7 Tips For Dating While Separated But Not Divorced

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If you’re separated and easing back into the dating scene, you might be feeling a little overwhelmed.

Not only are you dealing with the incredible stress and emotional upheaval of your marriage ending, but dating new people can be intimidating and daunting.

Hopefully, some of the tips below can help this process go a lot more smoothly.

Not only will they help protect your heart from unnecessary hurt and drama, they’ll help prevent others from too much stress and discomfort as well.

1. Be sure you are ready to start dating.

Before you even start to think about the intricacies of dating while you’re going through your divorce, take stock and determine whether you are, in fact, ready to start dating.

Sure, many people feel huge boosts to their self-confidence when they get involved with someone new. And, for a lot of people, the best way for them to get over someone is to get under someone else, so to speak.

That said, it’s important to think about the bigger picture.

How are you feeling about all of this? Do you feel strong enough to get involved with someone new, both physically and emotionally?

The basic question here is this: do you feel emotionally divorced already?

If your feelings for your ex are dead and you want to move on, that’s great.

If you’re not the one who ended the marriage and you still have feelings or you’re hoping that they’ll come back, that’s a surefire warning sign that dating would be a bad idea right now.

Another thing to consider is what your self-esteem is like at this moment in time. Some people get comfortable in long-term relationships and let things like physical fitness slide. As such, they now face the prospect of physical intimacy while being out of shape. That kind of vulnerability can be difficult to negotiate.

Are you processing all of your emotions about this separation in a healthy way?

Or do you feel like you’re distracting yourself from your ex-spouse with someone else?

If you have a counselor to talk to, it might be a good idea to touch base with them about all of this. They might be able to help you decide what next steps you’re comfortable taking, and which you may want to hold off on.

If you don’t, we recommend the relationship counseling services from Relationship Hero. You can speak to someone who deals with relationship issues like yours every day.

They will be able to listen to your concerns and give you advice that might help you decide one way or another whether you are ready to date again, and how to go about it.

Click here if you’d like to chat to a relationship expert now or to arrange a session for a time and date in the future.

Additionally, there are some potential issues with your ex that may need to be addressed.

For example, are you and your ex still living together? If so, this can turn really ugly if you (or both of you) get involved with other people.

If you’re on good terms and can be open with one another, you can create some ground rules to adhere to. For example, not bringing other partners back to the house while you’re still sharing it.

Also consider whether your ex is the type to get jealous or violent if you start dating someone else. Whether you’re still living together, or have found separate dwellings, a marriage that ended badly can leave some unpleasant shadows.

Take all of these factors into consideration before you even think about opening your heart to someone new.

2. Be honest with everyone involved.

First and foremost, honesty is a must right now.

Be honest with your soon-to-be-former spouse that you’ve started to date again.

Be honest with the people you’re meeting.

And be honest with yourself about how you feel as you move forward.

All relationships need honesty as part of their foundation.

Let’s say that you go on some casual dates with someone, and you haven’t thought to mention that you are separated.

If you discover that you really like them and want to build something more with them, you’ll have to confess that you concealed this from them.

Will they be able to trust you in the future if you lied to them from day one?

3. Enter into any new relationship for the right reasons.

It’s important to refrain from treating a rebound relationship as if it were a new marriage-to-be.

Many people who start dating when separated want to regain the comfort and security of a devoted relationship pretty much immediately.

This can backfire horribly. It can mean you get too clingy with the person you’re sleeping with.

You might also find yourself in a less-than-ideal relationship with someone new simply because they boost your self-esteem.

Are you getting involved with someone who’s really good looking, but treats you badly? Or maybe you’re seeing someone who’s a lot younger but is draining your time and finances?

Be real and honest with yourself about how new relationships make you feel.

4. Be especially sensitive with regards to any children you might have.

If you have children, you’ll need to consider how they fit into this new situation.

Many people rush into new relationships and introduce their kids to their new partner immediately. This can turn out really badly if the kid(s) bond with the new partner, only for the relationship to fizzle out.

Should this happen repeatedly, it can cause even more damage to the children. Not only do they have to deal with the hurt and confusion of their parents splitting up and their home life in turmoil, they also keep bonding with someone new only to have them torn from their life as well.

5. How long should you wait before dating?

Each situation is different, and the length of time you should wait before starting to date again will depend a lot on your unique factors.

For example, if you’ve been absolutely devastated by your marriage ending, you may not be willing or able to start dating again for quite some time.

If, in contrast, the relationship was dying for years and you feel an immense sense of freedom at its ending, you might be delighted to dive back into the dating pool immediately.

Some people might try to give you grief if you start dating someone else while you’re separated rather than waiting until you’re divorced. They might consider this type of behavior to be inappropriate. They may even try to shame you for it, implying that you’re setting a bad example to your kids, etc.

Other people’s opinions are exactly that: their own opinions.

Govern your love the way that you see fit, and make decisions based on your own ethics and needs. 

Of course, it’s good to take into consideration how different actions might affect other people in your life. For example, if your kids have been shattered by your marriage ending, you might not want to let them know that you’re dating other people. Bringing other lovers home with you would also be a bad idea at this point.

Live true to yourself, but use a degree of discretion when it comes to others. Separation and divorce are hard on everyone, and you don’t want to cause others more pain than is absolutely necessary during this difficult time.

6. Should you consider your ex-spouse’s feelings?

Again, this depends entirely on how the marriage ended.

If you’re still on good terms with your soon-to-be ex and you want to maintain a friendship with them, then it’s a good idea to venture into dating-land with a certain degree of sensitivity and discretion.

We touched upon the importance of honesty, and of considering how your actions might affect others. This situation requires both.

It’s important to let your ex know that you’re seeing other people so they can come to terms with that reality.

If you still care for them, let them know in a gentle, loving way. By doing so, they’ll have enough time to process this information, and thus brace themselves.

Additionally, if they’ve been holding onto the hope that you two will reconcile, this may be the push they need to come to terms with your marriage ending. Nothing says “wow, it’s really over” like realizing that you’re sleeping with someone else.

Once you’ve had this discussion, the two of you can work on some mutual rules as to how to deal with new lovers. This is especially important if the two of you are separated but still living in the same dwelling.

Talk about boundaries, whether it’s keeping your private lives separate and utterly private, or establishing how much you want to know about each other’s activities.

Of course, if your marriage ended horribly and you aren’t bothered about your ex’s feelings, then none of this really applies to you.

It’s still not a good idea to rub your dating life into your ex’s face, especially if you may have to contend with court battles later. Live your life the way you want to, but keep the details to yourself.

7. A selection of dos and don’ts.

Like most other life situations, there are a number of dos and don’ts that can make things easier, or much more difficult.

We’ve mentioned a few of them during this article, so let’s add those to the summary here, along with some others to keep in mind.

DO be honest with the people you’re dating about your current status.

DO discuss the fact that you’re dating again with your lawyer. They can give you advice as to whether your actions will negatively influence your case later on.

DO be absolutely certain your marriage is over. If you’re separated, but you and your ex are still talking over whether to move forward with divorce, then hold off on dating anyone else. If you two decide to reconcile, the fact that you (or both of you) slept with other people might be a point of contention later on.

DO keep your private life private. If the person you start to date ends up being a long-term fixture in your life, then introduce them around after a year or so has passed.

DO spend time by yourself. You’re just getting out of a marriage, and chances are that you haven’t had much alone time for years. As a result, it’s important to get to know who you are again.

DO things that make you happy that don’t involve a partner. Sure, being in love (or even just infatuated) releases all kinds of happy hormones. That said, so does devoting time to hobbies you enjoy (and may have had to give up during your marriage). If you’ve wanted to travel for some time but your ex never wanted to, now is a great time to do exactly that!

DON’T bring home new lovers if you have kids living at home with you. Give them time to process the parameters of their new family life without also having to deal with a new person (or people) intruding into it.

DON’T post photos of your date(s) on social media. You don’t need to add any fuel to the fire in terms of divorce court or custody battles.

DON’T post photos of anything that a lawyer could use against you. Even if you don’t post kissy-faced selfies of you and your new partner, flooding your Instagram feed with wine snapshots and suggestive shots might not be a good idea.

DON’T involve your new partner in your divorce proceedings. Keep things professional between you, your lawyer(s), and your ex, and never share emails or other documents with them. Remember that lawyer-client confidentiality doesn’t extend to lovers. You can’t be forced to discuss the details of these private conversations in court, but your new partner(s) can, if they’ve been told about them.

Hopefully this list can help you move forward as you navigate these difficult waters.

Meeting new people and moving on with your life can be wonderful. Just check in with yourself regularly, live true to yourself, and have fun.

Still not sure how to go about dating while a divorce is ongoing? It’s a good idea to seek help with this tricky situation with regards to the emotional and practical side of things (the legal proceedings being dealt with by your lawyer, of course). That way you’ll be more likely to enjoy the dating process. So why not chat online to a relationship expert from Relationship Hero who can help you figure things out. Simply click here to chat.

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About Author

Catherine Winter is a writer, art director, and herbalist-in-training based in Quebec's Outaouais region. She has been known to subsist on coffee and soup for days at a time, and when she isn't writing or tending her garden, she can be found wrestling with various knitting projects and befriending local wildlife.