Dating After the Death of a Girlfriend

Only you will know when you are ready to date again after the death of your girlfriend.
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After the death of your girlfriend, you may wonder if you will ever feel ready to date again. When feelings of grief eventually subside, it might be time to take a chance. Dating again doesn't mean that you didn't love your girlfriend or that you are trying to replace her. Wanting to date again is natural and healthy, when you are ready.

1 Move Through Grief

Be sure that you have moved through your grief over the loss of your girlfriend before trying to date again. This process might take weeks, months or years, depending on your personality and how long you were together, according to the "Help Guide" article "Coping With Grief and Loss." It can involve feelings of anger, sadness, guilt and disbelief. If your girlfriend's death was sudden or unexpected, you may have the added burden of coping with shock over what happened. Give yourself time to grieve, and seek out the support of family and friends before dating again.

2 Go Slow

Though it might be tempting to jump into a new relationship with the first person you date, be careful to take things slowly, says author and widower Abel Keogh in the article "10 Dating Tips for Widows and Widowers" on his website. It is normal to want all of the things you lost -- affection, love and companionship -- but if you aren't careful, both you and your new partner could end up hurt. Take things slowly when dating again, and spend a lot of time getting to know a future girlfriend before getting serious.

3 Don't Feel Guilty

Don't feel guilty about dating again, and don't let friends or family make you feel guilty either, Keogh says. For example, if you bring a new date to a party, your friends may give her the cold shoulder -- out of "respect" for your late girlfriend. Stand up for your date, and demand that she be treated with respect. If you begin dating again within a short period of time, you also may be judged for not properly grieving the loss of your girlfriend. Remember -- your timeline is your own, and nobody else has the right to judge when you are ready to date again.

4 Don't Focus on the Past

When you are out on a date with a new girl, try to keep the focus on her. Though it is natural for her to be curious about your past relationship, talking too much about your girlfriend will interfere with moving forward. Answer her questions, and then move the conversation back to the present. If you find that you are still not over feelings of loss and grief, consider talking to a counselor or therapist who can help you work through these feelings.

Arlin Cuncic has been writing about mental health since 2007, specializing in social anxiety disorder and depression topics. She served as the managing editor of the "Journal of Attention Disorders" and has worked in a variety of research settings. Cuncic holds an M.A. in clinical psychology.