Dear Carolyn • My husband committed suicide a year ago and it’s been absolutely horrifying, not only for me but for my 8-year-old son as well. Recently, I have been trying to date and mingle due to my son’s worry I will be alone. I’m 30 and feel as though I’m doing something wrong. When I took my vows, I meant them, so I feel I’m cheating or being unfaithful to my husband. He chose to do what he did, so should I be feeling this guilt when on a date? Please help.
Dear Pennsylvania • I am so sorry. That is such a heavy thing to carry with you. Those vows, presumably, were “till death do us part,” so they don’t impose guilt, they absolve you of it. But also please free yourself of any pressure to date. I realize you want to ease your son’s mind now. I fear you could unwittingly hurt him later, though, by reinforcing his idea that alone = bad or dating = pain relief. It’s OK to be alone while you’re healing; it’s OK to be open to having a partner — but also open to being single unless and until you meet a worthy one. And it’s OK to address your son’s worries with a gentle, firm, loving and consistent adherence to this message. It’s a message of inner strength and stability for two people no doubt still staggered by a devastating external blow.
Dear Carolyn • My fiancé cheated on me. I was heartbroken and broke things off. I had few people nearby to lean on due to unrelated circumstances, like friends moving away. Five months after we split, he dated one of my friends, writing to say that since he’d “been dishonest in the past,” he now wanted “to be a better communicator.” I broke off all contact with both parties. My question: This was awful, and I did the right thing, right? I’m still reeling.
Sad in Chicago
Dear Sad in Chicago • Dating a friend’s cheating ex-fiancé just months after he torpedoed the engagement seems awful to me, yes. As does cheating on one’s fiancée, counting to 10 and then dating her friend. But you don’t need any of that, or me, to justify taking care of yourself. You’re fully entitled to leave them to each other.
Carolyn Hax’s column runs Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.