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Dating again (gulp) after being widowed

(950 Posts)
Somerville Mon 07-Mar-16 14:48:44

I haven't been active on mn for a while, but I find myself with no-one IRL to ask. Which is fucking ridiculous, I know. It's not that I don't have some good friends. But I feel stupid for being so uncertain about this. Also, like they might judge me for thinking about this so soon. (I was widowed 16 months ago. We were together for 18 years, right from Uni, married for 15. 3 kids who are amazing but still broken hearted. FUCK CANCER.)

Anyway, deep breath. I've become close to someone over the past 6 weeks while emailing about a project we're both involved with in different ways. (Both freelancers in creative fields who work on several projects at a time - this is the only one where our involvement overlaps.) This particular project is very personal to me, as it touches on loss and grief, and our e-conversations became quite deep and I felt like we clicked, and would perhaps become friends. I didn't think about him romantically before we met - mainly I think, because I'm too busy to think about anything much beyond my kids and my work.

On Friday evening we met for the first time, at the official launch of the project. There were a lot of people there, and I'm not gregarious (especially as this was the first big event I've gone along to since everything, and am still receiving some awkward condolences) and he clearly is outgoing. But we ended up chatting in a corner for nearly an hour, couldn't stop talking. I fell for him hard - massive, instant crush blush. He's so tall, and his eyes are so blue, and I'd forgotten how nice it is to smell an attractive man, and listen to a deep voice... stupid stuff. Then we were interrupted and chatted to other people, though I kept looking over and seeing him smiling at me. I don't think I've smiled so much in ages. I had to leave to catch last train home while event was in full swing, and was too shy to go over and say goodbye.

I haven't heard from him in the few days since (though wouldn't have expected to). But my friend, who is heavily involved with this project and got me the gig, phoned me last night to say that he got her aside, after I left, and said that we had a connection that had come across in our emails and even more in person, and asked her if I had started dating. She told him that I haven't. That I'm not over my husband, and that my kids need a lot of my time. I guess that's all just about accurate. (I've been to a few dinner parties where I've been sat next to flirtatious single men who have not interested me at all.) Or has been, until now. She said she felt bad at discussing me behind my back, and also at speaking for me, but she didn't act like she thought she was materially wrong in what she'd said. I was too embarrassed/tongue tied to correct her. She's right. But also... he feels this connection too? He wants to know if I'm dating?

I've done no work since the school run this morning, just written a list of all the reasons why pursuing this would be a bad idea. (He doesn't have kids, and is I think a few years younger than me. I'm not having any more kids - couldn't do that to mine.)

Also, I have no time! I have a fucking spreadsheet rather than a diary, so full is my time. (My parents come and stay to have the kids one weekend a month, but that's it. One weekend a month for me, which I usually spend in a B&B on the coast, reading and running.)

And another also. He thinks I'm not dating, and I don't know how I'd let him know that I might be interested in dating (him). Should I call back my friend? Correct her, and she could tell him? Or would that look unprofessional, with this project? Shall I wait until it's over (at least 6 months)? Could I in the meantime at least ask her if he's as nice as he seems?

Lots of questions. Even writing this has helped clear my mind a bit. Thanks if you've read it. Any advice much appreciated.

Cabrinha Mon 07-Mar-16 16:07:20

I never have any time (I work abroad 5/14 nights, single parent all but one of the days I'm home) yet funnily enough, when I found the right man, time seemed to appear smile

I'm so sorry for your loss flowers The right man I mentioned lost his wife to cancer 4 years ago - hence I noticed a thread with 'widowed' in the title. I can't imagine how hard it was for him, or you.

I think sometimes people realise slowly that they're ready for something (my boyfriend did) and other people get a huge nudge in that direction that helps them along unexpectedly.

I would drop the friend as a middle man.

I would sort out in your own mind whether you would date anyone with the professional complication.

I think I'd email him and say that you have really enjoyed working with him, and the night out took you by surprise that you could feel an interest for someone again. Maybe tell him that you haven't thought about dating and that even without any other issues you would be concerned about the professional situation. And that life is really busy - but you wondered if he wanted to meet for a drink? Tell him that you haven't dated yet and have no idea how you feel about doing so, so you're suggesting a drink rather than a date - and just see how it goes.

Without wanting to piss on your bonfire, I would be a little wary of your feelings - this project may by it's nature have created a false intimacy as it encouraged you to open up on painful things.

Good luck! flowers

Cabrinha Mon 07-Mar-16 16:08:40

You don't have to say "my friend said you asked..." - it's your friend, he'll know it's gone back to you!

ravenmum Mon 07-Mar-16 16:10:39

Ah, sounds like film material smile You have his email address, how about writing to say sorry you didn't say goodbye, and you really had a great time, maybe you could meet up sometime. He'll work out that your friend might not have been quite right.

Why do you have no time? Is it because you have booked up every single minute of your life so as not to be left with nothing to do? Maybe you need a nice reason to slow things down a little.

ravenmum Mon 07-Mar-16 16:15:46

A friend of ours was widowed, same reason, and when he started dating again I was just pleased for him.

Somerville Mon 07-Mar-16 18:13:26

Thanks, both of you.

Raven - That's very insightful of you (re time). I feel like I have no time because of the DC. They have complicated schedules (each at a different school, counselling sessions on alternate days, and a plethora of sports at weekends), which I have no way of simplifying without causing them more upheaval and upset. Keeping them busy is helping them - unfortunately as an introvert I find this massively draining. But the reality is, as I think about your question, that I could take people up on offers to help out with lifts and things like that. But fulfilling the roles of both dad and mum to them (DH instigated all the sports, and each of them being at a different school) has helped me to feel a little more control, right from when DH was diagnosed. Food for thought...

Cabrinha - Funny how time appears when it's really needed smile. I don't know if your boyfriend would agree, but at a young widow/ers group I attended a few times, we discussed how in some ways it is easier to think about finding love again, having been widowed rather than divorced. Some people there had lost their second spouse, having been divorced from the first. And they expressed how a divorce affected their confidence in a way that being widowed didn't. None of my memories have been undermined by being cheated on, or by falling out of love. And I know I can build, and sustain, a strong relationship. (Though this is definitely shittier for the DC than if DH and I were divorced and they still spent half their time with him, which is probably why I feel guilt when doing anything for me that doesn't directly benefit them.)

And I get what you mean - that the project could have created false intimacy. I should be wary about that. I think I would have been when we were just emailing, had I thought it through. But meeting him the other night, it felt like when I first met DH. Which makes me feel like opening a bottle of wine, but it's a Monday. GOD.

I am thinking about writing him an email along the lines you both suggest. It's the advice I'd give anyone else. Just not sure if I'm brave enough to follow through.

notapizzaeater Mon 07-Mar-16 18:17:46

You're not committing to anything by email, if it's right you will find the time.

TheFormidableMrsC Mon 07-Mar-16 18:26:14

I am probably approaching this from a different the wrong angle but...

My husband left me and moved in with somebody whose husband's funeral had taken place only 4.5 months before after he was killed in an RTA. THAT caused raised eyebrows and they are and continue to be widely judged. I really don't think that 16 months after your husband's tragic death (am so sorry), is too soon for you to dip your toe into the water. What have you got to lose? It could possibly do wonderful things for your confidence, the man involved is clearly interested, you don't have to involve your children at all. It could be the start of something wonderful for you (I have to say that I have almost fallen in love with him from your description wink).

I would most definitely contact him and say something along the lines of those suggested above..."sorry I missed you, would love to meet again". I am sure he will bite your hand off!

Without doubt, your lovely DH would be so pleased to see you rebuilding your have been through an horrific ordeal. There is no harm in enjoying the company of an interested man and seeing how things develop!

I shall watch with interest I love a romance. Good luck OP flowers

Maverick66 Mon 07-Mar-16 18:39:43

Go for it OP thanks

GColdtimer Mon 07-Mar-16 18:44:42

Just email him and ask if he would like to meet for a drink. It sounds like he is not going to say no!

I was a MofH this weekend for my widowed friend who married a widower - it was a very emotional day but watching them made me even more certain we have to cease the moment.

But he way, have you heard of WAY? It's a group for the widowed and young. Two of my friends have said its been their lifeline - for online and RL support. In fact it's how she met her DH.

Good luck OP. thanks

Somerville Mon 07-Mar-16 19:10:24

Oh God, that's an awful way for a marriage to end, I'm really sorry, Formidable. And I appreciate the different angle, this is why I've asked for advice on mn. You are right that DH would want me to be happy. And also that this man seems wonderful. I'd like the chance to see if he's as caring and funny as he seems in writing/on first acquaintance. (Also, to smell him again. Mmmm.) He's a very smiley person, so not sure the significance of all the smiles on Friday. Without his comments to my friend, I wouldn't think he'd be interested.

I kind of had 2+ years in my head as the 'right' time. The 1 year anniversary was awful, so I thought I'd get past the 2nd year point and then think about romance stuff. I don't want to be alone forever.

I've just googled him. Not a friend of my friend on Facebook. But I've found him. Private settings (good/sensible). Then DD came in and I slammed down the lid on laptop! Gah! I want to know his DOB - I think I'm 2- 4 years older than him.

Right, I'm going to chase the DC into bed, then reread all our emails, then think about writing one.

Barbafamiily Mon 07-Mar-16 19:28:55

They say that those who are widowed after a very happy marriage are more likely to get married again and in a relatively short space of time. I mean this in the most respectful way, because I am very sorry for your loss, but it is almost a compliment and a testimony to the wonderful relationship you had with your husband that you are thinking about love again. So don't feel bad about it, enjoy this for what ever it will be, maybe fleeting or maybe long term. But right now, as you said, he is making you smile and I am sure you deserve that.

TinklyLittleLaugh Mon 07-Mar-16 19:38:07

I don't think anyone would think badly of you if you started dating again after 16 months. Send him an email, suggest a drink.

scatteroflight Mon 07-Mar-16 19:40:37

OP, I'm so sorry for you loss. Unimaginable hardly comes close. I think Cabrinha has given excellent advice. When life has dealt you such a blow the idea of feeling joy and excitement again seems very elusive. The fact that you felt such a thrill on that evening is incredibly promising. And to discover that he felt it too, what a beautiful thing!

I hope you do email him in exactly the way Cabrinha suggested - express your trepidation, he will be touched by your honesty. I have all my fingers crossed for you. Come and report back!

Nepotism Mon 07-Mar-16 19:55:31

I can recommend a lovely book called "Bad Things Happen in Good Bikinis" about being widowed and dating again. Good luck, he sounds lovely.

Somerville Mon 07-Mar-16 20:00:58

You're all very brave about sending emails suggesting drinks! Is that really what is the done thing now? For the woman to do? God, I feel my feminist credentials slipping.

Thank you for the warm words, everyone. I wish I knew my RL friends would be this accepting. I think it's because DH and I got together so young, we were always 'the couple' in our friendship group, IYSWIM? So now no-one can think of me as anything but Mrs DH. My friends who didn't know DH so well are either work related (it's a small industry, and don't want to risk anything I say getting back to the man in question) or DC-schoolmates-parents (ditto my kids).

And yes, thanks, I've come across WAY. I found my counsellor (who I recently stopped seeing, but maybe I need to book another session) and the DC's excellent grief counsellor, through them.

Alibabsandthe40Musketeers Mon 07-Mar-16 20:06:01

Definitely e-mail him and ask if he wants to go for a drink.

You know he is interested, he thinks that you aren't even thinking about whether you are interested or not!

Go for it smile

Justaboy Mon 07-Mar-16 20:56:09

Well having given this some thought..

He seems like a great bloke and you sound like a lovely lady so in my 'umble opinion just go for it!

As to relationships after losing a partner.

My first wife took her own life and as tragic as that was she was at peace after an awful illness and a while after she died i found a bit of paper that she had scribbled on whilst in hospital, and I've never been so annoyed that its got lost as it went something like;

"If anything should happen to me please mourn my passing, please remember me for who i was to you.

I ask only two things of you please take care of our dearest daughter and it is my wish that as soon as fate makes it so please find another lovely lady that you truly deserve".

AnyFucker Mon 07-Mar-16 21:02:10

Great advice, particularly from Cabrinha

Do what she ways

AnyFucker Mon 07-Mar-16 21:02:20


GColdtimer Mon 07-Mar-16 21:20:59

Somerville I have been a Maid of Honour to two friends who married again after being widowed. The latest on Saturday to a man my friend met through WAY. I was good friends with both their husbands and miss them dreadfully.

But I am delighted that both my friends managed to find happiness again. And if the wedding on Saturday was any measure, the room was full of people who had known (and were related to) both my friend's and her new DH's late partners and there was nothing but good feeling. If anyone has any issues with you dating again that is there problem, not yours. There is no magical amount of time for it to be appropriate to date again, it's when you feel it's right.

I hope it works out.

OneBiscuitAtATime Mon 07-Mar-16 21:21:52

I met my DH 16 months after the death of his first wife, he had a teenage DD. I think the response from her friends and family was a little bit surprised, a little bit sad, but ultimately happy to see him not be lonely anymore. Some of them assumed he might want to distance himself from those old relationship but we've both made sure that didn't happen, and our baby DS has the bonus of an extra set of aunts, uncles and cousins etc from his big half sisters family.

Cabrinha Mon 07-Mar-16 21:23:27

That's really interesting Somerville - and yes, my boyfriend is far more positive about finding lasting love again than I am! (unpleasant marriage ending in divorce)

I approach it as "I suppose it might work, may as well try" whereas he is all "why wouldn't it work?!"

He knows that he can still be happy and in love 20 years down the line, and sees no reason why he can't be again.

I'm quite excited by being with someone who has succeeded in marriage, unlike me (though I'm not taking the blame for that 😉)

It's been nearly 4 years now and he pops up to the cemetery every week to take flowers and have a chat, fill her in on what their kids are up to... He's ready to date, but obviously she's still very important to him. Which makes me happy that I've found a man who wants love, and believes he can sustain it.

Good luck with this man! Mine also said he felt the way he had with his wife, when he met me. I hope you find love. flowers

Obs2016 Mon 07-Mar-16 22:03:49

Write the email. We all wish you all the best.

Somerville Mon 07-Mar-16 22:47:07

Okay, I wrote an email. Didn't suggest meeting for a drink, but did say I really enjoyed his company, haven't laughed as much as that in a long time, and that I was sorry not to have said goodbye. I explained this was partly because I wanted to get home in time for my babysitter so she'd work for me again. (Hopefully he'll get that glaring hint!) And I mentioned having heard that he'd talked to my friend, though not the particulars of the conversation. I finished by mentioning a book he recommended, which I'm now half way through and am loving. (Genuinely. If he recommended crap novels I'd probably go off him.)

Please no-one tell me that any of the above sounds stupid because I've already sent it...

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