Does "separated" mean "off limits?"
Believe what you hear, divorce is hard. Actually, that's an understatement. Divorce is devastating. Other than perhaps the death of a family member, the severing of what was expected to be a lifelong union is about as emotionally crippling as any life as experience an individual will ever survive.
I speak from experience. What's Your Attachment Style?
Multiply that agony by ten if there are children involved. Even when the divorce is amicable, as mine was over a decade ago, the massive weight of the realization that the world you had built with your soon-to-be-ex and the end of your journey with a person who at some point was the closest person in the world to you is downright smothering. It's an awful, soul-crushing rollercoaster and every time someone sarcastically remarks how easy it is for people to get divorced or how so-and-so "just left their marriage," my head feels like it's about to explode. If you honestly believe that, you've never been through a divorce.
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There is, though, an emotional purgatory most couples need to work their way through before the final decision to end a marriage is made: the separation. So difficult. So weird. What are the rules? Are we allowed to see other people? Are we supposed to see each other a certain number of times a week? Do we tell people? Do we tell the kids? What’s the point? If one of us knows they want out, what’s the point of a separation in the first place?
The oddity is that often during a separation the parties agree to be open to seeing other people, even though the door is supposedly open for reconciliation. How can that work? Do you tell people you're dating that you're just separated? Or do you tell them that the marriage is over, no chance of being mended and that the paperwork is simply a formality? Can Our Marriage Survive An Affair?
I recall going through that period, knowing full well that the marriage was over and that, indeed, the paperwork was just the final punctuation. However when I would reveal to someone in whom I was potentially interested that I was separated, they invariably would shy away. As much as I wanted to shout out "Hey, that's really, seriously over@" I sort of understood where there was room for reasonable reticence on their part.
I know guys use the "I'm separated" line all the time. I know people who are just separated are iffy potential partners on most occasions. After all, there's a good chance that you get involved with that person and they drop that, "I'm getting back with my ex" bomb on you. That's happened to me. And let's face it, there's a great risk in being the first new relationship for the soon-to-be divorcee. Do you really want to be the rebound or the buffer between the old life and the new one?
If you ask me if I'd go out with someone who was going through a separation. Would I get into a serious relationship with that person? The answer would be a conditional "yes." I'd need to know everything about where that former relationship stood. I'd need to know and feel comfortable with my potential partner's emotional state. They'd need to convince me that their relationship was truly over with no chance of running back into the ex's arms. Am I crazy for taking that chance? Maybe. It's a colossal risk. But isn't every date, every relationship a risk? I've been the "separated guy" trying to date and I've gone out with women in that marital midgard and sometimes it's ended well, sometimes it hasn't. But that's the nature of the game. It's all a risk.
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Would you/have dated while separated? Would you go out with someone going through separation? Why? Why not?
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