Elisa Segrave

How to date a widower

[Alamy]

When is it acceptable to consider dating a widower? How do you know if they are still grieving and not ready to move on? According to statistics, men die earlier than women, so I was surprised this year to meet several whose wives had died before them. Divorced since the early 1990s, I had no intention of remarrying, but thought of striking up some sort of liaison with a widower.

I had heard of women behaving in a desperate and undignified way, charging round with casseroles

I had rejected two non-widowers, whom my grandmother would have described as ‘cast-offs’, meaning exes one mustn’t go back to. I knew I would have to tread carefully with widowers, particularly those who’d had long and happy marriages and who might justly be suspicious of a divorcee who could in no way match up to their wives.

Two I’d met were of a certain age, though didn’t look it. My American friend Holly advised caution, emailing: ‘Most men like to be looked after and some may be looking for a nurse or mom.’ Whoa! Searching for sex and companionship, I might fall into a trap and become a nurse by mistake. I might have to administer pills, escort a man on a Zimmer frame everywhere, or cook two soft-food meals a day – horror! Holly also forwarded me a somewhat cynical article indicating that sex with an older man would cease altogether after a very short time.

My first recent widower was from America. Tall, handsome, athletic, four years older than me but still with an active career, he had been without his wife for three years. At a party where we were the only singletons, he had seemed to like me and had put his hand on my arm. We were both house guests in the same neighbourhood, me staying with my cousin and he with old friends.

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