How Long Should You Wait to Date After a Divorce?

how long should you wait to date after a divorce

By Jackie Pilossoph, Founder, Divorced Girl Smiling, the place to find trusted, vetted divorce professionals, a podcast, website and mobile app.

How long should you wait to date after a divorce? When I first got separated, it bothered me when people tried to give me advice about dating and my love life, along with when the right time was to start dating again. I felt like saying, “I’m the only person who has the right to determine how long I should and want wait to date.

People who had never gone through a divorce would say to me, “You don’t need to date right now. Just take some time for yourself.” Or, “Why would you want to date? You should be focused on your kids.” Or, “If I were you, I’d go out and have tons of  sex.” Or, “Just have fun. Date a bunch of guys. Don’t get serious with anyone.”

I had major issues with all of these things and wanted to say, “Butt out! I don’t want your advice.” The thing is, they were all speaking about what they would do if they were in my situation. How did they know how I was feeling?

Divorce is very complicated and deciding how long you should wait to date after divorce is a very very personal decision.


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Of course I wanted to focus on my kids. But I wanted to date, too! Just because I was separated, did that mean I was being punished? Was I grounded for a certain period of time before I was allowed to mingle, socialize, meet people and alleviate a loneliness I was feeling?

Also, did I want to date a bunch of guys? Did I want to have tons of sex? Hell no. I just wanted companionship. I wanted to feel less lonely.  Being separated is a terribly lonely feeling. Also, I wanted to flirt and feel sexy and pretty. A bad marriage makes a person feel terrible about themselves, inside and out.

Every newly separated man or woman has a unique situation when it comes to dating. There are no rules. That’s why there should be no judging by others.

A lot of times when people separate, they have been single in their minds for months, sometimes years. So, they are absolutely ready to date. They might have mourned the relationship in their mind for a long time. So, they’ve already “taken time for themselves.” They’ve already felt alone and lonely.

The opposite scenario: A woman leaves her husband for another man. She blindsides him. He is absolutely lost. He is traumatized. Is he supposed to go out and date after a certain period of time? If it’s been six months, should he be ready? No. In this case, it might take years before he decides he wants to date.


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Divorced Girl Smiling received this comment:

My friends have been pushing me to go out…it’s only been a month. How do you know if you’re ready?? I know I’m not ready to date but to be honest I don’t know when I’ll be!! Is there a time that you just know?? How long should you wait to date after a divorce?

My answer to you is this. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that a huge component of life is just about enjoying ourselves. So, why do you have to decide if you are dating or not? Enjoy your life and just take things a day at a time. If you meet someone you’d like to have coffee or a drink with, just do it. If you don’t want to, don’t.


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BE SELFISH. If you’d rather watch a movie on a Saturday night instead of going out with a woman because “that’s what you think you should be doing” then go for the movie!

Another suggestion is just try one date. You’ll know immediately if being on a date with someone feels okay. And if you’re not, what have you lost? A couple hours? You might be surprised and you might meet someone you really like, even just as a friend.

In closing, how long should you wait to date after a divorce? In my opinion, the timeframe spans from the first day you are separated to never. Each of us gets to have the life WE want. Isn’t that a beautiful thing?

Sometimes I think it’s good to push ourselves and take chances. Other times, I think it’s okay to stay in our comfort zone for a little bit. The choice is yours. JUST YOURS.


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I can’t conclude this article without a few no-no’s when it comes to dating after divorce:

1. Don’t have unprotected sex with random people.
2. Don’t blame your ex for dating someone right away. You have the right to do that too.
3. Don’t not date after divorce because you are afraid. It’s normal to be fearful.
4. Don’t date because you feel like you are under pressure to be in a relationship.
5. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Newly separated people make stupid mistakes when it comes to relationships. It’s okay.


Like this article? Check out, “There are no Buts in a Healthy Romantic Relationship”

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    Divorced Girl Smiling welcome video
    Jackie Pilossoph

    Editor-in-chief: Jackie Pilossoph

    Jackie Pilossoph is the Founder of Divorced Girl Smiling, the media company that connects people facing with divorce to trusted, vetted divorce professionals. Pilossoph is a former NBC affiliate television journalist and Chicago Tribune/Pioneer Press features reporter. Her syndicated column, Love Essentially was published in the Chicago Tribune/Pioneer Press and Tribune owned publications for 7 1/2 years. Pilossoph holds a Masters degree in journalism from Boston University. Learn more at:

    6 Responses to “How Long Should You Wait to Date After a Divorce?”

    1. Leslee

      Wondering if you will do a blog and/or comment on having
      Boyfriends and /or girlfriends stay the night when the kids are
      There. thanks

    2. Brian

      Nice column. I do have some comments from a single ma who has been on the other side of dating after divorce.
      First, all divorces are unique as are the way people respond to their situation. People who have never been divorced should stay away from giving advice; even if it is with the greatest of intentions and concern. People who have been divorced, such as Jackie are at least speaking from experience but should realize that each situation is unique.
      Second, you should remember the person you flirt with and the people or person you eventually date have feelings also and can be hurtb y your actions. I am in a situation presently where a lady began aggressively flirting with me in which I naturally responded by asking her out. I did as men do and imagined a relationship with this lady who gave every sign of interest. Of course she told me she was not ready to date. It is common for people in this situation to flirt hoping for some response which does help you feel better about yourself and imrove your self-confidence which has been shattered. Great for youa nd you might deserve it, but remember the other person can develop feelings for you due to your actions and your rejection of them hurts them also.
      Third, when you do begin a relationship think about what you want and be honest with your new “friend”. I have been in relationships with recently divorced females who quickly stated the seriousness of their feelings for me, even though I cautioned them to make sure it was me, not the desire to be in a serious relationship. Of course 6 to 9 months into the relationship after i started to get serious they decided they were not ready and ended the relationship. Of course that is their prerogative and it is desirable to be honest and get out out of something you are not ready for. but remember you are hurting someone else. Jackies comment about not purposely hurting someone because you were hurt is accurate but you can also hurt someone unintentionally; it hurts just the same.
      You may deserve to live the life you want but remember there are other people who are trying to live the life they want and you may ingratiate yourself into their life and eventually cause them pain and suffering which takes them time and effort to recover from.
      You owe other people a little foresight and consideration and being selfish can affect others. I wish every divorced or separated person the best of luck with their present and their future but remember while you are vulnerable, most everybody else at a certain age is vulnerable also.

    3. Michael C. Craven

      I agree that, like a divorce, one size does not fit all when re-entering the dating world. Nice column!
      Michael C. Craven
      Chicago Divorce Lawyer

    4. Vanessa

      This is a very popular topic when it comes to dating and divorce. I have been there and have heard it all myself. This has offered some comforting in me speaking up about the fact that I can make my own decisions and does not mean it’s wrong. Exactly the opposite because I will know when I’m ready to date before anyone would. Just the same, in our minds we have been single and that was the way I explained it too.
      Thank you!!!

    5. Dor

      Dating after divorce is a personal choice
      Seems like men rush to find someone after divorce and rush to move in with someone
      U know when ur ready
      My kids were my priority, not finding a man.
      The few men I’ve dated all want sex right away on 1st or 2nd date
      Good advice not to have unprotected sex or get tested for diseases.
      Yes some men are liars.

    6. Kimberly

      I consider it to be wrong to start dating before your divorce is final.
      Just read an article explaining that it is considered adultery in some states. And I think it was on this site that I read an article on how damaging it can be to the amount of child support and/or alimony you get, plus other things.


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