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What you should know about dating a divorcee

by Fran Creffield - March 27, 2013

Dating someone who’s previously married holds a unique set of challenges, but unless you've been here before you may not know what to expect.

Thinking of dating a divorcee? Dating someone who’s previously been married holds a unique set of challenges. If you’re not sure what to expect, be sure to check out our guide to everything you need to know 

So, you’re thinking of dating a divorcee? Although, essentially, there’s no difference between dating someone who’s single through divorce than if they’ve never been married, there are some things unique to this situation to bear in mind.

Attitudes towards marriage

It’s unsurprising that someone who’s been married before will likely have a different attitude to marriage than someone who hasn’t. When they took their wedding vows they believed their commitment would last a lifetime. Now, whatever the reason for divorce, one thing is true – the belief that marriage is for life has been broken.

Some divorcees may feel bitter or resentful, especially if it wasn’t their decision to end the marriage, and the wounds of divorce can take a long time to heal. While a divorcee may be ready to enter into another relationship, it can sometimes take much longer for them to feel ready to be married again, if ever. Once bitten, twice shy.

The best way to approach a relationship with a divorcee is to let things develop organically and avoid mentioning marriage until your relationship has built a really strong foundation. Trust can often be broken during a divorce and, even though you weren’t the one who broke that trust, you need to be aware that the damage may take time to repair.

The ex-spouse

The bonds between married exes can be harder to break than those between unmarried couples. There may be legal issues involving money and properly that could take years to resolve. Developing new relationships can be a challenge when divorce proceedings bring up both emotional issues and more practical considerations.

While negotiations are taking place, a divorcee will  have contact with their ex-partner, even if it’s only though solicitors letters. While this can be extremely difficult if there’s still animosity between them, it can be just as hard if they’re amicable – especially if you’re worried there’s a chance that they might be reconciled.

If you are considering dating a divorcee then you’ll need to be emotionally stable so that you can handle a potentially long-running situation. Try to provide support for your partner without making it all about you and your feelings – bad-mouthing their ex or getting angry on their behalf is only going to make the situation more difficult.


If someone’s been married already, they may well have children. In that case, you’re not only having a relationship with your partner but also taking on a role in their children’s lives, even if they don’t live with them. This can be a lot to handle, whether you already have children of your own or not.

Depending on the children’s ages there might be some hard feelings towards you, especially if the divorce was very painful for the family. The most important thing to remember is that it’ll take time for any new relationships to cement. Avoid making any negative comments to the children about your partner’s ex and follow your partner’s lead when it comes to discipline and your involvement in their lives. Be sure not to vie for attention when their children are around – you’ll almost certainly lose.

The benefits of dating a divorcee

It’s good to remember there are also benefits to dating a divorcee:

  • They’ve made a commitment before and will hopefully have learned from their mistakes
  • They’ll probably take time to really get to know you rather than speeding along too fast
  • The experience may have made them a more rounded person as they’ve had to deal with loss, grief and separation
  • If you do marry, they’ll be keen to make it work because they know the pain of divorce

Of course, all of the above are generalisations. Every person and every situation is different and it’s important to get to know someone rather than judge them on their marital status.