I am in the midst of separating from my husband. We run a business together and so far our pending divorce has been very amicable. I hope to keep it that way. I am moving into a house across the street from our family home and we will continue to run our business together and co-parent our kids.
Here’s my question: is it too soon to start dating? I am moving out of the house next week. There is someone in particular I would like to spend time with, and in fact I am falling for him. Although we have slept together (and it was great, but honestly my standards are pretty low at this point) he rightfully does not like the situation and told me last week the newness of my separation made him uncomfortable with dating me.
I have encouraged my husband to start dating but he says he isn’t interested. We have two kids, ages 5 and 10. I want to start dating but I don’t want the stress.
What do you think?
First I want to say how happy I am that you and your husband are making a concerted effort to keep your divorce as amicable as possible. Most importantly: this is good for your kids. Also important: this is good for your finances. Keep it up and you won’t be forced to join the ranks of divorced people who spend all their money on lawyers and who create so much tension for the children that the kids are permanently scarred by the experience.
Honestly, I struggled with your question since you emailed me last week, which explains why I am just now getting around to writing my answer. You told me when we emailed back and forth that your marriage had been dead for quite some time and that your sex life was, well, let’s just say “unusual” and “deeply unsatisfying.”
This makes me want to say: go for it! Date the new guy, fuck your brains out and have a great time being with someone who makes you feel alive again. I REALLY want to tell you to do that. But I can’t, and here’s why:
You have no idea what is about to happen to you.
You haven’t even formally separated, much less started the divorce proceedings, which are about as enjoyable as lemon juice on a labial paper cut. Not only do you have two children together, you own and run a business that you hope to continue managing with your STBX (soon to be ex).
The most amicable of divorces are still a gut-wrenching affair, especially when you have children. You will come to doubt each and every move you make and you will obsess over whether you are destroying the lives of your kids (you are, but don’t worry, they will be OK).
There are three main reasons why it is too soon for you to date this guy (or anyone else):
1. Dating will be a distraction during what is a crucial series of negotiations between you and your STBX. You are making decisions on both custodial and financial matters that will impact you and your kids for years to come. Now is not the time to be investing in new romantic relationships – you have other business to attend to that is more important.
2. Anyone you meet right now will almost certainly not be in your long-term future. While I’d love to pull up some studies for you, I have neither the time nor the inclination. Just trust me, anyone you meet/fuck right now will not be “Mr. Forever;” he will be “Mr. For Now.” If you really like this one guy in particular, I would put him on ice for some time until you are in a better position to date.
3. I list this last because it is the most important and I believe in recency v. primacy: dating now, especially entering into a serious relationship, would be very confusing and hurtful to your kids, despite the fact you told me they seem to be handling this pending separation well (and I hate to break it to you, but that may not be the case once you move across the street).
I made this mistake before and I can tell you that no matter how well-adjusted your kids may be, when mommy and daddy start hanging out with new partners immediately after the break up, it is very difficult for children to digest.
Specifically, I think it gives kids the impression that relationships and partners are fungible and thus not important. I only introduced my son to three men whom I dated after his dad and I split up, but I know now I shouldn’t have done that except with #3, who ended up joining my Baby Daddy in the list of “men who married Robin and lived to regret it.”
Maybe you weren’t thinking of having this guy meet your kids right away, but given that you and your STBX will be living across the street from each other, it’s somewhat inevitable.
Anna, I’m not saying you have to wait a long time to date, but right now is just too soon. If you want to go out and get laid, I highly recommend it.
Of course, this advice comes with the BE SAFE caveat, but I don’t see anything wrong with spending some Sexy Time once in a while with some guy who makes your Little Boy in the Boat happy. But I wouldn’t get into anything serious until you have hammered out the details of your divorce and you are sure your kids are doing OK.
As for this guy you like, respect his feelings about not getting involved and perhaps you can develop some sort of a friendship that will blossom into something more when the time is right. Let me know how it all turns out!