So, you’ve met someone who’s ticking all your boxes. You feel a spark the chemistry is palpable, conversation flows easily, you share the same interests and values. This could really be something.
Then the bomb drops—they’re still legally married. Their divorce isn’t final yet. Now what do you do?
On the one hand, you don’t want to pass up what could be a great opportunity and connection with someone who may be “the one.” On the other, there are real risks to dating someone who hasn’t fully untangled themselves from a previous relationship
Will their ex always be in the picture?
Are they really ready to move on or just lonely and looking for a rebound?
The situation is complicated, but that doesn’t mean you have to avoid it altogether. You just have to go in with your eyes open. Here are some things to consider before dating someone still legally married to help you decide if it’s worth the risk.
The Emotional Risks of Dating During Divorce
Dating someone still legally married comes with a lot of emotional risks.
Uncertainty and Anxiety
You never know when the divorce will actually be finalized or if your partner may reconcile with their ex. This uncertainty can cause constant anxiety and stress. Will you have to abruptly end the relationship? Will they go back to their spouse?
The unknowns may become too much to handle.
Feeling Like the “Other Woman”
Even if the marriage is truly over, you may feel like you’re betraying the other woman or breaking up a family. Your partner’s ex and children will also likely see you this way, causing awkwardness and hurt feelings.
The stigma of dating a married person can damage your own self-esteem and reputation.
Lack of Commitment
Someone newly out of a marriage may not be ready to commit to a new serious relationship. They need time to heal and find themselves again first. You could end up feeling strung along or like a rebound.
Make sure any divorced partner shows they are emotionally available before becoming deeply involved.
Drama and Baggage
A divorce is a painful process that often brings unresolved anger, resentment, and other “baggage” that your partner may not have worked through yet. Be prepared for ongoing drama, hostility, and complications related to finances, child custody, or other divorce issues that could directly or indirectly impact you and the new relationship.
While dating during a divorce could work out in some situations, go in with realistic expectations about the challenges. Make sure you and your partner are both emotionally ready to start a new chapter before pursuing anything serious. If needed, seeking counseling or legal advice may help provide guidance. The risks may be high, but so could the rewards.
Understanding the Legal Implications
Dating someone who’s still legally married can get messy. Before jumping into a relationship, it’s important to understand the legal implications.
Even if you’re not helping pay for the divorce, the costs can impact your partner’s financial situation for some time. Be prepared for separate accounts and finances until the divorce is finalized.
Division of Assets
How assets like the home, investments, vehicles, etc. get divided depends on where you live. It’s best for your partner to know their rights to a fair division of assets before finalizing a divorce.
An uncontested divorce where both parties agree to terms is usually the smoothest option.
Custody and Co-Parenting
If there are children involved, custody and a co-parenting plan must be determined. Be willing to take a supportive role as your partner navigates custody agreements and setting a schedule with the kids’ other parent.
Technically, your partner will still be married in the eyes of the law during divorce proceedings. They won’t be legally available to remarry for some time after the divorce is finalized. While your relationship can fully commit to one another emotionally, understand you’ll have to wait to make any legal commitments.
Dating someone going through a divorce can work out wonderfully, but go in with realistic expectations.
By understanding the legal issues at play, you can better support your partner and build a stronger foundation for your relationship. With open communication and patience, you’ll make it to the other side together.
Setting Clear Boundaries and Expectations
Setting clear boundaries and expectations from the start is key. Going into a relationship with someone still legally married, you need to protect yourself emotionally. Some things to consider:
- Their legal status.
Find out where they are in the divorce process. Are they just separated? Has the divorce been filed? Finalized? This will determine how complicated things may get.
- What they’re looking for.
Be upfront in asking what kind of relationship they want and make sure you’re on the same page. Do they want casual dating? Commitment? Make sure their intentions align with yours.
- Meeting the (ex) spouse.
Decide if you both feel comfortable with you possibly meeting their ex, especially if kids are involved. This can be tricky, so think it through before getting into a serious relationship.
- How much “baggage” you can handle.
Someone going through a divorce often comes with extra challenges like hurt feelings, legal issues or custody arrangements. Determine if you have the patience and maturity to be supportive.
- Your needs come first.
While being there for them during this difficult time, don’t forget to also stand up for yourself. Express your feelings openly and make sure your own emotional needs are being met as well. If not, it may be best to step away until they’ve finalized their divorce.
Dating someone going through a divorce can be complicated. But with honest communication, reasonable expectations and healthy boundaries, it is possible to develop a meaningful relationship.
However, there may be drama, legal issues and hurt feelings to navigate. Make sure to regularly check in on each other’s feelings and needs. If at any point you feel it’s become too much, don’t be afraid to pull back and put yourself first. Every relationship requires work, but in this case extra patience and understanding may be needed.
If you go in with realistic expectations, open eyes and a willingness to be there for them, dating someone going through a divorce can absolutely be worth the effort.
Having Open Communication About the Divorce
Going through a divorce is an emotional time, and dating someone in the midst of one requires open communication and understanding. Before becoming seriously involved with someone still legally married, make sure you’re both on the same page about the current state of their divorce proceedings.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions about their divorce – you have a right to know details that could affect a potential relationship. Find out if they’ve started the legal process yet, how contentious the proceedings are, if children are involved, and a realistic timeline for finalization. The more you know up front, the fewer surprises down the road.
Even if you care for this person, you need to protect yourself emotionally. Be very clear about what you want out of the relationship and what is acceptable to you while the divorce is ongoing. For example, you may not feel comfortable meeting their spouse or children yet, or want to avoid being intimate until the divorce is final. Share your boundaries openly and make sure they are respected.
A divorce can be an emotional rollercoaster, and this person’s feelings may change unexpectedly during the process. While they could be really into you one week, the next they seem distant and preoccupied. Try not to take the ups and downs personally, as the divorce is the priority in their life right now.
Be patient and give them space when they need it. The divorce will end, but they need to get through it in their own way and time.
Dating someone going through a divorce can be complicated. But with honest communication, reasonable expectations, and healthy boundaries, it is possible to build a meaningful connection during this difficult time in their life.
Be there as a supportive partner, but also take care of yourself along the way. In the end, that kind of empathy and understanding will serve as a strong foundation for the relationship.
Tips for Making It Work Long-Term
Dating someone who is separated or in the midst of a divorce can be complicated. If you want the relationship to go the distance, here are some tips to keep in mind:
Talk honestly about where you both are in the divorce process and what your expectations are for the relationship. Discuss any concerns, anxieties or roadblocks that could cause issues down the line. Make sure you’re both on the same page about the level of commitment to one another.
Since your partner is still legally married, decide what you’re both comfortable with regarding intimacy and finances. Be respectful of their legal and financial obligations to their spouse. Setting clear boundaries will help avoid hurt feelings or confusion.
Don’t rush into marriage
Take your time. Even once the divorce is finalized, give yourselves space to heal and adjust to the changes before rushing into another serious commitment. Make sure you’ve built a solid foundation of trust and worked through any baggage from the previous marriage.
Protect yourself legally and financially
Be very careful about combining finances or making large joint purchases until the divorce is final. Seek legal counsel regarding the implications of your relationship on the divorce proceedings. Ensure that you take steps to protect your own financial interests in the event the relationship does not work out.
Be patient and offer support
Going through a divorce is difficult. Offer a listening ear, encouragement and help however you can. Be patient through mood swings, legal or financial difficulties. Your support and understanding will help strengthen your connection.
Dating during this complicated time can be challenging, but also rewarding. With honest communication, healthy boundaries and patience, you can build a meaningful relationship that stands the test of time.
So, some things to seriously consider before getting involved with someone still legally married. While the heart wants what it wants, make sure to go into this type of relationship with your eyes wide open.
Their divorce may get messy, their ex may cause drama, and there’s always a chance they reconcile. But if you connect on a deep level and they seem genuinely ready to move on, it could also be the start of something great. Just remember, there’s no need to rush into anything until the ink is dry on those divorce papers.
When the time is right and you’re both in the right headspace, you’ll know. But until then, take your time and guard your heart. The rest will work itself out, one way or another.