A guest blog from Alison Messom
1. What you are feeling is entirely normal. There are no rights or wrongs. What feels right to you is right for you.
2. The marriage vows talk about until death us do part. Your partner’s death was not your choice but you are now released from your vow, if you choose. Some people make an active choice not to have another partner. That is what is right for them.
3. Any new partner will never replace your late partner. They will be different. Some folks refer to them as a chapter 2. Personally I don't like that phrase as my life is defined by so much more than my relationships... but I get the point that it is something new and different.
4. We don't move on, our love for our partners continues. However we do move forward. That new journey can be hard, scary, beautiful and rewarding all at the same time.
5. Make sure you are comfortable in your own skin before embarking on a new relationship. Put in the time and effort to work on your grief, have counselling if you need it etc. That way you'll be in the best place to enjoy any new relationship.
6. Do not use any new partner as a substitute therapist; use a professional for that. Yes they should be empathetic, but they are there to share your life, not to fix you.
7. Remember there is an enormous human need for company and that can be platonic too. You may find you build new circles of friends that go with your new life.
8. Every day is just 24 hours. Use the best ones to build and bank lovely memories to help you through tough times. The worst days will end even if there are times when they feel never-ending.
Finally, you've got this. You deserve happiness. Don't let yourself be judged. Anyone who is judging you is not worth the time and effort. This is your life, make it the best one you can with the cards you've been dealt.
There are odd perceptions of women as widows out there. They are ancient and wizened. They are very humble. They are virtuous and will sacrifice everything. They are master criminals. They are wily husband hunters (at least where the Victorians were concerned).
Clearly, there's not real evidence behind any of these images of widows, but the one that seems to persist is that women who are widowed are out to steal other women's partners. I've never heard of a case of this actually happening. Widows are just out to survive from day to day and they don't want anyone else's partner – they are too busy missing their own. What I have heard of, however, is women who have lost friends because the women in her friendship group are withdrawing to 'protect' their partners from the supposedly wanton widows. That way, the widow loses both female and male friends.
Why? I suspect a lack of understanding about grief, and a feeling of insecurity. It's tough enough being a widow, though, without losing friends.
Thank you to Dave Seed for the permission to include his picture Red Queen
If it's been a while since you've dated, the language change can be daunting. Here's a few definitions that might help you work out what people are taking about - the blog on abbreviations might help too.
someone who is sexually attracted to others (the opposite of asexual)
someone who does not experience the feelings of romantic love
someone who is not sexually attracted to people
saving someone for later
attracted to both men and women
being offered ‘crumbs’ of a relationship to keep you on the hook
Catch and release
a one night stand
leading someone into thinking they are in a relationship and then scamming them
someone who identifies with their gender assigned at birth
hooking up with someone just for the colder months and festive season
a rejection that’s subtler than a flat out ‘no’
keeping backups or standbys in case your current relationship doesn’t work
a date that feels more like an interview
researching someone by going through their social media profiles
Define the relationship (DTR)
deciding whether the relationship is casual or going somewhere
someone who is attracted to personalities once they get to know them rather than an immediate physical attraction
curated social media profiles that act as a dating profile
that set-up call that will get you out of a bad date
someone who doesn’t respond to texts, but randomly makes contact
a man who only wants sex and runs away from relationships
Fuckbuddy/friend with benefits
a friend for sex without a long term relationship
having feelings dismissed and belittled
people outside the gender binary, or whose gender identity varies
cutting off discussions with no explanation or warning
someone who leaves straight after sex
bald men wearing hats to hide their lack of hair
Hey and pray
saying hello and hoping for a response
same sex attracted
people who lie on their profile to look better than they are
when your significant other goes off the rails
dating someone while looking for better options in the fast lane
being (excessively) showered with love – it can be a prelude to manipulation and abuse
the sweet backstory of how a couple met
Not really cheating, but approaching the border of cheating
moving from one relationship straight to the next
someone who sees only one person
a meet up that’s no specified as a date
someone who does not see themselves as male or female
On a thing
someone who leaves the next morning
a committed relationship that allows partners to see other people
when the person who has ghosted you hangs around on your social media
attracted to all genders
dressing up to attract attention
someone who seeks out and dates vulnerable people
Pocketing or stashing
dating but not being introduced to their friends or family
someone who has relationships with a number of people
a reclaimed word for people across the LGBTQ+ spectrum
when someone reads your message but doesn’t reply
cheating and then claiming that the relationship wasn’t exclusive
someone who is attrcayed to intelligence
Several night stand
A relationship that’s a few nights and nothing more
sex before a real date
someone who is doing everything they can to get someone’s attention
a relationship that’s not serious
Sliding into DMs
flirting through messaging
ghosting, but slowly
slow responses – busy, or not that into you?
pretty damn gorgeous
Submarining, haunting or zombieing
when the person who has ghosted you suddenly reappears as if nothing has happened
hooking up with someone just for the summer
liking someone on an app
messaging but never quite meeting up
a social media post about anything that’s actually designed to say ‘look how gorgeous I am’
contacting someone on Instagram direct messaging when they don’t match you on Timder
someone who identifies as a different gender to that assigned at birth
shedding the winter relationship for the summer one
when it’s been hard working getting a date
Someone saying how marvellous and woke and liberal they are, but it’s really just an act
For some widows, starting a new relationship after loss means diving into a whole new world of online dating. The abbreviations can be daunting. Here's a list of some common ones. For a deeper dive into dating abbreviations, go to Cyber Definitions or Dating Sites Reviews.
one to one
for your eyes only
before anything else
big beautiful woman
bondage, domination, sadism and masochism
between me and you
be right back
be right there
by the way
drug and disease
drug- and disease-free
down to earth
down to fuck
define the relationship
face to face
Facebook official (relationship status)
fuck my life
fear of missing out
female to male transgender
for the time being
friends with benefits
for your information
good sense of humour
hugs and kisses
horny net geek
height weight proportionate
I don't know
I don't know you
in real life
in search of
just for your information
kiss for you
long distance relationship
lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer
let’s meet in real life
let's meet in real life
married but available
member of the opposite sex
member of the same sex
man seeking man
man seeking woman
male to female transgender
no strings attached
no strings attached
public display of affection
queer or cool
sorry could not resist
sorry for the late reply
sense of humour
tender loving care
very bad date
very good sense of humour
will answer all
would like to meet
woman seeking man
wicked or weird sense of humour
woman seeking woman
will you call me
what are you doing?
wish you were here
you only dump once
Being with someone new, as lovely as he is, as much as he makes me so freaking happy again, in ways that I didn't think possible, has absolutely nothing to do with how much I miss my late partner. How much I wish he was still here! How much I wish myself and my current partner (also a wid) had never ever found ourselves in the position where we join a group for young wids and meet each other.
In my blog post Things not to say to a widow, I talk about things people have said about finding another partner: "You are young. You'll find someone new." "They'd want you to be happy." These to me make it seem like replacing a partner is like replacing a worn-out coat, and that having a new relationship makes everything better. In Nora McInerny's wonderful TED Talk, she talks about what she saw in people's reaction to her new relationship:
"This audible sigh of relief among the people who love me, like 'It's over! She did it. She got a happy ending. We can all go home."
About two and a bit years after Tim died I met someone. It wasn't expected – a friend connected us up over a creative project and we found that we talked often and long into the night. Things were made more complex by all this happening in lockdown, and so by our first 'real' date, a day spent walking around the glorious Yorkshire Sculpture Park, we'd actually been dating virtually for a few months. My ladyspouse and I are getting married. It doesn't take away everything that went before. But it's wonderful.
Starting to date as a widow can bring up a whole rush of emotions, and highlight our losses. I had grief attacks and nightmares. I dreamed vividly about Tim. I felt like I was betraying Tim, and I worried about what people would think. I felt very vulnerable and my emotions about my new partner swung around wildly. When we first kissed, it was the first kiss since Tim died, and I felt a spike of guilt. When we first slept together, I had to fight intrusive memories, as the bedroom is where Tim died. That took a lot of grounding.
If you start dating, remember to be kind to yourself. Take things steady. Keep safe. But also enjoy. We've already faced the worst and survived and sometimes we need to seize the moment. After all, we know that life is short.
"Our hearts are amazing things – they can expand to fit new people in it – no one questions if a new mother still loves her husband or other children, it is taken for granted that they have enough for the new addition. In the same way in the widowed world being lucky enough to find love again in no way diminishes what we once had – there is room enough in our hearts for the new alongside the old."
I was widowed at 50 when Tim, who I expected would be my happy-ever-after following a marriage break-up, died suddenly from heart failure linked to his type 2 diabetes. Though we'd known each other since our early 20s, we'd been married less than ten years.