real life

The verdict is in: science tells us why men move on so fast after a relationship ends.

Women take much longer to move on after the death of a spouse than men do and that’s just a fact. It’s not good or bad, it’s just really interesting.

Terri Irwin, arguably Australia’s most famous widow, hasn’t been on a single date since the death of her husband, Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin, who passed away after a stringray attack in 2006. Instead she has chosen to devote her life to running their business, Australia Zoo and raising their two children, Bindi, 18 and Bob, 12.

She told The Australian Women’s Weekly“I haven’t been on a single date since Steve died. If I hadn’t met Steve, I probably would never have married because I wasn’t looking for love when I met him. What we had was incredible.”

Terri Irwin with daughter Bindi, 18 and son Bob, 12. Image: Instagram @bindisueirwin

There's no right amount of time to move on after the grief of losing your partner however the pattern is pretty clear.

Rove McManus married Tasma Walton three years after the death of his first wife, actress Belinda Emmett in 2006 and former cricketer Glenn McGrath married Sara Leonardi in 2010 after losing his wife Jane McGrath in 2008.

Camille Wortman, professor of psychology at Stony Brook University in New York has researched grief and has found several studies confirming the fact that men move on faster than women after the loss of a spouse. She told The Wall Street Journal"In the first year after a spouse's death, 54% of men have a sexual relationship, compared with 7% of women. By 25 months after a spouse's death, 61% of men had a new relationship, versus 19% of women, and 25% of men had remarried, versus 5% of women."

Reasons men move on more quickly than women after the death of a spouse:

  • There are more single women than single men because women live longer and widows outnumber widowers;
  • Men are more emotionally reliant on their partners so have a greater emotional need for a new partner;
  • Widows feel they will lose their freedom if they find another husband;
  • Widows with young children feel as though finding a new partner is replacing their deceased partner.

Instead of lamenting the fact Terri Irwin is still (still!) single a decade after the death of husband Steve Irwin and desperately trying to romantically link her to unlikely characters such as Russell Crowe, we need to accept that there are and always will be fundamental differences between women and men, particularly when it comes moving on after the death of a spouse.

Terri Irwin says she still feels "immense love and loyalty to Steve".  “And I’ve got great kids, I’ve got a very full life, and while I’m lonely for Steve, I’m not a lonely person.”

“I think for other people who have lost someone and have loved again, it’s a beautiful thing but it’s just not really on my horizon.”