Should I Keep Dating A Guy Who Isn’t Divorced Yet?

dating a guy who isn't divorced yet

By Jackie Pilossoph, Editor-in-chief, Divorced Girl Smiling, Love Essentially columnist and author

I get a lot of questions from readers wondering if dating a guy who isn’t divorced yet is a good idea. Here are two:


An online prospect won’t go out with me until my divorce is finalized…


I’m heading into the permanent separation stage with the outcome being divorce. I have been married for 27 years and have two grown children. The last 10 years have been absolute misery. I hung in so my kids could launch. I am now setting the stage for my new life. The problem is this; I met someone online and we really connected. However, she does not want to proceed until my divorce is finalized. That could take 2 years! Should I forget about her or text her from time to time?


I know that he will still need to go through a period of mourning, especially once things become more finalized with his divorce…


I’m a 27 year old woman dating a recently separated (going through a divorce) dad. A quick background: I met him about a year ago through work. We became fast friends, bonding through shared interests. I knew he was married with two young girls, but had no idea he was going through a separation, until he finally told me the situation had been going on for almost 2 years. We remained platonic for about 5 months but over time we’ve eventually evolved into something more.  I realize that this situation is difficult, especially since the marriage is not officially over. I know that he will still need to go through a period of mourning, especially once things become more finalized with his divorce. I would like to know, from your perspective, if this is a period that I should be around for, or if it’s something that he needs to go through alone? Despite the fact that our relationship became more than just friends, we both pride our relationship on the fact that our friendship is the most important thing to us both. Do you think that returning to a platonic friendship now would benefit us – potentially allowing for a long-term relationship in the future? 


Here are my thoughts.


When people begin dating after divorce, they have certain criteria, conditions, and qualities they are looking for, which are probably continually changing. They are flexible with some of the criteria/qualities, such as, “I really want him to be over 6 feet, but if he isn’t I might be OK with it,” but other things are 100% musts. In other words, they are deal breakers.



One of these musts/deal breakers for a lot of people is, “He/she MUST be officially divorced.” Maybe they fear that the person hasn’t grieved the divorce, or hasn’t been alone long enough, or maybe they think there’s still a chance he/she might get back together with the ex. Or, maybe they think think he’s just covering up his pain with a Band-aid, the Band-aid being a new girlfriend. In any case, they have their reasons for not wanting to date a guy who isn’t officially divorced.


Well, I have my reasons too, when I say that I think people who won’t date someone who isn’t officially divorced could truly be missing out. Let me explain.


The decision to separate takes time. A couple doesn’t  just decide one day that they want to get separated. In most cases, they have been unhappy for months, years, even decades. They might have subconsciously ignored the red flags, tried to just grin and bear it, and not want to face the fact that the relationship was falling apart. So, they did nothing. Then you have the couple where one person cheats and they decide to separate. That is the only instance I can think of where a couple would just decide to separate overnight. That said, the cheating probably happened because one or both people weren’t happy in the marriage, so again, the decision to separate wasn’t really an overnight decision.


Taking off your wedding ring means...what exactly?


Then, getting divorced takes time. You don’t decide to move forward with a divorce, go to court the next week and then sign the papers the week after. The divorce process can take months, even years, because it is a very very complicated, rollercoaster process where emotions and children and finances collide.


The point I’m trying to make is, if someone decides to start dating when they are not officially divorced, no one should judge them. Chances are, they have spent years unhappy, feeling lonely, knowing the marriage was over, and grieving it. So, really, they could be divorced (emotionally) but the process just takes awhile.


My criteria for dating after divorce was never “is he officially divorced yet?” but rather, “Does he seem emotionally ready for a relationship?” “Is he truly accepting his marriage is over?” “Does he have hopes of getting back with his ex?” “Does he seem checked out of the marriage—i.e. not talking about it every second?” “Is he using a girlfriend as a quick fix for getting over his divorce?” “Does he have no intention of getting divorced and is he just telling people he’s separated?” “Is he considering divorce and just playing the field?”




Those questions are more important than a piece of paper showing that your divorce is final (in my opinion.)


I will say this. Dating a guy who isn’t divorced yet can blow up in your face. It blew up in mine once. The guy could have intentions of getting back with the wife, or he could be a complete mess who is in desperate need of therapy. But guess what? A guy who is officially divorced could be that way, too!


A divorce decree does not mean someone is ready to date, and not having a divorce decree yet does not mean someone isn’t ready to date.


My specific advice for my two readers (above) is:


1. For the first guy, I think he should stay in touch with the online woman he felt connected to, and maybe send her a link to this article! In the meantime, he should just be himself, be upfront with the women he meets that he isn’t divorced yet, and keep dating.



2. For the 27 year-old, besides being very impressed with her maturity, I think she is being extremely thoughtful. I think it would be very difficult to go back to being platonic friends with her boyfriend, so my advice would be to take things very slowly, continue to enjoy the relationship, but stay out of his divorce. Let him vent and listen to him, be there for him, but don’t get emotionally involved or give advice. Also, wait to meet the kids for sure! Lastly, I think her boyfriend has been mourning the end of his marriage for 2 years, and I think their relationship isn’t hurting anyone.



Dating a guy who’s not divorced yet is risky, in some people’s opinions. I say dating a guy who isn’t emotionally ready to date—divorce decree in hand or not, is risky. Every person and every divorce and every relationship is different. No one should judge or tell anyone what to do, because they don’t know the whole story. And, if they swipe left because the guy isn’t officially divorced, they could be missing out on something really great.

Like this article? Check out, “Dating The Hot And Cold Guy”


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Katz and Stefani Family Law Attorneys





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Jackie Pilossoph

Editor-in-chief: Jackie Pilossoph

Divorce is a journey. Live it with grace, courage and gratitude. Peace and joy are on the way! Jackie Pilossoph is the creator and Editor-In-Chief of Divorced Girl Smiling. The author of the novels, Divorced Girl Smiling and Free Gift With Purchase, Pilossoph also writes the weekly dating and relationships advice column, “Love Essentially”, published in the Chicago Tribune Pioneer Press and the Chicago Tribune online. Additionally, she is a Huffington Post contributor. Pilossoph holds a Masters degree in journalism from Boston University.

4 Responses to “Should I Keep Dating A Guy Who Isn’t Divorced Yet?”

  1. Christie V

    This is a GREAT article. I tried dating before my divorce was over and it didn’t really go well, but everyone is different. I also decided not to date anyone who is not yet divorced either but this article gives me a new perspective!

  2. Susan M Feller

    Stay away until they are completely divorced . You really dont know the whole truth. You could be getting in the way of reconciliation. To many home wreckers. It could be absolutely devastating to the spouse and they are human you could be causing unnecessary anguish. Just wait and ask around do a background check. People that leave whether their miserable or not will go after the new excitement and not take responsibility for the hardships of marriage. Toss out the old model for a new one. No integrity these days. I sure wouldn’t want to be the rebound person anyway.


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