Dating after the death of a spouse

Keogh also writes that it’s natural for your date to want to know about your late spouse if he didn't know him while he was alive.

It’s ok for you to share something about your late spouse as long as you can change the subject and show an interest in the person you’re dating now.

Or maybe a partner’s allergies compelled you to live without pets and now you’re ready to romp with a fellow dog lover. Factors that loomed large in the past—good looks, financial success, whatever—may pale in the present as you acknowledge the importance of a partner who is kind and supportive, or one who is funny and entertaining. If you’ve become a bit, er, casual in the weight, wardrobe or grooming departments, now’s the time to ratchet up your game. So actively encourage them to think of you as a single, eligible person.

In short, grant yourself the freedom to gravitate to a whole new kind of person. Visit a salon or barbershop and ask how you could best update your hairstyle. Everyone’s circle of close friends is necessarily limited, however, so mention your quest even to those you don’t know well.

She is also a writing instructor, editor and former elementary school teacher.

She has a Master's degree in writing and a Bachelor of Arts in English and anthropology.

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Many widows and widowers who were married for many years have forgotten what it’s like to go on a first date.

Her creative work has been published in several small literary magazines.

Even when expected, the death of a partner is a shocking heartbreak.

But the pointers I offer below can help ease your pre-game jitters. And if your feelings of guilt persist, see a counselor; you’ll want to resolve these thoughts before attempting to date again. As you think about how to present your authentic self, be selective about which of those attributes you share right away and which are best kept private until you get to know a new person better. Take some time to think about the type of new bond you’d like to establish.

In particular, avoid over-reminiscing about your old life; it may make your new acquaintance feel excluded. You may long to clone your lost love, but it’s unlikely you’ll ever meet an exact replica of the one you were with. After all, the person you met at age 25 changed over a lifetime, and so did you.

You can forgive yourself if you forget to open a door or pull out a chair for your date, Keogh says, but you should notice and learn from your mistakes. Pepper Schwartz, a psychologist writing for AARP magazine.

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