Is there a difference in dating after loss of a spouse or following a divorce? Each occurrence is a major life change, subject to emotions of loss and anger or perhaps betrayal and abandonment.
Some who have lost a spouse may argue that death is worse, being final and out of your control, while divorce is a choice. I disagree.
How Death & Divorce Are Similar
If the spouse you love has divorced you, the choice has been taken away from you, similar to losing someone to death. You also have the added complication of perhaps feeling as if you’ve been thrown away, an understandably devastating experience.
I have experienced both divorce and death, and the aftermath in each instance is neither pretty nor painless. Aftershocks in each case can be experienced years later.
Both situations involve pain. Does death hurt more than divorce? When you lose the person you love, however that occurs, it is a permanent wound on the heart. Loss of any kind is never easy.
Dating After Death or Divorce
Dating after major life changes such as divorce or death, many times holds the same difficulties and rewards. One thing remains the same irrespective of your previous relationship status; dating again after being in a long term relationship means taking your time and re-entering the dating world with the mindset of proceeding slowly.
Start a relationship with no expectations other than starting as friends and see what may develop. If the relationship doesn’t enhance your life, be prepared to move on.
If you’ve lost your spouse and are considering dating, you have to be mindful of not falling into a trap where you’re looking for an exact replica of your previous partner. Your loss has changed you, so you’re no longer the same person with the same needs.
Divorce can carry its own burden of loss and changes. In the aftermath of divorce or death, neither life experience should be rushed through or downplayed. Both take time and energy in which to heal.
After the death of a spouse, there’s a period of time where you may be unwilling to allow another person into your life. Emotionally, you’re on an up-and-down swing with the grief process, and adding another facet to your life such as a new partner is sometimes untenable. If you’ve been out of dating for many years, expect dating to have changed.
Be Sure You’re Ready to Date
If you’re not sure you’re ready to date, you may be open to making poor choices in a new relationship. Whether divorced or widowed, sometimes we think we’re healed but in reality we’re just lonely and want to fill the empty void. In either situation, give yourself time before making any big lifestyle changes.
A divorced person getting back into dating could also be emotionally grieving the loss or abandonment of a spouse. Perhaps you should ask yourself if you’re ready to pursue a new love interest or do you really need some time to remain single.
One of the most important things in resuming dating, no matter what the past scenario may be, is to allow someone into your life who shares the same values emotionally and psychologically as yourself. Don’t settle into a relationship just to have someone in your life.
Being single doesn’t mean you have to be lonely, not if you enrich your life with people and activities you enjoy. Don’t depend on another partner to make or keep you happy, because you’ll be doomed to disappointment. Ultimately, what’s inside fulfills us and adds to who we are; no matter if you are divorced or widowed.