The 2nd Chapter: Dating again after the death of a partner
When it comes to moving forward into your journey of dating again after the loss of a partner, it can be difficult to know where to begin. The internet isn’t exactly over-saturated with dating advice for widows and widowers. That’s where Chapter 2 comes in.
As a widower and widows dating site, we were disgruntled with the lack of resources online when it came to dating again as a widow or widower. So, we decided to take the matter into our own hands.
Surveying over 500 people from across the UK who had experienced the death of a partner, we wanted to see what the world of dating truly feels like once people make the decision to move forward to their second chapter.
How soon to move on after the death of a spouse?
Is there ever a right time to start dating again? Knowing when and how to rebuild your life after the death of a spouse is a decision that none of us have ever thought we would have to face. If you’ve considered dating again, then you’ve probably asked yourself thousands of questions about what the ‘right’ things are to do.
Our research found that, on average, widows and widowers begin dating again after 2 years and 7 months, with more than 3 in 5 (63%) saying they feel like they waited the right amount of time. Interestingly, more than a fifth (22%) felt like they waited too long, and another 1 in 6 (15%) said they felt like they didn’t wait long enough.
Once dating again, the average respondent said they had dated 4 different people, had 2 one-night stands and had 2 new relationships.
Whilst 3 in 5 (61%) respondents agreed that it is better to date someone in the same situation as them, 41% said they prefer it. Preferences for dating someone who had also lost a partner were particularly prevalent in the younger respondents. Almost 3 in 5 (58%) of 18- to 30-year-olds would prefer this, and nearly half (46%) of 31- to 40-year-olds.
Highlighting that younger adults who have lost a partner would seek comfort in finding a partner who had been through the same thing.
Nicky Wake, founder of Chapter 2 comments: “As a widow myself, our research gave me a tremendous sense of validation and relief to understand that I am not alone in wanting to date, to find joy and love again. I wholeheartedly believe our late spouses wouldn’t want us to face the rest of our lives alone; we need to embrace our widow status.
“Starting dating again after lass can be a taboo subject. It’s not often discussed or talked about, and I hope Chapter 2’s new research will help to normalise and highlight the topic to the public.”
The most positive parts about dating again
Even if you’re uncertain about what you wish the outcome of your dating life to be, there’s nothing wrong with dating for just your now. It doesn’t have to be for your forever.
Our research found that the positive aspects of falling in love again after the death of a spouse outweighed the difficult parts:
- Almost a third (28%) of respondents say dating gives them hope that they will find love again.
- Nearly a fifth (18%) say it feels exciting to open a new chapter in their life.
- 1 in 8 (12%) say the feeling of putting yourself first is the most positive part.
- 1 in 9 (11%) say dating again makes them feel like they’re living life to the fullest.
Interestingly, roughly 1 in 14 (7%) people that we spoke to said that the most positive part of dating again for them was the fun of experiencing sex with someone new.
Wake comments: “Nothing gives me more pleasure than knowing I’m giving other people the opportunity to find happiness. If I can help them, then that helps me make sense of my own loss, and we already have over 600 people across the UK signed up for our platform.
“With hundreds of matches and messages sent daily, we’ve already had some successful dates since our launch at the end of November. I absolutely cannot wait to buy a hat for the first Chapter 2 wedding!”
The most difficult parts about dating again after the death of a spouse
Dating is good for the soul (so science tells us), but it’s certainly easy to get wrapped up in the ‘what ifs’ and the ‘whys’ without thinking about the ‘oh, why not!?’
However, dating for widows and widowers is more complicated than it is for your average person and figuring out how to move on after the death of a spouse isn’t a one-size-fits-all scenario.
We asked our survey respondents to tell us the things they found most difficult about dating again after the death of a partner, and a fifth (20%) of respondents said they struggle with feeling guilty for loving someone else.
Another 17% said they struggle with feeling like they are replacing their deceased partner, 1 in 6 (16%) said they are scared of letting themselves open to hurt again, and 1 in 8 (12%) say they found it challenging to imagine a future with someone else.
More advice and support resources for navigating your journey after the death of your spouse can be found here.
Men are from Mars...Women are from Venus
Science shows many critical differences between men and women when it comes to relationships, particularly when it comes to sexual desire.
Previous studies have reported that nearly all men (91%) but only half of women (52%) experienced sexual desires several times a week or more. Although, there are notably many contributing factors to these claims.
Coincidingly, our study reveals some key differences between the dating and sex lives of the widows and widowers they spoke to. Dating again for the sole reason of having sex was 3.6 times more common for men than it was for women (11% vs 3%), and men were also 2.75 times more likely to say the most positive part of dating again was because it was fun to experience sex with someone new (11% vs 4%).
When looking at the number one reason for dating again, most women (32%) said they “wanted someone to share their life with”, whereas men said they “wanted companionship” (35%).
Men were also slightly more likely than women to feel like they waited too long to start dating again (25% vs 20%) and were twice as likely as women to begin dating again within 6 months of their partner’s death (8% vs 4%).
Overall, out of all the widows and widowers that participated in our survey, 22% of the men surveyed dated again within a year, compared to 15% of women.
Wake comments: “All too often, widows and widowers are shifted into a part of society that no one wants to talk about – or at least, that no one knows how to talk about.
“Through Chapter 2, I want to create a safe, supportive community of peer support, of people who ‘get it’. We are so much more than a dating site. We are building a community that will create friendships, companionship and relationships online and in person through a series of events.
“We are the club that literally no one ever wanted to join, but I think and hope we can find solace and, our next chapter.”
We welcome everyone who has lost a life partner or significant other regardless of marital status, with or without children, inclusive of all ages and LGBTQ+ inclusive. To sign up for your second chapter, please visit our sign-up page.