When I started dating less than two weeks after Carol, my wife of 31 years, suddenly and tragically passed away, I knew this was not how a grieving spouse was supposed to behave.
Carol died from an MS-related stroke at home on an early Friday morning in July, 2021. Her loss was unbearable to me. She was pretty, warm, a wonderful mother to our children, my best friend, super smart and witty. A liberal senior editor at a conservative DC newspaper, she was extroverted and loved by everyone who knew her—the friend many turned to for advice about the most personal matters in their lives. (She also worked for Moment briefly in the late 1990s.)
Yet I knew right away that I had to start building a new life for me and my children. After three decades of treasuring the companionship and warmth of a loving marriage, I didn’t want to remain alone. And so I quickly began looking for a new meaningful relationship that might lead to re-marriage.
Most widows and widowers experience a prolonged grieving process that can last many months—reportedly from six to twelve. Why did I feel ready to jump in?
I believe it’s because I loved being married to Carol so much. Although finding someone as wonderful and accomplished as she was seemed virtually impossible, I pushed forward.
It wasn’t even two weeks—it was ten days—when I unexpectedly met someone at Carol’s shiva who became my first date. I had not met her previously, but she knew Carol. This made our dating largely platonic, but it helped me to quickly transition to the dating world.
Searching for new dating opportunities, my local synagogue suggested I try online dating, so I joined JDate. It proved to be a gold mine. My J-dates soon became so all-consuming that when one woman asked about my hobbies, no doubt hoping I’d share her love of dogs and gardening, I had to admit, “Dating is my only hobby.”
I went on some 30 dates in five months, each of them with women surprised that I was dating so soon. Some experiences were right out of Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm. I “auditioned” for the role of suitable mate at a Hanukkah party. (To my great disappointment, the well-connected hostess suggested I join the local Chabad synagogue). On one romantic evening, an insanely jealous English shepherd dog kept interrupting our “making out.” Meeting me at a juice bar, another prospect said she felt no “connection,” but that my English accent “would appeal to lots of women.”
In Month Two on JDate, I found a prospect whose profile and photos I thought were far more interesting than anyone else’s. “B” had attended an Ivy League university, was an amateur classical musician, and worked in Washington’s foreign policy community. “My type, exactly,” I said to myself! I wrote to her. More than a month went by with no response. I went out on ten more dates.
Then, in the middle of the fifth week, in December 2021, she wrote back. Our phone call the next day was so pleasant that I invited her to meet for dinner that weekend at my favorite neighborhood restaurant, which has a romantic atmosphere. There, we talked for more than three hours until closing time. I realized on that first date that “B” was the new partner with whom I wanted to spend the rest of my life.
There were early beshert signs: so far, everyone else I’d dated lived at quite a distance from me—“B” (who asked not to be named in this article) lived only a ten-minute drive from my house.
She spontaneously met my extended clan at a Zoom shiva early on. I already regarded her as family. And I quickly met her relatives, discovering that her younger sister in Manhattan lives directly across from the building on West End Avenue where I grew up.
“B” moved into my house in January 2023.
I know my experience likely differs from the prolonged grief of other widowed spouses, but I have a feeling Carol would be delighted that I sought—and found—new love so quickly.
Bio: Joshua Sinai is a Professor of Practice, Intelligence & Global Security Studies at Capitol Technology University in Laurel, MD. He earned his doctorate and masters degrees from Columbia University, and has more than 100 published articles and book reviews on terrorism, counterterrorism and other security-related topics. “B” works for the federal government. They live in Rockville, MD.