For someone who has never experienced divorce, it can be easy to make assumptions about the experience. It can be easy to look at the process and view it through your own lens, assigning your own opinions to various aspects of it, based on previous perceptions. This can cause you to shut down at the idea of dating someone who has experienced the divorce process and has come out the other side.
This is an all-too-common occurrence for singles. They are not always looking to open themselves up to someone who has been married and divorced, and while that is their prerogative and right as a single and available individual, it certainly limits one’s options, from both the statistical and emotional perspectives.
By the numbers
In making that type of decision to exclude divorced individuals from your dating pool, you are effectively playing against many of the numbers out there. Even with divorce rates on the downslide at 16.9 divorces per 1,000 women in 2015, according to a study from Bowling Green State University, you still are aggressively limiting your social interactions and social intimacy based on someone’s previous relationship history.
Given the numbers, you would think it would make it more difficult to enclose one’s self from the prospect of dating someone who has been divorced, but individuals still find a way to accommodate their personal preferences when confronted with the prospect of changing them.
Open to commitment
For those that are open to dating someone who has experienced a divorce, there are many aspects to the experience that can be enriching and beneficial. Many people are looking to be with someone that can commit to their relationship, and an individual who already has experienced commitment on the level of a marriage exceeds those personal expectations, according to The Huffington Post.
Too many men and women in the single and dating world simply are not looking for anything serious, which is fine. Labels are not necessarily for everyone and every relationship. However, if you are looking for a relationship and consistency in your commitment to another person, divorced men and women have shown the ability in their previous relationships to put forth the effort that you are seeking.
There also is less incentive for emotional distance, so long as the divorced individual entered the dating scene ready to date. If they entered it too soon, there may be the potential for emotional distance that could make emotional intimacy less possible.
However, for a divorced individual who is ready to date again, there is less incentive for emotional distance, due to how invested they can be in the notion of meeting someone new. Being able to create that new connection is important for a divorced individual and can bring the social intimacy that they may have lost in their day-to-day during the divorce experience.
Having a conversation
Speaking of communication, it is a major factor in dating, and when dating someone who has gone through a divorce, you are dating someone who understands the importance of communicating how you feel and what you think about given topics. They have seen what misunderstandings and misinterpretation can do to a relationship and wish to learn from their missteps of the past.
Understanding the role of one’s past experience is important whether or not you have been through a divorce. No matter who it may be, the person you are dating lived a full and whole life before you began dating them, and on some level, many parts of that life will find their way into the present.
Depending on how the other person reacts to their presence will have to depend on how you process their presence. With children from a previous marriage, the obviousness of accepting them as part of the arrangement is ever-present and should be understood from day one. With other baggage, it can be more complicated. Amicable divorces can forge friendships between ex-spouses that many in new relationships could find threatening or discomforting.
However, it is important to deal with each and every issue that may arise from a person’s previous marriage on a case-by-case basis. Emotions can run high if one in any type of relationship relies on generalizations or blanket protocols that you employ with every aspect of someone’s previous life that may come up. That’s not something you would do if the significant other hadn’t previously been married and divorced, so there’s no reason to display that type of behavior presently.
Sometimes, it can be beneficial to ask how your significant other feels about their ex-spouse. It helps quell one’s worries, knowing where they stand. Especially if your significant other, is co-parenting with their former spouse, understanding the landscape of your girlfriend or boyfriend’s emotions and identifying any residual feelings they may have held onto.
Depending on your individual thoughts on holding onto residual feelings, you may find yourself reacting differently. It’s difficult to say that you’ll always understand or you’ll always feel negatively about the residual feelings. However, knowing that the feelings are there and what they may be associated with, like children or places, might help widen the scope and give you a detailed perspective regarding your own relationship.
Seeing the whole picture is just as important as hearing the whole story. Being open and communicative to a significant other who has experienced divorce will show them that you are just as serious about this relationship as they are. It also will show them that even with their previous relationship history, they are an important part of your life and are cared for in this shared relationship.
Dan Pearce is an Online Editor for Lexicon, focusing on subjects related to the legal services of customers, Cordell & Cordell and Cordell Planning Partners. He has written countless pieces on MensDivorce.com, detailing the plight of men and fathers going through the divorce experience, as well as the issues seniors and their families experience throughout the estate planning journey on ElderCareLaw.com. Mr. Pearce has managed websites and helped create content, such as the Men’s Divorce Newsletter and the YouTube series, “Men’s Divorce Countdown.” He also has been a contributor on both the Men’s Divorce Podcast and ElderTalk with TuckerAllen.
Mr. Pearce assisted in fostering a Cordell Planning Partners practice area specific for Veterans, as they deal with the intricacies of their benefits while planning for the future. He also helped create the Cordell Planning Partners Resource Guide and the Cordell Planning Partners Guide to Alternative Residence Options, specific for seniors with questions regarding their needs and living arrangements.