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Newest Member: mathemantic

New Beginnings :
Dated a widower and it ended in tears!

Topic is Sleeping.
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 BeanLaidir (original poster new member #61220) posted at 8:22 PM on Tuesday, February 7th, 2023

Last spring I met a really nice man online and ended up dating him. His late wife had died almost 5 years prior. We are the same age but I had children long before he did, so while mine are all grown up, his are still teenagers. Understandably his life revolved around them when they lost their mother (it was sudden and unexpected) and still does. He was already a sahd before his wife died so his kids had that stability in the aftermath of losing their mother.

We took things very slow, lots of walks and coffees and lunches as we got to know each other. Over the summer we had a few dates, and a couple of nights away when his kids were out of town. It was lovely and he expressed several times how lucky he felt to have met me. I had no problems with him talking about her at first as it was hard to share our pasts without referring to our spouses. As time went on I realised that we never got through a date or a walk or anything without him mentioning her name. Red flags started fluttering.

When the summer ended we were back to school routines and as he had taken on a postgrad degree, that was in the mix too. He reassured me that the routine would settle down and we would find our dating rhythm so I was patient and went along with seeing him only during the weekdays when his kids were in school. His weekends were, still are, full of sports activities, extra classes, scouts, parties, etc. His older two have busy social lives and are usually out with friends on Friday and Saturday nights and he doesn't like leaving the youngest at home so he prefers to stay in to babysit. More red flags unfortunately. We did go out, about four times between September and Christmas to dinner once (early bird so he could go home to the youngest), a concert (also home early) and two sports events only one of which he was able to make time for a drink after.

The holidays are a difficult time for him, and they are my affair season too, so I was careful to communicate that I understood these difficult times and would understand if he was a little quiet around the hardest days. In the first years after my separation I found these days very difficult. However I have worked hard to overcome this and regulate my emotions and I have largely 'reclaimed' the holidays I love. He prefers to use the season to remember the past and tries to keep everything exactly the same for the children. The weird thing was that for the first time in several years, I felt the loss of my own good times and family memories and the hurt of the ending of those good years came back to the surface. I don't think it was a coincidence that he was moping about and it triggered those feelings in me too. I decided that if we ended up together I would never have another Christmas like that with him. I like Christmas and he can be miserable on his own.

Eventually, after his sad season was over, I brought up the subject of our routine and how I felt it wasn't working for me. I said that I would like to see him at weekends. I even suggested that we could start with just two weekend dates a month, and see how things went. In the end of the day he couldn't even give me that, he kept saying he wished it wasn't like this (sounded familiar, that's what my ex said about his exit!) but that he just didn't have the time he thought he would. He asked me if I would keep things the same instead. I said no, that that felt like I was devalued. He wanted to stay friends and go for coffee occasionally but I politely declined that too and told him he doesn't get me as a friend if he doesn't value me enough to make an effort as a bf. He was upset, as was I but I wasn't going to be moved from my position.

I really just think he isn't ready to date, even if it is five years ago that she died. He wears his grief like a big comfort blanket, and every time it slips off his shoulders when he takes a step forward he gets cold and pulls it around him again. I can't do anything about that, nor do I want to. I never knew him when he was married so I didn't define him by his widowhood, but clearly he does. He even told me in our last conversation that he does define himself as a widower even though he knows he is single because he wants people to know that he lost his wife. And that was the crux of it, defined by the woman he lost rather than by the woman he found. I don't mean to trivialise his loss or his grief by the way, he is of course free to grieve in whichever way works for him and for however long he needs, but he had no business dating and hurting me in the process.

So that's my latest new beginning ending. The only good thing was that I saw the flags earlier, set my boundaries properly and walked away rather than move them to suit him. That is thanks in large part to the stories and advice I have read here over the past few years, so thank you to all those who have shared their triumphs and disasters to help others on their journeys!

Former BW no longer defining myself by the behavior of XH
Dday: Nov 2016, Dec 2016, Jan 2017, Feb 2017, Mar 2017 and finally decided enough was enough!
Liberation (Changed the Locks) Day: March 2017

posts: 44   ·   registered: Oct. 28th, 2017
id 8776554
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Forks027 ( member #59996) posted at 9:14 PM on Tuesday, February 7th, 2023

Sorry to hear that it didn’t work out, but kudos for sticking to your boundaries. While it is terrible that he’s having a rough time, it doesn’t mean you have to be dragged down with him. And it seems he’s pretty content with wearing his widower status like a badge of honor.

Onward and upward.

posts: 543   ·   registered: Aug. 4th, 2017
id 8776563
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Shehawk ( member #68741) posted at 2:19 AM on Wednesday, February 8th, 2023

Sorry this did not work out.

If I was dating a widower I would want to know that they were willing to consider my desires (like you asking for weekend time) in a timeline that felt right to me (not first date of course but if we were exclusive as an example).
The two of you seemingly were not in alignment with what you wanted and needed And good for you for being able to ask for what you wanted.

"It's a slow fade...when you give yourself away" so don't do it!

posts: 1570   ·   registered: Nov. 5th, 2018   ·   location: VA
id 8776597
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Superesse ( member #60731) posted at 5:15 AM on Wednesday, February 8th, 2023

Also sorry that you needed to end this but if it's any comfort - and BTW I loved your comfort blanket analogy - he might have always been the glass-half-empty type. You didn't know him then but maybe he was like that with her, too. Some people don't know what they have until it's gone. I applaud you for saying what you said, had to be difficult.

posts: 1941   ·   registered: Sep. 22nd, 2017   ·   location: Washington D C area
id 8776606
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 BeanLaidir (original poster new member #61220) posted at 9:43 PM on Thursday, February 9th, 2023

Thanks everyone, it's nice to just feel heard sometimes. I don't have too many friends I can talk about relationships to at the moment.

Superesse, I hadn't thought of the fact that he might have always been a bit of a pessimist. Now that you mention it and looking back on how he describes things you might be right.

I thought I would be sad this week but I really don't feel anything at all. I'm sorry he couldn't move forward but I'm not devastated. I miss him, our daily chats and messages were a nice part of my day, but going no contact on this one is easy, I feel so calm emotionally this time.

Former BW no longer defining myself by the behavior of XH
Dday: Nov 2016, Dec 2016, Jan 2017, Feb 2017, Mar 2017 and finally decided enough was enough!
Liberation (Changed the Locks) Day: March 2017

posts: 44   ·   registered: Oct. 28th, 2017
id 8776857
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EvenKeel ( member #24210) posted at 2:51 PM on Friday, February 10th, 2023

Bean - I had not replied yet but I have been thinking about your message all week.

He reassured me that the routine would settle down and we would find our dating rhythm

Did you discuss what that looked like for each of you. Obviously you wanted more and expressed it. Did he seem content with the current schedule or was he striving for more?

I ask that because when I was dating and my kids were still at home, I made it very clear to whoever I was dating what I would/could give. That outline that we would not be doing activities with my children, we would never be cohabitating, we wouldn't be intermiggling holidays, etc. That was just my boundaries while my children were younger. From the beginning of my relationships, I made that clear so if they were looking for more/faster, they could move along.

It sounds like he really enjoyed your companionship but was just not desiring to do anything more at this point of their childhoods. That is fine...if he communicates that early on. But maybe he really didn't know what he wanted or could do at that point. Highly unfair to you.

However I have worked hard to overcome this and regulate my emotions and I have largely 'reclaimed' the holidays I love. He prefers to use the season to remember the past and tries to keep everything exactly the same for the children.

I agree, after my D...I changed things up and reclaimed/revamped some holiday traditions, etc.
However, the difference is my children's father did not died. So I could understand, if he had, maybe wanting to keep those traditions the same for them?

As time went on I realized that we never got through a date or a walk or anything without him mentioning her name.

My BF's SO passed away. I am his first relationship since and he dated very early in his grieving. He talked about her a lot. But over years, it got better and now it is very rare. It is actually me that usually brings it up. Like for Christmas, we set up those little holiday, ceramic houses. There was one that was a farm and I got little farm animals for it and called it his 'late SO's house' because it featured her favorite animals. Like a little tribute to her memory.

I don't mean to trivialise his loss or his grief by the way, he is of course free to grieve in whichever way works for him and for however long he needs, but he had no business dating and hurting me in the process.

I agree. Maybe he just didn't even realize he is just not ready? That happens sometimes. We think we are more healed than we are and dip our toes back in (and bam).

I am so sorry you got hurt in the process. Kudos for you for being able to identify this relationship just is not working for you or meeting your needs and ending it. I know that is a hard thing to do.

posts: 6859   ·   registered: May. 31st, 2009   ·   location: Pennsylvania
id 8777061
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 BeanLaidir (original poster new member #61220) posted at 10:01 PM on Friday, February 10th, 2023

Thanks for your reply EvenKeel, I really appreciate the time you and everyone here takes to respond.

Did you discuss what that looked like for each of you. Obviously you wanted more and expressed it. Did he seem content with the current schedule or was he striving for more?

I ask that because when I was dating and my kids were still at home, I made it very clear to whoever I was dating what I would/could give. That outline that we would not be doing activities with my children, we would never be cohabitating, we wouldn't be intermiggling holidays, etc. That was just my boundaries while my children were younger. From the beginning of my relationships, I made that clear so if they were looking for more/faster, they could move along.

It sounds like he really enjoyed your companionship but was just not desiring to do anything more at this point of their childhoods. That is fine...if he communicates that early on. But maybe he really didn't know what he wanted or could do at that point. Highly unfair to you.


We did discuss seeing each other more often, and he said several times that we would make more time soon. He could just never prioritize me. I think he just threw himself in at the deep end without thinking of the changes he would have to make to grow the relationship. He wouldn't ask either of his two older teenagers to stay home so he could go out on a Friday or Saturday night. I think he was afraid of upsetting them by going on dates. When we met during the week they were at school so his involvement with me was hidden from them. I probably should have seen that red flag sooner. What he said (planning to see each other more often and go away on breaks) did not match his actions of being available only during the week in the mornings.

I would have been absolutely on board with your plan above btw. I would not have been comfortable with family activities, holidays and the like. I would not cohabitate under any circumstances with kids under at least college age. So there was no pressure coming from me to push things to a place he didn't want to go. I just wanted to go out to dinner or a movie on a Saturday night!

My BF's SO passed away. I am his first relationship since and he dated very early in his grieving. He talked about her a lot. But over years, it got better and now it is very rare. It is actually me that usually brings it up. Like for Christmas, we set up those little holiday, ceramic houses. There was one that was a farm and I got little farm animals for it and called it his 'late SO's house' because it featured her favorite animals. Like a little tribute to her memory.


That is a lovely gesture from you, I'm sure your BF really appreciates it.
I agree about keeping the traditions in place for the children too, I did the same for mine. I didn't really change anything about our holiday traditions but worked on my own emotions around the hard days and reframed them so I now enjoy all the good parts again. I think my widower keeps things the same for himself more than the kids tbh, he told me that they are always asking to go away for Christmas but his late wife's family always spent Christmas with them and his former(?)MIL is elderly and he feels obliged to keep it going even though his kids complain. I get it, there's a fear there, because it moves him away from the happy family memories. All of it points to him not being ready for anyone new in his life though, no matter much sympathy I have for his situation.

Former BW no longer defining myself by the behavior of XH
Dday: Nov 2016, Dec 2016, Jan 2017, Feb 2017, Mar 2017 and finally decided enough was enough!
Liberation (Changed the Locks) Day: March 2017

posts: 44   ·   registered: Oct. 28th, 2017
id 8777185
Topic is Sleeping.
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