How to Date During a Separation

Three Parts:Deciding Whether to DateGoing OutExposing Children to Dates

Separation is that difficult in-between place many find themselves in when their relationship isn't going smoothly. The relationship has not completely severed, but emotionally you are far apart. If you are thinking of dating someone outside of the relationship, this article will discuss some things you will want to consider prior to taking that step.

Part 1
Deciding Whether to Date

  1. 1
    Consider the impact on the relationship. If you are separated and not planning a divorce, there may be a chance of reconciling. Dating may sabotage any attempts at reconciliation unless you are dating the person from whom you are separated. Prior to dating someone else, be sure you either want to end the relationship or that the other person is okay with seeing other people during the separation.[1]
    • Think about how you would feel in the other person’s shoes.
    • Consider relationship counseling.
    • Remember that communication is a major factor in repairing a relationship, so talk with the other person if you may want to reconcile.
  2. 2
    Consider the legal impact. If you are married, it is generally not advisable to date other people until the divorce is final. Dating other people can increase animosity between divorcing couples, which tends to decrease the likelihood of amicable settlements and increase the cost of divorce attorneys and other court costs. In some circumstances, dating before the divorce is final can also negatively impact property settlements and custody determinations.[2]
    • Former spouses who become jealous that the other party has found a new relationship tend to be less willing to agree to property settlements or parenting arrangements.
    • In states that grant divorces on the basis of fault, the fact that you have a relationship during the separation can be used as evidence that you had a relationship prior to the separation.
    • The character of people you regularly bring in contact with your children is relevant to parenting arrangements. Any new partner could potentially be subject to examination and/or investigation by the court or other party because of the proximity s/he will likely have to the children.
  3. 3
    Consider the emotional impact. During a separation, emotions are generally raw. Both parties to the relationship are usually hurt and potentially angry about the breakup. You may want to take some time to get to know the new you, especially if the relationship lasted several years, instead of jumping into a quick rebound relationship.[3]
    • Some experts recommend waiting at least six months before making any major decisions.
    • Be sure you are dating because you enjoy the company of the company of the other person instead of to fill a hole left by the loss of the relationship or out of anger at the other person.
    • Consider going out with groups of people instead of paring up with any one person to help fill the void left from the loss of the relationship.

Part 2
Going Out

  1. 1
    Meet new people. During your separation, it is good to meet new people. This can lead to filling those hours that you previously spent with your partner. While this is not technically dating, it is the beginnings of becoming available to date. Some ways to meet new people include:[4]
    • Volunteering for issues that interest you, such as museums or animal shelters
    • Taking classes for things you enjoy, such as cooking, writing, or a sport
    • Starting or joining a club or organization, such as a book club or a religious organization
  2. 2
    Do things in groups. Going out in groups is not technically dating, even though those groups often are comprised of couples. Going with groups of people to events, including movies, restaurants, and sporting events is a good way to socialize while your divorce is pending. It is also a good way to get to know the other person without the stress of a formal date in the background. Almost any activity that can be done one-on-one can also be done with a group of people. Consider such activities as:[5]
    • Going hiking with a mixed-gender group of friends
    • Seeing a play or movie with a mixed-gender group of friends.
    • Going to the beach or park with a mixed-gender group of friends.
  3. 3
    Exercise discretion. If you do decide to go out on a paired-off date while separated, exercise discretion. This does not mean be secretive, but you don’t want to throw it in your former partner’s face, either, especially if s/he is having difficulty dealing with the breakup.[6]
    • Don’t change your Facebook status to reflect any new relationships.
    • Don’t announce dates on social media.
    • Don’t talk about your dates in front of your children or friends who are also friends of your former spouse.
  4. 4
    Consider telling potential dates your true marital status. If you are still married, the potential date has the right to know this. Only with this information can that person make an informed decision about whether s/he wants to be involved with the stress that is usually involved in this stage of your life.
    • Often, people feel betrayed if they learn that information has been withheld from them.
    • Once you start dating, your partner(s) could potentially find themselves involved in your case against their will.
    • Some people feel it is morally wrong to date others before the divorce is final.

Part 3
Exposing Children to Dates

  1. 1
    Consider the children’s ages and emotional states. Realize that children cope differently at different ages, and that children of all ages are likely to be resistant to you dating soon after separating from their other parent. Think about how your child(ren) are likely to react to you going out with other people.[7]
    • Have your children had the ability to process their emotional issues regarding the separation?
    • Adolescents tend to hide their fears.
    • Children under age 10 tend to be more possessive about their parents.
  2. 2
    Talk about dating. Children frequently have concerns about losing a parent during a separation or divorce. Children of any age should be made aware that just because you are dating, you are not trying to replace their other parent.[8]
    • Open lines of communication, but don’t overshare. If a child is fine with you dating, end the conversation.
    • Reassure your child that the other person will not replace their other parent or take you away from them.
    • Allow your child to voice concerns and emotions without fear of punishment.
  3. 3
    Shield children from casual dates. Even if your divorce is final and your children appear to be okay that you are dating, you should avoid having them meet every person you date. The children should only meet a person that will likely be around for a while, not casual dates that will likely come and go.[9]
    • Young children tend to form attachments more easily than adults. If your casual relationship doesn’t work out, your child may need to deal with the loss of this person, too.
    • If you have not gotten to know this person very well, they may bring some exposures to your children that you would prefer they not be exposed to.
    • Realize that children need time to transition to their new lives with separated parents before new people are added into it.

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Categories: Divorce