Should I Date While I Am Separated from My Spouse?

Separated“Should I date while I am separated?” How many times have I heard that question? And, how many times have I given a hard answer? “If you are not free to marry, you are not free to date!” I first read that statement in Britton Wood’s book, Singles Want to Be the Church, Too. Mr. Wood has worked with singles and separated persons longer than anyone in his denomination.

After several years of counseling the separated, I am more convinced than ever that Britton Wood is right. When you start dating someone else while you are separated, you make reconciliation more difficult. The more you date, the muddier the water becomes.


I know that you have needs; you are lonely. Sometimes the load seems unbearable. I know that dating while separated is accepted, even encouraged, in our society. But most of those who are dating will never be reconciled. They will be divorced.

Dating is a prelude to remarriage, not therapy for reconciliation. Certainly you need friends. You need a listening ear. You need people who care and help bear the load, but the dating context is not the best place to find such help.

Vulnerable While Separated

You are extremely vulnerable during these days of separation. Unfortunately there are those of the opposite sex who would like to take advantage of your vulnerability. Although pretending to be concerned about you, they are busy satisfying their own desires.

I have seen many men and women devastated by such an experience. Your own emotions are erratic, and it would be easy for you to get infatuated with anyone who treats you with dignity, respect, and warmth.

Have you noticed the number of people who get married the day after they are divorced? Obviously they have been dating during separation. If the separation period is a time to seek reconciliation, why spend energy in an activity that leads to divorce and remarriage? Separation is not tantamount to divorce. We are still married while we are separated, and we ought to so live, whether or not our spouse complies.

Don’t Date While Separated

I know this is difficult to accept, but I believe the present trend of open dating immediately after separation must be deterred. Such activity encourages and contributes to the increasing divorce rate.

If you believe in the power of human choice, then you must concede that your estranged spouse may well turn from his or her estrangement and seek reconciliation. You want to be prepared for that day if it comes. Dating someone else in not the way to be prepared. Develop friends, but refuse romantic involvement until the fate of your marriage is determined.

The above article comes from the book, Hope For the Separated: Wounded Marriages Can Be Healed, written by Dr Gary Chapman, published by Moody Publishers. This book deals with the question of dating while separated, how to relate to your children during this time, and ways to improve communication. It’s a practical book for both the separated husband and wife.


Here’s a statement from Pastor Ted Cunningham that gives further insights into this issue of dating while you are separated. We encourage you to prayerfully read:

I am sick and tired of fighting for a marriage only to find out that one of the spouses is already dating someone new. Come on! How in the world are we going to save a marriage and protect the future of your children when you are so stinking selfish with a boyfriend or girlfriend waiting in the wings? Your children deserve better.

I’m not a stalker, but I do check out Facebook from time to time. It absolutely shocks me when I see the photos of the new boyfriend or girlfriend before the divorce is even final. It says to me, “I never really tried. I know we met with Ted and tried to get help. But it just didn’t work.” Hogwash! Bologna! You didn’t try. You had your options lined up. Fight for your marriage. Be a man! Be a woman! Give your children a fighting chance. O how the enemy eats this up.


Last April, I ate breakfast with Dr. Scott Stanley, a professor and researcher at the University of Denver. He gave me the definition of commitment that I absolutely love. “Commitment is making a choice to give up all other choices.” That is the opposite of what we are brought up to believe. We are taught to keep our options open. This is why some marriage counselors drive me insane. They just sit down with a couple, hear their marriage story, and assess, “I don’t think there is any hope. This marriage is over.”

Jesus breathes life into dead marriages! There is hope no matter how stuck you are!

Make the commitment to do ALL you can to give this marriage a fighting chance. Invest in the process of trying to save your marriage. Don’t date while you are separated!

The above statement comes from Ted Cunningham’s book, Fun Loving You, published by David C Cook. We highly recommend this book to everyone who is married.

Print Post

Filed under: Separation and Divorce

Join the Discussion

Please observe the following guidelines:

  • Try to be as positive as possible when you make a comment.
  • If there is name-calling, or profane language, it will be deleted.
  • The same goes with hurtful comments targeted at belittling others; we won't post them.
  • Recommendations for people to divorce will be edited out–that's a decision between them and God, not us.
  • If you have a criticism, please make it constructive.
  • Be mindful that this is an international ministry where cultural differences need to be considered.
  • Please honor the fact this is a Christ-centered web site.

We review all comments before posting them to reduce spam and offensive content.


376 responses to “Should I Date While I Am Separated from My Spouse?

  1. Hello. My name is Mia and I have been separated from my husband close to a year. I have dealt with so many things in my marriage and it has caused me so much grief including losing my confidence, self esteem, and bouts of depression at times. My husband cheated not long after we got married, for a long time he denied it but a few years later he admitted it. Then he turned to alcholism and would come in nightly drunk and physically abusive. I even called the cops on him when he fought me in front of kids leaving bruises on me. Now he claims he doesn’t cheat anymore but I caught emails of him asking women on a sex site to meet him for sex when he is out on the job.

    This is the 3rd time we have separated in the marriage. This time I am divorcing; enough is enough. Now he is crying and sad. I have not ever stepped out on him in the marriage but we have been on bad terms so long that I really hunger for true love and just a wonderful godly man. I’ve been so broken by my husband to the point I just didn’t want to keep going but God told me that I am worth and deserve so much more. I am now excited about my future and who God will send, but in the meantime I will continue to pray and work on me. I hope my soon to be ex-husband changes his life for the better but it won’t be with me. It’s been too much and quite frankly it scares me to even think about trying again knowing what I have been through.

    So much good has happened in my life now that I have taken my power back and moved. I have not started dating but I am not opposed to it either. I am not interested in sex though until the divorce is final. I do like this seemingly wonderful man, but he doesn’t know it yet. I won’t make the first move because I am very old fashioned and hope and pray that he will. It’s still weird to me that a marriage can actually break you and not be everything that you thought it would be.

    I think that I rushed into my marriage and overlooked some very important things in the beginning. We weren’t equally yolked and my soon to be ex-husband would often talk about still fighting demons but would not go into details. I had never heard anyone say that so I really wasn’t sure what it meant and when I asked, he wouldn’t explain. I think that was a warning for me in the beginning but I didn’t listen. Now, I am listening. It’s got to be right from the start. The word says, “your latter will be greater than your past.” Hallelujah! Pray for me!

    1. My sister in Christ! I will pray for you and continue to allow God’s will to be done in your life. It’s a new season! run on and see what he has for you. May God richly bless you!

  2. I left my husband a little over a year ago. He was unfaithful and overall disrespectful. He was very surprised when I moved out on my own. I don’t think he thought I would survive financially without him. Thankfully, I have been blessed beyond measure since leaving him. I really thought leaving would be a wake up call for him. Instead he’s angry that I “left and destroyed our marriage.” Since then he has started dating a mutual friend. I was really hurt when I learned of it. We are friends and he does help me with household tasks etc. We are not intimate. He says he wishes that I would have stayed with him and that he does not want a divorce. My question is, how do you handle your spouse dating when you are praying for reconciliation?

  3. I think every situation is different and is hard to judge until you’ve been there. I personally don’t believe in divorce but found myself there involuntarily. My spouse blatantly said she hadn’t loved me in years was leaving and didn’t want to be married anymore. She had a boyfriend and served me with papers. We were separated for about 6-7 months then physically and legally separated for over a year afterward and waiting a final hearing to resolve custody. She was living with her new boyfriend for most of that time. She broke covenant and to be honest I really didn’t want reconciliation although I did initially.

    I wasn’t trying to find the next person but did want to meet people. I happened to meet someone a few months prior to the final hearing who understood my situation. We were not sexually involved but did and do have a relationship. Do I believe I was wrong?… no. Do I believe in “hookups”? NO! I did about everything I could to reconcile, which included lots of prayer, counsel and alone time to heal. Every individual situation is different. You’ll know in your heart what’s right and wrong. You just have to give yourself time to heal, forgive despite how hard and just trust Him.

  4. I was married for 12 years to my wife. We are now legally separated. She has been totally abusive to me, manipulative, controlling and lies all the time. She seems more interested in being with her girlfriend who has interfered with our relationship. My wife seems to do whatever this girl says. It’s like they are married to each other. They are in a heavily codependent relationship. My wife has at least over 100,000 dollars of our money; that’s no joke. I figured it out. She always treated me almost like a dog, no kidding there either, and was never happy or satisfied ever. I have talked with two pastors. I counsel with one of them. Both concur that I need to divorce this one because she has broken our marriage vows and covenant. I do not wish to be with this woman at all as it has been over for a long time now.

    1. Robert, I am so sorry you find yourself at this place right now. First, I need to say NO pastor should ever counsel someone that they “need to divorce.” That is a decision solely between you and God. Even in cases of adultery where you have “biblical grounds” for divorce NO pastor should say you “should” divorce. We have seen miraculous restorations and healing of marriages where a spouse committed adultery. We believe it is a pastor’s job to try and find any way possible for there to be reconciliation, no matter what has happened. For the two pastor’s who told you that you should divorce I can find 10 who would tell you not to. Whose counsel/advice are you going to follow? I don’t doubt that what you said about your wife is true. But that’s beside the point.

      Because of the article you came in and posted on it appears you are ready to do some “window shopping” for a potential relationship and you are just trying to find something that will give you license/permission to do so – even though you aren’t divorced. All I can do is tell you that from a Biblical perspective it is never right to date, and/or especially sleep with another woman when you are separated.

      That’s the Biblical reason; now here’s a practical reason not to do so. You have gone through tremendous emotional pain (abuse) for quite a while in your marriage. You are a wounded person. And people as deeply hurt and wounded as you are need time to process and heal from their pain before they ever even think about entering into a new relationship. I can almost guarantee that if you were to go immediately into another relationship (IF you divorce) you would almost certainly be doomed to fail. We read the research and we’ve seen it with our own eyes over and over again that this is a recipe for disaster.

      We understand you are lonely and wanting a relationship with another woman, but it wouldn’t be fair to her to drag all your pain from the past into a new marriage partnership. But Robert, this is where you need to go to God and His word to find comfort. You also need to find a new counselor to help you process this pain – one who doesn’t tell you bailing on your marriage is the answer. It sounds like he was just trying to take the easy way rather than help you with the issues that you have.

      Now, you didn’t say there were any children in your marriage, but if there are, this is another reason for you to be very careful about any decision to throw in the towel. If their mom is this unstable, they need to see that their dad will do anything and everything possible to save the marriage for their benefit.

      I tell you all this because I just want you to be very, very careful about the decisions that you are about to make for they will follow you the rest of your life. Even if you divorce your wife she will still be tied to you in some way as long as you live (especially if you have kids together). And no matter who you listen to for advice you need to always filter it through God’s word to make sure that it lines up with what He says (and that includes what I’ve written here).

      I’ll be praying for you, Robert because I know you never, ever wanted to be at this place in your life. Just remember that even though your wife may have broken her vows and covenant with you God will NEVER break His vows and and covenant with you. ~Steve Wright

  5. I have been separated from my wife since September. I actually thought that I was her soul mate. I had attempted suicide in the April and our marriage has gone from bad to worse. Tt went down hill. I believed that we both fell out of love; or at least that is what I thought. After a month of being separated, I phoned my ex spouse and told her that I wanted to give it another go. She said, I don’t love you, you bring out the bad in me and I just want you to be happy. I want you to meet someone who is good for you.

    I had sent my ex wife an open letter explaining how I had failed her and instead of protecting her heart, I let her down. She never responded. In my opinion, I thought, that is it, it is over. I moved out and lived with a friend till I could get enough money to get a deposit for a small flat. Whilst I was living with my friend, I accidently met a young lady. She is a Christian and our relationship is purely platonic. I made a pathetic mistake in putting on Facebook a gentle kiss and put my status as in a relationship. But Jill is only a very close friend, whom we have a coffee with and have meals out. That was on the 8th December.

    Since then, I have been informed that Lynne is now seeing a work colleague of hers. She has been sending me texts about my relationship being nasty and calling me a liar, though some are lovley and saying that she only wanted me to love her. I explained that I did fail her and I was in a really bad place. My head is saying she is just being nice then getting angry that we should have tried harder.

    My heart really wants her back. I still am in love with my ex wife and I have texted her and told her so. I even said that I was not bothered with her being intimate with Phil as If someone loves another person enough, they will look past that. Forget, and if needed forgive.

  6. Hi my name is Kathy. I have been married for eight years this July and I have been emotionally and physically abused throughout the marriage… I have fought hard to save the marriage, but the abuse is not stopping. He is not taking accountability for his behavior and not trying to rectify matters. I have filed for divorce and we are separated, on our property.

    I am not looking for or needing another relationship at this time… just last week though a very nice Christian man and I crossed paths and I considered a friendship with him. I explained my situation and he said no pressure; we can just be friends and if the Lord leads otherwise we will go from there… So I understand that it may not be a good idea to date during separation as there is a possibility for reconciliation. But in my situation there is none…

    Would any communication be OK? Talk or text? I do not feel led to go out for coffee or a meal… while waiting for Divorce to finalize. I want to do what God would have me to do and what would be best for me. I am praying but just wanted to ask about the communication. Thank you very much!

    1. As long as there’s no sexual activity, yes you can definitely go out on dates.

    2. Mmm, maybe should not date anyone until divorced. That is considered cheating… sex or no sex. Your current husband may use that against you.

    3. Kathy, you are still married, whether you want to be or not. You are not divorced. Please don’t complicate your life any more than it already is. This Christian man should not be in your life right now. Even after you divorce, you should wait. You have a lot to work through in your head and heart and you shouldn’t cut that process off by “talking” with another man. You know how these things can go. Feelings can ramp up very quickly, even if you don’t intend for them to. You are very vulnerable. That, which looks innocent can be given life that it never should be given, because of that vulnerability. Too many people jump from one bad relationship into another when they shouldn’t. Prayer, time, and more time and prayer is what you should give yourself and invest your time in right now.

      You need to be divorced and live apart from your husband for a very long time before you should even START to have a “friendship” with anyone else. You need to work on you, and work on your individual relationship with Jesus before you start to entertain friendships with men. You may feel like you can be friends with another guy and all will be well, but that’s not realistic. Here’s a video that may help you to see that: Women may think they can have friendships with guys and all is well, but more often than not (almost always) men view this differently. Look at the gals in this video and listen to their view but when they are questioned about the guy’s view, see how they squirm. SHOULD they be able to be friends with guys? Yes! But reality shows a different story. This guy may tell you that you can be friends right now, but I can tell you, and my husband told me a few minutes ago that it’s more complicated than that. Feelings drive a different train than our best intentions.

      Please don’t muddy things up right now. You have enough on your plate right now. You are still married. Don’t date or be “friends” with another guy. And if you do divorce, give yourself some time. We’ve seen some spouses make complete changes in their abusive behavior in some cases. You never know what can happen in the future. Just concentrate on what you have before you right now, and give yourself space, and time before going in any other direction. I hope you will.

  7. I have been separated from my husband for 4yrs and don’t know where he is. He walked out on me on our 25th anniversary and haven’t seen him since. Is it wrong to start dating? I can’t afford a divorce at this time.

  8. I am married and am in a relationship with someone. What should I do as Christian with my relationship with GOD after a year of dating this person and of not talking to GOD?

    1. You are not talking to God because you know what you are doing is wrong in his eyes. To continue not talking to him is detrimental. Go to him and confess what you have done as if he has no idea (meaning, tell him everything). And then repent. And if you are unable to pull yourself away from this affair, ask God to remove you from it. He will.

      And then if you don’t wanna be married, sit your spouse down and tell them. But do this only after you have left the affair because you might feel differently about your marriage when there is no third party.

  9. My husband and I have been separated 2.5 months. He found a new girlfriend within the first month. He has also told me that he wants a divorce. He was emotionally abusive for most of our marriage. I am a firm believer in Christ, but my husband’s heart is hard and wants nothing to do with me. Unless God grants a miracle, there will be no reconciliation.

  10. After years of emotional and verbal abuse where I put up shields around my heart, which caused me to not want to be around my wife and spend time with her, she asked for a separation. I had been stubbornly holding on and said I would never walk away from her or the kids so she ended up making the decision. Then we were 6 weeks into our separation when I over heard talking to another man and meeting up with him, baking cookies for him and saying her mother would not approve. To say I was gutted is an understatement.

    I confronted her and she denied it. I then said that out of respect for each other, our kids and our marriage covenant we should not see other people or date until officially divorced. However, the following week I found out that she was messaging another man. After that I found out she was using a dating app and looking for men.

    Going through a separation is hard enough and part of me wants to confront and expose her to her family and our kids but I know that won’t end well. So I’m daily trusting in Jesus. I’m making her his problem and she’ll need to live with the consequences of her actions.

    I’m focusing on rebuilding my new life, following my King and supporting my kids. I won’t look at dating again until well after the divorce and even then after my heart is healed and I am ready again. I daily forgive her but all trust has been broken. It would take a miracle from Jesus at this stage for us to be reconciled.

  11. I’ve read through all the comments but somehow don’t see anything applicable. I met this really good Christian guy who was preparing to divorce his wife on terms of adultery and abandonment (on her part), it had been about 6 months and she was not repentant and he wanted to move on. 3 weeks after we met and started to be mutually attracted to each other, she changed her mind and wanted to reconcile. Eventually after a period of time and calling out from his pastor, he decided to “die to himself” and seek to try to reconcile as this is what God intend for. As the party outside, this seems to be a mockery of the situation as I feel that I am the party feeling hurt instead. How should I approach this – would this be eventually God’s will for me? For reconciliation and therefore I will be the party who grieves?

    1. Sarah, I’m so sorry that you got your heart hurt like this. I’m sure that you’re in more pain than anyone can imagine, and are confused on many levels. My heart goes out to you.

      I’m thinking that we should also write and post on this web site an article titled, “Please Don’t Date Someone Who is Separated from Their Spouse.” It could probably help to prevent some heartaches like you are going through. Again, my heart goes out to you.

      We’ve seen this more times than I can count where a spouse is separated and it looks like they will be getting a divorce. Everyone is sure this will happen, and yet things unexpectedly turn in an opposite direction and they reconcile. We’ve also seen it quite a few times where the spouses even get a divorce (and sometimes a number of years pass by), and yet they unexpectedly reconcile and remarry. This is especially true when children are involved. There is an extra pull there that draws their hearts back together again.

      Sarah, I’ve told different people this so many times: guard your heart. And this is one of the many instances where that tip could prevent future heartbreaks. When a couple marries, they form a bond and soul tie with each other. And if they love the Lord, they form soul ties together with God as a “cord of three strands” as it is mentioned in the Bible. Sadly, you didn’t see that soul tie. Even they didn’t see or honor it in the way it is meant to be until their marriage almost broke apart permanently.

      All I can say is that I encourage you with all my heart not to date anyone in the future who is separated for this very reason. You’re even taking a risk when you’re dating someone who is divorced. I personally wouldn’t do it. As I’ve said, I’ve seen this happen more times than I can count.

      We serve a God of Reconciliation. He wants marriages to succeed because marriage is a living example of Christ’s love for the church. So, it doesn’t surprise me that their pastor got involved and that they eventually reconciled. This would be God’s will for them. Yes, she sinned; but she also repented. He then had a tough choice to make because of his broken heart. Obviously, he chose to get back together and try to work through their issues. That’s very consistent with what we’re told in the Bible. You see continually throughout the Bible where we’re told to confess our sins, repent and try to work things out with each other as God would have us.

      I really hope you will let this couple work out all of the sinful issues that they have before them. They can eventually have a stronger marriage than they ever dreamed possible if they both go to God and let Him help them rebuild their relationship upon His foundation.

      But I’m sure the thought of all of this is very painful. So, what can you do with all of this pain and confusion? Lay it down at the foot of the cross and ask God to heal your broken heart and give you hope for a future that is brighter than you could imagine right now. It will not happen overnight but it has, and it will happen continually that God heals and restores the hearts and the hopes of those whose hearts are fully His. Cry out to Him, get into His Word, the Bible, pray scriptures to Him, and focus on the hope that is within you that God wants to bring out into the open to help you. Again, my heart goes out to you. Make sure you guard your heart from this type of situation in the future. No one deserves this unless they willingly walk into it, which you obviously didn’t.

      I pray the Lord helps you, guides you, comforts you, speaks to you, and works in and through you in this situation. I also pray God infuses hope into your heart that you will eventually experience better days –ones that will bring a smile to your heart. “May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.” (Jude 1:2)