There is no rule book on ‘Love’. There is no schedule or no instructions that come with a new relationship, and really, it doesn’t matter if you’re 15 or 50, at any point in one’s life, relationships really don’t get any easier, they can mellow, but the same stages and questions come up. Especially the big one: when is it OK to say ‘I love you’? For the younger generations who are getting into serious relationships for the first time, there are movies, shows on TV and lots of pop culture references that guide people through this phase, but rarely is there advice for those that have already experienced marriage that resulted in a divorce or (God forbid) the loss of a spouse.
It really is a case per case basis, but there are general rules that or time periods to consider, based on religion, or culture or traditions. You know your partner better than anyone else. Only you will know if you are overstepping your boundaries, when dating a widower or person that has been divorced.
Talk about their past
Be open to talk about your partner’s ex or late husband or wife. Don’t be scared of their past, and if it was the love of their life, that doesn’t mean there is any less love in their heart or less space in their life for you. If you are open to listening to stories and recognize the role they played in your love’s life, then that memory doesn’t have to be diminished, and you leave the possibility open to falling in love again.
It’s not a competition
You are not competing with the ghosts of their past. Better yet… you are not their past, you are their future. So don’t set yourself up to failing by comparing yourself to someone who is no longer in your partner’s life. Show them that you are different but that you care and that there are always chances that you could be together for the rest of your lives, if you really feel that way.
Drop subtle hints
You don’t have to be direct and aggressive, instead drop subtle hints and see what their reaction is. Are they receptive? Do they accept the possibility that they can be happy again with someone else? Do they want another marriage or serious relationship in their life? Would they be open to moving on? Are they emotionally ready for a relationship? These are all questions that you must get answers to before you start singing ballads and writing love letters. You have to know how receptive that person will be, since you don’t want to set yourself up for heartache.
When dating someone that’s starting over, it might feel a little complicated or daunting, but their experience led them on a path to you. That’s encouraging, and if you feel this person is the one, then take your time, understand them, and say those three words, when you feel the time is right for both of you. There’s no rush this time around.