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Dating After A Divorce (That Isn't Yours)

RE: BUZZFEED LIFESTYLE WRITER I sat in his car holding him as he cried. I felt a little uncomfortable since this was the first time I had seen him cry. But what I felt more than that was an intense connection. It was official: I was falling for someone going through a divorce. He just returned from the house he had previously lived with his wife whom he was currently divorcing. They had a big fight. A fight which left him feeling sad and broken and lonely and in need of comfort. He could have chosen anyone to reach out to in this time of need but he chose me! The girl he was dating for only a little over a month! The girl who would soon become the girlfriend…perhaps a little too soon. Looking back, there are things I would now consider when dating someone going through a divorce. Every situation is different but it is important to recognize the gravity of a divorce no matter how 'over it' they may seem. Some things to consider from those who have been there on each side:

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1. "Divorce was the ultimate unraveling/breaking of myself and rebuilding, and it was a lot more emotionally devastating and complicated than I expected...It affected friendships, family relationships--it totally changed who I was and how I saw life, and myself.”

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Be prepared for the person you meet early on to become a different person after the divorce is settled. When you start dating someone going through a divorce, you are dating someone who is in the process of becoming a completely different person.

2. "I think when dating someone going through a divorce, give them enough space to heal and grow.”

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If your relationship helps this person’s healing process, that’s great! But let it happen organically and without it becoming your full-time job. The more you take on the therapist role, the more likely you’ll start to put this person’s well-being and happiness over your own. Have a clear idea of how much you are emotionally able to digest because the topic of their divorce will most likely come up a lot.

3. “It's hard not to [talk about divorce] when the past 7 years of my life were tangled up with someone else. Every vacation, every big event, it's hard to dance around that.”

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If you are a naturally jealous person (like I was), this could be painful. Don’t mistake their stories as a sign they are not over their ex. Also, if there’s still a lot of communication with the ex, don’t punish them for that. Divorce is a hard and long process with details that need to be communicated.

4. “It's hard not to get involved with giving advice and becoming invested in the outcome.”

Remember, this isn’t your fight. However easy it may feel to hate the ex, don’t. Mean Girls mentality only feels good for a minute.

5. “Don't fall into a trap of filling some kind of void.”

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More likely than not, someone going through a divorce is going to have a lot of love to give. Love for the right reasons. If the energy and attention you are receiving is overwhelming, take a step back and make sure you are both loving for the right reasons. Don’t be afraid to get out of the car.

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