During a recent mediation, a husband came in emotionally conflicted. I could see that he was angry, but unsure about why. He called for the divorce. But then he saw his soon to be ex-wife on a date with another man. The husband kept telling me and his ex-wife during the mediation that he was glad that she was moving on, although it was clear that there was more issues that could be explored. The husband was experiencing emotions that are not unusual.
And, for the soon to be ex-wife, her actions were perfectly justifiable. She felt rejected initially. And now, she found somebody who made her feel happy, which she had not felt in many months since the divorce was initiated.
It is appropriate to date during divorce, although it should be done with some discretion. And, three considerations should be taken into account.
- Consider Your Own Emotional Well-Being
First, each of the parties should take into account their own emotional well-being. Many people going through the divorce process are dealing with a significant number of emotions. This may make it easier to go into a relationship without being fully objective about the benefits and detriments. For example, the glow of the new relationship may impact objective decision-making that is necessary during the divorce process. And, you’ve invited a third person to may provide you with advice that may not overall be in your best interest.
- Stress May Increase
Second, it may increase the stress associated with the divorce because of the impact it may have on the ex-spouse. In my example above, the husband who initiated the divorce was still angry that is soon to be ex-wife had a new relationship. If their relationship had been more tense, it could have unnecessarily undermined the ability of the parties to resolve their many issues surrounding the divorce. The husband or wife could be undermined by the new relationship and have that cloud their ability to make objectively beneficial decisions.
- Keep Dating Life Separate from Children
Third, when children are involved, dating during the divorce process should be kept separate from the children. Often, the children are not ready and are not in an emotionally secure place to accept a new relationship. New partners should be introduced to children carefully and in a way that does not undermine the relationship that the children have with either of the parents. When one parent attempts to introduce a new partner during the divorce process, while under the pressure of trying to untangle the relationships, parents often make the mistake of not acting in their children’s best interest because they believe the children will be happy since they are happy with the new relationship. Dealing with emotions are difficult and it is often best to be cautious in your approach to introducing new partners to your children. There are many safe ways to introduce new partners, but it should all most always be done after the divorce is final, and the parents should consider obtaining some coaching about how to address the issue with their children.