Relationship Connection: Is it wrong to date while I’m getting divorced?

Stock image, St. George News

Question

I am in the process of getting a divorce from my spouse. We both married young and, as a result, have a young child. We both want this divorce, and I was the one to file. I met this co-worker of mine and we started hanging out and went on a few dates.

We’ve already been intimate and it feels right, but here is my question: Should this be acceptable especially as I’m ending one relationship and starting a new one in just a few short months?

I feel stuck trying to figure out what I really want in life now as I am finding new standards, but a part of me is afraid of being left alone.

Answer

Leaving a relationship is a really vulnerable time, and it doesn’t surprise me that you’ve already overconnected to a new relationship before finishing your divorce. I always try and slow people down when they’re leaving a relationship, but it’s hard, in practice, to actually hold that boundary.

I think the biggest reason people jump into new relationships so quickly is due to the deep loss and pain of divorce. In other words, the thrill of new love is a powerful painkiller that numbs the pain of losing a marriage.

Even if you consciously believe that divorce is the best option, there is still grief and loss over losing the dream of a stable long-term marriage.

Look closely and see if you’re using this new relationship as an escape for the relationship pain you’re experiencing with the loss of your first marriage. This takes honesty and courage to admit how you’re mismanaging your pain.

Another risk of moving too quickly toward a new relationship is that it prevents you from learning important lessons from your first relationship. It’s easy to blame your partner and believe that the marriage failed due to his dysfunction.

This is a good time to explore any blind spots you may have that led to the downfall of your union. This is hard work and often requires collaboration with a dear friend who can tell you the truth or a counselor who can ask questions and help you explore your relationship patterns.

You obviously want to do things differently, so make sure you don’t jump into this new relationship and consider it the final solution to your problems.

This is an important time to first figure out what went wrong and then identify what kind of partner you want and what kind of partner you would like to become. This is virtually impossible when you’ve already committed to another person physically, relationally and emotionally.

At a minimum, I recommend you do some reading and pick up a copy of “How to Avoid Falling in Love with a Jerk” by Dr. John Van Epp. This will give you a framework for slowing down this new relationship and exploring your vulnerabilities and blind spots that could leave you in the same situation in which you find yourself.

Divorce is traumatic, and there are many things to learn in the aftermath of losing such a significant relationship. Be careful that you don’t numb out in the exhilaration of new love and forget to ask hard questions of your marriage and explore personal weaknesses and beliefs.

This is an important time and you don’t want to fill it with avoidance. It won’t hurt to do this work, even if you’re not ready to give up this new relationship. It will just take tremendous courage and honesty to ask for the room from your new boyfriend while you try and understand what you’ve been through and what you want. He may or may not make the cut, but at least you’ll be that much more certain the next time around.

Stay connected!

Geoff Steurer is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in St. George, Utah. He specializes in working with couples in all stages of their relationships. The opinions stated in this article are solely his and not those of St. George News.

Have a relationship question for Geoff to answer? Submit to:

Email: geoff@lovingmarriage.com

Twitter: @geoffsteurer

Facebook: facebook.com/GeoffSteurerMFT

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

 

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22 Comments

  • ladybugavenger January 13, 2016 at 8:31 am

    You’re still married so you are committing adultery. If that feels right, then you are wrong. Your new relationship is based on a lie. Stop it right now!

  • 42214 January 13, 2016 at 9:16 am

    It’s ok if you’re divorcing all your wives.

  • beentheredonethat January 13, 2016 at 10:58 am

    Why not? Seems like mormon women date WHILE they’re married.

    • IDIOT COMMENTERS January 13, 2016 at 1:25 pm

      i have found that a lot of mormons tend to view church as a place to find hookups and flings. i guess it’s kind of the norm.

  • .... January 13, 2016 at 11:12 am

    Yeah go ahead and date. your not committing adultery . if your getting divorced your vows mean nothing..party on and get your sex thing going. don’t pay attention to those bible thumping Jesus freaks.

  • .... January 13, 2016 at 11:15 am

    TRUMP FOR PRESIDENT !

  • voice of reason January 13, 2016 at 12:43 pm

    Do what makes you feel happy. Stop letting other peoples expectations control your life. Find your own inner peace.

    • ladybugavenger January 13, 2016 at 5:41 pm

      Bad advice! That’s advice one drug addict would give to another drug addict

      • .... January 14, 2016 at 12:06 am

        Your advice is bad advice..now go buy one of your t-shirts….just say nope to Jesus dope

        • ladybugavenger January 14, 2016 at 7:43 am

          #Jesusfreak #justsayyestoJesusandnopetodope

  • .... January 14, 2016 at 12:08 am

    Hey Ladybug seems to be Mormon….hmmmm ?

    • ladybugavenger January 14, 2016 at 12:07 pm

      #justbecauseiliveinutahdoesntmeanimmormon #notmormon #saynotocultssayyestoJesus

    • ladybugavenger January 14, 2016 at 12:08 pm

      “…” You crazy! that’s why I love your posts 🙂

  • Curtis January 14, 2016 at 6:31 am

    Talk to your divorce attorney. You say both of you want the divorce, but an intimate relationship before the divorce is final can cause problems.

  • radioviking January 14, 2016 at 10:59 am

    Joseph Smith had no problems with multiple lovers (polygamy AND polyandry- see essay on lds.org in topics – look up plural wives!).

    .
    He was hooking up with teenagers, wives of other men, and even older “cougars”. So it looks like Mormons have a very relative morality system = do what you want, and call it REVELATION! 🙂

  • .... January 14, 2016 at 2:50 pm

    Just have sex with your attorney and that way you will get a 10% discount on fees for services rendered

  • ladybugavenger January 14, 2016 at 4:25 pm

    Don’t get it all twisted….I don’t hate the Mormon people. I’m a fan of Donny and Marie.

    • .... January 15, 2016 at 1:42 am

      That’s funny cuz they don’t like you !

      • ladybugavenger January 15, 2016 at 8:27 am

        They can join the group of people that don’t like me….many haters I have.

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