Ask Charles: "I'm a widow. When do I start dating again?"

Dear Charles:

I'm 41 yrs old and recently widowed. Married for eight years to a man I knew for 23 years. My question to you is: when is the right time to start dating again. I know its only been seven months and everyone says, "Oh you'll know when the time is right," and I believe that. Mostly, I'm thinking that I'm still young... and I get lonely. But in my mind, I don't think I'm ready. What advice do you have for me?  




Dear D:

I'm very sorry for your loss. Losing your husband/partner/lover/companion/friend after that many years is not only emotionally devastating... in creates an instant, overnight shift in your life. At any age, meeting someone new happens for many people — once they have let the dust settle from their past. But you have said something that is really a red flag for me: lonely feelings. I hear you. I get it, and my heart goes out to you... but with that statement comes some element of danger for you. In many situations with widows/widowers, they meet someone new... and they instantly feel that they have made another *connection*... but in truth, they are just reassigning their past feelings to the new partner.

My advice: You need to find a new normal for you before you can establish a new normal in a new relationship... and that takes time. And after 23 years... it may take a bit more than you might first think. I'm not saying not to date (when you feel really ready), or have friends, but I am strongly suggesting that you keep it casual... relaxed... no expectations... no looking for companionship.

The reality is that you are in a lonely, vulnerable place (and have said as much)... and that is a dangerous place to be when you are considering looking for a relationship. People in that situation *might* find the right person... but if they find the *wrong* person, they have a strong tendency to ignore red flags and damaging behaviors just to be in a relationship and stop the feeling of being alone. 

You've been through a lot and it's been just a few months. My advice is just to take your time and not rush into anything. Get into YOU... and the rest of your lifepath will begin to take shape. 

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