So either you and your spouse have either filed for divorce or you are thinking about filing for divorce. Either way you have officially declared that you are separated. Now whether you are the one pursuing the divorce OR if you are on the receiving end, knowing if you are ready to date is a state of mind. How do you know that you are really ready? How long should you wait? I’m not the expert but I have experienced two (yes, 2) divorces in my lifetime and I can tell you based upon my experience, dating while separated is an exception based belief and not the rule.
Rule vs. Exception
Remember in life there is the Rule and there is the Exception. Your best bet is to stick to the rule of which dating while separate is a bad idea depending upon what you want to get out of the dating experience. The exception is that you may find a great relationship in the process that helps you get through the divorce but the other person must be truly patient an understanding while you go through this delicate and challenging process of divorce.
Choosing to hold off on dating when separated
As a rule, I would recommend not dating until your divorce is final. Especially if you have to settle child custody, finances and property. When going through a divorce or even counseling, dating is another stepping stone or chapter in your life that can be a great distraction and a boost of confidence. However, all of your energies and thoughts need to be focused on the divorce especially if you are going through a difficult divorce. If you have kids, the anxiety associated with divorce requires your full attention as a parent. There are other ways to boost your confidence and get a distraction from the void of your spousal responsibilities. From my personal experience, I just wanted the divorce to be over with and I compromised on things I shouldn’t have because I was dating someone at the time. Then once the divorce was final, guess who disappeared. Not only my ex but the man I was dating.
The other person’s view of dating
Do you know how your dating partner feels about you? Oftentimes, people that you date when you are separated may be wondering whether you are capable of being serious with them or if you are just filling the void. Try to understand if you are on a rebound relationship or if your feelings are genuine. Do you find yourself complaining about your ex or even comparing them to your ex? If it’s excessive then you shouldn’t be dating the other person. Think about their feelings. However, if communication is clear than it’s possible that it could work if you are clear about your goals. Do you just want to be friends with benefits? Are you just looking to socialize? Do you want something to grow into a relationship. Be honest with yourself first about what you want and then be honest with them.
Possibilities of Reconciliation
Is there a possibility that you and your spouse are going to reconcile? If there is a shadow of a possibility than do not date other people. The ways you can tell if reconciliation is possible is if you are both going to counseling or therapy. Other ways are if you still visualize yourself with your spouse. Your thoughts and energies are still with your ex which makes dating someone else and giving them the attention they deserve impossible.
The Myth of Spousal Communication when separated
I have been divorced twice and communication between spouses that are separated can be a battle on every little topic from family to finances. It can even lead to restraining orders, harassment and abuse. Based on my experience, people say what they THINK YOU WANT TO HEAR. They do not say what they want. I’ve read the misconception that both spouses should clearly communicate to each other and get consent to date when they are separated. This is BALONEY! Oftentimes you may get permission but the other party is just trying to tell you what you want to hear or wants to hide their own pride. If there’s a possibility of reconciliation just don’t date. The possibility that you could have been interested in someone else will be a lingering thought in the other party’s mind. Even if you communicated it, it’s still a violation of respect for the bond that has or had existed with you two. It’s just another added stressor to an already stressful situation.
Bottomline – Do Not Date! Unless you’re prepared
Do not date while separated. You need a lot of time to get through the emotional roller coaster of divorce. Also if reconciliation is possible and you are going to couple’s therapy, dating can complicate that as well. Many people say, “oh our marriage was done a long time ago.” None of that should make a difference. The process of divorce can rehash old emotions and stored away frustrations that is part of the process of healing. Before you date, you should consider putting your best self forward before dating to begin a new, healthy relationship.