While a lot of people bring past relationship baggage with them when they start seeing someone new, dating someone who’s going through a divorce is a whole other kettle of fish. My current boyfriend is still hashing out the legal deals with his soon-to-be ex-wife. Needless to say, this process isn’t just taking its toll on him, I have to work extra hard to make sure it doesn’t end up being our undoing too.
Why our relationship is so challenging
- His divorce is extremely acrimonious. It’s safe to say that he and his estranged wife did not split on good terms. From my understanding, she had an affair and decided to go be with the other guy. She’s still with this other guy now, and he and my boyfriend have major aggro too. My guy tries to take the high road, but he’s only human. This means they often end up at each other’s throats, which is tough to witness.
- He’s often tense and stressed. While they didn’t have any kids together, they did have a house and run a business together. That’s what’s taking the divorce so long to go through. They constantly go back and forth about what to split, who gets what, etc. I try to stay out When you’re dating someone who’s going through a divorce, it really makes you never want to get married.
- He’s torn on his desire to commit to me. He tries not to show it, but sometimes I notice him pulling away a little. He never treats me badly or withdraws completely. But, when I notice him not wanting to hang out for a few days or being slightly noncommittal, I know it’s just because he’s going through a lot with his divorce. All that drama and trauma is still very much fresh in his mind.
- He worries our relationship will fail too. Because we have a very honest relationship with good communication, he admits to me that he has this fear. He was married to his ex for nearly seven years and thought he’d be with her forever. That went wrong, so why wouldn’t our relationship? When you’re dating someone who’s going through a divorce, you learn not to take it personally.
- He’s afraid of being hurt again. Who wouldn’t be? While I want to promise him that I would never hurt him and that things won’t end badly between us, I’m not a psychic. I don’t know how things are going to end up. All I can promise is that I will always be open with him and I will never purposely betray him.
- He forgets that I’m not her — or anything like her. There are times when he falls into old patterns and treats me like I’m his ex. He reacts to things or treats me in ways that reflect their relationship. He doesn’t mean to do it and he always apologizes and snaps himself out of it when I point it out. However, it does happen semi-often.
How I deal with dating someone who’s going through a divorce
- I take it day by day. When you’re doing someone who’s going through a divorce, you have to approach things like this. You can’t get ahead of yourself or make too many plans for the future. You have to live in the moment and take things as they come. In many ways, that’s a good thing. It keeps me from missing out on the here and now, which I’m definitely guilty of doing in past relationships.
- I don’t put pressure on him or the relationship. While I do have standards and expectations that I refuse to compromise on, I’m not unreasonable. I don’t push him into saying or doing things he doesn’t want to do. I don’t go on about how I want to get married one day (which I do) or pressure him to make more of a commitment to me. As long as he shows me every day that he wants to be with me and that things are progressing, I’m good.
- I listen to him and always hear him out. I want him to feel like I’m there for him and that I support him. That means I encourage him to talk to me about how he’s feeling, good or bad. The more he feels that I’m behind him 100% and that he’s not going through this alone, the stronger our relationship gets.
- I try to be understanding. Dating someone who’s going through a divorce is tough because I haven’t been there. I’ve gone through breakups, but nothing like this before. However, I see myself as a pretty sympathetic and empathetic person, so I can imagine how tough it is for him. Even when I don’t really get how he’s feeling or what he’s thinking, I try to be understanding.
- I expect him to be a good partner too. Just because I have to carry a bit more weight at the moment in the relationship doesn’t mean he gets off scot-free. I’m happy to hear him out, offer him support, and show him extra love and affection. However, I want the same in return. I need to feel like an important and valued part of our relationship.
- I regularly check in with my own feelings. This isn’t all about him. Just because he’s going through something tough doesn’t mean my needs get pushed aside. I’m always checking in with myself to make sure I’m in a good place and that it’s not getting to be too much for me. If it was, I know I could talk to my boyfriend about it. If he couldn’t meet me halfway on that, then I’d knot it was time to go.