How to Date Me (and My Dead Husband)

A simple guide for a complicated situation

Lauren Mauldin
Human Parts
Published in
3 min readOct 24, 2018

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Image: HuntImages/Getty

When We Match

No shirtless mirror selfies. No photos of dead animal trophies. Be a little bit chubby. Have a little bit of facial hair, or don’t. You can’t be too tall. Say you’re into photography or writing or art. Tease some sensitivity. Give a hint that you might have been married before. Like dogs, but don’t have them. Be from the East Coast or Texas. Spark something in me that feels like promise.

When We Message

Tell me my dog is adorable. Know basic grammar. Make a silly joke about anteaters. Be candid, but don’t overshare. Send an animated GIF of an animal. Keep the conversation light and short. Don’t ask me about my last relationship. Don’t ask me “what I’m looking for.” Instead, ask to meet me for a drink.

When We Meet

Buy the first vodka soda. Wear a shirt with a collar. Ask me questions. Be complex. Hide a thin layer of pain beneath our witty banter. Don’t ask about the men’s wedding band I wear on my right middle finger. Laugh often. Compliment my tattoos, but don’t push for their meaning. Talk about music. Talk about travel. Tell me something you want out of life that is so big, it feels impossible. Walk me to my car, and kiss me three times—tentatively.

When We Have Sex

Give me time to hide my wedding photo before you come over. Make the first move. Don’t expect it. Don’t insist I leave the lights on. Take your shirt off. Think this is something I do often. Push me down on the bed. Forget who you are for a while. After, tell me you’re scared of your brother’s cancer. Say it because you feel safe with your face hidden in the dark. Don’t fall asleep. Don’t spend the night. Don’t expect me to love you.

When We Talk About Him

Ask how he died, if you want. Don’t ask if it was needles or nose, though that’s better than silence. Ask how long we were together. When I answer nine years, don’t be intimidated. Don’t tell me you’re sorry. Don’t pity me. Wonder what it would be like to love two people. Know that I already realize that things have changed.

When We Fade

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Lauren Mauldin
Human Parts

is an MFA candidate, memoirist, editor & has just finished her first book, Animalistic, a memoir about losing her husband to addiction. www.lauren-mauldin.com