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So now you’ve moved through most of the crud of divorce.

You’re still grieving, but you can see the light at the end of the tunnel. You’re wondering about moving on with your romantic life. Whether you should refrain from dating before your divorce is final is both a strategic and moral question.

Is it any wonder that I say with such conviction that Divorce Stinks? They will whine when you’re on the phone, misbehave when your date arrives, fail to give you messages, and otherwise throw a wrench into your best-laid plans. Make it ever so clear that your dating is an adult issue, that your date would never and could never replace their other parent.

Understand that this is neither malicious nor uncaring on their part; they are dealing as effectively as they can with their grief over your separation and divorce. It will take far longer than you would like, and there will be promising improvements followed by disappointing setbacks.

The answer depends on how your state views fault in divorce, on how long you and your spouse have been separated, on what your lawyer thinks about dating during divorce, and finally on how you feel about dating while you’re still married.

Even if your state pays attention to fault in divorce, the longer you’ve been separated from your spouse, the less likely that your having a relationship with someone else is going to have a big impact on the issues of your divorce. Peter and his wife had been separated for seven months. Resist the temptation to find somebody who’s totally different from your exspouse.

Judges typically are concerned about affairs that they think caused the divorce. Although Peter and his wife lived in one of those states that pays attention to fault in divorce, Peter decided it was more important for him to be unhurried about divorce than to have a pristine record of no romantic involvement. Remember, there were a lot of things about your exspouse that were appealing at one time.

It’s just hard to attach too much blame to an affair that began several months after separation. At my suggestion he was going slow on his divorce, because neither he nor his wife was spending much money on lawyers, and his wife needed some time to adjust to the reality of divorce. Peter started dating again – nothing serious, but it took the pressure off. If you’re attracted to people who are different, that’s fine; just don’t feel that you can’t date someone who has anything in common with the person you once loved.

Shortly after he made his decision, Peter and his wife reached agreement and settled their divorce. You should begin to date when you decide it’s time to date. There’s a special role your first love plays after divorce. The first serious relationship you have after divorce will be wonderful, and hopefully you’ll look back on it with pleasure and gratitude.