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divorce and dating

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Did you know that 750,000 divorces took place in the year 2019 in the United States? With court proceedings slowing down in 2020 due to the pandemic, it’s tough to determine what the “normal” number of divorces would have been, but you can imagine it would have been similar to 2019. So, 750,000. About three-quarter of a million divorces. If that many divorces are taking place, then it’s safe to assume as many separations preceded them, meaning it’s not entirely unlikely that you could meet a man, and fall for a man, only to learn that he’s in the middle of a separation. Many women might be fine with dating a divorced man because his previous relationship is officially done and over. Some research has even found that divorced men might have certain traits that make them appealing to women. But what about a man who is separated, but not yet divorced?

 

There can be times when a man who is separated is fully capable of carrying on a new relationship – meaning he’s emotionally available and has the time. Divorce proceedings can be time-consuming, remember. But not every separation or divorce is made equal. You likely know people who are good friends with their exes, and then you may know some who have restraining orders against them. If you meet a man with whom you hit it off but learn that he’s separated, gather some facts before investing your emotions.

divorce and dating

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What kind of separation is it?

Keep in mind there are three types of separation: trial, permanent, and legal. In a trial separation, a couple chooses to live apart for a set period of time, at the end of which they may choose to reconcile, or divorce. In a permanent separation, the couple has no intention of reconciling and depending on where they live, any debts or assets accrued after this separation are also separate. A legal separation often occurs for couples who don’t want to reconcile but may not want to divorce for religious or financial reasons (more on this later). Hopefully, your love interest is at least permanently separated. You may not want to go near a man in a trial separation.

divorce and dating

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Is it leading to divorce?

It’s not necessarily a given that he’s getting divorced just because he’s separated, which brings us back to the matter of the legal separation. Some couples want the benefits afforded by a divorce (separation of assets, living apart, custody arrangements if there are children), without the “stain” of a divorce. Individuals from deeply religious communities, for example, may not even be allowed to divorce under religious mandates. If this is the case for the man you like, it’s important to ask yourself if being able to get married is a priority to you. A man who is legally separated but not divorced cannot legally remarry, so if he never plans on divorcing his partner, you won’t get to call yourself his wife at any point.

divorce and dating

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Is it understood they are dating other people?

It can be a good idea to A) gather data on whether or not he and his wife have agreed to see other people and B) tread gently if the answer is no. If his wife does not believe they should be dating other people now – perhaps to protect the feelings of their children, or to maintain a reputation in their community – you are navigating choppy waters. It may be emotionally difficult to be with a man who asks you to keep your relationship a secret. That can mean never going out in public together, never posting photos together, and possibly not even telling your friends about the relationship.

divorce and dating

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Is he emotionally free?

There won’t be any court documents that can answer this question for you. You’ll just need to sniff it out yourself. The length of the separation can be some indicator for you. If the man just got separated last week, he may be in an emotional state of disarray. Even if he’d felt distant from his wife for years, his life just changed – he’s literally in a new home now, and possibly away from his children. If he’s been separated for a long time, and seems truly happy, stable, and at peace with the situation, then he may be ready to date.

divorce and dating

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How messy will this divorce be?

Some divorces are fairly easy, such as those in which there are few assets and no children. Some, however, can be incredibly rocky. If there will be a major division of assets, plenty of sour feelings, custody battles, and even court hearings, you may be in for a bumpy ride. Even if your new love interest feels completely emotionally detached from his ex, the process of a messy divorce can be emotionally taxing – so taxing that a person going through it isn’t able to be a very present partner. Also remember, in some cases, the very fact that he is dating someone new may be a piece of information his ex uses against him in court, in some way.

divorce and dating

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Can he focus on you?

You deserve to enter a relationship with someone who is fully free to focus on you. If he has children, you’ll of course understand that they must be his priority. But overall, you deserve to be in a relationship with someone who is excited and energized by the relationship, rather than someone who feels he’s spread too thin right now. It may also be on you to recognize if this relationship isn’t going as promised. Maybe he said this would be a seamless divorce, but new factors have come up, and you’re being dragged through something you don’t want to be involved in. It’s okay to admit that.

divorce and dating

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Will this divorce leave him broke?

This isn’t about being superficial: it’s about recognizing how hard it is on a man to be in a relationship when he can barely financially fend for himself. If this man is about to lose everything in a divorce, he may have to move back in with his parents. He may not be able to afford to go on dates. He may be under a lot of stress, because of his financial limitations, which can lead a man to be irritable. If you’re an adult, then you know by now that the phrase “All you need is love,” is kind of BS. Having a car and a checking account helps a lot, too.

divorce and dating

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Is this their first separation?

This is a rather crucial piece of information: is this their first separation? Maybe the paperwork is in order and you see it’s a permanent separation. But if a little extra digging reveals that they have separated, reconciled, separated again, reconciled again, and so on, many times, you may want to steer clear of this situation. You don’t really have reason to believe that this will be the final off in this on/again, off/again situation. Those relationships are messy and unpredictable. Maybe take a step back and make sure this separation actually sticks before engaging. You don’t want to be the collateral in this dangerous dance.

divorce and dating

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Are there children involved?

This is always important to consider whether you’re dating a separated man, a divorced man, a widowed man, or a single father of any kind. But in the event of a separation, the matter of the children can be very sensitive. Your partner, and his ex, are probably extremely protective of their children right now, knowing they’re already going through a lot of change. Maybe they don’t feel the kids can handle their parents’ separation and a new partner coming around. It can be too many changes at once. You’ll need to figure out where you come into play with the children, and if that works for you.

divorce and dating

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Whose idea was this?

You may not dare to ask, but that’s the reason you should: was this separation his ideas or hers? If it was his, great – he’s probably really accepted the idea of a life without her. Asking for a separation is no small deal. But if it was hers, it’s important to discuss whether or not the man has fully come to terms with it. Having a separation put on a person can be traumatizing, and if it wasn’t his idea, it begs the question: does he wish they were still together? More importantly, if they were still together, would he ask for a separation at this point?

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