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A couple of days ago a friend and I were discussing another mutual friend–we’ll call her “Roslyn”–who was going through a divorce. Although the divorce hadn’t been finalized, her and her no ex-husband went their separate ways nearly two years ago. This resulted in him moving out and getting his own place, and quickly moving on to a new girlfriend. Even still, they were in contact as they share custody of their three kids. When I asked a mutual friend if Roslyn was dating, she informed me that although Roslyn had gone on a date or two here and there, she was just not ready. “Roslyn doesn’t feel “single” yet,” she said.

As a woman who has had the experience of dating two different men who were going through a divorce, I can unequivocally say that I’ll never date a married but separated man again. One was simply not emotionally ready to move on, while the other informed me after five months of dating that he was going to go back and give it another shot with his wife–only for them to end up divorced anyway. Honestly, it was just too much drama for me. So, until a man was totally free and wasn’t involved with any other women that could claim him as her husband, I stayed away. Now, as a married woman myself, I can say with some degree of certainty that if my husband and I were to divorce, I wouldn’t want to rush right back into another serious relationship. But that’s just me.

All circumstance are different, so it’s hard to say if a person should date someone who is in the process of a divorce or not. While most divorces can be sad, nasty and drawn out, others can be quick and painless. But often times there’s a grey area where both parties know the relationship has run its course and are ready to move on, but they have to figure out how to divide custody of the kids and shared assets. This can take months, if not years, with lawyers are the only ones tying the two people together. Dating someone in that circumstance might not be risky, but love is a risk no matter what.  However, even if you play out many different scenarios in your head, you still will not be fully informed on your situation and how you should proceed.

Like any other matter of the heart, your gut is your best tool to use when trying to decide if dating someone who is separated is worth it. Assess his situation thoroughly: How long has he been separated? Does he live alone? Are there kids involved and/or assets that need to be split? Does he seem emotionally available or over her completely? Just because a man is over his ex doesn’t mean he’s ready to be in a committed relationship again. He could still be mourning the end of the marriage even though he’s dating. Sometimes people use others to help them get over that loss, which we call a rebound.

Ladies, if you’re not sure if you’re just a rebound helping him to transition from marriage to single-hood, then avoid dating men who are separated and not divorced. If you do decide to date him, take it slow. There should be no pressure on him to define your relationship, divulge if he’s ready to get married again or even if he sees a future with you. Chances are he’s still reeling from the shock of his failed marriage to even begin to think about the possibility of going down that road again.

Again, not all men and women are emotional and financial wrecks after a divorce. Some even believe in the institution of marriage, and hope to marry the right person the second or even third time around. But like all relationships that you might hope turn into a long-term commitment, take your time getting to know him. Ask important questions–the cause of the breakup in the first place– so you can make informed decisions on how you’d like to proceed. And if marriage is what you ultimately aspire to, make sure you discover over the course of getting to know him if he’s willing to do it again in time.

No one can know for sure how dating and falling in love will turn out, but your intuition can let you know if dating a guy who is separated but not divorced is worth it. If you have any doubts or feel that he’s just using you to get over his ex, then don’t do it. If you’re unsure, it’s best to wait until he’s free, for real. And if he’s the one, he’ll come looking for you when the ink is dry.

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