The sorrow felt when reading about the number of divorces leaves you with nothing short of blaring emotions. Divorce leaves you drained in an uphill battle without end with dried air in your lungs. During the pandemic, it has been difficult for singles to engage in face-to-face interactions. Social engagement via Zoom conferences cushions the aura of a personal touch. Essentially, it is hard to date during a period of great turbulence in our daily lives.

Additionally, social distancing clammers on our abilities of expression and numbs our sense of creativity. Currently, nearly half of the U.S. population is composed of unmarried adults. Marriage is a drawback for most adults predisposed to change the narrative of marriage. Some people value freedom more than being in romantic partnerships. However, existing relationship ideologies have remained despite single adults who prefer not to be confined by this narrowing label.

Divorce Statistics across the Western Hemisphere

To date, as reported by the World Population Review (2020), 2.5 divorces occur per 1,000 in the U.S. population. We cannot examine participants’ reasons for being single and unmarried, such as whether they are purposely single or are actively seeking a long-term partnership that could lead to marriage. It may be that many singles are single, or are seeking relationships but with no intent to move up from their current status. The intent of being single may be due to their underlying attitudes toward the value and benefits of married life.

Perspectives on Empathy, Relationships, and Divorce

One study examined the attitudes of single and married couples towards marriage. There is no data on whether participants were in their first marriage or were remarried, nor how long participants had been single, married, divorced/separated, or widowed. These may also impact the magnitude of observable effects seen among the single subgroup population. Rafaelli et al. (2017) conducted a study examining when empathic attitudes are exhibited in romantic couples. The purpose of the study was to evaluate differential roles on tending to one’s partner’s negative and positive moods. In fact, as reported in another study (Ickes and Hodges 2013), “the idea of accuracy may not always prove useful, and have termed the resulting tendency of relationship partners towards benign attentional neglect as “motivated inaccuracy.”

Somehow, these studies triggered my memory of meeting about 10 divorcees on my journey whose stories were juxtaposed against marriages that succeeded against the odds. I began to ask myself why these relationships did not survive and if there was even a missing element I could grasp in learning to embrace my relationship status. Individuals who marry or date divorcees seem emblematic and tend to exude empathic attitudes. Singles are portrayed most of the time as soothing balms to divorcees experiencing traumatic events.  The questions I asked these couples were the following:

  • Did responsiveness equate to knowing you were loved?
  • Is there a possibility that even when your needs are met emotionally, physically, and spiritually, one could still go through the waves of loneliness, solitude, and apathy in a relationship?
  • What would be their advice to young men and women who date divorcees to manage expectations and reach a level of equanimity?

All too often, needs and wants are not properly communicated in relationships. As in, when a couple would be angry with each other, did they take the time to allow their emotions and feelings to be in order to discern the next steps to be initiated to stimulate understanding in future interactions?

Love & Self-Help Books

A vast majority of self-help books prescribe 10,000 ways to achieve happiness or attain the love you want. Once, I typed the words emotional strength, empathy, and understanding in Amazon’s search bar, the following results were generated for books:

  • Over 7,000 items for emotional strength
  • Over 10,000 for empathy

However, the combination of these three terms only yielded 60 books on the platform. Obviously, it is a deep yearning within humans to associate meaning to life through meaningful interactions. For the most part, marriage symbolizes the pinnacle of healthy relationships. The potent effects of marriage is sometimes equated to the foundational strength of healthy relationships but does not capture the nuances of negative experiences in marriage.

  • Are we, therefore, making marriage a determining factor of our worth in society?
  • What direct and indirect benefits does marriage have on the health of a society?

Though marriage is not perceived as an essential element in some people’s lives, relationships necessitate the conflagration of emotional strength, empathy, and understanding. Love empowers us to carry the emotions of our loved ones without sacrificing our self-sufficiency. Clarity of purpose and effective communication with a dose of vulnerability can illuminate the troubled waters in blossoming relationships.

Divorce and Gender Inequalities

For one moment, let’s look at the impact of divorce through a stained-glass windowpane. The fractal pieces can shatter insight on how positional equity becomes disproportionate between men and women in a divorce. Women remain pervasively at a disadvantage for single parenting and loss of household income. For once, reconstructing one’s life is lost in the maze of coping with a forcefully imposed major life transition. The minute details of the divorce are also buried in the block pile of splitting legal paperwork and binding mandates. This is not a homogeneous process and cannot be reduced to an expansive descent to a groundless mental space. During a divorce, both parties may feel a tubular spiraling in an interminable labyrinth punctuated by remnants of the past and shame.

As highlighted in the book Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life (Rosenberg, 2015), both parties cannot make moralistic judgments in their interaction because of divergent values. In fact, moralistic judgments serve to support our values without taking into account views of those involved. On another note, couples living within close proximity have been attributed to relationship longevity compared to partners in long-distance relationships. There is no clear consensus on the mechanisms for divorcees that can assuage these prickly challenges. These challenges exacerbate in long-distance relationships because the opportunity cost is that couples are not able to see each other as often to evaluate each other in different settings during the rudimentary stage of the relationship. The rewards of the relationship are not as heartfelt compared to those living within close proximity. However, it is possible to feel alone in a relationship regardless of the distance.

Self-Care in Relationships with Divorcees

On the same note, the drainage of emotions can take a toll on those who date divorcees. One’s compassion cannot be undergirded at the expense of another person’s happiness who may never have experienced a similar loss. In general, separation expands distress for men compared to women who suffer from the economic brunt of bringing up children as a single parent. Besides, marriage life is becoming less appealing for individuals who are not willing to sacrifice their freedom for a long-term commitment. Thus, it is worth noting for those dating divorcees:

  • What is the appropriate conventional avenue to be taken as not to feel overwhelmed with the emblematic impasse of a divorce?
  • And can we truly fully understand those who undergo this rite of passage?

One study, in particular, examined these perceptions among those who are married to those who have never been married. The corollary of marriage is underpinned with benefits of enjoying more intimacy and fulfilling safety needs such as financial security and physical/emotional safety. For single adults, the benefits described were in terms of social life, friendships, health fitness, intimacy, and career trajectory. Overall, marriage was imputed with long-term security which is important to satisfaction with interpersonal relationships.

The situational context of divorcees must be taken into account in order to feed emotions with logic. This is a colossal task easier said than done because adaptation happens on a different time scale for divorced parties. In general, the maintenance of a relationship demands strength, time and unselfish intent to dedicate to it’s growth and evolution. From that viewpoint, couples have to set clear intentions to prevent the union’s dissolution.  In any relationship whether it be with a divorcee or not, communication is an essential ingredient to prevent emotional dissatisfaction so that we can understand the stages of transitions within a relationship from feeling responsible for your partner’s feelings, being angry for playing these confined roles to feeling emotionally liberated and taking responsibility for our intentions. Here is a list of recommendations to start the process when creating mutual rapport in these circumstances:

Defining Goals for the relationship: We tend to justify and doubt our gut intuition from the fear of being alone, but no one wants to be out in the cold. If the person you are with has time to hang out with friends, he/she can carve out time to spend with you. When dating divorcees, the other party wants to make sure he/she is not invisible, that the remnants of who you used to be are not always a point of discussion unless it is for the purpose of meeting your healed self-halfway. This is not being insensitive to the toils of what your heart had to go through. In those circumstances, people want to feel wanted, seen, and valued. They do not want to be handed false promises only to be let down a few months later for someone else. Take time to heal first before seeking out new relationships, because some may have taken a leap of faith in embracing your brokenness.

Healing Past Trauma: When dating divorcees, there is a clear understanding the other party is empathetic of the pain the other person endured. This is demonstrated when space is made to vent past feelings while the other party finds it hard to hold their ground and uphold emotional boundaries. Meanwhile, there is a strong sentiment on not being hurt in the process out of the proverbial confusion. It is thus important that divorcees make sense of their wounds and brokenness.  There is a genuine interest in feeling seen, valued  and validated so as not to feel that past remnants are not picked up but rather to meet with your healed self.  If he/she is making excuses to be with you and brings up past insecurities, he/she is not ready to be in a relationship. You need to evaluate if this is the best situation for you. If you are feeling down thinking about it, it is advisable to trust your intuition. You deserve to be loved in a whole and complete way. Your rationale in staying in the relationship might be valid but it does not efface the reality that you are not being loved in the manner you deserve.

Assessing the constellation of attributes: Someone who thinks you are way too intense may have a challenge being with strong and opinionated women or men. Be with your equal. Telling someone that you may need time, it sounds like an eternity. People may be left thinking “should I continue to date other people?” or hold on to a detached and unpromising future. Impatience can show the worst of us, especially when someone cares deeply. How are we to reconcile this confused state of being while ensuring we take care of our emotional being. As Charlotte Kasl nicely puts it, “a person who is immersed in grief simply cannot enter the flow of give and take with another person until his or her heart is healed.”


  1. Andress, H.-J., & Bröckel, M. (2007). Income and life satisfaction after marital disruption in Germany. Journal of Marriage and Family, 69, 500–512.
  2. Azgın, B. (2018). A Review on “Non-Violent Communication: A Language of Life” by Marshall B. Rosenberg. Journal of History Culture and Art Research, 7(2), 759-762.
  3. Gesselman, A. N., Franco, C. Y., Brogdon, E. M., Gray, P. B., Garcia, J. R., & Fisher, H. E. (2019). Perceptions of married life among single never‐married, single ever‐married, and married adults. Personal Relationships, 26(4), 586-601.
  4. Kasl, C. D. (1999). If the Buddha Dated: Handbook for Finding Love on a Spiritual Path. Penguin.
  5. Krapf, S. (2018). Moving in or breaking up? The role of distance in the development of romantic relationships. European Journal of Population, 34(3), 313-336.
  6. Leopold, T. (2018). Gender differences in the consequences of divorce: A study of multiple outcomes. Demography, 55(3), 769-797.
  7. World Population Review. (2020). Divorce rates by country 2020. Retrieved by


Venchele Saint Dic is the Founder of Pathway Coach Writing and Mesfami Care Inc. She is an experienced writer, editor, and native French speaker with cognate education in Health Policy and Management.