Nothing shakes a person’s world quite as much as a spouse passing away. If you or someone you know has experienced the loss of spouse, one of the most important things to do is to allow enough time to grieve. While that amount of time will vary from person to person, it is important to realize that, at some point you, or the person you know, most move on with life.
The good thing is that looking for another person to share your life with has gotten easier over the years. Today, there are a number of ways to find and interact with people in person and on the internet. If the time feels right to start looking for a potential partner again, here are some tips for helping make that experience an easier and more pleasant one:
- Are you truly ready? Regardless of how long it’s been since your spouse passed away, are you really ready now to consider dating again? You must be willing and able to look beyond your previous relationship and accept the company of someone else. That doesn’t mean you’re trivializing or turning your back on your marriage of so many years – it means you’re simply starting a new chapter of your life. Your grief is legitimate and reasonable, but living in the past is not. If you are not ready to accept that, it’s better to wait before looking for someone else.
- Don’t be bitter. No one likes a sourpuss – they’re negative and unpleasant to be around. If you’re carrying some form of resentment or ill will about your previous relationship, don’t project it onto someone new. Take a deep breath, let the past go, and prepare yourself to move forward in a positive manner.
- Open up slowly. You may be anxious to talk about yourself and try to present a glowing persona, but there’s something called TMI – “too much information” – that can turn others off. Keep first meetings light and informal and give the other person a chance to talk. They’ll feel better, they’ll see you as a good listener, and it makes for a generally more comfortable time for all.
- Be a good listener. This point goes hand-in-hand with #3. Take the time to really listen to your potential partner. Ask questions and listen to the answers. You’ll get to understand them better, they‘ll feel better about you, and each of you will be in a better position to accurately assess the other.
- Look your best. It’s easy to “let yourself go” after you’ve lost a spouse. It might seem too hard to make that extra effort in the morning to look good and, over time, it gets easier and easier to let things slide. Take an objective look in the mirror. Ask a friend to speak honestly about your appearance. It may mean exercising a little more, buying some new clothes and getting a new hair style, but it will be worth it. You’ll have a new, improved appearance and outlook that’s attractive to others.
- Be ready to have a good time. The passing of a spouse can be a dark period that makes it hard to see the good in things, but that will pass. Don’t look for the negative in everything – if you’re having trouble thinking positive, be open to getting some counselling. People like to be around others who have some energy, optimism and warmth. Approach your life again with an open heart and be ready to have a good time – you deserve it.
- Don’t expect instant success. Finding the right someone might take some time. Make sure you have reasonable expectations that don’t require Mr. or Mrs. Perfect. Yes, you might have some misfires, but that’s all part of the process. Learn from the people who weren’t quite right for you and use those experiences to hone your expectations and search. Don’t worry – there’s someone for everyone – even a second or third time around.