I am a widow and single mother at the age of 36. I’ve accepted my new reality, and two years after losing my husband to a massive heart attack I am ready to date. In creating my JDate profile, I felt boxed in by my choices for my marital status. I don’t want guys to be deterred from the get-go because I’m a widow. I’m not ashamed and I’m happy to share my story, but I don’t like to lead with it. How should I proceed?
Dear Young Widow,
I understand where you’re coming from and I don’t think you’re wrong in wanting to start dating without any preconceived notions about who you are because of a label – and a heavy label at that. When I began dating after my divorce, I also didn’t want to select “divorced” because it felt like too much information being shared too soon. Our stories are very different but the implications of selecting a marital status are the same, particularly at a relatively young age. People who are dating in their 50s, 60s, 70s and so on are expected to have more of a story… but those of us in our 20s, 30s and 40s can make things unnecessarily difficult by being too upfront.
My solution: select “single.” Why not? You are single. You’re not lying. You will have plenty of opportunity to discuss your story. In fact, you should broach the topic in your “About Me” biography with a line or two (“I was married and have a daughter and will happily tell you more about it once we meet.”) and then once you’re on a date you ought to go into slightly more detail:
“I was married for three years and my husband tragically died two years ago. He was wonderful and I cherish my memories of him and make sure to tell our daughter stories of him so she doesn’t forget him. I’ve spent time grieving and processing, and now I’m excited for the next stage of my life. I guess that technically makes me a widow, but that label is not who I am.”
Don’t spend too much time on the topic – first dates should be positive and upbeat, not depressing. You are single, which is why you’re on a dating website, so don’t feel as though you’re misleading anyone. Just make sure you are honest about your story somewhere in your profile and again on the first date.
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