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Things To Consider When Dating Someone Going through A Divorce

Dating is never an easy, straightforward affair; and it probably wasn’t meant to be so either! When you are just getting to know a person, there are many things to consider, and several lines you cannot cross. And if you thought dating a single, uncommitted man was tough, wait till you date a divorced person! And when you’re dating someone going through a divorce, then you’ve just given new meaning to the term, ‘it’s complicated’!!!

couple on a date

Image source: Dollarphotoclub

In most cases, a divorce is a decision that comes after a lot of pain and heartache, and is usually one that is made after a good deal of thought. A couple going through a divorce have likely exhausted all possibilities of making things work, and are breaking up a relationship that they once thought would last forever. This means that the people involved are hurting on a very deep level, and are probably not in a position to think in a completely rational manner. So when you’re dating someone going through a divorce, you might have to shoulder more than your usual share of keeping things sane and cheerful.

Now, one might wonder whether you should even bother dating a man going through a divorce (or a woman, for that matter). Isn’t it going to be a risky and super-messy affair? Well, that is partly true, and it actually depends upon the specific circumstances of your individual situation. The fact is that like we mentioned just a second back, most divorces happen as a final resort, and by then, the couple has already been divided for a while. At this point, the couple has probably even been living separately, and legalities aside, they are no longer husband and wife, for all intents and purposes. For a couple like this, dating while going through a divorce isn’t equivalent to an affair or a spur of the moment thing; it’s because for all practical purposes, they’re single and ready to mingle!

Suggested read: 12 dos and don’ts of dating after divorce

So now that we’ve settled that, let’s get down to the nitty gritty and take a look at what exactly you need to consider when dating a person going through a divorce. An important point to note here is this: dating a person with kids is completely, totally, entirely different from dating an issue-less person. Yes, we needed to stress it that much! Kids change the equation completely and require much more effort, so if you’re not up to it, let it go from the very beginning!

But more on that later. For starters, let’s look at what you need to know when dating a childless individual going through a divorce. It’s easier than with kids, but you may have some other things to deal with.

1. You may have to deal with some irrationality

couple arguing

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An individual in the process of getting a divorce is sort of in no man’s land and they may feel at sea when it comes to understanding their current status. Are they married? Technically, yes. Are they single? Practically, yes. A divorce also includes many other details, like division of assets, which may be stressing them as well. This mental confusion coupled with general emotional turmoil can lead to some irrational behavior, which you’ll need to take in your stride. The last thing they need is you nagging them; they already had more than enough with their (almost) ex-spouse!

2. Expect a (temporary) pall of gloom

couple holding hands

Image source: Google, copyright-free image under Creative Commons License

Going through a divorce isn’t a walk in the park; and if the ex is like those vengeful psychos you see onscreen, then it’s certainly a walk through hell! So while your date is officially separated and ready to see new people, they may not be cheerful and optimistic all the while, so you’ll have to accept the temporary gloom till things are resolved. This means that you’ll probably have to hold back on venting your own feelings for the time being. All this might seem unfair, but considering all the stuff they’re going through, it isn’t.

3. The ex will show up in conversation

shy woman on a date

Image source: Shutterstock

The ex-spouse is a reality you can’t run away from, however much you may want to!! With an individual who has no kids, you can avoid seeing the ex for the most part, but you haven’t heard the last of them yet! Conversation about the ex is a tricky situation – some people may rant on and on about their exes, while some don’t even mention them, other than ‘you-know-who’ or something like that. You’ll obviously have to sit through a few rants, but any more and you’re turning into their substitute therapist!

4. They may not be ready to commit right away

couple talking

Image source: Google, copyright-free image under Creative Commons License

A person going through divorce has been burnt, and they’re going to be wary of the commitment waters for some time. If they’re ready to date, it means that they’ve gotten over (hopefully) their ex and they’re ready to have a relationship with someone. But they may not be ready to start looking at houses or naming your future kids! But when they do, you can be assured that it’s after some good thought, since they’re not likely to jump into something they may regret later.

5. Oscillating physical needs

sexual dissatisfaction

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Like the conversation about the ex, sex is also tricky with a nearly-divorced person. Since they’ve probably been separated a while, they’re craving for some company and intimacy, but at the same time, being in such a vulnerable situation scares them. This can lead to some oscillating between two extremes, which, in all likelihood, will drive you nuts! But you’ll just have to sync your batteries to theirs, and wait for the dust to settle so that you can have a really good time.

6. There may be pets

dog with woman

Image source: Pixabay, under Creative Commons License

Okay, we did mention that there are no kids involved in this situation, which eases things considerably, but the presence of pets can make things pretty awkward!! Many people treat their pets like their kids, and when you’re considering a childless couple, well, you can guess! Now, you may have to see the ex while they drop off or pick up the beloved pet, and some of the kid problems begin to apply. To know what they are, keep reading!

Suggested read: 7 vital aspects to consider before dating a divorced man

Now, we get to the more complicated matter of dating an individual going through a divorce – with kids. Okay ‘divorce’ and ‘kids’ are two words that sound sad when put together in a sentence, but in this case, it goes beyond that. The kids are already devastated that their parents are splitting up, it’s killing them to choose one parent and they’re still harboring hope in some corner of their hearts that their parents may still get back together. When a brand new person walks into this, it dashes even that tiny ray of hope and you can imagine how they feel towards said person. Trying to win the kids over at this stage is something that you shouldn’t even try; just let their parents deal with them and you can become friends later. However, with the person you’re dating, you can take steps to ensure smooth sailing on the rocky seas of divorce.

1. They will prioritize the kids

man with child

Image source: Pixabay, under Creative Commons License

And you can hardly blame them for it, can you? Regardless of who is going to get custody of the kids, they’ll still love them more than ever and will want to meet them and generally be a part of their lives. So don’t be surprised if they’d rather go to their little girl’s recital than to a wine tasting with you. When they want to maintain as much normalcy as possible in their kids’ lives, they’ll try not to skip any opportunity to be with them. This can clash with the dates and outings you plan, so it’s best to just let things be easy and casual for a while.

2. The ex will show up (and not just in conversation)

Ex Wife

Image source: Flickr

Ah yes, there’s no escaping the ex now! They are not just their former spouse, they are also the parent of their children, and that is a bond that will forever bind them together. Unlike childless divorcees, single parents can’t really make a clean break from their exes, at least if they still plan to be involved in their kids’ lives. So expect awkward meetings with the ex, as they visit for purposes related to the kids. Even the best ex-spouse can be weird about their soon-to-be ex’s new boyfriend/girlfriend, and the mean ones can go all psycho by passing snide remarks or poisoning the kids’ minds against you.

Suggested read: Things you MUST know before dating a single mom

3. Prepare for judgment from family

mother in law

Image source: Flickr

Most families disapprove of divorce, especially with kids in the picture, unless there’s been some kind of abuse. So they’re almost certain to look at the new arrival with judgment, contempt, and lots of doubt. They may wonder if you’re the cause of the divorce in the first place, and you may feel like you’re dealing with judgment from all directions – the parents, the ex-spouse, the kids, and maybe even friends. That is to be expected but it usually dies down, as they see that the person going through a divorce is actually happier with you around.

4. Things will move s.l.o.w.l.y

couple dissatisfied with sex

Image source: Shutterstock

You’re beginning a new relationship and you want to spend some good quality time with your date. But with a single parent going through a divorce, this is easier said than done. They have been hurt deeply, are at risk of their whole family being snatched away, along with losing their home and assets. This is a lot for a person to handle, so you can’t be surprised when they take their time and seem extra cautious before jumping into a new relationship. If you’re the kind who likes to take things slow as well, this will work perfectly for you, but if you’re tired of waiting and want to hurry things up, then this is not going to work out.

5. There won’t be any games

couple in love

Image source: Google, copyright-free image under Creative Commons License

And thank God for that!! You’re probably tired of all the immature flirting games people generally play, in which case – good news. Parents who are going through a divorce have limited time and resources, and are more likely to make them count rather than waste them playing useless games which don’t really matter much ultimately. They’ll prefer to look at the big picture, which will come as an enormous relief!

6. Don’t expect any expensive presents


Image source: Flickr

Divorce takes a lot out of any person, but it can take a lot out of a person’s pocket as well!! When there are kids involved and the other parent is going to get custody, there arises the question of child support, along with alimony. And a very vengeful ex-spouse with a high flying lawyer can really squeeze anybody dry!! So they’re likely to be very finicky about their expenses while their lawyer tries to save what they can, so don’t expect fancy dinners and diamond bracelets anytime soon. The situation might get worse, depending upon how the ultimate terms of the divorce are spelt out; so if this scares you now, it’s best to back out before it’s too late.

Suggested read: Things you MUST know about dating a single dad

At the end of the day, dating someone going through a divorce is no piece of cake, but if you think this is the person you’ve been waiting for all this time, then tread carefully. Trust your gut, it seldom misguides you! Watch out for red flags that show that they might get back with their ex with a reconciliation. These include a friendly style of communication, still living together, going out together with the kids, etc., You can also get an idea from the way your date talks about their ex as well as from what caused the breakup. As you see, a relationship with such a person requires a great deal of patience and self control and lots of holding back of feelings. If you feel stifled or as if the relationship is proving too toxic or damaging for you, it’s best to walk away and stay away at least till things are legally in the clear. Just remember that you have the right to be happy too, and there’s no need to play the martyr all the time!

Featured image source: Shutterstock

Article Name
Dating Someone Going Through A Divorce: Things To Know
Dating is tough, and dating a divorced person is tougher. But dating a person going through a divorce is complicated and requires a good deal of thought!
Fabida Abdulla

Fabida Abdulla

Fabida is an erstwhile Software Engineer and current Freelance Writer cum stay-at-home mom to her boisterous 6-year-old. In between all the writing, baking, nagging, reading, and cuddling, she manages to blog a bit about her crazy life at Shocks and Shoes. []