Single Black Female: My New Rules For Dating After Divorce, and What I Expect From My Ex

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"I’m still trying to figure out the rules on jumping back into the single scene."

When my mom was a little girl, her parents divorced. My grandmother soon began to date, going out occasionally with men she met at work or through friends.

For the entire time that my mother lived with my grandmother, she never saw anyone her mother was dating. Ever. A few times, a man would express interest in meeting my mother and her two sisters. My grandmother’s response was always the same: you’re dating me. Not my kids. You don’t need to see them.

My grandmother remarried much later in life. And that was the very first time my mother ever saw her with any other man besides her father.

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As I navigate the early days of my impending divorce, I can see exactly why my grandmother kept her private life away from her children. I’m not dating anyone (yet) but if and when I do, there’s no reason why they need to meet my children or anyone in my family unless it becomes serious.

But I don’t even know how to get to the point where I’m dating someone. I’m still trying to figure out the rules on jumping back into the single scene.

After fifteen years with the same man, ten years of marriage and two kids, I now find myself single at 42 years old.

I never thought I’d be here.

My husband and I separated last summer but lived in the same house until I move into my own apartment last month.

So when is dating supposed to happen? There are still some people who don’t know my husband and I are in the process of divorcing. And we have two daughters who do not need to see either of their parents in serious relationships right now.

Does that mean I can’t go on a date or two with someone? When is it okay to dip a toe in the single-ladies world?

I haven’t been single since I was in my twenties and I’m downright terrified of the market. The horror stories I hear from my single friends is not helpful at all.

But I’m not going to just accept that I won’t find a new partner who suits my needs. I fully expect to have a healthy and happy relationship at some point.

What are the rules? Do I tell my soon-to-be-ex that I’m dating again? Are we each allowed to use dating sites, even though that may mean people will find out we’re separating without hearing it directly from us?

Is it disrespectful to start dating just a month after I moved out? Am I supposed to wait until we’re officially divorced?

And what if I don’t want to date? What if I just want to… well, do stuff.  I’m a grown woman. I can have a physical-only relationship if I so choose. But how do I move into a new phase in my life while still protecting the amicable relationship my soon-to-be ex and I share?

I’ve decided to handle all of this the way I would want my ex-husband to handle it. Here’s what that means:

1. I don’t need my ex to tell me when he starts dating. It’s not my business.

2. I definitely do not need to know if he’s having any physical-only relationships. Also not my business.

3. I’d rather that he didn’t sign up for dating sites just yet, since that could cause some awkward interactions.

4. I would prefer that he not introduce any woman to our daughters until he and I have talked about it and I’ve met the woman myself.

5. I would ask that my husband is as discreet as possible. We live within walking distance from each other and go to the same gas stations, coffee shops and restaurants. I’d like him to do his best to avoid uncomfortable encounters.

This is what I’d expect from my husband. So these are the rules I’m setting for myself.

I just hope I don't find out the hard way that I’m missing something really important.

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