How to accept your ex's dating life

There are some things in life that can open your eyes and close your heart.  Your first heartbreak gives you a peak.  But a divorce will give you a long, hard look into the eyes of pure emotional turmoil. foot-in-mouthcool

In an effort to get some perspective, you may tend to over analyze every aspect of your marriage.  You may evaluate every choice you made, your life, your ex, yourself.  As the separation continues, some of you who are still lost in love begin to realize you're not headed for reconciliation.   Instead, you're headed for a long journey with your soon-to-be ex that includes relationship death, financial exhaustion and a legal nightmare. 

Rarely can you prepare for every aspect of the process in order to manage the emotional hardship each spouse must endure.  While you are enduring this hardship separately, you're both on the same journey.

Your bond was broken at some point and formally acknowledged with a separation.  But together you are both on a quest to completely sever the relationship as a married couple.  It requires cooperation, honesty and commitment to the efficient dissolution.  This is all very difficult when one spouse decides to begin a new relationship before the dissolution is complete.

So, now the cold hard truth.  You're hurt.  You're mad.  You're bitter.  

Worse yet.  He's in an immediate "moving forward" mode and you're not.

Your ex is dating.  Your kids talk about it and he doesn't try to hide it.  You try not to show your emotions regarding how you feel.  But the situation is completely overwhelming.  He acts like you never meant anything to him.  You unfortunately can't show him the same attitude.  Even if you wanted to "pretend" he didn't matter to you, he just does!  

The more he's with her, the more you think about all of the good times you had together and then get angry about all of the bad stuff you both went through.

Then the bitterness.  Oh goodness, the bitterness is a mixture of so many emotions.  If you even start talking about your feelings, you sound like someone else.  It's like you can hear yourself talking, but the words don't even sound like you.  

Don't obsess over her

You can't help but wonder about her.  What's she like?  How old is she?  How much does she weigh? What does she do for a living?  Ya, the thoughts in your mind aren't always reasonable or really about her.  A lot of fears about her, are really about you.

You start to fear he has found someone who possesses the qualities you don't possess.  Perhaps they're qualities you don't feel like you have the power to change or issues that were part of why you're divorced.  If you fought about money problems, and you're a stay-at-home mom, it really bites when you find out she's a successful businesswoman.

Eventually you know too much about her.  You looked her up, checked her out, asked anyone and everyone about her and now you know more than you should.

You wish you never asked.  Nothing you can find out makes you feel better.  If she is clearly not your equal - uglier, fatter, financially needier - you think...what?  Like really, what!?  How and why is he with her?  

If she's younger, hotter and more successful - you think...ugh!  I'm ugly, fat and poor.  It just doesn't help - ya' know?  

Ya, it's a no-win situation when you get the details.  So, stay on the outside of this one.  No matter how much you want to know, get the idea to ask or wanna' search and obsess over her, don't.  If she comes up in your head, fake yourself out and act like you just don't care.  Eventually, you won't.

The more you give in to the "need-to-know" about her and them, the more emotional money you withdraw from your emotional well-being bank.  The more you withdraw, the more you feel lousy, depressed and lonely.  It can make you positively crazy over the whole situation.

How to cope

You know you shouldn't think about it, but you know he's with her.  You know it's over, but somehow you can't help but feel like your husband is with another woman.  The problem is that you know it's over in your head, but your heart hasn't caught up yet.  

He's talking to her, touching her and probably intimate with her.  It toils with your emotions and makes you feel lousy.  You start to think you had it wrong for all the years you were married. 

Despite getting a much-needed divorce, you still have feelings for him.  Somedays you feel hope, somedays sadness, but anger is creeping up in your head more and more.  You may start to wonder if you're okay.  How can your feelings be so conflicting?

First, know that you are not alone.  You are right to be hurt, especially if you're still in the separation phase or newly divorced.  While it isn't uncommon for many spouses to seek comfort in a new relationship soon after a break-up, it's insensitive and somewhat counterproductive to not provide your relationship a gray area, the time to cease fire and end it amicably.   This is best to do during your separation.

If the new love interest was in the picture before you separated or the cause of the breakup, it can be even more disruptive in the overall dissolution.  You have not had time to fully process all that is happening.  He emotionally divorced you without you really knowing it.  Now, you're in a responsive mode, which most of us don't wear well.  It makes us look needy, weak and emotionally unhinged.  While he is seemingly together and in control.  

You will need to let go.  

Let him go, let your marriage go and let the past together go, completely. 

Life is different, like it or not.  It's not easy or comfortable to accept the differences, but living in the past, continuing to think of yourselves as a nuclear family, when you're not, will make you feel torn and lacking. 

Eventually, you won't be as heartsick.  But unfortunately, the next phase can begin without you really knowing because it maintains your hurt feelings and bitterness.   When identifying why, it becomes more about the fact that your years together seemed easier for him to replace with a new lover than they were for you. 

You may suddenly feel devalued because it appears you meant less to him then he did to you.  Which affects your self-worth (even though it shouldn't - it does).  It may still come across like you aren't "over him", but really the problem is that he's so easily over you - your life together and dreams for your future. 

Was everything he told you for all the years you were together, a lie?  Did he always know he would eventually be with someone else? 

There are numerous reasons why he moved forward so fast

Regardless of the wild questions that come to mind, know that men usually process their emotional pain differently.  Some ignore their feelings altogether only to have them destroy future relationships or unexplained depression and/or anger, months or years after their divorce.

He may or may not have felt as close to you for all of those years, but he simply could not cope with the separation or divorce alone.  It may be a character flaw; it may be that he doesn't value any relationship as you do. 

He may be in denial of his underlying emotions or, as you fear, may not have valued your relationship and life the same as you. 

Regardless, his problems are no longer part of yours.  They only affect you if you let them.

Wake up your inner warrior and move forward with your life.  Be proactive with your own emotional divorce.  Get into a group therapy or counseling and start expressing your feelings in a healthy way.  Join a Meetup®, start a hobby or make new friends.   Add positive things into your life.  Don't overdo it, you don't want to burn out on "new life alone".  You just want to start integrating a realistic change in lifestyle with the help of healthy emotional outlets and positive improvements.  Life is in a constant state of change.   Change with it or be miserable.

Don't just date because he does

Don't try to replace him before you're divorced.   That rarely works.  According to, more than 75% of spouses who marry a partner for whom they have had an affair end up divorced.

A new relationship

Trying to match the pain he is causing you with dating too soon can make things worse, especially if it's not really what you want or are ready to do.  It's simply not you.  It's just a response to sadness, heartbreak and jealousy.  Sometimes it's because you miss being a wife or in a relationship.

Regardless, it's just a distorted attempt to feel better.  It would be wise to stay away from dating until you're divorced and ready to find someone new for the right reasons

Life is a a long series of events, relationships, successes and failures.  It's more important that you achieve long-term personal happiness.  An immediate, new relationship for the sake of being in a relationship or avoiding loneliness, rarely promotes that.  

One-night stands

Hook-ups can either make you feel incredibly worse about yourself, life and situation or give you some relief from the new sex free lifestyle you've been living.  Only you can decide what's right for you.

Dating following divorce

Once you're divorced or have had enough time to get over him, dating can be a great distraction and opportunity to get on with your life.  It defines the line between you and your ex and initiates your acceptance of life apart. 

Remember to date for the right reasons and not to retaliate or "get back at him".  It doesn't mean you won't be affected by what he thinks, but it shouldn't be a factor in your decision making.  You may not be completely over the pain from the divorce, but your former marriage, your ex or divorce shouldn't be a primary issue in your way when dating. 

You can't start a healthy, new relationship when you're still intertwined in an old one.  Refrain from ex bashing, complaining or talking too much about your recent problems on dates.   If you do, you probably aren't ready.

Find your happiness

There is a quote by Helen Keller on our Just Unhitched, Lifestyle page.  It reads, "When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us."

Don't spend too much time thinking about the past, the good times or bad.  It doesn't help you find what you want.  It literally just stops you from living.  The past is done, over, complete.  There may be a great deal to learn from it, but it shouldn't control your life.  You'll find your freedom to be happy and healthy when you live in the moment and plan for the future.  

Think forward, live present and accept the past.  Don't live in it.  Learn from it. 

Your acceptance is part of the process in healing.  It doesn't mean you have to agree with what he's doing, has done or will do.  It just means you'll no longer let his actions damage your life or hold you back from living it.  That takes his control over you away and returns it to its rightful owner, you.

Get a hobby, socialize more, take better care of yourself, enjoy the freedom of pure self.  This is a time to really find out who you are, what you really like- no compromise, no sharing, no sacrifice.  Be a little selfish.  Find healthy and positive ways to move forward. 

Marriage is wonderful, amazing and comfortable.  But, in a union of matrimony we learn to compromise for the good health of the relationship.  This is great, but sometimes it clouds your ability to find what makes you happy.  Use this time to really explore the possibilities for personal success!  Find yourself, your happiness and your freedom.


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