How Soon Should You Start Dating After the Loss of a Significant Other?
- July 8, 2021
The passing of a significant other is one of the most devastating losses one can experience. It may signify the loss of a lifelong partner, best friend, lover, caregiver, and right hand, all at once. Unfortunately, such a loss is not something one can ever be prepared for and the wound of a significant other’s departure can leave behind may take years to heal.
Understand that as we are all different, no two people’s grieving journeys will look alike either. We all cope with grief in different ways as well as take differing periods of time in which we feel that we are able to move on and move forward with our lives. Whether or not someone is ready to start dating after the loss of a significant other or spouse will depend entirely on the personal needs and circumstances of that individual.
Is It Too Soon or Am I Taking Too Long to Start Dating Again?
There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to the question of when it is an appropriate time to start dating again after the loss of a lifelong partner. No matter the influence other people in your life may have on you or their opinions or judgements, only you alone can understand the gravity of your situation, your feelings and emotions and if you feel you are truly ready or not to begin dating again.
As you continue through your grieving process, you may notice that other people in your life have different expectations of you in regards to when and how you should move on with your life. Some might overwhelm you with the idea that it is time to now move on and find a new partner, while others may feel that you seem to be moving forward through your grief too quickly. Again, none of these people’s perspectives is necessarily fully right or wrong. It is up to you to decide which will be relevant to you and your situation and which of any, you may choose to take heed of.
As an outside observer, it can seem to be easy to produce an opinion of someone else’s emotions and behavior. However, as the loss of a significant other or spouse is one of the most emotionally difficult things one can go through, ultimately only those directly experiencing the pain know how they truly feel.
While some people may seem to only need a few months to reconsider the idea of dating again, others may need years before they can begin to entertain the thought of it at all. Be patient with your heart and pay close attention to the way you feel, as well as look out for certain signs that may indicate you are now ready to begin dating again.
How Do You Know If You Are Ready to Date Again or If You Are Still Grieving?
Remember, the grieving process is never a linear one and periods of fluctuating emotions are completely normal. A day may arise when you feel that you may be ready to move on and behind dating again, while at another point in time, you may be triggered by your grief and too overcome by your emotions to consider the thought of dating again. Grief can manifest itself in a variety of ways, and keep in mind that just because you may feel ready to date again doesn’t mean that you must now stop grieving the loss of your significant other entirely. You can open your heart to new love again, while continuing to grieve the tremendous loss your previous significant other created.
Dating can be a great tool to help you find some comfort after an intense grieving period, but it should be used wisely and carefully. When used at the right time, it can help you regain a sense of normalcy as you embark on a new chapter in your life.
These are some of the common signs that you might be ready to date and find a new partner:
The Idea of Dating Again Is Back on Your Mind
Maybe, you wake up one day and it seems to be just another typical day in your life after your loved one’s departure, but you may notice a difference in how you feel. Perhaps you no longer feel as trepidatious or hesitant about the idea of dating as you had been before. You may feel that it would be nice to once again have someone to talk to in the mornings, or simply watch a movie with. These may be signs that you are ready to find a new partner and prepared to move onto the next chapter of your journey.
You Accept that a New Love Interest Cannot Replace the Loss of Your Significant Other
A major indicator that someone might need a little more time to heal and process their loss is a constant urge to compare a potential new partner to their lost one. On the contrary, being able to come to terms with the fact your lost significant other was a unique individual and that a new love interest cannot take their place is a huge step forward in your grieving process. Understanding that the goal is not to find another one to replace your lost love, but simply to be able to find love again is an important indicator that you may be ready to begin a new relationship.
You are Ok With the Idea of Being Alone
Another indicator that you may be ready to date again is that you have the ability to be alone and find peace with yourself. Dating a new partner can many times simply be a coping mechanism people use to avoid loneliness. Unfortunately, this perspective can lead someone to become dependable on the company of another to avoid being alone and therefore, obstructs their ability to fully heal from a tremendous loss. If you find yourself not terrified at the idea of being by yourself, and simply desire a partner to share good times with, then you may be ready to start dating again.
Dating After the Loss of a Significant Other
Ideally, you’d want to be at peace with the idea of dating before you take such a huge step forward. Remember that while grieving isn’t linear, the process of healing is not a straightforward one either and differs from individual to individual. How long it may take someone’s heart to heal to the point where they are ready to open themselves up to the idea of finding new partners depends on a variety of factors including their personal situation and circumstances, sensitivity and tolerances, as well as their personal beliefs and values.
Remember, again you are the only one with full knowledge of your situation and emotions, therefore only you will be able to decide what is best for you.