Being emotionally ready to open your heart to someone else
Being ready to date isn’t about moving on or letting go of your late spouse
Deciding to date again, or even the thought of dating after the death of a partner, wife, or husband can feel massively intimidating, awkward, wrong, and many other conflicting feelings.
You may even conclude you never want to meet anyone else...
...and that is okay.
However, you may have got to a stage where you’ve started asking yourself:
Is it too soon to date after my spouse’s death?
I met someone who I like, but I feel guilty about dating. Does this mean I’m not ready?
I haven’t started dating and it has been years since my spouse died – is something wrong with me?
People keep telling me I should be interested in dating and I am not – is something wrong with me?
Do I want to spend the rest of my life alone?
You might find that others are judgemental that you haven’t left it long enough, however ‘long enough’ is supposed to be.
How can you make sure you’re emotionally ready to open your heart to someone else?
Just because lots of time has passed, it doesn’t mean you’re over your loss. All that time does is keep on ticking along. Time doesn’t do anything about healing your broken heart.
You may feel guilty about even considering dating again; guilt about betraying a partner who died, guilt about ‘moving on’ or forgetting, or guilt that it will upset children or other family members. This can be one of the most difficult issues …what others think!
What if you get it wrong? You wouldn’t be the first to start dating and realise you’re not ready. Just take a break and a breather and let that be ok with you.
It’s in our nature to avoid pain. When we’re bereaved, especially in the early days, it’s only natural to want to avoid feeling lonely. Flirting, touching, sex, etc release dopamine in our brains.
Dopamine is a euphoria neurotransmitter (the one we release when we drink and take drugs). A big boost of feel-good chemicals, coupled with some distraction, can feel very appealing. However, ask yourself if this is helping you to avoid your true feelings.
Even when years have passed, the decision not to date can be its own form of avoidance. Guilt might stop you. The ‘dating game’ may feel totally alien. The thought of upsetting your children or in-laws might also stand in the way. Sometimes it’s just easier to avoid it. But if you’re aware avoidance is stopping you, that’s fine but keep going back to the thought. Be open to pushing yourself out of your comfort zone in the future.
Date-readiness isn’t about moving on or letting go of your late spouse, or leaving them behind. There is nothing to feel guilty about. You’re not cheating. It is possible to bring them with you by creating space for new people.
Your memories will live on and so will the person you have lost. They will be forever part of your history and life helping you make the choice to be happy once again.
And if you need further support, please get in touch with one of our grief specialists.
Carol Wright is an author, Qualified Health Coach and Advanced Grief Recovery Specialist who specialises in helping people with health loss, middle-aged women caring for parents, parental loss and emotional eating. Carol is based in Northamptonshire and available for Grief Recovery sessions online via Zoom, and face-to-face. Find out more about Carol here.