How do you start dating when you are now a widow?
I have an article on this site called When Your Husband Has died – a survival guide. It now has more than 3400 comments from widows helping, advising and supporting each other on it. I call it my accidental widow forum. I also think it is a miracle. I had no idea there was such a need for it that was not being filled. It has been going for almost three years.
I read all the comments but rarely answer because it now belongs to them.
Most of the widows are in such a state of deep grief that every artery is open. The thought of dating is foreign to them. They are just trying to get through the day.
But I have noticed lately that some of the early ones who have been alone for a couple of years are tentatively asking about dating. Asking for advice and they are scared to death.
I am writing this especially for them. Please note, my dear ones, I am not suggesting you start dating if you are not interested or ready. This is for the ones who have asked for information.
The rest of you can eavesdrop if you like. If you are recently single, you might learn something here.
It is scary putting yourself out there. What is no one answers? You worry that you are not gorgeous and visualize yourself as not good enough that anyone would be interested in you. Maybe it is better to just accept your fate and not take a chance of being rejected even if you are lonely and wanting some company with a nice man.
It could be an opportunity for you to do a little makeover on yourself. You’ve been through a rough time. Is it time to spruce up your wardrobe with a few pretty casual outfits? Maybe a new hair style and a session with a make up artist at your local department store? If nothing else, it could cheer you up. You have forgotten how attractive you are, inside and out.
Let’s look together at a few things.
You are not being unfaithful to your late husband. You have told us what a wonderful person he was. Would he resent your having a companion now that he is gone? He would want you to have some happiness. Get that out of the way
The people out there who might answer your ad are not all George Clooney. Time has scribbled unkindly on many of the faces. Some are overweight, bespeckled, have some health problems, and are not all rich guys looking for a Playboy bunny. They are as scared and lonely as you are.
Let’s not jump into the deep end of the pool yet.
I’d like you to sit down first and list all your good points and likes and dislikes. Do you have a good sense of humor? Do you like music? What kind? Are you into politics? Do you like to travel? Where? What are you longing to see in the world? Are you a good cook? Do you like certain types of foods? Do you consider yourself attractive? Have a close friend help you with this. It is sometimes hard to evaluate ourselves.
This could be a good exercise for you whether you are thinking of dating or not. You have thought of yourself as a twosome for so long that you have forgotten you have an identity of your own. Think now in terms of “I” or “me” – not we. No rush. Take your time.
Now, let’s describe the kind of man you might enjoy spending some time with. What is important to you? Not necessarily looks, although that could be an item. If you are tall, you might want a tall man. If you are religious, you might want someone of your own religion. General characteristics. Probably some of the ones your late husband had that you especially liked. What about ethnicity? Race? Age? Be honest. No one is going to see this list but you.
You might want to state your preference for a widower. Some divorced men are very bitter (and broke) and will bore you to tears telling you about their ex.
The reason I am suggesting these practice sessions is that you will have to answer two very important questions if you should decide to go ahead and start looking around at personal Internet sites.
The first is “Tell us about yourself.”
The second is “How would you describe the person you are seeking?”
Are you still with me?
The next question which will be asked is your age. My experience is that everyone is lying – some a little. Some a lot. Most by about five years.
One of my friends summed it up this way. “Since everyone is lying about five years, if you tell the truth they will add five years.”
People search on the sites in segments. Like 30 to 40, 40 to 50, 50 to 60 etc. So if you are 41, make yourself 39 so you fit in the lower category. You can fess up later.
You will need a picture. No one will answer if you don’t post it. Make it a fairly recent one. One where you look friendly. It does not have to be a glamour shot.
I can feel you backing up. Now other people will know, right?
No. No one is going to pay $30.00 a month for a minimum of three months to snoop on you. The people on these sites are looking or they would not be there.
Which brings up another point.
DON’T TELL ANYONE EXCEPT MAYBE YOUR BEST FRIEND YOU ARE DOING THIS. Everyone else will have something to say about it. This is your experiment.
(You can share on the widow’s forum If you like. You are only listed with your first name. No email is ever shown– no location. The other widows are from all over the world. You are anonymous)
Now to choose which site to join. Match.com is the biggest – all ages. Or J-Date if you are Jewish. My impression that E-Harmony is good if you are in your 30’s. Otherwise, pick a big site. You will have more selection.
The next question that comes up is “How do I check these people out?” Hard to do at first but there are safety measures you can take.
Don’t give out your telephone number. Ask for the man’s number. You do the calling and ask your telephone company how to block your number so it does not show up on caller ID. Have several conversations before you decide to meet.
Arrange to meet in a public place like a library or a coffee shop.
Drive your own car. When you leave, check to see if you are being followed. If so, head to the police station or flag down a cop.
Don’t tie yourself up time wise by arranging to have dinner. Or, maybe even lunch. You might decide right away this person is not for you and then you are stuck for possibly hours. Meeting for the first time should be short, like a cup of coffee. You will know.
Keep up these precautions until you feel comfortable that he is just a nice man looking for companionship like you. Any decent guy will understand.
Tell your best friend where you are going and when and the man’s telephone number.
Don’t give out much personal information. You ask the questions. Most people love to talk about themselves so they will be happy to have the opportunity.
There are a few ways you can check on someone. If he has a business card, call the number and ask the operator his exact title because your boss wants to write to him and you want it get it right.
If he is never available on a weekend, he either married or has a steady girlfriend. Skip that one.
Stay away from the ones who say they are “separated.” It’s usually a mess. Tell them to get back to you when they are free if they appeal to you.
If he happens to have a land line, go to 411.com and look for reverse search. Cell phones are harder to check.
And don’t forget running his name on Google. Big Brother has information on all of us. You might be surprised how much you can find out about everyone.
I am not telling you these things to scare you. 99% – the great majority of men are exactly who they say they are.
The only unpleasant experience I ever had was with a charming man who seemed unable to speak about his late wife, even after a second date.. I figured he was in too much grief.
When I pressed him, turned out he was married. When I protested, he said, “But my wife will love you.” I just left. Please. Threesomes are not my thing.
So, what do you think? Are you ready to try it? If not, that’s OK.
Now you have an Official Driver’s Manual. Maybe next year. Or, sometime.
Internet dating can be a lot of fun. When you are ready. Only you can decide.
If you have any questions, the comment section is below.