What Not to Talk About on a First Date...

battered-heart.jpgOver the past few months I’ve been on a couple of dates and it’s not been easy.  I always hoped that when I felt ready to open my heart again, someone wonderful would cross my path, but so far it hasn’t happened like that 

My circle of friends is full of couples and I don’t meet many people through work, so like many modern women I created an online dating profile.  I met Dan online back in 2011, after a long and tedious period of going on some really bad dates.  So I know it can work, it’s just a matter of finding the right guy.

But holy smokes it’s tough. I went on a ‘first date’ yesterday, after swapping emails and texts for around a week or so.  The guy seemed nice and we had a lot of common interests, so I agreed to meet for a coffee to see if there was any connection in real life. 

He knew I was a widow, because I’d mentioned it in my profile.  He’d bought it up when we were texting and I’d told him it had been a little over two years, that I‘d started dating a few months ago and I was ‘in a good place’, excited for the future and ready to love again.

I also told him that while I was an open person and comfortable talking about my grief, I also didn’t want to make it a big focus when I’m first getting to know someone, because it’s only a part of who I am.  He seemed happy with that and said he’d leave it until I was comfortable enough to share more…

Until ten minutes into our date yesterday when he said, ‘So, you’re a widow – I’m sorry to hear that.  What happened?  Was it sudden or was he sick?’ and here we go with the suicide conversation.

This can go one of many ways, depending on how sensitive and well educated on mental illness the guy is.  I’ve only had to have this conversation with a date a couple of times so far, but I already know it’s always going to be awkward.

This guy was obviously curious (or maybe just nervous and REALLY bad at making conversation) so I gave him the abbreviated version about how Dan’s depression was only diagnosed four weeks before he died, and he took his life unexpectedly after having a bad reaction to the medication he was prescribed. 

My date was obviously shocked to hear such a sad story and while he tried his best to be compassionate, he then did that thing where he tells me about all the people he knows who’ve taken their lives (including the details of how, which never really needs to be shared, particularly on a first date) and as he went on and on I just got sadder and sadder. 

Death is just really shitty date conversation, particularly for a first date.  It’s not romantic or sexy or fun.  I respect a potential partner’s desire to know about me, and what makes me tick, but I really don’t want to talk at length about the most painful period of my life at time where I’m trying to focus on moving forward with someone new.

Suicide-chat aside, I knew by the end of the date that there was no potential for chemistry or connection with this man, so I won’t be seeing him again.

But what I did learn is that I need to get better at fielding the widow questions.  I wish now my reply had of been ‘my husband’s death was unexpected however I would rather not go in to the details today, if you don’t mind, and instead focus on getting to know more about each other’.

I hate dating, it’s so painful – I’m not great at it and I’m not interested in meeting lots of people and having awkward experiences.  I just want to be a wife again, I was really good at it, but unfortunately that’s not likely to happen if I don’t persevere.  

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  • commented 2016-01-09 17:26:27 -0800
    I have felt awkward on a date for the first time after thirty years in a marriage. The fear of being too shy or boring is something I remember feeling as an adolescent, and I was grateful that my wife wanted me anyway. Even though I am, as I always have been, still a very shy and private person. Why? I feel insecure is because it won’t be very easy to get to know someone who can be very quite, especially with the amount of sorrow I have yet to heal from.
  • commented 2015-09-19 23:18:47 -0700
    I’m with you Kelley – Ugh! That conversation is hard enough with people I know, let alone someone I’m trying to get to know on a date. I think I’d like to share someone’s company again but the whole dating thing just sucks. So maybe for awhile I’ll just wait and see what life brings my way. I’m so much less courageous than you are Rebecca. And I wish and hope for everything wonderful for you!
  • commented 2015-09-19 15:36:51 -0700
    Kelley Lynn – I want one to fall in my lap too!! Haha. Dating is tough, for sure, and after every disappointing experience I crawl back into my cave for a good month or so until I build up the energy to give it another crack. Putting myself out there is really tough but so is the idea of facing the rest of my life alone when I know in my heart that I’m ready to be part of a pair again (or at least give it a try!!). I guess that’s what motivates me to keep looking. Besides dabbling in the Internet dating world I’m also just trying to accept social invitations and get out in the world a bit more. As my friends keep reminding me, I’m not going to meet anyone while I’m sitting in my house!
  • commented 2015-09-19 15:15:11 -0700
    Thank you for your concern Kristen, I am definitely very careful and safe. I thought a lot before putting ‘widow’ on my profile but ultimately I wanted to be up front with people and not waste time with anyone who wasn’t comfortable dating a widow. I only use reputable sites where people pay for membership (you’ll always encounter creeps and weirdos but less so on paid sites) and I’m very cautious, private and maintain a healthy level of skepticism. I’m not meeting many people (this was the 4th man I’ve met since I started dating around 6 months ago), I wait until I’m comfortable and confident that they are who they say they are. I research people with the information they give me… and can usually confirm their identity. I also make sure my friends know when I’m meeting someone and always do it in a public place and check in regularly to let them know I’m ok. Internet dating gets a bad wrap and there are certainly bad people out there but it can be a safe and legitimate way of connecting with people. Here in Australia it’s very common and socially-acceptable. It took me a long time to feel ‘ready’ to date and I think it’s really important to wait.
  • commented 2015-09-19 07:48:05 -0700
    Ugh, yeah, this made me cringe. And you are WAY braver than me. I also want to fall in love again, but Im just NOT willing to “put myself out there” through the dating sites , or go on multiple dates with different people. I literally want my person to just fall into my lap, and if they dont, oh well. Im soooo not willing to go searching for them lol. Im too damn tired and lazy and Ive been through too much. I give you a lot of credit. That conversation had to be painful and sad. I would be afraid Id burst into tears from being forced to talk about , like you said, the "most painful thing " in my life. Major hugs, woman. xoxo
  • commented 2015-09-19 07:03:48 -0700
    Rebecca, you are brave! I can’t imagine what the whole dating thing is like…I shudder to think. UGH!

    I would caution you though on putting ‘widow’ anywhere in your bio/profile, I have watched too many shows where scammers (bad horrible scammers) target that word. They will steal letter content and text content and use it on the widow, along with stolen photos etc., and if a potential date suggests you start communicating ‘off’ the dating site don’t. You have been through far too much in the past several years, I would hate to think of you or anyone one of us being taken advantage of and hurt deeper.

    Best of luck and be safe!