Isn’t it interesting how the idea of dating seems to send our little widowed brains into overdrive???
Dating earlier in life...I never gave it a second thought. I never wondered, “Am I ready? Can I do this? What do I have to offer? What if I say something I shouldn’t and the conversation just...stops????”
Back then I just wondered if I should order Miller High Life or if my date had enough cash in his wallet to spring for a Bud Light.
It seems like as we get older and our experiences change, evolve, and sometimes explode...we get more and more worried about entering the dating world. I mean, I will admit...after I was married, I debated a little more about whether or not I should date.
That was a joke.
Do you think we overthink it? I know I do...but I am an overthinker by nature. I overthink about dishwashing detergent I should use. It was not a stretch for me to overthink about putting myself “out there.”
There are obvious concerns about dating as a widow. Now we don’t care as much about having lipstick on our teeth as much as we worry about starting too many sentences with, “So my late husband...” and making our dinner companion uncomfortable. We’re not quite as concerned about wearing “the good underwear” as we are about bursting into tears when our date orders the same exact dinner our spouse would have. And...you know you do this too ladies...there is that moment when the appetizer is served and we’re already starting to wonder where this is going to go.
Even non-widowed people do that. The problem with our situation is that we can now picture the future wedding, house...and then a long, drawn out illness or the phone call that no one ever wants to get. Because that’s been our previous experience.
Before we were married or committed, we knew the risks that came with dating. We knew it was possible to get hurt. We knew there was a possibility that it just wouldn’t work out. But in that pre-married, pre-widowed world, we knew we had the confidence and stamina to get right back on that horse.
Most of us had no idea that one of those “bad things” that other people talk about quietly to each other at dinner parties would some day become part of our own personal resume. That not only would that horse buck us off...it would kick us in the gut and step on us as it walked away.
That makes it a little harder to crawl back up there and ride off into the sunset.
It’s weird, isn’t it? I know that we all have our own experiences tied up with our late spouses. We all had our ups and downs. But for a lot of us...it’s not like our spouses left us because of some normal marital issue. The hurt runs deeper than that. They died.
It’s like we were cheated on. Death cheated us out of life. And then left us no one here to take it out on.
That’s a lot to overthink.
So...what are our biggest fears about dating? That we won’t be accepted into someone’s life because we’re widowed? That it won’t work out with the first person we meet? Or that it will work out and we will be opening ourselves up to being that vulnerable again?
Let’s look at this from a practical standpoint. If for some reason you come across someone who finds you less desirable because you’re widowed...do you really want to have anything to do with them anyway? That’s not you being rejected...it has nothing to with you. That’s another person being an ass hole. And you’ll heal. He’ll probably be that way for the rest of his life.
There is a VERY good possibility that it won’t work out with the first person you meet. There is a good chance that it didn’t work out with the first person you met the first time around. And then you kept going. And eventually you hit paydirt. If you can...think of it as “networking.” It may not work out with the first guy...but one of his friends could be exactly who you’re looking for.
And what if it does work out?? I don’t think there is one widow out there who is not scared of going through the same thing they’ve been through before. It’s a very real fear. We’re not the same people we were before we were widowed. We can’t look at the future with the same rose-colored glasses we wore before. We’re now looking at the world through scratched up glasses we found in the bargain bin at Kmart. And the view doesn’t look as pretty as it did before.
And guess what? There’s a good chance that, because we’re all older and have a little more experience under our belts...the other person’s view of the world isn’t as “rosy” as it once was either.
Widowed or not, anyone who is taking a chance dating later in life is doing exactly that...taking a chance. Whether or not they admit it...we’re all a little scared. We’re all scared of the rejection. We’re all scared of getting hurt. We’re all scared of really putting who we are out there.
We’re all overthinking.
What I can’t figure out is...why are we all overthinking about the bad stuff?? Let’s try overthinking about this:
A holiday dinner where someone just leans over and squeezes your hand.
A walk when you’re so comfortable you don’t have to say anything.
Sitting in front of the TV together, blissfully watching The Golden Girls (oh...no...wait. That was “wishful thinking”).
I don’t know about you. But overthinking about that stuff makes me a little less nervous about taking the next step to getting there.