Going through a divorce is one of life’s greatest stressors. Whether you are resistant to the divorce, and it feels like a tragedy, or you are initiating the divorce and it feels like an escape, there is no doubt that divorce creates a massive change in your family life, finances, and day-to-day routine. However, oftentimes the relationship was over long before the divorce process was initiated, therefore, an individual may be ready to move on before the judgment is signed.
Many clients going through a divorce will ask: when can I start dating and how will it affect my divorce? Since the divorce process can be long, it’s only natural to wonder if dating during a divorce is a good idea. One of the biggest benefits of dating during divorce is the feeling of confidence and positivity. If your divorce is dragging on it can feel good to get out and meet new people. Being back on the dating scene can boost your confidence and self-esteem and generally be a positive thing in your life during a difficult time. Going on dates can be fun and keep you from thinking of the more depressing aspects of divorce. Instead of being sad at home when your children are with your ex, you can be out having a great new experience on a date.
Dating during divorce is a personal decision, and whether it’s a good idea for you depends on your situation. If you decide that dating during divorce is the right thing for you, first there are a few ways you can make the transition as smooth as possible.
- Make sure you’re emotionally ready. Some people have grieved over the end of their relationship before filing for divorce. For others, the pain is still fresh. Deal with the end of your marriage before starting another relationship.
- Take it slow. You can have fun and go out on dates without being in a serious relationship.
- Don’t move in together. It can affect maintenance (spousal support), division of property, or other aspects of the divorce.
Most divorcing couples do not go from marital bliss to divorce court overnight, and it may have been a while since you’ve had a positive romantic experience. Dressing up for a night on the town with an uncomplicated new partner is sometimes just what the doctor ordered.
1. Dating is a needed distraction during a divorce. For all parties involved, the process of getting divorced is difficult. Divorce can turn your life upside down, add new stressors to an already hectic life and create a financial burden that wasn’t there before. Your spouse, the court (and yes, sometimes the lawyers) can at times be frustrating. It is perfectly normal to want to forget about your divorce and take a break from it, even if it’s just for an evening. Dating can be a much-needed “vacation” from the reality of divorce.
2. Taking control of your dating life is empowering and can boost self-esteem. Divorce can make a person feel unappreciated, undesired, and out of control. It can be unnerving to feel like you have a diminished say in what happens in your life. Dating can put you back in the driver’s seat of one area of your life and provide some feelings of control. The positive benefits of a “clean slate” cannot be understated. Stepping out with a new partner who finds you desirable and engaging, unburdened by the complications of parenting and finances that can come with marriage, can work wonders for your mental health and sense of self-worth. After long periods of battling with your spouse, it can be exceptionally refreshing to spend time with someone who is nice to you and enjoys your company! Getting back in the game and feeling pursued and appreciated might be the ego boost you need to power through an unpleasant divorce.
3. Embracing positivity can set the scene for a rational and amicable divorce. When you are in a bad place mentally, it is difficult not to make emotionally charged decisions. Strategizing in a divorce based on emotions will position you and your spouse further away from resolution and, in the end, cost you more time and money. While it may feel good to exact revenge or act out of spite, in the long term, it will likely only make your divorce that much more protracted and painful.
When you are in a good place mentally, you can more easily make decisions based on reason and practicality. You will feel less incentivized to hurt your spouse or be vindictive. In many cases, your approach to the divorce will shape your spouse’s attitudes, after all, no one wants to play the villain, but people are all too happy to take the gloves off when their spouse is already playing dirty. Dating may make you happier, which in turn, will enable you to approach your divorce with a level head and amicable attitude to create a more amicable experience for all those involved.
Spending time with a new, exciting person can be a wonderful distraction from the messy, tortured history of your marriage. This breath of fresh air can give you the reprieve from the drama that you need to forge ahead in your divorce. Many people will disagree with your decision to date during divorce and consider it cheating. Ultimately, it’s your life and your decision. If you are aware of the risks and how to deal with them, you should be equipped to make the right decision for you.
Hayley Lisa, The Divorce Coach for Men