I don’t want to break off a good relationship to go on a date with the new person, only to find that we don’t have much in common.
Because I plan to be serially monogamous indefinitely, I need to figure this out now.
But in larger terms, I hope you’ve explored, or are exploring, what went wrong in your marriage and what your contributions were to its lousiness.
What we forget is that even if a person hasn’t just exited a relationship, aside from knowing our own boundaries (which can rule out certain things that we’ve already made a decision on in advance of), we cannot get all of the answers upfront or have someone tell us what ‘the ending’ will be.
Each situation is different but what you can say with a high degree of certainty is that someone who’s just fallen out of their marriage, who’s still in reconciliation negotiations, who’s still very influenced by their spouse, and who has been separated for a long time ‘just because’, is going to bring pain into your life.
In the situations where it work, the separated party overestimated their readiness and actually, part of the reason they dated had been to avoid their feelings about the demise of their marriage.
Avoid falling into the trap of not seeing the wood for the trees: There are people left brokenhearted due to being involved with partners who were still affected by a breakup or divorce that happened anything from months to before.
Same goes for someone who’s not over their divorce and has beliefs that affect their ability to be committed.
I personally know people who have gotten together while one party was separated, and in one case the wife refused to sign so they had to wait for it to lapse and got married as soon as it did a few years later, and in the other instances where it worked out, there was no faffing about with the divorce, Future Faking etc.
You found someone you really like, and even though apparently you have never made declarations about the future or fidelity, you feel you would be cheating if you started exploring how compatible you are with this new woman who’s caught your eye.
So to answer your question, what you do is have a long overdue talk about where the two of you are in this relationship, and explain that you don’t want to be exclusive.
Yes it’s a ‘risk’ but it’s little more risk than in any other dating situation. Don’t assume that because you’re being pursued or that there’s certain future talk that it ‘must’ mean that they’re over their ex and ready for a relationship. don’t assume that because they’re separated or divorced that have a Ph D in commitment or that you’ll get the same. You remember what it’s like in those first few days, weeks and even months depending on how long the relationship went on for – you may still have been in touch, arguing, negotiating, or even hooking up. You can of course chance your arm but then you have to back away when it becomes clear that the ex files haven’t been closed. If you’ve already determined your boundary on this issue, don’t bust it, I know of quite a few people who were told to wait and come back when they’d had some more time/got divorced. Most people go through a breakup or few, and it’s not a ‘flaw’ to be separated or divorced hence there’s no reason to go Some relationships and marriages don’t work out.
Now of course, a person who is avoiding their feelings will just find someone else to avoid them with but somebody who is genuinely interested in you and wants to start off on a good footing won’t mind respecting your wishes – at least they’ll know that they’re pursuing something with you because it’s they want to be with as opposed to seeking a distraction that’s going to backfire when they realise that they’re unavailable. Of course some people are separated or even divorced numerous times due to shady behaviour or due to a tad too much Fast Forwarding but that’s stuff you’ll find out through due diligence, possibly quite quickly if you have your feet on the ground and are listening and watching. I know of somebody who is getting married for the fifth time and is doing their best to hide it from their family including their own children – yeah, clearly they haven’t grown or learned a damn thing from their previous marriages. Don’t enter into an involvement with your emotional airbag inflated.
When you first became single again, you thought you would happily juggle your many options.