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.

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Filed under: Separation and Divorce

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

  1. I am lost now as a Christian for eight years. I’ve been married for ten years. Two years ago, we separated for five months, & and my wife slept with a young man who was 24 years old; she was 45. She says it was nothing. We talked about it, but things have not gotten better. The battle is, she is not a believer, as such. She says she believes in God, but not the Bible, church attending or worship.

    The (big) issue is that if she was able to be with someone else so quick, after eight years of marriage at the time, I am questioning the love she claims for me. I don’t believe it’s real in my heart, I believe she was with the young man while we were married, as you can’t be separated meet someone, date them while still married, & sleep with them.

    She has been attending some courses at the lighthouse in somerset, for a while now, maybe four years or so. She recently attended a course for 3 days. I was unable to call her on her cell phone, so I called the lighthouse, in which they were able to confirm she was there. They asked me if I would like them to pass on a msg. I replied no it’s ok, but they passed it on anyway.

    Since coming back, she has disengaged with me, had lots of arguments about something & nothing. I know what my heart is reciveing, but I would just like to have some wise counsel. I don’t think she is in love with me! I think she loves me, but as we know, there is a difference. What are your thoughts? This is confidential between you and me! Regards…

    1. Cornel, it’s pretty obvious that you have a lot of issues in your marriage that have been going on for quite a while. Sadly, there is no magic formula you can follow to bring about the change you desire in your wife. This is where God wants you to grow through your adversity in a way that as your wife observes what is lived out in your heart and life, it becomes so “attractive” to her that she will want what you have. Now, that is a lot easier said than done.

      Go back into our web site and in the For Married Men section there are a lot of articles that can help you start to learn what it is that your wife really needs from you as a husband. So often when we are in a crisis we focus on wanting to change/fix our spouse rather than seek God as to what He wants to do to CHANGE US. One of the best resources we recommend to all couples who really want to know what God wants from our marriages is the book, Sacred Marriage, by Gary Thomas and I’m almost positive you can order it in the UK. You can access it by going to our home page and enter Amazon through the Window.

      You can also find help in the Save My Marriage section and resources to help you in the Communication and Conflict section. That section could help you learn how to connect with your wife in a meaningful way as from the little you shared it sounds like you haven’t been communicating well.

      There’s also the BIG issue you will need to overcome – your wife’s adultery. She says it was “nothing” but if you had been the one committing the affair I doubt she would “feel” it was nothing. I know it’s going to be one of the hardest things you’ll ever do in your life, but if there’s a prayer for your marriage to eventually thrive you will need to forgive her. This will be a big illustration to her of Christ and His forgiveness – even after He was betrayed.

      One more BIG point: If you are not already connected to a good Bible fellowship where you can learn, grow and have people around you who can pray for and with you, you NEED to find one ASAP. The more you remain isolated in your faith the harder it will be for you to grow. Remember where the Bible says “It’s not good for man to be alone?” That isn’t only referring to having a spouse, it also means God followers need each other. Here’s a link I found that may prove to be a good connection for you:

      Cornel, you’ve tried this on your own for 10 years and the results have not been what you desired. If you are really serious about turning this around (and it can be done) it is going to take a determination and drive on your part like you’ve never had before. Having a Christ-like marriage and life is not accomplished by being a passive observer. It will mean taking 1 Corinthians 15:58 and making it your mantra for success. Blessings! ~Steve Wright, Marriage Missions International

  2. I have been separated for 5 years. My daughter is now 17. I have been seeing someone but my daughter ..nor my older sons do not know. When I go out I just say im going out with friends. My daughter always wants to know with who and i try not to get specific. I was out and she called me several times and I missed the calls. I called back to ask if she was ok and she started grilling me as to where I am. I said I am out.. I will talk with you when I get in. Why do I feel guilty. At the same time, I am an adult and I feel she was disrespectful and out of place. Am I right or wrong? sighhhh.

  3. Hello, This is the second time my wife leaves me and tells me the love is gone. We have been separated for 6 months now and I recently got a message on social media in regards to my wife sleeping with a married man. The message came from his wife; she has done nothing but lie. She denied everything about a month ago. My 5 year old today, said she had a secret to tell me. She said a man came over her house and slept in your room daddy with mommy. Apparently mom talked to my daughter and convinced her not to say anything to me, but she still did. I felt like my world came to a complete end. I love my wife very much and I cant bare the thought of that other person sleeping with my wife. She totally disrespected herself, my kids and her home.

    Now that she was caught, all she is doing is trying to find a way to harm me or destroy me. She threatened me with not seeing my three kids and that hurts me to the fullest. I love her and one side of me wishes she realizes all the hurt she has brought upon me.

    1. My heart goes out to you Fabian, and to your children. It’s especially difficult when the one who is doing the cheating is the one who has charge of the kids and can keep you from them. I can’t even imagine the hurt. I pray for you –for strength of character to live the days shad of you as an upright man –not compromising God’s values or looking for revenge. I pray God ministers to your breaking heart. I also pray for your wife, that God talks to her and helps her to see the wrong she is doing, and that she backs off from doing mean things to you for the guilt she is feeling. I pray godly sorrow upon her, that she sees the wrong she is doing and hope with all my heart she will stop going in that direction because of the discomfort and conviction she is experiencing, and will turn her heart back towards home and to building a good marriage and a good life together with you for everyone’s sake.

      Your children are suffering extra because of this… may the mother of your children see this and see the importance of blessing their lives, rather than bringing toxic situations into their lives. You and your wife are living examples of marriage, as it should be lived out… I pray you get the opportunity to live it out well and that both of you find ways to bless each other, rather than live in opposition to each other.

  4. I enjoyed the article. I read it because I am so confused while I’m dealing with my separation. My situation is very tricky because my spouse has gone to live with my nephew’s ex-wife who was family for over 20 years. He previously had an affair with his step-sister and we overcame that but I don’t think this time it will work out between us. I’ve had hope and prayed but nothing has come about and my sense of faith and hope has been diminishing.

    I do not want a divorce and I’ve been contemplating for the last few months. I feel like at some point I will know what to do but it is not easy by any means. I appreciate your time and hopefully someone may have some advice for me going forward. I have not started dating because I do not feel right about it but he is living his life to the fullest while I stress and cry at times wondering what I should be doing. Thank you again.

    1. I’m identifying with a ton of what’s being said. Male, 62. 8 months separated after 32 years of marriage, and 3 children. I still hate the silence in my “new” apartment. I have to have the TV or music on at all times awake. I’m retired, healthy, and completed dumbfounded as to what to do next. This is a whole new World to me. I dislike being single, immensely. That’s why I married in the first place, well, that and love. ;) I could go on and on, but suffice it to say I appreciate all of you, and your testimonies on how to move on. Bless you all.

  5. My 2nd husband left me 8 months ago. I’ve tried to reconcile with him, however he says the marriage is over. I have met someone else & want to divorce my husband. I really want to serve God but at the same time don’t want to spend the rest of my life alone. What should I do?

    1. Marsha, please reread what you wrote in your comment. What I see you are saying is that you WANT to serve God, but because it may mean that you’ll be alone, you aren’t sure. You have doubts as to which one you should put first –your love for God or your love for being with “someone else.” If you love God, you HAVE to know that you aren’t supposed to pursue him or allow him to pursue you. It seems that you have a HUGE decision here. It’s not that God won’t give you someone to love you, but it may not be your timing and your way. What if that is true? Will you put God in the back seat for someone else, just so there isn’t any chance you would spend your life alone?

      I’m not sure because I don’t have the whole story, but it seems that you have been putting the love for man ahead of your love for God. You seem to be emotionally needy to the point that you are willing to jump from one relationship to another just so you won’t face not living your life without a man. That’s scary. It seems to me that you need to spend more alone time with God having Him help you to unravel your neediness and securing you in HIS love.

      You aren’t even divorced from your second husband and already you are meeting with “someone else” and want to divorce. I can tell you that when most anyone meets “someone else” it almost always leads to them wanting to divorce their spouse. The energy goes into this other relationship. That’s how it goes. We see it over and over and over again.

      You ask what you should do. It seems obvious, but I’ll say it. Stay put. Grow deeper in your relationship with the Lord, and stop marriage hopping. Don’t divorce. If your present husband wants to divorce, then you can’t stop him, nor should you encourage him. Work on your issues and see where it goes from there. Release the “someone else” that you have met. You are still a married woman, even if your current husband says he wants to end it. Don’t complicate your life and this other person’s life and your spiritual life.

      Your neediness is causing you to make some horrible decisions. You don’t have to keep making them. Seek the Lord and HIS understanding –HIS wisdom, and HIS ways and you will start making healthier and wiser life choices. That… is my humble, prayerful opinion. I can’t tell you what to do, but I can warn you that I believe you are on a slippery path. The straight way is scary, but the way you are headed will DEFINITELY get scarier in the long run. I pray better for you Marsha. I pray God leads you and you follow His wise way in this.

  6. I have been married for 44 years. My spouse kicked me out of the house because my alcoholism had progressed. I could not drink at home so I went out to drink because I was chronically addicted. This made me cheat on my husband because I gravitated to men who passed no judgement on how much I drank or how drunk I got. After years of this behavior understandable my husband had enough.

    We have been separated for 4 years. We do visit each other and I now have a year of sobriety. We both share the same dream of living together again in the future. Right now he has work and commitment to his community. I am committed to the sober living community where I live. He does not want to divorce and loves me as I him. But he is lonely and goes on dating sights and has met women, I assume some intimately. He refuses to discuss his social life with me.

    I am not dating nor am I looking for romance. I’m waiting for us to be together again. I’m uncomfortable with his seeking out other relationships and have said if we’re are going to still stay married I don’t think that is an honest marriage. He disagrees that it should be okay as long as we are still separated. If I was going to have an affair (now that my sanity has been restored) I would only do it if we were divorced. I think we should start planning our future together, since that’s what we both want. I think the dating hurts and complicates our future while we still want to be married. Do you think I’m wrong in suggesting divorce to him if he still is seeking other relationships?

    1. Genie, you can’t reconcile when there are others standing in between you. Please pray for how and when to approach your husband on this issue. There needs to be a line drawn in the sand –that no more will anyone stand between you together. Your husband needs to make a solid commitment, as do you, not to date anyone else ever again. Either he decides to be in this marriage, exclusive with you or reconciliation is not possible. The same is true for you. He has to know that you are fully committed to him and if there are problems, you will get help in healthy ways, guarding your heart and body for him.

      I’m thinking he is rationalizing that since you cheated, so can he. I’m also thinking that he is rationalizing how he can have “his cake and eat it too.” He wants you, but he also wants variety. That is not what marriage is designed to be. He needs to make a choice. Prayerfully look for a way to seriously, but lovingly talk to him about this, and give him his choice. I hope he chooses you, and pray for you both. There is obviously love between you that you can build upon. I hope he will honor your marriage and stop bringing others into the middle of it.

  7. Hi, my husband and I have been separated for 8 months for cheating on his part and I’ve been wanting to work my marriage out but he wasnt ready. Now that I’ve moved on he wants me to leave my apartment and take him off child support. But I have a guy in my life now that I am currently dating and he respects my kids and me. What should I do?

    1. Your ex has an obligation to provide for his kids. He opted out by two timing you and maybe you should get legal council or advice concerning where the boundaries lie given your new relationship.

  8. I’m 20 months separated from my wife of 20 years marriage. I lashed out under stress and hit her and have a protection order preventing any contact with her or the kids. Loneliness has had a huge influence and after trying to get access through the court to see my kids to no avail, I’ve moved to another city. The desire for companionship and intimacy with women has been a real temptation, and 2 years come up in November when the D word will surface. I’ve moved on but my faith in Christ has gone through the wringer.

  9. The thing is that when you meet someone new and you fall deeply for them then why should the fact that your still married hold you back or tie you down? Hiding a new relationship for any reason is straining and destructive which will cause problems from the start of the relationship. If your spouse is vindictive, intimidating or verbally aggressive it doesn’t matter what you do its going to be brought up in court that your doing wrong and their attitude in court will work in your favor but solicitors will do most of the talking so that may not come into account but if you record or document any conversation/text/email or even facebook status that is abusive or even slightly aggressive then your new relationship is not going to matter in the slightest!

    But on the other hand if your spouse is a fair and reasonable person that you still have a good commendable relationship with then just tell them you have found someone new that you want to have an intimate relationship with and if they have a genuine problem with It then seek legal advice and don’t commit to anything until you know that your not liable for adultery or any other legal wrong doings whilst still married to your ex partner.

    At the end of the day if children are involved they always come first and if that means your personal love life/feelings have to be put on hold then that’s the choice you have to make for the sake of your childs/children’s well being. If children aren’t involved then you HAVE to be the bigger person and address the situation in a calm manner and if your ex gets aggressive or disrespectful then as I said before record and document it and seek legal advice.

  10. My wife of 14 years filed for divorce in June. We’ve had issues in the past including many cases of infidelity on her part, one resulting in criminal conviction, one act of infidelity on my part, financial problems, and lies from her about it all. 3 years ago she separated from me, but after 3 months wanted to reconcile. We worked throuh some stuff and got back together. I have forgiven her for everything, but in the last year she would leave and be gone all hours of the night with no good explanation, make huge purchases without consulting me, and lied to me about many things. Since Christmas some of these things became more serious and I got angry when confronting her about these things because she would deny them or ignore me and there was not good communication.

    She says she had been emotionally done with me for some time and it is my anger that she says, over wrong things she kept doing, that pushed her over the edge to file divorce. Right away she started talking to another guy. She even had him over to the house on a couple of occasions. Once while the kids were there. Within 2 months of filing she began dating him. She told the kids and she has had him at the house around the kids a few more times since then. She even had him drive her and my daughter to their chiropractor appointment, holding hands the whole way there.

    I want so badly to save my marriage that I’m willing to do almost anything. I have asked her not to see this guy at least until our divorce is final but she has refused and told me that will not happen. I am at my wit’s end I am hurt terribly and I don’t know what to do. I can forgive her very easily. For some reason that’s a gift and the curse that God has given me is the ability to forgive her for her transgressions no matter what and to continue to love her unconditionally. But before when she was called on her affairs she apologized and would quit. But this time, and yes this is an affair because we are still married even if they didn’t start dating till after she filed divorce we are still husband and wife, so it is still an affair. But this time she doesn’t see it as that and she doesn’t seem to care that it is unbiblical and has said she’s going to continue seeing him. Yet at the same time she says they’re not really dating we’re just talking and I’ve gone on one date and that’s it is not serious and she does not love him but she refuses to give him up even just until the divorce is final.

    After having him around the kids on multiple occasions she has finally agreed not to do that again but she said she wouldn’t in the first place so I don’t know if I can trust that. I want him to be out of the picture so that her and I can at least have a chance to maybe reconcile this marriage but I don’t have control over that. I don’t know what to do do you have any advice? I am worried for the kids and I am hurting a lot and the stress of the situation is affecting my job and my work habits and sleep habits. It has also put a strain on us financially. Any help or advice you can offer would be greatly appreciated. I love my wife and I’m willing to fight for my marriage and my family I just don’t know what to do

  11. I try to be a Christian but I am so unhappy. I married a Russian woman c.10 years ago. After 5 years she kept pestering me to put her name on my house deeds and eventually I did expecting to spend the rest of our lives together. No sooner had I done this when she left me and started dating other men on dating sites. This was 5 years back and I feel condemned now to live a life of celibacy. I don’t know her address so divorce seems out of the question. Jehovah witness told me I must not have relations with any other woman though I know I can. It seems so unfair. Can I really date another without God’s wrath upon me and barring me from any heaven?

  12. I was separated from my spouse and I committed adultery in the process. He begged me to come back but I didn’t because of the way he treated me. He got to know about what I did but I denied initially even swore to him. But when he showed me his evidence, I came out open. Honestly, I am truly sorry for my actions. I have given my life to God but he has refused to let go. Is there still room for reconciliation? Will God forgive me or is it to go for divorce?

    1. Yes, God will forgive you. We’re told in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” You can count on that. God is a forgiving God when we come to Him in true repentance and sorrow for the wrong we have done. He loves you, even though you broke His heart and your husband’s. As far as God is concerned, there is always room for reconciliation.

      There are two additional questions involved here though. One is whether your husband will forgive you. He may withhold his forgiveness (although he is told in the Bible to forgive). But human beings do not always forgive as God does. The other question is whether or not he feels he can reconcile with you (God already has when you confessed your sin). That is a question your husband has to settle with you and with God (I hope he will involve God in this). I don’t know the answer to these questions.

      I pray for you and for your husband. I hope with all of my heart that you are able to rebuild your marriage. But this time I pray it is a good one where you are trustworthy, and loving partners to each other. “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ —to the glory and praise of God.” (Philippians 1:9-11)

  13. My husband and I seperated over a year ago. We filed for divorce but a month later started seeing each other while still going forward with the divorce. He swore up and down he saw no one but me. We reconciled about 6 months after seperating and are now expecting our third child any day, 8 months after getting back together. However I just found out he had been seeing multiple people, an amount that would make anyone sick all while we were sleeping together and I thought I was the only one. He justifies it by saying we were ‘seperated’ I can’t look at him the same knowing what he’s done and what he’s capable of. He lied the entire last month as I slowly pulled more and more truths out of him discovering 15 + women hotel dates, etc. It all ended just before we moved back in together and hasnt happened since according to his latest word (and the phone records) two of the women sent texts but he never responded. I dont know if this is something I can live with. I need help. It hurts so deep and Im being told its not like he cheated but it certianly feels that way and how am I supposed to trust him ever again?? His family also knew he’d been dating and I feel like I look like a complete fool. I’m so confused and my emotions go up and down.

  14. My husband and I have been separated since April 2016. He told me that he has a lot of lust for other women and that he really wants to be by himself. When I try to reconcile the marriage he always tells me that he is working on himself. I wonder how he can work on himself by dating other women and being intimate with other women since our separation. He informed me that he has met more then 10 females since our separation in which he had been sexually involved with most of them. I don’t believe in divorce but I know this is what I need right now and the best thing for me right now; please advise!