Author Topic: Would this be crossing a line?  (Read 3143 times)

Brenda

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Would this be crossing a line?
« on: September 30, 2015, 07:25:45 AM »
I know, I know, there's no rulebook for being a widow...

...but I'm frightfully lonely at the moment and would love to dip a toe back in the dating market.  Here's where I'm struggling though: I'd be perfectly ok with a new relationship that came along by chance, but I'm thinking of actively going out and looking for someone.  Not hanging out in bars and that kind of thing, but maybe a very careful venture into the world of online dating.  (Yeah, I'm young, but not quite young enough not to say to myself "ewww, that's sad; I must be a real loser" when I think about resorting to online dating.)

Guilty thoughts aplenty when thinking about the possibility of dating once again.  Feeling like I'm dancing on my wife's grave when thinking specifically about instigating the relationship myself.  But for the 90% of my day when I'm not mortified about what I'm possibly going to do, I'm hopelessly lonely in the sense that I miss intimacy (emotional, not necessarily sexual) with another person.

What to do?  Too early to be online dating?  Does this cross a line from "yup, you're allowed to do that as a widow" and into "honey, you've been widowed; have some respect"?

Justin

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Re: Would this be crossing a line?
« Reply #1 on: September 30, 2015, 10:01:39 AM »
Brenda, only you know what is right for you. I will say that when I started having romantic feelings for my new love at four months out, I had zero guilt. We all have our self-doubts now and again, but I know that I was a good and faithful husband to my wife. I also accepted that she is not here anymore, but dammit! - I am, and I am alive. I could not deny what was happening and how much my heart started yearning. That being said, we have been careful to slowly acclimatize loved ones in our lives to our relationship for fear that they might not be ready for our relationship - even though we totally were. Weird, right?

I absolutely do not think it is too soon for you; just make sure that you are do not use a relationship as a band-aid for your grief.
Marsha 1975-2014

"Love is the province of the brave"

Mizpah

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Re: Would this be crossing a line?
« Reply #2 on: September 30, 2015, 10:18:06 AM »
I understand your struggle.  I couldn't deal with even the thought of dating until about 14 months out, and even that far out, I was terrified someone would find out and think I didn't love DH, which is ludicrous.  Some of my widow friends started relationships or FWB situations, etc., very early out, and some had guilt and some didn't, some were judged, some weren't. 

My boyfriend is a widower, and he had casual relations with some women very, very early out.  When we met, it moved very fast, and I was pregnant within a year of him losing his fiancee.  (I was about 2 1/2 years out.)  There is no question in my mind that he loved her.  I've said often to my widow friends that there is nothing that occurs after their death that changes or can change anything of any importance: the truth of the relationship (which of course only occurred before they died). 

Look, we are sexual beings.  We are "partnering" beings.  And our society is, in such large part, "built for" couples.  It's hard to be alone, and widowhood is such an intensely lonely, alone thing.  Looking for someone to spend time, mind and body with does not in any way diminish the love you had for your wife.  And the distinction between accepting something that comes your way and seeking it out - I mean, I know what you're saying, but I think mostly it's a "distinction without a difference."  We're widows - we're not saintly ascetics.  I don't see any virtue in denying ourselves the things humans crave.  It's not a replacement.  It reminds me of the early days, when I used to say that if DH couldn't eat, I was not going to eat.  The logic makes sense, but only in that widow way that doesn't actually make sense for people who are in the land of the living.  It's ok to leave the land of the dead and be in the land of the living. 

So, as for the crossing a line, my vote: you're TOTALLY allowed to do this as a widow. 
widowed 2011 (DH 28)

Trying

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Re: Would this be crossing a line?
« Reply #3 on: September 30, 2015, 11:54:11 AM »
My guilt about dating early on was never about being disrespectful to DH, I had fullfilled my vows and I was the one left behind trying to survive.  My guilt was about how the people around me would feel.  My children, our friends, my inlaws.  I didn't want to cause anyone more pain than they already had and I ended up doing just that.  That being said, I don't really have regrets.  While I don't think that one needs to date to heal, it was helpful to me.  Thinking about my own needs and self care in general was a big part of the grieving process and dating was just one part of that for me.  I didn't use it to,run away from my grief but there were times when it provided a pleasant distraction and reminded me that I was more than just a widow.

You need to do what makes you comfortable and be prepared for a whole lot of different feelings along the way.
You will forever be my always.

momtokam

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Re: Would this be crossing a line?
« Reply #4 on: September 30, 2015, 04:13:52 PM »
My guilt about dating early on was never about being disrespectful to DH, I had fullfilled my vows and I was the one left behind trying to survive.  My guilt was about how the people around me would feel.  My children, our friends, my inlaws.  I didn't want to cause anyone more pain than they already had and I ended up doing just that.  That being said, I don't really have regrets.  While I don't think that one needs to date to heal, it was helpful to me.  Thinking about my own needs and self care in general was a big part of the grieving process and dating was just one part of that for me.  I didn't use it to,run away from my grief but there were times when it provided a pleasant distraction and reminded me that I was more than just a widow.

You need to do what makes you comfortable and be prepared for a whole lot of different feelings along the way.

Completely expresses what my first dating experience was at a year out.  I was very secretive thinking it was better for everyone else and I did end up ending that first relationship.
Now, at 3 years out, I am ready to try again and this time let people who care about me know. Just my experience.

Only you will know what you will be comfortable with.

TooSoon

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Re: Would this be crossing a line?
« Reply #5 on: September 30, 2015, 04:30:47 PM »
What Justin said.  Perhaps I have the luxury of no guilt because my husband specifically directed me (in the form of a heartbreaking video he commissioned for me to watch after he died) to move forward, to live life fully and to be free.  He told me that I fulfilled my role as his partner to the last (he died of brain cancer), and it was now time for me to look inward and find myself again and make a new life and a new kind of happiness.  That wasn't the only thing he told me to do but I took it very seriously.  I have to believe that our spouses would want us to find love again.   

Wishing you the best. 


lcoxwell

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Re: Would this be crossing a line?
« Reply #6 on: September 30, 2015, 06:20:24 PM »
I think I am fortunate, in that my Kenneth expressed (many times over) that he wanted me to actively pursue trying to find love again, once he was gone. He made it clear, not only to me, but also to his entire family and mine. So, when I found my New Guy VERY early on, I truly made no efforts to hide it and felt no guilt, whatsoever, at least not for dating. Sometimes, I do feel guilty that my relationship with New Guy is so much better and so much easier than my marriage was, and I feel guilty for being so much more open and expressive with the love I share with New Guy.

The truth is, people are going to judge you, no matter what you do, so you have to look within and do what you feel is right for you. Only you can truly judge if it is too soon. For what it is worth, I say go for it! If, in the process, you find you weren't as ready as you thought you were, you can always take a step back. On the other hand, if you sit around, just waiting for something to fall in your lap, you could spend a very long time being lonely.
"The highest tribute to the dead is not grief but gratitude." - Thornton Wilder

Thank you, my dearest Kenneth, for loving me and for giving me the best 13 years of my life.

klim

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Re: Would this be crossing a line?
« Reply #7 on: September 30, 2015, 06:32:59 PM »
I wondered about  the guilt thing....but it didn't happen.

My husband died all of a sudden, no warnings or conversations.....so I just had to analyse and think for myself about what was right for me in the future.

 I worked on the premise , that I've always wanted to have a happy life( we always worked at enjoying life) so if I was feeling lonley and meeting someone was going to make me happy I was going to persue it.
At first I just wanted to be social and then I noticed the attention I was giving the guys I was meeting ( got my flirt on). At this point actively seaching out dates made sense.
Timeline :9 months......but as said over and over ...only you know and what is right for you depends on you.

MrsDan

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Re: Would this be crossing a line?
« Reply #8 on: September 30, 2015, 06:59:20 PM »
I never thought being with someone else was something I'd ever consider. And it wasn't, for a very long time. Then, I don't know, there was a shift where I just couldn't sustain the abject misery anymore. I developed a couple crushes, so I went online, just to see what available people were out there. So I've been talking to and hanging out with someone I met there. I would think I would feel guilty, but I don't, at least not to any measurable degree. I think it's because I know, better than anyone else how I've suffered, how I continue to suffer. No one can truly understand the depths of horror I've traversed. I know. I know my own pain, and what it says about my love for my husband, and nothing could ever negate that.

I think the shift I underwent happens at different times for different people. In my early widow days, I judged people who underwent it early on, but I see it very differently now. This is agony, and if you see a way to make it a little less agonizing, you take it. I can't comment on whether it's running from grief. I have grieved Dan hard for three long years, and will continue to do so for the rest of my life. But I also don't think unmitigated grief without any fun or respite is sustainable, especially when you're trying to function as a good parent.
You are the Bear of my heart dear,
And nothing can take that away.

Brenda

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Re: Would this be crossing a line?
« Reply #9 on: October 01, 2015, 02:23:13 AM »
Thanks for the responses.  Informative stuff.

Did you find that love kind of snuck up on you by chance and you took advantage of it, or did you actively go out to find someone?  The former I think I'd have less of a problem with.  The latter is what's causing the majority of the guilt.

Pammy

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Re: Would this be crossing a line?
« Reply #10 on: October 01, 2015, 11:16:06 AM »
Brenda, that is exactly what happened to me. I was not actively seeking love, in fact standing at my husbands grave on that hot August afternoon I declared I was done with love and relationships. If you had told me 3 months later I would be falling in love...well I would have found the nearest nut house and deposited you into it. There was some guilt, but not as much as I thought there would be and it resolved quickly.

My new husband and I will celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary in February.

The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men (and it would seem, widows/ers), Gang aft agley.

Guilt is a silly, stupid and worthless emotion. Don't spend your energy on feeding it. No matter what you do, how you do it or when you do it, someone, somewhere is going to make judgement. Welcome to life.
« Last Edit: October 01, 2015, 11:17:49 AM by Pammy »
If there was something I didn't know about, I would know about it

Bunny

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Re: Would this be crossing a line?
« Reply #11 on: October 01, 2015, 12:27:25 PM »
i suppose I had the 'wid dream' of having a romantic relationship fall into my lap through no effort on my part whatsoever. He was a college ex who looked me up. At 18 months widowed, I was not ready to date and he had an on/off girlfriend, so for half a year we were simply BFFs. It felt really good to have those moments of respite from my grief. Really good. I was still working through stuff, plus now added having to figure out what to do about this man, but I am so grateful he cared enough to drag me off my porch and back out into the world. We've been dating over a year now and he makes me incredibly happy.

That said- if you are ready to get out there then why wait for Fate to find you?  Although chance is certainly easier, it is in no way better than the seeking. Although, I do get the whole wanting to be able to tell people: 'look, it's not my fault, I had no intention of falling in love again! This just happened out of the blue, I swear...' In the beginning, I was so worried people would think dating meant I didn't 'really' love my husband. And maybe some people do, but what they think of me is not my problem nor any of my business. Trust me, the guilt over all this will naturally lessen with time.

Maybe start small by just getting out into the world more? Coffee shops, poetry readings, art shows, meet-up groups, live music, canoe trips...whatever interests you now. Who knows? Maybe you'll simply make new friends,  and then one of them will want to set you up with the 'perfect woman for you'. And, even if it ends disastrously, you can always keep us entertained with the gory details!
It is a fearful thing to love what Death can touch.

Mizpah

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Re: Would this be crossing a line?
« Reply #12 on: October 01, 2015, 12:39:32 PM »
Did you find that love kind of snuck up on you by chance and you took advantage of it, or did you actively go out to find someone?  The former I think I'd have less of a problem with.  The latter is what's causing the majority of the guilt.

The former happened to me.  I won't lie - there's definitely something easy about being able to say, "It just happened!"  Like you had no part in it.  But I *did* have a part in it.  If I wasn't actively looking, inside I wanted connection and love and affection, and was happy and relieved. 

One of my closest widow friends did the latter - she wanted a boyfriend, she wanted a husband, she wanted children.  And she didn't wait around just hoping it would happen to/for her.  She didn't live on anyone's timeline but her own.  She's one of the people I admire most.  I'm sure many would say she took everything way too fast.  But she didn't - not for her.  She knew what she wanted, she knew what she needed, and she participated in her own life to make it happen. 

I look at it like this.  Widowhood chose you.  You don't have to choose loneliness because we think that others and widowhood says you "should."  F that.   IMHO.
widowed 2011 (DH 28)

Brenda

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Re: Would this be crossing a line?
« Reply #13 on: October 01, 2015, 01:23:35 PM »
I look at it like this.  Widowhood chose you.  You don't have to choose loneliness because we think that others and widowhood says you "should."  F that.   IMHO.

What a perfect way to sum it all up.  F that indeed!

At least I have a new topic for the therapist in the morning.  I was going to discuss worries about loneliness and whether I'll ever find anyone (or should even bother searching).  I think it's better that I discuss getting rid of guilt, because once that goes, life opens up once more.

nonesuch

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Re: Would this be crossing a line?
« Reply #14 on: November 01, 2015, 07:07:31 AM »
My husband died in March.  I went on my first date in December. So, apparently, I was looking for dates before that.

I don't think of it as a timeline. It's a process.  It sounds dopey to say, "You're ready when you're ready," but that's about the size of it.

It would be unkind to treat human beings like band-aids, to cover a tender spot in our heart 'til it healed over a bit, and then throw them away. It would be misguided to expect to find someone exactly like our late spouse (and creepy, too) Humans are designed to be part of society and most of us want companionship.  When you think you are ready, you may start looking.