Dear Steve and Cathy,
My wife passed away seven months ago and now I'm dating two women -- both 20 years younger than me. Is it too soon to date or get intimate? I have told both women that I don't want to get married. The Thai lady is good company and says she's in love with me, but I don't love her. I like the Korean lady a lot, but she's mad at me for dating the Thai lady. Should I continue to see both, choose one or stop dating altogether? --F.
Woah, buddy, slow down! You're moving much too fast. Give yourself a chance to grieve the loss of your wife, figure out who you are, and find out where you want to go with your life.
Dating's one thing; it'll help you deal with your loneliness. But if you get married again too soon, you risk hurting the lady as well as yourself.
I'm glad you're being straight with both women. Hold firm with your position -- that you're not going to get married this early after the loss of your wife. If they can't understand that, it'll tell you volumes about their ability to love. True love is patient and compassionate. It gives more than it grabs.
As for whether you should see both, choose one or stop altogether, nix that last option. But regarding how intimate you should be with one woman as opposed to lightly dating several, be your own judge of what's best for you.
Despite my glib opener, no one knows better than you do about what's best for you. You can ask three psychologists and get four opinions. When all is said and done, don't listen to any of us. Listen deeply within.
Please keep it slow! Go ahead, date and enjoy the company of these younger women who desire you. These relationships can give you a necessary break from grieving. However, I would keep it nonsexual. Intimacy might mean more to them than you, which could increase their demands on the relationship. It already sounds complicated enough.
But don't be surprised by a sudden sense of sadness or confusion about your new life. We grieve at our own pace, at times feeling such intense loss that we can barely go on. Days or even moments later, we might get angry about being left alone and having our hopes and dreams smashed.
Then we might become excited about the opportunities this life change brings us. It's OK to have different feelings. Expect them.
Keep in mind that others (especially children or extended family) might react negatively to what they may perceive as a lack of caring or respect for your wife. Share with them what she meant to you, but remind them that you need to develop a life without her.
Get information on grief, perhaps attend a group for widowers, and take it easy. This sounds like a time of great change for you. I hope it brings you what you want.
The Bottom Line From Cathy and Steve:
1. Don't rush too quickly into a new relationship after the loss of an old one. Give yourself time to grieve and regroup emotionally.
2. It's OK to date -- it can help you cope with loss and loneliness, boost your self-esteem and ease you back into the world.
3. Respect the pace and style of your own unique journey through grief, and expect a variety of emotions.
Source: Relationships & Love