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Question:

My husband, to whom I am sealed, passed away a little over a year ago and I’m starting to date again for a “time” partner. I don’t know the rules anymore, especially since the last time I dated was over forty years ago. Is it okay to invite a man to do things with me or would that be perceived as pushy? If not, where do I draw the line?

Answer:

I’m sure it’s strange to suddenly find yourself transported back to the world of dating and romance after the security of a decades-long marriage. There’s no doubt dating rules have changed since the last time you went on a date, not only because it’s 2013, but also because you’re not twenty anymore.

Hopefully you have a strong support system of friends who can help sustain you through this strange new life development. They can help reduce the painful uncertainty of building a new romantic relationship.

While I personally believe it’s perfectly acceptable for you to invite a man on a date, you will likely encounter a range of responses from the men you meet. Some men will retain their old-fashion view that a woman should be passive and patiently wait for the man to initiate. Other men will stay neutral, assuming if you want to be with them, you’ll let them know. In other words, it will most likely change depending on whom you ask.

Thankfully, at your age and in this day and age, you have the flexibility and freedom to maneuver in a way you probably didn’t have last time you dated. My guess is that most people your age aren’t sure what the rules are, so use that to your advantage. In fact, a little humor will go a long way.

For example, if you meet someone who interests you, it could be a relief to both of you for you to say something like, “I really enjoy spending time around you, but I have no idea what the rules are anymore about dating at our age. Do I ask you out, or do you ask me out?” There is nothing wrong with exposing the weird guessing game everyone is playing.

Even though finding someone to spend your days with is serious business, you don’t have to take yourself too seriously when trying to meet new people. Recognize that most people your age have had enough experiences with navigating difficult relationships that approaching the uncertainty of dating with authenticity and openness will be a welcome relief.

I encourage you to stay emotionally honest in your interactions with other men. If you are interested in someone, let him know. If you worry you’re being too pushy, ask him. You have nothing to lose by trying to figure out your relationship with another person. Don’t worry about following some arbitrary rules about dating. Instead, worry about being clear and honest about your experience with the individual sitting across from you. 

Geoff will answer a new family and relationship question every Friday. You can email your question to him at geoff@lovingmarriage.com 

About the Author

Geoff Steurer is a licensed marriage and family therapist in St. George, UT. He is the owner of Alliant Counseling and Education (www.alliantcounseling.com) and the founding director of LifeStar of St. George, an outpatient treatment program for couples and individuals impacted by pornography and sexual addiction (www.lifestarstgeorge.com). He is the co-author of “Love You, Hate the Porn: Healing a Relationship Damaged by Virtual Infidelity”, available at Deseret Book, and the audio series “Strengthening Recovery Through Strengthening Marriage”, available at www.marriage-recovery.com. He also writes a weekly relationship column for the St. George News (www.stgnews.com). He holds a bachelors degree from BYU in communications studies and a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy from Auburn University. He served a full-time mission to the Dominican Republic and currently serves on the high council of the St. George, Utah young single adult second stake. He is married to Jody Young Steurer and they are the parents of four children. You can connect with him at:

Twitter: @geoffsteurer
Facebook: facebook.com/GeoffSteurerMFT