Divorce is never easy, and the process of starting over single again is daunting. But how long should you wait after a breakup and what happens if you date too soon after a divorce?
As a general rule, by dating too soon after a divorce, there has not been enough time to get over and grieve the marriage, and that baggage will carry into a new relationship, and old, unhealthy patterns can repeat.
However, what’s considered “too soon” to start dating can be subjective.
Of course, some people may choose to take time before they start dating, others might want to move on right away. But it also can depend on whether you got dumped or were the dumper.
In my case, I got dumped and while we were still technically and legally married, my wife started dating her long-time male friend. Now that could be considered a rebound relationship. But it has lasted so far. By comparison, I had no desire currently to date for almost a year.
In this article, I’ll be explaining some problems that can arise from dating too soon after a separation or divorce. I’ll also include some advice from professionals about how to decide if you’re ready for that next first date.
Divorce vs. Separation
When deciding if you’re ready to move on from your marriage, the first thing is to figure out whether you’re divorced or separated. While these terms can sometimes be used interchangeably, they mean entirely different things.
Separation in marriage means that a couple has agreed to stop living together, but during this time, they’re still married.
There are also different types of separation:
- Legal separation is typically a precursor to divorce.
- Trial separation has no legal proceedings and can be used as a time for the couple to work on their marriage.
Divorce is a legal term that means a couple has decided to end their marriage officially, which means that anything a couple owns together has to be separated. Custody agreements are made if there are children.
The couple will also be considered two single people rather than a married couple.
What Does “Too Soon” to Date Mean?
You might hear about people saying someone moved on “too soon.” Or they don’t know if enough time has passed to start dating again.
“Too soon to date” means that not enough time has passed since the end of the marriage to start a healthy new relationship. You haven’t had enough time to grieve the end of a long-term relationship, and this can bleed into your new relationships.
So it’s always a good idea to not rush into a committed relationship too soon following the end of your last relationship. Do wait for the divorce papers to be finalized. And focus on healing, and examining your own issues that led to the demise of the relationship.
Then, and only then, can a healthy relationship in the future be possible.
Dating Too Soon After a Divorce: What To Consider
Getting back into the dating world after a divorce can be an exciting prospect.
You may want a new relationship, or you might just want to start casually dating new people after being committed for so long. However, even if you feel like you’re ready to start dating right away, it might still be too soon for you to start dating.
To help you decide if enough time has passed since your marriage has ended to start signing up for dating apps, here are a few things you should consider before you go looking for that first relationship after your breakup.
You’re Still Going Through the Divorce Process
Depending on where you live, you may have to follow different guidelines before a divorce is finalized.
Some places allow you to get an official divorce right away if both parties agree. Other places may require a waiting period between when you file your divorce and when it’s final, or you might be required to be legally separated for some time before you can file for divorce.
Depending on where you live and where you are in your divorce process can determine whether or not it might be too soon for you to date. If you’re still technically married, you might have difficulty explaining that to the people you’re interested in dating.
Still being married or still living with an ex will be considered red flags to many in the dating scene that might indicate heartbreak or drama, which most single people typically want to avoid. Thus, you might find yourself lying to your potential partners about your divorce status.
Or you might find yourself with a smaller dating pool than you would have if you wait until your divorce is officially done.
Not only might not being officially divorced limit your dating pool but starting a new relationship before your marriage is legally over can also cause problems for the divorce itself.
Depending on your relationship with your soon-to-be-ex-spouse, your divorce could become more contentious if a new partner is brought into the mix. That means that what may otherwise have been a smooth and quick process could be extended, or a more complicated proceeding could be made even worse.
Hurt feelings can make people act irrationally.
If you start dating too soon after your divorce has been filed, or before it’s been finalized, you might wound your ex and cause your divorce to become lengthy and expensive.
You Haven’t Grieved Yet
It doesn’t matter what the circumstances of your divorce are, who filed, or how long you were together. Ending a marriage is a life-altering thing. A one-year marriage that ends on good terms may not be as traumatic as ending a long time 20-year relationship with multiple shared assets after a betrayal.
However, in both cases, a big part of your life is ending.
Much like with other losses, such as death or entering a new chapter in life, you must grieve and, in some cases, heal. If you don’t allow yourself time to process your marriage ending, you might risk entering the dating world, or a new relationship, in the wrong headspace.
You might bring old relationship insecurities into your dating life or next relationship, for example.
You might find it difficult to form a healthy attachment to a new potential partner. This means you might either push them away or cling to them, depending on what lingering feelings you might still have about your divorce.
These are just a few of the numerous examples of issues that might arise if you start dating before you’re emotionally ready. If you want to make sure you enter into a potential new relationship or even a casual date in a healthy way, it’s essential to make sure you’ve taken the time to be ready to do so.
If you’re in an emotionally compromised place, you might be prone to meeting or dating people you normally wouldn’t because you’re not in the right mindset.
Your Reasons To Start Dating
Another important thing you should consider when deciding if you’ve waited long enough to start dating after your divorce is why you want to date in the first place. You might be surprised to find out that your motivation behind wanting to date can help you figure out if it’s still too soon for you to start looking for someone new.
If you’re dating because you’re lonely, then you should consider why, for example. You might just be used to being part of a couple and miss that dynamic.
Or you might have forgotten what it’s like to live as a single person.
You might figure out that you want to date to make your ex jealous or get back at them, or you might be trying to distract yourself from dealing with the pain or sadness of your divorce.
All of these reasons for dating usually mean you’re not ready to date in a healthy way yet, and it’s probably too soon for you to start. If feelings towards your ex and your marriage are even remotely involved in why you want to date, you should hold off on starting a new relationship, even just a casual one.
You need to make sure you’re dating for the right reasons, not just for yourself but out of kindness for your potential partners as well. You owe it to yourself to only date because you genuinely want to meet someone new, move on with your life, or have fun.
This can only happen if enough time has passed after your divorce for you to move on.
You also don’t want to hurt your potential partners by dating them for the wrong reasons. You must be honest with yourself and truly consider if you’re ready to see someone new before you start trying to meet other people.
Consider Your Children
You may not think that having kids would play a role in whether or not it’s too soon for you to start dating after your divorce, but that’s not the case. When you become a parent, your kids become the most important part of your life.
That means everything you do, you should do with them in mind.
Divorce is difficult for kids, no matter what their age and you must decide how you’ll handle dating as a parent before you get back out in the dating world. You might decide that you won’t introduce your children to any new partners until it becomes a serious relationship.
Or, you might decide you want your kids to meet any potential partners sooner rather than later so you can end things early if your children don’t get along with who you’re dating. No matter what you decide, you should come to a firm decision before you start dating again.
However, if you start dating too soon as a parent, you won’t only be risking setbacks to your mental health and the health of your romantic relationships, but you’ll also be affecting your children’s mental health.
You want to make sure your children have had enough time to process your divorce before you start dating properly.
While it’s true that you often hear stories about children who carry the trauma of their parents’ divorce well into their adulthood, that doesn’t have to be the case. It also doesn’t mean you can never date again.
Talk to your children and make sure they understand what’s happening to the best of their ability. Whether you’re going to be their primary caretaker or not, make sure that they feel just as loved by you as they did before the divorce.
With time, ease them into the idea of you dating someone other than your ex.
While it’s normal for your kids not to love this idea, letting them get used to it over time will help it seem like less of a shock. It’ll also give you the time to make sure they know you won’t be replacing them with a new family if your kids won’t be living with you full-time.
Dating too soon instead might cause your children turmoil. They may feel like you’re trying to start a new family. Or they might be unable to see you with anyone other than their other parent.
These are just a few anxieties your kids might have that could damage your relationship with your child. They might become more reserved, or they might act out and they may want to avoid spending time with you.
If you don’t think your children are ready for you to possibly introduce them to someone new, then it might be too soon for you to start dating again.
You Share Assets
The final main thing you should consider when deciding whether or not it might be too soon to start dating after your divorce is if you and your ex have any shared assets. This could be a business, a property, a car, or anything else you may have owned together as a married couple.
Similar to point one, if you start dating too soon after your divorce, you might risk hurting your ex’s feelings, making your co-ownership of your assets difficult. If you have a home on the market, your ex-spouse could be less willing to accept offers to get the sale over with.
If you own a business together, your business relationship could be put in jeopardy. Unfortunately, even if you feel like you’re ready to start dating again, your partner may still be healing.
This shouldn’t be the deciding factor in whether or not it’s too soon to start dating, especially if your divorce is final. However, if you’re worried about your ex’s feelings and how that could affect your assets, it might be worth waiting just a little longer.
“Too soon” means something different to everyone. Some people may have started their grieving process before their divorce even started and are in a good headspace to get back out there within days.
There’s no set rule for how long you’ll need before you’re ready to date again.
If you feel like you’re in a healthy place where you can look back on your past relationship and see all the good times and bad times, but know your divorce was for the best, then you might just be ready to get back out in the dating world and find your next romantic relationship.
So don’t feel bad about joining Tinder or other online dating apps.
The dating site Tinder is actually where I met my girlfriend. All it took was patience, some good pics, and the right Tinder bio. If I, as a 57-year-old guy, can do it, you can too!