Proper Etiquette for Dating a Widower

by Danielle Crandall
Dating a widower is a learning process for both you and him.

Dating a widower is a learning process for both you and him.

Keith Brofsky/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Beginning a new relationship with a man who has lost his wife might seem overwhelming, as it can present a fresh set of dating challenges and questions of proper etiquette. However, as with any relationship, patience and kindness are often the answers to overcoming many of the hurdles, such as upset children and unresolved grief, that come with dating a widower.

Grief

If you are interested in establishing a romantic relationship with a man who has lost his wife, you will need to give him time and space to come to terms with his emotions. Whether it takes weeks, months or years, a widower is the only one who will know when he is ready to date again. Attempting to push a widower into going on a date too soon could prolong his grieving period. A widower should be the one to plan the first few dates because it will show that he has worked through his grief and is ready to direct his feelings towards someone new.

Commitment

In an effort to ignore their grief, heal quicker or prevent loneliness, a widower will often jump into a new relationship before he is ready. Before you become overly involved with a widower, figure out whether he is looking for a long-term relationship or a short fling to prevent either party from being hurt. In addition to letting the widower initiate the date request, you should also set a slow pace for the relationship, both physically and emotionally. A man who is truly interested will be fine with taking things slowly, while a man looking for a rebound relationship will be less eager to do so.

Behavior

It is normal for a widower to exhibit awkward and uncomfortable behavior during his first few dates with someone new, as he might be feeling guilty for being with someone other than his wife and dealing with the strangeness of dating again. The solution to handling any unusual behavior is to be patient and give him time to overcome the guilt and get back into the swing of being with someone new. It is also best to keep things casual at first to help a widower feel more at ease.

Children

The children of a widower might not be ready for him to date at the same time that he believes he is ready. Although they might be angry with you or jealous that their father is spending time with someone other than their mother, remember that the children could still be grieving the loss of their parent. Be patient and give the children time to get used to the idea of your relationship with their father and the notion that you make him happy. It is also critical to not overstep your boundaries by offering parenting advice or the children will resent you for attempting to replace their mother. Without being insensitive to his children, the widower should be willing to defend your relationship to his family.

Memories

A widower will often recall and discuss memories of his wife. Assuming that his reminiscing does not occur so frequently that you are being ignored or your relationship is suffering, it is both polite and caring to listen to stories of his spouse and even ask questions and show an interest in their lives together, especially when you first begin dating. Out of respect, you should refer to his wife by her name or the term late spouse when you talk about her. You should also support a widower if he chooses to celebrate a special day, such as an anniversary or birthday, in memory of his deceased wife.

About the Author

Danielle Crandall has been a professional writer and editor for more than five years. Her work has appeared in various online publications and marketing materials for nonprofit organizations, covering topics ranging from beauty and fashion to home decor to education and society. Crandall holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Arizona.

Photo Credits

  • Keith Brofsky/Stockbyte/Getty Images