There is an unsurprising, yet disturbing, number of dating and remarried widowed folk who seem to feel that coupling again is part and parcel of the “healing process”. It’s something to be done for distraction’s sake, or to ease the emotional aches and pains. They regard new partners as means rather an ends, who should give way to urns as centerpieces, constant chatter about the past and memorabilia of all shapes and sizes.
Let’s be clear. Dating is about seeking new companionship – casually or for the long-term – and can only really be about the two living people engaging in the relationship. Your late spouse is not part of the equation in any active sense of the word.
Recently a commenter voiced the common lament of many widowed back out in the dating trenches,
If you truly love us, you would embrace our lost love as much as we do.
And if you loved them, you’d not expect such a thing because though a new partner can be understanding, sympathetic and even feel bad for what you’ve been through – grieving isn’t a date night activity. They can’t feel what you feel and to ask them to periodically put the brakes on their romance to cater to your heartbreak over someone else is cruel.
At some point, in order to truly be ready to open up to love and a relationship, a widowed person needs to deal with the past and then put it away. In some cases, this packing up includes tangible objects. No one should expect his/her new love to live in a museum to a dead love or to man up daily against feelings of jealousy or inadequacy.
There is nothing obvious in our home that points to the fact that both Rob and I have deceased spouses. We are five years into a relationship that with luck has decades to go. In order for our relationship to flourish, it needs its own space to grow. It needs to be free of shadows, comparisons, and artifacts that speak of past marriages.
Even though we both understand that memories linger, you won’t catch either of us expecting the other to share feelings about a past with which the other wasn’t privy.
Expecting a new partner to listen to endless references or stories is unfair to them and ultimately unproductive if the aim is building a new relationship. Don’t use someone. You are not entitled to make yourself feel better at someone else’s emotional expense. And if you aren’t ready to put your late spouse in your past where he/she belongs, don’t date. You aren’t ready.
A new love should inspire you to make room and dream about the future.
- Dating While Widowed: Are Widows Different From Widowers Where New Love is Concerned? (anniegirl1138.com)
- Dating While Widowed: A Valentine Day Quickie (anniegirl1138.com)