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. 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.

  2. 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

  3. 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).

  4. 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.

  5. 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

  6. 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

  7. 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.

  8. 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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