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 walk 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,,, Connecticut Magazine among others around the world. An established author, you can find her 6 books on Amazon.

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

  1. GREAT article! I have one piece of advice to widowers. When you meet a new special lady, then please do not refer to your deceased spouse as your “wife” as if that is still the active status. It makes it sound like you are still married and gives an impression that you might be emotionally unavailable. You are not legally married anymore, you are widowed. Either use her name, or “so-and-so‘s mother” if you had children together, or your “late wife.” I say this as I am newly dating a man who has been widowed for just over five years (their total time together was a little less than 10 years) and yet continuously refers to his late wife as his “wife” instead of referring to her by name. And, he regularly refers to having in-laws, not former in-laws or his child’s grandparents or his late wife’s family. If a widower is going to keep referencing a wife as if it’s current, then it’s a little insensitive and may make any woman he’s with feel like she’s a mistress because she’s apparently dating a married man!

    • Hi Lyndle, Interesting point. I think you are working against years of habit – referring to his “wife” and that is not easy to change. But “late wife” makes total sense, especially after 5 years. Earlier on that would be a tougher change. However, those in-laws will ALWAYS be his in-laws. Because they are bound by blood and children. Even in divorce this is true. Some extended families, where things are friendly, are very large for this reason and everyone shows up on holidays and birthdays. There can be several sets of grand parents and step siblings because these attachments often continue which can be wonderful. So, this is a point where you might need to yield and let go.

  2. Ronnie Ann, As a widower who’s going on 8 months, you make many excellent points. One that I’d push back on is #1. Do people grieve differently? Are all circumstances the same that there’s a universal 12-month rule? My wife battled health issues for 19 of our 20 years together. The last diagnosed, her doctor told me, “Steve, be ready to possibly lose your wife in less than 10 years. She made it 5.5 years and died at 40. After she passed, I poured myself into the grief process; I hired a grief counselor, I got my boys into grief counseling, I paid for her mom and best friend to go to grief counseling, I even did some alternative therapies.

    Elizabeth was the most emotionally intelligent person I ever met and I learned so much from her, I knew she didn’t want me to mope around, but to grieve deeply, dust myself off, and move forward when I was ready. My grief counselor told me at 4-months, “You’re ready for singles events.” I didn’t go. At 6-months, she said, “If you’re ready, I think you’re ready to date.” I wasn’t. Now approaching 8-months with the holidays behind me, I think I am. I’d recommend amending your point #1, there are a lot of extenuating circumstances, like a long illness (anticipatory grief) or pouring oneself into the grief process that make your universal rule wrong and damage the prospects for dudes like me. Best wishes, may ‘21 be your best year, so far.

    • Hey Steve, first sorry for your loss. And of course grieving is individual and there are exceptions to every rule. However, I have found that this rule of 1 year works for the vast majority. If you are ready to date – go for it! You deserve to find love again. Just keep in mind that a readiness to date is not the same as a readiness to be in a relationship.

      You will demonstrate your readiness level in how you go about dating. Have taken down most of the marriage photos in your home and removed her things? Did you change your FB page to not feature the two of you? Will you be dating several women casually at first, so you can be sure not to rush into anything and find a compatible match? I hope so – that is totally appropriate. Will you be consistent with the women you date, so they are not left wondering what is happening? Then you’ll see who works out and what becomes a relationship with her. It all takes time.

      I stand by my suggestion as is. After a few months of dating – you might be ready for a relationship! In the meantime, don’t worry – there are millions of women who haven’t read this blog post, so you’ll have plenty of options to choose from.

  3. Your article gives me strength. Thank you. How likely is a widower to continue with his mistress as he embarks on a new life? A friend is a new widower for 5 months after the wife’s 12 year illness. He took excellent care of her. But, there is much online evidence that he had a mistress while his wife was ailing and dying. He even had her around the wife at times [to which I say Yuck!]. I know they are still communicating. I like him. But I’m not going to get close at this early point in his grief and considering this sidepiece. The thought that he had Missy around his ailing wife, and that he still cavorts with her nauseates me. She also hangs with a crowd that seems so not him, but.. I realize he’s now free to do what he wants with her, that they can even marry. But would he keep her around going forward, or opt for a fresh start? To me, she would represent sin and wrongdoing while the wife was ill and dying. I’d think some guilt would kick in and remain. Help. Thank you.

    • Dear Anonymous, I find it interesting that you have judgment of this man and his mistress, yet you hope he’ll put her aside for you. Why would you want a man who doesn’t meet your criteria regarding his moral compass? Why don’t you start fresh instead of him, by looking for a man who fits with how you see the world? This would be a better use of your time and effort to find love. Don’t wait around for him – he might be very happy right now, even with his wife gone. Navigating a 12-year dying process and how taxing that was, could make anyone seek emotional support.

  4. I have been dating this widower for 16 months. I knew him as a distant friend and we got to know each other a year after my divorce and seven months after his wife died. I know his two grown kids and his best friend, but he has not introduced me to his sisters who loved his late wife dearly or any of his friends that he shared with his late wife. I’m an extrovert and he has met my family and friends. I feel left out when his friends come into town. He also spends Friday nights alone because that was his night with his late wife. We do discuss her -I barely knew her; she was very nice. He talks of his love for me and sees me in his future. He’s kind and sweet and loyal. But, I don’t feel right being left out of his circle of friends and on my own Friday nights. He is an introvert and prefers quiet times. He’s a people pleaser and says he does not want to introduce me just yet. Is it unreasonable to ask to meet his friends? Do I let him know how hurt I become when I am left out? Or am I exhibiting my abandonment issues? I struggle with this. Am I deluding myself? Your advice?

    • Hi Lola, This is not abandonment or unreasonable! It’s been almost two years since she died – how long does he need? This is about him and sounds like nonsense since his kids know. Yes, tell him how hurtful this is. For a healthy relationship you have to be able to talk to him. Tell him, in a nice way of course, that keeping you a secret is no longer an option and disrespectful to you and your relationship. Either he opens up to people about you or he’s not ready for your love. You can agree on a date he needs to do this by – give him no more than a month since he’s already had 16 months! If he refuses or can’t seem to tell people, then be brave and walk away or your self respect will continue to suffer. This is WRONG and not how you should be treated. He might not be finished grieving, but you cannot be some tawdry secret. That is extremely unfair to you. Love yourself enough to let him go if he can’t show you the respect you deserve. You can always tell him that he’s welcome back when he IS ready to tell people if he can’t do it now, and hopefully you’ll still be available. But life doesn’t wait and neither should you.

  5. Hi Ronnie, I had a crush on my supervisor at work. He has been a widower for 2.5 yrs now. He is in the early ’40s. The first time I met him, he seems aloof and quiet. We don’t really talk much. I have team leaders whom I report directly to. A few months later he noticed me and asked one of my team leaders who was close with him about me. I am single and never been married. A few weeks later he started to groom himself, cut his hair, he had more confidence. He became proactive at work. I could also see some signs of body language that he likes me. His stares, his postures when I am around him and more. Sometimes we talk, but only about work nothing personal. I am confused because he seems hot and cold. Sometimes he smiles and other times he looks serious or doesn’t even look at me. He likes looking at me in distance. He is nice though formal towards me and helps me progress in the company. If he likes me why doesn’t he pursue me? Can be a confident guy became shy or he is not ready to date yet? I wanna know him more. Should I wait or forget my feeling for him?

    • Hi A, While he might like you and find you attractive, he hasn’t crossed any lines, so don’t expect him too. He’s not being shy – if he was going to ask you out, it would have already happened. He probably can’t or would get in trouble – maybe some company policy. Or he’s not ready to date yet. Don’t hold out for him – this is a waste of your time. It’s a big world out there – get on the dating sites or apps and find men who are ready to date you!

  6. I really don’t know what to do. I have been friends with my widower for 20 years. I was also an acquaintance of his beloved wife. I know his kids and some family and have always been great friends. It’s only been 3 months since she passed. We’ve spent free time with one another, been out to dinner, watched movies, stayed the night a few times with me mostly pleasuring him. I’m not sure this is ok or am I being used for his sexual needs. Yes he texts me many times during the day, he spends most of his time with me and his kids. I have cooked, cleaned, shopped for the household, and eaten dinner with him and his kids. Of course his kids or family know nothing about us being intimate. There has never been a kiss. Do I just go with the flow or try and walk away? I have developed strong feelings for him and we tell each other 3-4 times a day we love each other. Please help I’m lost on what to do and need some guidance.

    • Dear C, You have a wonderful heart and I can see how much you care. But how can you do this to yourself? You have given everything away without even a kiss? What kind of man would let you pleasure him and not reciprocate? If he’s not ready to respond, then HE’S NOT READY FOR LOVE. Yes, I think you are being used, but you are allowing this to happen. You can not step into another woman’s shoes and save everyone at your own expense. At the very least be strong and don’t spend the night with him to recapture your self-respect. His wife just passed so he’s not ready for the kind of love you are trying to create. Any time a relationship is a secret – something is not right with it. You are ready to shift this and take care of yourself or you never wouldn’t have asked for guidance. I wish you inner strength and lots of self-love.

  7. Hi. My widower was married for 40 yrs. his wife died 2 years ago. He says i am his best friend and we are not a couple yet although neither one of us knows what the future holds. We met on line and have been talking for 6 months. We are in a long distance relationship and have only visited each other once because of the current state of the country. we text and talk on the phone everyday and when I don’t call him, he calls me. He says he’s been hurt before by other women and wants to take it slow. He always listens, provides financially and gives suggestions and support when needed. I truly appreciate his friendship but could see myself in a committed relationship. Am l setting myself up to be hurt or should I continue to wait. We are both in our early 70’s

    • Hi Louise, If you feel satisfied with this long distance friendship- good! If you want to spend time together face-to-face, that’s most unlikely with this guy. For one thing, COVID might be another year or more. And this man lives far away. And, wen a man says let’s take it slow, what he really means is don’t get any ideas or expectations. So, if the talking is enough for you – then let it be and enjoy it. Not everyone needs to have a physical relationship. But if you want to real thing, then the answer to your question is yes, you are looking at heart break at some point. He is sure to disappoint you.

  8. Hi Ronnie, I have been dating a guy for 4 months. He lost his wife of 38 years 2 years ago. He came on very strong from day one wanting a best friend and almost replicating things that he has done with with wife. He also still has a phot of him and his wife on the cover of his phone. One day we stopped at his house and I noticed that the house looks exactly the same as 2 years ago. Pictures everywhere, the bathroom vanity just how she left it, her bedroom teddy bears and her closet still full. I was also told that once his kids… a 29 married and 24 learned about our week vacation that he would start sleeping over. But once he told them about it, he then changed his mind. He asked me to move in with him, but I am reluctant and don’t feel comfortable. We actually went to look for a new house this week. I hate the fact the house still looks the same, but he claims to love me. I still have not meet his girls, both of them had the opportunity to do so and both of them rejected it. What should I do? Walk away? Or have a talk and if so…what do I say without hurting us. Thank you!

    • Hi Mildred, You can be honest and have a talk but, there is always a risk. Not everyone can face the truth. However, if he’s willing to buy a new home, that’s amazing and solves one BIG problem. Before buying the home, ask if he’s ready to move on with his life. For example, what will he do with his wife’s clothing and teddy bears? If he expects to bring them, you can’t move forward. But if the new home is his way of eliminating these items, then that could work. Also, ask him to put a photo of you with him on his phone. If he refuses or says yes but doesn’t do it, then you know he’s not healed and will need to decide what that means to your relationship. In this kind of situation, it’s always worth discussing. Four months isn’t very long to decide to move in together. Make sure you know enough about him to make that kind of big decision.

  9. I’ve been dating a widower for 11 months. We started dating 2 years after his wife’s death. We are both in our 50s. I’ve known him for about 5 years casually. Of the seven signs, there is only one that I have any concerns with. The pictures. In the bedroom at both his home and ranch and throughout both places, but there are also pictures of us. However, his phone screen saver is a very young picture of her. This bothers me immensely. When we are out with friends, I feel humiliation if his screen lights up. I have chosen not to say anything until I have the opportunity to talk to his sister during the holidays. Am I setting myself up for a loss?

    • Hi Gretchen, After 11 months its time to bring this up. Be brave and say with kindness that it’s time to take down the photo on his phone and others in the bedroom. If he values you, then it’s time to let you be the one who shines in his life. See what he says. He might be willing, not realizing how much this bothers you. Those photos show you he is NOT completely healed. It’s true he may not want to do this and you might have to breakup with him. But would you rather continue to feel humiliated, taking a back seat to a woman no longer alive? He will always love her, but you want to be with a man who can live in the present with you.

  10. I agree with everything in this post. I wish I read this beforehand. I dated my widower for 3 years, started dating 4 months after his wife had passed. I was the second relationship after her passing. I thought he was ready because he took down all her photos except for the shrine and explained he wanted to keep it for his kids (all over 30). He never spoke about her and said he grieved their final 2 years when she was declining. He was very concerned about his kids and told me that if they didn’t like the idea of him dating, we would have to break up. At the time I thought this was reasonable. Looking back, I think sometimes I am too understanding and patient. I didn’t see any red flags at first, but they sure did creep in! I ended up blind sided and heart broken. Every plan we talked about didn’t happen – buy a house together, get a dog, have a child. He always had an excuse, usually his kids and once again I was that too kind (naive) and understanding person (a real push over I must say). So 3 years later he broke up with me, I didn’t see it coming. He said, “I need to grieve my wife.” I imagine he was fighting with the natural process of grief and he constantly pushed it away, using me as a distraction until he couldn’t do it anymore. If you are dating a widower, listen to every single bit of advice this post is saying. The comment from that guy that thinks he is ready after 4 months, you aren’t, sorry. If you were, you wouldn’t feel anger or a need to justify yourself to some random post on the internet. Grief and loss is hard and scary. Distraction is easier, but it is running away. Don’t run away from yourself. Stay grounded.

    • Hi Doris, Sorry this happened to you but one thing that’s good is you no realize you need to decide how you want to be treated. Being patient and understanding are good qualities, but not when being that way cuts into your self-esteem and sense of self-worth. You need boundaries in any relationship. So when a man consistently has excuses on why he can’t follow through on something you’ve agreed on – that’s on him. You then need to decide if this is the kind of man who is right for you. I hope next time you’ll decide that you matter too, not just a man’s history or his kids. If you can’t count on what a man tells you and agrees to, what kind of relationship do you have? Now that you know this about yourself, you have a chance of finding a better man for you – one who will see you as a priority.

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