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How to Date a Widow or Widower (It’s Really Not Scary!)

As both a grief recovery expert and a widow with more than her fair share of post-widowhood dating experience, I have been interviewed, written about and presented countless workshops on dating after loss. Since I firmly believe that should a widowed choose it, dating, companionship and love can again be a part of life, I have made it one of my missions to help the widowed find their way back into the World of Dating.

However, it was a non-widowed gentleman who recently helped me realize that I have inadvertently omitted a very important component of dating education: How does one date a widow or widower?

This gentleman was so concerned about asking a widow out that he took the time to write and ask:

“I recently met a widow and I really like her a lot. I want to ask her out to dinner and get to know her better, but I’m scared of saying or doing something wrong and inappropriate. I don’t want to be offensive. What do you think? Can you give me some tips on how to date a widow?”

I was touched that this gentleman was so concerned about his prospective date’s feelings that he would ask for advice. With the help of widowed who share their experiences (as well as one or two of my own), following are helpful suggestions for dating the widowed [bracketing is added for clarification]:

Please Don’t Be Afraid

While at a synagogue function, I met a gentleman who appeared to be interested in me… until he inquired as to my marital status. When I told him that I was widowed, he physically took two steps backward. He was literally backing away from me! The first words that came out of my mouth before I could stop myself were, “Really, it’s not contagious”. Sad to say, while he was the first encounter who behaved in this curious manner, he was not the last.

I assure you that the widowed are not scary. Talking to widowed is not scary. Spending time with a widowed is not scary. You will not catch a severe case of Death by being in a widowed person’s space. Embrace the fact that you are in the presence of a person who has survived one of the worst experiences imaginable and possesses more strength than many will ever realize.

Don’t Take “No” Personally

Terry S. was asked out by a gentleman from her church who knew that she was widowed. What he did not know was that she was just not ready to date at that point. Explains Terry, “I felt so bad saying no to him but I knew that I wasn’t ready to go out with him or any man. I was just getting back to going out with my friends. I hadn’t even gone through [my husband’s] things. What’s very sad is that after telling him no, he never spoke to me again.”