Recovering From Midlife Divorce – Step 4

Apr 20

This is part of a series.

HeartsWhen recovering from your midlife divorce you MUST wait to date. I cannot emphasize this enough. Since my divorce I have met many people in divorce recovery who have been divorced twice. Often, the second divorce is rooted in decisions that were made during and shortly after the first divorce.

I know, I know, you’ve been part of a couple for more than half your life. It feels weird to be single. You feel needy and unbalanced and wrong.

Guess what? When you feel needy and unbalanced and wrong, chances are you’ll make compromises just to keep from being alone. I wasn’t myself when I was grieving the end of my marriage. The only men who were attracted to me when I was in that state were also emotionally unhealthy. Who needs that? Not me and not you.

So, when is it okay to date?

Don’t date while you’re going through the divorce. Really. Just don’t. Separated is another word for married. Divorcing means still married. Don’t go there even if the divorce is taking forever. If you’re legally married, you are not ready to date. You need to use your time and energy to disengage from the marriage.

After your divorce is final, don’t date other people who are still married. Sometimes those “divorces” are not even filed. Sometimes “separated” means that they don’t sleep in the same bed every night.

So, when is it REALLY okay to date?

There are several schools of thought. Some experts advocate mathematical formulas based on how long you were married. The most extreme formula I’ve ever heard said to wait one year for every four years of marriage. So, for my 25-year marriage I should wait more than six years just to begin dating? Um, no.

I’ve also heard you should wait one month for every year of marriage. That’s a much more reasonable formula, but I’m not sure it’s right for everyone. In Dating for Dummies, Dr. Joy Brown suggests waiting for a full year after the divorce is final. I think that’s a very good idea.

Mostly, I think you should wait to date until you feel emotionally healthy and happy. When you no longer feel you neeeeed a significant other is when you’re ready to find one.

Elizabeth Siggy

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  1. Good advice. I waited about 4 years, which was right for me. Dating any sooner, I wouldn’t have been very good company. I had a lot on my mind and a lot to do to get my life back in order. (BTW, love your Elegant Theme!)

    • Carolyn Soltis /

      I tend to go with Dr. Joy Brown. I’ll be 66 by the time everything’s final, and can’t wait too long or I’ll be pushing up daisies before the next kiss.

    • Elizabeth /

      Thanks, Patricia. I think you were wise to wait until you had your life back in order.

  2. I think it’s an individual choice. And, as you’ve said it’s really about being ready in a healthy way. Some people stay in that separated state for years and are over all emotional attachments and ready to date. Others not so much.

    That being said, I prefer not to date men who are separated unless they’ve explained their situation. I have to follow my instincts.

    • Elizabeth /

      Exactly. Once you’re emotionally healthy then you can follow your instincts.

  3. Holly /

    I think if you still have kids at home you have to consider them. I’ve seen friends of mine and especially friends of my kids go through the nightmares of “stepfamily” and there’s no way I would have done that to mine. I don’t think it is fair. I was married for 21 years, I’ve been divorced for 10 and I haven’t the remotest interest in dating. Or at least not in the process of finding someone to date. At this point, now that my kids are grown, I would be open if someone were to ask me out, but I’m not going to actively seek it out. When I realize what I miss about having a man around is the second income and someone to take of yard work, cars and things that break, well, it doesn’t seem like a reason to get out there. I really just need a bigger paycheck to hire a handyman…

    • Elizabeth /

      You’re so right about considering the children. I’ve seen some of those stepfamily issues and it can be so ugly. I’ve also met couples who dated for several years because they didn’t want to create that kind of dynamic for their children.

      • Carolyn Soltis /

        Do not discount ADULT children. They can be accepting or very toxic to a marriage later in life. Watch out for adult children with repeated legal/criminal issues, long history of unemployment or multiple illegitimate children. Avoid trying to “rescue”. Bad karma there.

        • Elizabeth /

          That’s a very good point, Carolyn. Thanks for bringing it up!

          • Jane /

            Date!? After 33 years with a narcissist I have no desire to be involved with any man yet. I left mine two years ago and just want to help my children stabilize and get through this time. It is tough on my whole extended family. No dating for me.

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