Perhaps you are going through a divorce, and it’s been a few months since you and your spouse have separated. Maybe for the time being, you have met someone else. If you have thought about dating while going through a divorce, you are not alone.
Many people have thought about it and have done it. There are many reasons why people date during a divorce. They might feel unloved, unappreciated, or they might even just want a rebound to get back at their ex.
But what are the psychological implications of dating during a divorce? How will it affect your children? When should you start dating again and will dating while not yet divorced affect your case in any way?
I spoke to a representative from Perce Legal who works hand in hand with solicitors in Solihull, they said: ‘All the heartache from your divorce feels lessened when you focus on dating during a divorce. However, tempting dating while divorcing is, it can also be a handful. The emotional trauma that divorce causes makes people think getting into another relationship will help, but it can actually make matters worse. There are many reasons why you should avoid dating during a divorce. To mention a few, it can slow down your healing process, it can intensify conflict with your ex, makes you compromise on parenting and can have a negative effect on your kids.
Should I just start dating?
It might be easy to rush into a new relationship during a difficult divorce. You might want to feel those butterflies again or have someone wait on you hand and foot. You might be feeling depressed having someone pay attention to you, could make you feel better. Initially, yes.
Dating someone new could make you feel better, but once those initial butterflies wear off, you will just feel depressed again. The reason being is that you have not faced the hard emotions that you had during your divorce.
Meeting someone at your lowest is not always a good thing. You might use them to make you feel better, but that’s not what lasting relationships are made from. On the other hand, if your new flame lets you down in any way, you could spiral into depression once again.
Taking your time when it comes to dating is the healthier way to go. By allowing yourself to grieve your marriage, and feel sad, you will be able to heal. By gaining closure you will help yourself gain emotional strength. After a divorce, you also lose a sense of self. You will this time to find out who you are again, and by jumping into a relationship too soon, could damage this journey of discovery. If you don’t take the time to learn about yourself and analyse what went wrong in your marriage, then you could continue in an unhealthy cycle of failed relationships.
What about your kids?
According to Zoosk, if you have children, you also need to think about how they will feel if you bring someone new home. If your divorce hasn’t even been finalised, and you introduce them to a new lover, this could really impact them emotionally. This is particularly true for teenagers and little ones. They could lash out in anger, sadness or be confused. If your new relationship fails, then it will add to the confusion and mixed emotions that your kids already feel.
Instead, focus on what you want out of life and your children. Help yourself heal, as well as your kids. Getting divorced can be really emotionally painful and bringing someone new into the picture at this point in time might not be the best option. Most professionals advise waiting at least a year after your divorce to begin dating again. This allows your children to settle in, as well as yourself.
Ask yourself some serious questions
If you find yourself dating before they finalise your divorce, take the time to ponder things over. Ask yourself why are you dating? Are you over your ex? How will your children react to someone new in your life? Are you talking about your ex all the time or your divorce? If you can answer these questions honestly, then it can help you decide what would be the best thing to do.
If you are always speaking about your ex and your marriage to your new partner, that could become disheartening for them. It isn’t a turn on, to keep talking about your ex. A person might seem sympathetic at first, but eventually, continual talk of an ex will bore them, or hurt them. Instead, chat with a close friend or family member about your ex. This will then leave time for you and your new partner to have fun and get to know each other. One more thing, when it comes to dating while going through a divorce, be honest.
Don’t tell your new partner that you are single if you are still married. This starts the new relationship on rocky ground. Which is what you don’t want. No one can tell you when you can date after or during a divorce, but make sure that you are really truly ready. There’s nothing worse than having heartbreak after heartbreak. When you know yourself and are over the hurt, then it’s easier to choose the right person.
Is it legal to date during a divorce?
Besides dating affecting you or your children emotionally – while you are in the process of getting divorce – it could also affect the outcome of your divorce. In certain US states, according to Completecase, dating while getting divorced, could be grounds for adultery and this could affect your settlement. Check with your lawyer first before getting serious with a new partner. If there is an ongoing custody battle between you and your ex, also seek legal advice from child custody attorneys first, as it may indirectly affect the outcome.
How can I heal?
If you can wait awhile before getting into a new relationship, there are things that you can do to keep yourself distracted. Join a gym, take up yoga, find a new hobby. It’s important to keep busy socially. Say yes to all invites and have people over. This can help keep your mind off your divorce and off dating – at least for the time being. Do things with your children and take time to be alone. Sometimes a road trip is a good idea, to just think and see new places.
Lastly, be brave
Going through a divorce causes a whole host of emotions. Allow yourself to feel whatever you are feeling. Emotions aren’t bad, they are just emotions. Give yourself the space to heal. Take your time before dating if you can. Choose someone that you really want to be with, and not just as a rebound. If you take the right steps, this could lead you to a happy future full of love and contentment.
Helen Bradfield did her degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. She has interested in psychology, mental health, and wellness.
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