Think You’re Ready to Start Dating? Wait Until the Divorce is Final

After months or years of marital conflict and disconnection, it can be tempting to pursue a rebound relationship as soon as you've made the decision to divorce your spouse. In many ways, dating someone new can feel like the solution to your stress, but it might have negative long-term consequences for your divorce settlement, your children, and your own ability to heal. Here are a few reasons to put romance on hold until the divorce is final.

Dating Now May Make Your Divorce More Expensive

One key to a calmer divorce is remaining civil with your spouse, and if they see you rushing headlong into a new relationship it is likely to create conflict. Divorce is already a highly emotional experience, and when someone feels doubly wronged or their pride gets wounded, they are more likely to become angry and less likely to agree to a divorce settlement. When spouses cannot reach an agreement, this can extend the length of the divorce process from the typical three to eight months to one or two years – which also significantly increases legal costs and court fees.

Dating too soon may also impact spousal support. When spouses are able to communicate civilly, they can agree on settlements that are fair to both parties, such as one partner receiving a bulk of the marital assets in exchange for little or no spousal support. But a spouse who feels wronged will likely allow resentment and mistrust to impact and undermine these types of negotiations.

Dating Now May Impact Your Parenting Time

Whether you and your spouse are negotiating parenting time directly with each other or going through a mediator or your lawyers, your new relationship may be used against you when it comes to custody arrangements and parenting time. Your spouse may argue that your new boyfriend or girlfriend is evidence that your children are not your first priority, and your romantic endeavors may also skew your own perceptions about how much time you would like to spend with your children in the future.

Dating too soon can also affect your children's ability to heal from the stress, anxiety, and trauma of the divorce. They need all of the stability and reassurance you can offer them right now, and they are unlikely to get that from you if your attention is divided between them and your new partner.

Additionally, your kids are unlikely to accept your new partner if this person is thrust into their lives too quickly. While the divorce rate for first marriages is close to 50 percent, almost two-thirds of second marriages don't survive the test of time, partially due to the children's rejection of their new stepparent. The kids may also use your new relationship as evidence that you are to blame for the divorce.

Dating Now May Cause You to Feel More Isolated

In addition to harming your children's emotional well-being, dating during a divorce may also hinder your own ability to heal. Even if your marriage was unhealthy and getting out of the relationship is unquestionably the correct decision, you still need time to process what has happened and in some cases grieve the loss of your former life. Otherwise you risk repeating the same mistakes with your new partner.

It's also important to remember that while the distraction of a new relationship may feel like the perfect antidote to the discomfort your divorce has created, odds are your pain will resurface sooner or later if you don't deal with it – and these unhealed wounds are likely to drive away your new partner in the process. No one wants to be with someone who is still hung up on their ex, after all.

Dating Now May Damage Your Other Relationships

Dating too soon after splitting from a spouse can also cause friendships and other important relationships to become strained, limiting options to seek valuable emotional support when you need it the most. If you and your ex share mutual friends or acquaintances, these people are likely to side with your spouse if you're already in a relationship with someone new. 

Other people in the community may also lose respect for you or distance themselves from you if they disagree with your decisions. Naturally, the opinions of others shouldn't guide everything you do; but in this instance it can be wise to consider who is likely to remain in your life long-term and go to these people for emotional support as opposed to your new romantic partner.

In short, wanting to pursue a new relationship after ending a marriage is normal and can even be healthy and healing – but it's best to wait until after all aspects of the divorce are finalized. If you live in the areas of Shelby or Gastonia and need a hand navigating your divorce, it helps to have an experienced and compassionate attorney on your side. Contact us today.