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Dating after the death of a partner

Amanda Angus / 30 August 2019

You’ve lost someone you love and there are no hard and fast rules for dealing with that, let alone for dating after suffering the death of a partner. We uncover some common fears about what a new relationship might mean for you, and try to smooth the way to better days.

Dating after the death of a partner

There’s no knowing how long it’ll take you to move on after a loved one dies. There’s no magical date on the calendar after which you’ll suddenly wake up and feel fine. But there’s also no set time during which you must continue mourning.

Every response to loss is unique, just as every relationship is, and the only timescale you have to worry about is your own. If you’re ready to start looking for love again, then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t – here’s our guide.

Am I really ready to meet someone new?

Do you compare every potential date with your late partner, but no one comes close? Or does the thought of being intimate with someone fill you with guilt? Try to push through these normal reactions – remember, you’ll naturally idolise your lost love, so try not to judge other people by unattainable standards.

However, if you well up at the mere thought of your late spouse, then perhaps look for friendship before looking for love – one can sometimes follow the other, but taking it slowly takes the pressure off.

If your loss is recent and you’re grieving, you’re not ready to move on. You and you alone are the only one who will know when you’re ready to start dating after losing your partner. Ask yourself if you’re willing to devote yourself to finding and being with someone new, because if the answer is no, chances are you will either wind up more hurt, or hurting someone else. Give it time and you’ll be able to devote 100% of yourself to finding love again.

Are you ready to start dating again?

Would my partner be upset at me moving on?

Guilt can often hold us back when it comes to looking for, or being with, someone else after the death of a loved one. Remember though that they loved you and would want nothing more than for you to find happiness again. Forget any concerns you might have about betraying them somehow and continue in your search to find love again. You deserve it.

Is it wrong to introduce someone new to my friends and children?

When ready to move on, how do you do so in a manner that’s respectful to your emotions, your new relationship, and to any children involved? Don’t rush into anything because you want someone to fill the hole your spouse left – you’ll need time to learn and appreciate a burgeoning relationship’s different dynamics. By the same token, don’t expect your new love to be anything like your late spouse – no one can take that place, and no one should be expected to.

Make a point of listening and responding thoughtfully to any misgivings your children have, and allow them time to come around to the idea. Sometimes the thought of our deceased partner’s reaction to things like a new love meeting your mutual friends or children is enough to make us ensure it never happens, but this guilt won’t do anyone any good. Remember that your partner would want you to be happy, and if your happiness means having someone new in your life meet the other people you know and love, that is what should happen. Just make sure all parties involved are comfortable with the situation before it’s arranged.

What if I never love someone new as much as I did my partner?

Don’t let fear hold you back. It’s perfectly natural to think you can never love anyone as much as the love you lost, but it’s entirely possible to love someone else in an entirely different way, and to be happy. You are a different person now, and chances are you’ve changed since you met your first partner too. Let go of all concerns, embrace this new stage of your life and be open to who and what it might bring.

Is it okay to talk about the partner I lost on a date?

Only you can decide when the time is right to talk about the love you lost, and who with, but it might be a good idea not to get into the details too soon. You wouldn’t want to give the impression that there’s no room in your life for anyone new. Instead, focus on yourself. You’re not just a person who’s been widowed – you are also interesting, inspired, accomplished and desirable. Reminiscing about the past will do you no good when you’re setting out to move on.

How do I go about finding someone new?

Online dating is ideal for this situation, because you can be completely transparent about your current state of mind without getting emotional in person; you can also search for people in the same boat, who might understand your needs more innately. Volunteering for something close to your heart could help you meet someone with similar interests – and, if they’re volunteering it’s an indication that they might not be too busy with their own lives to fit you in; alternatively, you might consider taking up a completely different hobby to anything you may have tried previously, in order to meet someone who won’t remind you of your late spouse at all.

But remember, be kind to yourself; there’s no need to push yourself before you’re ready, but if you are ready, there’s no need to feel guilty about that.


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

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