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Online dating could benefit widows

Washington: Online dating can play an important role in the grieving process, say experts.

A new chronicles how widowed online daters use their profiles as a place to make sense of the past while articulating a vision of a future life.

University of Delaware communication professors Dannagal Young and Scott Caplan collected more than 500 online dating profiles from divorced and widowed individuals of both sexes between 18 and 40 years old.

They examined the profiles for evidence of healthy approaches to loss, such as describing the backstory behind the divorce or death of the spouse, and any attempt to make sense of the past experience, an act called "cognitive reappraisal."

They found widowed daters are more likely than divorcees to mention the backstory, try make sense of/find meaning in it and articulate a vision of their future partnership.

In addition, those who include a backstory are significantly more likely to describe how the experience changed them for the better.

"Many surviving spouses point to a shift in priorities and a new appreciation for the fragility of life after their spouse dies," explained Caplan.

"Think of it as a post-loss enlightenment," she said.

"Online dating seems like a way to bring these healthy behaviours together," said Young.

The study was published in the journal Death Studies.


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