Is dating a widower and feeling second best entirely out of place? No, it isn’t Before deciding on a date with someone who has lost a romantic partner, it’s essential to prioritize your emotional status, ensuring the relationship is not harmful to your emotional health.
Dating one might put you through a cascade of emotional processes depending on the personality of the person in the relationship with you.
It’s normal sometimes to feel anxious, jealous, saddened, and even scared.
You might be dating a widow who continually talks about how great her late husband was, and this could make you feel inadequate. You may even bear the burden of guilt that your partner lost their loved ones.
You may feel anxious about your ability to make your partner happy. Regardless of how you think, it’s essential always to remember that it’s healthy to react emotionally.
Do Widowers Marry Quickly?
Widows find it very difficult to move on after losing their husbands. On the other hand, men are quite quick to get married after losing their partner.
If you’ve ever experienced grieving, you’ll know there’s no deadline for grief, and there’s no proper way of doing it either.
However, it’s common knowledge that men remarry soon after their spouse’s demise.
In 2006, The New York Times did a piece that explored the topic, and they reinvigorated the old cliche: “Women mourn; men replace.”
Although that does not hold for everybody, it confirms the age-long knowledge that men remarry quickly, unlike widows, who take more time to mourn their late husband.
One of the reasons for this trend, as explained in the article, is men’s need for help in raising their children. Another is their need for help in taking care of the house, putting things in place, and planning house activities.
A widow is typically not a hurry to replace her husband, probably because women cope with grief better than men.
Men usually take a longer time to get over their partners, and they get into new relationships as a coping mechanism.
So a man may go on dates soon after his wife’s death as a way to suppress the pain of loss that has overwhelmed him.
When you decide to love a man who just lost a spouse, you have to put this into perspective, so you don’t get hurt in the process. You shouldn’t just be an escape route from his pain.
You don’t want to live with the inkling of being second-best forever. Knowing what you’re about to subscribe to will help you navigate the tough waters as they come.
How Long Does a Widower Wait to Date?
There’s no particular length of time one has to wait. Some find it very hard to share their lives or go out on a date within a year of their spouse’s death because of the harsh judgment that might come from others.
Yet, we cannot determine the appropriate time to move on as we are all wired differently.
There’s a cultural influence over when it is too soon. The prevailing idea is that one stage has to be entirely over before we set the other in motion.
But how do we decide when one phase is over? Some even argue that there’s nothing wrong with both stages – grief and love – co-existing.
So, typically, he waits until he feels comfortable enough with the idea of dating again before he goes ahead to do so. Several factors, especially cultural and emotional factors, affect the eventual decision of the man.
What You Need to Know About Dating a Widower
Do you have feelings for a man who lost his wife? Do you love and want to start a relationship with him? Would you like him to become your husband? It can be hard.
However, there are certain things you must know before you embark on the journey. Such a relationship will present you with challenges different from the ones you experienced while dating single men.
For it to turn out successful, the man has to try his best to keep his feelings for his late wife at bay. He has to make concrete efforts to commit his love to you entirely.
Meanwhile, here are some things you must know about dating a deceased woman’s partner:
1. They are Still Men
They may be widowed, and probably still hold a lot of grief for their deceased wife. Nothing, however, changes the fact that they are men, and would always behave like one.
Why is it important to note this? Realizing they are still men will help you grasp why they act the way they do. That way, you’re able to tell if they’re ready to move on and start a new life with you.
You shouldn’t get emotionally invested in a man who’s not ready to build a life with you.
Widowers, just like every other man, has that intrinsic desire for a loving relationship. They may grieve for months or years, but their life would remain broken – in their estimation – if they don’t find another woman.
Because of their desire to fill in the blank spaces in their emotional life, they can quickly get into a relationship with someone they don’t love.
However, as the men they are, they’ll give all their all to get a woman they truly want. So if he loves you, he’s going to come for you.
2. You’ll Need a Lot of Patience
Imagine marrying a man who still sees his late wife in the dream every night, and keeps making references to her. From his perspective, there might be nothing wrong with that, but it could become tough for you.
That is just an instance from several other situations. You’ll need to understand that it’s going to take time to be on the same level as their deceased wife. It’ll take time for him to love you as much as he loved her.
Whatever may be the case, don’t feel threatened over his profession of love for his deceased partner.
Keep on loving, sharing, and caring for him, as much as you can. That inkling of being second best will linger for a while, and patience might just be all you need.
3. They May Treat You Like a Stranger
If your partner fathered kids with his deceased wife, don’t expect them to accept you wholly into the family.
The little daughter, for instance, could see you as the person who took away ‘her mummy.’ So lower your expectations, and make them as realistic as possible. While you try your best to be friendly, be prepared to meet a wall.
4. Never Attempt to Fill the Void
Scores of women make this mistake all the time. No one can ever fill the void left by another person.
You’d be putting yourself under unnecessary pressure trying to do so. If, in the long run, it appears your partner is keeping you just to fill the void left by his wife, then you might have to take a walk.
Why You Are Likely Feeling Second Best
Evolution has taught us to be self-protective, and that’s why we react to threats quickly. When dating a man who lost his wife, an array of emotions may always arise as a reaction to possible risks to your relationship.
Love and relationships are critical parts of human existence, and we all crave for them. When anything appears to tamper with our relationships, our emotions get stimulated. Most times, we even suspend logical reasoning and behavior.
As mentioned earlier, feeling second best when dating a widow, or a man whose wife died is perfectly normal.
However, you have to explore the range of emotions you’d feel in a very healthy way that’ll improve your relationship.
For instance, when you feel guilty about your partner’s loss, consider channeling that emotion into providing emotional support for your partner.
In very critical situations, you might want to consider the following:
- Share your feelings with a close friend.
- Talk to a therapist or a counselor.
- Take part in a support group where you can meet others with similar issues.
- Keep a journal, and let your thoughts out.
Reframing Your Thoughts of Being Second Best
Instead of dwelling on the feeling of being second best, you can reframe this feeling to give yourself a healthy emotional status and relationship.
- Instead of getting saddened anytime your partner mentions his late spouse, you can choose to honor the memory of the dead, and appreciate your new family’s fondness for her.
- Instead of comparing yourself to the late spouse and feeling inadequate, you can choose not to compare yourself to anyone, especially the person your partner once loved.
- Instead of getting anxious over how to replicate your partner’s happy memories, you can choose to create new memories with him.
Now he is your husband, probably with a son or a daughter. Loving him is all that matters, and feeling like a second fiddle in his life shouldn’t ruin the beautiful life you both can have together.
Remember that your mind is the battlefield. Take some time to breathe and calm yourself.
Make positive affirmations daily concerning you, your man, and all that concerns you both. Train your mind to look forward to, and accept the best.
Talk to Your Partner
We have reiterated that it’s perfectly normal to feel like the second-best when dating a widower.
We also realize, however, that such thought could plunge you into negative emotions. To avoid all of these, you can talk to your partner about how you feel, and some changes that would be helpful.
It’s pertinent to share the thoughts of your heart with him in a very discreet way. Before you start the conversation, prepare what you’re going to say.
Remember that this is a sensitive and emotion-laden matter, so you have to be very careful not to appear as disrespectful to or competitive with his late wife.
Ensure your words are carefully selected to reflect the true intentions of your heart.
So you don’t come off as unintentionally self-centered, use unifying terms, and lay down the issues as a team. Give your assurances to work with him to fix the problems.
Together, you should:
- Decide on how to honor the memory of the deceased spouse.
- Create boundaries for discussions relating to the deceased partner.
- Establish the language, expressions, or terms that come across as offensive.
Should You Stay or Move On?
If he doesn’t subscribe to the needed changes, you’d have to decide on what next to do. What’s paramount is your happiness, and you are permitted to do everything to protect it.
See Also: What is Longing for Someone?
Again, the Troubling Feelings are Normal
You are in a relationship with someone who’s been married, so there’s always going to be the deceased spouse in the picture somewhere – either brightly lit or kept away under dim light.
That you feel anxious or competitive sometimes doesn’t mean the relationship isn’t going to work. More often than not, you just need to be patient and allow things to work out slowly.
Keep your expectations as realistic as possible, and you’d have a healthier relationship.