Is It, or Isn't OK To Begin Dating After Filing For Divorce?

Most often people leave a marriage intent upon finding their soulmate. They’ve had it with being unhappy - they want to love, get attention, have sex! It’s time for them to get their needs and desires met. It can be a really fun time… if uncommitted sex is something you can do, there are a lot of feel-good hormones flowing, enthusiasm is high, and the pain of separation, the heartache of a bad marriage, and the stress of legal worries pale in comparison to a good romp in the hay. But if it’s a soul mate you want, you’re going to be more sensitive to participating in indiscriminate sex. You’re probably going to have your feelings hurt and your pride wounded if a lover doesn’t remain faithful. You would think that this sex after separation thing would be easy but if you’re wondering, whether it’s okay to begin dating after filing for divorce or not, you realize that decision isn’t so easy to make. 

Should you wait or should you have fun? When is it appropriate to be dating after divorce? And how to handle dating when you’re not legally separated from your soon-to-be ex-spouse?

Overall, I caution you not to be too harsh on yourself (or others) for having indiscriminate sexual encounters when you first leave your marriage bed. Just like a dam bursting, if you’ve just left a sexless marriage and are stepping out into the world of dating, enjoy yourself if you want to. If you want sex without commitment, you’re in the perfect place. Divorce is an adult sport and that includes, if you wish, having sex without commitment.

But if you’re hoping that first love is going to be your new soulmate, I caution you to slowly proceed with dating. There are a lot of problems with dating after filing when you step into dating one person too fast. You’re simply not ready to take on a new relationship with all the hopes and dreams you’ve attached to this next man or woman in your life and chances are, dating and having sex too quickly is going to mess with your self-esteem. 

There’s a big difference between dating, having sex, and preparing for a new, serious relationship. Most of which is simply not knowing who you are without your spouse. That ex has been an intimate part of your life. Your immune system, your respiratory system, your heart rate, your brain waves have been in sync for some time. You may have children you share, a home or two, and certainly many worldly possessions. There’s been a life together that needs time to dissolve. Layer on top of that the legal or emotional frustrations, and you’re a bit of a mess to be seriously dating. So, as you’re unwinding your marriage, it’s best to slowly enter the relationship dance. You are not standing on your own at first. You need time to heal and to grow apart from your soon-to-be ex-spouse. 

So what is best for you? Here are a few question to ask yourself to see if you’re ready to date, have sex, build a relationship or stay single for a bit longer. Have fun with these questions, there’s no right answer. Also, know that you may try dating for a while then pull back, you may have sex with one person, then end it; you may find the love of your life and figure out how to make a healthy marriage work. This is your life, have fun with it!

Should I date now that I’ve filed for my divorce?

  1. yes… I’ve been in therapy, self-help groups, and have a big life separate than my spouse and kids. I’m ready!
  2. no… I haven’t been on a date since I met my spouse and am still a little uncomfortable with talking to strangers never mind getting naked.
  3. perhaps… I’m worried about dating these days but yet, I’m really attracted to other wo/men and want to enjoy being with someone else. I’m willing to take a chance.

Should I wait for my kids to get older before I have a new relationship?

  1. yes… my kids are not dealing well with the divorce; they already don’t want to spend time with me, they’re not sleeping or eating well, and they’re getting into trouble at school. I think my dating would put them over the edge. 
  2. not at all… my kids don’t need to know about my dating; it’s none of their business what I do in my personal life and I’m capable of keeping my private life to myself no matter how much they ask.
  3. perhaps… I’m not sure I can handle separating my dating life from my kids. We have a really close relationship and I’m not sure I’d be comfortable not introducing my dates to them. After all, they have a big say in who I’m going to be with.

If my community doesn’t approve of dating while still being legally married, should I wait?

  1. yes… I have a close relationship with my faith and to my community. My neighbors would judge me and I don’t think I can handle their negative judgment right now so I’m going to wait until my decree is signed and I’m legally divorced before I date.
  2. no… I’ve lived my life by others’ rules long enough and it’s no one else’s business if I date during my separation. I want to have fun and enjoy myself.
  3. perhaps… I suppose I could go on a date when I travel for work and away from my town but I have to remember, I may be seen on a date or the gossip at work my creep in. That may be tricky and something I have to consider. 

My divorce is now going on years, haven’t I waited long enough

  1. yes… everyone knows we’re separated, my kids are doing well, and I’m feeling comfortable living on my own. I think I’m ready to meet someone new and to finally have sex again!
  2. no… I’m still pretty shaken up by my divorce and I’m uncomfortable even thinking about meeting someone new. I’m really afraid I’m going to be hurt again and I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to take that risk again. 
  3. perhaps… some days I feel confident enough with my new life to invite someone new into it and other days I worry about my future. I want to be with someone and know it’ll be a process to find the right one, but I’m not always sure I’m ready to do so yet.

My ex has a new lover/spouse and I’m all alone… it doesn’t seem fair that their life is going so well and I’m still by myself. Shouldn’t I be dating too?

  1. yes… what am I waiting for?! I’m getting out there and going to meet new people, figure this out and take some risks. Enough is enough! I am worthy of a new relationship and I’m ready to be seen.
  2. no… I’m still pretty upset. I’m tired of being taken advantage of and even though my ex seems happy, I know deep down they aren’t doing their work or healing. As much as I want sex and new company, I’m not sure that I’m ready to show up healthy to meet the kind of person I want.
  3. perhaps… I think I’ve done my healing work. Most times I feel good about myself, I look good, I’m physically fit and healthy. I’m able to manage the changes and am usually pretty happy. There are days when the past creeps in and I compare myself to my ex but for the most part, I get it. I’m a good person and I’m willing to put myself out there.

This is your life and you’re an adult with adult responsibilities and adult experiences. Tally up your answers… primarily a’s? You’re ready to go for it! Mostly b’s? you owe yourself the time and attention you need to properly heal your heart and to learn some new skills. c’s? find yourself a competent teacher and get some new tools. You have a life ahead of yourself you get to create. 

No matter how you decide to approach dating after your divorce, you’re inviting another adult into your life. Treat them with respect and appreciation and whatever occurs, you’ll be healing your past. 

What have you decided? Are you ready to start dating? Leave a comment below and let me know what you’ve decided.

Laura Bonarrigo is a Certified Life Coach and a Certified Divorce Coach at laurabonarrigo.com. Laura's a writer, public speaker and the founder of doingDivorce School an online coaching program for those ready to shed the pain of divorce. For empowering and practical ways to lose the identity of your past, visit www.doingDivorceSchool.com and laurabonarrigo.com.