I am lonely and depressed because my husband died over 15 years ago and I just cannot find someone successful, loyal, and who can make me laugh.
I am a very hard-working and very successful businesswoman, and I tried a few dates but they all went south because these men seemed to be looking for a sugar mama.
My intentions and motivations are pure and I need an honest man in my life, someone who may share some of my thoughts and my goals.
Counsellor, how can you help me?
For people who lost their partners through divorce or death, getting back in the “market” can be a daunting experience, especially if you are looking for someone who has similar qualities as the former partner. For some, if the new person cannot meet the standards of the ex-partner, then he/she is not considered favourably or at all.
The tendency to search for someone who reminds you of the former partner may be part of the reason why some widows and widowers remain single for a long time, as the time is spent trying to find a carbon copy of the past husband/wife instead of being open to take on the changes and freshness a new partner will bring.
Are you in fact trying to replace your husband by being super selective and missing opportunities to bond with someone who may not have all the qualities you are looking for? Your list of requirements is reasonable — loyalty, success, honesty and a sense of humour are important qualities. But suppose he is not as successful, but is ambitious and industrious? Would he qualify? The point I am making is that adjusting your “wish list” may be necessary since the new person would come with his/her set of peculiarities and psychological “baggage”. I am by no means suggesting that you abandon your list of expectations, but if your former partner possessed all the items on your wish list, chances are the other person would not necessarily possess same. So that's the first adjustment you will have to make in your mind.
The next is the social circles that you may frequent that may present a certain calibre of prospective suitors. I am not sure what your age range is, but your mention of the men you encountered who want a “sugar mama” would suggest that you are a mature woman. Is it that the men you are interested in are many years your junior? If the young adult cohort is your choice, then it's likely that you will encounter such challenges. This is not to say that some mature men are not focused on getting all the material things they can get from a partner. Most mature men, however, who have been there, done that, would be more inclined to settling down and would probably be your best option.
Where can you find such men? Maybe at sporting events, church, service clubs, concerts, or at the workplace of your friend. It could be someone in your neighbourhood — you can never tell. There could be someone whom you have been close to since the passing of your husband. The point is to keep an open mind and not be closed to any possibilities.
Assuming your husband was a good man who was honest, made you laugh, and shared your aspirations, replacing him is not about duplicating him, but filling a void that was left by his absence with someone else who can offer the best he can within his physical and emotional resources.
If necessary, you may want to consider counselling to help you make the transition from singleness to a couple relationship. You could well be standing in your way of finding love the second time around.
Wayne Powell is a relationship counsellor. Write to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out his work on www.seekingshalom.org and his Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/MFTCounselor/.