?When can I date?
?When is it ok to date?
?When did you start dating?
?How do you know you are ready to date?
?Will people judge me if I date?
Dating questions happen a lot. It’s such a touchy subject. And the reality is there is no right answer. For the most case those that are widowed never saw themselves dating again. We were done. We had found our person.
Wids ended up entering the dating world at different times and for different reasons. Some date right away and others never date. And there is a crap ton of different timeframes in between. Some are looking for their next person and others just want a FWB and to have fun. For many they end up dating because they are lonely.
Each wid has a different and unique story for if and when and why they started dating. As well as their own fears and hang ups. Each wid had different things they felt they needed to do to be ready to date. I’ve seen a lot of info on what it means to be “ready”. On what a wid “has to do” and/or “get rid of” in order to mean they are ready to date. A lot of things that honestly don’t mean anything.
Here is my track to dating and how I knew when I was ready. About 4 months out I got super lonely. I put dating apps on my phone. It was a freaking joke. I was lonely. But so not ready to date. And I figured that out in a matter of days. When anyone wanted to chat it freaked me out. The apps got deleted within a week.
I didn’t even bother to look again for a while. I knew there was no reason to. My mother in law started trying to encourage me to date about 6 months out. And I had to tell her I just wasn’t ready. I just wanted my husband. And even talking to someone seemed revolting. I would rather be lonely than with someone to just fill the void left by my husband.
The one thing that short attempt at meeting someone taught me was that I didn’t want to just not be lonely. No one was going to replace my husband. No matter who they were. I had never really spent time single. I was always that person that jumped from relationship to relationship. Never alone. And I needed to know I could be alone. And for the first time in my life I learned I could be alone. Just me and Logan. And I learned I was ok. The baby and I would be ok.
For me that was the biggest thing I needed to know. That I would be ok alone. That I could look past the lonely. And just focus on me and Logan. I had always been super independent. And yet always had a boyfriend/husband. Someone to call after work. And I had to learn who I was outside of being someone’s SO. This wasn’t easy and came with a lot of pain and heartache. But I did it. I learned how to sleep in a house alone with a baby. I learned how to go to dinner and a movie by myself. I got things transferred into my name and was on top of my own bills and life. I had lived alone before. But it had been some time. But I did it.
Then there was a night I went out. A friend was watching Logan. I had a few too many drinks and kissed someone. I was wondering if I could do the FWB thing. The answer to that question was that I couldn’t. It wasn’t in me. I cried myself to sleep that night. I had kissed someone who wasn’t Stephen. And the pain wasn’t just mental. I could feel actual physical pain in my heart and lungs. I cried every single day for weeks after that. Begging Stephen to forgive me. Yes I knew I had nothing to be forgiven for. Kissing someone wasn’t cheating. My husband was dead. I was allowed to kiss someone. But man did I not feel that. I knew I would not be able to do that again. I could not do the fwb thing. I could not just kiss someone. Even in the moment. So I kept holding off on dating. All while my mil was trying to convince me to get out there. Even trying to convince me to join a singles group. She didn’t want to see me alone for the rest of my life. And as a widow that hadn’t dated after her husbands death I get why she was trying to get me out there. I just couldn’t right then.
A few months later I put the dating apps back on my phone. Right after the one year mark. This time I was better at chatting with people. But still not really wanting to meet anyone. Just chatting. There are a lot of crazies out there. Guys that would tell me on the 2nd chat that they would be my new husband and give me lots of kids. Man did they scare me. I wasn’t looking to jump into something. I just wanted to get my toes wet. I did end up agreeing to lunch with one guy. He lived close by and it didn’t feel like a date. Just lunch with a neighbor. Only one lunch happened. There was no spark. And that was ok. Didn’t have feelings about it either way. Nice person. Just not going to date him.
Then at 13months I made a friend in a wid group. I had made other friends in the wid groups. People that had taken my phone calls in the middle of the night when I couldn’t hold the tears back. When I was lost. But this person was different. I was making a new friend. But it just felt different. At 14 months we went on our first date. And when we kissed I didn’t get sad or upset. In fact it was nice. More than nice. And I was excited. I was relaxed. I was ready to have Jonathan in my life. I was at ease around him. And it was more than just him also being a wid. We liked a lot of the same things. But not everything the same. Enough in common to have things to bond us. Enough different to keep it interesting.
And I didn’t have to change who I was. I didn’t have to take off my wedding ring. I didn’t have to take down pictures of Stephen. I didn’t have to watch what I talked about. Never bringing Stephen up. Jonathan liked me for who I was. And he got that my marriage and late husband was a large part of that. He wasn’t threatened or jealous of a dead person.
I’ve seen so many people question these things. Are you ready to date if you have pics up? Are you ready to date if you wear your ring? Are you ready to date if you still love your late spouse? Are you ready to date if you ever bring up your spouse? Yes. I was. And I learned how to open my heart. To let someone new in without having to let go of what I had. I found a balance many don’t believe can happen. But it can. And I’ve seen it with many of my widowed friends as they find their new person. The right person is someone who doesn’t need them to erase their past. But rather embraced that their past is part of what made them the person they are. And loves them. All of them. Even their past. And that is what I was needing. Someone who would love all of me. Even my history. Who wouldn’t demand I change for them. And Jonathan doesn’t do that. He takes me as I am. And I take him as he is. And I truly believe that’s why we work. We love each other where we are. With no conditions.
I’m glad I took time to figure myself out before I started dating. I’m glad I let myself stand on my own two feet. I’m glad I met Jonathan and became friends with him before he asked me on a date. That I was able to be comfortable. That I let myself open my heart to someone new. I’m glad I took my time and didn’t rush. That I knew I could never fill the void left by Stephens death and that I wasn’t trying to do that. That I wasn’t trying to replace my husband. I think knowing I couldn’t helped me a lot. I needed to understand that anyone new in my life would need to be loved in their own right. For who they were as a person. That there would be no comparison or competition. This person would be different. The relationship would be different. And the love would be different. And that would be ok. Because that’s how it should be.
No one will ever replace Stephen. And that’s ok. Because I was able to love Jonathan for who he is. He isn’t in my life because I needed him. He isn’t here to fill a void. He is in my life because I was ready and wanted him. And that means so much more.
#lifeafterloss #thatwidowedmom #whentodate #whenwidowsdate