Advice Column: Response to Young, Widowed, and Lusty

Dear Hailey,

2020 has been a rough year for me, but I’ve been hit particularly hard. My dad died on January 27, 2020 at 63 years old and my husband died on June 24, 2020 at 29 years old. I found my husband dead in our bed when I came home from a haircut. He had died from sniffing cleaning solvents (“poppers”) while masturbating. 

Since then, I’ve moved to the country, sprained an ankle, evacuated from wildfires, and now I’m moving again because I’m renting a granny unit with no kitchen (major downgrade for a wife that likes to cook) and often there isn’t water because the well dries out. 

About 5-6 weeks after my husband died, I went on a retreat with a group of friends (planned before my husband’s death) and on this retreat, I masturbated for the first time and I did so thinking about a male friend that was present on this retreat that I used to have sex with. 

For some context, this male friend and I were hooking up for a couple of months before our larger friend group found out back in 2015. And then when they found out, around the same time I found out I was pregnant. I did the wrong thing. I told other friends before I told him. And then I told him and I had a prescription for an abortion pill. I miscarried before I had to take it. He didn’t say much when I told him I was pregnant. He barely said anything – he was silent for 10 minutes and then said “well at least we know we’re fertile.” 

My friend and I tried to have sex one more time after I miscarried, the condom fell off (again), and my friend left and we never talked about any of it. We just continue to exist in the same group like nothing happened. 

Since that retreat with my friends, I’ve been having sex dreams about this man 1-2 times per week pretty consistently. I’m confused about it honestly. I am obviously still grieving my husband, but also literally lusting after this friend. I think my other friends have picked up on it because one of them explicitly told me “don’t fuck my roommate” (they live in the same house). I don’t think it was her business to say that, but she said she was protecting her household. I get it, I also don’t want to disrupt my friend group. 

Honestly, I doubt that my male friend I’m lusting after even wants to have sex with me after all that happened. I’m pretty sure he thinks I’m crazy even though we are still friends (kind of).

I’ve been reading online that these dreams could be a sign that I have “unresolved feelings” – I think that might be true. I feel guilty/ashamed about how poorly I communicated with him when I was pregnant and how I told others before I told him. It was so disrespectful; I’d like to apologize for it. 

I wonder, is it self-serving to do that? Apologize to him? If so, its kind of too late because we are having dinner tomorrow night. I’m wondering if I should just stick to the basics of an apology for what I feel bad about, or also bring up the sex dreams? It seems like the sex dreams thing might just make him uncomfortable honestly and I’m not sure I would be achieving anything by telling him. 

Anyway, I’m lusty and confused. Please help. 

Young, widowed, and lusty

Dear Young, widowed, and lusty,

I’m incredibly sorry to hear about your exceptionally difficult year. You experienced two huge losses in quick succession, along with multiple other secondary losses such as having to move, injuries, and a natural disaster. It sounds like it has been absolutely devastating, and I sincerely hope that 2021 is kinder to you. 

I would recommend apologizing to your friend. I know some time has passed since you submitted this question and you may have already made a decision or already apologized, but if you have not already I would recommend talking to him. This is weighing heavily on your mind, and that alone makes it worth the conversation. I don’t feel it is self-serving, while your intimacy was brief and 5 years ago, the pregnancy and miscarriage add another layer to it that I’m sure have stuck with him as well. It would be worth it to clear the air and to relieve your conscience. 

Something that is even more important than apologizing to your friend is that you forgive yourself for what occurred. A surprise pregnancy is one of the most stressful situations that a woman can find herself in. Try to catch yourself when you find yourself saying in your mind that you “should” have handled it a certain way, because you can’t change the past. Remind yourself of this: You did the best you could at the time, and all you can do is learn from your experiences and move forward.

As far as sharing the dreams you have had about him: If you are seriously considering telling him, it is likely you are interested in some sort of a relationship with him. This wouldn’t be something you would want to bring up if this wasn’t something you were considering. 

You have had a traumatic year, and only you know where your mental state is at. There aren’t any rules about how long you need to wait to start a new relationship or to have sex again. If you are ready, go for it. If you aren’t feeling it yet, give it some time and see how you feel. As far as how your other friends feel about it: No decision you make will make everyone happy. Someone will always be upset, angry, or judgmental about what you do, so live your life for you and not for anyone else. 

If you haven’t already, I would recommend finding a good therapist. With all that you experienced in 2020, and how sudden those losses were, it would be helpful to process these traumatic events with a trained and impartial third party. 

Wishing you luck, and sending good vibes your way,


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