When your divorce is dragging on and you’ve been separated for months, it’s natural to wonder what it would be like to start dating again.
The truth is, you and your “almost-ex” are more like strangers than spouses. You only see each other when you’re dropping off the kids. You rarely even talk anymore. For all practical purposes, it feels as if you’re already divorced.
Except, you’re not.
Your friends are all telling you that you should “get back on the horse,” and start dating again. But, you’re not sure that dating before you are divorced is such a great idea.
After all, it has been years since you have been on a date. You have no idea what to wear. You’re not even sure you remember what you are supposed to do on a date!
At the same time, you have to admit that the thought of going out with a handsome stranger sounds intriguing … especially if someone special has already caught your eye!
Even still, you just can’t seem to quiet that little voice in your head that keeps reminding you, “You’re still married!”
Should You Date Before You Are Divorced?
If you ask your lawyer whether you should date before you are divorced, the answer will be an emphatic, “No!” Dating while you are still married can complicate your divorce immeasurably. It can create legal and financial problems you never dreamed about.
At the same time, it’s tempting to want to take back control of your life again. When the only thing standing between you and your new life is a piece of paper that says you are officially divorced, it seems ridiculous to continue to act like you are still married.
The Pros and Cons of Dating During Divorce
Without passing judgment on what you choose to do (although I definitely have an opinion about dating during divorce!) here are a list of 12 pros and cons that will help you decide what is right for you.
1. It can make you feel like a woman again. Going through a divorce puts a massive hit on your self-esteem. There is nothing like a little attention from a man to make you feel attractive and desirable again.
2. It can help take your mind off of your divorce. Going through a divorce is stressful and depressing. It is one of the most negative, painful experiences you can go through. Going on a date would be a breath of fresh air! At least you would be able to spend a couple of hours thinking of something other than how horrible your life is right now!
3. It can help you feel less lonely. Not only does divorce rob you of your life partner, but you also lose your kids at least part (if not half) the time, too. Dating again would not only give you something to do, but it would give you someone to do those things with!
4. It’s nice to be taken out for dinner by someone who wants to be with you. It has been so long since a man appreciated you that you can’t even remember what that feels like anymore! The thought of going out for a nice dinner and spending time with someone who makes you feel good about yourself is almost too much for you to even dream about.
5. It’s nice to have an adult conversation with someone who actually likes you. After going through a divorce for months (or years) it’s no wonder that you long to spend an evening talking to someone who doesn’t scream at you, and can talk about something other than whether you really need that much money to take care of the kids. Sure, you have your friends. But, it’s not the same.
1. It can mess up your ability to settle your case peacefully. Dating during your divorce is like bringing a nuclear bomb into your settlement negotiations. Even if your spouse hasn’t paid attention to you in decades, the minute you start dating someone else, he will often become jealous, angry, and upset (go figure!). That makes negotiating a settlement peacefully 1000 times harder.
2. It can cost you (a lot of) money. Having sex with someone other than your spouse while you are still married is called adultery. In some states, committing adultery can affect whether you get spousal support. In others, any money you spend on someone other than your spouse while you are married is considered to be “dissipation” – i.e. a waste of marital assets. Even if you just went out for a cup of coffee with someone (and he paid!) your spouse can still argue that there was more going on. Do you really want to add another issue into your case?
3. If it doesn’t go well, you will feel even worse about yourself. Sure, going out on a date can make you feel attractive and desirable again … if the date goes well. But, if it doesn’t, you can end up even more depressed than you were before you went out!
4. It can shift your focus away from what’s important. It’s hard enough to focus on the major life decisions you have to make when you are going through a divorce and your life is falling apart. When you are dating someone new, and your head is in the clouds, it’s even harder to take the time to understand your finances, pay attention to your kids, and deal with all of your divorce issues.
5. It can screw up your relationship with your kids. Most of the time, kids don’t want their parents to divorce. They hope you will get back together with their dad. Your dating someone else makes any reconciliation way less likely. It also takes time and attention away from your kids. It can also be like rubbing salt in their own emotional wounds. In short, it can really damage your relationship with them (especially if they are teenagers!) P.S. Don’t think they won’t find out! Kids are not stupid.
6. It can make coming to terms on a parenting agreement harder. It’s one thing to negotiate a parenting agreement when you think you are only dealing with your spouse’s parenting time and decisions. It’s another thing entirely when you think that your kids are going to be spending their time away from you with a total stranger (whom you don’t like!).
7. It may tempt you to want to “give up the farm.” If you do start dating, and you happen to fall in love, it’s a quick jump from there to planning your new life together. If you are counting on the fact that you will live together, and pool your income and assets, you may not be worried about the financial settlement you will get in your divorce. Later, when your new relationship falls apart (as rebound relationships so often do) you will then be doubly screwed.