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Dating after death of a lover


purpleshirt
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For about 3 years, I was in the absolute best relationship of my life. He was a beautiful man, emotionally available, supportive, loving....everything I could have ever asked for really. We were talking about marriage. Then quite unexpectedly he passed away from a massive heart attack at the age of 36. That was a little over two years ago. I have grieved the loss of him and accepted his passing for what it is. I'm starting to think about dating again and realize I have no idea how to do that. I've never been someone who has dated after loss so I don't know what to expect of myself. I can't really rely on any of my previous dating experience because I am nowhere near that same person anymore. Anyone have any advice? I think I'm scared of making that first leap and falling flat on my face. Or busting out crying from emotions that get stirred up.

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First off my condolences. I can’t imagine such a loss.

I say take it gradually and maybe make a list of traits you want in your next partner? That way it’s easier to weed out a bunch that don’t fit. Be wary though, if you do online dating there’s a lot of people that see being vulnerable with anything and given your loss. They will try to take advantage of it. It’s a sick world in online dating. 
 

That’s why the list will be helpful to weed out those people. I also think be careful with your expectations as well. You don’t want to go into dating thinking you’ll find another guy that was like your love.

 

After my loss of an 11 year relationship I tried finding someone exactly like him. I then realized I was setting myself up for failure and disappointment.

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59 minutes ago, purpleshirt said:

Anyone have any advice? I think I'm scared of making that first leap and falling flat on my face. Or busting out crying from emotions that get stirred up.

Start in small steps. Join a few groups and local clubs, learn to mingle and talk with new people. Acquaint yourself with being infront of unfamiliar faces and being engaged and converse with others in casual settings. That all being said, you may already be doing that and are comfortable around strangers or new faces. 

Some people try online dating right away. There is no harm in doing that. Practice safety and meet in a public space and keep your first meets short. 

Also, pause anything if you're uncertain or just don't feel you're in the right mindset. Take breaks. I'm sorry for this loss. 

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Making leaps and falling is a part of the process, sadly. There are very rare instances where people meat somebody great right away. In most cases it involves falls. Sometimes a lot of falls. So you need to be ready for that. 

That being said, I dont know if it was already involved in your grief process, but would still recommend grief support groups. I dunno if you are ready or not to date because of traumatic experience like that, but I think it will help you in the process of moving on in terms of dating somebody else after loss. As you will meet people with similar experience there who already did go through that and who can help you do the same.

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i can relate. My fiancé had a medical incident while driving and passed away at age 24 in 2020. 
Last year I met a man through mutual friends and we recently began dating. We spent some time together as friends, really just hanging out and keeping things sort of low key.  I was honest with him that I needed the relationship to progress slow and that I wasn’t sure I could emotionally handle it. I had a great time with him…. but was a wreck after the first handful of times I went out with M. I cried so hard after the first date we had. I felt guilty and like I was betraying my fiancé. Someone on here recommended I go back to grief counseling. I am glad that I did. It really helps me to process my feelings about both F and M. It helped me learn that it is OK to move on. I know that F ultimately would want me to be happy and not be alone. I am young and have a lot of life to live. I still have my days where I am in a funk and grieve what I had with F. Sometimes things in daily life trigger reminders of F. Maybe  something I see on hear in the radio or a silly movie line M recites that F used to say too.  I allow the moment to grieve. I am honest with M when I need a little extra space to wallow and he gives me that.  I don’t know if my grief will ever fully go away. I guess that is part of loving someone.  
I apologize that this isn’t advice but just my experience. It’s helped me on my grief journey to hear from other people that can relate. 

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12 hours ago, MsAin1st said:

...but was a wreck after the first handful of times I went out with M. I cried so hard after the first date we had. I felt guilty and like I was betraying my fiancé...

Thank you for sharing your experience. I am so sorry for your loss. It helps to know that I am not alone in going through something like this. I do already have that feeling of betrayal as I think about moving on, moving forward. I have talked through that a lot in therapy. I anticipate having many of the same responses you have with moments of sadness and reprocessing grief with each step. I am glad that you have been able to find someone who is supportive and understanding. I hope to eventually find that for myself. I don't want fear to keep my from trying. I think taking it slow is going to be the key. Like you said, I know that he would want me to be happy and live fully. 

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17 hours ago, limichelle said:

I also think be careful with your expectations as well. You don’t want to go into dating thinking you’ll find another guy that was like your love.

I have considered this. He was so much of what I wanted that it will be hard. Once we were having a conversation and he said that if anything ever happened, the next guy best be better than him, lol. He was joking but damn what a seemingly impossible standard he set. Making a list seems like a really good place to start. Not only will it help with navigating the waters but it may also give me insight into some of those existing expectations.

I agree that online dating would be an overwhelming place to start. I remember how tricky that can be. My hope is to be able to meet someone organically but that can be elusive. I'm not in a hurry though. I don't need to be in a relationship but I'd like to eventually find someone I could share life with. 

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17 hours ago, Rose Mosse said:

Acquaint yourself with being infront of unfamiliar faces and being engaged and converse with others in casual settings.

This is definitely one of the first steps I need to take. Not only did the loss of him lead me toward some self isolation but having COVID hit just after compounded that significantly. I have started to explore opportunities to get out and mingle and take advantage of invites from friends. 

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On 2/2/2022 at 10:34 AM, purpleshirt said:

This is definitely one of the first steps I need to take. Not only did the loss of him lead me toward some self isolation but having COVID hit just after compounded that significantly. I have started to explore opportunities to get out and mingle and take advantage of invites from friends. 

You know I can try to share.  In 2004 one of my dearest friends died young of cancer.  She'd been married 2.5 years -he married her shortly after the diagnosis (they were already engaged, wedding was planned) and he was an amazing husband. The best. He also was fairly reserved and stoic.  I'd known her over 30 years but him only a couple of years. 

He cried to me after she died.  He told me he just wasn't sure he'd ever love anyone again like he loved her. He was in his early 30s.  Her parents told him they hoped in the future he'd marry again.  They really wanted the best for him and knew he also had wanted a family.  

I believe he started dating about a year later.  He did some in person singles events and maybe some online dating.  He met his second wife maybe 2 years after his wife died.  Through a singles event.  I believe they are happily married.  She looks something like my friend.  She's a good person.  He took me out for breakfast to tell me he was planning to propose to her.  He seemed very happy.  I'm happy he remarried.  He's a great husband and dad to her.  So he made it happen.  I believe he did see a therapist during the time he was so intensely grieving.

I know someone else's story might not resonate with you.  I hope though it brings you hope.  Again I am sorry for your loss.

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18 hours ago, Batya33 said:

I know someone else's story might not resonate with you.  I hope though it brings you hope. 

Thank you. It is helpful and hopeful to learn that others have found love again after loss. It helps to know this isn't as impossible as it feels. Just thinking about getting back out there can overwhelm me. But I think it's fear mostly, uncertainty of what will come. I've gotten some good advice in this thread and I do intend to start the journey forward. I have to remember that it is baby steps right now. 

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I just passed the five year mark since the man I was seeing pretty seriously died very suddenly while driving (cardiac arrest), and to further complicate things he had been on his way to see me at the time.  He was older, he was 64 at the time (15 years older than I was).  Then my young adult daughter was murdered 18 months later.  Obviously that was very traumatic for me and my other kids and my whole family really, and my mother started really declining at that time, and died 6 months later.  Needless to say dating has not been my priority.  However, what little I did, I found it much easier said than done to not compare any new guys to the one who passed. 

Another thing you may have to decide is how much, and when, to tell a new guy, especially since it will inevitably be on your mind.  Sometimes I mentioned my past fairly soon, and sometimes I never did.  Later seemed to work better for me.  I don't think there's any right or wrong answer to that, it may be trial and error . . . A LOT of this may be trial and error.  And that's okay, none of it necessarily means you're "not ready" or doing it "wrong", it just means you're finding your way.

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On 2/4/2022 at 6:28 PM, waffle said:

Another thing you may have to decide is how much, and when, to tell a new guy, especially since it will inevitably be on your mind.  Sometimes I mentioned my past fairly soon, and sometimes I never did.  Later seemed to work better for me.  I don't think there's any right or wrong answer to that, it may be trial and error . . . A LOT of this may be trial and error.  And that's okay, none of it necessarily means you're "not ready" or doing it "wrong", it just means you're finding your way.

Thank you for sharing your experience. I am so sorry for your losses. When/how to talk about it has been something I've thought about a lot. There's no easy way to bring it up and it will be a heavy conversation to have. Trial and error seems to be inevitable. I appreciate the reminder that it isn't a reflection of me if things are difficult at first and that I should remember to give myself some grace.

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