Modern dating can have its fair share of ups and downs, but dating someone going through a divorce can open a whole other can of worms. From the legal proceedings to the emotional distress, it can be difficult knowing how to navigate this situation with your partner.
In our guide on dating and divorce, we dive into this topic, offer advice, and help you figure out what you can expect when seeing someone who is dealing with a divorce.
Understand Legal Implications
Depending on your state’s laws, your presence in the relationship could complicate your partner’s court proceedings. In fact, in some cases, it could delay the divorce, result in additional attorney fees, and even lead to you getting subpoenaed to testify at their trial.
Because of this, it’s crucial that your partner speaks with their lawyer and receives all the information needed to prevent any issues in court. In the meanwhile, it’s best not to spend time with their children and avoid getting pregnant until the divorce is finalized.
Anticipate Some Stress
No matter how amicable the split may seem, divorces can be stressful. Aside from the mental toll of uncoupling, your partner may be faced with selling their home, sorting out child custody, paying legal fees, and so much more.
As you can imagine, this is likely a stressful time for them. And depending on the person, stress can manifest itself in a lot of different ways. For some, they may get easily annoyed or angry, while others may feel ultra-sensitive and withdraw themselves. Understanding how they cope with stress and how you can support them will be crucial in helping them overcome this hurdle.
Realize There May Be Some Tension
Divorce isn’t always pretty, meaning when you’re dating someone going through a divorce, you’ll want to prepare yourself for potential tension between your partner and their ex. For example, the ex may resent that their ex-spouse has moved on, which could lead to feelings of jealousy and bitterness toward you. Or worse, their ex could potentially drag you into their court proceedings.
If your partner is dealing with an angry ex, it’s best not to get involved. Avoid exerting yourself into the situation, and try not to be present while they’re sorting things out.
Even if your partner is looking forward to moving on from their marriage, coping with divorce isn’t always easy. They might feel like a failure because their marriage didn’t last. Or the divorce proceedings might be stirring up feelings of nostalgia. Whatever it is, try to be supportive and understanding of what they’re going through. For your partner, that might involve listening to them vent, asking how you can help, or making them a home-cooked meal after a meeting with their lawyers.
Give Them Space
Your partner is processing a lot right now, meaning they may need some alone time to work through their feelings.
As much as you want to be there to help, sometimes the best thing you can do is give them their space. Instead of smothering them with your love and affection, encourage them to go for a solo walk in the park, spend some time journaling on their own, or engage in their favorite hobby alone. The more time they spend healing, the more energy they’ll have to devote to you and your relationship.
If your partner is dealing with divorce, they’re probably not eager to walk down the aisle any time soon. After all, divorce can be stress-inducing, time-consuming, and emotionally draining—not to mention expensive.
It’s important to realize that their potential unwillingness to get married again right away likely doesn’t have anything to do with you. They’ve just gone through the wringer, and they probably want to take things slow and enjoy their time with you. Try to respect whatever speed they set and avoid rushing into things and being pushy about taking your relationship to the next level.
Don’t Over Impose
A big part of supporting your partner involves not overstepping boundaries. This means knowing when to keep your opinions to yourself and staying out of the way. For example, don’t badmouth their ex, even if they’re in the middle of a rant about them. And don’t interfere with how they raise their kids, such as reprimanding their children without permission or offering unsolicited advice on custody terms. Your partner is already doing a balancing act, trying to sort things out, and hearing your two cents may make things worse.
We know you’re trying to build a future with your partner, but it’s important to understand they’re still patchworking their life together after their marriage. Sometimes, it’s best to stay in your lane unless they ask for your advice or opinion about their divorce.
Don’t Make It All About You
If you’re seeing someone who is coping with a divorce, they’re juggling a lot. They’re working on ending their marriage while nurturing a new relationship with you, so try not to make everything about you.
No, you shouldn’t be placed on the back burner, but that doesn’t mean you deserve every waking minute of their time. If they’re not texting you back right away, maybe they’re on the line with their lawyer. Or, if they’re running a little late for their date with you, perhaps they needed some time to compose themselves after a heated exchange with their ex. Try to see things from their perspective and give them a little slack during this difficult time.
Consider Professional Help
There’s only so much you can do to support your partner dealing with a divorce, and there may be a point where you encourage your partner to seek professional help.
If your partner is open to the idea, look into therapists who are specially trained in helping people overcome divorce. Not only will your partner receive professional guidance, but they’ll have an opportunity to speak freely about their situation in a way they may not feel comfortable doing so with you. Seeing a therapist can help them heal from their divorce and navigate a healthier and more positive relationship with you.
Sure, dating during a divorce isn’t always a walk in the park, but as long as you’re respectful and supportive of their situation above all, you can still embark on a long-lasting, fulfilling relationship together.