Dating During Divorce – 8 Rules to Keep your Shirt & Sanity

Man dating after divorce is broke

Dating during divorce is real predicament that men must grapple with, and it comes with very real dangers.   Ask someone who works with divorcees and they’ll tell you the safest answer to the question “Should I date during divorce?” is a categorical “No!”

But as anyone who has gone through a divorce knows, life is never that simple.  Let’s face it, some divorces drag on for years.  Further, many marriages are over long before any divorce proceedings start.

So what’s the harm in having a little fun and dating during your divorce?

In this article, I’m going to explain exactly what it is you have to fear.  And you should be very afraid.

Why dating during divorce can be disastrous

Most experts agree that you shouldn’t start dating until after your divorce is final.  How long you should wait to date after your divorce depends on a number of factors.  But why do you have to wait at all if you think you’ve met the right person?

The problem with dating during divorce is that if you’re caught, your divorce could get much more complicated.

Your wife, who may have been amicable up to that point, could switch gears and go for you with all legal guns blazing.  This could result in you losing more property, paying more in support, and have less access to your children if your case goes to court.

With that in mind, is dating during divorce ever a good idea?

While it is generally a bad idea, dating during divorce is feasible, but only if you’re smart and minimize the risks.  If you’re dating while going through a divorce, these 8 rules will help you keep your sanity and could help minimize the potential legal repercussions.

Rule #1:  Legally separate before you consider dating during divorce

Dating before legal separation

You are a married man until a court in your home state rules that you are legally divorced.   As such, a judge could rule against you if your wife reveals an extra-marital tryst during your divorce proceedings.

But if you must date during your divorce, wait until you and your wife no longer live together.  This will improve your legal standing if your wife finds out and decides to use it as leverage in court.

Why dating before separation can cost you dearly

If you date while cohabitating with your wife, she may cite your new relationship as the reason for your divorce.  Even if this is completely untrue, it could work against you in court.

Dating before separation is never, ever worth it.  Focus on your separation first and foremost and get that milestone behind you.  Until that happens, dating should be the furthest thing from your mind.

Rule #2:  Be sure that you are emotionally ready to date

Divorce is an emotionally draining experience.  It’s completely normal during this time to experience anxiety, fear, anger, and uncertainty.  But these types of emotions are not conducive to forming new relationships.

If you haven’t given yourself time to sort out your feelings, you can easily find yourself in a rebound relationship.  This is a relationship that you would normally never pursue, but one in which you enter because of your clouded emotional state.

Before you decide to date, take an honest inventory of your emotional well-being.  Consider dating only if you are truly past the negative emotions that accompany any divorce.

Rule #3:  Be open and honest with any woman you date

Man lying about marital status

Dating during divorce is especially challenging because single women are notoriously suspicious of men in this position.  At first, I didn’t understand this phenomenon, but as I talked to more and more women it made sense.

Men who date while divorcing are almost always seeking NSA (No Strings Attached) sex.  They want all of the benefits of a relationship, but due to their divorce can’t devote the time necessary to form real bonds.  As such, they are emotionally unavailable (I have learned this is important to women).

And what woman wants to risk being dragged into divorce court because of some guy’s vindictive wife?

Why women don’t trust guys who are dating during divorce

So what do divorcing men resort to when they realize the dating cards are stacked against them?  They lie.  Since they are no longer living with their wife, they claim they are single.

Don’t be one of those guys.  Why?  Because you’re only making the problem worse for other men who will end up in your position.  I don’t subscribe to many bro codes, but if I did, this would be near the top of my list.

Don’t claim you’re single if you’re not legally divorced yet.

Honesty is always the best policy when dating

Luckily there are women out there who will date guys that are going through a divorce.  Heck, many women on the dating circuit are going through a divorce themselves!

If you lay all of your cards on the table, the women you do land a date with will appreciate your honesty.  And if a date goes great, you won’t have to worry about covering up your unnecessary lies.

Rule #4:  Insist on dating casually until your divorce is final

Until the ink is dry on your divorce decree, you need to keep external distractions to a minimum.  Pursuing serious relationships during divorce should be the furthest thing from your mind.

So remember, keep all of your dating options open.  Focus most of your energy on ensuring your divorce goes as smoothly as possible.  Any form of serious dating will only divert your attention away from what could be the most significant legal (and financial) event in your life.

I would even suggest you stick to casual dating for a full year or two after your divorce.  Give yourself ample time to get all aspect of your life back in order and blow-off some steam.

Rule #5:  Socialize in groups to avoid detection

When dating during divorce, socialize in groups

Many creatures in the animal kingdom travel in herds to conceal themselves from predators.  You’d be wise to adapt this survival technique when dating during your divorce.

Use your mammalian brain to avoid imminent threats

Say you’re out to dinner with a date and you see one of your wife’s good friends seated nearby.  When your wife finds out (and she will), you’ll have a hard time convincing her that this woman was a business associate.

Now imagine you’re on a date with that same woman, but you’re out with a group of 8-10 people instead of just the two of you.  Now you’re simply being social with a group of friends and nobody’s the wiser.

If the mighty wildebeest is smart enough to use employ this evasive survival tactic, surely you can as well.

Rule #6:  Date far outside your social circle

Make sure you date outside your social circle during divorceWe’ve already established that the whole idea of dating during divorce is keeping your wife in the dark.  As such, dating someone that you both know could turn out to be a very costly mistake.

Six degrees of dating separation

The Six Degrees of Separation concept teaches us that you can tie together two arbitrarily people on Earth through six or fewer acquaintance links.  That’s a scary thought when you’re trying to date discretely.

To maintain some degree of separation, you should ideally date women completely outside of your social circle.  That means limiting your options to women that are not acquainted with even your close friends.

I’ll take it a step further and suggest that you should only date women that live outside your city of residence.  This way you won’t have to worry about accidentally running into your wife (or any of her friends) when you’re out on the town.

Rule #7:  Be honest on your online dating profiles

If you’re trying to date discretely, why on Earth would you create an online dating profile?  Isn’t that completely counter-intuitive?  In some cases, yes.

But some of the more established dating sites like allow you to create a detailed profile without including a picture.  You could always send over a few pictures after striking up a conversation with a woman.

Other sites like eHarmony only make your profile accessible to paying members with whom you match.  So your chance of being discovered is very, very low.

Technology has improved dating such that you can now arrange dates while also maintaining a good degree of anonymity.

Ensure your relationship status is accurate

Many online dating sites make you specify your current relationship status.  There is a good reason for this.  It’s an important factor that women weigh heavily when considering whether or not to date you.

For example, both and eHarmony allow you to specify one of four basic relationship types:

  1. Never Married
  2. Currently Separated
  3. Divorced
  4. Widow/Widower

eHarmony relationship statuses

eHarmony Relationship Statuses relationship statuses allows you to choose from four basic relationship statuses.


There are many women who are willing to date separated men

An online dating profile is not the place to lie about your pending divorce.  Women are repulsed by men who lie about their marital status.  And after all, there are more than enough women on these dating sites who are willing to give men in your position a chance.

Dating sites are an easy and discreet way to meet women during this challenging phase of your life.  I wrote a review and an eHarmony review specifically for separated and recently divorced men.  They are great reads if you’re not yet divorced (or recently divorced) and want to give online dating a try.

Rule #8:  Never move in with another woman during your divorce

Dating during divorce is risky by itself.  Entering into a serious relationship with a new woman before your divorce is final shows very poor judgment.  But moving in with a new woman during your divorce proceedings is complete and total lunacy.

Judges and legal experts who assist the courts in making decisions regarding divorce will not be pleased if they learn that you’re living with a new woman while you’re still legally married.  It demonstrates crassness toward your wife and a disregard for your children’s feelings (if you have any).

The legal repercussions of shacking-up before divorce are many.  It simply isn’t an option if you want your divorce to go quickly and smoothly.

Dating during divorce is possible, but not without risk

There are many pitfalls associated with dating before your divorce is final.  These include but are not limited to:

  • A potentially angry and vengeful spouse
  • Compromised relationships with your children
  • A strain on your own mental health
  • Potentially huge legal losses if discovered

For these and many other reasons, dating after divorce is the much safer option.  But if you feel you must date before your divorce is final, be as discreet as possible.  The rules outlined in this article will help to ensure you keep a low profile if you do choose to date.

Do you have a horror or success story about dating during your own divorce?  Tell me about it in the comments below.  If you know someone who is in this unenviable position, share this article with them.  It’s what a friend would do!

About the Author Brad Pinch

Brad is a divorced father of two who is navigating the brave new world of dating after divorce. A software developer by trade, he experiments with the latest dating applications and tools so that you don’t have to. Brad writes online dating reviews along with other actionable content for men to improve their quality of life after divorce.

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