Dating Someone Separated But Not Divorced – Should You?

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Dating Someone Separated But Not Divorced

Is it ok to date someone who is separated but not divorced? 

As long as the person you are dating is either separated from their spouse or is in the process of getting a divorce and abiding by all legal agreements, then it’s possible to consider dating someone who is technically still not divorced.

However, even though this is legal it doesn’t imply that there will be no emotional implications, societal judgments, and other factors that may affect you. Therefore, you must tread carefully here as there are things that you need to consider when dating someone separated but not divorced.

Let me put it this way – Dating someone separated but still not divorced is…Complicated. 

7 things to know before dating someone who is separated but not divorced

A newly separated man getting romantic with a new girl
A newly separated man getting romantic with a new girl.

I personally view separation as a “socially ambiguous state” – not quite married, but also not quite divorced. 

Couples separate for all types of reasons, whether they are in the process of divorce or whether they want to take some time and reassess their relationship, among other reasons. However, it is pretty clear that this is a tough time for the couple and most often signals the end of the relationship.

Some couples move on and seek to find a new relationship, and you might find yourself dating one of them. So, if you find yourself in that situation, here are some things to really consider.

1. Are you sure that they are ready to start dating

Yes, are you really sure that they are ready to start dating? The fact that someone is separated from their legally married spouse does not mean that they are now ready to start dating and jump into a new relationship.

The end of a relationship is always tough. Often the person hasn’t moved on. Especially for someone coming from a long-term relationship, the wounds are raw and they are still grieving.

However, remember that there is a big difference between someone who has recently been separated, i.e., their spouse just moved out just a few weeks ago and someone who has been separated for a year. The latter is more likely to have moved on and is ready to start dating, while the former most likely is not.

2. Make sure that you know the type of separation of your partner

Hands of a lady holding a wedding ring
Hands of a lady holding a wedding ring.

The type of separation of the person you are dating will impact your dating partner’s lifestyle and yours. Therefore, it is important to know the kind of separation of the person you are dating.

Trial or “Ambiguous Separation”

In this type of separation, the couple separated because they needed a break from the relationship. They enter into a period of separation to decide what’s best for their relationship. They could choose divorce or possibly opt for couples therapy and give it another go.

If you want to date someone in this stage, caution: They are not ready for dating.

Permanent Separation

In this type of scenario, the person is no longer entangled in their previous marriage. They have decided that they no longer want to get back together with their spouse. This often happens when the person doesn’t want to get a legal divorce.

If you are dating someone here, then you are free to proceed. But always tread with caution; we all know a story about crazy exes.

Legal Separation

This is where the couple has made the final legal decision to end their marriage. The person has decided that they are no longer interested in the marriage, and they have finalized legal divorce proceedings.

If you are dating a person here, then proceed. However, note that they might come with financial burdens that arise from responsibilities that they have to cater to. This ranges from court-ordered alimony, property divisions, and child support obligations.

3. Be honest

In today’s dating environment, honesty in dating is a much-needed virtue. I want to assume that at this stage, if you are old enough to be dating someone separated, then you are mature enough to be honest and tell them what you are looking for.

Nothing sucks more in a relationship than knowing that the person you were dating was stringing you all along.

Be honest with your soon-to-be-divorced spouse about the nature of the relationship you are pursuing; is it casual, long term, or where you want it to lead to. 

Also, be honest with yourself about your feelings as you proceed with the relationship.

4. Know the risks of dating before divorce

Let me put this in not-so-subtle terms. Do you want to be tagged the home wrecker? Do you want to be socially branded as that morally bankrupt side-chick that was clinging on the side just to destroy a once happy home?

Of course I am not saying that this is what you intend to do or even what could be happening. But this is the point… perceptions matter. People outside your dating relationship may not even know that the person you are dating is separated. 

The ex-spouse of the person that you are dating may assume that you are the reason that their relationship has broken down.

What I am trying to imply is that your intentions might be good, but that’s not what others might see. So, follow your heart but also use your mind!

5. Make sure that you are entering the relationship for the right reasons

Why do you want to be in the relationship? We are all driven into relationships for a wide variety of reasons. When we were young it was young blind love, crushes -heck- even peer pressure. When you are older, other factors come into play.

People who date while separated often want the same emotional connection their previous relationship offered. They often want that immediately. If you enter a relationship with someone here just on casual terms, then caution; this might backfire horribly.

You might get someone who gets clingy and gets emotionally invested all too soon!

6. Pay great attention to the children involved

Family sitting on sofa holding cellphones
Family sitting on sofa holding cellphones.

Obviously, dating people who are separated but not divorced means that you might often encounter that you will have to deal with their kids. You will have to consider that their children will often be a distant yet present factor in your dating relationship.

Do you want their children to see you in their mom’s house immediately after their mom moved out? Are you ready to have the same love and consideration for the children shown by their mom if the relationship goes further? 

Are you OK with a substantial amount of financial resources for the person that you are dating dedicated to their children’s basic needs? This might mean no lavish spending from the person you are dating. Are you OK with that?

All these are questions you need to consider.

7. Know how long you should wait before dating

This implies if you are separated as well. Most often people who are separated (but not yet divorced) start dating separated people themselves because you are both tired of your marriages and want to find love elsewhere.

Every situation is different. You should always give yourself time to heal and get over the previous marriage. For example, if you have been devastated by the end of your marriage, you might wait a little longer before you find yourself once again and start dating.

However, if your relationship had been dead for several years, you might have already moved on long ago. You might even be delighted to get back into the dating pool again.

So, it depends. Just assess yourself and make sure that you are OK with your decision.

Red flags when dating a separated man 

Red flags! Always take note of any red flags while dating because they signal huge problems ahead. What are some red flags of dating a separated man you might ask? Here are some that stick out the most.

  • He expects you to act as his therapist
  • He often gets angry and defensive about your questions – He’s probably fishy about his past
  • He tries to make you guilty, and you often feel guilty – He’s manipulative
  • You begin to feel resentful of the relationship – This ain’t for you girl
  • He is secretive – This ain’t someone that will trust you
  • He’s a cheater – Run away!

Dangers of dating a separated woman

Ex-husband talking to his ex-wife about the new guy she's dating
Ex-husband talking to his ex-wife about the new guy she’s dating.

Ever heard of jealous husbands? No woman is worth getting attacked over. We all know that there are real scumbags out there, some really controlling men. Those that believe that they have control of their women even when they are no longer interested in being in the relationship further. So, one danger: you might find yourself in conflict with their ex-spouse.

Another problem you might find is that she might still be stuck in her previous relationship. We all go into new relationships looking at the future, not dwelling on the past!

Finally, there could be financial ramifications involved. She may have children that need to be tended to, amongst other financial obligations. All these are things you need to consider.

Signs a separated man is ready to date

What are the tell-tale signs that a separated man is ready to date? Here are some quick and simple signs.

  • He gets out there and just starts dating without any hesitation
  • He doesn’t complain or dwell on his previous relationship
  • He creates and has time for you
  • He looks forward to spending time with you

All these are common signs of someone willing to start a dating relationship. Often if you encounter a separated man and you wonder if he is ready to date, check his actions and you’ll get a gut feeling whether or not he is ready to.


To sum it up, dating someone separated but still not yet divorced can be a tricky affair. My advice is to trust your gut feeling. Start slow and get to know the person. Try to assess whether or not they are ready to date.

Finally, find out if they have moved on from their relationship and if you start dating, be honest with yourself and your new partner. However, as always, tread carefully.

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Over the years, Stephanie has had her fair share of dating experiences. While some turned out great, others weren't so great. She believes that relationships are meant to be fun, exciting, and full of laughter. She wants to help men and women become confident, attractive, and successful in their romantic relationships.