My answer just might surprise you!
One of the loneliest times of your life is when you're getting divorced. One moment you're living with someone, having daily casual contact with someone you believe loves you.
And the next...you're on your own.
Sure, the kids and the pets may still be living with you (at least occasionally), but that's entirely different from sharing your life with a partner.
It can take a really long time to get your divorce legally finalized and the loneliness of being on your own can feel crippling. So it's only natural to be curious about dating. (You're probably also wondering if you're still lovable and attractive too, but that's a topic for another post.)
Unless the divorce laws where you live or the circumstances of your divorce would penalize you for dating before your divorce is finalized, casual dating before your divorce is final could be a great thing for you to do. That is IF you keep the following in mind:
- Dating has changed since the last time you were out there. I don't know about you, but I sure didn't find my first husband online. (Although that's exactly how I found my current one.) Yet online dating is by far the most popular way for people leaving a marriage to find people to date.
Online dating is a whole different world from meeting someone at school, at a bar or through friends. Once you finish agonizing over what to put in your profile, you'll find that it's very easy to get caught up in the winks, flirts, texts, calls and dating. Frankly, it can become a bit overwhelming and take LOTS of time.
You'll do best with online dating if you set limits for yourself on how much time you'll spend doing it and if you keep following tips in mind.
- Be honest. You might be tempted to embellish the truth or even omit certain details (like the fact that you're still legally married) about yourself when you start dating. But the best way to make sure that you protect yourself and that you're respectful of others is to be truthful about your situation.
You might find that being this honest will cause some people to not want to date you. That's OK because you are who you are and if you're having to pretend to get a date, that definitely won't work for you or anyone else long-term.
- Keep it casual. Look at dating this soon after your marriage ends as a way to help you discover what you do and don't like about potential partners AND what you do and don't like about yourself when you're with others. You might find that you've got some habits from your marriage that you want to ditch before you think about getting into a serious relationship. Honestly, that's what this early phase of dating is all about - getting things clear in your mind so you can continue healing from your broken marriage.
- Your first job is to heal from your divorce. It's incredibly easy to want to get into another relationship quickly after your marriage ends, but don't until you've finished healing from your divorce.
Your divorce is the death not only of your marriage but all your hopes and dreams for it too. As with any death, there is a period of grieving. You may have been grieving the losses before you (or your spouse) filed for divorce. That's why no one can really tell you when's the best time for you to start dating or to get into another relationship.
Just keep in mind that grief has a way of popping up again even after you think you're all done.
It's really easy to believe that it'll be simple to get back out there and start dating again if you keep these four tips in mind. But it can be more challenging than you think!
The challenge comes because you're just coming out of a relationship. You've developed a comfort in or habit of being in a relationship. So it's very, VERY easy to want to be in a relationship again quickly. While this does work for some people it doesn't for everyone.
How do I know?
Because I got into a relationship before I was healed enough from my divorce to really be a good partner again. And let me tell you, the hurt and rejection I felt when that relationship ended was worse than when my marriage ended. The pain was so great because it brought up the unfinished healing from my divorce too.
So, is it OK to be dating during divorce? Yes, if you're willing to accept the risks, it certainly can be a fun and wonderful part of your healing process.
I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce coach and advisor helping people just like you who are dealing with the stress and pain of divorce. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. If you’re ready to take the first step toward working with me as your personal coach, you can schedule an introductory private coaching session.