Does The Same Dating Advice Apply To Widowers?


I just read your book “Why He Disappeared” and really appreciated the great info. I have not “lost” the guy I’ve been dating for the past 3 months, but I need to fix some of the mistakes I was starting to make. He’s a recent widower (wife died of cancer in June 2010.) We started dating just after Labor Day. He found me on

With the exception of 2 weekends (1 in late Sept. and 1 in Oct.) when we saw each other on Saturday and Sunday (but no sleepover) we have only seen each other once a week. We live about an hour and 1/2 apart and he has a very high level job and a big house to take care of (and a dog.) There has been no sex yet but lots of “foreplay.” He says he always waits to have sex until he’s more sure of the woman.

I want to see more of him at this point (3 months,) especially on Saturday nights. I made that need known last weekend in a calm, rational way. In your book, you said that if a guy isn’t seeing you more than once a week by the 3 months point, he probably isn’t interested in a serious relationship. My question is this – does this apply to widowers as well or is it fair to give him a little more time and just get busy with other things so I don’t put pressure on him? He says he has always taken it slow in dating and this is nothing new. I want to be sure that I am getting my needs met and that I’m not just a “rebound” for him. What’s your advice? Karen

Dear Karen,

One thing I know about widowers, followed by two things I know about men.

Widowers are QUICK to rebound, to a point of being unseemly. The guy’s been married for 30 years, his wife dies in June and he started dating online 2 months later? My mom didn’t even think of meeting another man until about 3 years after my father passed away.

Widowers are QUICK to rebound, to a point of being unseemly.

But this is the norm for widowers —for one of two reasons: either the marriage itself wasn’t that healthy and he was immediately ready to move on, OR, like men of a certain age, he put everything had into his marriage and nothing into any other relationships. So when a woman survives her husband, she’s got a circle of friends from the neighborhood, from work, from her card game, from her book club, from her salsa classes. You know what a widower’s left with when his wife dies? His job.

A man’s inability to survive without a woman is a big explanation why a widower is often a very hot ticket on the open market — he’s LOOKING to be married again. Factor in the dearth of older men — there are literally 3 times more single women over the age of 65 — and, well, a decent looking widower doesn’t stay available for very long.

Next, something I know (and have stated repeatedly) about men — of all ages: We do what we want. We don’t do what we don’t want. Which means that even if many widowers throw themselves into new relationships because of their tremendous loneliness, THIS one seems to be functioning more like your basic super-successful middle-aged man. High-powered job. Big house. Dog. No mention of kids. Regardless, he dictates the terms of the relationship based on HIS needs and schedule. If you’re cool with it, it works. If you’re not cool with it, it doesn’t work.

How could you be anything BUT a rebound following a long-term marriage?

…But, at a certain point, a man has to step up and give you a reasonable amount of attention and comfort.

To be very clear, you ARE a rebound, Karen. How could you be anything BUT a rebound following a long-term marriage? As such, you are presumably the first woman he’s been with for many years. To his credit, he’s taking things slow, to avoid diving into another serious relationship that he may end up regretting. But, at a certain point, a man has to step up and give you a reasonable amount of attention and comfort. And if he fails, he risks losing the woman he cares about.

You can give him an extra-wide berth because he’s newly single, but be forewarned: a man who is newly single (and is keeping a little distance) is probably going to want to get a greater sampling of what’s available instead of diving right back into commitment. If he were lonely and desperate to get married, I’d feel better about your chances, but he’s not.

Give him another month to try harder and if he fails, walk away. He’ll probably let you go and resume his new life on

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  1. 21

      I am 73, so well past my sell by date, although apparently looking about 10 years younger I am told.   I met my gorgeous wife when she was 16 and I was 19 and after 52 years of marriage she died  16 months ago and left me brokenhearted. I am very slowly climbing out of the abyss  but wondering how a former youth of 19 would go about dating nowadays if it ever comes to that.   I have even asked myself what I am looking for but did not get an answer – just SOMETHING.   Frankly I guess the only thing  I really want is her back again.   So where does that leave me?   Computer dating requires you to be complimentary about yourself and, being  English from that era, that would be difficult to come to terms with.   Also being one of those non photogenic people  having only taken 3 good photos in my life, a photo with an explanation that I really am not as bad as that is not going to help.   So, as I see it, computer dating sites although a great help for some people are no help for people like me.

    1. 21.1

      Dear OlFart….
      I think shoreLineGirl gave you great advice.   Be yourself.   Don’t get into the
      “why and wherefore” too much.   Don’t expect ANY women you meet to be like the fabulous woman you shared so much with.   But DO expect that many women will give you companionship, comfort , laughter, and even love if you will be yourself and show some interest in them…The “sell by” date is just approximate.   If you live to be 100, wouldn’t it be nice to have someone to share time and new memories with?

    2. 21.2

      Hi there OlFart,

      I’d say you have a great sense of humour- probably worth more than a good photo.

      Hope things are going well in your life 🙂

    3. 21.3

      try to get out and just meet some new people bud,   hit up the bingo circuit.   You sound like an awesome person , I too have just lost the one and only love of my life.   I’ve been out of the scene since I met her at 17 so I was never really in the scene.   It’s hard I know. But I went looking for friendship and found a great lady who I can talk to anything about.   I told her in the beginning I’m looking for a friendship.   I need to get back out there and realize what women are like again.    Hope it all works out for you

  2. 22

    I think you should go online and post exactly what you just wrote with no picture. It’s honest and it’s where you are. You will get responses from women and it will help you begin a dialogue and help you to start coming out of your grief process. You will never duplicate what you had , but you may find someone wonderful and at the very least, you will make friends and learn about yourself and possibly have some fun if you open the door. 73 if you are healthy , you may not want to spend the rest of what could be a long life alone.  

  3. 23
    Happy Woman

    I’ve been divorced   after an unhappy marriage, this was   2yrs ago. Two months ago I met online a widower of 3 yrs. We both have kids in their late teens / early 2o’s. He seems a wonderful guy-  attentive, hardworking, passionate, funny   and eager to travel to meet me. I haven’t asked about his wife’s death, but he has answered every other query I’ve had. I don’t quite know how or when to broach the topic. We have not spoken about his grief, but he says I’m the first woman he’s dated or thought of romantically since his late wife. He is immersed in work, as some of you have said, and is a dedicated dad. He always makes time to call / message me each day, regardless of how busy he is, and always leaves goodnight messages. He says he wants us to have a future together. YesHe sAys I can ask anything, but he hasn’t been forthcoming about her. Is he waiting for me to ask? I really want to know what happened, where he us with it and how he has coped. He also does not ask about my previous relationship but listens if I say anything about it.

    1. 23.1

      I would say if he says Sk anything go for it.   If your scared to ask him stuff now, your getting off to a rocky start.   I don’t mind telling my wife’s story   she passed from cancer.   I’m only 39 we were together for 22 years.   Just got married two years ago.   If you ask him and he seems upset , just tell him he said you were free to ask anything , if he doesn’t want to talk about it it’s fine . If it’s okay with you

  4. 24

    Dating after bereavement is not straightforward. I lost my husband 5 years ago and no way am I ready for another relationship. In truth I’m glad I haven’t met anyone yet. Even though often I think otherwise. It   has to be right. Lonely or not it has to be  right.  I met one guy who was dating 5 months after the death of his wife and I was alarmed for him.  From the above discussion I suspect there is a lot of that going on.
    One of the issues is that you (sometimes) feel that you wish to replace your spouse.  (or somehow get  him back). Unfortunately this is not possible – but some people just don’t realise what they are at and grieving takes time – years in fact – it takes as long as it takes.
    There may be more widows than widowers for the reasons outlined above. Demographically there are more men than women in the older age ranges however when it comes to the need to partner I suspect there are fewer men than women ‘after a relationship’ ( as Evan has discussed on the blog elsewhere women might be more intent on a relationship than men). However for the men who want someone – because there are more women with intentions (and men might just be able to pick from a wider age range of women) – then for the fewer men existing -they get ‘snapped up’ quite quickly.
    More women, more intention on their part – confers power on the  men – and as Evan points out above the men  concerned might be able to dictate the terms of the relationship. That’s the case for all relationships though if one is more needy than the other.
    Best wishes

  5. 25

    I agree with some comments and repulsed by others. Though just over sixty I’ve endured now twice as a widower. After 20 years of a great marriage my wife passed due to cancer. It seems as stated earlier, men don’t have the friends as much in the capacity of a support group as women so I felt I was on my own and LOST. I was the bread winner having just started night classes to finish a Masters and did I mention with a 6 and 4 year old? The kids were my greatest defense against depression and kept me going, you know, they always need to be cared for and loved. A year later after getting a routine I walked out of church behind the sister of one of my wife’s friend and chatted. So in 1 1/2 years after my wife passed I was starting a relationship with a divorce`. Now 20 years later kids through college and ready to think about retiring and spending quality time together, we found she had cancer and in 6 months she was gone. I was there for her as I was for my 1st wife. It’s about commitment and applying yourself. I still think about my 1st wife now 23 years later. My 2nd wife passed a year ago and she dominates my thoughts and my current grieving. Though in a couple support groups I feel I need to talk one to one with another in a similar unfortunate situation. Since it’s a year and I crave to talk with someone I don’t look at it as a need for a relationship. Could it be? At this time with emotions all jumbled up it could be, but it starts with open communications and builds from there not with intent to ‘go find someone’. Mine twice has built to commitment. If someone is dictating terms, it’s not a positive relationship and I’d question the commitment. It’s all about the effort to support the relationship and making each other comfortable.

    1. 25.1


      Of all the comments made here, yours sounds like the most informed. My wife just past away within 3 days from brain cancer . Just at 8 weeks ago. Grieving is different for everyone, the last place I ever wanted to be is widowed/ single and so lonely that I never could imagine the pain could be so great. But relationships start from talking to someone and progressing from there, no one knows which way. If you trying to analyze the relationship before it gets started, because of where that person is at in there life. That’s half of getting to know that person, and seeing if you can help someone through tough times. Even if it’s not be, or could draw you stronger together. Because your either here or gone, that how FAST life is.

    2. 25.2



      god old bless you , I recently lost my wife of 22 years to cancer.   I’m so lost.   I have two boys who keep me out of bed every day.   I can’t believe you went through that twice.   Your a very strong person , I hope e wry thing works out for you

  6. 26

    Hi… I started dating 4 years after my husband died of cancer. But it took ALOT of thinking, praying , grieving, then I just simply got bored in my life.. Had lots of time on my hands. I was 47 when he passed away.   I could never imagine dating anyone ever!!! I have 4 girls my youngest at the time entering high school… But time does heal.   I will love my husband until … Well… Forever! But after 4 years of being “ok” with just being me… I was truely ready to share my heart again … I have a big heart ! So I met this man , divorced 3 younger kids… School age … Mine are grown and all out of the house … And I do love him! He’s caring, funny, sweet, attentive… We have been together for a year… But to all who have lost a spouse….GIVE YOURSELF time to greive!!!!   It’s a gift to.. Well you!..At least a year!!! You need to be ok with “you” before u can share your heart again

  7. 27

    I am a recent widow of 5 months and I thought I’d be happy to remain single for the rest of my life because the loss of my dear husband is so painful . I recently started receiving texts from male friend and of course I didn’t know I could smile at another mans texts . Now however I know I’m not done grieving and I really am afraid that he will find someone else before I am ready to date . I am so not ready though , so there’s nothing I can do about it – I already mentioned I was in a million pieces over texting so he’s not being pushy at all . I just wish this were easy you know . I don’t want to end up alone for the rest of my life but I also don’t want to jump into a relationship when I’m not ready to give one hundred percent .

  8. 28

    I have an unusual situation. I had an affair with a married man 23 years ago, he has been widowed since November 2014 he was on my doorstep with in 11 days of his wife passing. It was a sudden death.   We were from then on keeping company for the last year. He went home overseas for 4months we were  talking and skyping over that time while he was away. I since discovered that while he was away he had met another lady, two timing womanizer.   Yes I was suspicious and broke his trust and read his SMS on his phone one morning   well he has now gone totally the opposite and blames me for breaking his trust….what the!!!! Anyway I am now heartbroken that this has come to such a devastating end. If I had my time again I would have pushed him away in the start, as in hindsight I have still been the other woman all last year……so my advice is steer clear of widowers it is true they want the sex affection but no commitment. I have supported him through his grief and advised on numerous issues he was dealing with since wife passed. it has all been on his terms and conditions I was hanging in thinking I was maybe being pushy but he has been in control all along…he met all my family kids grand kids. Our affair was solely in my house with a few outings in between I was blinded by his charm as I was 23 years ago once before…..omg I feel used and disrespected by him. Thing is I can’t even vent as he has shut me out now…..oh well I will get over this I know but be warned ladies run the other way if he has not been at least 2-3 years alone..

    1. 28.1
      Karmic Equation

      Paraphrasing an old Indian adage, “Who cheats with you, will cheat on you.”

      Your guy didn’t cheat on you because he wasn’t done grieving.

      He cheated on you because he’s a cheater. If you believe you were the ONLY one he cheated with over 23 years ago, you’re mistaken. I’ll bet he cheated continually on his wife.

      By all means, have relationships with cheaters. But don’t EVER believe that you’re the only one he cheated with or that he will stop cheating because of the power of you. That’s just wishful thinking.

      1. 28.1.1

        I’ve also heard that saying Karmic.   I actually know someone (friend of a friend) who cheated on her boyfriend (said that it was because he was emotionally abusive to her).   She then became the girlfriend of the guy she cheated with, and has now married that guy after six years of dating.

        I will be curious to see how that marriage goes.   I wonder if either one will cheat on the other, since they cheated with the other (?)

        Well, even if the former boyfriend was that awful, I’m still not sure if it justifies the cheating.   Then I don’t know why she was still with him.   If it were me, I would have dumped my boyfriend first, so that any new relationship I start with another man could start from a place of honor.   If things are that bad with a relationship, I say that person should break that relationship off first, rather than cheat on the partner.


      2. 28.1.2
        Yvonne Van den eeden

        Thanks for the comments posted….they resonate with me now…all very helpful and true…

    2. 28.2
      Dana Greene

      I am so sorry for your loss! That was a really awful thing to do to u! I’m going something similar but different but it’s only been 2 months and things went really fast! I believed everything that he loved me I was his future! He told all of his friends and mine on Facebook! It’s a long complicated story and I’m reeling from being so gullible; he’s my first and last widower. He assured me he was ready! The the thing is I’ve been on my own for 15 years and he told me he thought he meant all the things he told me but as we got closer he started to feel conflicted! He ended things and has blocked my #. So hurtful I just don’t get it😪

  9. 29
    Paul Cox

    My wife died two months ago, Dana. Even this early, I can sense two distinct people rising inside me. One grieving so much that it is a struggle not sink into deep depression. The other person inside me is a fighter, a survivor. That person tries to use logic, tries to face facts and move on…despite the pain. “When the going gets tough, the tough get going”…”ride out the storm” etc etc

    These two people come and go on a daily basis. Don’t feel you were gullible. He meant what he said…until the other person won out. Grief defeats even the best of us. It is an emotional cancer. Some of us beat it, some don’t.   And grief’s first cousin is guilt. He was struggling but he lost. I feel for the both of you.


    1. 29.1


      My deepest sympathies.   I hope you have the support of close friends and family members, and can lean on them.   Grieving and healing are long bumpy roads, but the passage of time helps.   Be kind to yourself.

  10. 30

    I partially agree with the article but do have some areas where I disagree a lot. Me personally my wife passed away back in January of this year (2016). She made me promise to honor her by continuing to live my life. We have 3 teenagers who I am now raising on my own and this is a realm I know nothing about, I worked she was able to stay home because my job provided enough for the 5 of us.

    My daughter made the same promise to my wife with a small caveat that her goal was to have me out of the house and dating by July. When she passed my wife was 40 and I am 39 (at least till October this year). In fact Monday Aug 22 would have been her 41st birthday.

    I did find someone who I am interested in and honestly care a lot about. My wife and I were married 15 years and I am one of the odd ones. I was not her first as she had a child that I have raised as my own but she was mine. I have had to have a conversation with the lady I am dating that I do not rush things. I care a lot about her and I want to see where this road will lead but I also need time some times. My kids and I still have a year of firsts to get through and the 4 of us need to do that together.

    She has 3 kids of her own and has been divorced for nearly 6 years so her time frame is faster than mine, but I really do hope she is willing to wait on me. I am already over half way through the first year and my request of her is to let me finish this year.

    I want to continue to date though we are 2 hours from each other. I am enjoying getting to know her and can’t wait till I get to see her again. I look forward to our time together, I travel to her town and stay in a hotel while she sleeps at her home. I don’t want to rush things and make mistakes that is who I am.

    I know one thing for sure at this point, I adore and care for the lady I am dating. I also know that going slow is my only option because there are kids involved. Not just mine but hers and rushing into things without considering them is not something I can do.

    Sorry all just my 2 cents as a widower.

  11. 31
    Celesta Lampkins

    I re-united with a 75 year old classmate who lost his wife four months ago.   He is a nice guy, but is moving too fast. He is going through the greiving process and while doing so, he treats me like I am his wife.   He wants to be in control and do all the talking and less listening.   I am a strong , retired independant woman, divorced 35 years ago, and finacially secure.   He does not want me to talk or even mention a man’s name. He wants to know every move I make in my house while talking on the phone. He wants me to call him when I leave home, tell him where I am going, and call him when I return. I see him as being very jealous and controlling, but he sees himself as being very caring and concerned about my well being. He sends me money or leaves me money when he visits, but I have not spent one dime of it and he knows it. I don’t need his money.   I may be wrong, but I think he is trying to buy my love. If he is controlling now, it scares the mess out of me how contolling he will be if we would marry.   To make a long story short, I told him he could never me my husband because he does not trust me. I have always been a one man’s woman and would never in a life time cheat.    Some men may be able to handle a relationship soon after the lost of a spouse, but for some, they just want to fill an emotional void. I refuse to be the transition woman or the rebound.   I am responsible for my own happiness. I may be single for the rest of my life, but I refuse to give up my independence, lower my self-esteem, be told what and what not to do, because he says the man has the final say on all matters even while dating. Ladies if met this kind of man, run, run, run and don’t look back.

  12. 32

    I was widowed may 31 2016, married to the love of my wife for more than 33 years.     out of 11 years and 7 months we together battled cancer.     I to my shocking surprise found my self in a relationship 11 days after my wife died.   furthest thing from my mind.   I had no interest in a relationship.    at 57, I figured I would find lots of some hot 35 or 40 something’s (yes I am a man) and have sex.     I wasn’t looking for drama or commitment.       I  have lots of friends and lots to do.   those are not relationships comparable to sharing a life or intimate moments (and I don’t mean just sex).   I have just recently met another women (introduced  to by a friend).    so kinda seeing two.   its confusing and scary, yet exciting and flattering.       don’t be so quick to judge.      men may rebound quicker  not because they are desperate or lonely.   maybe its because they loved and lost and life is short.   carpe diem-   lady’s!!

    1. 32.1

      Just an FYI, 35 and 40-year-old women (hot or not)do not want to have sex with 57 yo geezers

  13. 33
    Frays Hovda

    I have been in a relationship for 3 months with a widower.   When we met his wife had only passed a month before. He has told me all about her and his family, he was married almost 25 years. I have spent time with him at his home, met his adult daughter who is 24 and his son who is 11. Last week when I visited I spent the night and he had said that I could lay with him (in his bed) and we could talk until we fall asleep. By this time I was comfortable enough and trusted him enough, so I didn’t think twice about his offer.

    His adult daughter stays at home occasionally when not with her boyfriend. She spent the night that night. The next morning, unbeknownst to me she was very upset, pissed off would a good definition. I left that morning and that evening when she returned from work, she and her father got into an argument about me. Her question to him was this “What kind of woman sleeps in a married widowers bed three months after his wife’s death?” The question wasn’t about whether we had sex or not (which we didn’t), it was the fact that I slept in “their” bed three months after her moms death. “What kind of woman does that?” How do I answer that?? He expects me to answer that question, a direct answer, not an explaining type answer (meaning I can explain that I felt comfortable, he invited me to lay down by him… etc.) His daughter also believe that he should not even look at another woman until it’s been at least a year since his wife’s passing.

    This is man has now since pulled away from me and the question runs through his head all day long… I have nothing but good intentions. I care about this man and his family. I have done nothing to disrespect his late wife or the kid’s mother (other than I laid in his bed one night).

  14. 34
    Brian L

    I am only writing as I am the unexpected widower of the complete love of my life.   We were married 26 years and would have stayed together forever until her illness took her life.   I am 48 years old.   Lonely can’t describe the feelings I have.   I would love to meet someone as I know my wife wouldn’t want me to be this miserable.   I don’t know if I would call it dating if I met someone.   I imagine it would be a slow developing friendship that may or may not lead to a closer relationship.   Perhaps it would be to fill a void,   but I don’t know what is wrong with that if everything is communicated amongst each other.   I don’t have young children to take care of and I do t think it’s fair to judge the timetable of someone who has been widowed.   Unfortunately every widow or widower will have to figure it out. It may be 3 weeks or 5 years, but leave it to them to figure out.   Support them.

  15. 35

    Wow john .. you’re a really good catch. Wish I knew where to find a guy like you .. and if I did .. to believe him saying the things you are saying because so many words .. fade.

    The fact youre saying it here changes the meaning compared to hearing it from some guy on a dating site .. it was wonderful to read . Coiple that with you’re somewhat financially secure .. because yes that matters too . Its like looks, not the most important thing, but definitely a realistic consideration .. especially at our ages   . I hope your girl knows how lucky she is .. best of luck ..!

    ~south FL mommy

  16. 36


    After reading almost all of the comments here I can rest easy knowing I’m not alone in this!   My loving wife left us on March 14th, 2014 due to illness.   This year is the first time I’ve even had a thought about dating someone since I just wasn’t interested in the least of getting serious!   Despite the promises my wife asked of me like “Promised me you’ll live your life to the fullest and not hide away in the house?”, which I’ve been guilty of for the past 3 years.     Also “Promise you’ll allow yourself to love again?”.   Oh man that has been so tough, simple because I just can’t bring my self to say it to anyone right now!   She was my life, my one and only, but after all this time I’m starting to feel the need for more than just “Guy Friends!”.     But I am not the kinda guy that will lead a woman in the wrong direction.

    I’ve stayed in touch with some friends of ours   buy only one dear friend is single and I’ve explained to her after a conversation got personal that I couldn’t commit to a serious relationship after she said well “We could be friends, but her commitment to God would not allow anything more without marriage!”  .   I do care about her, but realized  this was never going to happen.

    I’ve even considered just being alone for the remainder even though I’m 57  there are so many things in this life I have not done and do not require a wife!   However as I’ve said the urge to have female companionship is strong in the force these days!

    Northwest quiet

  17. 37

    NEVER be a rebound for a widower.   Especially if they have teenagers.   These guys are confused & looking to fill a void.   Men seek women for different reasons than women seek men.   My friend is doing this right now & it’s a disaster.

  18. 38
    Howard Markham

    My mom died Oct. 2014. My wife April 2015.  My dad August 2015 and my son was in a coma for 12 days in April 2016. He recovered. My wife was sick many years. I retired in June 2010 to care for her. It’s interesting reading these letters. They describe me. No real friends. People afford but I turn them away. I dating a few months after my wife passed. It  was okay then the Holidays came and I had a melt down.   I’m trying to date but women feel sorry for me.  Now I see  it’s not sorry they feel. They don’t want to be involved with a widower.    I was married 43 years. I don’t know how to talk to women. The last lady said I talk about other women to much.    They ask  about my wife’s illness.   I quit talking about that.   I don’t have anything else to talk about except the women I meet. I haven’t slept with anyone.  I don’t want  to hurt someone just to get laid.   I should be happy  with all this freedom. Well my freedom is lonely.

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