A widow's widower-dating story

When I receive an email that opens with words similar to these, "I met a widower...," I can usually predict the gist of the contents.

Such is the case with Fran, 66, a widow of three years. She emailed: "I met a 71-year-old widower through a mutual friend a year and a half ago. The relationship has been a strong affectionate one, seeing each other at least once or twice a week.

"It will be two years this August that his wife passed away, however, there has been an increase of pictures of her, including one taped to the steering wheel of the pickup truck. He visits the cemetery every week and when he has nothing to do. Shortly after Mother's Day, he told me he needed a break."

Widowers who date soon after losing a spouse often end up hurting the new woman. The widower in question started dating Fran four months after his wife passed away.

Fran said, "We have spoken on the telephone three times since June 2. Upbeat conversations, however no mention of getting together. From a man's point of view, is this guilt and grief again or do you feel he just wants to end the relationship?

"If this is guilt, do I quietly wait for him to make the next move and go on with my life? All of his qualities are good. I am very comfortable with him. A few times he joked about moving in together (early in the relationship)."

Tom's response

"I am not a widower so I am not an expert. However, four months was too soon for him to date. If pictures are appearing now, he is missing her. Whether it's guilt or he wants to end the relationship I can't say.

"But for sure, he didn't have time to heal. Your companionship got him through the foggy period. Now, he's stepping back for a reality check. He may see other women. Don't chase or push him. You are a widow, you know the drill."

When the widower telephoned Fran earlier this month, the two spoke for an hour. Fran had previously promised him a birthday lobster dinner and told him the offer was still on the table.

"He said he didn't want me to spend all of that money and that I didn't have to do it. I told him I wanted to, and to just pick a date and let me know. That was the last I heard from him," she said.

She added, "I don't want to blow this; I am letting him make the next move. He left behind a change of clothing, hedge trimmers and a tree trimmer. I thought a few months from now I would drop a note or call and remind him they are here, no?

"Does a call once every six weeks to say 'Hi, how's it going?' constitute chasing?"

Fran's story will generate opinions from widowers and widows in our group. Until we hear from them, here is my advice to her.

It's too bad you became so deeply involved with an emotionally unavailable man. Holding out hope at this point is futile. You have no choice but to get on with your life. Do not quietly wait for him and do not contact him. You already did that for a year and a half. Save the lobster dinner for someone who will appreciate it.

No need to remind him that the clothing, hedge and tree trimmers are at your house. He will realize that when he looks for the clothes in his closet while prepping for his next date, or when his hedges need a trim. Beat him to the punch: sell those items in a garage sale or donate them to charity.

If he calls and wants to take you for a spin, insist on a vehicle other than the pickup truck so you don't have to view Sissy's picture on the steering wheel.

© 2010, Tom Blake

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Tom Blake is an expert on dating after 50. He has appeared twice on the "Today Show" and has written more than 500 columns on dating and relationships. His "Single Again" column appears in The Orange County Register in southern California, is read worldwide and is often featured on msn.com. He is a professional speaker. He spoke at the national AARP convention in San Diego in 2002, and in Chicago. His book, Middle Aged and Dating Again, is a humorous account of his first year of dating after his third divorce. His second book is Finding Love After 50: How to begin, where to go, what to do. His latest book is titled How 50 Couples Found Love after 50. To ask a question or receive Tom's free weekly column on middle-age dating and relationships by e-mail, click on www.findingloveafter50.com or E-Mail.

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