He’s attracted to you (he says) and loves to be in your company. But – commitment? Your widower seems no closer now than he was on the day you met. A senior man who has lost a beloved wife will be cautious about verbalizing sentiments he can be held accountable for.
“Commitment” is a loaded word that sounds scary to a widower, whether his wife died six months or six years ago. If he’s dating you exclusively, this might add up to commitment in his mind. If your own quest is for a more formal arrangement, such as marriage, or just all-the-time togetherness, you two could be on a collision course.
Successfully dating a widower is an exercise in caution and patience. He’s open and cheerful one moment and closed down the next. He covers you with compliments, showers you with gifts, and makes love to you eagerly — then he may disappear for weeks.
Signs of reluctance are invisible when your heart is full of hope. You’re focusing on his tenderness and generosity, believing they are evidence that commitment is just around the corner. But if the longed-for statement of intent is taking a bit too long, it’s time to wonder if there’s a hard truth lurking behind his engaging smile. Here what to look for:
- Mood Swings
You never know which of his personalities will be dominant at any one time. He is torn between positive and negative emotions. He denies that these are related to sadness, guilt, or the stress of being single after being partnered for decades. He wants to get a grip but he’s having a difficult time of it. This may be a temporary state, but if it lasts too long, it’s a warning sign.
His emotional ups and downs play havoc with your own emotional well-being. When you try to talk to him about this, he calls you impatient and complains that you’re pressuring him. You ask him to be more open, more sensitive. He says he’s plenty sensitive and it’s you who should try to understand how long it takes to recover from loss.
- Mysterious Disappearances
He tells you he has to visit a friend, attend a conference, tour a worksite, or see a client in a city far away. The details are foggy and you’re not invited to go with him. “Maybe next time” is a promise you might hold on to, but more often than not it means “never” – or at best “a long time in the future.” Consider the possibility that there is someone else, but don’t get all accusatory until there’s some evidence.
- Guarded Communications With His Kids
The dependency on his children began during the first months of his loss, when they were the most obvious source of comfort. Eventually it became the central characteristic of the family relationship. He has agreed several times to introduce them to you, but at the last minute he backs down. He thinks they’ll be intensely disapproving, or else he wouldn’t “protect” them from you.
- Fear Of Friends’ Disapproval
Will his friends think he’s dating too soon? Will they think you’re unworthy? Will they tease him or criticize him behind his back? A man who won’t proudly accompany you to where others will see you together is not serious about you, and — forgive me — I’d go so far as to question his character.
If you recognize any of these behaviors, it may be that you will never be a full partner of this man. You’ll either have to give him up or station yourself on his life’s periphery.
It’s not impossible that it’s merely too soon for him to make a commitment (he’s still grieving actively). But a man you’ve truly enchanted will not only be eager to spend time with you, he’ll want to involve you in almost everything he does. If he’s one of those men who is stalling because he’s not capable of commitment, and you care enough about him to accept that fact, do so with grace. But don’t hang around too long. Don’t enable his indecision. Life is short, and we’re not teenagers. Move up, up and away from a man who’s not drawing you into the whole of his life.