By Elisabeth K. Corcoran
Author of He Is Just That Into You
Questions (from Facebook community): “Is it wrong for me to want to date?” and “How long should I give it till I start dating again?”
It is absolutely not wrong to want to date. We are created to be in partnership, to live in close community, and we are having to lay down what we’ve been used to for years – living out our daily lives with another person. We are alone perhaps for the first time as adults. And there is a certain kind of loneliness that can accompany this season that can only be satisfied by finding another partner. So, no, it is not wrong to want to date.
However, depending on where you are on the separation and divorce spectrum, it could be wrong to date.
(I feel like the Apostle Paul here where he’d say, “This is I, not the Lord…” There aren’t really any set dating rules in the Bible, per se, so these are my best guesses at what would be appropriate.)
If you are separated, legally or informally, you should not be dating. Why? Because you are still married. Period. End of discussion. And in my view, you shouldn’t even be talking on the phone (repeatedly), texting someone (a lot), or meeting alone with someone of the opposite sex for social reasons because it’s inappropriate, it’s dishonoring to the person you are still married to, and because if you find yourself depending on someone emotionally or your heart moving towards them (even if there is no physical intimacy), it can be dangerous and it is considered unfaithfulness. (Matthew 5:28) Imagine discovering your estranged spouse has been in constant contact with someone of the opposite sex throughout your separation – while you were supposed to be attempting reconciliation. Devastating, I bet. Don’t be that person. Take the high road and limit contact with the opposite sex while still legally married. You won’t regret being able to hold your head high with a clear conscience.
If you are recently divorced, you should not be dating. (Again, I, not the Lord…) I’ve quoted this research before but I think it holds true (and easy for me to say, I’ve only been divorced for two months!) but a good rule of thumb is to steer clear of starting a new romantic relationship for one year per every four you were married. That can seem excessive, which I can see. So, I think a solid amount of time before jumping into something new is two years. The reason behind this is really simple: your primary relationship has just died and you need time to grieve, reflect, make changes, and heal. That can’t be done in a matter of months, and I don’t believe it can be done free and clear if your heart and mind is becoming entangled with someone new. Plus, the odds of repeating your same mistakes or choosing the same type of partner are infinitely higher the less time you allow to go by.
Now I’m moving into something that is one hundred percent my opinion. I believe if you are the recipient of an unsought divorce or you are the initiator of a divorce with biblical grounds (see http://elisabethcorcoran.blogspot.com/2012/09/my-stance-on-divorce-yep-im-going-there.html
), you are free to date and to remarry. However, I believe that if you left your marriage without biblical grounds, you should not. I also believe you should make sure that reconciliation is no longer possible before moving forward.
Asking a few friends that you trust and that know you well is a good place to start. Ask them if they think you’re ready, if you’ve processed your divorce well, and if you’ve healed enough to make better choices. But when it all comes down, though, only you and God can truly know when you are ready.
Until then, pursue God wholeheartedly. Ask him to bring you healing. Ask him for his companionship. Ask him to remind you of his presence that never leaves you. Ask him to reveal his love for you in intimate ways. Ask him to protect you from making poor choices with who you spend your time with. Ask him to keep prospective partners at bay until he believes you’re ready. Then ask him to bring you someone who will treat you well, who you can support and respect.
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