You're not getting this; in fact, few single people in our culture do, since pairing up is relentlessly presented as the only choice.
‘However, his wife, to whom he was happily married, only died a few months ago. Hopeful Girl, how soon do you think is too soon to start dating after being widowed?
’ Once, when I was bemoaning my single status, someone tried to reassure me that ‘the widowers are now starting to come back on the market’. However, as we get older, people increasingly find themselves single again after the death of a spouse – and, in fact, I ended up dating a lovely man who’d lost his wife to breast cancer four years earlier. It’s dangerous to start making rules about when a widow or widower will be ready for a new relationship, as every situation is unique.
Christians desperately need to recover a way of seeing the single life as valid on its own terms, and not simply as a holding tank.
Though never-marrieds are made to feel like failures, that would hardly be history's judgment of their great example, the apostle Paul.
If a loved one is ill for a long time, we sometimes do much of our grieving before they die, and may be ready to move on more quickly.
It’s harsh to judge someone for finding happiness with a new partner ‘too quickly’, and not trust them to know their own mind.
Of course, he still carries the wounds of his heartbreaking loss, but by the time I met him, he seemed genuinely open and ready for new love. It’s natural to worry that you’ll be compared unfavourably to a widow or widower’s late spouse and, sadly, this does sometimes happen.
I’ve heard of cases where the new partner feels like an intruder in the deceased person’s home and isn’t allowed to change a thing, even decades later.
However, it can also take a long time to process grief, and it can be disastrous to start a new relationship when still in the depths of bereavement – although very understandable, when someone is desperately craving the affection and company they’ve lost.
If I’d met my widower within a year or two of him losing his wife, I think I’d have concentrated on developing a friendship with him, and would have been very cautious of anything more until I felt confident he was ready.
Hopeful Girl is the singles/dating columnist for Woman Alive magazine.