I just got divorced and I'm getting back into dating. What's normal?
March 30, 2012 7:52 AM   Subscribe

I'm recently divorced and just hopping back into dating. I feel like I'm calibrated all wrong and have no idea what passes for normal. I want you to tell me! Plenty of special snowflake details inside.

All my special snowflake details:

I'm 28 now, I got married at 23 and I got divorced about 2 months ago. After 6 weeks of monkish solitude, I started dating a woman I'd a few months earlier and had a really rare connection with. I saw her quite a bit for the first 3 weeks or so- We ended up at the same industry conference for a week and shared a hotel room, we just spent a lot of time together and it was great. Things were going amazingly well.

About 2 weeks after the conference she suddenly started running a little cold. I talked to her about it and she said that it was the first time in a few years that she'd been with someone she really liked and that she was kind of pulling back because her instinct was to lapse into co-dependency and she wanted to preserve the independence she'd earned. I said that was cool because I was, for the first time in 6 years, figuring out how to be alone and that we'd kind of just figure it out as we went. Since then I've seen her maybe twice a week, which is fine.

But I've felt a little off balance. I dated plenty in college, but those were all college relationships at a very small school- i.e., intense, with lots of lax social time to see each other. The relationship that led to my marriage was also a whirlwind- I moved in with her after 3 weeks and basically saw her everyday for the next 6 years. i.e.- That "HEY LETS SEE EACH OTHER CONSTANTLY" pace felt about right to me.

Which is when I realized that I had no idea what an "adult" relationship looked like. So here's my question: For those of you in relationships, late 20's, early 30's, where you both work- How often do you see each other? I realize that the objective answer here is "Well, it depends on the relationship", but I'm interested in anecdotal accounts about your relationship. I'm really just kind of out there and I have no calibration as to what's appropriate. Most of my friends are in long term relationships so they're not quite a help in this regard. Basically, I just need to hear it from the hivemind.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (17 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Totally depends on not just the relationship, but the personalities of the people in the relationship.

My husband I started dating in May 2008, and literally did not spend more than a night apart in the first thirteen months of being together (when I flew out to visit my dad in Wisconsin for a few days). I moved in with DH in July 2009, and the only time we are ever apart is if he’s on business somewhere.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:55 AM on March 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Twice a week doesn't seem weird at all to me, if that helps to hear.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:00 AM on March 30, 2012 [3 favorites]

When my husband and I first started dating (in our mid/late 20's) we lived pretty far away from each other and had LA traffic to contend with as well. I'd say we probably saw each other about one night during the week and then most weekends until we got really serious about each other and then it was more like 3 or 4 times a week until we moved in together. Obviously it's really about what you two are comfortable with--all sorts of arrangements work or don't work depending on the people involved.
posted by Kimberly at 8:04 AM on March 30, 2012

Twice a week sounds like a wonderful balance for both of you. You both need time to explore your own place in the world right now, so it gives plenty of time for that. It's a very normal adult schedule, in my opinion. It allows for focus on work, alone time, errand time, friend time, growth time, and dating time. All in one week!
posted by Vaike at 8:17 AM on March 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

I've been dating my partner for two years and we see each other 2-3 times a week. Living in different neighborhoods in a bigger city contributes to that, but your situation isn't abnormal at all.
posted by downing street memo at 8:17 AM on March 30, 2012

Similar situation here--married young, divorced at 30, dating adults for the first time ever.

Here's the thing--You get to decide this. There are, indeed, normal relationships in which folks see each other once or twice a week, or once or twice a month, even. You get to decide if you want to be in a relationship like that. I've been in relationships with all sorts of variety there--there was a woman who worked very hard during the week, and could only see me on weekends, but then she wanted to be together Friday night-Monday morning, non-stop. I loved her very much, but that schedule didn't work for me. I've had relationships end for other reasons, too, you know--this is just one of those things that you'll have to keep working on, in any relationship.

Took a couple of years, but then I met a woman who wanted to spend exactly as much time with me as I wanted to with her.
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:17 AM on March 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

If your only serious experience with a relationship is "HEY I LIKE YOU A LOT" "I LIKE YOU TOO" "LET'S NEVER BE APART" "KAY!" then you need to not do that, whether or not it seems to work to your advantage. It's a rare relationship that holds itself together in any way, and rarer still when you go all in on that initial spark, which is (almost) necessarily ephemeral.

When my girlfriend and I just started dating, we saw one another maybe once, twice a week. Then a little more frequently, but still in the "hey do you want to go do stuff?" territory. As the months wore on, we eventually got to the point where the base assumption was that, unless one of us had other plans or just wanted a night to themselves -- which, considering we were grown adults with independent social lives, would happen pretty frequently -- we'd be seeing one another after work, maybe staying in, maybe going out together, maybe going out with my friends or her friends. Now that we live together and our social schedules have calmed a bit (and also we got a dog,) we still take time to ourselves. Sometimes she'll go hang out with her friends and get in late, sometimes I will. Sometimes we'll both go out.

The important thing isn't seeing one another too little, or too much. It's figuring out whether the reason why you're seeing one another is a healthy "you're so much fun" decision, or a somewhat less healthy "I need to see you all the time otherwise I am miserable" decision. Which is why playing on the side of caution is good in cases like this; you're clearly not scared off by a whole lot of contact from the get-go, but that can easily get you into an unhealthy relationship.
posted by griphus at 8:19 AM on March 30, 2012 [13 favorites]

(Also, I guess distance is a factor: we were about a half-hour away from one another by subway, until we moved in together.)
posted by griphus at 8:25 AM on March 30, 2012

It's hard to say what is "normal" because, as others have already pointed out, it differs for each relationship. My fiancee and I have been dating for about 5 years now. We don't live together yet and we both work full time. In the beginning, we saw each other fairly regularly: probably 3 or 4 times a week -- we were all loaded up on sexy "love" chemicals. Throughout most of our relationship, we saw each other less often: we'd spend the weekends together but wouldn't necessarily see each other during the week (though we'd talk on the phone/online).

As we ramp up toward marriage, we are seeing each other more frequently again. But, as far as our "dating" years, I'd say that we probably saw each other on average of once per week, not including weekends (which we'd typically spend together, even if we were seeing friends, it would be as a group thing most of the time).
posted by asnider at 8:58 AM on March 30, 2012

I understand where you're coming from. I was married for 13 years and it really seems odd to date again.

When you're married, you've got shared everything and live together all the time. When you get out of that environment and enter into a new relationship with someone, it's different. You live in different locations, don't have shared expenses, have two different beds and all kinds of other things that just seems odd.

My problem (I call it a problem because it contributed to the downfall of an amazing and beautiful relationship that I was in) was that I did not appreciate the fact that everything was different. I felt that I needed what was familiar; but practically nothing was familiar. Everything was new, exciting, beautiful and different. It's not really a question about how many nights you are together, or how much time you spend together. It's about being aware of what is happening to you, what is happening to your partner, what is happening to you (as a couple). That's what is important.

Relax, enjoy the relationship. Don't define it with what you had done in the past. If the relationship is worth your time, energy and love, experience it.

Good luck
posted by WestChester22 at 9:59 AM on March 30, 2012 [5 favorites]

My boyfriend and I live (until this weekend!) on opposite sides of the city and he works in another city about an hour's drive away. We see each other one evening during the week (sleepover) and then two days/nights (more sleepovers) over the weekend. We both like our space but since we really, really like each other and have a lot of similar interests, it works out.

My previous boyfriend, who lived within a 15 minute drive of me, I saw one evening(sleepover) on the weekend only. He was quite a loner and the relationship, though long-term, was emotionally quite shallow. Other, short term relationships, we also basically saw each other mostly on the weekends.

My good friend - his girlfriend and he spent every night together from basically week two until they moved in together, and they're getting married next year. So that was approrpiate for them. A girl I used to be friendly with told me that she expects to see her boyfriend a minunum of three times a week. He didn't agree, so inappropriate for them.

So really, appropriateness is just the space where both people's expectations/needs match each other's/reality satisfactorily.

There is, of course, no normal. I think you're doing much better than you think, actually. You may be accustomed to a certain level of frequency but you don't seem to be unhappy with the fact that her needs don't match your experience. If you are disatisfied, however, that's not abnormal either.
posted by sm1tten at 10:27 AM on March 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Couple of times a week is pretty normal for me, I like to make sure I still have nights free to see different groups of friends, and also some nights to myself. Seeing too much of someone too soon tends to mean that I appreciate them less and get a bit annoyed by it all, however much I like them. I like to have time to miss someone a bit. I'm an introvert like that though; I know lots of couples who have seen each other most days since they got together and they seem pretty happy with that.
posted by amerrydance at 11:17 AM on March 30, 2012

Oh, and just to add information, the busy woman I referred to above lived approximately 750 feet away from me at the time.
posted by MrMoonPie at 12:15 PM on March 30, 2012

My boyfriend and I (I mid twenties, he is early thirties) see each other about 3 times per week, and have been together for 6 months. We used to see each other much more frequently, but my workplace/schedule changed and I was suddenly unable to sleep at his crib during the week. I thought I'd hate it, but I actually enjoy having week nights to myself to get errands/laundry/housework done or take a nice bath or have a good work out or meal plan for the week so I'm not eating takeout constantly - and then when the weeekend rolls around I'm all amped up to see him, and have my personal shit all taken care of so I can focus on fun times with the man-friend. Time apart during the week gives me time to miss him.

On the other hand, my roommate and his girlfriend, who have also been dating for 6 months, see each other every. Single. Day. I often wonder how they get anything done. But I guess it works for them. She told you she has co-dependancy issues and good on her for taking steps to work on that. Don't worry about the amount of time you don't spend together, just cherish the time that you do and work on bettering your own life in your free time. You did just have a divorce by the way...not easy stuff!
posted by Gonestarfishing at 1:37 PM on March 30, 2012 [3 favorites]

Mid-30s here, been seeing my girl for almost two and a half years now, and we still get together twice a week, maybe three times if we're in the mood. We're actually in the process of moving next door to each other because while we'd like to see each other more, neither of us is willing to give up our personal space (as we have done for previous relationships that didn't work out).
posted by komara at 2:05 PM on March 30, 2012

If your only serious experience with a relationship is "HEY I LIKE YOU A LOT" "I LIKE YOU TOO" "LET'S NEVER BE APART" "KAY!" then you need to not do that, whether or not it seems to work to your advantage.

I agree with this, especially if the LET'S NEVER BE APART is how all of your relationships have gone. Generally, it seems that if you really approach each relationship as unique, you'll have a history of having different dating styles, because you have a history of dating (and accomodating) different individuals, as opposed to acting out how you think relationships should go. Maybe now is the time to try the opposite of what you are really familiar with, based on your past.

I'm 28 now, I got married at 23 and I got divorced about 2 months ago

Feel free to tell me the eff off, and I am sure that there are always counterexamples, but as someone who has (admittedly, never been married, so has never been divorced) TONS of divorced friends and who seems to date, almost exclusively, divorced men: 2 months is likely way too short, and you could be setting yourself up for heartache in the long run if you don't really give yourself time to process the end of your marriage.

If you really can't wait, like, a year before returning to dating, then feel free to try really casual, slooooow dating, so you don't just rehash and re-experience the relationships in your past.

For those of you in relationships, late 20's, early 30's, where you both work- How often do you see each other?

Each relationship is a special snowflake, as the kids say. I've been in relationships where we've seen each other: 1x/week, 3x/week, and everyday (I moved in with my now partner at, like, month 4). I know married couples who only see each other biweekly. And though I might have an intellectual ideal of what is, you know, ideal, I generally find that I've had the best time just approaching each relationship as unique and doing what feels right and comfortable.

So, I dunno: if you are (trying to do what a lot of recently divorced friends, I've seen, do) just trying to recreate a marriage-style relationship, then you might rush into things or start looking to arbitrary deadlines. But if you take things slow and really feel out the relationship you are actually in, you might be able to find a pace that suits you.
posted by vivid postcard at 5:43 PM on March 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

My girlfriend and I are both in our late 20s, have careers, and live on opposite sides of town. We see each other 1-2 times a week and like it that way. We see ourselves as independent people and have both experienced co-dependent relationships in our past.

Infatuation can be a double-edge sword and if you feed that fire by seeing the person who has become the object of your infatuation constantly, any pulling back from that could cause you to feel a little off balance.

I have several friends in LTRs whose girlfriends live 20-40mi away (not uncommon for Northeast Ohio). They all have careers or are in post-grad programs that take up vast amounts of their time. I would say the happy medium for them is 2-3 times a week as well, depending upon weather/schedules/family.

I find that staking out one weekend evening (for me usually Fridays) to see my friends/colleagues apart from our SOs fills my need for socializing and making new friends.
posted by vkxmai at 10:20 AM on April 2, 2012

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