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Should widows dating choose divorcees or widowers?

widows dating

Dating is hard enough at any stage of life. But should widowers and widows dating divorcees have to worry about their relationship? Should they only date other widows and widowers? And if divorced, should they only date other divorcees? What’s the combination that will give you the best chance for true companionship?

Divorcee + divorcee? Widow + widower? Divorcee + widow?

At Stitch, many of our members are either widowed or divorced, which brings new challenges to widows datingfinding a partner later in life. It’s an unchosen label that both connects them to others that have experienced the same trauma, but also makes them feel as if a world made for couples has thrown them aside.

We’re always incredibly touched by the stories we hear and think it’s wonderful that both are taking steps to seek companionship. However, some bumps along the process could possibly be avoided by not “crossing the border” from widow to divorcee. As a result, the question has been asked: Should you be dating a widower as a divorcee, and visa-versa?

“I’ll never date a widow again.”

For one member who has recently come out of a relationship (we’ll call him “Howard” since he did not want his name to be shared), said that it’s not something that he would be willing to do again. As a recent divorcee, he had begun a new relationship with a widow and at the time they dated, thought that he had finally found “the one.” He felt like his ex-wife was never really his soul mate and that his soul mate was still out there, and it was Terry (also a fake name to protect identities). Unfortunately, as the months passed, Howard realized that Terry didn’t consider him her soul mate. To her, “the one” was her late husband. She even called out her late husband’s name during intimate moments with Howard. 

The relationship was one-sided. Howard knew he would never live up to the memory of Terry’s late husband and didn’t feel he could continue when they didn’t both think they had found their soul mate. He said it was even more painful than his divorce, realizing that Terry would never truly be his. Heartbroken, Howard had to walk away and is now only dating fellow divorcees. He said, “I’ll never date a widow again.” 

“We’re starting from zero.”

widows datingThat’s just one story.  For another couple who met on Stitch (she a divorcee named “Lynn” and he a widower named “Paul”) the question of whether they would be compatible because of their different losses never came up.  Lynn said, “There will be obstacles to overcome in any relationship and ours is no different. Sometimes we fight. Sometimes we laugh, and sometimes we cry! Maybe we cry for different reasons, but having a shoulder to cry on, someone I love, it doesn’t matter about how we got there, just that we found each other now.”

Paul said, “Of course I miss my wife and yes she was my soul mate. But, I am able to think of that as my past, as Chapter 1 in my book of life. With Lynn, it’s Chapter 2. We’re starting from zero. She and I have built a new life together and every day I’m grateful to Stitch for leading me to her. Thirty years ago, we would never have worked.  I’m so excited for the future. It’s been a long time since I felt this way.”

Forget about dating?

Another Stitch member, “Deborah,” who is both a divorcee and widow, shared with us that she has felt a gaping hole in her life for decades. Such a mix of different trauma and pain led her to feel that the only way to feel right again was to find another husband. She went on hundreds of dates, never able to commit to someone and never feeling better.widows dating

Then Deborah joined Stitch. She said, “It wasn’t until Stitch that I realized that what was missing from my life wasn’t a man.  It was a RELATIONSHIP.  Having these women in my life has magically brought me back to my youth.  I have re-discovered what I loved most about being a girl and hanging out with my friends … only without the angst and self-esteem issues that haunted me then.  Thanks to Stitch I’ve found FUN.  I’ve reconnected with JOY and discovered Peace of Mind.  What more could anyone want? ”

Her advice is to forget about dating and focus on finding true friends. Use Stitch to meet different people with different backgrounds. Use the Stitch Forums to dig in deeper on these issues and connect with people who can understand what it’s like to be a Widow or Divorcee. 

Even with these stories, the question still remains. You’re a recent widower. Who should you be dating? You’re a divorced single mom. Who should you be dating? Rather than answer this question ourselves, we want to turn it over to you.

What do you think? What’s been your experience moving forward from death or divorce?

Start by sharing your thoughts in the comments section below. If you’re a Stitch Member, you can also continue the discussion on Stitch by clicking here.

27 Comments

  1. Adria

    There are no formulas. Every person and every relationship is unique. If love and relationships were simple, we’d all be in love all the time. Intimacy/companionship isn’t simple and that’s what makes it so special. I’d like to add that I’m in a category not mentioned in this article: single by choice but having had long term relationships. Some divorced or widowed people might rule me out; others consider it “a stigma,” or an anomaly, and many others don’t care at all. I have many wonderful friends of all ages, single and married and I’m enjoying dating men who are single, divorced and widowed. It’s all about the person.

    1. Maria

      Well said Adria. There is no magic formula. I was divorced after a very long marriage and was devastated by that loss for some time. Then i met a wondeful man who was my life partner for 15 years. He died a few years ago and since then i havent felt like dating but i really DID need companionship which was difficult because all my freinds were oartnered. I have tried lots of things like Stitch and have to say it has been able to introduce me to some v ry nice people – male and female. So rhere IS life after divorce and death, but everyone is different, and it takes time, courage, persistence and hope!

    2. Lisa

      I was suddenly widowed 9 years ago after 28 years of being married to my best friend. It took a long time, but I feel ready to meet some new people. I think one of the biggest differences between being widowed and being divorced is a person’s attitude towards marriage. I loved being married, would love to be married again someday. I have met some very bitter divorced gentlemen that are much more hesitant about the idea of marriage in general. I am not looking to replace my husband. I think I would be attracted to a very different type of man at this point in my life. I have wonderful memories of being married and raising our daughters, but I am excited about the possibilities, no bad feelings about being married in my baggage cart….

      1. Leah

        Very good point about the bitterness and baggage of a divorce victim, Lisa. Well spoken, thank you.

  2. Marcia

    I have been divorced twice and I have been widowed. With a divorce, time goes by and you heal and you get over the person. When your spouse suddenly dies, I guess the “getting over” part is just years going by and, hopefully, hurting less. I don’t miss my ex-husbands (there were 2) and have no feelings for them whatsoever, but I truly miss my late husband. I have toyed with using a dating site, but last time I dated was 30 years ago. I don’t know that I know how to do it. People my age will have so much baggage I just can’t imagine how it could work out. So I have not tried it yet. Stitch has certainly NOT helped in any way to encourage me to “get out there”. I don’t even get hits from women who want to be friends, let alone men who might be interested. Just confirms the loneliness of being single.

    1. Dot

      Marcia, I lost my husband almost 18 years ago after being together for nearly 25 years and know how you feel. I have only had one partner so don’t know how United Human Galactic Society it feels to be divorced but I am watching my daughter go through this process and it seems very painful too. I do get matches but as I am a ‘free’ member these are only a couple each time and there has only been one that has gone as far as contacting each other. I don’t know where you are but hope that you have some support – it is very lonely being widowed and I know what you mean about re-entering the dating scene, like you I am not sure how to proceed, things are not the same as when I was dating my husband all those years ago! Take care of yourself and I hope you find friends soon, more people seem to be joining Stitch now.

    2. kath

      I am new to this too and although it is great to have the security of stitch I too haven’t had any replies to my interested female friends very disappointed

      1. Marcie Rogo

        Hi Kath, I’m so sorry to hear that! It does take a couple of weeks to really get going and have connections. I hope you do stick with us and I think you’ll be having a great experience soon.
        Marcie

        1. marshall kanchele

          I have not yet come to terms of looking my wife of 10 years.she left me with two daughters aged 10 and 7.I need someone who has gone through the same predicament to share with me.

  3. Leah Remeika-Dugan

    I very much agree with Adria, who astutely remarked that it is complex and each combination of two persons is unique and different. Very well spoken.

    I also agree with Marcia. I was married and divorced two decades prior to meeting my dear late husband from whom I am sadly widowed. I am free of emotion regarding the divorce from long ago, as that relationship was rightly declared null and void. But the relationship with a deceased spouse rightly continues beyond death.

    I prefer to think of a new relationship as additive rather than “starting from scratch — how does one do that anyway? Your bond with the departed spouse remains. I think you live and love two persons, but show insight into the unique formula between the”new” person who has their own makeup, and the previous bond simply cannot be replicated. It is well and truly gone in its previous form, but hopefully you (or I) have integrated the virtues of the departed spouse, and the good qualities of that relationship into our beings – and can bring those to bear in any new relationships without trying to make a new person be anything other than who they are uniquely.

    Regards to divorced vs widowed, we must devote sufficient thoughts and emotions and spirituality to reflect on what has transpired. Most people look for the easy way out (replacement) and so caution is advised to ensure we don’t get bound into a predicament, I think.

    The word insight comes to mind. Has the divorced person shown sufficient insight into what has gone wrong so as to not repeat it? A widowed person like myself also needs to show insight.

    Love changes us, and death changes us again. Our outlook and lives would rightly reflect the depth of the tragedy. If not, warning bells should be going off.

    Good wishes x

  4. Catherine

    Well, i agree, we are all different, i dated a widower for about 2 years. He was a lovely man and i truely believed we could have settled down and had a good life togeather. We share a great deal of interests. However, i ended the relationship because i sensed that i would never really be the ‘special’ one. He, his family and friends made it very clear that i was only there because his late wife tragically was not. His house remained filled with her pictures, anniversaries and birthdays were always brought up with great sadness.

    Whilst i know it must be a terrible loss, if someone wants to move on to a new relationship, then they really do need to be sensitive to their new partner too. I would be very cautious in future about dating a widower.

  5. Dot

    Aargh- where did United Human Galactic Society come from??? Help! Can I edit my comment?

    1. Mary Ann

      Marcia et all. I agree with all that you have said. I got divorced after bankrolling my husband thru
      his doctoral program and working full time. Then my place of employment told me that I had to work on Bachelors and Masters degrees. Not having received any monetary compensation from him I continued to work full time and attended classes evenings and weekends. No time for any socializing.
      After 8 years I got my Masters then the powers that be said you need to work on your doctorate.
      I said no I need a LIFE. Finally after a couple of years of dating I met my husband who really was the love of my life. He was a widower and I a divorcee, We had about 21 years of a fabulous wonderful life but then he became very ill and passed away 4 years ago. I now am trying to meet someone for companionship and maybe more but I am in my 70’s and there are not many quality avallable men.
      I find that having been divorced and also widowed the widowed men are much more compassionate
      and sensitive to my feelings as they have also experienced similar situations. Two divorced men I dated did not seem to understand the deep bond a truly happy and compatible couple has. I find that it is very hard to be alone especially at this age.
      .

      1. Marcie Rogo

        Thank you, Mary Ann, for sharing something your personal story. This is a great insight.

  6. Judy

    Judy April 15
    Dot, I wondered where the UHS came from but at least it shows we are reading people’s comments.
    It’s interesting to read comments and find out how similar our thoughts are. I’m a long time divorcee and have had a couple of other relationships. I find that one has to be very straightforward and up front. I’d like to find someone to travel with but that doesn’t mean I want to rush into an intimate relationship.
    I hope that those of you who needed more support found it at the time when you most needed it.

  7. Natalie

    Has anyone found it easy to meet again and find a great partner, I would love to hear your story?

    1. Marcie Rogo

      Hi Natalie, you can check out our blog about Carol and Doug and read their story. Enjoy! http://www.stitch.net/blog/2016/02/valentines-day-stories-from-stitch-members-kathie-carol-and-doug/

  8. Esbe

    22-04-16…I must be blessed as I do not put any pressure on men. I had been proposed twice and offered of shacking up twice..all by different individuals. None was accepted as I do not feel the need nor the desire to be ‘looked after’ and ‘to look after’. I have and still make it clear to acquaintances and friends that feeling need to be mutual and past history remains past history. If any relationship is form, we move on with a new chapter..however I have to meet someone that I want to suffer life with! To have fun with…yes aplenty!

    You never forget the one you lost..you never forget the bad experience you had…you treasure the memories as part of your history…but they are not here for us anymore! Lamenting the loss for a period…yes by all means. Be appreciative that we had our departed love one for as long as we did. If we were in an unpleasant relationship, divorce had been a blessing.

    I have been a widow for over 20 years…I had been loved and treasured so much, as much as I had been a wonderful, supportive and emphatic wife and person. Birth, love, lost, death..and a new beginning (if any) are part and parcel of life…each enriching the next.

  9. Martin

    So many women have written here. I feel outgunned. I am a widower. It is a hard thing to get over, especially when the relationship was so strong and is suddenly gone. I don’t think I will ever stop cherishing the relationship we had. But I also remember that it was many years in the making. There was a bond, but it took work to get through the rough times and that common struggle brought us closer together. It is hard to suddenly not have that anymore.

    I’ve never been divorced. I had many long relationships that ended before marriage was an issue. Some just faded away and some were painful break-ups. I understand the reticence in connecting with someone again. None of us wants to feel that pain again. I also understand the drive to connect with someone else again on an emotionally intimate level. To care for someone and to have someone who cares for you. Not having that person to talk to anymore, or to share the good times with, or to vent up a frustrating day with leaves a big hole. The desire to fill it is strong. But it would not be fair.

    I have a lot of friends. I have many acquaintances. I don’t need more. I miss having someone to just be with. Someone to hug or hold hands with. It’s not about sex, but human contact on a level deeper than you get with most friends. Someone to make jokes with and to make laugh and to surprise with small things. This is probably a male thing, because it seems to me that many women have a similar relationship with friends. Men don’t.

    What I do know from long experience is that things just happen. Often when you go looking for a thing, you never find it. Then one day you stop looking and there it is. Maybe it’s that sense of need or longing you were projecting too hard or maybe you were looking in the wrong place. I don’t know. It’s hard to relax and let a thing happen when you miss it so badly.

    For now, I am trying to rebuild what I was/am. Any relationship brings compromise. We accommodate the other person’s needs and work them into our lives. As I work to redefine what I am, what I do, what I am living for, I am also trying to be open to anything that comes along. But with age, I am wary of many things and when the alarm bells go off, I want to react immediately. So patience is becoming my reaction these days. I know that I am the one who makes these decisions. Not another person, not a committee. I am the one who will have to live with those decisions – as I always have. I am the one who can change how I respond and what I decide.

    So back to the original issue. A divorced person will likely have the baggage of a failed relationship and be on the lookout for those things – those triggers – that look too much like the past. A person who has lost a long-time lover/friend/partner can’t help but to be reminded of a wonderful relationship that was ended too soon. It takes time to move beyond these things. You will know when that time comes if you only listen. The challenge is the other person – as it always has been.

    Part of me enjoys being single again. That part is not so sure it wants to share my life with anyone else anymore. It doesn’t want to make compromises or change the patterns that are now developing. Another part of me longs for someone to once again share the delights, frustrations and joys of life with. I guess if the right time happens with the right person, I will be eager to compromise once again.

    I do know that I am embarking on a new chapter in my life – whether it’s the one I planned or not. (It isn’t.) I look forward to the exciting new adventures awaiting me. I learn and I grow from everything I experience. I’m not done yet. There are decades ahead of me. I remain open to all kinds of people and will make decisions based on what they are without the intention of trying to change them.

    1. Marcie Rogo

      Thank you, Martin, that’s beautifully written. I’m sure can replace your late spouse, but I do hope that we can help you enjoy your next chapter to find companions, make connections, and more. Thank you again for sharing so openly.

      1. Adria

        A loved spouse can’t be replaced. Each person is singular. But a person can develop and new, different, and rewarding relationship when ready.

        1. Kalia

          Couldn’t have said it any better, his wife can never be replaced….

    2. Marilyn

      Thanks for sharing such an insightful perspective ….although I am a widow of 5 years…I know the feelings you describe…yet until now have been unable to find words to paint a picture of the scenario that describes the current “me”…not necessarily a vessel adrift yet more like a vase awaiting the most complementary bouquet…as I further explore the garden of life..Sounds as if you are at a productive and rewarding place in life…

    3. Ruth

      The debate for widows or widowers is this ‘Should I date a divorced person or date a person who also lost their loved one.’ I am a 54 year old widow and it was quite a blow when a wise friend of min said “of course, seek a widower.” They reasoned widow/widower are single honestly. That was depressing because it narrowed the playing field dramatically! Women tend to live longer than men. I live in a resort area where it is ten women to one man and if you even think the man is going to get serious with an entire harem set before him-I do not think so. He can have a different date every night. And TRUST, here they do. Unless, of course I want to relocate to Alaska where single women are sparse.

      I went against that advice on a few divorcée dates and the hidden rage I could sense a mile away when the subject of “THE EX” came up stunned me. And once my dates brought THAT up – they seemed immersed in the slights of the past. It was clear to me why the other partner wanted to flee. So I am back to agreeing a widower is best for me.

      When dating another widow or widower they are going to have fond memories of the former and I feel boundaries must be set to allow FOUR people in the relationship-as long as it is MUTAL and your not expecting your new date to BE that former person.
      Case in point, I used to walk this beautiful wooded area and ran into a guy I was attracted too with a ring still on his finger. I saw him as only an intelligent person to walk with. I respected the ring on his finger. But by the sixth walk together he admitted although he was married she died six months prior. I allowed him to talk about her ALL he wanted and respected what she meant to him. I did the same and talked about what my late husband meant to me and funny things he would do. But it has to be mutual. To become jealous of someone who is dead or deny their positive impact on your candidates life is very unrealistic.

      Now, I have not been in the position of photos of the deceased being all over the place or meeting “friends” of the candidate who offers nothing but cold shoulders…I hope I never do. I do not have photos of my late husband all over the place because frankly, it hurts me to recall just what I lost and I need to move on. If your candidate has not moved on to SOME extent, well, they are not ready and your setting yourself up to be hurt. I guess that is apparent when photos are everywhere and discussion is one sided as to how special our former lovers were. The dating sites are a nightmare and so many fake profiles – I am on here to see WHERE we can even find verified matches. I still do not know the answer. One lady on here mentioned she just found female friends to go have fun with (since women do live longer then men) and that makes sense also. Be the girl we never got to be and maybe run into “him” by serendipity. Which, come to think of it, is HOW I met anyone important in my life.

  10. Dosh

    It depends with an individual.As you know human being are unique with different characters one might choose a widow and one a divorcee.

  11. comfort

    Just stumbled on stitch. The greatest challenge I have faced is loneliness. I lost a friend I stayed married to for almost thirty years,it’s not been easy but God’s grace has been sufficient. It’s interesting to find people who lost their love ones finding friendship and courage here.

  12. Sabra

    I have been widowed for five years and have dated several men but only had two serious relationships with one being a widower. I ended it because I was too independent among other things and I loved it. He cried with me, consoled me and understood my pain. My first preference would be to date a widower first because like I’ve said, I’ve dated nonwidowers who just were not a good fit

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