Saturday, March 21, 2015

The D Word

Over the past couple of months I have been very quietly thinking about that terrifying concept of dating again.  The feeling that I might like to dip my toe back in the dating pool started creeping in around late January, at my 18-month mark, and completely took me by surprise.

After Dan’s death, the thought of finding another partner filled me with such dread – I didn't want anyone else, the idea of another man’s touch repulsed me and I couldn't understand how someone would ever make me as happy or complete as my husband had, or live up to the expectations that he had set. I had married him six weeks earlier knowing undoubtedly that he was the man I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, I couldn't contemplate an alternative.

For a long time I thought that I had to wait until I finished grieving before being ‘ready’ to love again.  Because how could I possibly ask anyone to take me on while I still had ‘bad days’ on a semi-frequent basis?  How could I give my battered heart to another while still crying for my lost love?  What a disaster – it wouldn't be fair to myself or to any future suitors.  Sex was the last thing on my mind (and is still not the driver for me wanting to date).  I wondered if the 20 wonderful months I’d shared with Dan would be enough to sustain me for the rest of my life, however long that may be, if I were never able to love again.

It wasn't until I attended Camp Widow West in July last year and met so many wonderful widowed people, who had learnt to love again while honoring their dearly departed, that I began to understand that I would never actually finish grieving Dan.  There wouldn't be a line in the sand where I could put that part of my life behind me and start a new chapter, stress and baggage-free.  And more importantly, I didn’t want to leave that part of me behind. 

It was a bit of a light bulb moment. Maybe, just maybe, I would be lucky enough to one day meet a man who was secure within himself and would accept that I could give myself to him without having to let go of the love I have for Dan.  The idea still terrified me – but I don't want to be alone forever.  I also knew Dan wouldn’t want me to be alone.  And for that reason, I knew I would have to try.  But not yet, I still wasn’t ready.  I had more healing to do and needed to learn to love the ‘new me’.  So I focused on that and put the idea of dating out of mind. 

Until recently, when it began bubbling up to the surface more and more often.  After finally accepting that – yes, I think it would be nice to have someone to share my life with.  I think I would like to try dating and see how it felt.  Maybe I would freak out and fall apart, but I wouldn’t really know for sure until I gave it a go.

So, a few weeks ago, I did just that.  I created an on-line profile on a respectable, ‘paid’, dating website and started chatting to a man.  A psychologist, to be exact, who I'd hoped would be sensitive about Dan’s suicide and emotionally-mature enough to help me navigate the world of dating again.  Unfortunately, it didn’t go well… we didn’t click, he was very boring, kind of arrogant and also asked a lot of questions about Dan’s death, critiquing the treatment he'd been receiving for his depression and basically making me feel like my husband was a case study for his professional analysis rather than a real human being.

It was pretty bad.  But I had survived it.  In fact, it was so ridiculous that I actually found the whole situation funny and was able to laugh about it with my girlfriends over a glass of wine or two.  I’d gotten my ‘first date’ out of the way and surely things would have to look up from here.  So here I am.  Officially dating again, well  - looking for a worthy candidate anyway (which is not proving to be easy!).  I'm taking it slowly, not rushing anything but remaining open to possibilities. 

The timeline is different for everyone and I’m still figuring mine out.  If I happen to meet someone I like, I don’t really know how I feel about even kissing another man, let alone having sex.  The idea of giving my heart to another still terrifies me.  But I’m ready to at least take a step in that direction and see where it leads me.  


  1. You are much braver than me lol. 3 and a half years and it still terrifies me too much to try it, and online dating scares the crap out of me. I feel so out of touch with how people meet in todays world. Youre brave, woman! I hope you find something beautiful, and I hope I do too - one day.

  2. Rebecca - your post rings so true for me too. I have been widowed for close to 5 yrs. At year 3 I knew I didn't want to be alone, I just didn't know what "being with someone actually was going to look like," full time , part time, just friends, friends with benefits etc. I too put a profile on a respectable online site "Our Time" and like you the first man I met was not for me and I was glad to get the first out of the way. As I journeyed through "online" I found myself really just using the time online to fill some of my own personal downtime. I was near the end of my 6th mo. subscription when I met Gerard. We are now engaged. If I hadn't taken that step, I would probably still be alone. I'm proud of myself for allowing my heart to open up to new possibilities. I'm still grieving my loss, however; I'm so grateful to have been given a new someone as well.

  3. I congratulate you. It is scary but I think that it is important that you know you can still love Dan and the life you had with him and still be willing to try to find someone new in your life. It is something that I am also struggling with. I don't want to be alone for the rest of my life but taking that first step is intimidating. Your post today has given me a push to do something that I have been thinking about for a while.

  4. What I have discovered, through this site is that I will never date again. The thought of a man touching me makes me want to throw up. There are details I could add, but I've just been through too much trauma for too long. Great to have a safe place to say this.

  5. Realizing that I would never stop grieving for Mike was also a huge thing for me to internalize. I'm still internalizing it, and maybe that process is just it...just learning to live with the fact that I will always miss him, that I will always be sad that he is not here to experience life alongside me any longer. The companion I find now at my side I did not search out - he literally landed on my doorstep and I know now I am grateful for that, knowing hard hard it all is, dating, that unknown quantity, being ready to reach is a huge step Rebecca. I wish for love, hugs, companionship and some kind of an enjoyment of life for you and all of us. And in the same breath, for the strength to survive if it all doesn't work out with that too. Sigh.