Dating After Loss of a Spouse
When a relationship ends due to one partner dying, what is the correct time period to begin dating again? Grief is such a funny, unpredictable animal. Many people in years' past think a year is a suitable time to wait before incorporating life changes, and yet for many of us, a year into our loss - we're barely getting started on our grief journey. My experience has been that people and perhaps society as a whole, do not allow enough time or thought to the actual grief process. There is no quick fix or "getting over it" and moving on. We all move through grief in our own ways and means. There is nothing by formula that we can follow or hope to happen. Talking with others who have experienced a similar loss is definitely a plus.
Some days the road is more difficult than others days. At times, you feel enveloped in a mist of uncertainty. Even small decisions can sometimes stretch past your point of coping.
Personal decisions are just that, personal. What is suitable for anyone must be decided individually. Sometimes you have to let go of preconceived notions of the correct way to act and grieve.
I began dating too early, about a year after my husband passed away. I was incredibly lonely and in a real oxymoron, I was determined to be happy again, at any cost to myself. So, I started dating through online sites and I kept attracting the wrong type of man. Takers, emotionally unavailable, surface daters, serial daters, men who mirrored my own uncertainty about my readiness to date again.
None of these connections turned out to be anything substantial. In a fog of grief, I yearned to find someone to love, and yet I knew these men were wrong for me. They were just a short ride on a ferry to nowhere special. It was brought home to me gradually, through my dating experiences, that I had to value myself more than what I was doing. I couldn't settle with a partner just to have someone in my life. I deserved more. My dates deserved more than someone still traveling through grief.
In those early days, I was as unavailable as the men I dated. If I had realized this, perhaps I would have run fast in the opposite direction, but in two instances I hung on to a flagging relationship, hoping things would change. Of course they did not.
Gradually, I came to realize that I had to stop setting myself up for disappointment in relationships. How could I attract the right partner, unless I was equally ready for a commitment?
I made the decision to bring my standards up to a new level and part of this process involved not dating for over a year. Only then did I start meeting the quality of man that my higher consciousness demanded. I was no longer wasting my time, or theirs, in surface dating, where both of us knows after one date there is no chemistry or real interest.
We all deserve better for ourselves than settling in a relationship just to alleviate the loneliness. It is difficult being alone when you are used to so much more, but I have chosen to remain so until the right partner comes along. It's a personal decision, and for me, there is no other choice.
Elaine Williams is a widow and author of A Journey Well Taken: Life After Loss will be available June 2008, www.ajourneywelltaken.com
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