One of the biggest challenges that I have personally faced while dating a widower is his social circle, particularly his friends’ wives. I have found a couple of diamonds in all of that dirt whom I just love and have an actual friendship with, but they are few and far between.
I knew things were going to be ugly a few years ago when Gabe got a phone call from his buddy Jude. This was a half hour prior to me needing to drop Star and his son Aiden off to his sister in law. Yay. Jude: “Hey man, the girls seem to think that you and Jenna were having an affair while your wife was still alive, you’re gonna have to do something to let them know that that’s not true.” Wait, what? Why couldn’t Jude just tell his gossipy wife to stop spreading rumors when he knew himself that this wasn’t true? And so, it started. The gossip. I drop the kids off with his sister in law thirty minutes later and she’s understandably short with me as she now thinks that i was having an affair with her sister’s husband. Awesome. I did not and do not have a relationship with her to have a discussion with her to try to diffuse rumors. And I shouldn’t have to do that anyways, it’s not my job. It’s his. They are his friends, his people.
For me at least, going into this situation, I feel that a lot of these women and even some of the men felt that it was my obligation to prove myself to them and to make them like me, their logic being that they have “been around longer”. I disagree. My only obligation is to be my usual nice self, be courteous and understanding and that’s it. Just because I’m in a relationship with their friend, does not mean that I now need their approval or to go out of my way to make them my friends as well. I think that a lot of the time, from reading and from my own situation, the people in the widower’s life completely forget that this new woman has her own family, her own established friends/ social circle, her own life and a lot of times, her own children. For me personally, it would be nice if they liked me and we could all get along but . I wasn’t set out to make new friends. In fact, how would they know any of this? They never asked. They never thought past themselves. I have heard this saying and it rings true so many times: Grief can be very selfish.
There have been many incidents since that day, that I tried to see past. Most of them centered around one person in particular, Jude’s wife Julie. Julie is known as the Queen Gossiper and I suspect she thinks that she is the Queen Bee. There have been many parties where I was not invited to sit with the women and sat quietly with his daughter Star while they would just stare and whisper among themselves, like a bunch of tenth graders. There have also been several more ridiculous rumors crafted, my personal favorite being that my oldest son is really Gabe and my love child. This one made me giggle.
In the end, it doesn’t matter how they choose to treat me or what ridiculous rumors they make up. I don’t associate with Julie nor allow her on any social media of mine. The sad part is only that by doing these things, it has really distanced Gabe and Jude a great deal. By not wanting their social circle to change, they did end up changing it as Gabe is not a huge part of it as he once was. He feels that he has to be careful of what he says and does now around people who he once felt comfortable. He turns down some events now to avoid a shark tank.
It’s funny how things can change, he has another friend couple, Charlie and Mary, who have been nothing but supportive. He was already close to Charlie but usually only got together socially within the group. He now seeks them out as these are some of the only people whom he feels completely comfortable around. Death and grief change so many things and so many relationships. It can make some people become more compassionate and it can make some people become monsters.