There are many men and women who have a rule when it comes to dating someone who is separated but not divorced yet: they won't do it. Each person has to decide what is right for him or her, but I have an opinion on this subject.
I personally think that one person who isn't divorced yet is very different from another person who isn't divorced yet. In other words, every situation is unique. So, don't be so quick to decline a date with someone who isn't divorced yet! You could be jumping to judgment too quickly and passing up someone who you really could have connected with.
Here are four reasons people steer clear from dating someone who is not divorced yet, and the flip side of their concerns.
1. The person isn't emotionally ready to get into a relationship because the wounds are still raw and they are either still in shock, or mourning the end of their marriage (i.e. they haven't moved on).
Remember, there is a big difference between dating a person who is RECENTLY separated (meaning it just happened two months ago and their soon-to-be ex just moved out last week), and a person who has been separated and living apart from his or her ex for two years. With the economy the way it has been, I think divorces are taking longer because people don't want to sell their houses and/or spend money on attorneys. So, they figure if they can just come to an agreement between themselves, what's the rush to get officially divorced? Furthermore, there are many people who have been divorced for years -- even decades -- who haven't moved on.
2. The person might still be living with their soon-to-be ex.
This is where I'd have to recommend NOT dating someone who isn't divorced yet. If the couple is still in the same house, I think I'd have a problem with that. Then again, with the housing market and job market the way they have been, there are so many couples who can't afford two places, so even though the relationship is clearly over, they stay in the same house and lead separate lives. So maybe I'm being too judgmental.
3. The fear that the since the couple isn't officially divorced, they might end up getting back together.
This is the worst reason NOT to date someone who isn't officially divorced yet. Why? Because ANY COUPLE can get back together at any time. Having a piece of paper that says you are divorced doesn't prevent a reconciliation. I have a friend who has been dating a guy for a year and they are in love. The guy has been legally divorced for seven years and his ex wife was living with someone for the past two. The ex wife and the guy broke up, and now the ex wife is trying to get back together with my friend's boyfriend -- after seven years of having a divorce decree! I also have a friend who was married to a guy for six years. They have been officially divorced for five years. A year ago, the two got back together and are now just dating but madly in love again and will probably get married again. The point is, every situation is unique.
4. The person hasn't gone through those feelings you go through when your divorce is final.
That's true, but who cares? That's temporary. My opinion is that for most people, by the time their divorce is final, they've been checked out for so long, that the only thing you feel is relief, finality and perhaps a little sadness, which lasts for about a day and a half.
In closing, if you are dating someone who isn't divorced yet, here's my advice. Trust your gut, be honest with yourself, and be honest with the person. Talk to him or her about it. You will know which category the person falls into: he or she is ready to move on or they aren't. And that could be someone who has been separated for a year or 10 years.
I know men and women who have been divorced for several years but you'd think they just got separated last week. Why? Because they are still so bitter and angry and can't let it go. They are consumed by the resentment and anger and hate for their ex. Even certain people who get remarried still act this way!
Again, trust your gut. Be honest with yourself. Communicate with the person. You will know if it feels right to be with him or her.
Jackie Pilossoph is the author of the blog, Divorced Girl Smiling. She is also the author of her new divorce novel with the same name, as well as her other divorce novel, FREE GIFT WITH PURCHASE. Ms. Pilossoph is a weekly business features reporter and columnist for Sun-Times Media. She lives in Chicago with her two kids. Oh, and she's divorced!