I'll give a little background. I was with my wife for 36 years, married for 31. She passed two years ago from cancer. It was a quick death, although we thought there would be more time. But when C comes back, it's with a vengeance. After hearing horror stories about years-long cancer battles, I consider my wife lucky. She did not suffer. I have come to terms about this.
Since then, my life settled down, I've found a routine- working, keeping my home tidy, which is still a lot of work doing everything that before was shared with a soulmate. I see my kids and grandkids regularly and after a few bumps in the road early on, we've got a good family life.
Now for the dating part.
I went to an online dating site four months after my wife passed. Being really lonely, even with strong support from our friends. I hadn't dated since we were teens, so I didn't really expect much to come of it, thinking my status would turn woman off. Who would want me? Lot's of women, that's who. I quickly lost my discipline (and self respect?) and slept with three women, with a a fourth on the slipway. The sex was great, which I hadn't really experienced since my wife's first diagnosis. Chemo does that. So there I was- my friends called me "Casanova." Then came the crisis of conscience. I felt like I was a player, a person I didn't want to be. And I didn't want to hurt anyone. So began my first committed relationship since my love passed.
My girlfriend and I are in a LDR- Long distance relationship. We see each other 3 weekends a month and take turns at each other's home. She, too is a cancer widow, with three grown kids and a grandson. It really has been a good match. She's wonderful, smart, hard working, patient and our chemistry is off the charts. We never argue, but do have frank discussions about our future and finances (we're both very secure), etc.. We travel very well together. She is out two years longer than me. She knows what she wants, but had not pressured me to cohabitate until now. She would move in with me tomorrow. But that is slowly changing, as has my outlook on the future.
The things I have learned about myself - I've become somewhat of an introvert. In the first year, I had guests, family and friends, who would stay at my home. After three days, I would have enough. Time to go. This includes my girlfriend, although I would never say this to her. I have found that I rather like living alone and doing things my way (which is the way my wife taught me, to be honest), decorating my way, cooking and cleaning my way, etc. Some of my married male friends have commented that "You have a good deal; one week on, one off." I agree. I like my freedom. I've already decided I'm not getting married again- ever -because That Thing we had cannot be recreated for me, perhaps. To be absolutely one from two. My girlfriend had that with her husband, too. And wants it back.
This is the way things have gone, to a path where I'm starting to think about checking out. And I feel like crap. My girlfriend deserves much, much better than I think I can give. She deserves to move on to the next phase of her life. And now she's is talking openly about buying a home together in less expensive area, basically retiring together. Logistically, this can be done, but way ahead of what was planned. But I keep making excuses- not wanting to move further from my kids and elderly parents- at some point I will be supporting mom and dad in some way, shape or form- but she's not buying it. There are some real hurdles to overcome, to be sure- one of her daughters is openly hostile to me sometimes, which she attributes to losing her father. Understandable. My love of cigars. She hates smoking. A few other things, including my wife- she is always "there."
So here we are. It's. Just. Me. It seems the best path to take is the one I originally charted in that first year- find someone like-minded, a woman that is comfortable in a relationship but without the living together part. Just killing time, drinking wine, trying to solve life's mysteries, in the words of Bon Jovi. Not a FWB- I learned that's just an empty existence. Being completely realistic, the odds are not good I will find what I'm looking for. But really, the decent thing to do take the every week loneliness over stringing along a kind, wonderful woman who deserves the best life someone else can give her.
I hope my experience will help others who find themselves in this quagmire so soon after devastating loss.
Comments and criticisms welcome.