What to Know If You’re Dating a Divorcee for the First Time

A man dating a divorcee, looking into the eyes of the woman he's on a date with while they're on a boat.

If you’ve never been married and divorced before, the first thing you need to understand when you accept a date with a divorcee is that you will not be able to relate. The only thing that might come close is if you’ve lost a very close family member.

Divorce is far worse than a normal break up, even if you lived with someone for ten years. Lawyers and mediators and maybe even accountants all get involved to assess the division of assets, parenting time, etc. It’s an extremely painful, often lonngggg process that’s more akin to losing an actual person to death than it is to a break up. Likewise, there often can be an intense grief process wrapped up with divorce too. This is one of the reasons why it’s important to date someone who is actually already divorced. Men or women who are currently separated are likely going to be dealing with things you won’t want to be caught in the middle of.

Regardless of their history, divorcees want to be loved, treated with kindness, and shown appreciation for. They don’t want to be smothered or with someone who is needy or demanding. They still may be getting back on their feet, so it’s important that you be understanding.

1. Forget the future talk.
Likely, your divorcee has no idea how to answer questions like, “Where is this going?” or, “What are we doing?” It’s amazing they’re dating. Give yourself time to enjoy the relationship as it develops and be in the present moment. Let the future talk come up when it’s supposed to instead of pushing to define the relationship too early.

2. Give them space.
A divorcee will be grateful if you give them some space. They may still be adjusting to being single or a single parent. They may need some time to figure some things out that have nothing to do with you, so don’t feel like you need to push anything. It’ll develop naturally if it’s going to.

3. Don’t forget to have fun.
Someone who has just gotten out of a bad marriage wants to have a good time, so be the one who can bring some fun into their lives. Show them trendy restaurants, suggest concerts or museums, or play a round of putt-putt. Everyone deals with divorce differently, and many divorcees are in a great place and want to celebrate being single and enjoy their time with you.

4. Avoid playing games.
People who have been married before aren’t necessarily as scared of commitment as someone who has never been married, so don’t feel like you need to be coy or vague. If you like them, tell them. If you want to call them back, call them back. Just watch that you aren’t texting every twenty seconds or talking about details of your future wedding before that’s clearly in the cards. You can be upfront, but don’t find yourself vaulting into needy.

5. Focus on yourself.
When you’re giving someone space and time and not jumping into something too serious yet, that also gives you your own time to work on you. Maybe you need to make a career change or spend more devoted time with your own children or pick up some healthy eating or exercise habits. A relationship with another person should be the joining of two complete people. If you’re lacking in some area, work on it so you can bring your best complete self to your next relationship, whether it’s with a divorcee or not.

While the statistics on divorce have fallen, you’re still likely to meet plenty of divorcees in the dating pool, especially in the 30-50 year age range. If you don’t share their relationship experience, it’s all right. They are going to require a little more delicacy and balancing than you might be used to, but that’s all fine for you now. You can work on yourself as well and enjoy having fun while you’re at it. You also know they’ve committed before, and they will likely again, maybe even to you!

Tara Mae Mulroy

Tara Mae Mulroy is a freelance writer and blogger who focuses on relationships. She is a regular contributor on Medium as well as the author of the full-length poetry collection, Swallow, and other writing found at taramaemulroy.com.

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