widowed actively miss their late spouses from time to time but most that I know (and I know quite a few) who’ve gone onto new relationships and even remarriage are very happy with the present and couldn’t imagine life without their new partner.

      I know it’s difficult to not wonder and compare but my advice is stop doing that. Nothing good comes from this train of thought. Best to simply stop getting on that train. And when those moments come up, where he says he misses her, tell him how that makes you feel. Right then. Don’t wait. Because you are his girlfriend, not his grief counselor.

    2. OH Boy i i feel like i’m reading what happens to me………i read somewhere that if he loved her so much that’s okay because now he knows how to love you… he will forever love her and that’s okay because he will never be able to have her again……He can love again and remember he has changed from his past life….He no longer is the person he was with her . He is the person that he is with you….if she came down for one day she wouldn’t recognize him because he has now changed.
      IF you can see him regularly and makes plans with you ,,,you have no idea how fortunate you are…i’m dealing with three adult kids that don’t want him to date ever again….he can’t even see me when he wants because he doesn’t know how to stand up to them or hurt them. it has been a living hell for the last 18 months. but the love and connection we have together is so beautiful and powerful that i just can’t let it go. i pray everyday for god to show me what to do..My bf always says please just wait it will get better…….my heart aches everyday missing him and wanting to hold him and just to see him for five minutes would be amazing.

  6. **gosh i need some real advice**know it’s Christmas eve but I’m reaching out for some advice to anyone or if you know of someone who could answer. I’ve been up all night over this. A response isn’t needed asap lol. Okay here is go.
    Steele and I started dating in April official relationship tbag he ended in June. Obviously his latest wife my best friend that i had known for 8yrs passed a year ago in November. This December we have been on for 8months. Here comes tricky part which I’ve read alot of fake widower greaving etc.. during this 8months he wanted me to try a relationship but when I did jealousy would happen ” mind you I fell in love with Steele and still” we have done everything a couple everyone has seen on fb there is nothing that would say otherwise. We either stay with each other everynight and we constantly talk make plans spend every moment together and of course I help with teegan. We kiss hug sex all of it jsut exactly like a relationship should be. Now my issue.. he keeps saying to me that he’s just not ready and not time? Ummm… he has denied counseling he never cries over her anymore.. we speak of her when teegan mention mommy or go to her grave now jsut for special occasions, where as before it was all the time. Now I speak to him of me moving on and he will say that’s fine Holly but when push comes to shove he can’t stand that idea although claiming me only on the best friend status. Even so after the split in June he never told anyone so our church family our motorcycle family his mother no one knew. He said he felt they didn’t need to know hut yet reminded me we weren’t dating but we literally do everything and I’m not the first relationship since Sondra passed. Girl I know this is put of the blue and I don’t know where or who to turn to.. thought maybe u did but I need some logical answers besides Google hehe.. we have tried the not speaking stuff the I’m done even though of kids and thag didn’t work he broke that first. Ahh

    1. Whether he wants to admit it or not, you two are in a relationship and he has moved on. Not calling it by name doesn’t fool anyone but him. Yet that’s what sometimes happens with widowed people. They move on but insist they haven’t. Sometimes it’s guilt. Sometimes they simply can’t admit they don’t want to be in another relationship again but they are afraid that saying that will mean being alone.

      Don’t discount his refusal to fully commit to something he’s clearly doing. Not wanting to call your relationship a relationship or officially move in together when you are pretty much living together anyway is a way (realized or not) of controlling the relationship and being in control is a habit that people who’ve experienced trauma sometimes fall into.

      That’s not fair to you however.

      But you only have control over your actions and perhaps you need to ask yourself, if nothing has changed in six months or a year, would you be okay with that? Or would you feel you’ve wasted time?

      It’s perfectly okay to tell him that this isn’t working for you and explain your hopes, dreams, needs and wants. He might not be on board but he needs to know if you guys in order for you both to have a discussion about where you see the relationship going and perhaps establishing a timeline for getting there that is mutually agreeable.

      Or you could just continue on as you’ve been and hope he comes around. Since you are on the internet googling for answers, I have a feeling that isn’t what you want.

      Relationships with widowed folk are not really all that different from relationships with people who haven’t been widowed. Everyone carries a little or a lot of issues that stop them from getting into relationships. It’s a choice.

      Think on it. Decide what you want because minus a full commitment on his part, you should put yourself and your needs first. Remember though that I am just someone on the internet with some opinions. It’s your life. Do what feels right to you.

      Hope things work out. Merry Christmas.

  7. i wish i’d found this earlier….i broke up with my w two months ago….his wife passed away 7 years ago…he still has ALL her clothes and stuff….he claimed he “didnt know if it it was my negligee or hers that “accidentally” fell out of the closet oi wish i had more self respect i adore him but he can barely bring himself to even send a text a day let alone ever CALL me and we’ve been dating 2+ years

    1. People move on at different speeds and for some, moving on does not mean a relationship that leads to anything more than just companionship.

      You’ve talked with him? Told him how you feel and what your expectations are?

      If yes, and nothing has really changed, you have to decide if what he is able to give you is enough and if you won’t look back in another two years and regret you didn’t explore other options.

  8. Hi
    I am writing this as I am very confused I am dating and have now purchased a home with a widowed Man. His wife passed away 16months ago after a long battle with cancer he has a 9year old husband passed away 26months ago. Yes it’s quick but we found this house and it felt so right it felt it was meant to be. He didn’t come to my house as my kids are 26,22 and 18 and would not accept our relationship. Since moving in a month ago I am not feeling stable on this relationship. It has taken over 4 week to even empty his shed and complete the new one. We moved to do more together now all I seem to do is spend time with his son while he works in the shed doing god knows what. The first pic in our new shed was one of him his wife and another couple also some trinkets she used to like are on the shed toilet. He hs just posted to his wife happy 10th anniversary I love you and j miss you. I had to read that on fb not be told before I left for work. I don’t know what to do He has done nothing to make me feel special since we moved in. His Facebook photo is of his wife and his iPad. I think I am being selfish but o just can’t do this I want to go home to my boys

    1. Lots of stuff here.

      I would point out that living together is not dating and it’s not just widowed people who forget this and let the little courtship things slide.

      But he sounds like he is hiding and you are ready to bail, so a conversation about what’s going on, how you both see and feel about things and where are we going as a couple is probably in order.

      If I were you, I might make a list of the things that are upsetting me and decide which are really problems and which are just things that feel unsettled because life has changed.

      And don’t discount the fact that your boys (young men actually) are not supporting you as part of the way you feel. It’s difficult for teens and young adults to lose a parent and discover – usually to their shock and amazement – that the surviving one plans to have a life and love again. Being openingly unsupportive though is not okay. And don’t underestimate the affect their disapproval is having on you.

      Final note, social media is a minefield for widowed. I am grateful it was not a thing when my husband and I were dating and first married. Many people don’t realize how hurtful it is when they grieve via socially media for all to see when they are also in new relationships. You are not weird at all to be upset and if you discuss nothing else – do be honest with him about this. He, however, doesn’t have to change anything. It’s his right to grieve as he needs to (and yes, we can grieve and be in new relationships. Happens all the time.) But he needs to be aware of how it affects you and you are entitled to not be okay with this.

      Really think about what and why you are upset before starting any conversation. And be really honest with yourself about why and what you want. Also, run the scenarios in your head. I have a friend who wrote a book about thinking our choices out in increments of 10. 10 days. 10 months. 10 years. If you were to stay and nothing changed. What would that look like? How would you feel? If you were to leave? If you both committed to doing things differently?

      Bottom line is that nothing will change until you decide to take action. You could just leave. Maybe this relationship moved to fast and is not for you. You could go to your boyfriend and admit that the status quo isn’t working for you and explain why and see what he says. You could do nothing for a bit. Think about things and then do either of the things I’ve mentioned. It’s really about what you want. Now and in the future.

  9. Love the insights on this blog. So I would love to hear what others think about my situation. I’ve been dating a widower for four months. He’s 43 and I’m 37. Everything was great, until he went back home a couple of week ago. During his time there he had planned to visit his deceased wife’s grave …he also ended going to a family friend’s funeral. He came back with a lot of feelings of loss and grief. We are also approaching the season when his wife died two years ago. Which i think is normal and understandable. We love each and are in an exclusive relationship, but he asked me for “romantic space” while he figures out these feelings he has after his trip. I’m still trying to process the request. Is it normal/fair/selfish? By romantic space he wants us to still see each other, but without being intimate. He says even holding hands feels a little weird at this moment. He asked me to walk with him during this bump on the road. So I’m not sure what to make of it. I’m confused.

    1. It’s not strange for widowed to waffle a bit. Some will do it out loud and some will keep it to themselves.

      It’s also normal for visits with family, friends and events like funerals to trigger grief.

      But here’s the thing, you are both in this relationship. You both have needs and feelings. Does he realize how unsettling his request is to you? And will he expect you to be the one who puts needs and feelings aside every time the road gets bumpy?

      Grief has its bumpy moments but he choose to be in a relationship with you and he has obligations there as well. Life and commitments to others don’t stop because you are feeling overwhelmed.

      He needs to clarify what he means by “walk with” and you might think about also pointing out that withdrawing physical affection is hurtful to you and damaging to your relationship.

      And just as an fyi, many widowed do feel weird and confused by their ability to fall in love again and be intimate even while grieving for someone else. It’s perfectly normal.

      1. Thanks for responding Ann … his request is very unsettling to me because we’ve been intimate before so to withdraw the intimacy doesn’t quite make sense to me… I definitely want to give him space but to still see each other is something I’m not sure it’s healthy …though he said there’s value in it as we would continue to nurture our relationship and it could result in being connected in a deeper way, that the lack of intimacy would create a space for us to bond in a spiritual (more intimate) sort of way …and if things don’t work out there won’t me so much pain …to which I responded that it was already painful. At that moment, his reasoning made sense to me, and I started thinking the situation is not black and white. And I do love him, so why not try it, give him the romantic space he needs instead of my initial reaction of running away.

        1. You have to do what is best for you.

          I agree that the intimacy moratorium is odd. And you are much more generous with your assessment of it than I am. I am not buying the spiritual bonding stuff at all. To me, this looks like an attempt to get you to break things off so he can walk away clean.

          But you know him. And if you think he is sincere, and you want to continue exploring the relationship, go for it.

          Do have your own boundaries though. You can set a limit as to how much time you spend together and how long you are willing to let him play the “I need space” card. Because though it may be the truth, it is a card that people play when they aren’t sure anymore.

          This is your relationship too. You have feelings and needs. Before going any farther, you might consider what you really want and make that known.

        2. Ann you were so right … I think he wanted to walk out clean. We ended up breaking up two weeks ago. I made my wants clear and told him he needed to figure out what he wants on his own.

  10. Today is two years that my widower list his wife. In short they had a marriage most couples can only dream off. One truly made in heaven. We started dating 12 months ago and initially it was extremely draining and unstable. I stayed with him because he’s the most decent and kindest man I’ve ever met, stimulating intellectually, and an amazing father. My ex cheated on me with a woman 15 years his junior after 17 years of marriage. He had been faithful to the same winan for 24 years. Over the months there were many moments where I felt I was in love with him. I would visit his home and was building a genuine bond with his 3 hurting children. Family members and friends who met me to put it simply loved me and encouraged our relationship. My children eventually started trusting him which melted me completely as no one but their dad was meant to be in my life. 6 months later we had the ‘talk’ where we both realised we want differenr things. I wanted to marry again and he didn’t. He had only dated the same woman in 24 years and I heard the word explore somewhere in thar conversation. It hurt crazy because I knew and he would often say he would never find another woman like me who was so supportive, understanding, good with his children, beautiful and intelligent. He often said he was lucky to have me. But still I understtod. Upto that point he was incapable of telling me if he loved me. I never pushed. I understood, supported, listened to his pain and was there for him emotionally 24.7. I’m a very caring and supportive person but it literally started draining get me. When we realised we want different things a part of me knew our time was up. The relationship had started becoming unhealthy. It was a painful break up. I had been hurt and rejected once again. I was devastated. He still wanted me to be apart of his life. He didn’t want to lose me or the value I added to his life. I tried but simply couldn’t be a friend. A month later he started communicating again and we actually were chatting freely about the people we were chatting to. We both had agreed we wanted to also date again. There was always an element of jealousy and regret in his chats. As time progressed he started opening upto me about how he had made a huge mistake letting me go. He had been on a few dates but realised he wasn’t happy. He wanted me back. Wanted us to try again. Promised he would be totally committed this time. Said he had been in love with me all along and knew he was only giving me doses off himself. Promised he would make me happy and he would treasure me etc..when the topic of marriage came up he seemed ready to consider it in two years. He poured out his emotions too me. It went on for a few weeks. Eventually I agreed. He came back a changed man. In love with me and totally committed but I’m still having my moments were I feel he will never be ready for marriage. Today is painful for him but it’s also very painful for me. Watching him openly pouring his heart out on social media to his late wife and the build up to today has been hard on me but I can understand and have been supporting him. Yesterday his sister told me that he had mentioned to her that after his loss I was the one who has helped him heal and been his support more than anyone else. I have also taken him back to God and today he has a beautiful relationship with God. But still I’m unsure. I know I need to have a talk with him. I need clear clarity that he will marry me. I’m giving this my all and need to know that we have a solid future together. I hear it in his conversations some time but it’s fleeting and I’m not convinced. Right now I’m hurting. I’m in tears and I hate this feeling. Most of all I’m scared of what will come out of that chat. I don’t want to be were we where 2 months ago. Today is also hard on me. Im generally a very private person but this is why I have decided to pen my feelings and thoughts down. Is there anyone out there who has been through similar? How did you deal it? And where are you now?

    1. You went through a break up and are still putting things back together, so it’s not strange that you still feel unsure, hurt and upset. It’s all very normal.

      Wanting to know for sure that you are in a committed relationship is not unreasonable either. And being afraid to have that conversation again isn’t surprising given how it went the last time.

      It’s also not strange for your boyfriend to grieve openly on social media at two years out on the anniversary. Grieving on social media is actually pretty common these days though I don’t personally recommend it when you are in a new relationship because it can cause misunderstanding and hurt feelings.

      His grief has nothing to do with his feelings for you. They are separate. But I get that it’s hard not to feel hurt. The only thing that helps with that really is time. As your relationship with him builds, the past fades. It never disappears but people eventually live in the present rather than the past where love is concerned.

      You deal with it be reminding yourself that his grief is no reflection of how he feels about you or your relationship.

      My husband’s late wife wasn’t dead even a year when we married, so the first anniversary was just a couple months into our marriage. It felt odd to be dealing with a husband who was grieving for another wife. It’s not a typical thing newlyweds experience. And it was hard to not be upset myself but I knew it had nothing to do with me. It was something he had to do and I couldn’t help him with it. I had to let it. We will be celebrating our 9th anniversary soon.

      I understand that you would rather not talk with him about your concerns right now. That’s fine. It’s only been two months since you got back together. That’s not long. You will have to talk with him though at some point. And it’s okay to want what you want and to want clarification that he is now on the same page.

  11. I contacted you on March 29 about the widower I have known for over 40 years (widowed 20 months ago). I love him with all my heart and would do anything for him and he knows it. The problem is that I have made myself so available and yet he is not prepared to let any of his family know about me. He has a sister-in-law who I believe is secretly in love with him and he doesn’t want her or his 3 adult sons to know anything. He calls me night after night then doesn’t call for a week. I don’t think he realises how much he hurts me. I know he does care about me and that there is nobody else but I feel he should think a bit more about MY feelings. I know how much losing his wife has devastated him but I have loved him all my life and the fact that we could now (or soon) be together but don’t seem to be moving towards this is killing me. The last thing I want to do is hurt him but I’m thinking about not taking his calls for a while to see whether he’ll make the effort to come and see me. Then I could ask him whether he sees any future in our relationship or not. I think it’s time I put it on the line. He is 67 and I am 60 and the fact that we could be together but are wasting the rest of our lives is eating me up.

    1. You’ve told him all this? How you feel? How his hot/cold attention is hurting you? Your hopes? Expectations?

      If he wasn’t a widower, would you be okay with the way he is behaving?

      When in doubt, evaluate actions. His seem to suggest that he doesn’t see this relationship the same way you do. But you won’t know unless you ask, tell him how you feel and what you want.

      Yes, he was widowed and that leaves a mark. It doesn’t give him the right to treat you dismissively.

      If you are ready to talk frankly with him, do it.

  12. I have been seeing a widower for nine months now and he has devoted his time to myself and my two sons all through that time although he has a 22yr old son still living at home. Tomorrow will be two years on since his wife died of a totally unexpected heart attack. My worry is he is still thinking about his wife all the time and is not including me in his 🔮. Do I move on.When I said to him I loved him he did not reply.When I pushed a bit more he said he did not know how he felt.

    1. Do you want to move on?

      Two years is not a long time in terms of loss. There is still sadness and trying to make sense of where you life is as opposed to where you thought it would be once upon a time.

      However, the two of you are in a relationship that sounds pretty exclusive and it involves your children. At the 9 month point, it is totally fair to ask some questions about where you stand and what can be expected for the future.

      While it’s not incredibly encouraging that he didn’t reply when you stated how you felt, it doesn’t mean that the relationship is at an end.

      Another discussion is clearly in order but before you initiate it, you should think about what you want, expect, hope for. How will you feel if he feels the same? How will you feel if he doesn’t? Is there a middle ground? You have to both want this relationship. And it should be something you both are comfortable with.

      When/if you talk, be honest. Tell him your worries. He probably has some too. But minimum for a relationship to continue, in my opinion, is two people being open and honest and agreed at least on shared feelings and heading in the same direction.

  13. My widower boyfriend made a statement last night that has my brain in a tail spin. I’m trying to get my head around it. Hopefully you can help. Let me first say that he has no problem telling me he loves me and wants his future with me. We are both in out mid 50’s and have been together a year. His wife of 32 years passed unexpectedly almost 2 years ago. He treats me very very well and we get along great. We have talked about living out our years together in a home out in the country. He feels he hasn’t many years left on earth because of genetics and both parents dying at 60. His mindset is not of a person who looks forward to a new chapter but rather being comfortable until the final chapter ends. This I itself bothers me because it seems defeatist and not words that indicate a happy open hearted view of the future. He treats me very well. We are together most of the time and I truly believe he loves me. I attribute his outlook to depression on some level and coping with the way his life suddenly changed gears. He said last night he does not ever want to get married because he is already married. still married to his late wife. He wants to spend the rest of his life with me but never marry me and for us to simply (since neither of us are spring chickens) be together as companions, lovers and friends until time runs out. I don’t know how to digest this. It seems contradictory to be married to another person yet want the balance of the future with me. I told him it sounds like he is settling. That he’s navigating with one foot in the past and one foot in the present. The foot in the present with clear boundaries and limits and already decided stipulations of what can and can not be a part of our future. I don’t want to be a consolation prize and that’s how I feel now. I feel certain conditions exist that I had no part in deciding for myself. I feel an inner sanctum he lives in with his wife will always be off limits to me and the borders will reveal themselves during the process of the relationship. It makes me feel settled for. Not good enough. Never a family bond. But rather 2 people living separate but together. He says that we love each other and that is all that should matter. I want to adopt that mindset too but can’t help but feel I’m a third wheel and not chosen with his heart. I feel instead chosen with his mind. I don’t want our relationship to end. I love him. I am not settling for him and I have no restrictions on our future together. I just don’t know how to make sense of all of it. 😕 How can he possibly love me and want me in his life and have a “future” with me and carry on an emotional married commitment with his late wife…..?

    1. To answer you last question first, it is possible to still feel an emotional connection to a deceased spouse (to a deceased anyone you loved really – it’s not just a widowed person thing). If he says he loves you and acts like he loves you, he loves you.

      But it’s not odd for a widowed person to sometimes feel “still married” when they get into a serious relationship with someone new. It’s disconcerting but mostly it fades over time.

      It seems though that the real issues might not be his feelings about his late wife (which are normal and perhaps he doesn’t realize that) but his fears that he is going to die young and his hesitancy to marry because he feels his time is short (he might be worried about widowing you).

      Regardless, you want to get married. His holding back is making you feel as though you aren’t his first relationship priority. This is something that the two of you need to discuss. Discuss until you both come to some mutually agreeable plan for the future.

      Neither of you should have to settle for a relationship that you aren’t comfortable with nor should you want the other to do that.

      Think about what you want. Why you feel it’s important. Tell him. Listen to his response. Work from there.

      A caution though. When you initiate a conversation like this, there are multiple ways it could turn out. Think about that too. Are you okay with things turning out not the way you hope? Would parting be better than status quo? And be honest with yourself. And don’t rush. Think. Maybe talk to neutral party (and I don’t count because I am just a person on the Internet).

      At some point in every relationship, there are details that need to be clarified and/or worked out. That’s where you guys are. So, you’re normal.

      If you haven’t checked out the Dating a Widower group on FB, I recommend it. Good group.

      1. Thank you Annie. We had a very long talk last night. A follow up to a very long talk a few nights before. After the first talk which we both dropped it and went to bed in silence. He was convinced I wanted out of the relationship and was devastated the next morning. I went to my home with not much said. He showed up a couple of hours later and I could tell he was shaken to his core. So afraid I was finished with him. He said nothing but I could tell his heart was broken. We had bought tickets to a concert back in Feb for that night and we agreed to have a good time despite the rough patch we were in. Last night we spoke again. I know without a doubt he loves me and is doing the best he can to make me number one. He does do a great job of that too as I have never had a person in my life treat me with such love, kindness and devotion. He agrees his negativity in certain areas needs to be worked on and his outlook on life should be more positive. His sadness is something he wants to be rid of because it does spill over and puts a dark cloud over us at times. Rather than be a strong man all the time and suffer in silence he wants to open up to me rather than protect me from it because he knows it puts a space between us where doubts fears and insecurities breed. He never intended to ever be able to love someone this much again and I believe he does mean it when he says He never wants me out of his life and loves me with all his heart. I would never want him to stop loving his wife. He has made a place for both of us and I think it speaks about what kind of man he is. my space in his heart is not less important than hers…it merely came second but he let me know I am not second best which was what I needed to know. He wants a life with me and I want one with him. That’s the bottom line to all of it. I don’t necessarily need to be married. It was the thought of being excluded as a wife to him that threw me for a loop and made me feel not good enough. Second best. When I turned the scenario around and asked him how he would feel if I told him in my heart I am still married to my ex and we can be together but that’s the way it is it hit him like a huge speed bump. He said it would make him feel like a gap filler…a kill the time good time Charlie….I said bingo now you know how I feel and what I fear. He promised me he understood and he was committed to making sure I knew every single day how much I am loved and our relationship is his life. We both promised to see it through and stand by each other and make a beautiful happy future together. I am more than ok with that. It takes time but I do know where his heart lies and where I stand and the footing is more solid than I gave it credit for. The talk was rough. Very hard to be open and vulnerable for both of us but it was the clear the air moment we both needed before continuing on. At least now I know he is 100% committed to making it work and we are not just killing time until the grim reaper delivers us from the journey. Good days ARE ahead and not just left in the past. I’m not his emotional tampon though and I won’t allow being dismissed to the shadows while he grieves. I’m beside him and out in the open and a part of it and won’t be sequestered away when memories pull him into another time and place and that’s where he said he wants me. its one day at a time and one step at a time but we both know our journey is on the same path. A path that we have chosen together.

        What you said helped me with putting things in perspective. I had not thought about him not wanting to widow me….

        I’m sure this saga is far from over lol and I will have more to say in the future. Bottom line is I am happy and very much where I want to be. Neither one of us set out to date again so the whole thing took us by storm and we have figured it out as we went along. It’s a journey in faith. I’m just glad we both have the strength and determination to keep moving forward.

  14. I have an over 40 year history with my widower. We dated when I was 17 and he was 24 but I suppose he just looked on me then as not much more than a kid. He married someone else and broke my heart. I got married too but my marriage was virtually over about 8 years ago. He was always in the back of my mind and I realised I had probably always loved him. His wife died a year and a half ago and I separated not long after that. We have reconnected and shared some wonderful times together but he is so worried about his adult sons and particularly one sister-in-law with whom he is very close finding out. As I am not yet divorced (but will be soon) I can see the point (I wouldn’t like my adult sons to know anything at this stage either), BUT I have the feeling this phobia about his family will remain even after my divorce. He is so hot and cold – calls me every night for a week and then doesn’t call at all the next week. He knows how much I love him and although he tells me he cares for me he says no more than this. I will wait forever for him and am simply not interested in anyone else. He loves his wife very much and visits the cemetery weekly. He has bought a plot next to hers and believes they will be reunited when he dies (which I have told him I also believe), BUT I have also said that seeing he will have an eternity with her, couldn’t he just give me a little time here on earth? We went away together for a couple of days just over a week ago and had a beautiful time. Because we have such a long history we can talk about anything, including his wife. After this trip he called me for the next four nights but then I haven’t heard a word from hom for the last five. I’m wondering whether I should stop taking his calls to force him to think about things a little? It will kill me to see his numbef come up and not answer – his calls are all I wait for every evening – but maybe I need to take a bit of a stand? What do you think?

    1. A few questions.

      If he was divorced, would you be patient with his on/off behavior?

      Once your divorce is final, what are you expectations for this relationship?

      And have the two of you had any sort of discussion about what the future holds as a couple?

      1. Because I have never cared for anyone more in my life (I’ve known hom 43 years) I would probably be patient with any behavior, whatever the situation. There is no-one else in the world I want; never have, never will.
        I have no specific expectations of a relationship. Of course I would love the whole thing – especially to be married to him – but I am realistic and would take any kind of relationship. It just can’t be a secret forever.
        We have not had any discussions about the future, except that he says his family would “shoot him” if they found out about our relationship. He tells me he cares about me – always has – and he remembers funny things like my phone number from 38 years ago, my first car and even what I was wearing the day we met! He’s not trying to use me, I’m sure and in fact it’s really been me who has done most of the chasing. He tells me there is no-one else for me and I believe him. What really concerns me is that he’s not living life but more wsiting for the day he dies so he can be reunited with his wife. I want him to live again!

        1. I think the basis for the conversation you might want to think about having with him is in what you just wrote.

          You know what you want. You just need to see if he is somewhere on the same page and go from there. And there’s no rush. It sounds like there are still a few obstacles (your divorce, his kids and extended family) that will need to be dealt with but it’s not unreasonable to discuss these things together and work on resolving them together.

          As for the “living again”, unless you suspect that there might be depression issues that need to be addressed with a doctor, the zest for life comes from knowing there are reasons to, which is where talking about the future and making plans comes into it.

          If you haven’t check out the Facebook group Dating a Widower, you might want to. There are many women there who’ve reconnected with first loves after they’ve been widowed and they might be a good resource on your journey.

  15. I have been dating my 68 year old BF for 1 year and 4 months.I sm 58. His wife of 8 years (together 10), passed from cancer 7 years ago. I was divorced 2 years ago from a 32 year marriage but my marriage was over long before, so some of my “grieving” was done, but I was left in an ugly way, so I do have some trust issues and more healing to do myself.
    My BF swept me off my feet, wining, dining, traveling, and I am so attracted to him, both intellectually and physically. I feel like a miracle has come into my life, but he is pretty closed off emotionally, doesn’t like to talk, has never told me he loves me, or that he plans,a future with me. He has 4 children from a first marriage, divorced 25 years ago, and I love his kids. I’m afraid to ask him because if I hear the wrong answer, I don’t know what I will do.

    I’m just really now thinking I need to think of the future- when we first started dating, I wasn’t concerned, as it was so soon after my divorce. I am having a great time with him, and I have fallen in love with him, and am really scared. I don’t trust my judgement right now, as I am still healing, but I feel like he may still be grieving, and maybe there’s no room in his heart for me. He teared up a little when we were talking about our dance lessons, saying it was something his deceased wife wanted to do, and he didn’t do it because he didn’t want to….but assured me that’s not why he was doing it with me. He does so many thought full things for me, and has made me a part of his life- family events, work events…but I don’t hear anything about our future….So, should I just keep enjoying his company, I know he’s faithful to me, or risk losing it all by having the “talk.” I feel like a wimp….

    1. It’s normal to want to think about the future and make plans. And at some point, you are going to need to have a conversation. Perhaps though, you should give yourself a bit to really think about what exactly you want before talking with him?

      And when you do talk to him, remember that even if he isn’t on the same page, it doesn’t mean that all is lost. It just means that whatever your future together looks like will be different. Different is not bad.

      And you are not a wimp. When the time is right, there will be a conversation. In meantime, you are happy, yes? So be happy. Don’t pressure yourself unnecessarily. Take some time. Think. I wrote another post about the 10-10-10 method of working through decisions. It’s something I still do when I am trying to decide about things. Basically I ask myself what would/not happen if I decided to do x, y or z in 10 minutes, months, years. You might want to give that a quick look.

      But, whatever you decide, keep yourself forefront. Too often women, in my opinion, tend to forget that we should be our first priorities about 98% of the time. Do what makes you happy and if that is asking about the future – even if the future is still a ways off – then do. And if it means waiting a bit. Do that.

      When people show up on my blog, it’s usually because they are looking for a blueprint to put into action something they’ve already decided to do.

      1. Thank you. That is good advice. I like the 10-10-10 idea. I think I just need a transfusion of self-confidence. I have alot of fears about my future, especially financial matters. I am working on figuring out how to deal with it all, and I don’t want my insecurities to inform my decisions about my relationship with my BF. I want to get on my feet, but it will be a long process….so I have so many issues clouding my brain about us. His grief, his ex-wife’s emotional blackmail using his kids, my trust issues, my financial insecurities, his extreme introversion, including difficulty expressing emotions, my mistrust of my own judgement, wow, things are so much more complicated than when I was young and first got married….Baggage of two lifetimes…It feels heavy at times. But I don’t want to just give up. I think love is worth the risk. Even if it’s only my love….it still feels good.

        1. It’s not baggage. It’s history. You examine, learn and move forward.

          More often than not, things turn out better than we feared. We can’t control anything but our own actions and if we know what we need/want to do and stick to it – most everything else falls into place.

          Important thing is that you feel good about where you are at and as long as that holds true – it’s all good.

  16. I’m dating a widowed man..his 40 year old daughter live with him…he will only invite me over when they have events outside..he never invite me in..his daughter.don’t like me..I really believe he love me but I never get to visit him peacefully….we spend time together. I’m confused..if he really want me to come over I think he should handle his daughter..I really think he don’t want me to come over..but I let him come over my house anytime..his wife been dead 3 we have a future I’m confused..

    1. I’m a pretty firm believer in listening to people’s actions more than their words.

      Two things could be going on, the first is that he is using his daughter as an excuse to limit your relationship and keep it on his terms only. And the second is that his daughter is calling the shots, which at forty years of age means she’s been doing this all her life and is unlikely to stop anytime soon.

      The question you might want to ask yourself is what do I really want and is this relationship fitting that bill?

      If what you have together right now works for you and you can see yourself happy with it next month and next year even then great, but you don’t sound happy.

      Happy people don’t generally go looking for relationship answer on the Internet.

      If you want more of him and the relationship, having a conversation with him about that can’t be avoided. And it’s okay to want more and to have expectations/goals in a relationship. It’s also perfectly normal for couples to discuss things when either or both don’t feel their needs are being met.

      Unless you talk with him, ask what’s going on and state what you want/need, what you have is unlikely to change.

  17. Hi, Thank you for.this post this is very useful
    I got married to a widower 6 months ago and he has a 5 years old, we have only dated each other for a month and he was ready to marry as we both were very intimate and he has told me he is over his LW, amd she doesnt come to his mind at all, but I always feel that whatever we are doing togather after a while he gets lost and i feel he is thinking about his LW.
    After 3 months we had a fight because i have asked him to spend some quality time and we had a fight because.of.his daughter he had litrelly with his LW like things she use to do so i should do.the same, while he was already aware i have a problem with his past…now after living with him and his family for 4 months came my parents house as i.can.not.stop thinking about.his past way.or.other.i.felt.i get compared and he ask me to do things where says he.likes.his he do because she….
    Now I think I cant live with him with all these situations. We are meeting this week to finalise nd decesion. know there is any way if this marriage.

    1. Marriage, imo, involves give, take and meet in the middle. So there will be times when your way/preference prevails or his does or the two of you will find a mutually agreeable compromise.

      Having been married before, some of your husband’s preferences for how things should be done are things he adopted from his LW or they agreed upon. It’s not strange that he still prefers to do things the way he’s done them for a while because they’ve become his habits.

      Changing habits to accommodate a new spouse is not easy. My husband and I had our moments of frustration with each other and even times when neither of us was particularly happy that change had to happen. But we talked, were honest and reached compromises or one of us had to adopt the others preferred way of doing things. That’s just how relationships work.

      Being compared though and the expectation that you should behave in a certain way because a late spouse did is never okay. While it’s normal for a widowed person to compare, comparing is a bad habit that can easily destroy a new relationship.

      So, as I see it, you and your husband have two issues.

      The first is that you are in a very new relationship and are still getting to know each other. It’s a phase where you might still not be revealing your true self or feelings or thoughts because your are worried about the others reaction or you are trying do whatever you can to make the other person happy even if it’s at your own expense.

      Perfectly normal but you are married and that means being honest about your hopes and expectations of each other, for the relationship and for yourself. You don’t stop being individuals when you get married.

      The second issue is that this is a new marriage between two new to each other people and not a re-creation of his previous marriage. Whatever he and his LW did is history and not a blueprint for the two of you.

      Understand though that he likely is not making comparisons or suggestions you do things the way his LW did to hurt you. His marriage and his LW are reference points for him. What he needs to understand is that voicing them all the time hurts your feelings and makes you feel like less than equal in your marriage.

      A final thing, he is going to think about his LW. It’s normal. It’s not a reflection on you or his feelings for you. Over time as you build – if you choose to – your own marriage and history together, you will become his reference point. But that’s not going to happen overnight.

      Before you meet to talk again, really think about what you want. What are your expectations for this relationship and do you believe that you can be happy with him and being a mother to his daughter (because as young as she is, you will be the only mother she knows). And when you both sit down to talk, be honest about your hopes and your fears.

      Marriages don’t work unless both people are roughly in agreement on how it’s going to work. Marriages are also works in progress because there is no point at which you can say “done!” and then sit back and coast.

      If saving your marriage is what you want, he has to want it too and you both have to come up with a plan together to make it happen. It will might feel more like work than love at points but it’s not impossible.

      I hope things work out the way you hope. Good luck.

  18. Hi, I found your blog and like it very much. I have a little different situation as I am the widow-not the the man I am dating. My husband has only been gone for 6 months though he was terminally ill for 9 years prior to his death. I feel that I dealt with grieving so much over those years and when he finally died it was a relief because he was suffering (as were we all). So yes, I actually have been dating for almost the entire 6 months. I don’t feel guilty about it and my adult/teenage kids know and accept it and are happy for me. I didn’t go looking to start dating so quickly but I met a wonderful man and things just happen. He is divorced 5 years and it was an ugly divorce and there is still much hurt in him from it.

    I am the one hiding the relationship from people–no Facebook, no pictures, I freak out a little if we are walking and holding hands and see someone I know. I am so afraid people will judge me even though I know that if they do they really don’t me or what I went thru for the last 9 years.

    We both agreed we have to take this slowly and not rush thibngs but at this point we spend every weekend together and a least one night during the week together as well. He is so loving and kind to me as I am to him. I think I am falling in love with him (have felt that way for a couple of months actually) but those three little words have never been spoken. His actions say love, but his mouth does not! I find myself scared to be open and honest with him–even though I was always like that in my marriage. I holdback on my feeling with him and am afraid to even bring up “love”. He did say when we first started dating that he was not sure if he would ever be able to really love some one as completely as his ex wife again–not because he still loved her but because he was so crushed and hurt by the divorce. I on the other hand had a loving and wonderful marriage and want that again. But I am too afraid to say that. And then I have this desire to have him declare his love for me–since with my husband I did all the pursuing, proposing etc and was sorry I never experienced being on the receiving end. (It worked out well for my dear husband-we were very happy together for 30 years!).

    I feel like 6 months is not very long and yet it is long enough to declare love especially since we are mature adults not children. If he still feels that he can’t love someone again I need to know so I can find someone who will love me. I know that I am part of the problem but don’t know how to fix it. Do you think I should just cool my jets and let more time pass?

    1. It’s not usual for people to get involved in relationships early (really early in fact) in widowhood. Nor is it strange for widowed to “pre-grieve” though unless you’ve experienced it, you tend not to “get it”.

      And it’s okay to come out to your family, friends and others as you see fit. So, don’t look at it as hiding but more like being strategic. Not everyone needs to know your business and especially not if you suspect they will simply be difficult about something that doesn’t effect them anyway.

      That said, it seems like your real issue is that you and your BF haven’t verbally declared your feelings and you are afraid that since he’s talked about how he’s afraid he might not be able to do this – it won’t happen. And you want all that romance and wooing and magic (and I don’t blame you a bit).

      So if all is well otherwise, you could just opt for more time.

      6 months is not a long time. Especially for two people who’ve been through emotional hurt.

      However, I think at some point you are going to have to initiate a conversation and tell him how you feel and see if you can’t come to some mutual understanding where you both feel your needs are being met.

      When you do this is really up to you. But you might ask yourself, if I wait a bit longer and things don’t turn out the way I hope, will I feel as though I wasted time? Or not?

      It’s your life. It’s okay to be in a good but not quite what you want relationship for as long as it works for you. It’s also okay to go for what you really want – remembering that what you want might not be with this guy.

      Love is a risk.

      1. Hi Annie girl,

        Am I wasting my time if this isn’t true love? good question to ask myself and the answer is no–no matter what. I AM happy and I know he is too, and what ever is to be will be. I had not thought of it that way–so I feel better giving this all more time. I think another 6 months would be prudent and wise to spend enjoying each other, learning about each other, healing from our pasts, and deciding where we are going in our lives and if it will be together or individually.


  19. Hi Ann,
    I’m just glad to have come across your site. Thank you so much for what you have shared here. It really answered some of my questions.
    My widowed bf just asked me for a temporary separation so he can fix his troubles. I just feel that he thinks there is a switch on my feelings which I can just turn on and off.
    I have read stories about dating a widower and I understand that you need to be more understanding and patient with your partner. But I wouldn’t want to make myself take the backseat and wait for him to be emotionally ready, which I am not sure when it would happen. I love him so much but I also need to look out for myself. What should I do?

    1. Some people do need time. Personally, I believe that time should be taken before a person gets themselves in a serious relationship rather than expecting to be allowed a time out during one.

      Not knowing anything about your relationship, I can’t really give you advice, and in my experience, I’ve found that people already know what they want to do when they start googling. What they are looking for is validation.

      You are right that you can’t be expected to turn off your feelings like a light switch. Nor is it fair to ask you to wait around on something that might not happen. And minus a commitment, you are your first priority.

      In my opinion, people who want to work on a relationship do it together. When one party pulls away because they want “space” or “time”, it’s generally part of their exit plan. Not 100% of the time, but more often than not.

      If this relationship is something you believe has a future, and you still want that future, a serious discussion is needed. Everything on the table with the goal of coming up with a plan that is mutually agreeable. There is no reason why you can’t work on whatever is holding the relationship back as a team. After all, a team is what you are hoping to be, right?

      But if he isn’t interested and wants to work things out for himself, your options are wait or make it clear that while you’d like to be around when he’s done working on things, you aren’t going to promise anything. And then go and live your life.

      Too many lose time and opportunities waiting on other people to decide they are worthy. There are very likely men who don’t need time and space that waiting for this guy will keep you from meeting.

      Bottom line is this is your life. You control what happens. Ask for what you want. Expect to get. Put yourself first. He certainly is putting himself first.

  20. I have been dating a widower for 4 months. His wife passed away year and a half ago..I knew them for 6 years, they were members of are church.. We started dating and it seemed we fell right into a comfort zone with each other since we already knew of one another.. Dating took us to another level.. We have told each other we love you.I have met his whole family, told them how happy we r and he is since his wife’s passing..we have talked marriage and we always said I love you..this passed weak he just cut me off..told me he did not love me the way I loved him.. His family tells me give him time he will come around. I know he is still in a grieving process..we have been intimate alot.. So I’m just totally confused and sick about all this..I’m crushed and I want to help him..but I’m afraid I can’t. It’s something he has to do on his own.

    1. I am sorry that this has happened. I can imagine how heartbreaking this has been but you are correct, this is something he has to do on his own.

      It seems as though his family believes this is a temporary setback, and it very well may be.

      Here’s my question to you, if he does “come around” and wants to resume your relationship, how are you going to receive this?

      Yes, he’s grieving but that’s not license to treat someone he has an intimate relationship with so dismissively.

      I have a friend who went through a similar situation. Dating a widower who told her he loved her, talked about marriage, included in all aspects of his life and then did an about face. She was crushed. But when he asked for another chance, she expected and got an apology and they sat down and had a long talk about how things needed to be in order for a solid relationship to be rebuilt (yes, rebuilt b/c trust was broken) and what future goals and expectations would be.

      He might be serious. In which case, you need to look out for you and do what you need to heal and move on, but if he comes back (and that happens too) and wants another chance, it would be a good idea if you’ve thought about what you want and how this can reasonably happen. Or even if you want to start again.

      I hope things work out the way you hope they do but please do remember that this is your life and you don’t have to accept anything less than want you need and wish for.

    2. Ann, pardon the pun but you are DEAD wrong. I am a widow who was married to a wonderful guy for 37 years. I am dating again after almost 4 years since he passed away. It is not the same as dating a divorced person. Are you widowed?

      1. In terms of acceptable behavior, it is.

        If you wouldn’t make excuses for a never married or divorced man, the same applies for a widowed one. It’s never okay for someone to jerk you around because they’ve been hurt – the why doesn’t matter. Dating is not therapy.

        Widoweds who date shouldn’t expect special treatment. If they do, they probably aren’t ready to date.

        1. As I widow I don’t expect special treatment, but things are different with a widow vs a divorcee. For example, I never stayed overnight at a guys house because I was married for 37 years; and now that I’m dating someone I care about there were issues about “staying over”. I wasn’t ready for that in the beginning because I was in a good marriage for a long time and don’t have the same perspective as he, a man who is divorced and was in several relationships with divorced women. Experiences will come along that are new to widows and I think if a guy cares about the widow, he will be patient and understanding about issues like spending the entire night at first. I would think those gentlemen who are patient and understanding of these “firsts”, may heed rewards. Just sayin…..

        2. You are talking about new/earlier relationship things that everyone back in the dating world after years and years away deals with and this blog post is talking about people who use their widowhood to guilt new partners into excusing bad behavior. Not the same thing at all.

          I think anyone who truly cares about a new partner will listen and engage in discussions so mutually agreeable solutions can be found.

          All that’s being discussed here are those instances when that is not what is going on.

  21. Thank you for this article. I have been dating a widower for 2 months now. They were married for 16 years and she passed from breast cancer. I have met his family and friends and I am treated very well by them. His wife passed away 2 years ago and we met on a dating site so I assumed he was ready. For the last month we have not spent a night apart and this man goes out of his way to treat me like every girl dreams of being treated. When we were at a party I catch him looking at me from across the room and that will put a smile on every girls face. The one issue is that he can’t say those 3 little words. I thought they use to mean so much but with his actions I feel like I actually get more from them than the words and he is so special that I am willing to be patient. I feel like he is worth it and I don’t know that anyone has ever made me feel better about myself than he does. After reading your article I realized that dating a widower isn’t for everyone but I do think he is for me and that I can truly be patient without regrets and most importantly if enjoy each other and you are both smiling more than you have in year, then actions can speak volumes and if he can make you feel that way, have a little confidence, be in the moment and let things happen the way they should, in time. Thanks again

  22. I have been dating a widower now for 6 months. His wife passed away 14 months ago. For the most part we took things slowly and let feelings take us where we are today. We are exclusive and I feel he is committed to our relationship. We exchange I love you’s and see each other daily. We are both in our mid 50’s. He’s very happy to introduce me to his circle of friends who were also friends of his and his late wife. This weekend I will be going to a family gathering to meet his extended family. It has not been easy for me for the simple fact he and his wife were married 30+ years so a lot of the friends they had together have been friends for many years and understandably so they still miss her and mourn her passing. Meeting me has not been easy and although they have been polite it is very clear to me it will be a long time before I am fully accepted. He tells me I am a real trooper and just be myself and soon they will love me too. He says we are a team now and he makes me a part of his entire life. There are a few pictures of her throughout the house and I am not bothered by this at all. There SHOULD be pics of her. There is no shrine to her but her ashes rest in a beautiful box with her picture on it in the living room. I am not bothered by this and she should be there. I have spent a lot of time in the house alone and I have never felt unwelcome or uncomfortable. I respect it was where they made a home together for 30 years. He feels very comfortable with me there as well and has told me his castle is my castle and i do not have to ask or wait to be offered anything and I am to make myself at home. We do not live together but we spend the majority of our time together. He has gone the extra mile to put me at ease and let me know I am the one in his life now.

    Okay so why am I here? His facebook profile pic. He had a pic of the two of them as his profile pic when she became ill and died shortly thereafter. On her birthday a couple months ago he changed it to a different pic of the two of them. The first anniversary of her death was a few days later so even though it shocked me a little to see the pic I understood it was his way of paying remembrance to her and the two special dates. There was a flood of comments and condolences and well wishes for comfort extended to him. It’s two moths later now and the picture remains his profile pic. I do think it causes confusion in the eyes of his friends, They see the profile pic but then see him with me in tow socially. I have seen the confusion in their eyes.

    A few times he has struggled emotionally and he and i will go a few days with the quiet tension between us and then we will talk about it and he assures me he knows he must move forward and wants to move forward with me in his life. I have offered to give him additional time to come to terms with the roller coaster of emotions that will take him away. I explained that although I am very empathetic and sympathetic and it hurts me to see him hurting that I can not be second best in his life if he is still emotionally conflicted to such a degree.

    He tells me he wants me with him. He has brought up the profile pic himself and has asked me not to be offended by it or take it as a negative statement regarding his feelings for me. He has acknowledged he will change it in the future but it remains. I will not bring it up to him because I will not push him to do something he should do in his own time. But I will say it does send me the message he is not emotionally ready to have a new relationship and make that relationship a symbol of the new life he has now. To me the profile pic still symbolizes an identity he is not yet ready to let go of. Emotionally he is still married…..which makes me the other woman. Not an identity I am content with. I don’t think he realizes this and I’m torn as to talking to him about it or sitting him down and telling him we need to back up for awhile until he’s ready to put both feet into the present and future rather than having one foot in today and the other in yesterday.

    Am I wrong? My best friend of 40+ years passed away last year so I have really no one to talk to and as you can tell I desperately need some insight. Thank you in advance,

    1. It’s interesting that you should post this today because I have recently been engaged on this topic with a group of widowed folks.

      It’s difficult for widowed people to understand that their non-widowed new loves take issue with this duality of feelings thing but it doesn’t surprise me at all that actively promoting/engaging in a real living relationship will inevitably clash with trying to perpetuate a relationship with your late spouse at the same time.

      Some people – and I don’t think they are the majority – happily merge past and present and manage to build a relationship that survives and thrives to some degree or other. Most new partners, in my experience, will eventually object (whether they were ever widowed or not) to be second or sharing the stage.

      I think most people understand the difference between a living love and a late love and they behave accordingly, but it takes a bit of time in the age of social media to get that exactly right for everyone.

      You are dating and committed and everyone knows this. It’s normal for pics of the late spouse to turn up on FB at the time of anniversaries and other milestones. But, in my opinion, they should be posts rather than avatars or headers. Posts are one offs that share and allow others to share. They run a course and they fade. An avatar though is a representation of who you are right now and where you are. I am not sure that people truly understand how powerful a statement the avatar is and what others see and surmise when they see it.

      Perhaps your boyfriend just doesn’t understand how his avatar is possibly telling people things about him and his relationship with you that simply isn’t true and how hurtful that can be.

      I have shared pics of my late husband on FB. Quite a few in the last few months because I have been digitizing and never had a chance to get them “on record” before. But they went into albums. They were never presented as anything other than memories – which are totally in bounds.

      My husband has shared pics of his late wife. Never as his avatar. Even being widowed myself, I would not be cool with it.

      Are spouses were wonderful people and much loved but they are gone and our allegiance is now to each other first and foremost.

      You aren’t pushing to have this talk with him. At 14months, things can still be kinda raw and it’s still easy to get caught up in the past on anniversaries. It doesn’t mean that he isn’t ready. More likely that he doesn’t realize just how much damage he is doing to you and the relationship by downplaying this and by not bringing this up, you are inadvertently allowing him to pretend it’s okay.

      He might say that “it’s just a pic on FB” but social media has become our de facto face to our world and what we put up there speaks loudly about us. That’s why it’s important to take care with it. You might explain it to him that way but also, just be honest. Your feelings are hurt. He is aware and yet not doing much of anything to fix things and that is a bigger issue than his readiness. If you are someone he loves, your feelings should matter more. Most even.

      I hope this helps. If you want to run it by others, Abel Keogh has a FB group for women who date/marry widowers. It’s a nice forum. Closed group and there are many women there who will get exactly what you are feeling.

      Good luck!

      1. Thank you Ann. Your characterization of the statement a profile picture sends to the world was exactly what my logic was. Last night we had a several hour conversation about many many things and he broached the subject of our relationship and some issues that were weighing on his heart. Men have their insecurities too and I’m lucky to have a man in my life who will reach a point of concern but then open up and bring it out in the open with me. All I can say is as a result our relationship received another firm layer of foundation. I have no doubt my place in his life and in his heart is firmly planted.

        The profile pic topic never came up because the conversation we had made it seem so trivial as my understanding of his perspective widened to a much greater degree. When he is ready he will change it. It took me 15 months to change my profile pic of me and my best friend of 40+ years due to her untimely death recently so I know it’s not an easy thing to do. It’s like the final break away and almost felt I was not being a good friend to her by doing it but it was time for me to change my identity from deeply grieving friend to embracing all of the other things my life contains. He will do the same when he is ready and I am no longer threatened by it.

        I’ve learned to understand when the love is solid and the peace of mind that comes with that all the other “things” just don’t have the same level of “importance”.

        That is what readers of this blog so desperately need…peace of mind. I hope this for all your readers. It can’t be forced, waited out or bought by a persons efforts at “being there” for their grieving partner. He won’t some day snap out of it and say wow you’ve invested so much in me and because of that I now love you. I think that’s what a lot hold out for. If it’s not there it’s simply not there. When it is there you know it. Does my widower still love his late wife? Absolutely. I wouldn’t want him not to. Does he love me and want only me to spend his remaining time on earth with? Absolutely. Does he miss her? Of course. But he goes out of his way every single day to show me his future is me and lets me know he wants mine to be him. Just because he’s a grieving widower gives no man a pass at being a good man. That is the most important element bar none. Thanks again Ann!

        1. I am glad everything is okay. Being able to really trust and talk is so important and it sounds like you two have that.

        2. Thank you two. I am in a similar situation. We have been together for a year. We were all friends prior to my fella’s wife’s death and I miss her too. He is very loving and I don’t question his love for me. I struggle with the couple photos still up at his house. She has never lived in the house. I am respectful because I loved her and of course, her family loves her always. I just feel odd when I am kissing him and I catch a glimpse of a photo of the two of them. I am not hurt… about it. When is it appropriate to say this? I would have photos of her forever. Just the couple ones…odd to me.

        3. If it’s really making you crazy, mention it, but if not, you need to weigh the pros/cons of doing so.

          Because there have been questions about this here recently, my husband and I have discussed this (again and bearing in mind we’ve been married over eight years now) and he still thinks it’s odd for me to have been unsettled by photos (and there were few). So this issue seems to me to be a very individual one and varies from person to person. If it’s damaging the relationship, it should be addressed. If it’s merely bringing up surreal feelings that a person can work through on their own, don’t introduce the topic.

          People recouple all the time but usually former partners are still alive and building new lives of their own somewhere. When the former partner has died, it brings up all sorts of questions about mortality and fate and destiny that can be uncomfortable and even scary. I don’t think most people dwell too much but some of us do.

          Life is complicated.

        4. Just a follow up as to my original post. I had been concerned about his Facebook profile picture. He and I did not discuss it and I was willing to give it a little more time. About a week or so after I posted he changed the profile picture to a photo recently taken of him. He also changed the background picture on his phone to a selfie he and I did together while out one evening. These seemingly small gestures to some are big steps to others. These things, I believe, must be done on the widowers timeline when they are ready. It’s up to us, the new loves in their lives to determine if that timeline is moving fast enough and we must make our own decisions if that process seems too slow. It’s a process. No one navigates through it at the same pace or comes out at the end of it the same as the next person. I had my concerns if my investment of time and heart would leave me empty handed in the end. I guess because we have no way of knowing where the grief process will take the person we love. I think the key, at least through my own experience, has been seeing consistent progress. He tries very hard to make me welcome and comfortable and feel I’m a meaningful part of his life today and in the future. He grieves, he loved her, they grew up together being together since sophomores in high school….her death was sudden, unexpected and traumatic. He will not be “ok” with it ever. I get that and he has days of sadness and I get that too. Is it rough on me emotionally? Yes somewhat because I must share him and I think that is the hard part for some. We want to be number one and the only one. When the sadness takes over I find myself feeling on the fringe of his life and that is not a fun feeling but the sadness passes and he’s once again living in today’s world. It’s a given…it’s going to happen and I have to ask myself if I have the emotional strength to continue being with him. I accept the process and I’m sure as time goes on the sting will soften and as he and I are together longer we will acquire more “reference points”…out own memories and our own history.

    2. I am in the same boat. Only I am a widow also. It is a very hard situation. I have been a widow a little longer and I do not use the terms “ours” or “we” like he does. I feel I should back up.

  23. The fastest way to tell if ANY man loves you is to stop having sex and or move out and get your own life. Date him without the sex. See him, spend time with him, without the sex. You will be absolutely amazed at how fast the relationship will disintegrate if he was only in it for the convenience. Any man can say ‘I love you”. This doesn’t mean skubala unless you stop having sex and the relationship moves forward anyway.

  24. I’m kind of new to this whole “world” as being involved with a W. My dad is a W ( I lost my mom at the age of 13), so I kind of know how the whole dating thing goes from a daughters perspective. I just so happen to find myself madly in love with a W, now. His fiancé(she passed a few weeks before the wedding was due to take place and she was pregnant with their second child) has been gone for 6 years. He speaks openly about her when we have conversations(not enough to freak me out or make me feel uncomfortable) and I really appreciate that aspect because he seems to let me in easily and he’s comfortable enough with me to talk about her.
    We met earlier this year and kind of hit it off the first night….we talked/text constantly and then one day I couldn’t get a response so I sent him a message saying I was praying for him and his daughter and to contact me when he felt up to it(it was close to the Anniversary(for lack of a better word). Needless to say he did about a month later and apologized for his absence and we’ve been a constant ever since. He’s been to my city numerous times(he has family here) and I’ve been to his place once (he was in the process of moving back to his permanent residence). I conduct myself and handle us as an exclusive relationship and I believe he does too(his family knows about us and he introduced himself to my kids recently, which was HUGE for me, and my daughter really likes him.
    Now that’s a little of the back story, so here comes the question….I’m not questioning if he loves me or not(at this point), but I am wondering if their is a process when it comes to a W dating or approaching a serious relationship again? Like, we talk like friends, we have pet names, we discuss work, kids, special events in each others lives, parents….you name it we talk about it(serious or silly). But, I want a solid, exclusive relationship with this amazing man. He’s admitted that he still has some cracks that he needs to fix and that he wants to fix them so he can start the next chapter of his life(I would like to think that it’s with me, Deep sigh). Is it too early for me to ask about where we stand in our “relationship”? I don’t want to push to hard or feel like I’m forcing his hand, but I also don’t want to be wasting my time with someone. I learned from watching my father that it takes a great deal of understanding, but it also takes some firmness….I have yet to display the firmness. Is it about that time?

    Help me…..I believe he’s MORE than worth it….he’s an amazing man and dad.

    1. I don’t believe that firmness is quite the right word. I think you are ready to talk about next steps and want to know if he is too. That’s just normal progression. It’s not pushy to ask him how he feels about this.

      Just put it out there, “Hey, this is how I feel and what I would like to happen …” and then see what he says.

  25. How can you possible compare the death of you lover/spouse, getting divorced or anything else. I can assure you that there is a big difference. I’ve been divorced by a women who cheated and had my fiance die. Night and day. I wounder where you draw your experiences from to make such a comparison?.

      1. Do to the comment below, Perhaps I took it out of context. If so, what point were you trying to make?

        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”

  26. Hi Ann. I have been dating a widower on and off for a year and a half now. We had a three month break last year before Christmas. During that time I had started seeing someone else, but my W came back, and we started our relationship with a fresh outlook. He said he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me, and “pledged” himself to me, saying when the time is right, I will get a ring, and he will give me his name. Up until the end of July, he talked about myself and my son moving in with him. Some personal issues came up for both of us, and we were sort of at odds as we both pulled away from each other until last weekend. During that time, we stopped talking about our future. I did ask him outright why we stopped talking about “us” and he said “when”? I referenced the last conversation we had about the topic, and he said “because at that point, it was in the future”. He told me that he had “debts in his head ” that he had to “reorder” before we moved forward. He is referencing home improvement projects that he put off while his daughter and her girlfriend were living with him. Basically, they were disrespectful, and were trashing the house while they lived there. They got their own place mid August this year, and W has gone to town with getting the house the way he’s been wanting it, but refused to put effort into while they lived there. I don’t know if he’s nesting or what, but I am trying to be patient. He did tell me that we would “get there”, but I’m disappointed that it hasn’t fallen into place the way I understood it to. I don’t know if he is waiting to be able to afford a ring before he asked us to move in, or is waiting for the kids to get out of school at the end of the year. All I know is that he is a planner, and does have his own timeframes for the things he does. When we got back together in March, he told me that he wanted us to move in, but he doesn’t believe in the ” why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free” mentality some men approach such relationship situations with. I don’t expect, or want an expensive ring, but I’m not sure how to approach the topic with him. I practically live there now the way it is. I spend almost every night there dog sitting (which he does pay me for) and being a secure presence for his autistic son at night since W works 3rd shift. I carry an overnight bag with me everyday, and he has yet to offer me drawer space. He’s not taking me for granted, I just don’t think he gets that it’s becoming annoying. He was married to LW for 26 years, and they seemed to have had a loving, yet ridged relationship. He has had ALOT of firsts with me, and told me that he didn’t know any better because he thought that the way his marriage played out over the years was the way married life was supposed to be….in the bedroom, and beyond, so he is somewhat niaeve about things. LW has been gone going on 5 years. There are a few pictures up of her in the house, a little shrine, he does still have some of her belongings and her ashes are in his closet which he said was “creepy”, but he didn’t know what to do with as his original plans for her remains to be placed in Arlington National Cemetary (he’s retired military) never happened because his kids would not cooperate with him. He can be quirky about things which is one of the qualities I adore about him, but I’m frustrated. Any insight or guidance from your experience that you can share would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much! This GOW is grateful for having a place to turn to. BTW….when we did get back together, I had told him about how being a GOW feels, and about support groups for women in our positions and so on, and he laughed and said ” yeah, because we are soooo difficult to deal with”! Ha!!!! I really don’t think they appreciate what we go through to be with them.

    1. There is a lot going on here. Not surprising that relationship and future plans keep getting put on back burner.

      Is there anyway the two of you could sit down quietly (get away for a weekend even) and just decompress and talk?

      The main reason that my husband and I were able to move our relationship forward to living together and getting married is simply because we planned it all out. There was a timetable. List of details. We didn’t leave it to chance or “good timing” because if we had, we might still be trying to bring our lives together.

      It’s not romantic, but I am a believer in having the necessary conversations, laying down firm plans and then doing the work that needs to be done.

      In theory, you guys should be able to sit down, discuss where you both are at and come up with a mutually agreeable plan for moving towards what you both want.

      He sounds a bit overwhelmed but perhaps if given a reasonable timetable – and both of you pitching in – you can get where you want to be.

      In terms of practical matters. Closets are easily cleaned out. If his daughter doesn’t want anything in there, there are charities that likely will take things. Might even come and pick stuff up.

      Ashes. It’s too bad his kids are not cooperating but given that it’s been 5 years, he is totally within his rights to simply tell them what he has decided to do and let the chips fall. Who knows, that might even light a fire under them to get them to suggest/agree to things. It’s really not okay to let your mother sit on a shelf for five years while you decide what to do with her. She’s mom, not a pet. Though that’s just my opinion.

      Widowed take issue with the idea that those who date them might need support. It’s not that they are difficult but they are not typical in the dating pool. Unique. And bring with them unique issues.

      I don’t think what’s going on here is unusual. Forward progression can be difficult when you are dealing with grown kids, which makes it more important – again my opinion – that you two have a plan, so you can have each other’s back and start working towards a future.

      Step one – having some conversations.

      1. Thank you for your input, and insight. We will be spending the weekend together this weekend, and I did plan on approaching the topic with him again. Your right about him being overwhelmed, that’s one of the reasons I let it slide a little. As far as the ashes and her belongings, I agree. Letting the ashes sit on the shelf isn’t right. To me she is not fully at rest. I have some ideas for when the time comes on that topic. Most of her belongings were donated or discarded last year when he moved into his new house. He bought all new furniture, and the appliances came with the new house. He has some small personal items and momentos, and a plastic storage container with clothes that his daughter is supposed to take. Definitely a Uniqe situation, and it’s not for the weak or someone who is easily jealous.

        1. When I moved in with my W nearly three years ago, the house was full of her pictures. After a few months he took all but a couple of them down, saying they weren’t relevant any more. I was very relieved!

          But her ashes were at the back of his wardrobe. She’d left no wishes for them, as far as he knew, so I made a few suggestions. I deeply disliked her remains in the wardrobe. One of my suggestions seemed appropriate to him, so, on the fifth anniversary of her death (his birthday!) he went off and scattered them.

          A few months later I was chatting to the LW’s oldest friend. We really like each other – what a relief – and it seems LW had told the friend the place she’d liked to be scattered. Weirdly, the very place I’d thought of – nowhere obvious – so I was amazed.

          Kim, I hope you get this sorted.

          Moving into a new house! How brilliant! I don’t like the LW’s dreary taste and long to be able to put my own personality into this house. It’s ideally suited for his work, so moving would be difficult. Gradually, I’ve changed a few things, had a bedroom repainted that was a horrible bright mauve, improved the garden and disposed of things and clothes no longer needed. But it’s so hard not to compare oneself to the dear departed. There’s also a horrid first wife, divorced thirty years ago. she doesn’t speak to me – heaven knows why not.

          What a situation for us though! I thought, with the LW gone, it would be uncomplicated! Hah!

    2. Hi Ann – sorry to mess you about but i’d like to cancel my message please. i’m now panicking in case anyone inadvertently sees my message and is hurt by it. sorry x

        1. So they’re just excuses? Should i not go to these events in your opinion? Thank you and thanks for replying

        2. You should what makes you happy and feels comfortable. If you want to go, go. But if you go and there continues to be back/forth and wavering from him, will you be happy with just having gone even though your relationship status won’t have changed?

          Love is always a risk and it’s not unusual to be afraid to take the risk again whether you’ve been divorced or widowed.

          What do you want? And will you be okay if that doesn’t happen?

  27. Hi Ann, I wrote to you before, he has now been widowed for 7 months, which I know is not very long. I will be seeing him in 2 weeks, again flying to Florida and I will be with him a little over a month. In the past 3 weeks, his depression has gotten so really bad, we used to sext talk all time, deep conversations, and when I am with him, he seems to really like my company. He came to my hometown for a week, introduced me to his sister that very night we got home and I would be sitting in my computer room and look out my window in the morning and there he would be, and it made my heart melt, but since he has been away he has really been grieving bad, no sexting, no deep conversations and he has been sleeping on the beach my her bench for about 2 weeks now, is this normal? He has been also clubbing with some friends. I am so in love with him and I told him that and he said he knew and a part of him loved me too. I just don’t know what the norm is for a grieving widower.

    1. Everyone grieves differently and seven months out is not that long.

      If you are worried, it’s okay to tell him this and see where the conversation goes from there. Maybe he is worried too.

      1. He wrote to me on Facebook, cancelling my trip, he was too filled with rage right now, I sold things for my ticket, I was pissed to say the least and he will be coming here in about 3 weeks to see his daughter, he wants to hang out with me, what should I do?

  28. What if he hides you and excludes you from his family and friends (they know your name and that your a friend but that’s it). We have an amazing friendship/relationship. I see it as a relationship (I do not believe if your just friends you have sex) and he sees it as a friendship. We don’t really date (I mean like go out, we just hang out as his house sometimes with the kids. Sometimes he comes to mine for sex.), It’s kind of a friends with benefits thing. I have gotten to know the kids well. I have told him the fwb thing I am not comfortable with. He keeps saying he needs time to make things right in his head and does not want to loose me and what we have. It’s been 2 years since his wife’s death. As he puts it….it’s only been two years. Am I doing the right thing by staying and giving him time?

    1. If you know his children, you are not exactly hidden. Kids share and have likely done so with extended family at the very least.

      But it’s telling that he doesn’t bring you around them, or his friends, because as you stated, he appears to see your relationship in a different light and that’s the crux of the issue.

      I don’t know how long you’ve been friends, but I will say that if you are at the point of asking questions about whether this is right for you and should you give this more time – it’s time you had a serious chat with him about the relationship. What it really is and where it might (or might not) be going.

      Don’t let him use the “it’s only been two years” thing to deflect. That’s what he’s doing.

      He is in an intimate relationship with you (one where you know his kids well), so that’s just a widow card he’s playing to control the relationship rather than allow you to be an equal partner in it.

      If he is ready to invite you into his home, his bed and the lives of his kids – the “just two years” thing doesn’t wash because he is in a relationship with you whether he cares to admit it or not.

      The question though is – what do you want? Is this really working for you? Do you see your needs, dreams and goals being met by this guy?

      It doesn’t sound like it.

      It’s always better to be honest. To ask for what you need. However, these types of conversations sometimes lead to the end of relationships/friendships. Would you be okay with that?

      You have some things to think about. Talk about with a good friend – someone who knows you well and who you trust will help you impartially assess things. But I don’t see how you can avoid sitting your guy down soon and having a really honest conversation if a long term, out in the open relationship is what you want.

      One more thing when he says “only”, he is telling you how he feels but not in a direct way. He might not even be aware that he is doing it, but he is.

      It’s not unusual for widowed folk (men and women) to get into relationships in the first year or two because they want to but only for the sake of companionship, intimacy and not because they are ready to move on.

      So, are you doing the right thing? That would depend on what you want and if he is on the same page as you. You can’t know that without asking.

  29. i see that your answering questions so I really could use a little advice. I have been living with a widower who is older than I am. His beloved wife passed away from cancer 7 years ago. I have known him for 4 years but have only been together for six months since my divorce.
    I know he loves me not only by what he says but also does. My problem, however, is that he talks about her almost daily in some way, shape, or form. I get that he still misses her and I also get that because I have never experienced such a loss I couldn’t begin to understand the way he is thinking. So here lies the rub, how can I move forward with this? I know I will have to change my way of thinking but when would it be considered excessive? I love him dearly and we want a future together. Please help!

    1. My husband and I have been married for eight years now. Together closer to nine. And in the beginning, he did reference his LW a lot. Which was understandable given the length of their marriage. All his touch points had her in them in some way.

      And I will admit it bothered me. I didn’t have that same issue because I married in my 30’s and my own marriage with my LH was quite short. I had plenty of LH free life and reference points, so my husband was spared in a way I wasn’t.

      After all this time together, he and I have built up our own memories and references so though late spouses come up – mostly because of children – we don’t talk about them, even in passing anymore.

      I don’t know when this happened though. I can’t say “give it a year or so” and the references will dwindle. Even though I can say for sure that time and the establishing of your relationship with him now is likely to make that the case.

      Generally, I tell people to speak up if something is bothering them and if it’s really eating at you, you should, but in this instance, I think it really is something that time will take care of given that your relationship is new and growing.

      I don’t know how long your guy was married or how young he might have been when he married, but it’s hard to completely factor out someone who “grew up” with you so to speak.

      My husband and his LW were teens when they met and they married very young. It took time for our marriage and me to become his reference point.

      If you do decide to talk to your guy, remember that he probably has no idea that he is talking about her as much as he is, so approach the conversation carefully. I have no advice on how to start such a conversation though because I never had this talk with my husband. I just reminded myself that she was a habit for him and eventually I would be just as much. But I know it’s hard and can even hurt. Just remember, it’s not personal and it’s not a comparison.

      Hope that helps a bit.

      1. Hi Ann, I have been talking with a man I went to school with 35 years ago, he had a crush on me then, but he was quite the nerd. i saw on his Facebook his wife of 34 years had passed away and for some unknown reason to me I reached out to him. We hit it off really fast, she had only been gone a month when he called me. We talked for 3 months and flew me out to see him. He was very nervous at first but we really had a great time together. He again a month later, flew me out and I spent a whole month with him, traveling, touring, etc, and we did become intimate. I have fallen head over heels over him. He really seems to like me but he will post things about how much he misses her and he will never be happy again although we talk everyday. I understand his missing her, but he never mentions to me how he feels about me. She has been gone 6 months now, and he seems more down than ever, when I am with him all is good, when I am back home, he is in such a depression. Do you think I have any hope with being with him for good?

        1. Have you asked him about the future? He is the only one who can answer that. Given that you are dating, intimate and it’s been six months, it’s not inappropriate to ask.

          6 months is not a long time, so it’s not strange that he is still grieving and the active part of grief does end though everyone’s timeline is different.

          It’s also not unusual that he decided to pursue a relationship with you. More people than is realized think about and actually do date in the first year of widowhood. They also fall in love and make plans for the future.

          I think your first step is to ask him how he feels about a future together. You will likely get the answers you need to decide what you want to do from that conversation.

        2. Ann, thank you for your response. Do I tell him I am in love with him first, or just ask where is our relationship is headed? I live in Ohio and he lives in Florida and it kills me not being able to see him all the time. I think to myself, why would he fly me out twice and go on a vacation if there were no feelings for me. I am just so scared to hear his response when I ask these questions, he is headstrong at times. I just want him happy and we have such a good time together.

        3. You don’t “have to” do anything. If you are okay as things stand and want to wait, you should.

          But if you want to move forward and think it’s time, it’s easy enough to ask him if he would like to discuss the future. If you want to tell him you love him, do but it’s probably not a requirement for a talk about “maybe what we have is worth thinking about moving to another level?”

          Long distance relationship are hard. Being apart and not knowing. Worrying. All normal.

        1. Ann, I have been dating a widower for just over 2 years we both have boys aged 12. His wife has been dead for 9 years. We originally lived 70 miles apart. I would travel to his on a Saturday to watch him play Rugby and then because i was not allowed to really be near him due to his son who was 10 at the time i would travel home immediately afterwards with my son – a very long way to go to grab 10 mins at the end of rugby 150 mile round trip. He does not kiss me or hug me in front of his son as he is not allowed. After 6 months i was allowed to stay occasionally when his son allowed but had to stay in the spare room. His son would make him go to bed at the same time as he did so we had no time what so ever just to be together. I am a management consultant specialising in turn around for struggling companies and soon his company was struggling and i went to work for him for no compensation. Still the son would not engage with me told his father he could never marry again and rules the house and everything his father does. I am kind to his son, i make ice-cream, cakes, sweets, lovely food at home then take to him – but the control of his father is unbearable. There are pictures in the house in his bedroom (not sure if i was ever to stay i would want to sleep with a picture of the wife in the room) His son loves the pity and thrives on the attention despite not remembering his mother. He is controlling beyond belief. I move nearer to him 70 miles nearer to help with perhaps seeing him more but it didn’t help he was still told he could not see me, he could not visit for long, if they come for supper he wines to go home all the time and daddy gives in – its quite pathetic. I have since moved to live a few doors away and still things are no better. I work with him and have turned his company around – we do not go out we are not allowed to stay in I’m not allowed to stay there and he is not allowed to stay with me – this weekend he said we have more of a relationship than most because we spend everyday together at work!!!! we only sleep together if we go away on business which is once every 3 months for 1 night, other than that we are not physical – he says he can wait until his son grows up – i don’t want to wait – if after 2 years we are no further forward then i don’t want to put my life on hold i love him but find myself totally unfulfilled – am i work to not want to wait?

        2. I think you know what you need to do. You are in a relationship that is not a two-way street, which frankly isn’t really a relationship. It’s more like an arrangement and one that’s not taking you into consideration.

          His son has been in charge since he was a tiny boy. Do you really think he’s going to give that up once he is an adult?

          You gave it a go in good faith but it’s probably time you thought about putting yourself first. You deserve a relationship where you are a partner and come first.

        3. Thank you Ann, I have given it everything i have and i know you are right. Yes its time for me to be really happy. Im not asking for anything unreasonable – just what most people would want from a relationship, male or female.

        4. I agree that you are being perfectly reasonable. I am sorry this relationship is working out. You should look after yourself and your son. You both deserve more of a future. Good luck!

        5. Janene,

          Run a mile and SERIOUSLY ask yourself WHY you have put yourself through this, and made two moves on account of this non relationship in which you have done all the giving.

          This BRAT, of 12 years old or so, is dictating to his father, and his father is permitting this? Not once, not twice, on an ongoing basis. You say yourself who is running the household – not the widower father, but the intolerable, Narcissistic, spoiled brat.

          In my opinion you need MAJOR counseling to determine why you even, for a moment, would think it is normal for a 12 year old to be calling the shots over his father.

          That little swine will pity party all his life about how his ‘Mummy died’. It is going to be his calling card to in to a hideous nightmare of a Narcissistic abuser.

          His weak father is enabling him. It will NOT change – NOT ever.

          You need to look into your own family history and relationships with your parents, grandparents, former partners, etc to discover why you would for five minutes put up with this total nonsense.

          Look into Narcissistic Personality Disorder, and yes the wretches are BORN with it. I don’t care what anyone says, they are BORN with it. Keep yourself and your son AWAY.


  30. What irks me, is ….The love me, love my dead wif.
    THEN, there is marry the man..marry the family.
    I didnt sign up for that….Im marrying into HIS FAMILY…..not hers….
    she had her time with him…this is mine til i die.
    Not trying to be mean, but…its hard enough dealing with all of this.
    I lost my fiance who killed himself..but i NEVER EVER BRING HIM UP, HE DIDNT EVEN KNOW OF HIS EXISTENCE….
    BUT BOY HE SURE BROUGHT HER UP HERE AND THE,,t be about our relationship. ..
    To please email me with your honest thoughts. ..

    He is good to me, but i had to dealmwith the pics, voicemail…..which he took down, i compromised and said keep a few up, or put em in your office. …but i need more of us up….AND FOR GODS SAKE, GET ME A NEW BED, AMD BEFORE WE MARRY, GET THE REMAINING PIC OUT THE BEDROOM…THE SISTER IN LAW HE HAS IS A BITCH TO ME..SHE WAS NICE INVITING US UP TO HER FAMILY…THEN SHE HOLDS HER HEAD UP AND SPEAKS TOMHIM AND NOT ME…I ALMOST WENT HAM ON HER IN CHUCH.
    Im tired of taking this…he admitted he cuts her slack because she is her sister, but i feel he don’t stand up for me..only to say. …what do i care what others say. …i said im not HER, AND THEY DONT HAVE TO LIKE ME, BUT THEY DAM WELL BETTER RESPECT ME, BECAUSE WITH ME..YOU GET WHAT YOU GIVE TO ME, AND I DONT DESERVE ANY LESS THAN WHAT SHE GOT.



    1. Are you happy? Will you be happy in a year or five or ten when nothing has changed? Is that what you want?

      You deserve to be happy. You don’t sound like you are. That’s where you start.

      It’s perfectly reasonable to expect that your husband to be has you as his priority.

      I think you know what you need to do. Have a calm conversation with your guy. Explain how you feel. What you expect and need. And then see what he says.
      And remember that words are just that unless they are backed up with actions.

      Good luck. I hope things turn out the way you hope.

      (edited to add: I took your email out of the post so it wouldn’t get picked up by spam bots.)

    2. Maria,

      The wife passed away NINE years ago?

      The wife of the wid I was with passed away about twelve years prior to when I met him.

      There was – you said it – the voicemail. Though he altered that pretty quick after he met me, and I did not ask him to do so. But HER message on the voicemail ALL this time later?

      I also had to endure various pics of her all over his house, including a wedding picture in the bedroom. Which I about objected to about 5 months into our relationship and he removed.

      EVERYTHING in his house was frozen in time. The Charles Dickens ‘Miss Havesham’ thing. She used to run a hair dressing shop from the basement. It was all still there, down to the last curler in a drawer, along with dusty fake potted plants/flowers and her certificates on the wall.

      It was, frankly, eerie, especially as in a hair shop there are mirrors all over. It felt like she was still in that shop and watching from every angle.

      My stumbling block was not a sister in law, but a nasty little spoilt princess of an adult would be step-daughter. I was also engaged to my wid.

      If there are adult step-children doubly beware. My wid has two adult daughters, the elder was charming, gracious and welcoming to me. The younger was a Narcissistic bitch, I now believe in the clinical sense of having Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

      I later learnt that a lot of the hideous decor which ‘graced’ my wid’s home was the product of this revolting younger spawn. Who had seemingly taken after her mother, in terms of having NO taste whatsoever. (The older girl has good taste. The wid claimed he could not care less.)

      This eye-wateringly tasteless decor, that I could hardly wait to change, had to a large part been installed by this little brat, as a mid to late teen, before she moved out.

      I did not know that for a very long while.

      This little wretch seemed to have a ‘mini-wife’ type of hold on her dad. Little bawling, ‘oooh I lost my mommy!’ Goddamned princess. The other, older by not much girl, had had to get on with it when Mommy died. Make the meals, do the washing . . . Little wretch just kept bawling and boo hooing and learnt to make a profession out of ‘my mommy died when I was 11- so gimme, gimme, gimme, do for me, do for me do for me . . .”

      I will be honest I would have liked to have taken a shotgun to this worthless young woman, a couple of years ago, for her role in breaking my wid and I up.

      I sincerely believed that without the manipulative influence of that self-centered, little bitch we would still be together. I went with him, for a year and was engaged to him for a further year, with that bitch living out of province. When she moved back the trouble started and her malign influence grew. Worried about her inheritance in the main, I am sure.

      Ironically I have no children of my own, my partner is not all that much older than me, and the slut likely would have got a BETTER deal, in the end by being nice to me. The break up has impoverished both my former wid fiance and I, as neither one of us could afford to be keeping up a rural property on our own, frankly.


      I relate you your ‘marry me marry my family’.

      He seemingly just expected me to step into his wife’s shoes, within his community. I now see he did not want to move, or sell his ‘Miss Haversham’ house, shrine to the little wifey, wifey. (Though he told me various – lies -let us say self-deceptions – about doing so, or renting it out – so long as his foul daughter was out of province. )

      I doubt I would EVER date another widower. This one blind sided me.

      A lot of them are good loving, devoted men, for the God damned dead bitch and no one else. (Or were they?) And the dead bitch’s daughter or the dead bitch’s snotty sister, or her Mom, or whoever can keep this all tied in – FOREVER – with a certain kind of man.

      I know my wid did a lot for the dead bitch, and I suspect she was a bitch too. Her younger daughter is a bitch on roller blades, as I have heard was her mother. He nursed her through cancer. He is a paramedic. He was allowed to do extraordinary levels of home care for her.

      I am sorry she died in a nasty way, at the age of 40 or so, but she sounded little a bossy, bitchy, nasty demanding c–t, just like her younger daughter. Bitches like that ruin a man for future relationships.

      Bitches like that get their first pick of the naive men, snagging them off the good women, men love a bitch, and then are still pulling their tricks to keep them, from the grave.

      Feel for you. Dump him, dump the whole damn family, it won’t get better, you are out numbered by her sympathizers.


      1. Wow, that man and family was fortunate that you wised up and got out of that relationship. You are a real piece of work. Hope you are in a happier place.

    3. Hi. My heart goes out to you. I am currently dating a recent widower and I am questioning whether I should end this now or hang in there. What you wrote made me cry. You deserve to be loved by someone who can give you 150% and no less. Don’t settle for less. Demand the respect you deserve. The dead wife needs to take 2nd place and you need to be number 1. If he can’t handle that, then to hell with him. You deserve better and you will find it. Stay strong and be true to your self.

  31. I found this really helpful thank you. Think I just needed some independent adult advice, no beating round the bush. I will step back with a sigh of relief and know that he does love me, think I was just looking for problems and listening to idle opinions. Thank you

  32. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I love your honest and direct attitude. Character is defined as doing the same right thing regardless of circumstance. If he is not displaying character in his love affair the reason doesn’t matter. What matters is are you willing to spend time with someone and be intimate with someone that shows a lack of respect. Chalking it up to, “a hard thing happened in his life.” His feelings matter but so do yours!
    I have been spending time with a widower of almost 6 years. This is his first near dating experience after 31 years of marriage. We are not having sex or running into a relationship. iNot that we are not interested should the timing be right. We are just clear that these things take time he’s doing new and scary things, this dating again. We talk about the things we want and how we feel. Some of the here I am/no I am not goes on still. But because of that I am not throwing all in. He is my friend I love him dearly; but I love myself also and know that I am ultimately responsible for myself and my happiness. Having unrealistic expectations does not lend to my ultimate happiness.

    1. Sounds like you know what’s right for you and you are putting your needs first – as people should do.

      Good luck. Hope things work out as you hope.

    1. Dear Maxine,

      I have to say that I agree with you completely. This has been the hardest most emotionally challenging thing I have ever done. I want to share a story not because I am having a hard time letting of some pain, but rather to educate, especially widows, on how their actions are so degrading. Now I am not saying all widows are like this but the more I read on the web and interact with this group of people the more I am seeing the silver lining. This web page/blog however being more down to reality. I work in a health care setting saving lives, go figure I would end up with the person I did. A long time ago I walked into the room of this elderly lady with I presumed her husband sitting beside her. I small chatted with her for a bit, asked where she was from the usual. I asked about her children, she replied I have three grown children each with their own children now. I said congratulations to the both of them. She snapped back and said that the children were from her deceased husband. She proceeded to go on for what felt like 15 min about this dead guy right… after the worshiping had stopped, I asked well who’s this gentleman sitting by your bedside with you. I will never forget this but she addressed him like he was a dog, oh that’s blank.. I married his after my husband passed.. I said well how long have you guys been married, she replied 38 years. Come to find out later her original husband, and her were only married 8 years. I felt so bad for this guy, he said not one word the entire time I was in the room. Looked like life had blown right by him. But that’s what her worshiping, idolizing had done to this guy. Put him right in a corner. Here this guy was sitting by this old lady in the hospital holding her hand when she was dying, and all she could talk about was her dead husband. Wow …. That’s all I thought back then, but now that I find myself in the corner I am reaching out. No one wants to be that guys. Please widows if you’re not ready to move on don’t date find other means to fill that empty void in bed your missing. If you are ready than be ready. I have lived through this crap, my situation might be a little different, but I am guessing there isn’t a billion webpages out there advising people not to date widows for no good reason. If every waking moment is spent on keeping the dead alive than maybe you shouldn’t date… just a though from the shmuck in the corner…

      Ps. Maxine, I heard you loud in clear.. it’s just dysfunctional all around…
      The ‘’Topic” came up again the other day all I could say is I don’t want to talk about it anymore. Go figure I didn’t want to talked about the only marathon runner who ever lived, her dead husband. So I just walked by and didn’t say anything for the rest of the night. She cornered me the next morning and said I don’t deserved to be treat like I am invincible.. all I could do is laugh… I smiled and said know the feeling well

      1. There are widows who remarry but still remain emotionally faithful to their late husband but there are just as many who realize how lucky they are to find love again.

        I hope the new year treats you better. Have a happy one.

        1. Wow, i was not aware of that. If i had to do it over again, i should have see these signs earlier. I dont believ i would have made the poor choices i made with entering into this situation. However isnt that what everyone says, they would do things differently if they had a choice. There was more drama around xmass, its shaping up to be the same disfunctional year as the previous. I am really not holding my breath anymore with things. i think for me at least for awhile i will just pour myself into my studies… Though about going to counsing getting things off my chest, mybe figuring out if this is somewhat my fault. the worst is being brough out in me has been for the las four months or so.. if i am going to move on with anything in my life i need to at least get that fixed for me.

        2. You didn’t do anything wrong. Some relationships work out. Some don’t. This one appears not to be working for you but only you can do decide if that means changing things or moving on.

      2. Dave,

        Walk fresh into the New Year. Ann understands the dynamics of widows/widowers, well. Her blog is very helpful, and draws the bottom line. Is x or y behavior acceptable in the context of any other form of relationship? If not, then it is not acceptable to you, as the partner of a widow or a widower.

        What you seem to be dealing with is a family seeped in clinically personality disordered crazy. It just happens to be framed in the context of the lady you are dating being a widow.

        You indicated that you are a medical professional, believe me, as such you could be among the last people to wake up to abuse. Because you are a helper.

        My widower now ex fiancee works as an emergency medic for a fire/rescue team. He has two adult daughters. His nice daughter is a paramedic. His b*tch daughter, the younger of the two, cares for nothing and no one besides herself. This younger girl – mid twenties – is competent, well qualified, and good at her job. I can assure you she does not work in a caring profession, nor does she give a hoot about anyone, her dad, her sister, even her pets, blessedly she has no kids yet, hopefully she never will.

        When I met this man, he told me I had a ‘new family’. I was very grateful for that, my own small family – small in extended terms too, I was an only child – was very much marred by my father’s Narcissistic Personality Disorder, something I only recognized – by name and symptom – months before I met my widower.

        My new man seemed very attentive and loving. Though his house was a mausoleum to his wife, who had died over a decade before. I was very uncomfortable in this house, all along. Yes there was a wedding pic in the bedroom, a real passion killer. If I had been the man I am sure I could not have got it up with that in the room. I had to ask to get it removed. Though the room remained plastered with her ornaments.

        I have my own house, a very nice house, and I really would have liked him to have spent more time with me, in my house.

        I compromised far too much. Soon after I met him he got a work related injury. Quite a serious one, and was awaiting an operation for it. I let this become the excuse to always be at his place, to drift along with most things being on his terms.

        I felt I was waiting for this operation to be over for us to make decisions together, as a couple, and move forward.

        After the operation, I had been with him close to three years and had been engaged to him for two. I nursed him through this operation, with much attention.

        His older daughter had just married and, with her husband had been given a plot of land on which to build a house, by her in laws. The little madam, his younger daughter, turned herself inside out with envy. She behaved very badly while home for her sister’s wedding. She was 26 she acted like she was a very bad 16.

        If this princess’s sister has, or earns something, she wants the same. That her sister and her husband has packed away savings, for years, in order to build a house on the lot they were given for their wedding present made no odds. The foul princess wanted and expected an instant house.

        My fiance agreed to move in to my house. While behind my back, and, for sometime, his older daughter’s back too, he had promised to give his house to his vile younger daughter. Who came back from out of province with a $5000 pro move and behaved towards her father in ways that struck both me and her own boyfriend dumb. She basically chucked her dad and all his stuff out of his own house. The house he had built, to a large extent with his own hands, when he married her mother.

        It was disgusting, and when I opposed this little minx, he got me out of the way. There was no way on earth my widower and I, as a couple, could afford the indulgence of his self-entitled younger daughter. This went against many talks we had had together. He had said once we were luckier than most couples, we had two houses, we had x much more collateral.

        Daddy’s Little Girl, and he treated that manipulative little b*tch as if she was her own mother – and she looks like her mother. Beware, beware to all who hear me. Like the house was built for, and was for HER, and no other.

        For two years he and I had seemingly been quite happy, and I had a very good relationship with his older daughter who lives locally. I loved her, I still do. I have never have had a daughter I was charmed to have her. It broke my heart that this little harpie came back from out of province to lay waste to the lot.

        Be warned, if you are with a widow or widower, meet ALL the adult step kids, and meet them WELL. I had met this little b*tch a couple of times before. Brief half week stays with her dad. Her sulkiness was attributed on those occasions to getting over flu or this or that. No damned flu, just an all round b*tch. With a father who would not, and no doubt never stood up to Daddy’s Little Girl.

        Her sister has told me she was a tanrtruming brat from the womb onwards. Once her Mommy died, when she was 11, that became the cast iron excuse for the whole of her bratdom. Her older sister did the chores, and did her best to be a mom.

        I don’t believe the death of mom is the excuse for this little b*tch. Not at the age of 26. Her sister was only 4 years older than her, her sister bore the brunt. She did the house work, as well as he school work, she tried to hold the fort. Her sister told me she had issues herself, but that she saw that and got counseling and help in her early twenties. Tjhe nice sister told me that again and again she has told the minx sister to get therapy.

        This little slut , and she is one of those too, wrecked my relationship with my widower, but only because he allowed it.

        I feel like you, Dave, that it is a duty to others to record our experiences on this blog.

        A widow or a widower is a partner, and if you want a future with any partner, they must put you, and your relationship with them FIRST. Their decisions have to be made with, and include you.

        This did not happen for me the moment that minx, the younger daughter, got back here. It is not happening for you either, when Shelly makes decisions with her former inlaws and her deceased spouse’s friend.

        I sincerely feel for this woman’s kids, but from your own point of view, get out of this kettle of fish. Learn from it too. You’re a medic, Look up Cluster B personality disorders. That poor old man supporting the rotten old N woman for 38 years. Learn!

        Make it a Happy New Year, for you, you deserve it Dave. YOU!


      3. I just stumbled across your blog while I was searching for an answer to my question. Is my husband still in love with his deceased wife?
        When we first got together he had a wonderful paying job. We went on vacations together and he brought me flowers. He talked about her a lot. He told me with her it was love at first sight and she was his sole mate.
        In the mean time he also told me he was falling in love with me. Of course I believed him. I had been a single mom for years. I wanted to wait until my daughter was out of hoghschool before I brought a man around her life. I believed him when he told me loved me and wanted to marry me. After 2 years of dating we got married. In the mean time he still would talk about her alot. He quit his good paying job. His excuse was it was to stressful. I was OK with it at the time because I wanted to make him happy. To sum it all up. He has never gotten it together. He bounces from job to job not really happy with anything. After being together for 4 years all I get is I love you and sorry Im broke. I can’t afford to buy you Christmas or birthday presents. We didn’t even go on honeymoon. From time to time he mentions all the places they went together and things they did. I waitedya so long to find the man of my dreams only to have him dream of someone else. What do I do?

        1. Are you happy? If nothing changes and this is the status quo forever, will you be okay with that?

          That’s where you start.

          If the answer is “no” and “no”, you should consider talking to him. Tell him how you feel and what you expect. He might surprise you but if he doesn’t, you will have to decide if this is your dream or do you need to move on.

          I can’t tell you what to do. I can only say that you don’t sound happy and marriage should be far more of a give/take than it appears to be for you.

          What do you want? Think about it. Tell him. And listen to what he has to say. I think you will know after that.

      1. Dear Ann,

        Here is my situation.. About a year ago I meet a the women that I am now engaged too. She happened to be a widowed. I believe at that time he has been passed for about 4 years. When we firsts meet each other her home was dedicated to the deceased. There were more pictures of dead people on her walls than living. We courted for a few months but there were something’s that were coming up. She always was embarrassed of me. With her friends, his friends pretty much everyone. The first time we had sex there were pictures of him on the night stand. It really didn’t feel good actually. The whole situation felt like was having an affair with a married women, I had told her that from time to time. I asked nicely for months, that this stuff is making me really uncomfortable. It turned into an argument and then they came down. I would ask her are you sure you’re ready for a relationship. Things were just not making sense and they still don’t… The diseased friends were still involved with her coming over taking the children places gifts leaving thing ect. I forgot to mention earlier that she has three children. All whom over this last year have all come up to me and said when can you and mom get married all I want is another day, I want to call you my dad. Will you please adopt us when you get married. There are no issues with the children. I have never been married and don’t have children of my own. I have given everything I can to these children, and I do love them as they do me. Hugs good night, and in the morning. Pictures drawn at school of me and mom together father day cards and letters. She wants me to be a dad to these kids and I have always been ok with that. But things are not changing. AS I alluded early people were still running races for him volleyball tournament. They would send pictures of the deceased on t shirts to the house for the kids and shelly. His best friend who coved up an affair for him was still coming around and involved. I didn’t get any of this she said she was read to move on wanted a new life free from these things and was doing nothing about it until arguments broke out. It felt like I had to pull her out of the coffin to get her to do what she was telling me she wanted. All the mean time I am helping her raise the children. Finally last Christmas she went to spend a week with the deceased parents.. she completely changed into someone I had never seen before. I had this pain in my gut like something was wrong. So I did what I didn’t want to do but I read the last page of her journal, and she was still writing to him as if had passed the day before. Meanwhile telling me she has moved on. I confronted her on this and it was a trail of idks, not sures, I am trying to keep him alive. So I lever for a while we came back together the pictures were down she burnt her journal and said I want my future with you. I said ok.. pictures of the deceased were still coming in and his friends were still involved. When they came over they children went nuts. They didn’t behave good at all. So after another argument she finally piped up and they went away.. I felt like this last year I have been fighting to keep my identity because its been lost or shaded by a dead mans. She has don’t nothing on her own to put her future first and when she has it has been at the expense of my tears. I wanted to leave so many times but the children I know will be heartbroken… this last summer I thought I would ask her to marry me in hopes that things would get better. It didn’t… some of her family keep alluding to the deceased parent saying what about the what about them. This whole relationship has been built around his shit or the parents which I will get to in a bit. The day after I proposed the phone rings and she gets questions about being a widow from a friend which she answered freely. The deceased parents. They are dysfunctional grieving and continue to grieve through the children. This has been the biggest source of our problem. They lie to shelly and have done things behind her back after asking them to please stop grieving through them. They were once running a race in his name and were videotaped and put on the internet you tube to be in fact without consent… she really did like that at all.. last time the parents had the children they put them in another race even after the fact of telling them they were put on the internet and after she told them NO MORE.. they took them to the grave without asking her it was ok. These children mean the world to me, and its so painful to watch their behavior revert back to grieving when there with them. Now they look back at the few memories and smile and remember the good things. There is no more crying from them. There smothering like trying to breath in molasses. If its not a phone call from them very other day, it’s a picture of the deceased coming to the door, or a gift of some sort being delivered. Now I have never once said they can’t see them in fact I think its important to have a relationship with grandparents but we can’t even protect them and whatever shelly says they don’t listen to any way. I have meet them both at functions and have gotten along with a smile on my face but it was hard. Recent it was a birth day… the oldest after a month of debating we invited them cause there at EVERYTHING. It was a disaster.. we sent out the invitations and said please be at the hotel at 4:00 pm. She walked right into the house at 2:00. Not call, no knock, nothing. She wanted the child to open that gift up while she was the sole center of the child’s attention. I felt like my space, privacy, was invaded. And yet shelly let her get away with list. And yet whenever she sets her boundary’s no people say well what about the deceases parents. Everything reverts back to them because they are pitied, but I feel it doesn’t given them a right to do what the feel and say what they want. And still shelly does nothing. This is all we talk about and try to figure out. And still shelly does nothing to the point of she’s loosing me.. I want my life back. My independence and identity. I feel like the receiving end of the journal you wrote Dating While Widowed: Erasing Your Past. Il love her very much and I would give her anything she every wanted. But still she does nothing. I am sorry I am at work writing this and am in a little hurry, so I apologize for the sloppiness of the writing. What do I do ann, I feel like I have said everything I could say. Thanks for listening.

        1. i forgot to mention a forwarded her that article i mention and after that she started making phone call saying we need to be respected just like any other marriage. but again this was done at the expence of my tears and argument

        2. Although you don’t give specifics, it sounds – based on the information about your girlfriend, her children and her late husband’s family and friends, that his death was traumatic. You don’t mention the ages of the kids, but they sound young.

          So going on that guess and your recounting of the relationship so far, my inclination is to point you towards couples counseling because it sounds as though having an outside party to guide the discussions the two of you are having would be helpful.

          Mostly because there are a lot of issues to sort through.

          Her readiness or not seems to be just one component.

          There are boundary issues with the in-laws and friends.

          And there are kids. Who sound genuinely happy to have you in their lives but whose feelings and needs don’t appear to carry much weight with extended family, friends or their grandparents.

          Finally, there is the relationship (on a variety of levels) with your girlfriend. There seems to be a lot of hurt feelings. Yours. Hers. And a problem being able to talk about issues without the conversation heading south into tears and general upset.

          A neutral party to help you two talk through all these things might help make the issues feel less high-stakes and overwhelming so progress can be made.

          But before all of this, you need to decide if this is what you want. Do you want this relationship to work out and are you wanting this for you. Not because you feel obligated to the children or because you feel she really does need you and just needs to be made to see it.

          I tell the same thing to everyone who comes here and asks for advice. I don’t really give advice. I just tell you what I think based on my experience and your facts. What you do is still up to you.

          I know this much about moving on after the death of a spouse.

          1) The longer you wait to put things away. Pictures. Personal items. Whatever. The harder it is to do it. Partly because they become wallpaper in your life that you stop noticing consciously even though it is still registering on your unconscious mind – reminding you constantly (even though you don’t need tangible reminders because no one ever forgets they are widowed.)

          2) It’s easier to accept the stereotypes and cultural expectations about grieving and widowhood than to do what is actually best for you.

          3) Drifting – letting things just happen to you – rather than taking charge, setting goals and making an effort to put your life back together in a way that works in the present – happens to widowed more often than it doesn’t. It makes it hard later on when you decide that you want to take your life in a different direction or you want to date because you haven’t taken charge in so long that those around you will be annoyed with you when you do (in-laws, friends, children).

          4) Relationships post-widowed are no different than those you had before you married aside from the fact that you didn’t break up with the “last” guy, he died. Everything else is exactly the same and you will make the exact same mistakes you did before in terms of poor communication and unspoken expectations unless you realize that you need to put what you learned in your marriage to better use and avoid those traps.

          David, whatever you decide to do, make sure it is what is best for you first and foremost. It’s like the safety talk the flight attendants give about putting on your own oxygen mask first before assisting others. What do you want? And then figure out a plan to get there.

          There are few relationship problems that are dealbreakers. Most things are a matter of communicating and coming to mutually satisfying agreements. It’s all just details (even if they are irritating and come in the form of in-laws).

          I hope things work out the way you want them to. You deserve to be loved and happy. Don’t forget that.

        3. Sorry for the last post. I felt like I have so many things to get off my chest. I really in this situation don’t have anyone really to talk to about this. Yes his death was traumatic, he passed when running. The children are 10, 9, 7. My relationship with them has blossomed so much these last few years. I have always told them I can’t replace you dad, and he’s in heaven now, but what I can do is be a dad to you down here. I will love you no different I told them, and I haven’t. When shelly and I are with the children say camping out to dinner, fishing, whatever were doing as a family feels just like a regular family, hugs, kisses, treats ect…. I think the thing I am most hurt with is that she would always tell me I am the happiest I have been in years, even including the last years of her previous marriage. Now I am not comparing but I would think if someone’s THAT happy one would act to support that happiness?? Right, or iam I just different. Asking too much??… Confused I really am. When I would ask her why are you not doing anything to support what you tell me you want, which is to be married again, a dad for the kids, and our dream of living as a family buying a cabin and living the rest of our days on the lake. She would simply say idk. Like an empty whole, just void of emotion.. So awhile ago I attend some counseling sessions with her. Basically he said what you were saying there is no respect either from her to you or other people in her life to her and the relationship.. The other confusing thing is I would asked her do you want all these things , pictures coming to the front door ect I explained all that yesterday. She would always say no dave I have moved on.. I want my life with you…. Still confused to the fact she was saying nothing to help the new relationship out. She would bend over backward pleasing her past even though it was hurting me and her children.. So the counselor said sit down a formulate a plan when these things come up… write down what you want to say and set your boundaries, or stop lying to dave its one or the other is what the counselor said. After in the her in laws lie to her and went behind her back and put the kids in another race when she said no we did what the counselor said sat down and wrote out a plan. I had regained full faith in our relationship at this point. So she called the in laws and cowered down and did nothing that we sat down and agreed as a couple. NOT ONE SINGLE THING. So the yo yo effect continued. So I fully understand and respect your advice about sitting down with someone, but however I am with someone who caves every time something from her past arises EVEN THOUGH SHE SAYS, I DON’T WANT THAT ANY MORE. So sitting down with someone is a great idea but she won’t follow through with things anyway.. So I am stuck trying to figure out what side of her mouth I should believe in. Now for someone who wants me to adopt her children I would think I would be treat just a little better than this. Considering if I do I will never have children of my own. I love this women with all my heart and her children too, but dang this cant be what its supposed to be like right? This is a conversation everyday…… So I say I don’t want to talk about this anymore I want to live our lives. She says don’t shut me out and not tell me how you feel. Okay…. So I open up yet again, walk the plank say how I feel and I get the typical social workers response.. I understand how you feel. (she’s a social worker, forgot to mention that).. but yet when I have a question … its idk why… so then back to why iam I talking about this. I have lost all identity to a person who was a cheater, never around husband who has been passed away for 5 years now. You can imagine how that feels. I at down with her and asked what do you want when it involved your past, hell I even asked to be understanding. Flat out she looked at me and said dave I want you to listen to the kids when the talk about their dad, realize things might come up from time to time but I don’t want to be involved with that anymore, and support their relationship with the deceased parents. I said that well hey that’s okay with me, I can do that.. so the first few months the kids would sit on my lap and show pictures of their dad and various stories they were holding onto as memories, and that was okay with me that was what was asked of me. As time went on with the kids I spent more one on one time withthem taking them to basketball, swimming, ice cream, just stuff a dad should do… Their memories from that point forward went from said to looking back and smiling about the fun memories they had. The only time I have guffed about the inlaws is when they are harming the children emotionally, disrespecting me and or her. Still to this day I get well, well, what about them… I have LIVED up to my expatiations and then some. So as a way of communicating she asked my to write down my expatiations, this is what I wrote her

          My heart might be bruised, but it will recover and become capable of seeing beauty of life once more. It’s happened before, it will happen again, I’m sure. When someone leaves, it’s because someone else is about to arrive–I’ll find love again.”
          Paulo Coelho, The Zahir

          I thought following a straight road would lead me right to my destination. Like the road would just take me there because I was following all the rules. And if the road curved, I couldn’t be sure about where I was going. But look where it got me. Maybe it’s time for a detour.”

          The choices you make from this day forward will lead you, step by step, to the future you deserve.”
          Chris Murray

          “Everyone’s got a past. The past does not each the future unless you live there”
          Tonny Robbins

          “Hold on is believing that there’s only a past, letting go is knowing there is a future”
          Daphne Kingma

          1. I expect that you move on from your past. Put in a box what you want for the children and the keep sakes and start a new life.
          2. I expect that you treat this relationship just like any other. There should be no difference in the foundations and what you and I expect out of each other than your previous marriage. Although different expectation and different people, the values, beliefs, structure, should be the same and I except nothing less from someone I would want to spend the rest of my life with.
          3. I expect that what you have told me as far as the grandparents and Rachel and David and the kids memories that will be the extent of paul in our lives. I expect you follow through in what you have told me.
          4. I expect you treat me like a husband one day and not a second one.
          5. I expect you honor, build, defend, protect the rights as a dad to a child in me as I look at and love your children like there are my own.
          6. I expect you be honest with me at all time as I do to for you.
          7. I expect you go out with your friends and in doing so respecting the relationship.
          9. I expect we communicate your feelings and mine coming together when we have something pop up.
          10. I expect you to live one life with me not two.
          11. I expect you do what you tell me you’re going to do.
          12. I expect you to finish your letter and stand tall and proud of what we have, how far you have come and the children
          13. I expect you love me like there is no tomorrow
          14. I expect we grow old together and go to church on Sundays
          15. I expect we work out together running towards one goal side by side, crossing the finish line standing next to each other and not one in front of the other
          16. I expect we follow our dreams and do what we have set out and say were going to do.
          17. I expect you have expectations of me and to let me know what they are.
          18. I expect you put this family first, god second, extend family second, and friends third …. Wait maybe “ the boat” first 😉
          19. I expect that you make the necessary changes and choices in your life to secure the LIFE that YOU have told me YOU wanted.
          20. I expect that if we do this, we do this all the way until old age and god calls my number.
          21. I expect that from here on out we spend every night falling asleep in each other’s arms
          i thought is was super sad i had to write this out, but i did anywhy, thats what you do when you love someone

          I felt in my her all I was asking for was to be treat like I was important… Like I was first in someone’s life. The day after I wrote this she told me, these are very reasonable. You should have to ask or expect these things they should be apart of every loving relationship. I really though she understood now… A week later his friend the one she was texting laughing with on new years eve when I took her out to the play phantom or the opera and dinner sent his tournament t shits from the volleyball tournament to the house. The oldest I will never forget this said why hes been dead for 4 years now… I asked her that night when is it going to stop. When are you going to live up to what you have promised me looked at me and said idk….. After a lengthy tearful conversation she finally wrote him, and he hasn’t been an issue since… I don’t feel like I should have to fight this much to live without shadows. Almost two years later I am still waiting.. sorry I have put a lot on you. I just done have anyone to talk to about this…


        4. Sorry to hear that counseling didn’t work out. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make her drink, right?

          This still comes back to you though, imo. What do you want? And the second part of that question is, what are you going to do if it doesn’t happen?

          You can only love people for who they are. Not who you wish they were or who you hope they might become. And you have to resolve to be okay with what is or change yourself. Because you only have the ability to change you.

          Ask yourself this, if she never changes, will you be okay with that? Or will you look back in another two years and wish you’d made a change?

          A friend of mine, Suzy Welch, wrote this terrific little book called 10-10-10

          It’s premise is a simple one. When faced with making a change or decision, imagine the pros and cons on a time scale. If I do X, what is the likely outcome ten minutes later. Ten months from now. Ten years from now. If you are inclined, you might want to give it a read because she interviewed and shared the stories of quite a number of people who tried this and it’s helpful to sometimes to see how applying a bit of distance to a problem makes your path a bit clearer.

          Because, again, this is still about you. You can only change you. And maybe – just possibly – she hasn’t changed because you haven’t.

          I mean, you tell her what you want, she sorta complies or doesn’t at all and then life continues on the same as it ever was. Right?

          And I am not talking about ultimatums. I am making the case for you taking control of your own destiny. You don’t have to support the dysfunctional relationship with the in-laws. Just as an example. Because I know of many instances where recoupled widowed folk had to cut ties when rules weren’t followed and of second spouse’s simply leaving all the heavy lifting of the in-law’s to their spouse – for sanity’s sake.

          It seems like you know what you want deep down but just need to place or community to talk it out in. Abel Keogh has two Facebook groups. One for widowers (who might be able to give you some insight into the experience if nothing else) and one for ppl dating/living with/married to widowers. Yes, the latter is mostly women but all of them have the same issue you do and the site is fairly active and closed, so no one who isn’t a member can read the conversations. You might find it helpful to be able to just get everything out there and hear from others in similar situations and what they did or are doing. Abel is the admin on both sites, and a friend of mine, so you can mention that I sent you.

          Bottom line though still comes back to you.

        5. Dear Ann,

          Thank you for listening to me blabber these last few days. I cant begin to thank yo for your words. I certianly will look into the book…


        6. You’re welcome. And you can continue to “babble” all you want. I just offered the book and the FB groups as other options because – in my experience – when you start searching the Internet for solutions or like-minded places to share/brainstorm, you have taken a step towards change and the life you want.

          Good luck to you.

        7. Dave,

          I am just a subscriber here, but I have read your posts to Ann. What is striking me is the glaring dysfunction of your fiancee’s supposed friends, the friends of the deceased husband, and likewise of his parents.

          When these young children’s father died while running, all this focus on running races and sending the kids and the widow T-shirts etc with photos of the deceased on them is beyond bizarre. This is so distorted it is emotionally abuse towards the kids on the part of the grandparents and the best friend of the deceased, who is doing the same thing.

          Narcissistic Personality Disorder is what is leaping out at me. Both the grandparents and the best friend.He may have been the best friend of the deceased, but he was no best friend to Shelly, when he covered up her deceased spouse’s affair. From her point of view, he’s a rat. Why is she still in contact with this man?

          Shelly sounds like she has very poor boundaries. As Ann has already told you. Non existent boundaries, in fact. You said in one post you asked her to tackle some of the grandparent’s inappropriate behaviors and she cowered down before them and nothing got resolved.

          There are really deep issues here. I feel heartfelt sorry for you, and even more so for the kids. You can walk away from this, unto they come of age, they cannot. It is creepy that your fiancee is a social worker, yet is allowing this emotional abuse of her own children from the grandparents and the best friend and taking no stand to put an end to it.

          If one or more of these people – best friends and grandparents – has Narcissistic Personality Disorder, which I greatly suspect from reading all this, the stand taken needs to be decisive, no messing about. ‘This much and no more. Here are were the boundaries are. If you don’t like it, no contact with the grandchildren.’ The grandparents are the real problem. The best friend could be, and should be, dismissed.

          You cannot take this stand, which is the one required to allow you to have a healthy relationship with Shelly, and also to allow the kids to move on in a healthy way. It cannot be emphasized how inappropriate this races and T-shirt stuff is. Once, soon after the death, as a form of a memorial, OK. Ongoing, this is just warped. The one who needs to take the stand is your fiancee.

          You really should read on Narcissistic Personality Disorder, the dynamics of Narcissistic Parents. The blog ‘Narcissists Suck’ is the most useful source. Psychology Today is also good. The comments on their give much insight into the turmoil and suffering Narcissistic parents and grandparents cause.

          My guess is that the deceased husband was the ‘Golden Child’ son of his parents, the grandparents. That all his life they have lived their lives through him. Now he is gone they are trying to, and succeeding in, latching on to the grandchildren to do the same thing, and also to keep their son alive by proxy.

          Shelly needs to wake up. She has the opportunity, with you, to provide her children with a caring step father. This is a great gift, so many stepparent/stepchild relationships are fraught with problems.

          There is a lot under the surface here – in terms of Shelly’s baggage, and being a widow sounds like it is just the tip of the iceberg,

          She is enabling this wretched best friend, the rat, and these grandparents. She is the mother, she needs to put a stop to this inappropriate, emotionally harmful behavior. You said the grandparents have lied and gone behind her back to enter the kids in races without her consent when she said no more of that. She needs to grow a backbone and make sure this does not happen again.

          You cannot rescue this woman, and sadly not the kids either. She needs to wake up, do her own work. She is sabotaging her own happiness with you, as you rightly say. She is also sabotaging the happiness of her children, which is tragic.

          I would suggest you read on Narcissistic Parents (grandparents), see if it resonates with you. Study it for sometime. This is hardly a topic for the holiday – but observe the behavior of the grandparents over the season closely. Narcissists really show their motives and true nature at times like Xmas, Thanksgiving, on birthday’s etc. You could also read the book ‘Toxic Parents’ by Susan Forward.

          You could try to discuss this with her. Even with Shelly standing shoulder to shoulder with you, awake, aware and in fully understanding of the issues, It will be a long haul to bring those grandparents to heel.

          They are not treating either Shelly or the children as if they have their own lives, and more likely than not that is how they treated their son, when he was alive, too.

          The deceased could have been a Narcissist himself, predisposed if he was the Golden Child of the warped grandparents. He was a liar, he was an adulterer at the very least,

          It is mere speculation that he was one, but I think the evidence his parents are Narcissists is pretty strong. It takes a certain sort of woman (or man) to marry a Narcissist and stick with them, Someone very good at denial sticking their head in the sand, and maintaining a dysfunctional status quo. I know my father, now in his 90’s, has NPD and my mother bent over backwards to enable him. I only realized about the NPD when I was 50 or so. An ‘ah ha’ moment, it explained so much otherwise baffling crazy.

          The man is dead, but Shelly is still enabling the dysfunction surrounding him in terms of his parents and his friend. She is doing so at the cost of her children’s mental and emotional well being. That is a huge red flag.

          You want to think twice, three, four times, about locking yourself into this situation. These grandparents are always going to test boundaries, so far they’ve met no resistance. You are going to be the bad guy if you start enforcing some. You said Shelly was like a different person when she spent last Xmas with them. She is a willow in the wind, and to deal with Narcissists it takes an oak.

          Best wishes,


  33. I’m dating a man I met 3 months after his wife’s death. When I met him I knew he was a widower but not until 3 months later in the relationship did I find out his wife had just passed. At this point I had feelings for him & being that I was a child who lost her mother at the age of 6, how could I not give us a chance. It’s now 11 months later, we have a great relationship, tons of fun together, endless fun with his 5 year old son, yetI am a secret from his family. Now with the holidays approaching, I can not bear the thought of not being with them. So… I find myself at a crossroad… I have let him know how I feel and he just has no answer! I really need to stop driving myself crazy about this so I realize my option is to break it off – the more self perseverance way or suck it up and wait! Any words of wisdom are appreciated!

    1. First, are you sure you are a secret? You’ve been interacting with his 5 year old, they are not exactly the best secret keepers. Chances are pretty good that family knows something is up.

      I don’t think being the secret significant other is healthy for any of the involved partners. Not the one who is a secret, clearly, but not the widower because he is playing games – whether he realizes it or not – and it’s very bad when there is a child involved. Children should not be put in a position where they are helping a parent hide a relationship. But that’s just my opinion.

      The bottom line – as always – is what do you want? If you are not okay with status quo, and you aren’t because you have talked about it with him, the only thing to do is decide what your plan is for you.

      That might include having another talk where you both are honest about the present situation and where you both see things going should the relationship continue.

      It’s not fair that one party calls all the shots and the other simply deals.

      He might have reasons for keeping a relationship to himself but he is a grown man. He doesn’t need to shield his family (because he hasn’t shielded his child) and he doesn’t owe them explanations for moving on, dating and possibly establishing a long term relationship.

      It might be that he is worried about what his family will think if they discover he started dating at 3 months. A lot of people think this is abnormal when the truth is that it’s perfectly normal and not unusual – particularly for men. Most widowed think about and actually do date within the first year. Some within months and the younger they are, the sooner they date.

      Whatever you decide to do, think about it a bit before making a decision. Talk with him again. Don’t frame your decision as anything other than what it is – you deciding what is best for you. Your needs and your dreams should be the factors that drive you.

      And whatever you decide, make sure it’s something that you will be able to live with. What I mean is – you won’t look back and wish you’d done it another way.

      Things can really go either way. As long as you are good with it that’s what matters.

      Dating is just dating regardless of the status of the people involved. Being widowed is just another detail in a person’s life that makes them who they are, but it’s not a license to use others or disregard their feelings and needs. If he wasn’t widowed, would you be this understanding?

      And if you have a really good level-headed just good listening non-judgey friend, run your options by him/her. It helps to talk out-loud when you are deciding something. And then trust yourself. You really do know what to do. Best of luck of to you. I hope things turn out the way you hope.

      1. Hello hope this is still open i’m a 47 year old male who lives in the uk,i have been in an online relationship that started out as a friendship around 5 year’s ago with a South African woman who was married at the time after we had known each other a few months she became very distant for a while then one night she messaged me and told me her husband had passed quite suddenly and unexpectedly one family afternoon sat on the sofa with her and their two sons when he fell asleep and passed away,i spent many nights up talking over whatsapp just being thier for her not soon after her mother passed helped her through that best i could we have been very close since i care about her a lot and love her too bit’s she means the world to me and after a long relationship of many ups and downs i’m finally set to travel to South Africa to meet her for the first time.Not so long ago one of her sisters lost a long battle to cancer and she took charge of her sisters daughter,she has used her two sons and niece as an excuse not to have time for a sexual relationship and has told me as she will always have to put them first she doubts even in the future she will have time for a relationship of any kind.As i near the time of the trip she went very quiet for a while i thought it was something i had done but tonight we had a long chat she says she will be away from home a few months actually very close to where i’m staying that she is at her brother in laws place that is being built on and he needs someone there while at work,she says she will visit me as often as she can but not at night iv’e done little things for her and she says i spoil her though she feels she doesn’t deserve it.She says she loves and cares abbout me but is scared cause she doesn;t want me expecting too much she doesn’t mean to stay away but doesn’t want to hurt me,she feels she’s let me down.Say’s she can only offer her love in friendship and can’t go beyond but say’s she doesn’t have anyone in her life and was never looking for a partner but found me who gave her love and compasion and i’ve always been there for her.I told her i’ve been feeling like it’s me who let her down she replied i’ve given her love and always been there for her how can i ever let her down.She says she gets scared for keeping away that i mean so much to her and she can’t bare to hurt me as she knows i want more.I mean if she is being honest her friendship is just as important just that kids as an excuse for no sex sounds odd and way she vanishes at nights not sure if she still holds a candle for her husband or if it’s something else feeling a little confused.

        1. You’ve never met her in person?

          You will do what you want in the end but if a friend came to you with what you have written here, what would you say to him? Go for it? Or, be careful?

          People generally give us all the clues we need in order to know how they feel about us via their actions. In addition, many people are saying exactly what they mean when they say things like “don’t expect too much.”

          This is your life. What do you want? Is she the path to it?

        2. we speak over the phone often know her well enough to know she’s who she says she is and no I don’t know what she means by don’t expect too much

        3. Guess I maybe reading between the lines I’m of mixed British and Caribbean descent she’s African indian know that some there have issues between cultures,maybe she is being truthful know from time in Spain that many widowers just never enter into any kind of relationship after a lot of widowers in some religions wear black for the rest of their days.Also know that some culture’s where one loses a partner to passing and a relative such as a sister passes that the brother in law usually becomes close to the remaining sister.Yes I know that I want our friendship to
          continue as a path of my life

        4. Then I think, if you know what you want, you should do that. Or, you will have to live with the regret of “what if”.

          However, there is one thing you might ask yourself, “Will I be okay – no regrets – if after putting in the time and effort, things don’t work out and we don’t end up together?”

          She sounds unsure and even as though she is giving you a fair warning that she has doubts. Some widowed folk never really do more than have semi-replacement relationships that often leave the “replacement” hurt.

          Also, I would be wary of anyone who says, “my children will always come first” or something to that effect. They mean it.

          But bottom line, cuz we always get back to that, is this is your life. What do you want? What are you willing to do to make it happen. Will you be okay if it doesn’t turn out the way you want? Only you can decide. With love there is risk. Sometimes things work out. Sometimes they don’t. As long as you are upfront, honest and yourself, you will be okay. Good luck.

        5. I will regret more if I don’t try she’s worth all pain and heartache to me thank you for your advice

          Sent from Samsung Mobile

  34. I have been dating a widower for a year now. We met only 3 months after his wife’s sudden passing. I love him and he says he loves me. He treats me extremely well. I just don’t like the fact that I am a secret. He doesn’t want to hurt his kids (his kids are 14, 16, 18 and 22). He knows that his inlaws will go absolutely crazy if they find out about me and he doesn’t want his kids to have to deal with all of that on top of the pain they are already suffering. We go out in public a lot but I have never been invited into his home or introduced to anyone in his life at all. I have never complained about this at all to him, I have tried being supportive. I guess I just want to know if I am being foolish to allow this to continue… how long should I put up with this? If I decide to tell him that this is bothering me, should I just break up with him or should I give him a time frame in which to tell people about me or I am out? Any advice would be appreciated. Thank you.

    1. You go out in public but no one in his life knows about you? I wouldn’t be too sure of that.

      However, it’s never good to be a secret girlfriend regardless of the “very good reasons” for it. My personal opinion is that there are no good reasons to keep someone you love a secret from the people in your life that are important to you. And the longer this goes on, the less likely those people are to be understanding about why they were kept in the dark too.

      One thing I have noted among women who date widowers is that they tend to err on the side of “being supportive and understanding” and they let all manner of issues, irritations and emotional hurts slide that they wouldn’t if a man was not a widower. I am not a fan of this.

      If a widowed person is dating that means they are ready – or should be ready – to be an equal partner and not expect (or being given) special treatment.

      If you would not be the secret girlfriend of a non-widower, you shouldn’t be the secret girlfriend of a widower. It clearly bothers you. It’s been a year. You should probably come clean about it, have a conversation and figure out a mutually satisfying resolution.

      I know that teenage and young adult children often are ambivalent or resistant (or hostile) about widowed parents dating/marrying again. Hiding things from them doesn’t tend to make anything better in the long run.

      Same goes for in-laws.

      Your boyfriend might not realize that secrecy is just creating bigger problems for you both in the future and he may be needlessly worrying about reactions that won’t manifest once people know the truth.

      The only thing though that really matters is how do you feel and what do you want?

      Right now, you are a secret and you don’t like it. Don’t worry about being nice or how he will deal with a situation that he has created, decide what you want and what you are doing to do to achieve that end.

      It doesn’t have to be breaking up or ultimatum time-lines. It is a simple conversation about how you feel about the relationship as is, him and where you would like to see it going. And then see what he has to say. Make your decisions from there.

      The important thing is that you do what is best for you and you can’t really know what that is until the two of you talk.

      Communication is key.

      1. Thank you so much for your reply. I guess I just wasn’t really sure about how to tell him how I was feeling so I took your advice and just told him how I felt about it. I didn’t tell him what to do or give him a time stamp… .I let him decide what he wanted to do with what I told him and he felt bad that I was feeling like that. He said he is going to tell his kids first and the rest would come after that. He said the only ones he cares about knowing is his kids and he was discussing how he was going to tell them. I feel so much better just getting that off my chest. Thank you.

  35. my bf of a year and a half never talks or even say his dead girlfriend’s name ever! we talked about it once only on the anniversary of the day she died he was crying so hard said he misses her so much… shes the first true love he had and the first girl he had sex with
    after that time where he just said those few “i miss her and today was the day she had burnt in an accident”
    he never mention her even when i try to somehow indirectly get him to talk
    is it normal?
    i feel he doesnt want to talk cuz hes still loving her and that it he didnt move on yet inspite of what he say of me being his future wife
    i feel he might compare us or replaced her with me somehow.. im going crazy
    any advice please?

    1. Nan,
      You are not crazy. It is normal to wonder about about all the things you are wondering about. And it’s normal to feel guilty, jealous and even wonder if you have a right to your feelings.

      But it is also normal for a widowed person to not talk much or at all about their late partner and any feelings they might still have.

      My husband and I only rarely talked about our late spouses after we became a couple. Mostly, in my opinion, because the late spouses didn’t belong in our relationship and were personal matters we needed to handle on our own.

      Unless your boyfriend’s actions are giving you some reason to doubt him, don’t. Take him at his word.

      Ultimately though if this is a real issue for you, a conversation or two needs to be had. There really is no way to know how he feels (or for him to know how you feel) unless you both talk about it. Communication – the freedom to have discussions without fear – is what makes or breaks most relationships.

      It’s really up to you. How important is this? Is it worth the discomfort of a conversation (and I think that discomfort is never a good reason to avoid having necessary talks), tell you boyfriend how you feel and why.

      It’s hard to explain the feelings we widowed have where our late partners are concerned. For the most part, there is little to no comparison when we are with new loves and we do move on with a lot more ease than popular opinion and media give us credit for.

      Bottom line is that you are both normal.

    2. Hi. I have been “seeing” a wonderful man who lost his wife 4 years ago unexpectedly. They had been married for 25 years and dated through high school. I have know this man since I was 13. A year after his wife’s passing I bumped into him. He later called and asked to get together. It was amazing out connection and the happiness I felt we both shared. Moving ahead he backed away, felt guilt, never has introduced me to his kids or friends but continues to see me once a month although we usually just hang at my home. My question am I the “bootie Call” he knows how I feel and will in emails tell me he is not ready but then when I say well if things change… you know my number and then I hear from him … get my hopes up and we are back to the one night a weekend of hanging out.I am 48 he is 53… how long is too long to wait for a man you love ?

      1. Carol,

        If your guy friend was not widowed, would you be okay with the status quo?

        He hasn’t introduced you to anyone in his life. You hear from him once a month and generally only see him in your home. He sends mixed messages and your feelings are treated lightly unless he feels you are drifting from him.

        The question is not him but you. Is this what you want? Are you happy? Can you be okay with maybe years more of this and how would you feel if after investing more time waiting for him, he decided to move on?

        You have no commitment from him. In fact, he tells you that he is not ready for a relationship and really, men are best taken at their word about this. They are good at separating sex from love and so their physical actions are not representative of how they see you as a part of their lives.

        But how long is too long? In my opinion, when the “how long is too long” question is asked about anything, it means the person asking is ready to make a decision and take action. They just want someone else to validate it by giving them permission.

        By all means, continue this relationship if it makes you happy but you don’t sound happy. You sound frustrated.

        Generally men are quite decisive when they met someone they want to be with. They include you in their lives. You are not a secret. They take you places. They talk about the future. They make plans. Men in love are action oriented (not any different from women really).

        This is just my opinion and you should do what you feel is right for you, but this sounds like booty call and you deserve better. I am not big on ultimatums but I am a believer in asking for what you want and moving one if the answer is no.

        Put yourself first. You owe him nothing. He’s not proved anything to you. There are good men in the world who want to love as well as be loved.

        1. Thank you so much for your words of advice. I am happy to a certain degree… in the beginning he was like… I did not take grief courses but I am ready he was more of a presence physically in my home my kids blah blah blah… but being the empty nester I am now… I think I want him to play a more active role. I know I have kept my guard up as of lately too. Working out of the state for a few weeks on and off for about six months but we stayed in touch. It is a mutual text… sometimes more me and then more him. I really want to see where he is at… any conversation openings you have in advice and how I handle this or do I just stop?

        2. I am not the type to look for conversation openings generally. If something is amiss, I simply say something to the effect of “lately, I am feeling x, y or z and want to talk about this with you”.

          Abel Keogh has a Facebook group for women dating(past and present), engaged and married to widowers. This might be a place for you to get more detailed advice. It’s closed to general searches but you can ask to be invited.

          The important thing is that you are okay with how things are progressing and comfortable that the relationship has the potential you require. Until there is a firm commitment or understanding at least, you should keep your interests foremost.

        3. HI it is me again, well he is texting a bit more, coming over a bit more, but with the holidays approaching I fear I am losing my courage to bring the conversation up. Saturday night I felt like hmmm maybe he is ready and now I have heard nothing from him… so frustrating!

        4. Perhaps you have heard nothing from him because the holidays are coming up and he wants to avoid having a “what are you/we doing?” conversation.

          But that’s just speculation. It’s better not to second guess or try to read his mind. Look at his actions instead.

          Your relationship still seems casual.

          As long as you are fine with where things stand, you are angsting yourself up for no reason and even if you are going to have a “talk” with him, why ruin your holidays worrying about it?

          When the moment comes, you will know it. In the meantime, make your own plans and if he happens to show up/text or whatever, change them or not depending on how you feel. You are still the most important person in this scenario.

          And you know, you can always tackle this again in the New Year when you are making resolutions (I don’t personally but a lot of people do).

          Couple of comments up I recommended Suzy Welch’s book to David. You might want to give it a read too. It’s a good starting point, imo, if really are dissatisfied with status quo but aren’t sure about how to proceed or are worried about shaking it up a bit.

          I know it’s frustrating to know what you want and have the other person not on board. There isn’t much you can do but simply remember that you are the only person you have any control over. His issues are his to deal with.

          So, make your holiday plans! Resolve to be merry. Shoot him an invite if you feel inclined but don’t follow up unless he replies. Live your life. He will join you or he won’t but there is no reason for you to not have a wonderful holiday season.

          Merry Christmas!

  36. I am engaged to a widower of nearly 5 years, we have been engaged for 4 months and dating seriously for 14 months. I know he loves me and truly believe he does. We do not live together at this time due to work,children’s school and geographical issues but obviously plan to shortly before or after we are married next year. My concern is that although he moved from the home he shared with his late wife, the new home still has photos on the wall (wedding portrait) and others of the family (him, her and the children) along with a great deal of items that were hers (not personal items) things that were her decorating style. I have not made an issue of it because we both will be moving to new home together and because of his children 2 young adult men and 1 young teenage daughter. My hope was/is that those items will get packed and stay packed. But my concern just heightened as we have just returned from a family vacation with my children, his children and his extended family. It was/is a vacation he has taken for over a decade and previously with his late wife. I felt as if we were doing the same things and going to the same places as they always have which is fine but that it was overlooked that we should do and try new things and routines as a new family versus trying to fit us into a pre casted mold. Maybe I am being too sensitive but there were several times I felt as if was intruding on something or some tradition.
    Any insight or advice?

    1. Ask him, he may be leaving these things around for his children, I know I do. If he truly loves you then he will talk with you about it. One point I would raise is why can’t he love you both? I have fallen in love with my late wife’s good friend from college (we’re in our 40’s) I love them both, very differently though. Out of all the women in the world I could fall for, I found one that my late wife would approve. I’m fortunate that my past an present lives can mix comfortably. Communication is the key, tell him how you feel. The vacation may be more for the kids than him. More of a transition vacation where the past is slowly set free… Smile, love him and talk to him

      1. Very good advice and insight and my husband would agree with the “love you both” thing – and so do I – but only up to a point. In my opinion, the present and the future deserve the mainstay of the focus, and in situations where past and present have no common ground, new ground is necessary if a relationship is going to thrive.

        Thank you for adding your insight. The transition holiday is something I had not thought of and it has merit.

  37. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

    2. 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!

  38. 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?

    1. 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?

  39. 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

    1. 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?

  40. 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.

    1. 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.

  41. 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…

    1. 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.

      1. 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..

        1. 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.

  42. 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.

    1. 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.

    2. 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.

      1. 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.

    3. 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!!

    4. The only reason it don’t bother you is because you also are a widow and you are still holding to your past life I wouldn’t want any part of a relationship with someone who cant move on when your in a relationship that person deserve your all and to be respected nthey deserve (our life time) not your past life with the deceased they don’t want to feel 2nd best they should be #1 past is gone this person is here they deserve to be treated right no one wants to hear about past relationships so yes erase the past and move on

  43. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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.


        1. 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.

  44. 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.

    1. 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.

    2. 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?

  45. 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

    1. 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.

      1. 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 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.

        1. 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.

        2. 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…

  46. 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?

    1. 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.

      1. 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)

    2. 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…

  47. 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.

    1. 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.

  48. 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?

    1. 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.

  49. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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,


        1. 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.

      2. 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.

        1. 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.

    2. 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

      1. 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.


  50. 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!

    1. 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.

  51. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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 🙂

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

  52. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

        1. 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.

        2. 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.

        3. 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.

        4. 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.

        5. 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.

  53. 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!

    1. 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.

      1. 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

        1. 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.

    2. 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.

      1. 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.

        1. 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.

        2. 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.

        3. 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.

      2. 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 🙂

        1. 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!

  54. 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

    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!!!!!

    1. 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.

  55. 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 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

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

        1. 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.

  56. 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 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!

    1. 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.

  57. 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

    1. 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.

  58. 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.

    1. 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.

  59. 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.

    1. You are welcome. I am just one take on this though and certainly not a mainstream one. Eventually we all find our own way. Good luck to you.


    1. 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.

  61. 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.

    1. 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.

  62. 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).

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

        1. 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.

  63. 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.


    1. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. You got both parts right:

        How do you know when ANYONE is in love with you?


        Widowhood/Divorce/Whatever is no excuse for bad behavior.

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