After months or possibly years of being in an unhappy marriage, you want to date again. You have met someone who makes you laugh, is always willing to listen and makes you feel good about yourself and the future once more.
There’s only one catch if you want to call it that. Your divorce has not been finalized yet, so you’re a little concerned about exploring this new relationship. You’ve heard that it’s not a good idea to date while going through the divorce process, but is there a legal basis for that viewpoint or is it simply a societal expectation?
Depending on where you live, the answer is “a little bit of both.”
However, even if these potential challenges didn’t exist, the interval between filing for divorce and receiving the final decree may not be the best time to begin a new relationship.
Should you date while separated?
Here are some dos and don’ts you should consider instead.
DO think about spending some time alone first
Even if you’re eager to find new love, it’s a good idea to come to terms with your new situation first. Get to know yourself as a single person instead of half of a couple. Are there things you’d like to try or do that your spouse always resisted? Now is the time for exploring so many amazing possibilities, so embrace them all.
When you build your inner strength, you’ll have a better idea of who you are and be more likely to pursue a relationship that brings out the best in you.
DO acknowledge your own contributions to the divorce
While you’re waiting for your divorce to be finalized, take some time to identify where your marriage went wrong. There are very few divorces where fault rests 100% with one spouse alone.
Did your spouse complain that you never spent enough time with them? Did you find yourself treating them in ways that echo a previous, unhappy relationship? Unless you understand what caused the relationship to fail, you may repeat the same behavior in the future.
DON’T ignore your need to grieve
No matter how unhappy your marriage was in the end, it’s normal to feel grief once you realize that it’s over. When you told each other ‘I do” on your wedding day, you probably envisioned a happy and exciting future together.
Divorce effectively signals the end of those original dreams, and you need to give yourself time to grieve the loss of the future you thought you would have. Instead of hurrying into another relationship to help you cope with these feelings, take time to process them. This way, you can come to terms with your loss and reduce the risk of these difficult emotions tarnishing a new relationship.
DO connect with loved ones
Instead of seeking emotional support with a new partner right away, turn to your existing support system. Has it been a long time since you met with your best friend for coffee? Have you been too upset about the divorce to return your mom’s calls or take up your sister’s offer to babysit the kids? Reach out to these loved ones and let them provide you with the support you need during this difficult transition.
DO consider seeing a therapist or counselor
If you need unbiased third-party support or advice, counseling is an excellent option. Divorce has been ranked as one of life’s most stressful events, and while friends and family may be there for you, their advice won’t always be honest or unbiased. They may try to build you up by tearing your spouse down, which is unfair to both of you.
A licensed therapist or counselor can help when emotions get overwhelming or you’re struggling to understand what went wrong. They can also give you the calmer perspective you need to successfully co-parent after divorce.
There’s nothing wrong with finding love again!
Connecting with a new partner at the right time can help you get past a difficult divorce. You have mental, emotional, and physical needs that your spouse once satisfied… otherwise you wouldn’t have been married. Those needs don’t just disappear with time. In almost every case, people start dating again once their marriage ends and many of them even get remarried. The right person is out there, and when your feelings are positive and stable, you stand an excellent chance of finding them.
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