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He has a chance at love again… but with one of his deceased wife’s relatives! What should he do?

By Dr. Gilda Carle, Ph.D.

ear Dr. Gilda,
Last year, I lost my wife of seven years to cancer. One of my great regrets is that we were never able to have children. During the last two years, I was consumed with being the caregiver to the point that I lost myself completely in grief.

After a year of mourning, I was invited by my wife’s relatives to their annual family reunion. I saw people we used to have regular visits with, people I
This sudden change clouds your vision of reality.
have not seen during my grieving. I also heard stories about my wife that helped me remember the good times.

During this event, one of my wife’s cousins (who, when we married, was only 19 and lived far away) approached me. She’s 28 and is moving to my town to finish her residency as a physical therapist. She confessed that she had always had a crush on me and admired my relationship with my wife. After talking to her for a few hours, I saw that there was potential for us to have a relationship. But, Dr. Gilda, the circumstances! Our family! What am I thinking?! Is this my grief and loneliness talking? How would we explain this to the family, especially after all we’ve been through? Please help me clear my head and decide what to do!
—Grieving No More

Dear Grieving No More,
You have just been through a very dark tunnel. As you’re approaching the light, your eyes are still very sensitive. This sudden change clouds your vision of reality.

Of course you’re lonely! You are also exhausted, and no doubt, angry that your beloved wife was taken from you. You also harbor disappointment that the two of you never had children. Enter an intelligent, hardworking and adoring 28-year-old who is suddenly willing to attend to YOU for a refreshing change. What’s more, this young woman is probably Fertile Myrtle. What healthy male who’s just been through such a difficult ordeal wouldn’t want to jump at this chance to be loved? You believe that the only thing standing in your way is worrying about what “the neighbors” think. But the real question is whether this is an appropriate partner for you. It’s much too soon to be thinking about permanence, so why insert worries into a love affair that may never even get off the ground?

You’re in a vulnerable state right now and this new woman represents your first venture out of it. It’s a great sign that you’re ready for love again. But you must take things very slowly until your thinking becomes clear. This is what I suggest:
  1. Meet this woman for lunch or dinner in a nonromantic setting. Become friends before anything else.
  2. While she’s aware of all you’ve been through, you don’t know anything about her life as an adult. Listen and learn. As my Gilda-Gram advises, “Work toward love patiently. The longer it takes, the longer it lasts.” It is possible that you’ll find that the two of you have little in common after all.
  3. Whoever you date, refrain from comparing her to your deceased wife. It’s not fair for either party to create a yardstick against which no one can measure up.
  4. Expand your dating beyond this one woman. Go to singles events and probe online sites.
You are about to start a new life. There will be times the grief will return, but eventually, you’ll be able to cope in a better way — with or without this woman. If it turns out that you do have a connection with her, the two of you as a team will gracefully handle those who have something to say about it.


Relationship expert Dr. Gilda Carle, Ph.D., gives Instant Advice throughout the world via Skype, email and phone. She is the 30-Second Therapist for Today.com. Her best-selling books include Don’t Bet on the Prince!, 99 Prescriptions for Fidelity and How to Win When Your Mate Cheats. Please visit her website at (DrGilda.com).
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