After years of being miserably married, you’re raring to hit the dating scene again. But not so fast! Despite your free-bird status, you may not be ready for a romantic entanglement. The last thing you want right now is to find yourself in a new relationship before you’ve emotionally divested yourself of the old one. How do you know when you’re REALLY ready to date? Here are some key signs…
You are “emotionally divorced.” That means you are no longer psychologically entangled with your ex. You are not consumed with anger or regret. If you have children together, you do not try to get back at her by bad-mouthing her to your kids. You do not write copious, lengthy e-mails to your former spouse detailing his many transgressions and trying to control what he does in his house. You accept that your marriage is over and you take accountability for your part in its demise.
You are not nostalgic for your previous life. Becoming single again can feel like being in a foreign land without a map. Now out of your comfort zone, you may find yourself romanticizing your former life: exaggerating the good parts while completely forgetting about the reasons the marriage ended. Even if you weren’t ready to take off your wedding band, you must get your head out of the past in order to be present with a new person.
You’re not preoccupied with your ex. You don’t stalk his social media platforms to see what he’s up to, i.e., if he’s “happier” than you. You don’t lull your dinner date to sleep by droning on about all the ways your former spouse wronged you. And, if you find yourself driving by your ex’s house, it’s probably time to go to a good therapist, not go on a date.
You enjoy dating for the sake of dating. You are not on the Express Train for Husband #2. Rather, you treat your dating experience as a way to get to know yourself and discover what you want in a partner and a relationship. Despite your divorce challenges, you content with yourself and your life and have the patience to wait for the right person to come along instead of shacking up with the first person you meet on Match.com.
Legal Ramifications: Be Careful If…
If you have children or there are major issues still looming in your divorce, here are some flashing “danger ahead” signs to watch for as you reenter the dating scene.
Your divorce is contested or acrimonious. If your ex is already angry or didn’t want to end the marriage, finding out that you are now happily ensconced with another person could force your spouse to dig in even further in your divorce proceedings. If you do date, consider taking the low key route of not spreading the news beyond your most trusted inner circle. And whatever you do, don’t post your new “relationship status” on Facebook!
Your new partner has skeletons in his or her closet. Be aware that dating someone with legal problems and/or a substance abuse issue could spark a child custody battle, especially if your spouse gets wind of the new partner’s problems and runs a background check. Our advice? Don’t court trouble.
Consider your children’s needs
Kids need time to adapt. Introducing them to a new person will add yet another wrinkle. If you’re worried that your child is struggling with the changes your divorce brings, you may want to consider adding a “dating clause” to your custody agreement indicating that the other parent needs to give permission before introducing your child to a new partner.
The financial and emotional upheaval of divorce can cloud judgment. When re-entering the dating world, proceed with caution. You don’t want to wake up one morning realizing that you are seriously involved with – or even married to — someone you don’t really love, simply because you didn’t want to be alone.
Have questions about your divorce, or more information on how a new romantic partner could affect your divorce settlement, including child custody or even alimony orders? Our attorneys are here to help. Please contact us to schedule your initial consultation.