Dating After Divorce: How Soon is Too Soon?

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Does dating immediately after divorce mean you’re on the rebound? Or have you really moved on and are ready to explore new possibilities? Is there such a thing as the perfect moment to start dating again?

The most common rule for dating after divorce is to be alone one year for each of the four or five years you were married. This is supposed to give you time to get back to the real you.

But do you really need a rule to date after divorce? The only ‘don’t’ you must adhere to is that you shouldn’t date to get over your ex. You might be using this new person to help yourself heal, but he is likely to get hurt in the process. Too many times, people go through divorce and the first thing they want to do is find someone else. It might seem like a good idea but if you think about it, it makes more sense to wait until you have completely recovered from the trauma of your divorce (and possibly the bad relationship that preceded it). If you start dating too soon after divorce, you might not be healed yet.

Still, a lot depends on how long it took you to leave your marriage and how long you were emotionally detached from your spouse before you finally divorced. There are as many variables as there are divorces, so there is no hard and fast rule that applies to everyone.

You date when you feel ready to date, period. Don’t make it harder than it has to be.

It’s a good idea to focus on yourself and work on your own issues before getting involved with anyone else again. Rediscover yourself first. Heal your mind and heart first. In the process of divorce, you’re likely to have a new house or apartment, you may lose some of the friends you shared as a couple, and your economic situation may change. You may have primary custody of your kids and be a single mother for the first time. Get your new life in order first, before you look for love again. When you realize that you’re no longer bitter over the divorce and can remember the good times spent in your marriage, you will have found a perfect time to date. Accepting your role in what went wrong in your marriage is another sign that you’re ready to move on.

If there are children in the picture, their needs should come before your desire to date. Remember that you are not alone in the healing process; they also need some time to adjust to the divorce. You are an adult and you might find it easy to move on, but children don’t. It can be confusing for them to see their mother or father move from one lover to the next. On the other hand, it is also important for kids to see their parents happy. So give them a reasonable time to adapt to the changes in the wake of your divorce, but don’t sacrifice your own happiness forever. Children learn what we teach them, but they learn more from what they see from us.  It is important for them to see that life is about happiness and that even when things end, new things come along and we can always strive to enjoy life and be happy.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, one-half of first marriages end in divorce. The number of women living alone has doubled to 14.6 million, and the number has nearly tripled for men, jumping from 3.5 million to 10.3 million. This data would suggest that there are plenty of single people out there available for dating. But the older we get, the less we date: only 25% of 32-year-olds go out on a date at least once a week.

In the majority of divorces, both ex-spouses have begun dating before the divorce is final. Depending on the length of time needed to finalize a divorce—which varies in each state—some divorces can take up to two years to be technically finalized. So it’s natural that a man or woman might want to date even before a divorce is final.  However, one soon-to-be-ex-spouse might have a problem with the other dating before the papers are signed. This can increase the emotional turmoil and can turn an otherwise civil divorce into a vicious battle. Legally however, the longer you’ve been separated from your spouse, the less likely it is that your new relationship will have a big impact on your divorce proceedings. Judges are concerned about the affairs that caused the divorce, not the ones that began several months after separation.

You should begin to date when you decide the time is right for you (and your kids, if there are children involved). Don’t let other people rush you or slow you down. Do what feels right to you, and with the person it feels right to do it with.

jessical says:

First of all, Am just short of words i don’t know what to say, am so grateful to Dr ogala for what he has done for me. At first i thought he was a scam like two others that i worked with, but i just decided to contact him then he told me that my lover will be back home within 4days. On the forth day, my husband called me and said he was sorry for the frequent argument and fight, i was so happy that my husband who left me for over 2 years called me. Now we are together he can’t do without me, he always wants me to be by his side and he just bought me a new car. If you want to contact him for help, his email is

Luke says:

Hi Veronique,
Thanks for writing this article. I’ve done lots of research on this topic and it seems you are both inclusive and conclusive. I’ve been separated for over 3 months for the 3rd time in our 19 year marriage that started when we were 19/20. I’ve worked through a lot of these issues before and feel ready to move on in life. I’ve been seeing someone and we both fell in love together deeply, care for one another and desire to be together someday. She is also recently separated and never has been and has just now realized that her emotions are all over the place and I’ve suggested she take time to heal. I’ve been there for her through thick and thin and even helped give guidance for her situation. She is a very sweet, tender woman who has a tremendous big heart. She was mentally and emotionally abused by a professional business man who is still a functioning alcoholic. After a car accident that totalled his work vehicle, she enrolled him into a recovery program for 4 weeks. He relapsed shortly after and is in denial. He was very selfish and not emotionally supportive, but good at providing physical needs and wants because of his job. He is still trying to manipulate her by phone and text, turning things around on her. He has the mother wound and is passive aggressive about his manipulation tactics. Any ideas for us, for her and for me??? I would much appreciate it.
Thanks again, Luke

Laura says:

I feel it truely depends on the indivisual. I was married for 6 years with no kids. I married my high school sweet heart. I loved him very much but he wasnt a good partner. I tried everything to keep the marriage in tact but it takes two. Our marriage was over long before I left so for me it wasnt difficult to move on. I knew there was nothing else I could do. I started (lightly) dating a month after we seperated. Although the legal process wasnt complete, i wanted to have fun again. I knew not to get into a serious relationship as my feelings could easily be false because of the heart ache. I found a great man only 7 months later. I knew that was still too soon so I kept it causual, waiting for my feelings to fade. Here wer are a year and a half later and I love him now more than ever. I know now my feelings are sincer and not of a wounded heart. I feel that every person is different and to know that you may have clouded judgements after a break up. I would recommend having fun (if you went through a divorce, most likely you werent have fun) but to enter any relationship with caution. Give yourself time.

Annie says:

Thank you for sharing this. I am in the same situation now you were in then–high school sweetheart, married 6 years, no kids. Only it’s been 2 months since we separated and I am falling for an old fling—my even sooner first love! It’s crazy, and I constantly wonder if it’s just my heart healing or real feelings–I have always secretly cared for this man. Problem is that I wonder if it’s too soon…plus he’s shares custody for his 2 kids that I don’t know if I’m ready to deal with—I would so easily become the new “mommy” figure and I just don’t know I want to go there if I don’t know if there’s an actual future. My family is not supportive either—they are the ones insisting it’s too soon and I should be single or meet other people. I think they just don’t think He’s good enough for me and want me to find someone without kids, but you can’t help who you like, right? And who’s to say I will find that “perfect” guy– good job, handsome, no kids, and crazy about me? Isn’t that what everyone wants and impossible to find all in one package? I don’t think I’m settling, I just like him is all…a lot…and I wish I had all the answers now to make the right decisions here.

Karma says:

I am currently 26 years old. Unhappily married. Been with the man (31 years old) for 9 years but only married for aporox. 6 months. I really need some advice. Please do not tell me that I’m “Young & there’s plenty of fish in the sea”. Also, please do not tell me I need to take 2 years to “heal myself” before I can even go to dinner with a male. (That’s do depressing, I’d rather just stay married vs. being alone til I’m in mid 30’s & a 50% chance of another marriage in my 40’s. I’m different because 1. I’m young & young bounces back 2. NO KIDSOE ANY ASSETS/property. 3. Been emotionally dis-attached for a few years. I feel I married for the wrong reason (To fit in) & out of a being strung along feeling have an ultimatum: engagement/marriage OR break up. I feel if I DO divorce, I could easily date say, 3 months after. (Serious boyfriend/girlfriend leading to engagement type dating. Not the “let’s use a poor guy for a free dinner & to get comfortable with what in really looking for in a partner” type waste of both parties’ time. What I’m asking, I guess, is if I feel I’ve “found myself” (Through alcoholism before the marriage), I’ve spent enough tune “Doing me” & being 26, I’d WANT to bounce back quick & be married to the RIGHT non-verbally abusive husband. I feel waitin “1.5 years” would be VERY depressing, considering most 26 year olds are at least engaged, married to 1st spouse, in a live in serious relationship w/ kids involved. I would like advice but just please keep in mind my younger age & lack of any assets/children/houses. I may be a little but co-dependent (on marriage I’m currently on) but feel that I already know the qualities I want vs do not want now!! I am a social worker/know the “stages of grief” very well. I just believe in living life to its fullest & not wasting until I am 28 to get dinner with a potential perfect match. (not “rebound”). In 1.5 years, many men can be missed. I have NO Shame if I did get divorced & would let the new boufrievd know casually on a 1st/2nd date that I’ve “technically” been married. Again, life’s too short to lock one-self in a closet with whiskey & dwell on “What could have been”. I would appreciate some KIND & non-biased advice on how long to wait (not for dinner+ movie bit to actually have a new relationship). I would “date” casually the minute the divorce would be finalized, if not sooner. A date is no guarentee. So, let’s just say, I prefer NOT to waste my precious 30’s even I look/feel my best. Your 20’s are a prime time to find “the one”, so if you’re married & unhappy, I don’t see ANY point in wasting these vital “best” years of life dwelling. Look at j LO, do you think she is still in love with Marc Anthony. NO-She did a lil thing called “moving on”.
In waiu

Ames says:

My husband left me 6 months ago for another woman…..I have 4 children just finished Nursing school and now I’m focused on finding a job. I out of curiosity joined a few dating sites just to browse and have conversations with men again……I was married for 6 years together for 7….reguardless… first I wasn’t into it at all……reguardless……I did end up saying ok I think I’m ready to go on a date and get back out there……I actually meet someone…..that’s very nice…..and sometimes I feel like its to soon but all in all he knows my entire situation and we are together and dating but he’s just fine with taking it slow….he has not meet my kids nor have I meet his child…..and I’m actually happy I meet someone who has been patient with me I think that shows what kind of man he truly is…….only you can make the judgement for yourself…..of when you feel your ready and just fyi counseling does help :) good luck ladies

Renee says:

I recently divorced but had been unhappy for several years and had even seperated and filed for divorce prior to this divorce. I have met someone and we started out just friends but it is growing in to more and quickly. I am not scared by it as like I said I had been unhappy in my marriage. So I think that if you need to heal emotionally it is different than if you do not have that emotional baggage. Also, my children are grown which also makes it different.
Thank you.

Kristin says:

This was very helpful. Seven months ago, my kids and I escaped from an abusive marriage. While I don’t feel ready to date yet (I agree with your article that it’s too soon and I need to heal and seek counseling for myself and the kids), I know I’ll want to try again – since I’ve matured a lot since the time I married my ex, and I know what’s healthy and what isn’t in a relationship now. My kids also would like to see me happy, and have said many times they want a nice father figure (I have to tell them they can’t rush these things).

My mom keeps telling me I shouldn’t date at all until the kids are grown – I’d be 52 if I waited that long, and that’s just not acceptable to either me or my kids. But telling her when I decide I’m ready to date is my decision, and not hers, gets nowhere. I believe it’s important for kids to see what a healthy relationship is, so they can make good decisions when they’re grown. For that reason, when I do start dating again, my kids won’t meet the guy until I’m good and sure the relationship is healthy and going in the right direction. This article helped me put things back into perspective.

Hi Kristin, I’m glad you are done with an abusive marriage and you feel better. It´s a hard way to know not all relationships are perfect but it also gives you a perspective on what is healthy and what´s not when it comes to couples and love. I don´t think you have to wait until your kids are grown to have a new love experience, you just need to heal your love wounds and, when you are ready, be opened for a new relationship. I am pretty sure you will find your perfect match!!
Thank you very much for commenting.

Peanutlee says:

And pls don’t forget divorce due to infidelity. I just went through a ‘break’ from a 6 mos relationship with a man who’s ex cheated. I was informed (by several sources) that he started getting scared because things looked like they were starting to get serious between us, that he was nowhere near ready for any commitment.. had not completely healed from his divorce.. and he was starting to reflect on his past.. Christian sources told me that he was obviously still dealing with all the emotional baggage from his marriage.. No duh. I had seen red flags along the way, and gently addressed them with him, but he was not really giving definitive answers. Bottom line… these wise counsels told me that divorced men like him need at least 2-3 yrs for proper healing.. NOT the 1.5 when I’d met him.

Sorry, but a marriage of more than 10 or 15 yrs does NOT heal after only 1 or 1.5 yrs. There is unsettled debt, child responsibilities, and emotional baggage to heal from – after they’ve gone through divorce therapy and counseling…and gotten proper healing.. I had to learn a tough lesson from our “temporary” break. Be their friend and support.. But do not let down your guard and fall in love way too soon (6 mos is not nearly long enough time. It can take 1-2 yrs with a divorcee to truly build a solid relationship BEFORE considering marriage) .. And…it is NOT your job to ‘fix’ them. They have to do that on their own.