First Date After Partners’ Death
One of the most challenging things for an individual to overcome is the death of a partner, especially in mature dating. Being in a long-term, committed relationship oftentimes results in people developing a deep attachment to and love for another person. When that individual dies, the remaining partner may experience feelings of deep loss and a sense of being disconnected from self and the external world. However, these stages of grief generally subside and the individual returns to her or his former state of living. Once the period of grief comes to an end, an individual may be ready to start dating again. Yet the process of reentering the dating domain may seem overwhelming and induce anxiety. Nevertheless, there are strategies you can implement to retain an outlook of calm and positivity when you prepare for your first date after a partners’ death. Here are six of them:
1. Make Sure That You’re Ready.
One common mistake that individuals make when they start dating after the death of a loved one is entering the dating world too soon. In some cases, an individual may still be going through the stages of mourning. This can include things like experiencing deep sadness as a result of a trigger that reminds one of the deceased partner. While experiencing some emotions is certainly acceptable and normal, feeling constantly overcome with feelings of depression and grief is typically a sign that the mourning stage is still in full effect. Make sure that you thoroughly evaluate where you are to determine whether you’re really ready to start seeing other people. If you are still mentally and emotionally preoccupied with your former partner, wait a few months before moving forward.
2. Be Yourself.
Oftentimes, people who are in long-term relationships find it quite easy to be themselves because they have known the other person for so long and feel free to share their real thoughts and emotions. However, when you reenter the dating world, you may feel the need to perform or act out in certain ways that are associated with encouraging a positive evaluation from your date. While it’s always great to make a wonderful first impression, it’s even more important to be yourself. If someone accepts you based on a false image that you have presented, you will then be required to maintain the attitudes and actions that do not really reflect who you are. As such, be sure to be yourself. For example, don’t eat meat on a first date to appeal to your partner if you’re a passionate vegan concerned about animal rights. Also, it’s not necessarily a good idea to put on a full face of make-up if you’re the type of individual who almost never wears cosmetics.
3. Know Your Boundaries.
As you prepare for your first date, be sure that you have boundaries in place. This is a key element of the mature dating process. After being in a long-term relationship with your former partner, you are likely accustomed to her or him understanding your boundaries in terms of space, expression of emotion, and sex. However, when you start dating again, you cannot expect the other person to know what these boundaries are. And you yourself have to know what they are before you can articulate them to your date. Thus if you do not believe in premarital sex, you need to understand this in your mind and be prepared to inform your date that intercourse is not an option if she or he suggests it. In the world of mature dating, knowing and articulating boundaries is not optional. It is imperative.
4. Be Prepared For Rejection.
To successfully enter the world of mature dating, be prepared for rejection. When individuals have been in a long-term relationship, they become accustomed to the idea that an individual loves and accepts them. Yet when you start dating again, it’s important to remember that you may not be remarkably compatible with the first person that you go out with. In fact, you may go out on five dates and find that you’re not compatible with any of them. This doesn’t mean that there’s anything fundamentally “wrong” with you or the other person. It simply means that you’re not a match. Recognizing this reality can preclude you from experiencing the sense of lowered self-esteem that many people grapple with in the face of rejection.
Oftentimes, people who reenter the dating world are very nervous and find their minds constantly preoccupied with their appearance and/or whether they’re saying the right things. While self-awareness on a date is a good idea, it’s equally important for you to pay attention to the other individual. More specifically, it’s imperative that you listen to her or him. People want to feel as if they are valued and that you are genuinely concerned about their thoughts and emotions. As such, you should listen carefully to the ideas that your date is expressing. In addition to being courteous, paying attention to the other person will help you determine whether she or he is really a match. Listening is an integral component of the mature dating process.
6. Ask Questions.
In addition to listening carefully to your date, make sure that you ask questions. This step is important because, as with listening, it demonstrates that you are genuinely interested in the other individual. Make sure that your questions are specific and demonstrate that you have been actively listening to what they’ve been saying along. For example, if your date is a feminist and loves the plays of Shakespeare, consider asking a question like “Would you interpret Petruchio’s treatment of Kate in The Turning of the Shrew as a manifestation of domestic violence?” There are also several general questions that you may want to ask so that you can gather more information regarding what your date is all about. Some questions include:
1. What’s your favorite book?
2. Do you enjoy travel?
3. Tea, coffee, both, or neither?
4. What’s on your bucket list?
5. Do you like your job?
6. What was your major in college?
Mature dating is all about gathering more and more information about your partner to determine whether a long-term relationship would be desirable for both parties involved. Regularly asking questions is a wonderful way to start learning as much as you can about the other person. However, keep in mind that your partner likely doesn’t want to be inundated in questions. The date should not feel like an interview. Although there is no set limit on how many questions to ask, you may want to aim for five. Remember that this aspect of the date is all about context. If you and your date are having a great time and communicating in a very organic, interactive manner, you may find that few or no questions are necessary!
Don’t Delay: Prepare For Dating Success Today!
If your partner has died and you’re now ready to start dating again, good for you! To ensure that you have success on your first date, consider implementing some or all of the helpful strategies and tips outlined above. Good luck!