When a widower pulls away, you can’t really treat him like you would any other man. His late wife is still part of his memories and you know that you can’t compete with her.
But you’re curious to find out the trigger that makes him pull away after everything you two went through. You think that it may be you, but it could also be his feelings for his late spouse.
You can’t even imagine what he’s going through. Imagine having to see the love of your life pass away and leave you all alone to fight with that loss.
That’s horrifying. You shouldn’t have to deal with such a thing in your life. If something like that ever happened to you, you would think that the whole universe was working against you.
To be honest, we would probably all react like that. But let’s hope that we never have to figure these things out for ourselves.
Nonetheless, why is he now taking so many steps back from your relationship? Should you even try to understand him?
Why a widower pulls away
At first, things were going great, but as time passes, you can see how he keeps retreating. When a widower pulls away, you’re unsure how to approach him about it.
I mean, you have experience with men, you know how they think and how they function. But you don’t actually know if the same reasoning applies to a man who lost the person he thought to be his soulmate.
Just the fact that he’s dating again is so brave of him. He’s trying the best he can to move on and start a new relationship. But just when you think he’s doing better, he keeps running away from you.
What are the possible reasons for that?
You’re lucky, because there are a few common ones that are quite specific to a widowed man. We’ll help you understand him better, and afterward, you could even try to make things work. But you need to see things from his perspective first.
1. You came off too strong
He was ready to move on and date again, he just needed time to adjust to everything. But you came off too strong.
He got so scared of how fast things were moving that he completely stopped everything by pulling away. He can’t seem to wrap his head around the fact that he’s actually in a serious relationship again.
When you’re dating a widower, you have to know that you can’t appear forceful. The moment you asked him to meet his kids or his parents, he had to take a couple of steps back. He had to walk away from you to see things a little bit clearer.
2. He’s not ready
He may have been flirting with you or talking to you for a while, but he obviously isn’t ready to totally move on. The memories of his deceased spouse keep reminding him of the time they spent together.
He’s simply not ready to bring someone new home to his kids or to kiss someone else’s lips. This man is still traumatized by the loss of his wife. How can he ever be truly ready?
He may have even thought that he was ready, just for the anxiety to kick in again. He probably feels like he’s lying to you and he doesn’t want to break your heart.
A widower is broken and bruised, so he knows what it feels like to walk around with a broken heart. He doesn’t want to cause you any more harm.
When a widower pulls away, the most obvious reason is that he simply isn’t ready to move on.
3. He has too high expectations
A widower is always comparing you to his late wife. I know that you don’t want to hear that, but it’s true.
Now that he lost her, he’ll forget about the issues they had or any bad memory he had of her. Even if they did fight, he won’t remember that. He’ll only hold on to the good memories for dear life.
Because of that, he won’t accept anything less than sheer perfection. Of course, this is not what’ll always happen.
If he’s asked a lot of you and always seemed unsatisfied in your relationship, it may be because he’s set the bar too high for you to reach. He thought that everything would run smoothly, so at the first obstacle, he crumbles and pulls away from you.
He doesn’t want to work through things. In his head, it should be as perfect as the memory of his marriage with his late wife.
4. You don’t match the life he’s already created
There’s a good chance that it has nothing to do with you, but all with him. He simply doesn’t see how you’ll manage to fit into his life.
You’re probably younger than him and he’s established himself in all aspects of life. He has a house, permanent employment, a car, children. He built a family and he’s a serious man.
If you’re a partygoer or traveling a lot and you know that he’s not that type of man, then he probably doesn’t think that you’re a match for each other. He wants someone who’ll fall into his life’s pace.
If you’re two completely different people who don’t have the same values in life, your relationship would’ve fallen apart eventually either way. It’s just that he’s now able to see that for what it is.
5. You said something bad about his late spouse
When you’re in a committed relationship with a widower, you have to understand that he won’t just pass through the grieving process. He’s having a very hard time with all of this.
He lost his significant other. That in itself has so many ups and downs – it’s a roller coaster of awful emotions.
He feels grief, then sadness, then frustration and anger. So you can’t really ask him to forget about his spouse without expecting him to walk away from you.
Widowed men tend to do some things that may break your heart, but you need to understand why. He’ll probably go visit her grave more often than you’d like. He’ll have pictures of her in his house and he’ll never truly stop talking about her.
His wife’s death took a toll on him. But I can understand you, too. No one wants to hear about their partner’s past lovers. Even if that lover isn’t among the living anymore.
You feel like he’s constantly comparing you to her and that he’s not really living in the moment with you.
He’s obviously stuck on their years of marriage. So the very moment you say something negative about her or ask him to forget about her, that’s when a widower will pull away.
6. His children don’t like you
His kids may not have liked you for some reason, so now he’s taking a few steps back. To widowed men, that’s a huge red flag.
It doesn’t matter how old his children are, he’ll always put them before you. That’s the normal way to look at things. You’d probably do the same thing.
Did his kids seem dismissive of you? Did they seem angry at him for talking to you? Have his kids asked him why he’s trying to replace their mom?
Any of these things could’ve made him question his new love. He’ll trust his kids, even if he’s an older man. He won’t work against them, but will rather try to make amends with them.
If that means that he stops seeing you completely, then so be it.
7. He feels guilty
When people try to move on after they’ve lost a loved one, they tend to feel very guilty about it.
He thinks that he doesn’t deserve a new beginning if his late spouse isn’t able to have the same. He believes that he doesn’t have the right to love anyone else but her.
Even if he knows that she’d want him to continue with his life and find someone else to love, he can’t bring himself to do that. He feels like that would be some sort of betrayal.
He’s feeling guilty for wanting another woman and that in itself is affecting his mental health. He can’t look at you without feeling like he’s abandoning the love he had for her.
8. He feels like you’re dismissive of his emotions
As you know, he’s a very sensitive man. He’s been through so much trauma, as anyone would who’s lost their long-term partner so unfairly.
If you ever made the wrong move by dismissing his feelings, he’ll feel like you don’t understand what he’s been through. A man like him can’t be gaslighted into believing that he should just move on and that it isn’t that serious.
You can’t use the excuse that we all die one day. It’s so hard for him to understand why the God he believed in would take away someone as precious as his wife.
When a widower pulls away, it’s usually because he feels like you’re not respecting his feelings and experiences enough.
Have you said something that seemed to mock his emotions? If yes, then you may be losing him forever.
9. He’s scared
What if something happened to you, too? He’s already lost one woman he loved dearly, so what if he falls in love with you and you disappear?
He doesn’t understand that his fear is irrational. It’s just that this entire situation left such an awful taste in his mouth that he can’t just move on without that fear.
He never thought that he’d lose his wife. When a widower pulls away, it’s because his brain is telling him that he can’t have a healthy relationship without it ending in tragedy.
And the worst thing is that you can’t really help him with this issue. He may want to visit a support group or individual therapy, but when he’s scared, it’s not up to you to fix it. No matter how hard you try, he’ll never be able to forget about his fear just because you try to convince him that it doesn’t make sense.
Things you can do when a widower pulls away
After you’ve learned all the possible reasons why the widower you’ve been seeing has been pulling away recently, you have to do something about it.
I mean, only if you want to. But let’s say that you do.
You haven’t seen any red flags with him and you’re genuinely concerned for him. You want to show him that love isn’t damnation he has to run away from. So let’s see what you can do to boost his self-esteem as well as make him believe that he can love again.
1. Give him enough space
As stated before, coming off too strong will only drive him further away from you. Don’t have high expectations that’ll lead to disaster.
He has to know that you’re ready to back off and give him the space he craves to settle everything in his head. He can’t just fall in love with you as easily as you have with him.
His late wife is always on his mind, whether you like it or not. Because of that, he needs more time to process everything. He’s overthinking every move he makes.
I know that you want him to trust you that everything will be fine, but he can’t hear your voice above his own overthinking mind. So give him the time and space to figure everything out himself.
2. Reach out (carefully)
When a widower pulls away, he could start to ghost you or completely ignore your existence. You have to understand that this is probably the first time he’s been with anyone after the tragedy and now he has to fight his urge to run away from you.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that he doesn’t want to talk to you. He could just be too scared to do so.
So, reach out to him, but carefully. Make sure to let him know that you’re there for him if he needs someone to talk to and that you’re worried. This way you won’t put pressure on him.
Offer your help, but don’t demand from him to tell you what’s been going on. If you’re not careful, he could just withdraw into himself even more.
3. Build a good relationship with his kids
His children are the most precious beings in his life. He loves them more than anything. I mean, they’re the best gift his late wife left behind.
As a single father now, he needs to know that the woman he brings into their little bubble is worthy of his children. So make a point to create a bond with them.
Be kind, caring, and loving. But never try to make them see you as their new mother. You’ll never be that and the earlier you establish that boundary, the better you’ll be at this.
The first year after their mother passes away, they’ll be the most cautious about everyone. Afterward, things may get a little easier. It’ll be a bit harder if they are already in high school and are raging teenagers.
Either way, help them adjust to your presence in their life. Don’t make this hard for everyone involved.
4. Be kind to his former in-laws
He didn’t divorce his wife, she passed away. So why wouldn’t he be on good terms with his former in-laws? He sees them as part of his family, even if his late wife isn’t present anymore. They share their trauma and they need each other to heal.
Because of that exact reason, you can’t and shouldn’t expect him to stop talking to them. Or even to avoid seeing them yourself. If you want to be a part of his life, you’ll also have to have a good relationship with his former in-laws.
Your boyfriend didn’t just lose a wife, those people lost their daughter. The least they deserve is your kindness and understanding.
When a widower pulls away, it could definitely be because you showed him that you don’t care about the part of his life that was connected to her. So if you want to save your relationship, you should try this before anything else.
Show him that you understand.
5. Don’t let your insecurities and jealousy take over
I know it’s not easy. You feel like you’re competing with a memory. You’re competing with the wife who’s not alive anymore. You’re competing with the memories every single family member of his has of her.
All of those people are telling you that you’ll never be as good as her. Even if they don’t say it outright, you can read it between the lines.
His close friends aren’t even trying to hide their confusion.
Of course, we should understand that the death of a spouse is the worst thing someone could go through. She isn’t his ex-wife because she did something wrong.
But you’re innocent as well. You don’t deserve to go through embarrassment either.
You see, you shouldn’t be insecure and jealous. It’ll be hard at times, but if he understands your boundaries and truly wants a future with you, then he’ll make sure that you don’t feel any of that.
As long as you’re prepared to put your insecurities aside to help him get through this, he should be prepared to shut down anyone who’s trying to hurt you. Even if it’s his family.
6. Focus on making new memories
Instead of focusing on his past, focus on your future together. Show him that a new life isn’t such a bad thing at all. Be his best friend and experience the beauty of the world together.
I know that the pandemic doesn’t allow you to travel as much, but you can just as easily create new memories in your living room. Try to spend a lot of time together, or as much as you can as long as it’s not too overwhelming for you both.
If you want a long-term relationship that’s happy and healthy, always be prepared to experience new things.
Take him places, be creative, make it exciting. Of course, he won’t forget about his late wife this way, but he will be reminded that he can be happy even without her.
As much as that may hurt him, he has to let go at some point.
When you create new memories, take many pics and hang them up beside his already existing ones with his deceased wife. This way you’ll show him that he doesn’t have to give up on his memories of her to be happy with you.
7. Understand his trauma
Probably the hardest thing you’ll ever have to do is to try and understand his trauma. Just last year, he thought that he would never love again, but here he is. He’s trying for you, so you should try for him, too.
You’ll have to understand his need to call you when you get those random phone calls in the middle of the night just to see if you’re okay. He’ll dream of something scary and want to hear to your voice.
If you want to be his fiancé and wife one day, you genuinely have to take into consideration the hell he went through to get to where he is today.
So, as long as you don’t cross your own boundaries and ignore red flags, try to empathize with him.
Understand that he can’t just stop loving her overnight. That you’ll always have this weird shadow lurking in the corner of the room whenever you two are together.
He’ll always remember her. Probably the best thing you can do when a widower tries to pull away is to realize and be okay with the fact that she’ll always be with him in some way.
Otherwise, you’ll be miserable with this man.