Are you are thinking about putting yourself out there after being with the same spouse for two or three decades? Keep your expectations low, and brace for disappointment.
I don’t mean to be too negative here. I know widows who met a great partner right out of the gate, but that is more the exception that the rule. In my case, I waited a year after Tom died and randomly went to a speed dating session one cold night after work. I figured it would be a new experience, maybe one I could write about.
I didn’t realize the magnitude of what I was taking on. After all, only a few months earlier I thought I would never be with another man again, and I was trying to prepare for life alone – forever. But here I was at a micro-brewery trying to avert my eyes from the guys hovering around the bar, feeling nervous and on edge. In fact, I walked out once and sat in my car, ready to bolt. But I talked myself into going back in.
I finally took a seat at my designated table and, after the first six minutes of asking and answering questions with the first stranger, the nervousness lifted. Heck, it was a lot like interviewing people for news stories, which I had been doing for 35 years.
So I went with it and talked briefly with 11 more guys. It was kind of fun, and I quickly learned all were divorced except two — who were widowers. One had bad teeth and another encouraged me to choose him. He promised widowhood wisdom since he was two years ahead of me on the widowhood-duration scale.
This frivolous escapade led to five months of semi-regular hanging out. It provided many fraught-with-danger firsts since my husband’s death — kissing, physical affection, and many, long talks about widowhood and relationships. It gave me an escape from grief for a short time and served up comfort and security, at least initially. But then its composition changed (Out of the blue, when I thought things were going well, he said he wanted to date me and others in his dogged search for the perfect next wife.). When it ended badly, it felt like another loss and slammed me with grief.
I did a lot more grieving and crying the next few months. You can’t escape grief for long; it finds you. I realized I was too trusting and open with this guy and vowed I wouldn’t do that again.
Since, I’ve had a few coffees, phone conversations and outings with men I’ve met online, but I feel fairly blasé about all of it. The faces and profiles online are a lot like “looking at merchandise at Costco,” says my divorced nephew so aptly.
I’m not sure what my next move will be. I continue to spend time with my sweeping assortment of friends (mostly women) and family and work to embrace and feel comfortable with my aloneness. I’m making some darn, good progress.