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How to Date After the Death of a Spouse

author image Kathryn Rateliff Barr
Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.
How to Date After the Death of a Spouse
Internet dating sites will supply the largest pool of prospective dates. Photo Credit a.collectionRF/amana images/Getty Images

No one can tell you when you should begin dating after your spouse dies, as that’s an individual decision that will depend on various factors. It's important that you take the time necessary to heal and let yourself feel whole and complete before jumping into a relationship, according to Kristine Carlson, author of "Heart-Broken Open" in a Huffington Post article. When you're ready to date, you'll know it. You'll also know how you want your relationships to progress by listening to your heart and trusting your instincts.

Dating in the Technology Age

You might find that dating is very different from the last time you did it. It's quite common for couples to find each other through online dating. There are niche dating sites that can help you find a relationship based on your age, interests and your status as a widow. Begin with reasonable expectations and a willingness to take the time to find someone who respects your situation. Practice new dating social skills like flirting by emailing new prospects until you're comfortable, suggests clinical psychologist Judith Sills in a 2009 “Time” magazine article. If online dating scares you, tell friends that you’re ready to meet someone new as you look for partners at church or other locations that you frequent.

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Know Yourself

Your needs might be very different than they were when you were dating your deceased spouse, writes sex and relationship expert, Dr. Pepper Schwartz in her article, "Starting Over After Losing a Partner” for AARP. Determine what you need and want now, such as a companion to attend events, a sex partner or a new spouse. However, keep an open mind and heart and realize that your needs can change again as you continue to date. Be specific about what you want in your online dating profile so you can weed through prospects and spend time only with those who are right for you. Leave any baggage behind by working through regrets, guilt and past pain with a therapist if necessary.

Dealing With Family

If you have children, keep in mind that they might not be ready for you to date. With adult children, remind them that it’s your decision and that you will take appropriate safety considerations. If you have minor children, let your dates know that you don’t have an ex to help out with the kids and you must make your kids your priority. If you decide that you don't want to introduce your dates to your children unless things are fairly serious, let you dates know this from the beginning.

Widowhood Considerations

Your spouse's death doesn’t diminish your love and it can continue to grow as the negative aspects of your relationship fade from memory, writes author and philosopher Aaron Ben-Zeév in a Psychology Today article. It's not unusual to experience guilt for wanting a new love or be concerned because a new relationship doesn’t feel like your previous one. It’s possible to love both your former spouse and a new love without doing a disservice to either one. Realize that a new relationship can bring new life and joy to your heart.

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