Ask Sarah – Dating at the Graveside

Dear Sarah,
     I’ve recently encountered a situation that requires the advice of a love expert like yourself. Here’s a brief background story: In the fall of 2012 one of my dear and most loyal friends died of a self inflicted gunshot.  I ran into his ex-girlfriend various times over the next couple months and the poor girl was obviously a wreck, …and then we didn’t see each other for quite a while.
     Several weeks ago I ran into her again at a gig I was playing and we caught up – it was great seeing her. I immediately asked her how she was, and I guess by the look in my eyes, she knew what I meant and said she was doing better. She looked better, she looked great. So after an hour or so passed, while we spoke, and while more booze was consumed, I started to notice that she was getting a little flirty. And when I say a little flirty I mean it, nothing blatant, just a couple of the eye movements, and brief contact with knees. Keep in mind she is a very attractive person and normally it wouldn’t take much to win me over. The difference is that she is an ex of a deceased friend of mine. Not just a friend but a loyal man who would have given his life for me. He told me several times “Anybody who messes with you’s gotta mess with me first!! I’m serious, Bobby.”
      So the question is: Is it ok to sleep with, date, or pursue an ex of a deceased friend?
My philosophy is that you cannot do any of the above with the ex of a friend, associate, or anyone you know or respect. If you don’t care about the person, then fine, go for it, otherwise stay away a**hole!! What do you think? Also is she considered an ex since she was dating him at the time of his death? They weren’t married so she can’t be his widow.
Anyway Sarah I’m lost about this matter. Please give me any advice you can know of.
Thank you,
Your fan,

Let me ask a few questions first.
1.  Does she understand the difference between “your” and “you’re?”  EVEN when texting?
2.  Has she stopped using hearts for punctuation?
3.  Does she own fewer than 5 cats?
If the answer to these questions is yes, then what’s the problem??
I want to tell you a different story and you tell me how you react.
There was a sweet couple – Jean and Hank – high school sweethearts – married 40 years when Jean was diagnosed with cancer.  As they battled the disease over the course of 4 more long years, they hired a live-in nurse, named Maria, to assist with medical issues and offer support.  The family became very close with Maria: it was clear she cared about all of them and she became more than a nurse… she was a friend.  As Jean slipped into her last weeks of life, Maria was there around the clock, tending to her, but also offering a listening ear or holding Hank’s hand as he grieved for his wife.  The day finally arrived and Jean passed away.  Maria was there for every moment of the mourning process – helping with the Memorial service details, talking with some family members, crying with others, sitting silently with some.  And as the weeks and months after Jean’s death passed, and life slowly started getting back to normal, Maria stayed in contact with Hank and his children, coming to family dinners from time to time, meeting for coffee to check in on them, etc.  She and Hank had developed such a strong friendship over the next year or so, that no one was surprised when one day, he announced that he and Maria were dating… and a year after that, they married.
How does that hit you?  Does it sound scandalous or wrong?  Does it break the bro code?
I have a feeling it sounds normal… sweet even.
Is that so different from your situation?  The only real difference is the age.  They’re old.  You’re young.  But why is it wrong simply because of youth?
Bottom line is that I absolutely disagree with you.
Who BETTER than those who were close with (read: possibly shared similar values and character traits as) the deceased, to take care of, and love, those left behind?
Now – if your question is, “can we have sex?” then my answer is different.
But if your question is, “can I start a relationship with this person and see where it goes?” I give my unequivocal two thumbs up!
Think of it this way – if he really loved you as much as he says, if you could go back and time and ask him, in a serious moment, “Dude… if something every happened to you, what kind of guy would you want to end up with your girlfriend?” – I bet he’d respond with something like, “Oh man, I’d want her to end up with someone like you.
What’s the alternative?  I’m guessing she’s not going to be celibate and alone the rest of her life.  So, if she’s going to date and eventually marry SOMEone, why not someone who loved the man she loved?  Makes sense to me.
The only sticky wickets in this king of situation would be:
– entering into a romantic relationship too soon after someone has passed away.  People need time to mourn.
– turning it into a purely physical relationship where, in the end, she’ll just feel used by someone she trusted
I find it interesting that you stated it this way:
“My philosophy is that you cannot [be in a relationship] with the ex of a friend, associate, or anyone you know or respect. If you don’t care about the person, then fine, go for it, otherwise stay away…”
Seems backwards to me.  “If you DON’T care about the person, then fine?”
So, let me see if I have this straight:
Date people you don’t care about… and stay away from those you do?  Hrmmmm…
If you care about someone who passes away, you’re supposed to remove yourself from his loved ones’ lives?
I sure hope if I were married and my husband died, that my friends wouldn’t adopt such a policy.  I want them to stay close – for comfort, friendship, support, and ultimately – healing.
So, there you have it – my permission to date this girl (if that’s what she wants too!).
And I’ll be curious to hear how it goes!

2 thoughts on “Ask Sarah – Dating at the Graveside

  1. rolandgabriel

    First, a serious response:

    The assumption that your friend would want her happy is unrealistic. She would have been happy not having to attend his funeral. That said, the Guy Code about exes was amended about the time social media exploded like a rampant case of oral herpes. If the guy dumped the girl, he opted out and she is fair game for anyone else who wants those problems. If she dumped him, she’s off limits until expressly put on waivers by the original boyfriend. While this sounds very similar to the ancient practices of Right of Conquest, it has and will continue to save many friendships.

    Callous response:

    Suicide is the most selfish of acts and releases all parties from indemnification. Nobody owes anything to someone who punishes loved ones in that manner. The deceased friend forfeit his right to consideration with regard to any relationship he chose to terminate. Go for it and be happy!


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