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Three Tips for Dating After Loss

August 16, 2012
By Guest Blogger
|11Comments|


When I decided to start dating again after my husband died it was almost like guilt started screaming at me so loud that I felt sick to my stomach.

I literally had to sit down and think this decision through.

It was not as simple as a yes or a no answer. I was a 34-year-old widow, with two little girls by my side. When I sat down to think it through, along came some ”friends.”

Guilt sat at one side and shame at the other.

They were not happy with me contemplating dating, and they were not going to let me even consider the option of being with someone else.

They were telling me, “It’s way too soon.

And that I should not be so selfish.”

“I have little kids to think about; what am I doinggetting all dressed up and going out on a date?”

“How dare I think of me?”

With heart palpitations and a very strong nauseous feeling in my stomach, I got up and left guilt and shame behind me.

Grief started following me around, telling me to just go to bed, rest, and watch a movie. Tomorrow will be another tough day.

I shut the door on that voice.

At that moment I saw myself for the first time trying to emerge from all the fear that I was so used to living with every day.

I remember going on that date and not telling anyone about it.

It was almost like a secret mission.

It was my secret mission of getting me back.

Getting me out of the grief, the shame and the guilt that had been surrounding me every day.

And for a couple of hours, I got to walk into the life Istarted to build again.

Even though that date did not bring me a soulmate or someone to fall in love with, it did bring me the courage to step out of the shame and guilt that had enveloped me since grief walked into my life.

I have to admit it wasn’t easy to even pick what to wear for that dinner date. The prettier I looked, the louder the voice of shame yelled at me.

So, I put earplugs in my ears and stepped out into the world.

What I am here to ask you today is:

When will you take that chance and go on a secret mission with earplugs along the way?

Here are three tips that will help you not only survive dating again, but thrive:

1. No matter what heartbreak you have gone through, always listen to your intuition. Use your earplugs, and listen within. Put shame and guilt aside, and march forward toward your next chapter. It will be OK.

2. The only way to feel beautiful again and get your confidence back is to get yourself out there again. But make sure that in your mind you are not planning a future with your date—just be present, and enjoy the evening. Your identity and who you are will shift as time goes by. Your date might not be your future perfect match, so enjoy the present moment.

3. Don’t try to replicate your previous relationship. Date someone completely different. I promise you, you will be surprised.

Technically speaking, Christina Rasmussen is a grief counselor. But she prefers to call herself a strategist for life after loss. She’s crusading to change the way we cope with grief, devastation and longing. Her website is a global coaching portal for reinvention and transformation—devoted to helping people step out from the shadow of excruciating loss and come back to life.

Photo credit: flawijn .pix



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11 responses to Three Tips for Dating After Loss
  1. Hi Kris!

    I am enjoying your blogs tremendously, so thank you for writing all this great stuff. I find that today’s blog can be read in many ways. To me, it’s about daring to start up a new business after losing the one I had before, and to believe in myself after being let down by my coach and mentor, who I really loved. You tips #2 here, “The only way to feel beautiful again and get your confidence back is to get yourself out there again”, is awesome. So that’s what I am just going to do: get myself out there again, and trust that I will succeed this time. I have a new, really brilliant coach and mentor now (funny enough, she’s not even close to being like the one I had before, she’s a totally different type).

    Have a wonderful day :-)

  2. 35 and single with standards has been my new title lately. I’m terrified to date because it seems like I get so connected, so soulfully enthralled with beautiful people that enter my life, that I can’t bare the thought of casual interaction. Just “being present” and enjoying moments is good advice to dance with radiant unexpected bliss. Very hard to do for me though. Stil holding firm in singlehood demanding the very best for myself and my resilient little heart is the intention keeping me single with standards. Thank you for sharing on this topic. Such a wonderful gift e-community is. Hugs.R.

  3. Wonderful article, and I will pass it along to my daughter, a widow at age 26. However, I would hope you would clarify #2 a bit: “The only way to feel beautiful again and get your confidence back is to get yourself out there again.” I hope what you mean by “get yourself out there” again is to get back to enjoying the things you truly love doing, challenging yourself and basically just getting out of bed and literally getting back out into the world … and NOT that the only way to feel beautiful and confident again is by seeking approval of your looks and your worth in the form of a date. The difference may sound subtle, but it’s vital.

  4. Dear Meg, I am so sorry to hear that your daughter went through such a loss at such a young age. I wrote this article when I was getting ready to start dating and guilt wanted to take over. Yes tip #2 has to do with getting back to life and living again and beauty reflects from laughter and joy. We need to see ourselves through the eyes of life once again. I am sending you and your family much love. Christina Rasmussen

  5. Oh my….where do I begin? After finding my soulmate (a term I never believed in until it happened) at 55 and being together 14 months, 4 days and 30 minutes – I know because we were inseparable from our first date on April 2, 2009 until he died suddenly from a heart attack at 12:30am on June 6, 2011 – I became what I call an “almost widow” due to him being my “almost husband” (not officially married).

    I met a man online and was adamently clear that it was for conversation only and nothing else or it could end before it even began. He agreed and we became online friends on two continents. He recently came for a visit and we had to accept the realization that we are becoming more than friends. My struggle is to accept that and to not feel the guilt and shame and the feeling that I’m short-changing him. He is wonderfully supportive and accepting of my loss and constantly encourages me to speak of my lost love when needed. A very large part of my healing has come from his acceptance and encouragement.

    I still miss my love daily. I know this new relationship has to be different as nothing will ever fill the hole that was left. It is difficult, exciting, exhausting, and requires a lot of communication and effort. So far, I feel that it has been, and will be, worth it. I guess my advice would be to think and learn about what you want for yourself; be up-front about where you are and be willing to try. If the other person is worth it, they will support and encourage you in your journey back to life….if they won’t, then they aren’t worth allowing into your world and you are better off being alone for a while longer.

    Many blessings to you all who walk this most difficult and soul-wrenching path….it isn’t easy.

  6. Hi Christina,

    Thank you for this, you have no idea how much this article speaks to me at this very moment in my life. I am 24 years old and lost my boyfriend of many years to suicide a year and a half ago. Although he and I were not officially married, I too feel like an “almost widow” because he felt like my husband and I knew I wanted him to be. I am beginning to navigate the dating world and have thus far found it to be stressful. However, taking the step to begin dating again was a huge one for me and like you I felt like was on a secret mission. I too have also had to put on ear plugs to silence grief and shame as I move forward into dating and getting to know myself as an individual rather than part of a couple. I know that I will continue to move forward, I will continue to get to know myself, I will always love and miss my boyfriend, and that I will find a different kind of love with someone else someday.

    Thank you for sharing your story and for letting me know that I am not alone on this path. Best of luck to you.

    Ariela

  7. I was 27 when my husband died in a car accident on November 5, 2009. It took alot for me to start dating again. When I did, I found the most amazing man, we started dating in October 2011,engaged by January and married on February 29th. He is so good and understanding and accepting of me and my kids and our situation. I feel as if my first husband lead me straight to this man.

  8. I think there is just as much beauty in being alone.

    Not needing another person to fill something in you. But to allow yourself to be all you need. Allowing being alone and learning to be an individual person has a miracle power itself.

    I lost a girlfriend of 4 years, 12 years ago to mental illness.

    Then I lost my life in a car accident and shattered every bone in my head. Destroyed my life. Lost my house, all my financial resources. Lost everything.
    I came back to life, barely.

    Then I lost the love of my life after being together for 14 years. She was the most amazing, beautiful, smart girl I have ever known, and she was my dog. My companion. My best friend, my daughter. My fellow explorer. We saw the whole world together.

    I have no interest in dating or being with anyone.

    I don’t need to be with someone else to be whole or feel good about myself, or to be complete, or to be strong. I am with myself. We are all alone in this world anyhow, when it comes down to it.

    Most of us just never learn how to be comfortable with ourselves, and we never learn how to be comfortable alone.

    Being comfortable alone has immense power.

    Buddhism can help. Loss is hard, being alone can be hard; but attachment to things and people is the hardest of all.

    I am a man, and not a lot men are to be found on this site. I love Kris Carr for everything she does and stands for. I love this site. But where are the men? Why don’t men find this kind of site interesting, helpful or good for their soul?

    Men need to tap into their own souls more and understand that being a caring understanding person means being a strong wonderful person. Weakness isn’t about caring and feeling, it is about being closed off and judgmental.

    Thank you for the article Christina,
    I just felt it is good to have the other perspective also.

  9. In 2004, my husband of 19 years died of cancer. Our children were 16, 12 ,9, and 7. Shortly after his death, my youngest asked if I was going to remarry. I said, “Probably not until you kids are grown and gone. Raising 4 kids will take up all my time.” She replied, “Then who’s going to be my dad?” I broke down. My other three quickly told me that they wouldn’t listen to him anyway. Case closed!

    Two years later, I got a phone call from an aquaintance asking me to go out to dinner. I reluctanly agreed, hung up the phone, and bawled my eyes out. What was I doing? I was a married woman. At least, I felt like I was still married. This would be cheating. I was sick to my stomach for the next six days waiting for our date. Every day I cried and contemplated calling it off. My friends told me it was only dinner. God told me to give him a chance.

    I hadn’t been on a date in 25 years! I was scared to death. It went well, but I still felt guilty. I struggled to make sense of this new relationship until a widow friend of mine told me to stop trying to figure it out or put it into a box that made sense – just enjoy it for whatever it is. (Just like you said, Be present.) I told the new man in my life that I was going to talk about my late husband and cry about him. He said he was ok with that, and he has been.

    We were married a year later. I also felt like my deceased husband picked him for me. I continued to have feelings of guilt for a long time; especially because I now loved two men at the same time. There have been lots of battles going on inside me, but I thank God every day for both of the wonderful men I have loved.

    You never know what life has in store for you. Sometimes you just need to take a chance. Then bawl your eyes out, and go out anyway.

  10. Hi Christina, I’m so glad you’ve touched upon the point of guilt and grief after the loss of a partner. This is something a lot of women & men struggle with long after their loved one has passed. (I hear about it quite often, having worked with women who have lost husbands.) It’s great you’re breaking closing the door on guilt, even if it keeps knocking. One step at a time.

    Thanks for this post!

    Camille

  11.  am 29yo. After 7y marriaged we have twins 5yo boy. My husband died 2years ago, cancer.In my griefing time, i had several sex with many single friends, i think that was because i feel depressed and trying to entertain myself and not feel lonely.. my world is turning around. Im glad i dont feel lonely anymore or do sex mate no more.Now, my ex boyfriend before i marry my husband appeared, but he is married to a perfect woman, have 2kids.. He always there supports me since my husband was very sick. we both know we re not in love anymore, but sexual attraction started, i know its wrong, he is married!I feel guilty to start serious dating. In my age, man needs serious relationship for marriage and have children,while on my side, i dont need to have more kids, i feel guilty to my kids and my late husband if i have to commit myself again in a longterm serious relation.Somehow, continue my hideous relationship with my ex, would be good, we dont need to get married. But its wrong and not fair for his wife.. eventualy they almost divorced 3years ago after his wife cheated on him, but they survived for the kids sake.I always think, male my age wont bother to date me as i have 2small kids, my body is not perfect anymore, i am widowed, they can find better mate, perfect single no kid, firm busty boobs, and available to marry and make brand new family.. instead of getting rotten young mother like me.Something missing, particularly i am fine being alone, i have my twins, my job is great, but something missing. Suggestion please.(Dont judge me with bad words and curse, please..) am 29yo. After 7y marriaged we have twins 5yo boy. My husband died 2years ago, cancer.In my griefing time, i had several sex with many single friends, i think that was because i feel depressed and trying to entertain myself and not feel lonely.. my world is turning around. Im glad i dont feel lonely anymore or do sex mate no more.Now, my ex boyfriend before i marry my husband appeared, but he is married to a perfect woman, have 2kids.. He always there supports me since my husband was very sick. we both know we re not in love anymore, but sexual attraction started, i know its wrong, he is married!I feel guilty to start serious dating. In my age, man needs serious relationship for marriage and have children,while on my side, i dont need to have more kids, i feel guilty to my kids and my late husband if i have to commit myself again in a longterm serious relation.Somehow, continue my hideous relationship with my ex, would be good, we dont need to get married. But its wrong and not fair for his wife.. eventualy they almost divorced 3years ago after his wife cheated on him, but they survived for the kids sake.I always think, male my age wont bother to date me as i have 2small kids, my body is not perfect anymore, i am widowed, they can find better mate, perfect single no kid, firm busty boobs, and available to marry and make brand new family.. instead of getting rotten young mother like me.Something missing, particularly i am fine being alone, i have my twins, my job is great, but something missing. Suggestion please.(Dont judge me with bad words and curse, please..)