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Can A Widower Overcome Guilt and Start Dating Again?

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Senior man seated in theatre foyer, holding wine glass
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Q: My wife died three years ago, and learning to live without her has been difficult. I’m 67 and in good health, and I would like to find another long-term relationship, but the thought of dating again leaves me cold and seems like a betrayal of my wife. I just don’t know what to do.

John, Seattle, WA

A: First, let’s take a moment to acknowledge what you’ve accomplished: you created a loving marriage, and you’re in good health!

Second, remember that it’s normal to feel a sense of loss when you think about your wife. One of the hardest elements of coping with loss, whether from death or separation, is what we do with the feelings of love we still hold. When we remember that we can continue to love that person, even if he or she is no longer with us, it helps to ease the sense of disconnection. Think of your marriage as a long, loving chapter in the book of your life.

It’s also normal to want another loving relationship. We humans are social creatures, with a need to connect with others.

Start slowly by making friends with women, just enjoying their company and sharing activities you enjoy. Group activities are a great place to start, so look around your community or religious organization for groups of people who share your interests.

And if you find someone whose company you especially enjoy, don’t think of her as a replacement for your wife. Consider her as someone with whom you might share the nextchapter in your life adventure.

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