My husband and I are divorcing after five years of marriage. Because we live in California, we have to be separated for six months before the official divorce paperwork can begin. We’re three months into our separation, but we were unofficially separated for about six months prior to our legal separation (which I initiated). My husband moved back to Texas to be closer to his family. Now that he’s out of my life physically and now that we’re three months away from being legally divorced, I’m ready to begin dating again. I mentioned this to a friend and she was mortified, saying that it would be in poor taste to date anyone until my divorce is final. Our marriage was dead after two years so I’ve had plenty of time to get used to not having my husband in my life. And I’m not getting any younger. What do you think?—AT, Newport Beach, California
The gay man’s perspective: Darren Maddox
Go for it! Just because you’re wearing all black these days does not mean you’re in mourning. Just go down the dating path as slowly and cautiously as possible. Chances are you’ve experienced a lack of attention since choosing to get a divorce and any attention you garner initially may seem to come from the man of your dreams. Don’t tie yourself down when you’re fresh out of the gates again. How long were you with the soon to be ex? Doesn’t matter! There’s a new crop out there just ripe for the picking. Smell the colognes. Squeeze some melons.
And as far as that friend of yours is concerned, she’s likely not yet used to the fact that she needs to see you in a whole new light. All too often we visualize someone with her partner for too long and have a hard time seeing Jane hanging out with Juan instead of Dick. She’ll come around. So will everyone else. I’m sure you’ll experience some awkward times to come in your future, but look at it this way, you could get run over by a semi-truck tomorrow. Why wait until your divorce is final before getting back on the road to love recovery? Just remember to be honest with the guys you meet. If you let them know exactly what your situation is, I don’t see why it would be an issue.
The straight woman’s perspective: Rebecca Brown
AT, do you remember that feeling you had when you were sixteen? When you felt that you were, like, TOTALLY grown up and could make totally smart decisions because, like, you were sixteen—duh! Like, omigod, that’s almost eighteen. Of course I can make decisions! Remember? Okay, now fast forward to thirty-five (or however old you are): isn’t that you, all grown-up and refined, sipping a delicious Gigondas, and laughing at the (naïve) perspective you thought you had all those years ago?
Yeah, so this is kind of like that. And I say that respectfully since I’ve been exactly where you are (also in the state of California)—waiting for a divorce to be final and just wanting to move on with my life already. I wanted to date pre-divorce and I did. But looking back, I’m not sure those dates were such a good idea. I thought I was ready, but what a silly, silly rabbit I was, Trix. The truth of the matter is that it took a while to understand what went wrong in my marriage and what my role in that was … and I only figured that out after time (lots of it).
Also, think hard about why you feel the need to jump back into a relationship so quickly. Maybe it’s time you had a little QT AT time so you can get some perspective and distance on your old relationship and get reacquainted with the real AT—AT the single woman who no longer has a marriage as part of her definition. Take a class; strengthen your existing friendships; volunteer. You’ll probably reacquaint yourself with some long-forgotten favorite activities that you stopped doing, but can’t remember why exactly you stopped doing them in the first place. Focus on you without the influence of someone else so that you can actually remember why you’re a great catch.
I say no dating for a while—but don’t put a time limit on yourself. You’ll know when you’re ready. Unfortunately that means no hanky-panky for a while too. (Get yourself a vibrator, sweetie. You’re gonna need a good one.)
The gay woman’s perspective: Jody Fischer
Dear AT, sounds to me like you know exactly what you want to do. Why are you letting your friend dampen your momentum? From what you wrote, I would say that you are a take-charge, action-oriented person. Let’s look at the facts here—you initiated your divorce and you recognize that life is short. If I have done the math correctly, you have been on a solo emotional/sexual train for over three years. So hop on that dating train, lady!
And as far as your friend is concerned, I’m wondering why her high falootin’ values have so much pull on you. My high falootin’ values say not only is it the right time for you, but three months into a separation is a perfectly respectable time to begin dating.
Many women I know feel paralyzed after a break-up or divorce and don’t feel ready for the dating scene. Then there are those who date and are still married and create a “don’t ask, don’t tell” scenario. And you certainly don’t fall into that category. Be honest about where you are in your process and when you meet someone, really listen to where he is.
You can and you should hold your head up high as you walk down the path to finding the right person for you. You have made the right choice at the right time. And if your friend doesn’t agree, that really says more about her than it does about you, doesn’t it?
The straight man’s perspective: Chris Kennedy
Poor taste? Listen, technically, it’s poor taste to promise to be with someone until death do you part and then renege on that promise and get a divorce, so I say let’s let go of the silly judgment on questions of taste. Your friend is holding on to some semantics issue that seems a little irrelevant. So she’s fine with you dating in three months? All of a sudden your manners are intact if you wait ninety days to date? A magical wind will blow over the bluffs of the nearby ocean bringing manners and good taste? As they say in your O.C., whatever.
I’m going to get Talmudic on you now. If not now, when? It’s a good sign you’re ready to date. You want companionship. You want to love and to be loved. You wanna date? Date. Life’s too short. You don’t need a piece of paper to tell you when your relationship is over. You’ve been without romance for a while, so I see why you’re eager. Go out and look. (Note: I’ve never read the Talmud and probably never will—some versions are 5,900 pages. But if you do and find any more dating advice gems, let me know. Cosmo ain’t cuttin’ it lately.)
It probably won’t happen right away but that’s okay, don’t fret. Use this time to really figure yourself out before you jump into another relationship or another marriage that doesn’t work.
You are on the rebound whether you feel you are or not.
Now, let’s say you get some dates. Some will say you should tell him your situation. I agree. Not necessarily on the first date, but when it seems appropriate. I don’t think you need to force it but it also feels like you’re hiding something if you don’t mention it and he finds out some other way.
Not being honest with your date or yourself, that is poor taste. That’s probably in the Talmud too.