I have written a few articles about dating before one’s divorce is final.
In my opinion, this is total insanity. There are a myriad of reasons why I believe this so strongly. They include:
You need time to emotionally heal
Don’t kid yourself (or anyone else) by claiming that you mourned the end of your marriage while still married. Or that you don’t love the guy anymore (maybe never did). Blah blah blah. Truth is, regardless of the state of your marriage prior to actually moving out and one of you filing for divorce (worse yet, for those who still may be living with their soon-to-be ex), you’re now in a whole new world. Being in a bad marriage, and then transitioning out of it, is a huge change and you need time to process it, reflect on your new life and where you want it to go, and come to terms with the mistakes you made in your marriage. Now is the time to focus on YOU. Get therapy. Start a new work-out routine. Indulge in retail therapy. Go for long walks and meditate. Take a girls-only vacation. Redecorate or re-organize your house. Jumping right into the dating scene will actually hamper your healing process. Sure, finding new love can assuage emotional pain, but feeling pain is part of healing. It must happen. It gets better.
You’re still married
Call me old fashioned, but marriage matters. With that kind of commitment, the end of your marriage deserves your full attention. Inserting a third party into the mix is a potential disaster. It can cause all kinds of additional hurt feelings and confusion for you, your husband, and your children. Too many people are in too much pain, why add heaps more to satisfy your need to ignore it?
You need to concentrate
Especially if your divorce is a high conflict one, you need to concentrate on the divorce proceedings. Keep your head in the game, stay clear. If you start dating a new guy, it will take your focus off of things that can have huge ramifications for your financial future. If you feel in love or emotionally “high,” you may be far more likely to rush your divorce to its finality regardless of the terms, which may not be in your best interests at all.
If you have children, they need you!
Your children are likely utterly confused and in unimaginable pain. The last thing they need is for their mom to be showing up with new men. Let them have “just you” for a while. Spend extra time with them—quality time. For every minute you spend looking for a new guy, you could be talking to your children.
It’s not fair to your date
While you’re still an emotional wreck, it simply is not fair to the guy you’re dating. In your transition phase, you are likely not at your best. When you do start dating again, you should be as emotionally healthy as possible, for your sake and his.
I did not follow my own advice and it was a huge mistake. I left my husband and two months later, I had an insatiable desire to see what the dating world was like. It had been so long since I felt love. I wanted to find a new crush and feel passion again. I told everyone (and myself) that I never loved my husband, felt nothing at all when I left him, and was happier than ever now that he was gone. I had mourned my marriage while still married. I was ready to date! Plus, honestly, I just wanted to know what my options were—a single mom of two daughters and with a terrible illness. I was literally going through chemo treatments, I was wearing a wig, and had almost no eyelashes left. Would any guy even want to date me? I had to find out.
I opened up a profile on Plenty of Fish because it was free and I wasn’t all that committed to dating anyway. I was just sampling. I met a guy right away who I’ll call “Jack.” He immediately fell hard for me and wanted a commitment right away. He called and texted me all day long. He took me to amazing restaurants. He teared up when I told him of my disease and treatments. He gave me big huge hugs and cards or flowers every time we met up. He actually went with me to one of my chemo appointments, wrapping me in blankets, rubbing my feet, and getting me food. When I was ensconced to my “clean apartment” away from home (I had no immune system and couldn’t be around people), he showed up with a bracelet and bags of food in case I had cravings—lemon yogurts, pickles, chocolate bars, avocadoes and organic soups. He brought DVDs and magazines. And then he told me he loved me.
In my messed up head, I never felt anything for Jack. I was mildly curious at first, then flattered and a bit smittened, and then annoyed. It was too much! I wasn’t ready for love and commitment and a boyfriend. But initially, I accepted his kindness. I answered all his calls and returned every text. I enjoyed our first few dates until one day, I just didn’t. I realized that I was emotionally broken and I needed time to process my marriage, the divorce, and the divorce process. My daughters needed me at home with them, not out on a date. And I had totally led him on and it wasn’t funny. I knew that I was going to hurt him.
I took him out to dinner to thank him for everything, and to tell him goodbye. He cried. He begged. I felt horrible. The next day, he called and texted me an alarming number of times. I ignored them all. A few days later, I caved. I answered his call and told him (again) that I could not get in a relationship with him or anyone. I inadvertently mentioned that I was taking my children to a nearby waterpark. He showed up and wouldn’t leave. I threatened to call the police. His texts and phone calls became pathetic, bizarre, and alarming. I finally went on a long vacation and he gave up.
To this day, I feel horrible about Jack. But I learned an important lesson—no man deserved to have the misfortune of trying to date me in the many months post-split. I was a mess but I came across as emotionally healthy and resilient. I said all the right things and any guy who believed me would have soon learned that I was none of those things. I didn’t mean to misrepresent my true psychological state.
Now before anyone tell me that they dated a guy post-split and they’re so happy together, I’ll say this: in every situation, there are exceptions. But in this case, the odds are super against you. If you are comfy playing anyway, knock yourself out. But don’t say you haven’t been warned when it does not end happily.