dimanche, novembre 29, 2009

Might as well jump

Here's the conventional wisdom on dating while you are separated: don't.

The reasons?

Well, basically it boils down to having unfinished business with your ex -- or should I say spouse.

Possibly you have financial matters that haven't been figured out between the two of you. Sometimes this can be a real source of acrimony. Or sometimes it's dictated by some cold financial realities. That was true for me and my ex and centered on medical insurance for me and the kids.

Not troubled by figuring out your finances?

How about the sensibilities of your children? Children often struggle with the idea that their parents are going to be living different lives -- it's not in their game plan. I can't tell you the number of times when I've recounted a child's learning struggles and heard (almost always from a married friend): is it possible they are having problems with your split? After I stop gritting my teeth, I tell them the truth -- while the children had some definite issues at the beginning, we haven't been living together for almost five years.

Now my daughter tells me she doesn't mind if I remarry -- as long as "he" has money.

But I digress. Already disoriented, kids do often see dad or mom's new friend/lover/sex toy as a rival for their affections.

Dating while separated can put you in legal jeaopardy, too.

Then there is the Judeo-Christian point of view, which views marriage as a sacred covenant -- and dating before divorce as adultery. My question about this view is -- does your marriage end when the state sends you a piece of paper? I don't have an answer yet.

And, of course, there is a pretty crucial question -- are you ready? Have you done the work needed to work through whatever unfinished emotional business you have, or are you going to take a few innocent bystanders down with you?

By and large, the majority of the separated guys I "met" online had unfinished business of one sort or another.

One was still living with his wife -- she had started dating, and he apparently felt the need to play catch up. That's a clear red flag.

Another guy listed himself as divorced, but was, and is still, as far as I know, separated. The way he talked about his spouse, she sounded like Nero on a good day. The monster ex-- she might be everything he said, but sorting it all out would take a long time -- maybe years.

Another man had been separated for only a few months -- and grappled with an inability to resolve financial problems between him and his wife.

So why do people date while separated? Well, sometimes it takes folks a long time to get things figured out.

Dating after six months or a year is definitely a different experience from dating three weeks after you put that first month's rent down.

And as far as I can figure out, people who leap into dating often do so because, to put it crudely, loneliness sucks. Men of a certain age, who often depended on their spouses to make social arrangements, are suddenly forced to find something to do on the weekends when they don't have the kids.

Or maybe the kids are gone -- which leaves an even larger void.

Either way, it's not a lot of fun to be by yourself.

My observation is that relationships based on that kind of intense need don't normally survive the emotional turmoil of untying the threads of the marital tapestry.

And this isn't just a "guy thing" -- women also struggle, but perhaps in a different way, with becoming less dependent.

If you want a fling, however, (though I'm not arguing for flings) and the other person is well aware that your contact might have a short shelf life, then dating while newly separated might very well be a fascinating walk on the highwire -- and allow you to experience things you haven't in a while.

Depends on what you are looking for.

I have come to believe, based on my own experience, that in general the conventional wisdom is right.

It is more effective to do the work you need to do to work through past hurts and conflicts and move forward.

And even if you have done a lot of internal work -- there is still something in the practical steps one has to take to take apart a marriage that clears the way, or can clear the way for other relationships.

I say that without judgment -- each of us has to figure it out for her or himself. And it is in our human nature to believe that WE are the exception that proves the rule, isn't it?

Go ahead -- prove me wrong. But just let me know how you reached your conclusions. I'd be intrigued to hear from those who are daring enough to share either experience or opinions.

8 commentaires:

norman.pease a dit…

probably not the kind of feed back you are looking for, but in this case I agree that dating ( assume sex I guess) is adulty. However, I don't see anything wrong with a lunch, or meeting for drinks, or a nice walk in the park. The journey to being a single should probably be started as soon as both sides have agreed that the marriage is not saveable. It is a long journey, and it is possible that one could find help along the way. Once the divorce is final, it still may take years to resolve the issues. They will carry forward as a part of you. I am not speaking of the finances, kids, etc. More the internal change that results, the unaswerable questions.

RC MacMillan a dit…

Hmm... I think that having *sex* while separated is adultery. Dating, however, is not. My first wife and I were separated for seven years and living on opposite sides of the world -- Washington, DC and Tokyo, Japan. It was only after I met Kate and decided to get married again that I contacted Terri and cleaned up the legalities. Our separation was long, with several attempted reconciliations, before we just gave up and went our own ways. Looking back on it, though, I think we should have divorced as soon as we figured out that we weren't going to reconcile. It would have brought closure a LOT sooner.

Offcenter a dit…

We knew we weren't reconciling, but we were, paradoxically, perhaps too comfortable in never never land -- and neither of us had the money to make the big financial sacrifices. But I still think that if you want something, like closure, badly enough, you find a way. I have lots of empathy for those who have long separations, however -- situations look very different from inside. I know how much I don't know now.

And then, of course, there is the question -- what is sex? I've seen a friend who didn't believe in extramarital sex justify doing everything short of the actual act -- and that doesn't seem honest to me, either.

Errr....you don't have to answer that, guys, but it's worth thinking about.

norman pease a dit…

If the relationship is close enough that part of the date is physically pleasuring each other...then it is adultry. I would argue that even the overwhleming desire is. Yeah, your right...I'm not getting any :) Yes RC, a good clean break is best. The healing is quicker and the scar less visable.

Anonyme a dit…

I must also agree that sex while seperated is adultry. That, however, is trivial compared to the affect it can have on your children. I did date while seperated - but my children seldom knew that I was, and NEVER met the women. What my children did know was that I was there for them whenever they needed me. They also watched me become much more involved in my church, and saw that I let God guide us through this very difficult time in our lives. God saw to it that I met my wife about a month after my annulment came through - an amazing random event that did not begin online. The biggest lesson I learned was that life goes much better when I follow the direction I'm given, and much worse when I push to have my way. A second lesson (at least for me), never date a woman who has a permanent setup in the backseat of their car for their dog, though this might just be a personal choice.

Offcenter a dit…

I LOVE the end of this comment. Beware of ANYONE who says "Must love dogs" or cats, or hamsters...

norman pease a dit…

my kids were pretty well grown when the end of the marriage came. It was actually my daughter that suggested on line dating as a way to move forward. It is a difficult decsion to let kids know about dating, on one hand one wants to protect them from the uncertainty, on the other...pending the age...it can be a teaching exercise. Teens in particular can learn that "love" is not a sure thing, nor does it have to be devistating when it passes. Part of being a parent is teaching how to deal with adveristy.

True Love a dit…

Some people don't even admit to the person they date that they are in a divorce or separations, which is totally dishonest and could be against morale of the other person.