Setting the Bar In Relationships

Have you struggled with finding or setting the bar in relationships in your life after loss? I’ve been thinking about this, and realized that we collectively have a unique struggle because we spent so many years living a life that had already been set!

When you were with your loved one, they had met the bar you consciously or unconsciously determined. You married (or partnered) and lived happily ever after…. until they had the nerve to die!

As I navigate relationships, I struggle finding this mythical bar both in friendships and in potential romantic relationships. Many times I feel like Buddy the Elf in New York City when he runs in front of a yellow cab. Didn’t see that one coming!!

In the version of my best self, I set out to solve this problem with research! I asked the googles, and a lot of reflection and came up with a few items I want to share with you today.


Trust is essential in any relationship, and both partners should be able to rely on each other and have faith in each other’s intentions and actions.


Communication is key, and both partners should be able to express their thoughts and feelings in a respectful and constructive manner, and should be willing to listen to and understand each other. My additional caveat here is be able to respond to to each other in a respectful amount of time (texting….)


Respect is fundamental to a healthy relationship I want to be in, and both partners should treat each other with kindness and consideration, and should acknowledge each other’s boundaries and needs.

Shared Values

It’s important for partners to share similar values and goals in life. This can help create a strong foundation for the relationship, and can help ensure that both partners are working towards common objectives.

Emotional & Physical Intimacy

Emotional and physical intimacy are important aspects of any healthy relationship. Both partners should be able to connect on an emotional level and share physical affection in a way that feels comfortable and consensual for both parties.


Commitment is an essential part of a long-term relationship. Both partners should be willing to put in the effort to maintain the relationship and work through challenges that arise.

Special Widowed Addendums…

I also added extra things like a willingness to adore me and my children, a commitment to staying alive (good health habits), and a comfort level with having a dead husband literally hanging out in the background of our relationship.

Now that I’ve determined what the bar should be, it makes it easier for me to determine who is an appropriate match.

Someone can be a lovely human being AND throw a red flag in my world. So what does a red flag look like for me? It’s anything that doesn’t meet the basic bar.

  • taking forever to text back (communication skills)
  • no desire to travel (playmate and companion)
  • an old lover (or wife) tucked away. (emotional availability)
  • an inability to talk about anything of substance (emotional intimacy)
  • (gasp) no desire to cuddle….(wtf) (physical intimacy)
  • a steady diet of Cheetos and Coca Cola (a commitment to stay alive)

If I could give homework this week I would, and it would be for you to answer the question: what are your bars and red flags???

Remember, you can do this, and I’m here to help.


P.S. Would you like to take a deeper dive and explore what widowhood means to you? I’m here and run a coaching program where we cover all of the things! I’m just a message away.

Published by Julie Martella

I am a mission driven business focused on making life better for widowed people. I am perfectly positioned to serve you, because I was you; the woman who didn’t know how she was going to get through the next five minutes, let alone the rest of her life.

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