How soon is too soon?

General wisdom is to take some time to be alone after any relationship ends.

The shorter the time in the relationship, the less time it takes to recover. I once heard that most people need 25%-50% of a relationship’s duration before being ready to have another relationship.

After talking for two weeks, a man disclosed that the reason he listed himself on a dating site is that his partner of 7 years died — two months ago.

My first reaction was, whoa — that’s way too soon to be dating. But in discussing his situation he seemed very grounded about it. And since grieving is unique to every person, it wasn’t up to me to decide what was right or proper for him.

He said her sudden death made him realize that life is short, not to take anything for granted, and that he didn’t want to languish in self-pity. He had honored her every day of their relationship so he doesn’t think dating now is in any way dishonoring her. She’d want him to move on in his life and be happy.

However, he knew he was currently not looking for a replacement relationship. He’d like companionship and someone to enjoy.

Generally, I’d shy away from pursuing anything with anyone in this situation as I wouldn’t want to be a rebound sweetie. That usually means heartache.

Have you dated a recent widow? What did you learn that you think would be useful to other daters? Are these recent mourners too wounded to try to establish a sustainable relationship? Or is companionship just what was needed?

Want to know more about what you may encounter as you get back into dating? Download your copy of Dipping Your Toe in the Dating Pool: Dive In Without Belly Flopping.


6 responses to “How soon is too soon?”

  1. lynn Avatar

    Men (especially over a certain age) have no social lives their wives don’t coordinate. Most older men have one best friend – their wife. That’s it. He doesn’t have any friends, probably, and wants a new faux-wife because he is lonely. He needs to join voluteer organizations, book clubs, take dance lessons, etc, whatever it takes to make new friends. Getting a substitute faux-wife 2 months after his wife’s death seems needy and desperate, and a bit tacky. It also shows he has a lack of a good social support network to carry him through this difficult time. Maybe refer him to a support group for recently bereaved people? and no, I would never date a recent widower or even a recent divorcee for that matter. I need to see he has been able to stabilize his life for at least 1 year after that life-changing event. It really isn’t fair to ask one person to do the job of companion, friend, grief counselor, etc, when they don’t even barely know you, and have other dating objectives of their own to pursue. If he really wants to date someone, he should seek out someone in the same or similar situation – a woman who is recently widowed and just needs a compassionate friend to lean on. Someone whose relationship goals are the *same*. There are many ways two people can be different and still have a successful relationship. Having different relationship *goals* is not one of those ways…

  2. Lisa Avatar

    I agree with Lynn. Two months is way way too soon, especially since she died suddenly (when someone is ill you have more time to prepare for the day when they will no longer be with you). I would really steer away from this guy. His words can say one thing but his behavior another. I think it is disrespectful to anyone he is dating that he justs wants to kill time with someone until he is ready to move on. Find someone who is ready, as you seem you are. If I died, I’d be pissed that my boyfriend was “moving on” only 2 months after I died. I am sure I would want him to at some point but not when the sympathy cards are still arriving in the mail.

  3. Julie Avatar

    I’ve spoken with a couple recent widowers through online dating sites and know someone who tried to date one. Based on how I felt while getting to know them, I did not want to go forward. My friend didn’t like being a grief counselor for her date.

    This man above could have a history of being too disconnected from his feelings – who knows. Only thing to do is go what you think is best for you. It’s not about judging his readiness, there’s no way to know that much. I just think it’s about doing what feels right inside.

  4. Anna Avatar

    As a widow myself I cannot imagine how this man be ready to date two months after losing his partner of seven years. He may think he is ready because of the terrible lonliness and deep hole of being left alone but he is not acting healthily particularly as she died suddenly. Way too soon for anyone and he is setting both himself and any person he dates up for a difficult time.

  5. Brenda Avatar

    A man from an internet dating website wrote me recently. As it turned out he had been married 38 years and his wife had died recently. I asked how recently it was, and he said ONE MONTH! It was a sudden death but even if her death had been a long one – due to cancer etc – that would be way too early. I put the brakes on that one right away and suggested he go to grief counseling.

  6. Mitsy Avatar

    I think many more widowed men are willing to date sooner than a widowed woman. I’ve seen it many times. The woman has hardly been buried before the guy is out scouting for someone new. I personally don’t think it’s healthy nor would I want to involve myself with someone who didn’t wait about a year to start dating. A wise psychologist once said that it took at least a year to be ready to date again once you were out of a long-term relationship or once you lost your spouse. I believe that’s probably the case.

    I was with the same guy for about 15 yrs. & realize I wasn’t emotionally ready until about a year later. I kidded myself into thinking I would easily start dating once I ended things with my long-time bf. I was wrong and I now think that people jump the gun by trying to “move on” way too soon.