by Zonder Family Law Group
There are many hopes and fears tied up with the idea of dating during divorce. Something clearly went south in the married relationship if it came to divorce, and people naturally want to experience love and romance as they always hoped it would be, not the way it was in the broken relationship they are leaving. And it can be exciting to meet someone new and hopefully begin to move on (or in some cases distract oneself) from the difficulties and pain of the divorce. At the same time, dating – especially in our modern app-based world – can be disorienting and intimidating for someone who has just left a long, committed relationship.
For some people, they prefer and/or believe it is correct to wait until the divorce is finalized to begin dating. A divorce can be a long process, however, sometimes taking years to complete, and for many the “we’re not getting any younger” urge to begin dating is strong.
If you do believe it is necessary to wait until the divorce is done to start dating, that is certainly a fine approach that minimizes some risks. But we probably all know people who found the love of their life, or at least had positive experiences, by dating before their case is finalized. We are certainly not here to tell you that you have to stay at home in your pajamas until the court enters your divorce decree, but there are a few issues to keep in mind while you start the process of dating again.
Tip #1: Keep Yourself Focused on Long-Term Goals and Priorities
There are many painful aspects of a divorce, but perhaps none more acute and consistent for some than the prospect of another lonely weekend after a recent separation scrolling through Netflix for something to help keep your mind off things. Wouldn’t it be more fun and exciting to scroll through Hinge or Tinder instead to meet a real-life person?
Well, maybe, but you don’t need this blog to explain the yawning gap between the promise and reality of online dating (or even not-online dating). But on top of the commonly-discussed issues of online dating being unfruitful and often involving a lot of problematic people, it also can be a huge waste of your time and focus. Endless swiping (and being swiped) and pointless messages are not as fun as they sound. But even if you do have some fun and interesting dates, odds are high that these are people you might never see again after a date or even a few months of dates (especially when your still-current marriage comes up in the conversation).
Again, the point here is not to tell you to hold off on dating while going through a divorce, but what is even more important is to develop positive friendships with people that will probably far outlast the memory of your Bumble dates. Many people coming out of a broken marriage need better and deeper friendships, and friendships are indeed what will sustain you in the months and years to come (and friends are far less likely to ghost you). Take the time to develop friendships with the people who are already your friends, and to develop friendships with new people. It may sound difficult or even cheesy, but making friendships is easier than you might think, although you will have to make the effort. And your friends will probably provide some very useful perspective on your dating adventures, should you choose to do so, which you will most likely need!
Also, don’t forget, you do have the small matter of completing your divorce and learning how to live on your own, both emotionally and financially after a separation. This may mean learning financial skills, parenting skills, or seeking out a new job or career, and you should make such things a priority to promote your long-term well-being.
Tip #2: Take the Time to Become the Person You Would Want to Date
Related to the above point, let’s face it, you may not be feeling great and/or functioning at your best, physically or emotionally, during a divorce. And people tend to pair up with others who are in similar spots – it’s just a fact that very happy, high-functioning people tend not to want to build romantic relationships with depressed, unhealthy people. As difficult as it might be when you are itching for some romantic attention, it makes logical sense that, assuming you want to be dating people with their you-know-what together, you are probably going to want to get your you-know-what together as well, lest you end up repeating relationship mistakes and/or making all new ones.
As with the importance of developing positive relationships with friends, you want to take the time to develop a positive relationship with yourself, so to speak. Sure, this might involve therapy which is hugely beneficial for some, but it also means doing the things that you want to do to become a version of yourself that you like (and would want to date). It can involve more physical exercise, new hobbies, developing new skills, joining a spiritual group, and other activities and pursuits that will build you up, not bring you down (as dating before you’re ready can tend to do). And, who knows, in doing so, maybe you will meet some interesting new potential romances with no swiping involved!
#3: A New Partner Could Affect Your Divorce Proceedings
Finally, dating during divorce could affect your divorce proceedings in negative ways. For the most part, courts do not care what you do with your personal life, and simply dating before you are divorced by itself is not an issue. But there are a few areas where it could pop up.
For example, if you are dating a new partner who is with your children, and who may even be acting as a caretaker at times, this can be relevant to a custody proceeding. E.g., if your new partner is involved in criminal activity or has a history of abuse or addiction, this can very likely be a problem. Also, if a new partner is financially supporting you and/or providing you a place to live, this can impact support issues.
Perhaps most commonly, however, is the impact of a new romantic relationship on the all-important psychological aspects of getting a divorce finalized. If your spouse is hurt or angered by your new relationship, this can result in complications in getting a deal done if he or she is acting out of that hurt or anger to spite you, whether rationally or otherwise. This issue probably warrants a whole article of its own, but the important takeaway is to be mindful of the broader impacts of dating while going through a divorce and to prioritize the actions that will serve your long-term needs.
Guidance on Your California Family Law Questions From Our Westlake Village Attorneys
If you would like to learn more about how our office can provide guidance on any California family law issues you are facing in Ventura County or Los Angeles County, contact the Zonder Family Law Group office today at (805) 777-7740 or (818) 877-0001, or schedule your strategy session using easy-to-use online form here.