You’ve met someone attractive, funny, and charming. You like them a lot, and would love to spend more time getting to know them. There’s just one tiny (okay, maybe major) hiccup—the ink’s barely dried on their divorce papers. Or, maybe they’re separated and not divorced yet, which technically means, they’re still married. Dating can be complicated; dating someone who’s newly divorced or separated can be even more so. Like any relationship, it all comes down to the two people involved and asking the right questions.
Here’s what you need to consider about dating someone who’s recently divorced or separated.
1. How recent was the divorce/separation?
This is something you need to know as it will help you measure the emotional depth your date may, or may not, have access to. Most experts agree that a recent divorce is one that has happened within the last year or two. A person who’s recently ended their marriage is most likely emotionally raw. They could be still in shock about their relationship’s dissolution, or even angry or depressed about it. If your date is still mourning and dealing with the end of their marriage, then chances are he or she isn’t ready to fully dive into a new relationship yet. As much as they are excited about meeting someone new, if they were truly honest with themselves, they might admit they have nothing emotionally sound to offer you.
2. How much contact do they have with their ex?
There are some reasons why exes remain in contact after a divorce, including finances, property, and childcare. It’s also a good idea to know how the ex feels about your lover. If the ex has any bitter or resentment towards them, then that might affect how they feel about you and your new relationship. This could play a big part especially if they share custody of kids together. For example, the ex might not want you to spend time with your partner if he or she has the kids for the weekend.
Another thing to consider: with the economy and housing market as competitive as it is, a lot of separated couples are choosing to live together to save money, as well as to better accommodate their children (if there are any). If this is the case with your new match, you need to consider if this is something you’re comfortable with. You might also want to ask your new flame if they are open about dating other people with their ex. If they’re still keeping their dating on the DL from their ex, you might want to ask yourself—and them—why that is. Knowing why your date is still in contact with his or her ex, how often, and why, will help you determine what you’re comfortable with.
3. Are they really ready for a relationship?
If you’re looking for a committed relationship, then this soul-searching question is one that you’ll have to ask yourself as well as to your new partner. Don’t assume that just because your date has had a long-term relationship before that they’re definitely willing to give you the same. On the other hand, just because they’re newly separated doesn’t mean they’re only looking for a rebound. Every relationship and every person is different. There are people who are over their marriage ending within a week, while there are others who harbor troubled feelings for decades over their divorce. Every situation, including yours, is unique. You can’t force someone to be ready for a relationship. The only control you have is over being clear about what you want, and communicating those needs to your date. If you’re okay with a casual hook-up, say so. But if you’re looking for a marriage of your own some day soon and a serious relationship in the meantime, you need to state that intention. Hopefully your date will have the self-awareness, insight and respect to be honest with what they can offer you from the start.
If the time isn’t right for you and your newly divorced date, walk away. On the other hand, if your newly divorced date is genuine about their intentions with you, trust your gut and continue seeing them. If your date is newly separated and is asking for more time, you might want to consider going your separate ways until they properly deal with their feelings and see you more as a true partner rather than a distraction from their marital woes. Either way, trust in a happy ending because, despite those dismal divorce statistics, they do exist.