Dating A Widower? He’s Ready As Long As You See These 7 Signs

If you’re dating a widower, you may question if he’s ready for a relationship. Thankfully, you have nothing to worry about as long as you see these seven signs.

Dating a widowerDating a Widower Who Is Not Ready

While you may have some trepidation about dating a widower, there’s one really good thing about them as potential mates. If the man you’re dating had a good marriage, he’ll probably want to marry again. Most widowers seek love again more quickly than widows, usually after one year vs. as long as five years on average for women.

On the other hand, there are a number of serious concerns. That’s why you want to know if he’s ready for a new relationship or just filling time and feeling lonely. The last thing you want to do is “help” him get over his deceased wife. This is misguided because what you are really doing is ignoring the obvious fact that he’s not ready for the real thing with you. All your good intentions will simply lead to heartbreak if that’s the case.

Don’t make excuses for the widower you’re dating. If he exhibits signs that he’s not ready, and you are serious about finding lasting love, then you are barking up the wrong tree as the saying goes. Don’t do this to yourself!

You are better off leaving and starting over with a new man who is ready.  Nothing is worse than hanging in there waiting for some guy to get over his wife, thinking “if only he could focus on how good we are together.” If he could, he would.

7 Good Signs When Dating a Widower

What are the signs to watch for? If you are enjoying a widower’s company and see these seven signs, he’s probably ready for the lasting love you want.

1. It’s Been a Year – Most widowers will start getting back out there to date and hopefully find a new partner after about a year. This is the average period of grieving for most men. And statistically, these men are the most likely to marry again. Yay!

If it’s only been a few months, it doesn’t matter what a great guy he is – he’s NOT READY! Stay clear if you don’t want to be disappointed.

2. His Actions and Words Match – When the guy you’re dating says something and then follows through, this is always a good sign. But it’s even more meaningful when you’re a dating a widower. This shows he’s ready for a relationship because a man’s actions are what matter most.

This is actually true for any man you date of course. You want someone who you can count on and whose word is like gold. When you encounter a man who walks his talk, you are probably dating a man who has integrity. Some men talk a good game, but if they can’t deliver on that, what’s the point? If he can’t follow through, walk away.

3. He Doesn’t Talk About Her Constantly – A widower who is not ready constantly talks about his wife. Everything brings up a memory of something special about her or an aspect he misses. You cannot win against a fond memory so don’t even try. He’s simply not ready to date you or any woman seriously.

If he brings her up once in a while and doesn’t wax on for too long, that is something to be expected and hopefully isn’t hard to tolerate. Should you be offended, then he’s probably not the right man for you. If he was happily married for many years, he’s going to talk about her to some degree.

More Good Signs

4. Only a Few Photos – It’s understandable that after many years of marriage with a woman he loved, his deceased wife will be in photos. A few here or there makes sense and is expected. However, if he’s got her picture by his bedside and all over the house, this is NOT a good sign. He’s still deep in grieving and not ready for a relationship with you.

Don’t ignore this about dating a widower, thinking you can talk him into putting those photos away. They are a statement about where he is in his healing process which cannot be hurried, no matter how well you get along or how much he seems to like you.

5. He Pursues You Consistently – As with any man, you want to be consistently pursued. This means he calls you weekly, takes you on a date at least once a week if not more, and texts in between (if he’s a texter). This is how you know any man is genuinely interested in you.

This is particularly important when dating a widower, because it would be easy to see you sporadically just to have some female company and not be alone. But if he sees you once a week to start and then picks up your time together, this can be a good sign for sure. Keep in mind, consistency builds a relationship. So, if his contact or dates are not very regular, he’s probably more casual then you think.

Dating a Widower Over 50

6. Doesn’t Fear His Family – When you are dating a widower of any age really, if he’s extremely concerned about not upsetting his family with you, he’s not ready to date. You want to be with a man who is confident in himself, his actions and his choices. A man who fears what his family will think about you or his dating, is not standing on his own two feet.

Don’t think that everything will be alright once they see how great you are together. Trust me, that is not what they will think. In a case like this, the family, including children, parents or in-laws, is concerned with preserving the status quo and the loving memory of his wife. There’s no winning if there’s any competition with her ghost – you WILL lose.

7. Introduces You to Friends and Family – Another great sign of a man’s genuine interest and readiness is when he starts introducing you to the people who matter most in his life. Once you start meeting friends, and family members in particular, then you know you are on a good track.

Understand that the children, especially if they are young, may take longer. And this makes perfect sense in the case of dating a widower or a man who is divorced. Most men (and women) want to know you are likely to be part of their life long-term before you meet the kids.

Warning Signs Dating a Widower

To sum up the warning signs, if it’s been less than a year since his wife passed, he shares his ideas about your future together, but doesn’t follow through, he might not be ready. If he talks about his wife constantly, has tons of photos, is inconsistent with his attention, think twice about dating him.

And, if he expresses concern about what his family might say, or doesn’t introduce you to anyone, keep in mind these are serious warning signs, letting you know dating this man who is a widower is probably not the best idea. Only he can decide when he’s healed and ready for a serious, lasting relationship with a new woman.

Don’t spend your time helping him recover. This is a thankless job; for as soon as a man is feeling better, he most often walks away and finds another woman to commit to. When a man is not at his best, he can’t really give you what you want. And after he recovers, you remind him of a time when he was weak. So, he moves on. You will not win nursing him back to emotional health.

The Good News About Widowers

Now, the good news is that a widower most often wants to be married again. He’s not phobic about commitment and likes having a woman in his life. So, if you are dating a widower who is showing all the good signs outlined in this post – excellent!

Enjoy this time with your new man and take things slowly to be sure you are both making good choices. There’s no need to rush, so taking your time allows you to savor every joyous moment.

If you want more dating advice tailored to you and your circumstances, let’s chat! Schedule a complimentary session with me and fill out the short application to discover what might be blocking you from finding love and if coaching is right for you.


30 responses on “Dating A Widower? He’s Ready As Long As You See These 7 Signs

  1. Ronnie Ann Ryan Post author

    Hi Ella – Thanks for your two cents – I agree! It takes at least a year for a man to be ready for new love but interestingly, statistics show it takes women as long as 5 years to feel ready. All widowers are not selfish or incapable – please don’t misunderstand. But you cannot deny the time it takes to heal and be ready for more than sex and companionship.

  2. Ella

    Georgina, when he says he is ready to date, he actually means he is ready for companionship and sex. He is not ready for love. Does he want to be honest about this? Of course not. No women of any self -respect would agree to this. Plus he is encouraged by widowed community to date without worrying about his date’s feelings because as a poor widower he has all the rights to feel sorry for himself and you have all the duties to be understanding and caring. If you engage yourself in this relationship soon you would notice him not wanting to tell family and friends about you, his wife’s photos on his phone screen, on the walls. At this point, his love for late wife takes everything from your relationship. It’s better to find not so perfect divorced man who would love you dearly. Unfortunately many women learn how difficult relationship with a widower who is not ready is after when they fell in love with them.

  3. Ronnie Ann Ryan Post author

    Hey Lou, I didn’t say a widower (or a widow) shouldn’t date. I’m not Draconian which is actually named after Draco, the first recorded legislator in ancient Greece who started physically writing civil code rather than having laws be only oral. My point to women is if you want lasting love, a man who just lost his wife isn’t ready for a relationship, because he to heal. My aim is to help women avoid heartbreak and a man who just lost his wife is not a good candidate for at least 8 months to a year. After healing, widowers can make the best mates because they liked being in a close relationship enough to want to do it again!

  4. Ronnie Ann Ryan Post author

    Hi Georgina, I agree – he’s not a good candidate for dating to find lasting love just 2 months from his wife’s passing. If you just want to date casually he might be OK but chances are he needs to heal before settling in with lasting love.

  5. Georgina

    Hi I met a guy on tinder whose wife passed away only 2 months ago and he said he’s ready to move on and be happy and that she’d want him to be. I don’t believe for a second he is and he wants to go on a date next week. What should I do?

  6. Lou

    I completely agree with Dave. This IS a transformative experience. The loneliness of losing my wife was/is horrible. However, putting down a hard and fast rule that no one should date for at least a year seems somewhat Draconian. Widowers are looking to thrive, grow and change during these times, not feel like hermits.

  7. Ronnie Ann Ryan Post author

    Hi Christine, I can’t say this isn’t odd. But I have heard things like this before. He continues his relationship with her in spirit. Sounds more like a problem if it keeps him from being involved with you in any way – like he prefers his time with her than with you. But, it doesn’t sound that way from what you wrote. If he treats you well and “she” doesn’t interfere with your relationship, it’s a bit out there but really doesn’t need to impact you at all. You are not her replacement – you are a new addition to his life – a real women in a physical body – she can’t compete with that!

  8. Christine

    I am a divorced 69 year old woman and my boyfriend is 76. His wife died 5 years ago, just shy of their 50th anniversary. They had a good, solid marriage with children and grandchildren. We’ve been dating for a year and a half. We are in touch daily and get together at least twice per week and travel together. We have a great relationship with lots of laughs and a level of intimacy I’ve never had before. My issue/question is this: his wife’s picture and ashes are on a shelf in his living room which I have no problem with. We actually both talk to it. What I’m concerned about is that he occasionally places her picture in front of various windows so “she can get a different view”. When I went there last night for dinner, her picture was in a different room facing the front yard. He had moved a chair so he could “sit” next to her and face the same way. He’s done it before and when I ask him about it, he says he talks to her about me and she’s fine with our relationship and that she would like me very much. I love this man but this makes me uneasy and sad. Am I justified?

  9. Ronnie Ann Ryan Post author

    Hi Sally, Is this unhealthy for him? The more important question – is this good for you? NO WAY! He won’t touch a thing of hers including her makeup or a plant – that’s seriously odd. He has not moved on, nor does he want to. His heart is not healed or ready to date you. If you stay with this relationship you will ALWAYS BE IN HER SHADOW. You might not want to hear this but to honor yourself, I recommend you stop dating this man and then move to a new place ASAP. His energy will be a massive drain on your life force, never mind your self esteem.

  10. Sally

    I am dating a man who is a widower.He is 71 yrs old, I am 61. I knew his wife and she has been dead for 7 yrs. We recently started dating after I moved in and started renting a room from him. He has all their wedding pictures out in the living room and has her make-up on the counter. Her ashes are in the room I’m renting and where I sleep and her picture is looking right at me. Everything looks as if she just left the house to run errands. Is this unhealthy for him. It’s really uncomfortable for me but he doesn’t want to move anything. Even the placement of a plant that she put somewhere.

  11. Ronnie Ann Ryan Post author

    Hi C, I’m so sorry to hear this and am not sure why you are choosing to stay in an unhappy relationship. There is always a way out. Look for that and make yourself happy again!

  12. C. Miller

    I think dating a widower is not for the faint of heart. It is hard on every level. He may even call you her name by mistake. If he can throw out all her things, that is a good sign. I started dating my widower at the three year mark. His adult children never accepted me and I am alone every holiday. He has no back bone what so ever. For personal reasons I am still with him, but not in love with him. I would not get involved with another widower, unless he was unhappily married, then you might have a chance. I was in my 50’s when I met mine.

  13. Ronnie Ann Ryan Post author

    Hi Karen, That sounds like a very tough situation and I understand why you feel there is a double standard and resentment is growing. But to be honest, I’m not an expert in marriage – just dating! If I were to venture any advice, I suggest marriage counseling so a neutral party could help. The hard part is, while people can heal, they have to want that. So you may have to come to a place of understanding with this yourself if you want to stay together. Since he has modified some things,(putting away the cross stitch pieces) he may come around so there is hope for sure.

  14. Karen

    I married a man who had been a widower for 18 years–his wife committed suicide. Prior to me he had only one relationship in those 18 years and that began eight years after her death and ended five years later. From then until me, there was no one. To me it seems like he places her in a position not given to any other previous wife. He calls my ex-husband a knob but God forbid anyone even hint she was less than a saint. He threw a fit because I brought with me a set of coasters that had the initial of my ex-husband (and still my name), on them but he had her cross stitch all over the house. I threw out the coasters to appease him. Yet a few days later when I wanted to move (not toss, but move) one of her cross stitch pieces to hang something I valued, he almost cried. We have been married a year now and he has put away the cross stitch pieces and the photos. But he still has a poem she wrote tucked in the crevice of the dresser mirror in our bedroom. The poem is about the two of them growing old together as they rock in their chairs. I am positive he would not be comfortable with a similar item of my ex-husband’s displayed there and I find myself growing resentful of the double standards. I feel certain I made a mistake in agreeing to move into his house which does not feel like it will ever be mine. I want to approach him about selling it and buying a home that will be new to both of us. But this home is in a beautiful setting I know we could never come close to touching.

  15. Ronnie Ann Ryan Post author

    Hey Robin, I can see why this would bother you. But, before you move on, talk to him privately. Tell him you feel uncomfortable living in your friend’s shadow on a regular basis. If he wants to live in the present with you and build a life (tell him what you want here), great! And if he’s not ready for that you understand, but it’s time for you to move on. Tell him it makes you uncomfortable that he still has her picture in his truck and you don’t want to go to his ex wife’s family. It’s OK to have boundaries and limits. Ask him if he feels ready to have full relationship. See how he responds. He might not be aware that what he is doing bothers you (although it is a no-brainer). It could be that he’s not ready for the kind of relationship you want because he’s not fully over her. He needs to know this so be brave and take care of yourself.

  16. Robin

    I am in a relationship with a man that was married to a friend of mine. She passed away and it was 5 years before I said I’d go out for a drink. We have been together for 3 years now. There have been multiple times when he has wanted me to go to his deceased wife’s family get togethers and I don’t feel comfortable doing so. I moved in with him and got a job in the area they lived in. His friends talk about her a lot and he has pictures of her in his truck. I feel like this was a mistake on my part and don’t want to hurt him but I want a committed relationship that will lead to marriage and I think I need to move on.

  17. Ronnie Ann Ryan Post author

    Hi Alison, He is NOT ready. He’s unwilling to see you – a MAJOR RED FLAG. He visits his wife daily worried about her feelings? OMG this is NOT normal grief. He’s not living in reality! This means you are NOT in a relationship with him because in his mind, he’s still with his wife. On top of that, he has no problem taking advantage of your love from his one-sided position where he makes all the rules. This is already hurting your feelings. I encourage you to honor yourself and end this. Realize you deserve an emotionally healthy man for a REAL relationship including weekly dates. Don’t let him use you like this because he claims to love you. Love is expressed through a man’s actions and his actions keep you away. Who knows when he’ll will come back to reality IF EVER. You could try talking to him, so you can say you tried before (hopefully) moving on.

  18. Alison

    My situation is unique, 15 years ago we had a relationship while at the time we were both married. Now I’m divorced and his wife passed away a year ago May. He called 2 months ago and we’ve been talking every day. We still love each other. We live far apart, but plan on seeing each other soon. He’s waiting to tell his adult kids about me until after the one year anniversary. Some things about his grieving bother me. He visits her grave daily, and if he’s out of town, his grand daughter or son go because he doesn’t want her to think she’s forgotten. He still says “we” and “our”, meaning her and him. He can’t speak about her without getting upset. I am trying to be understanding about his mourning, but I have to admit it is hurtful. Do you think I should talk about my feelings or just continue to be understanding and not let it effect me or us?

  19. Ronnie Ann Ryan Post author

    Hi Florence. First of all, you are not in a real relationship because you do not spend time together in person. This is strictly virtual and you are the one doing all the work. When a man stops responding – don’t keep trying. You stop too! Thankfully you have now stopped. As far as closure goes, what does that mean to you? Usually closure for a woman means having the last word and getting some kind of satisfaction of being right. Closure is a myth. You won’t get that. Instead, stop thinking about him and block his number so you never connect again. THAT IS CLOSURE! As in case closed over and out.

  20. florence

    I am in a long distance relationship with a widower for 6 months – he is currently working outside his home country. We talked everyday by voice or video calls. A month ago he came home and all of a sudden he ignores my calls and text. When I confronted him, he apologized, saying he was busy and needed to attend to many things in only 2 weeks. Now he is away again and out of blues, he won’t reply to my text, nor answer the phone calls. it’s been 3 days. He did text saying, “Baby don’t worry about me I’m fine.” He read the messages I sent. I decided to ignore him but wished he will come around as I love closure to issues. I need advice about bringing closure to this issue.

  21. Ronnie Ann Ryan Post author

    Hi Carol, No, not a mistake. No reason not to leave the door open. However, do not wait around for him. Keep dating to find the love you want and deserve. And if he happens to come back and you are free – you can start up again. But at least you won’t be sitting around waiting and hoping and not looking for love – that would be a terrible waste of your time.

  22. Carol

    Hello there, I was dating a widower recently. Not for very long but I liked him very much. I am 43 and he is 53. His late wife passed away over 15 months ago and he has 2 grown sons. I never saw or felt that he was consumed with grief and, of course, I would be compassionate and respectful of his late wife’s memory. Yesterday he told me that he is riddled with guilt and is not ready. I appreciated his honesty and was sensitive in my response to him. I have left the door open for him to get in touch with me, down the line. Is this a mistake?

  23. Ronnie Ann Ryan Post author

    Hi Jenevah, That’s so out of the blue. Maybe he got cold feet? maybe he had rushed things. Statistically, men often start dating within one year and women can take as long as 5 years. But it’s already been 5 years for him. I wish my crystal ball was working (LOL)so I could tell you for sure. My advice is to decide how long you want to wait, but do no tell him. when you reach the end of your rope, let him know you’ve decided to move on. If he was ever planning to come back that might jar him. I sure wouldn’t wit more than three month tops. You need to live your life and my last recommendation is to start letting go. So sorry but better than after the wedding.

  24. Jenevah

    I am/was dating a widower. I am widowed also. We both have young children. I am not quite at a year and he is almost 5 years. He pursued me. Started with 3 months of texting/messaging/phone calls before we hung out. We have since been on family vacations, adult overnights, have looked at houses, and his son (6) let it slip that he had already purchased a ring and started calling me mom. He told me constantly I was the love of his life. Everything was going fine. All of the sudden, after 8 months, he said he needed to think about his kids, had been doing some soul searching, and needed time to think about the relationship. I swear out of the blue. We we’re in deep discussions about several things but no arguments or fighting in 8 months. So I have given him time and have not pursued any additional contact. We are on day 12. I told him I loved him, would pray for him, and would be here to talk to when he was ready. I am praying that he eventually works through everything and we can reunite. But at this point I’m not holding my breath ?

  25. Ronnie Ann Ryan Post author

    Hi Allison, When a man tells you he is not ready for a relationship, that is him being super honest. BELIEVE HIM, then walk away. You don’t want to wait for a man to get ready. Chances are, you’ll be nursing him back to emotional health at which point he’ll break up with you and find another woman to marry. Why? Because he was not at his best with you and he doesn’t want to remember that. So, he moves on. In addition, when a man says he wants to “take things slowly”, that means he doesn’t want to get serious and doesn’t want you to have any expectations of him. Its about his freedom. Sadly, this man might have thought he was ready but isn’t. If you want true love and a healthy, lasting relationship, unfortunately, he’s not “The One.”

  26. Allison

    I have been dating a man who has been widowed for over a year now. We have been seeing one another for 3 months. It has been a whirlwind romance. I thought wow, I really hit the jackpot with this man. He has 2 young children, 3 & 6. The eldest lately keeps asking for mommy. So he went to his late wife’s cemetery & is now flooded with emotions for his late wife. When we first met I asked him if he’s sure that he’s ready because I did not want to get hurt & he assured me he was 110% ready to move on… now it seems that the other shoe dropped…he says he isn’t ready for a relationship, but would like to be friends and take it slow…I am ok with doing that, but have concerns that he may never be ready & if I should just (sadly) move on.

  27. Ronnie Ann Ryan Post author

    Hi Rebecca, I can appreciate your anger but you aren’t mad at his late wife – it’s all about him. He’s not over her. Even though he loves you, his heart is filled with her, which is why you feel squeezed out. Recovering from losing a partner can take years. So you need to decide: Can I handle him keeping her alive and on a pedestal? OR is it time to find a new man? These are your only two choices. One thing I know for sure – YOU CANNOT CHANGE OR FIX HIM. Talking to a counselor may help you get the strength to leave. Hey it hasn’t even been a year. I agree you deserve to be #1, but when you put up with someone who doesn’t treat you that way, it’s all on you. You can always move on with dignity- that’s what I recommend.

  28. Rebecca

    I am a very angry at my boyfriends late wife. He forgot the bad parts of their relationship and gives her status she does not deserve! It’s been 2 years since her death & we’ve been together 8 months. Her birthday and death day or both in February. He wants space and asked me to leave after we spent the night together. I don’t want to be number two and I resent her. I know this is missed placed anger – I’m mad at him for not wanting me there. Someday I will be number one in his mind but not sure how to navigate through. He says he loves me and is very loving, compassionate and amazing, but I do feel that his wife’s memory is way too alive in his head and we have a 3-way relationship. I need to go see a counselor because I’m very mad at his late wife! HELP

  29. Ronnie Ann Ryan Post author

    Yes Dave, Of course I have great compassion for the difficulty of losing a loved one and how transformative it can be. But as you explained it all so eloquently – that is the EXACT reason I recommend women walk away from a man who is not capable of considering anything but his own needs. Regardless of the reasons, that means he’s not ready. A woman looking for love is not responsible for helping a widower get through this transformation. That is all on him as it is with a widow too.

  30. Dave

    You have absolutely no clue as to what a widower is going through. Your writing is totally one sided and from the perspective of a woman seeking to date, or not date, a widower. It is a life changing, transformative experience. A widower is not looking to repeat or relive the lost love of his life. He is just looking to survive, and he needs and desires the company of a loving, compassionate woman who is confident enough to engage him on his own terms. All others, please do walk away.

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