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Starting Over: Dating After the Death of a Significant Other

Dr. Dana McNeil
Latest posts by Dr. Dana McNeil (see all)

Whether it’s expected or sudden, losing a partner is always a devastating heartbreak. The finality of the loss of the love of your life, and the idea that you will move forward in the world without them by your side, might be one of the most difficult challenges you will face.

If you’ve suffered the death of a significant other, have grieved and come up on the other side, you may be at a point where you want to find love again. You might have feelings of fear, anxiety, or even guilt, and you’re not sure how (or if) you should start dating again. Read on for some advice that can help you begin the process of starting over.

There’s No Timeline

In grief, there’s no handbook or checklist; how you mourn and move forward is completely personal. Whether it takes you 3 months or 3 years, your timeline is your own. When you begin to feel the sadness lift, and you find yourself yearning to share your life with someone again, it is probably time to begin the process of dating. Sharing every day with someone is a very intimate and special experience, and it’s healthy and natural for you to move forward with your life in a positive way.

Letting Go of Guilt

While it’s important to take the time to heal and recover from this devastating loss, it’s also important not to prolong the period of mourning. Your partner would not want you to live the rest of your days in sorrow. If you find yourself feeling guilty, know that your feelings are natural, but know also that you deserve to be happy.

Family Expectations

Your children and other family members who are also grieving the loss of your spouse may not be ready for you to date again. While it’s important to be sensitive to their grieving process, you must also remind them that it’s your decision to make. Keep in mind that their journey of grief is personal to them. As you remain sensitive to their process of mourning, remain true to yourself and move forward when you are ready.

Overall, when you begin dating again is an entirely personal choice. As someone who has suffered such an incredible loss, it can be a difficult decision; but it’s a decision that is only yours to make. Moving on with your life doesn’t erase the memories of the past, nor does it do a disservice to the spouse that you loved and lost. A new relationship will bring you joy and happiness, creating more loving memories you can add to your life.


Are you struggling to move on after the death of a significant other, and need support and guidance? A licensed therapist can help. Call my office any time, and let’s schedule a time to talk.


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