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

horrors of dating a widowerIf you’re dating a widower, you may have found one of the best partners for a long-lasting, loving relationship. A widower didn’t go through the pain of breaking up a marriage and divorce, so he doesn’t have that kind of emotional baggage. In fact statistically speaking, widowers are the most likely people to marry again.

Men who were married and still loved their wife, usually want to find that kind of romantic partnership again. They like having a woman around and sharing their life. Most widowers aren’t afraid of commitment either – they enjoy it. So, there are many wonderful aspects of dating a widower.

However, if you are questioning his readiness for a relationship, that is another story and something to be vigilant about. There are many horrors of dating a widower. Even the most amazing man, who has not completed the grieving process, needs to be off limits or you will regret getting involved.

Thankfully, you have nothing to worry about as long as you see these seven signs that let you know he is READY.

Dating a Widower Who Is Not Ready

dating a widower While you may have some trepidation about dating a widower, most seek love again more quickly than widows, usually after one year vs. as long as five years on average for women. However, you really want to steer clear for a full year.

On the other hand, there are a number of serious concerns if his grieving is still going on. That’s why you want to know if he’s ready for a new relationship or just feeling lonely and filling time with you.

The last thing you want to do is “help” him get over his deceased wife. This requires extensive emotional support on a topic that will cut through your heart – his love for another woman. You cannot compete with the dead.

Helping a widower is misguided because what you are really doing is hoping he’ll recover quickly and ignoring the obvious fact that he’s not ready for the real thing with you.

All your good intentions in this case to ease his pain and connect with him will simply lead to devastating heartbreak.

The Horrors of Dating a Widower

Don’t make excuses for any man’s behavior, especially 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. Please don’t do this to yourself! You’ll find a list of the red flags about dating a widower towards the end of this article.

The horrors of dating a widower are notorious. From being hidden from his family, keeping the relationship a secret, sneaking around and more. This is a surefire way to completely lose your dignity and ruin your self-esteem.

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.

You’ll be thinking, “If only he could focus on how good WE ARE together.” If he could, he would.

7 Signs of Readiness for Dating a Widower

Good Signs When Dating a WidowerWhat are the good 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 get 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 away no matter what a great catch he seems like or how nice, charming, or sexy he is, if you don’t want to be heartbroken.

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 dating a widower. This shows he’s ready for a relationship because a man’s actions are what matter most. Talk is easy, but actions show a man’s true intentions.

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 dating a man who has integrity. Some men talk a good game, but if they don’t deliver on that, what’s the point?

If he can’t follow through, take care of yourself and your heart, be smart and 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. His wife now has been placed on a pedestal and you, even though sitting right next to him, cannot compare. 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 too long, that is normal, something to be expected and hopefully isn’t hard to tolerate.

Should you be offended by his talking about his wife, then he’s not the right man for you. If he was happily married for many years, he’s going to talk about her to some degree and might feel wistful on her birthday or anniversary.

More Good Signs about Widowers

dating a widower

4. Just 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 like a shrine, this is a major RED FLAG.

He’s still deeply grieving and not ready for a relationship with you. Don’t ignore this about dating a widower, thinking you can simply 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.

One of my clients just told me how a man on the Bumble dating app reached out to her. Out of six photos, half of them included his wife! Talk about the horrors of dating a widower!

She liked him and wanted to know what I thought. I told her NO WAY. I can’t even imagine what this man was thinking can you? This is a true story!

5. He Pursues You Consistently

As with any man, you want him to pursue you consistently. 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 what you watch for as a sign he’s genuinely interested in you.

When dating a widower, this is particularly important. Should he see you sporadically to have some female company, get emotional support or avoid feeling lonely.

Once you see a man weekly and your time together becomes more frequent, this is a really good sign for sure. Keep in mind, consistency builds a relationship.

So, if his contact or dates are more sporadic, he’s probably more casual than you think and not serious about you or finding love perhaps.

Dating a Widower Over 50

dating a widower 6. Introduces You to Family

When you are dating a widower of any age, 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.

You cannot win 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 with the children, especially if they are young, it may take longer.

This makes sense in the case of dating a widower or a man who is divorced. Most men (and women) want to know you will likely be around long-term before you meet the kids.

Warning Signs and Horrors of Dating a Widower

To sum up the warning signs, if it’s been less than a year since his wife passed and he talks about your future together, but never follows through, he is not be ready.

If he talks about his wife constantly, still has tons of photos of her even on Facebook, is inconsistent with his attention, please rethink 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 red flags, letting you know dating this widower is probably not a wise choice.

Sometimes widowers want to keep your relationship a secret, will tell some family members but not others or not introduce you to his friends. Things must be out in the open or you are witnessing the horrors of dating a widower.

Only he can decide when he’s healed and ready for a serious, lasting relationship with a new woman.

Don’t invest your time and life in helping him recover. This is a thankless job and will lead to heartbreak. As soon as a man feels better and more emotionally whole, he will usually walks away and find another woman to commit to.

Why is that? It seems so rotten and heartless. When a man is not at his best, he can’t really give you what you want. He might really care for and appreciate you, but he could also be leaning on you. And after he recovers, then you remind him of the time when he was weak and recovering. So, he moves on.

You will not win him over by nursing him back to emotional health.

The Good News About Widowers

good news about dating a widowerNow, the good news is that a widower knows how to love and usually wants to marry 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. 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.

Updated 11/18/20

Single for too long, Ronnie wanted to find love. So, she made a few tweaks and then dated 30 men in 15 months to meet her adorable husband Paul. Discovering the keys to midlife dating, she founded It’s Never Too Late for Love to help other smart, successful women find love too! Her mission is to share her proven dating advice  and keen insights about men with women everywhere who are serious about finding love with the right man. Ronnie Ann Ryan, MBA, CCC is a Certified Coach who has helped 1,000’s of midlife women with her Love & Dating Coach services. She’s been featured on BBC’s 5 Live Radio, NBC, ABC, and Fox News, NPR, eHarmony, MSN.com, MORE.com, Connecticut Magazine among others around the world. An established author, you can find her 6 books on Amazon.

80 thoughts on “Dating A Widower? He’s Ready As Long As You See These 7 Signs”

  1. Hi, I have been dating a widower for 2 years, his wife died 7 years ago. He doe’s not talk about her at all. He introduced me to his adult kids all aged over 30 over a year ago. His kids have their own lives with their partners. He shows and says he loves me, however I feel his kids will not let him let go and hold his wife’s memory in his heart! They constantly tag him in photos on Facebook and say things like true love right there! Like they are constantly trying to remind him and rub my face in his past relationship! They say to him they are happy for him, but I feel they make him feel guilty mentally by the constant reminding! I won’t go in his house cause it is full of photos and he will not change his Facebook profile photo to us! My argument is that I will never be shown the respect until he changes things and shows them I am now his new love , or they will never respect our relationship until he changes removes photos etc!! Desperate for advice , I feel I am right and feel I am being made a fool of. Thank you

    Reply
    • Hi Sheena, I don’t think anyone is trying to make you look like a fool, but your man is clearly not fully healed. It’s sad that there is such a struggle after 7 years. I agree, you are right to expect not to compete with her memory, photos in his home or on his facebook page. But since you feel uncomfortable, only you can make the change. If you want to be with a man who is not stuck in the past, then you have to go find him.

      Unfortunately this guy, no matter how sweet and wonderful, is not that man. It might be time to let go. You can say this with kindness to him. If something changes and he’s ready to fully live in the present with you (change photos everywhere and whatever else is needed), then he should give you a call. Otherwise you can no longer live in her shadow and need to move on. Something like that.

  2. Why does it have to be a year to find happiness with another again? That makes no sense, who made up these stupid rules about needing a year anyways?
    There is no “minimum” grieving time, everyone’s situation is unique. I’m a recent widower (3 months) and my wife had cancer for 2-1/2 years. I went to grief counseling and am in a stable and happy emotional state. I joined a dating site because I was being pragmatic and figured I wanted to find someone to be with before the holidays and assumed it would take months of dating to find the right woman for me. Well I was happily surprised as the first lady I dated is now the love of my life, and I adore her, and she adores and loves me right back. DO NOT judge a widower who is ready to love again and doesn’t want to wait an entire year.

    Reply
    • Hi Jim. I think you misunderstood my point and ‘m thrilled you found love so quickly! This is not about judgement but facts based on prominent psychological research and statistics that show most men wait a year, where as women often wait up to 5 years before they seek love again. I am simply warning women that not all widowers get grief counseling and are as balanced as you are. So they need to be careful and watch for signs a man is ready …or not. My goal is to save women heartache – not judge men.

  3. I have been dating a widower for a year and two months. I met him eight months after his wife died but we have known each other for twelve years in our community. We are exclusive. I barely knew his late wife and she was lovely. We talk about her and my ex-husband in a kind way. Widower and I get along great. He has only let me meet his son and daughter and one close friend. He says his friends are still mourning her loss and how great they were together.
    Being the extrovert that I am, it bothers me that I am compartmentalized. He has met all my friends. He has a tendency to please others. Do widowers eventually allow others to meet their new significant other?

    Reply
    • Hi Marcia, I find it confusing (i.e. bullsh*t) that you’ve met his kids but not his friends. Normally it’s the other way around. This is a RED flag. From basic math it’s been 22 months since his wife passed so this nonsense. Perhaps he’s the one not finished mourning. It’s time to challenge him. Tell him you need to be fully integrated into his life or he needs to explain why this is a problem. His friends are NOT still mourning so don’t accept that as an answer. Be kind and calm as you discuss this vs. demanding or upset. If he insists, you’ll have to decide if it’s acceptable to be hidden. Is he embarrassed? Are they so judgmental? If you don’t push this, how will it change? You deserve to be a full part of his life and this is a completely reasonable request at 22 months after her passing, but it’s up to you. If your relationship blows up because of this, then you will know something is very wrong on his end.

    • Widowers have all different situations. I am in my 40’s and dating my 2nd widower. The 1st widower was a coworker who lost his wife to cancer with 4 young daughters. We began dating 6 months after his wife passed. Within one year I met his family, children, friends, and we were madly in love. We broke up after 6 years because of his jealousy and substance abuse problem. Then I was friends with a couple and the woman (my friend) overdosed, leaving behind a 6 year old. He and I became very good friends, mostly texting. We were sexual once, then he flaked. I told him to stop asking me out. A month ago he took me to dinner and admitted he’d been humping everything in sight, keeping me on the back burner. We do talk about his wife but not obsessively, I’ve met his parents, we have pictures on Facebook. Yet his Facebook status says he’s married to her. He is falling back into old patterns saying he’s busy and will call me later and doesn’t. My point is some widowers may love you more than they loved their wives. And others may string you along. Look for the signs on this blog and never settle for being 2nd best. As much as I do love the widower I’m dating now, he wasted 3 years of my time, don’t let that happen to you.

    • Thanks Chloe for sharing your situation and giving good advice. I couldn’t agree more – don’t put up with poor treatment from anyone.

  4. Hi Ronnie, I am a widower of 8 months, so under a year. My late wife and I spoke about her passing while she was alive. We grieved together and she told me to move forward, date and remarry one day.

    The guidance you provide is excellent advice. In my case, I have not dated, but socialized with women, and gotten close to one who is a widow herself. I’ve been honest there are no guarantees while developing my new life. Never think a widower’s love for his late wife is going to go away, but it will relegate to one of acceptance of the loss. So I agree – he shouldn’t talk about her constantly. The rest of your advice is spot on.

    The loss of a spouse is very different than a divorce or breakup. The late spouse is NOT an “ex” and usually occupies a very special place in our hearts. I strongly recommend talking about this and finding some understanding of how the late spouse will fit in to any new relationship. Again, bottom line is communication, as in any relationship.

    Reply
    • Thanks Neil for sharing your insightful perspective with readers. Wishing you love, Ronnie

    • Sorry can’t agree with you Neil. My ex-husband didn’t die and it was a brutal loss. I lost my ex-husband without choice, as well as the structure of my life. Instead of compassion from others (like widows and widowers get), people tell me “you’re better without him”. I know he left because he chose someone else over me and I am confronted with it every single day. There is just no closure. I lost my spouse, supposed best friend, co-parent, travel partner, life partner and I have to force myself to forget him. Instead of remembering him with love and tenderness, I have to force myself to remember all the bad things that lead to the end of my marriage. And like you said, I don’t think my love for my ex-husband will ever go away, but it will relegated to one of acceptance of the loss.

    • Hi Sophia, I’m sorry for your loss. But you do have closure in that your marriage has ended. And while this may seem impossible at this time, you can move on with your life. I encourage you to get the help of a good therapist who will help you find ways to cope and heal. sadly, 50% of marriages end in divorce, but the majority move on to find love and marry again. Take good care of yourself.

  5. 10 months in dating a widower. He did not share that with me initially. I believe it was a month. This has been a test of my patience, & having me a take a good look into myself. I’m tens years divorced and want to marry again. He said he wants to marry again. We talk & text 5-7 days a week. Because it’s been less than a year, I do not question tone when he seems distant. I have let him know, I am here for him if he wants to share – he has fond memories. I would like to see us grow and eventually marry. He invited me over, but I declined. I chose to wait till after a year but he isn’t aware of my reason. I made the mistake of asking questions that could have waited and he chose not to answer. It’s a learning experience. I feel I am the tester. The first woman he has befriended. Am I the one he is testing the waters with only to move on eventually? To protect myself, should I gracefully bow out…or stay the course

    Reply
    • Hi Cheryl, Honestly, I have no idea if he’s just testing the waters with you or serious. I can’t tell if you are just talking/texting or going on real dates If you have not been on dates out, then you are not dating, only talking. That said, there is no excuse for him to distance himself – doing that tells you that either he is NOT ready, he’s not the right man for you…unless you enjoy a man who distances. That will not suddenly improve in two more months. It’s nice that you are compassionate with him but what does he offer you? You didn’t share anything about how this is a two-way relationship. My instincts say you are hoping to turn things around with him but it’s been my experience things do NOT turn around. He is who he is. Determine if he’s the right man for you based on what you see right now. That’s how you can know if you should move on or not.

  6. Sorry, my money is on letting him be alone. I am with Ronnie.
    I am an older lady and a professional dater, If I want to vibrate feminine energy in the relationship I must maintain myself as receptive. Keep my dignity and live my own life. Shine who I am and the happiness and beauty of living. Relationships are about relating and it does take 2 to tango. Someone once told me if you call him he might be busy.. If you wait for him to call you know he wants to talk to you. Compassion has no place in the beginning of dating. This is the jungle. Let him take the lead, no matter how slow or fast the dance. He is just a compliment to your life.

    Reply
  7. I dated a widower for three months. He invited me over to his parents house for Christmas to meet them. Everything was going good, he tells me he really likes me. He’s been a widower since 2004 and then he had another girl he dated that died in 2013. He came to my house a lot I’ve only been to his home twice. We live about 40 minutes apart. He called me up on a Saturday to spend the day with him – he took the day off. That was in February, then he stop talking to me. I text him – never heard from him. He ever gave me any reason. Then all of a sudden, he texted saying he wanted a family. My son is already out of the house. When we met we discussed that and how I live 40 minutes away and he said that wasn’t a problem and then he didn’t want any kids. He complimented me a lot when we were dating I haven’t a heard from him in a month and a half.

    Reply
    • Hi Tammy, Sorry to say this but there’s just no explaining some people’s behavior. For whatever reason he decided to move on. It doesn’t mean you did anything wrong. Sounds like he’s just using the family thing as an excuse and sadly compliments while nice, mean nothing. Only his actions matter and he’s not connecting with you. I’m sure this is hard, but your relationship is definitely over and it’s time to move on.

    • Hi, I’ve been dating a widower who lost his wife three months ago. He says he feels he lost his wife a year ago because she had a brain tumor and was not conscious for a full year before death. At first he wasn’t sure about anything serious and only wanted to be friends because we have so many things in common. I agreed to hanging out with him as friends but quickly this became more and he confessed how he has liked me. We talk/text everyday and he sees me almost every day for the last two months. He still talks a lot about and misses his late wife. I understand. He wants me be have patience as he as grown closer. We have been intimate and he is very passionate. I don’t want him to hurt me by leaving once he is fully healed. He assured me his feelings are stronger and he has made plans for us to take a trip together. He still doesn’t want his family and friends to know about us, but says it’s out of respect for his late wife and things will get better. I am in love with this man as he treats me well with more than words but ations. Could this be true love and not just him using me for comfort and healing?

    • Hi Francisca, I don’t mean to imply that widowers hurt the first women they date after their wife’s passing on purpose. I’m sure he has genuine feelings for you. However, he is not blending you into his life and in fact is keeping you a secret. It’s only been two months but that will get old by the holidays. So you can hang in there and see how it goes. However, you need a cut off date in your mind (don’t tell him) when you won’t put up with this any longer. If you’re still a secret by Thanksgiving, be smart and walk away. He might not want to hurt you, but if he can’t be honest with people. that’s not right for any reason. Respect for her is nice but what about respect for you who are living?

  8. I’m dating a widower for 3 amazing months. We spoke on the phone few hours a day -we live 4 hours apart. Our conversation is happy go lucky. We have been intimate a few times. We had 3 arguments- the first two he was insecure about me. I reassured him. The latest argument was about his son. He said it is over between us. I did not call him for one week then called. Talked like normal, he wasn’t angry at me, then he said he’s busy and hung up. His late wife 1st year death anniversary in few days time.

    What should I do? Give him more time until anniversary has passed or is it over like he said due to his anger? I am feeling extremely down this 10 days. He never reply to my text messages for 10 days. I didn’t send emotional messages..just like “how are you ? How you coping? If you need more time please let me know?” I am clueless. I seriously need your guidance.

    Reply
    • Hi Vicky, I know this is hard but you need to let him go. My advice to you is never get in between a man and his children. I’m not sure the anniversary of his late wife matters here. Leave him be. Stop all communication and keep your dignity. If you had three big fights in three months, perhaps he wasn’t such a good match. There is nothing you can do to make a man come back except leave him be. In time, if he was the right man for you, maybe he will come back. If not you know where you stand. Look for a local guy – there must be other men who are closer to you and ready for love vs. still grieving.

  9. It’s a sad and selfish world when one human being advises another human being to avoid being in a possibly caring relationship based on the chances that it may not produce the outcome you expect.
    Maybe a little more compassion would go further for both parties in much more satisfying ways than you present here.

    Reply
    • Lou – this is not about women being selfish. This is about being REALISTIC. I and many women have compassion. But if a man is not ready to treat his new love interest with the same respect and honor as the first love, compassion will not MAKE HIM READY. Anyone who has lost a spouse goes through a tremendous grieving process. When they are ready for a clean slate – they are entitled to a new love. But no one can expect the new love to wait and wait and live with the affects of a deceased love for a “possibly caring romance”. This is not healthy and unfair.

  10. Hi Ronnie,

    You say never date a man within a few weeks/months of his wife’s passing but you also say only he can know when he’s ready and every relationship is different. I met my partner 2 months after his wife had passed however she had been terminally ill for 5 years so, he tells me he is done with grieving. We have a strong and solid connection and I would have to say this is perhaps the best and healthiest relationship I’ve been in. We adore each other and have spent most of our spare time (which is alot because I lost my job days before meeting him) together. He virtually lives with us now and it’s only been just over two months since we started chatting (at length) online. I keep checking in with myself but things look good to me. Her name does come up from time to time but only because she was in his life for 16 years. He also tells me things about that relationship which sound very different to what we have. Should I be concerned about how quickly this relationship has settled in it’s place and how soon after her passing we got together or not?

    Reply
    • Hi Georgi, I wouldn’t recommend letting a man you’ve known for 2 months move in, but that’s already done. And you say it seems to be working out which is good. There is an exception to every rule, but at two months, there could still be many things you don’t know about this man. I guess my advice for you at this point is to enjoy what you have, but be smart and keep your eyes open. If things start to feel off, discuss it right away. That’s the best way to handle things. And be smart about your money, passwords etc. Trust takes time – let him earn it.

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