Dating After a Loss


BY: Lesley Dials, LISW

CATEGORY: Grief and Loss

​"Do I want to find a new romantic relationship after the death of my partner? When do I know the time is right?" There are no right or wrong answers – the answers are different for everyone. The following suggestions are helpful if you are thinking of dating, or have decided that dating is right for you.  

"How do I know if I am ready to begin dating?" As a grief counselor, I am often asked this question. You are ready to begin dating when you are open to a new relationship with a new person who is different from your previous partner. You are not looking to replace him or her: the partner who died is not replaceable.

Ask yourself: Am I open to finding a happy and meaningful relationship with a new person with different qualities, strengths and weaknesses than my previous partner? It is appropriate to desire some qualities that are similar to those your deceased companion had, like being kind and trustworthy. That is very different than looking for someone just like them. 

"Can I begin dating too soon?" Yes, you can begin dating too soon after the death of your partner.  First of all, it is important to allow yourself time to grieve before seeking a new relationship. Grief is an individual process and is unique to each one of us. Do you believe your grief has been expressed over a long enough period of time? Has it become less intense and are you now feeling more able to "manage" it? Then it is healthy to begin thinking about dating. Dating should not be used to avoid the pain of your grief or to numb yourself against it. We are at greater risk of forming an unhealthy relationship or one that is not sustainable if we attempt to look for a relationship too quickly after the death of a partner.

There is no right or wrong answer to the question of whether or not to pursue another romantic relationship after a partner has died. It is a good indication that someone is ready to begin dating if they have given themselves time to grieve and are now open to a new person and a relationship different from their previous one. 

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