Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Dating a "Virgin" Widower

I always feel bad for the first GOW to come into a W's life. She becomes the proving ground; the waters that W tests before he jumps into the proverbial relationship-after-LW pool; the one on whom the W cuts his relationship teeth. For many Ws, it has been years if not decades since they've been with any woman besides their LWs. These Ws have spent those years honing their marriages, getting to know ONE woman's personality, fine-tuning their responses and sensitivities to suit only HER. Then they try out the very same stuff on a new woman, and are befuddled as to why the stuff that worked when it came to LW isn't making any headway with the new GOW! These "virgin" Ws must think all women are alike, and that using their one-size-fits-all relationship tactics will work on all women since they worked with their LWs. Wrong! Since all people are different, why would their LW experiences even come close to working with the new GOW? Sure, some things SHOULD remain the same: men should alweays treat women with resect and be gentlemen. But I'm talking about those virgin Ws who, in their first real relationships since their LWs died, tend to stumble along like clods...until they realize they cannot and should not treat the new GOW exactly as they did the LW.

A poor newbie GOW has an unenviable position with a virgin W. As his "first" since LW, the new GOW wears many hats: she is a teacher; the one who, as described above, patiently instructs him in proper post-LW relationship behaviour. She is a mother; the one who gently soothes his aching heart with her love. She is a nurse; the one who tends his inner wounds, all the while trying not to become too personally involved (but failing) so his pain will not become her own. She is a therapist; the one who listens sympathetically and patiently as he works through his grief. She is an engineer; the one who systematically works out a plan for their future together, using every conceivable force in nature to move him gently onward and forward. She is overworked, underpaid, and hardly appreciated. Is it any wonder she is exhausted and constantly worrying about her "job security" - where she personally fits into virgin W's heart?

Ah, but then she remembers her "benefits package"! Virgin W is hard work, to be sure, but there ARE perks. Were it not for these perks, new GOW just might start looking for another job. Instead, she remains steadast and devoted, hoping the pay-off for her efforts will be the brass...er, diamond....ring: that wonderful pre-retirement bonus of having helped to invent a new man from a formerly hopeless one; a man who has learned that the past is indeed the past and that the present and future CAN be more wonderful, thanks to the GOW.

And yet, so many GOWs bail out before they reach the pay-off, and I can't blame them. It's only human to think, "There must be an easier job than this!" and worrying she'll never reach retirement age and that golden handshake!! However, their efforts never die in vain. The next GOW to come along enjoys the benefits of the first GOW's hard work. Thus, the first GOWs last hat must be that of a writer: one who scribes onto virgin W's heart those words that make him think, motivate him to change, and inspire him to do so. It's all any writer can ask. ;)


  1. This is exactly why I am waiting for my Widower. I will not bail out, I really have no reason to (other than he is moving a bit slowly). He is a much happier man compared to when I first met him. Everyone can see our relationship progress - including his 19 and 22 year old daughters (but that's another story). The last thing I would want to happen is to step aside now (because I got tired of waiting for him) and let his next GOW reap the benefits of the last two years of our relationship. He loves me as much as he possibly can, and is loving me more and more all the time, plus...we are good for each other. So, "Head's Up" other women hoping someday to be the girlfriend of my Widower....move on. He's taken. (and that's another story).

  2. The biggest thing that bothers me and scares me is not the question "When?". "When?" implies that there will be a change, for the better, in the future to look forward to; to know that there are better things on the horizon. I can see the "When?" scenario and be happy and willing to push through the current difficulties to get to that time in the future.

    The thing that scares me is "If?". "If?" has no reassurances, no promises, no "light at the end of the tunnel" that I can have hope in. "If?" means that I may have given my heart fully to a man I dearly love who will not be able to pull himself from this funk, and I will be left with a broken heart.

  3. Thank you so much for writing all of this Julie. It makes so much sense to me. I do get really down with friends of W and LW keep saying I am not right for him and he should find someone else. They do not know how different he is because of his experiences. They feel they have the right to condem me because I am so unlike LW. A lot of the women do not speak to me. Its all makes me feel very very unliked and I never felt that way before I met him. I've always been a very popular outgoing happy person. I have been with him for 5 traumatic yet wonderful years, I know you'll understand what I mean by this.

    I'll keep reading your blog it has made me feel so much better and NORMAL.

  4. Julie, your words are so appreciated. I love that you're so supportive and positive. I value your guidance.

    I also had felt well liked by people all my life, before this relationship with my W. But, like Anonymous, I have felt very unliked, unappreciated, and sometimes even hated by well meaning friends and family of my W. Of course that part of it has not been a plesant experience at all. I've known him for almost 4 years. Obviously the good times outweigh the bad. I was feeling lately that our struggles were beginning to be behind us, but I now know that things can still go the other way quite quickly. (At least temporarily) We are recovering more quickly than in the past, though. It may be this way for many years to come. It may take that long for all of us to gain each other’s trust. We are taking baby steps. I suppose I wouldn't have stayed in the game and gone through all this pain and suffering if I didn't love my guy. And certainly I wouldn't want another woman reaping the benefits of all my 3 plus years of hard work. I will see this to the finish. (Hopefully with your help)

  5. I am the first GOW. My W swears we are different as he is aware of the satistics with W's and their first girlfriends. He loves me and has sworn to make us a married couple,but he is still fresh in his grief. It has been a year and a half since is first wife passed of cancer after 18 years of marriage. I want to believe him. We've just hit our one year mark. We 've been friends for two years and there is a 12 year age gap. I am deeply committed to him and whole heartedly love him. He is for me. The thought that I might just be the stepping stone for his recovered is devastating. Please tell me there are other success storied of first GOW's And W's living happliy ever after

  6. I love all of the comments....some ring so true and some don't apply at all. When I started dating my windower (now my husband) I didn't realize that he had not dated anyone else since the death of his wife 10 years ago....if I had known it, I would not have gone out with him. We broke up several times with me telling him to go date a few other people. We went on a cruise that was The Cruise From Hell because he apparently felt he was cheating on her for loving me. He apparently worked through that because we are now married...however, ours is a sexless marriage because now I think he feels he cheating on her because he married me. There is nothing physically wromg with him in that area, but I have not been kissed, hugged or have ano other physical type of attention given. He is as generous as any man could possibly be. I'm not jealouse of his deceased wife...I think it is wonderful that he had her love. I know very little because he not only doesn't talk about her...he talks about nothing. We have been married for going on three months now and I have not had any communication with another human being unless it has been a sales clerk. He has suffered from back surgery that was bloched and takes morphine for the pain...which causes him to get angry very suddenly for no apparent reason....and he takes it out on me. He doesn't do this with other people. Just with me. He will sometime reach over in the middle of the night to put his arms around me and then he realizes what he is doing and pulls away. I finally went to a counseling alone and have come up with simply waiting it out. I have joined a gym where I can go three times a week and have interactions with other people. I also do volunteer work where I can interact with other people. There is such a thing as prolonged grief, but it is classified as a psychological disorder and he is, in no way, going to go to counseling for it. I love him one day and almost hate him the next. His attacks on me hurt so bad and he knows he is doing it but seems to not be able to conrol it. It is one of the side effects of the morphine. However, he seems to be able to control it with others. I've thought about tis over and over...and am simply going to wait it out and do what I need to for me. I have to admit that I wanted a lover and a companion who would talk with me about things and share the events in my life...and I don't have that. I am slowly but surely making progress with him, I think...and at other times I'm not so sure. I am mot surrounded by her things. I know nothing about her at all...he has never spoken to her. He did have a picture of the two of them looking at each other and the love between them was so beautiful and hurt so bad that I asked him to put it away and look at it, if he wanted to, when I wasn't there. He isn't going to stop loveing her and I don't want him to. But I sure wish he could show me just a little bit of affection.

  7. All,

    Please join me at The Official WOW/GOW MEssage Board, which can be accessed via my website at http://www.juliedonnerandersen.com. There, you will find other WOWs and GOWs (so far, over 300 in the last year have joined!) - all sisters in the family of women who love widowers....women who are warm, acring, supportive, and willing to help. Come on over!!

  8. I enjoyed reading your post. It makes a lot of sense. Thanks for sharing!


  9. I wish this blog had been around years ago. I was involved with a widower and after three years of banging my head against a wall, I ended the relationship. I got tired of competing with a ghost.