It's not easy to be married, then get separated and suddenly live alone.  The divorce is a constant reminder that something was wrong in your life.  

In many ways, it would help to have the companionship, love and attention you may find in a spouse.   Someone to talk to, kiss and cry with when things are horribly wrong in your life. 

A loving spouse usually helps you cope with your problems.  Now your spouse is one of your problems.

A relationship with someone new is on your mind

In the wake of a separation you find yourself alone, depressed and binge watching way too much television.  No matter what you're doing to cope, in the back of your mind, you may be thinking about a rebound relationship.

Maybe you just don't like being single; perhaps you're not looking for something serious yet, but don't like being alone. 

Would you just like to escape the constant focus on your breakup?  

Perhaps you just want to cut ties with the ending of your marriage and want to start a new relationship. 

A counselor or psychiatrist would have some opinions about the reasons you feel the way you do, but if you aren't quite ready for professional advice then DMK has some insight based on those of us who have experienced the same feelings during this stage of divorce.  

Is it premature?  Normal? Healthy?  Will it help? 

It's not called a rebound relationship because it's something that's carefully contemplated.  Many are not lasting relationships.  Usually they are replacement relationships that may provide some comfort during difficult times. 

While it's not abnormal to seek comfort in another person following a hard breakup, it's rarely a solution to improve your mental well-being and life after "you know who".   

Still yet, some people feel dating during this phase of the divorce process is helpful.   However, there are two people in your new relationship and while you may be fine with dating while separated, your new dating partner may not.  So, make sure he/she knows you are still legally married, and why, sooner than later.

We have the pros and cons of both:

Why to avoid dating while separated:

Find the real you

After being married a long time it's difficult to know who you are as an individual as opposed to you as a married person.  Take the time to find yourself, what you enjoy, believe and want.  It may not take long to do this, but dating too soon can take this opportunity away. 

Melding with someone new immediately following a breakup will only be a relationship between a new love-interest and you as the person you were in your marriage (your spouse's wife or husband).  The longer you have time away from your former spouse, the more you will emerge as your own individual.  But, this takes a reasonable amount of time.  Be patient.

Get past negative emotions

The time you are separated gives you time to let go of the negative feelings about your spouse, marriage and relationship issues.  These emotions sabotage a new relationship and pretty much allow your feelings about your spouse to negatively affect it. 

You may find yourself talking a great deal to your date about your soon-to-be-ex and problems that led to your separtion.  If you care about your new love interest, it's important not to use the opportunity to date him/her as a counseling session.  That's not easy so soon after your marriage has emotionally ended.

Don't compare

It may be difficult not to compare your date to your spouse or the lifestyle you formerly lived since the divorce wound is still painful.  This can make your date feel as if you're not ready for a new relationship.  

You're not at your best

Since you're likely experiencing a lot of negative emotions, it may be difficult to find someone who can see the happy, healthy person you really are when not going through one of the most challenging, emotionally draining times in your life. 

Difficulty finding a new relationship can bring on feelings of rejection in the dating scene and add to your negative emotions.  Negative upon negative leads to crazy.  Don't make yourself crazy trying to make your life sane.

Compromises your settlement

It can cause added stress in divorce negotiations if your spouse doesn't share your enthusiasm for starting over before the marriage is officially dissolved.  It may also have legal consequences.

Don't retaliate

If your spouse has begun a new relationship you may feel like you should also look for someone new in an attempt to get back at him/her.  This is a bad idea since you are letting your spouse's actions precipitate your own.  If you were ready to date or felt it was the right time, it would likely have been a choice you would have made without your spouse's actions affecting your own. 

Instead, if you are not ready to date, you could use this opportunity to demonstrate your ability to make choices independently and maintain control of your life decisions.  

Why dating while separated would be okay:

You understand the legal ramifications

You have discussed any legal consequences with your attorney and are clear how it may affect your case, your spouse and his/her decisions during negotiations.

You're ready

Your marriage emotionally ended years ago and the separation was a mutual decision to begin the legal process to end it.  You are emotionally ready to enter into a new relationship and feel that it would be a positive decision to do so.  

You're divorce isn't average

You divorce has taken longer than average to complete and you are emotionally ready to begin a new relationship.

Both spouses agree

You and your spouse separated, but weren't sure you both wanted a divorce.  You both agreed that dating others while separated would be fine.  It may help you determine if your marriage is capable of being saved or if it is time to move forward with the divorce.

It could also be the right time following you and your spouse's agreement to separate without divorce (for financial, religious or personal reasons) with the understanding that either may enter into a relationship with another person. 

You will need to legally divorce to legally marry someone new.  

Your marriage is behind you 

You are over your spouse and you have recently met someone with whom there is a mutual interest.  It's not someone with whom you have had an extra marital and/or physical relationship prior to this time (this may have a legal consequence - refer to your attorney).  You understand the additional strain it may put on negotiations of your settlement.

It's not a physical relationship

You have met someone and enjoy spending time with him/her.  You feel the relationship is beneficial in your life and you're fine with it not being a physical relationship until the marriage is legally dissolved.

What is the average time people wait before they date following a breakup?

The typical amount of time people take to remarry following a divorce is 3.7 years.  This average time frame has remained the same since the 50's. 

Everyone has unique circumstances

Dating following a separation or divorce is entirely up to each person based on the emotional and legal liabilities. Before dating one should be emotionally available for a new relationship.  Some people start dating a month after they separate, some take years following a divorce.  Neither are wrong if they are right for the individual and his/her situation.

Before you find someone new...

You're not the person you were when married

The right person is out there.  That person is you.  Find yourself.   Find the confident, independent person you are without your most recent spouse.  Seek your true self, your individual who has the authority to make his/her own life decisions.   This will be your stronger, self-assured and motivated person who has an interest in setting and achieving life goals and personal happiness regardless of his/her relationship status.

You're not the person you were before you were married

You won't be the person you were when you were last single.  You will have matured and hopefully reflected on things you want in a relationship that you did not have in your previous one.  You'll have had time to make some changes and improvements in relationship skills in an effort to increase your chances of a life-long, lasting relationship.  You'll have renewed life goals reflective of your life experience but focused on the future, good relationships and life you seek.  

The right person is out there

If you're ready and the right person or opportunity to meet him/her has yet to present itself, don't be a wallflower.  Get out there and find the love of your life!

Conversely, many wonderful relationships are found when you least look for them.  So, don't put too much pressure on yourself too soon. 

Final Warning

Review all the considerations to date while separated.  But, truth be known, it's easy to fool yourself into thinking you are ready to date only to realize you weren't (after the fact).  Instead you may just feel the need for someone to pass time with while you are going through your divorce. Normal, but not so great for you and others involved in your life.

Things to know

  • You may think you have this dating thing down, but you should know that coming out of a long relationship presents vulnerabilities that can distort your perspective and decision making.  
  • If you're going to go into the dating scene while separated, we suggest you go into with your eyes open, with caution and not expecting too much.  This next relationship is probably not going to be "the one" (statistically anyway).  It can really make things more difficult to go through a breakup with someone new while going through a painful divorce.  Ouch!
  • There are a lot of "single forever" predators out there who prey on newly single people who don't realize these guy's and gal's motivations are not about finding a "match".  So, take it slow or fast, but know what you want and be cautious of what they say they want.  Overall, don't expect too much from it.


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