For most people, dating can be very difficult. But for those who have lost a spouse, dating can be a minefield. Aside from feelings of guilt and fear, widows and widowers might also feel pressure, conflict and confusion.
Some widows/widowers may have the urge to start dating quickly, while others may prefer to take more time. Some may even choose to remain single indefinitely. Ultimately, the choice is a personal one and there is no set timeline.
If you or a loved one is thinking about dabbling in the dating pool after the loss of a spouse, there are a few things to consider. For starters, give yourself plenty of time.
"Someone married for 20 years to a partner who dies of a long standing disease will have a different experience than a 25-year-old whose partner died suddenly in a car accident," says relationship therapist Leslie Malchy. "Everyone has a different circumstance, life history and personal process of healing."
It is OK and completely normal to stop dating after you've started again if you feel overwhelmed.
Below, Malchy shares more dos and don'ts for navigating the dating scene after the loss of a spouse. From allowing yourself to make comparisons to setting boundaries with friends and families, these tips can help you find love and companionship once again.