Is Dating While Separated Appropriate? Five Things To Consider

Updated April 3, 2024by Regain Editorial Team

Being separated from your spouse or partner can be a stressful and unusual experience. Many people feel as if they are in limbo and uncomfortable with the loss of companionship. You are not officially divorced, yet you are not together either. It is understandable that you might feel lonely due to the separation and you may feel the urge to start dating someone new. But is dating while separated appropriate?

There are several things to consider when discussing this topic. Take a look at the information below to come to your conclusion. What is going to be appropriate during this time is going to be decided by you and the partner from whom you are currently separated. Even so, the following considerations might help you to decide what is best for you.

1. Separated does not mean broken up

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Dating while separated can be tricky and confusing

Many people get confused about what being separated from your romantic partner means. If you are married, then separation might be referring to your current state before you are legally divorced. In this situation, you are ready to leave your partner, but the divorce proceedings have not yet been finalized. You will find that there are a few types of separation that differ in distinct ways. Many people date while they are separated, and it might not present a problem for you. Dating while separated before the divorce is finalized also depends upon marital laws in your area and you might want to refrain until you are certain is appropriate. 

Separation can also refer to a couple taking a break from a relationship. Sometimes couples go through tumultuous times and decide that they need a reprieve. This can lead them to go their separate ways for a time before determining whether they want to get back together. This is not the same as breaking up, and the expectations for separation can be different depending on what you decided as a couple.

Some couples might explicitly state that it is fine to date while you are in this separated state of the relationship. If this is the case, then you might think that it's appropriate to date if you both agree it is appropriate. Nonetheless, there are reasons you might want to avoid dating that will be discussed later in the article. Be aware of the distinctions between being separated and officially broken up or divorced.

2. Dating someone new complicates things

This advice applies to married couples and is less about unmarried couples who are "taking a break."

Dating someone new has the potential to complicate things in several ways. One thing to consider is that adultery is illegal in certain parts of America, so it would be helpful to learn more about divorced dating to avoid further complications. If you are dating someone new and your spouse can prove that you had a sexual relationship, it can complicate your divorce. Unless you both agree it is appropriate (and it is not illegal in the state where you live), it may be smarter to avoid dating when you are still legally married.  Just try to keep yourself and understand the laws of the area where you are living.

If you are on the fence or are confused about the law, seek out legal advice about dating while legally separated. 

3. You may hurt this new person you are dating

There are potential problems for the person that you are dating to consider. Many people will not even consider someone who is separated due to the possibility that they will get hurt. If you are dating someone during the separation for casual purposes but they develop feelings for you, chances are they will be hurt. You may start dating someone else and wind up hitting it off and leave the person who grew to care for you in an uncomfortable place. 

The same can happen to you. You might start to love or really like this dating interest. They could even fall for you completely, but you might also still be in love with your regular partner. You may ultimately decide to stay with your spouse and reconcile (another reason to wait to date until after the divorce is complete). You likely do not want to hurt anyone, so it is probably a bad idea to get involved with anyone while you are separated.

Even if you and your partner agreed that it was okay to date during this time, it still might not be the most responsible thing to do. Dating a separated man or woman is not usually a great idea. If the separation is more set-in stone, then it might be a different story. Some people remain separated for a long time while waiting for divorce proceedings. You should probably only date if you know for sure that you don't want to get back with your spouse or significant other.

4. Potential sexual complications

There are potential sexual complications that need to be pondered before moving forward with dating someone during your separation. The biggest thing that you should consider is whether you are still going to be having sex with your regular partner. Some people still meet up occasionally during these separations and continue to be sexually intimate. Knowing this, it might not be smart to start sleeping with other people if you plan to get back into bed with your old partner at some point. 

Sleeping with new partners is risky, and you could wind up complicating things worse than you imagined. Several scenarios could play out to make you wish that you waited to figure things out with your partner one way or the other. For example, you could contract an STD from one of the new people you are sleeping with. It is also possible that you could pass this on to your regular partner when you finally end your separation.

Even if you practice safe sex and you are very picky about who you sleep with, it is still possible that complications can arise. There is also the matter of accidental pregnancy to consider. If you are thinking of going back to your regular partner at some point, then having sex with someone new is a huge risk. You could get pregnant, or you could get someone else pregnant, depending on your situation. This could wind up being the final nail in the coffin for your relationship.

If you are not sure about whether you are truly done with your partner, then why would you want to move on by sleeping with someone new? It is very risky, and it could wind up ending your relationship on a sour note. It would likely be more sensible to break up, finalize your divorce, and then move on if you do not want to get back with your old partner. If you do still love your partner, then you should consider shelving your sexual desires for a while so that you can ponder the separation.

5. You might not be emotionally stable

It would be best if you also thought about whether you are emotionally stable enough to be dating anyone at this point. Being separated from your spouse or partner is likely going to place extra stress in your life and affect your mental health. You might feel very anxious or nervous about what is going on. Some people even feel numb during situations like this. Either way, you are likely not going to feel like you are at your best when you are going through a complicated separation.

For your mental health, consider waiting to get involved with someone else if you feel  you are not capable of making emotionally responsible decisions. You might impulsively decide that it sounds like a good idea to date someone else. The motivation for this might even be purely sexual due to your physical needs not being met. Regardless, you might be hurting yourself more emotionally by seeking out someone new. You are not ready for this, and you should not date if you do not feel like you are prepared for it.

Get help for your relationship with online couples counseling

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Dating while separated can be tricky and confusing

Are you separated now but still considering that you can reconcile your relationship? If you love your partner and you want to make things work, then take the time to contact dedicated online couples' counselors. They will be ready to help you get your relationship back to where you want it to be. A couples counselor will guide you both to uncover what is causing you communication and intimacy problems while helping you to develop strategies to heal what is broken. 

It might take time to work through the issues that are holding your relationship back. Even so, these professionals have been able to help couples get through even the most significant issues, as separated spouses on the road to divorce. Expert couples' counselors can work with you online, and you will be able to get counseling in the most discreet way possible. Virtual couples counseling is also supported by research to be as effective (if not more) as in-person therapy in helping people resolve relationship obstacles and work towards reconciliation. Give this a shot if you want to get your relationship back, and you are ready to move forward as a couple once more.

The dedicated relationship counselors at Regain understand how to help people fix the reasons why you chose a separation. Mending the marriage will take time, you if you both truly want a reconciliation, you will make progress. If you see yourself moving forward with the divorce, these online licensed marriage therapists can also help you move on after getting divorced. Just know that help is available, whatever your decision might be.


Divorce can be a major transition in life and the thought of being alone may seem overwhelming and lonely. These feelings may be the reason you are considering dating while separated. Before you jump into the dating scene, take into consideration the things you have learned in this article. If you are still confused, make an appointment with a couples counselor. They will help support you during this transition while you work to make a plan that is healthy and brings you contentment.

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