It is wonderful to find love again after the loss of a loved one. There is nothing more devastating as a broken heart; however, it is possible to become whole again and find new and lasting love. My relationship coaches at AskMarsVenus.com get many questions from men and women regarding how to approach sensitive issues that may arise when dating a widow or widower.
Top Five Questions to Keep in Mind
Have they had ample time to grieve?
Are they rebounding?
Are they looking to date, or are they looking for a relationship?
What are the factors that complicate dating this person, such as kids or finances?
Are you prepared to deal with old feelings of love that will come up periodically, such as on anniversaries?
As we take a more in-depth look at each of at each of these starting-over issues, please keep in mind that whether you are dating someone who has experienced a loss or whether you have experienced one of your own, what may be an obstacle for some may not be an obstacle for others. Part of your journey will be to gather strength from an awareness of the pitfalls, and be willing to risk finding love again.
Ample Grieving Time
Grieving the loss of love means fully feeling and then releasing all the painful emotions that come up when we reflect on our loss. The biggest mistake we can make during the grieving process is to move on too quickly. To release our attachment and be open to new possibilities, we need time to explore and feel the four healing emotions: anger, sadness, fear and sorrow.
One of the biggest differences between men and women starting over is that men tend to get involved too soon, while women have a tendency to take much longer. When a man gets involved right away, he misses the opportunity to heal his heart. He will bounce from relationship to relationship, usually finding women who give too much or do too much for him. The bottom line here is that getting involved on the rebound almost guarantees we'll choose the wrong person. When we are holding onto the hurt and pain of our loss, we have the tendency to attract or be attracted to someone who may hurt us.
Dating or Relationship?
The time for a man to get into a relationship is when his desire to give is greater then his need to receive. Men tend to rush in too quickly, as we discussed in the rebound section above.
For women, it is a good idea to date around but not sleep around. Too many women push away the possibility of love by associating dating with sex. We recommend to women starting over that they always date three men at a time: one man on the way out, one man more current, and one new man on the way in. Date around until you find someone special and then stop dating the others. When you believe you have found your soul mate, it will be time to explore having an exclusive relationship.
What about sex? It's OK to say "no" to intimacy right away. Men will want sex right away in a new relationship. The hunger for sex is a man's biggest obstacle in the process of healing his heart. Women, even when their hearts have healed, need to be able to say "no for now" and then feel free to enjoy sex when the time is right for her ... with or with out the promise of a relationship.
Kids and Finances
Children certainly need to grieve the loss of a parent, and may be jealous of a new relationship. This is to be expected at first; however, if the parent and child have a healthy relationship, it is most important to note that ultimately every child likes someone who makes their parent happy.
Money does not buy love. Men and women starting over after a loss do not need to overachieve financially in order to be loved. Nor do they need to feel as if they should have arrived at a certain success point in a career before being worthy of a new relationship. Also, beware the overachievers who are hiding behind work as a way to avoid healing.
Old Feelings and Special Dates
It's OK to respect the good qualities of a deceased spouse, while not glorifying the past so much that no one can ever live up to those standards. There are certain dates, such wedding anniversaries and birthdays, which will trigger emotions as well. Remembering and reminiscing is fine, but it is important for the new partner in the relationship to have healthy self-esteem so that he or she can help deal with all the feelings in a positive way.
The key to success in all these areas is balance and perspective. While it may seem daunting at first to date again after a loss or to date someone who has suffered the loss of a partner, with a little strategic sensitivity, it is possible to turn it into a joyous new beginning.
John Gray has helped millions of men and women develop better relationships with his phenomenal New York Times best seller Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus (HarperCollins, 2004). For help with your relationship today, visit Love Advice From AskMarsVenus.com.
Source: Relationships & Love