Protecting Your Heart
Whenever we choose to date someone, we’re taking a risk—will it or won’t it work out is a question we always ponder. In that way, dating a partner who isn’t divorced yet is no different than dating someone who has always been single. Yet dating someone who is separated or in the midst of a divorce can present its own set of challenges. Each relationship is unique; there’s no magical equation that will tell us if any relationship will or won’t work, but we can be smart, ask the right questions, use a little common sense and not ignore the signs along the way.
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Between the current statistics on divorce and where we are in life, the chances of meeting someone who is divorced or in the midst of a divorce are pretty good. There are plenty of people out there who 10 years ago would have said, “There’s no way I’m dating someone who isn’t divorced yet.” Now they may find themselves reconsidering. And if you’re thinking about getting involved with someone in this position, there are probably a few things you should consider to protect your heart as much as you can while still being open to love. Here are a few tips for dating a partner who isn’t divorced yet:
1. Make Sure You Have the Relationship You Want
If you’re dating someone who isn’t divorced yet and you’re just dating for fun, as in friends-with-benefits, you may not care about all this advice. But know that as you continue seeing each other your feelings may change and evolve. If you’re dating in the hopes of finding someone to spend your life with, then you definitely want to know as much as possible about what’s going on between them and their ex and where your relationship stands in the process.
2. Ask Where They are in the Process of Their Divorce
Are they legally separated? Is it a trial separation? Have papers been filed yet? Are there kids involved? How long have they been split-up? Are they separated but still living under the same roof? If you’re dating someone who isn’t divorced yet, you have a right to know the answers to these questions in order to assess your own situation. Dating someone who is in the midst of a divorce is quite different than dating someone who just isn’t “sharing an address with someone.”
3. Keep Tabs on Their Progress
When you first met your partner, chances are they were in a certain phase of their divorce. Now that time has passed, are they still in that same phase or has their divorce continued to advance? This is important to know—it’s evidence that your partner is working on freeing themselves from one relationship so they can be fully present in yours.
4. Be a Good Listener and Observer
Not everything about the divorce will be made apparent to you, so it’s important to be a good observer. And if your partner wants to confide in you about their divorce, be a good listener. Things may come up naturally in conversation—between you and your partner. Other things you’ll observe in the way friends and family talk about your partner and their divorce. And other things will become apparent in the way your partner treats their ex. You don’t want to bombard someone with a barrage of questions, so look around, listen and don’t ignore things you don’t like. Sometimes when we see the world through the eyes of love, we can miss some stuff that really matters.
5. Ask the Right Questions
You have the right to know the details of your partner’s divorce, especially if you are in a committed relationship with them that could end in marriage. Ask the following questions:
- Who asked for the divorce?
- Why are they getting a divorce?
- Was there infidelity in the marriage?
- Are they on good terms with their ex?
- How often do they communicate? (You can’t expect the answer to be “never,” especially if they have children together.)
- Has getting divorced changed how they feel about long-term relationships, commitment and marriage?
You get the idea. The answers to these questions will help you protect your heart. It’s important to love with your heart, but also think with your head. Some people let their hearts discount what their heads are trying to tell them. Just make sure that this relationship feels right, and don’t lose sight of the relationship you really want.
There is an upside to dating someone who isn’t divorced yet—you know this person is capable of commitment. It’s something you can never be sure of when dating someone who has never been married.