Dating and Divorce: When Should You Listen to the Gossip?

Before beginning a relationship with someone who is divorced, take time to sort through the facts of the split.

Dear Monica, Should I listen to gossip about a potential partner’s divorce? Or should I just date with an open mind? — R.G., Rydal

Whenever divorce happens, there are three sides to the story: his side, her side and the truth. Usually, her friends will say that he was a control freak and a mean person. His friends will say she was high-maintenance and unappreciative. Of course, there are always the rumblings of infidelity from both sides. Should you take what you hear literally? Well, not everything, but some things are worth considering.

We are who we are. Chances are good that most stories being shared have some kernel of truth, so it’s best to listen with one ear. If he was controlling, he is still going to be controlling. If she was high-maintenance, she’ll remain high-maintenance. Realize that you are not going to change anyone. In the beginning of a relationship, everyone tries to hide shortcomings. Once the veneer of lust wears off, watch out as the real person comes out. People are not going to change but we can select mates—the second and third time around—who are better suited to our flaws. When you see a successful second marriage you will notice that the man who was once overbearing is still that way. The difference? His new wife lets everything roll off her shoulders whereas his old wife attacked him for every move he made. A second wife who loves to spend may actually look like a bargain compared to his indulgent first wife. It is about finding a balance, the right Yin and Yang. Two type A personalities will inevitably clash and two laid-back personalities will never get it in gear.

How do you choose wisely and not make a mistake again? Take what you hear seriously enough that you understand that slow and steady wins the race. There is no need to jump into a new relationship headfirst. Enjoy dating and try to live together for at least six months, if not a year before taking the plunge. Make sure you put the effort into blending families and making both sides feel comfortable and included. If the new family unit does not mesh, the union will not work. And if there is one word you must remember before walking down that long aisle again, it is PRENUP. When all else fails at least you know that you are financially in tact.