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With a divorce rate as high as 50%, men who were previously unavailable are re-entering the dating pool, and with women nowadays delaying marriage until much later, you might date a divorced man at some point in your life. Dating a divorced man can come with some pros, for instance, he’s generally, more experienced and mature, especially when it comes to dealing with conflicts. A divorce is definitely a lesson for men to learn from their mistakes and do better in the next relationships. However, dating a divorced man might present some cons too:
• He has children. Children require a considerable amount of energy, time and money. But they also present a permanent connection with the ex-wife and the in-laws.
• He has monthly payments. On top of his monthly payments for the things he needs such as car payments, house payments, and credit card payments, a divorced man might have to pay for child support and spousal maintenance payments, such as alimony. This will not only cut into his income but also will generate a permanent link to his former marriage.
• He’s hurt and not ready for a relationship. Depending on how long it has been since the divorced, and whether or not he had gotten over it, a divorced man might come with emotional baggage and might turn for other women for solace and validation.
In general, dating a divorced man can present some difficulties depending on:
• Whether or not he has children,
• The length of his former marriage,
• The length of time since his divorce was finalized and,
• And the reason for the divorce and who initiated it.
This makes a man who has no children, with a short marriage that ended up with a mutual agreement, and who had been divorced for a long time, the easiest man to date. However, real-life can be a lot messier.
Evaluate your relationship
A relationship, in general, can be evaluated depending on how much satisfaction you’re getting from it considering all the investment you'll have to put into the relationship, aka the sacrifices you'll have to make. Since dating a divorced man can present so many difficulties, you might find yourself making too many sacrifices. You might find yourself giving up a job or a social life to spend more time with his children, you might also have to give some money to cover up for his financial issues, not to mention the emotional baggage that comes with some divorced man. With such issues that are heaped on you, you’ll need to decide whether or not the satisfaction the relationship will bring you will balance your sacrifices.
The soon-to-be-separated man.
A soon-to-be-separated man is someone who is entertaining the idea of leaving his wife but never filed the divorce papers yet. It’s important to highlight this type of men because usually, they’re out there looking to date someone else.
You need to be careful in this case, because a soon-to-be-separated man usually, gets involved with other women for solace and validation. You can sense if he’s using you or not, from these signs:
• He’s recently separated (usually less than six months).
• He shows great interest in you then backs off once you show interest (maybe making the excuse of ‘I want to take things slowly’).
• He tells you how superior you are to his ex and how much better you are for him.
• He tells you that the divorce will be quick and easy (which doesn’t seem to be the case).
The right way to deal with a soon-to-be-separated man is by following these guidelines:
Rules For dealing with a soon-to-be-separated man Rule 1. Don’t get involved.
Until he proves he’s serious about the divorce and actually proceed with it, you’d better avoid any involvement in the relationship. First of all, he may never leave. Second, his wife is going to hate you and make you look like a home-wrecker. Finally, you might start doubting him. If he cheated on his wife, while they were still married, what will stop him from cheating on you?
Rule 2. Know his excuses.
Especially when it has been a while since he’s separated from his wife, he might start giving you many excuses for why he can’t leave yet; He doesn’t want to hurt her, he’ll miss the children, the divorce will cost him so much he can’t afford it yet…
Rule 3. Confront him.
In a gentle way, ask him what’s holding him from getting divorced. Such confrontation will either give him a wake-up call or will show you his true intentions. And yes, you have the right to ask.
Rule 4. Keep it casual.
If you still feel comfortable dating a soon-to-be-separated man, then do so. Just don’t expect too much commitment from his part and so, don’t give much commitment either. Not until you make sure he’s serious about the relationship and is taking action to walk away from his former marriage.
Rule 5. Don’t play shrink.
His marital problems and break up pain should be left to his buddies and therapist. Someone who’s serious about you, won’t spend the entire time you’re with him to whine about his broken marriage. More importantly, don’t try to advise him in any way and don’t push him to divorce. You would want someone who divorces on his own and not because he was urged to do so.
Rule 6. It’s never too late to back off.
If you sense that he’s not serious about your relationship and isn’t getting divorced any soon, consider walking away and telling him to call you when he’s divorced and ready to start fresh.
Problems with dating a divorcing man
A divorcing man is someone who has moved out, filed for divorce and is proceeding with the divorce. Dating a divorcing man is quite different than dating a divorced man for the following reasons:
Problem 1. He isn’t over his marriage.
Unresolved grief is an issue that can plague any previously married man. However, the risk is much higher when it comes to a divorcing man. There simply hasn’t gone enough time for him to grief and move on.
Problem 2. He isn’t interested in an actual relationship.
There could be many reasons why a man won’t be interested in an actual relationship right after his divorce, much less in the midst of his divorce. You can sense that he’s not interested in starting something serious if he’s ambivalent; showing interest for a period of time and then doesn’t, breaking dates, or even when he tells you that he’s not looking to get serious, which surprisingly not many women take seriously and would still believe they can change his mind.
Problem 3. He wants to hide your relationship.
Making the relationship public might threaten any settlement he’s trying to negotiate with his ex-wife, especially when kids are involved. It will not only make his wife jealous and angry, but it might also look bad in front of the court and custody evaluators.
Problem 4. Others disapprove of your relationship.
Whether they’re people from your side or from his, not many people are not open to the idea of dating a divorcing man.
• Your friends might fear that you’ll get hurt.
• The court will be looking for the children's welfare.
• His ex, grieving the loss of her marriage, might feel rejected and inadequate.
• His parents are usually concerned that their son might regret his divorce, or that the new relationship might add more mess to his ongoing divorce, and that they might see less of their grandchildren. Also, the parents might fear that the divorce is reflecting poor parenting from their part. And if they’re religious, they might fear that their son is sinning.
Knowing the reasons for any disapproval of your relationship is crucial to help you feel less hurt and angry for the lack of support.
Problem 5. There are delays in the divorce proceedings.
An average divorce takes one to two years, and it can be much longer. It doesn’t help that most men will claim that the divorce will be quick or is almost over. The wait can be frustrating. Therefore, it’s important to know in advance what you’re getting into.
Problem 6. You have to “share” him.
Although he has filed for divorce, his ex is legally still ‘his wife’. Therefore, his property that includes his money, house, car, and other belongings, is still legally hers too. He might also have to support her financially during the divorce if she’s unemployed.
With such issues to face, you need to proceed with caution and follow these guidelines:
Rules for dealing with a divorcing man Rule 1. Ask plenty of questions as soon as possible.
People don’t often volunteer information about themselves that is going to make them look less desirable. Asking questions will help you evaluate the relationship soon enough, and prevent problems down the road. The following are some examples of questions to ask a divorcing man:
• When did he file for divorce? Asking this will allow you to decide if you’ll wait for much longer, and to have an idea about how much grieving has been done.
• If he has children.
• Who initiated the divorce and why. If he’s the one who wanted the divorce he’s likely ready to move on. However, the woman he left might not be as ready to move on. If it’s the opposite, he might not be ready yet to get into another relationship.
• The last time he had sex with his ex. This might not be the first question to ask, but asking this question can tell you a lot about how serious he is about the divorce and whether or not he’s ready to move on.
Rule 2. Take things slowly.
Because of all the risks that dating a divorcing man can generate, it is crucial to take things slowly.
• Don’t commit too soon. Before making any commitment and investing your time and energy into the relationship, take your time to evaluate the relationship. The more complicated things are, the longer you’ll need to wait.
• Don’t move in with him. It’s frustrating to wait, but it’s more frustrating to wait while witnessing the mess of his divorce. You’ll have no escape from the stress of dating a divorcing man, and if he has children, you might not be ready to become a stepmother just yet, adding to that how bad it might look in front of the court.
Rule 3. Keep your own life, friends, and activities.
If keeping your own life, friends, and activities is useful in any new relationship, it’s crucial when dating a divorcing man.
• Keep your job. Keeping your job means that you’re financially independent, but it can also be a great distraction from the stress of dating a divorcing man.
• Spend time with your friends. Many women tend to blow off their friendships when they get into a relationship. It’s a bad idea in general, and a terrible one when dating a divorcing man. Having friends is important to have the support you need, but also to stay happy and independent.
• Have lots of activities. These activities will make sure that not every happiness in your life depends upon your divorcing man. And, if he has children and is going to spend time with them, you’ll still have your own activities and your own plans.
• Keep your things at your place. Avoid keeping any personal things in his house, car, office or anywhere his ex might visit or have a key to. This will prevent any jealousy drama.
Rule 4. Stay on the periphery of his divorce.
Becoming too invested in the relationship might make his problems feel like yours. How much custody he’ll have, whether or not he’ll keep the house or not, and how much maintenance he might have to pay his ex-wife. Such problems can only add to your stress. Moreover, you have no control over this situation. This is why you need to keep your distance and stay at the periphery of his divorce.
• Accept that the house and the kid aren’t yours. This will help you get less attached to things you might lose.
• Don’t let him lean on you too much. He may seek solace in you by venting about his divorce or about his ex-wife. You want to be supportive, but don’t get sucked in his divorce. It simply isn’t fair to burden you with his divorce drama, and his complaining and venting should be left to his friends and therapist.
Rule 5. Avoid competing with the ex.
This is his divorce, and while you cannot win any competition with his ex, you’ll lose if you get into one.
• When she’s the problem. When his ex is resenting you, she might be hurt and angry. Keep your distance from her, and if she starts badmouthing you or threatening him, step aside and let her behave childishly.
• When you’re the problem. If you’re the one feeling competitive, you should distance yourself and avoid discussing his ex with him. Keep in mind that you’ve already won because you’re the one with him (assuming that he’s worth it).
• When he’s the problem. If he’s responding to his ex’s calls and advances, don’t blame her. He’s the one who needs to set clear boundaries. Remember that the goal is to be happy, and not just keep the relationship going.
Rule 6. Accept the limitations of the relationship.
Keeping in mind that the relationship has limitations and isn’t like any normal relationship, will help you feel less hurt, as you won’t be expecting much at this stage. However, he needs to set clear boundaries when it comes to his former life. You don’t have to tolerate things like using divorce stress as an excuse for any rudeness or uncaring behavior, or regularly breaking dates with you because something came up with his ex. Remember that a man who cares about you would want to make you happy.
The Divorced Man.
This man should be easier to date than a soon-to-be-divorced man, or a divorcing man. However, dating a divorced man can generate some challenges depending on how long the marriage was, how long it has been since the divorce, whether or not they have kids and the reason for the divorce and who initiated it. In fact, divorce, unlike a nonmarital breakup, can lead to great loss such as:
• The loss of faith in “Until death do us apart”. Including the loss of faith in marriage and long-term commitment.
• The loss of relationships. Not only did he lose his marriage, but also the relationship he had through that marriage, such as with his in-laws and couple friends.
• The loss of property. When divorce occurs, property and belongings would be divided. And some things like a house or a pet, that might have a great sentimental value, will have to go to one of them.
• Loss of time with children. While being married, he had complete access to his children. However, after divorce, children will be either at mom’s or at dad’s and more often at mom’s. This makes the time spent with his children limited. Thus, it’s one more loss to grieve.
Problems with dating a divorced man.
Keep in mind that the following problems, don’t necessarily apply to every divorced man and that the extent of the problem varies.
Problem 1. He’s still living in the past.
A change can be difficult, and depending on the circumstances –and the man- moving on, can take a long period of time. While it’s normal to take some time to adjust, you still need to be wary about the possibility that he might not have let go of his past yet. Signs such as nonessential contact with his ex, wishing he could go back in time and fix his mistakes, forgetting the bad and glorifying the past, or talking about the past altogether, might be a red flag that he’s stuck in his past and isn’t really available yet.
Problem 2. He hasn’t learned from his mistakes.
You must have heard the saying “Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it”. Well, the same goes for relationships. Many men don’t learn from their past mistakes, hence the high divorce rate for second marriages compared to first marriages. You don’t want to be the next one he’s going to divorce so look out for any signs that might suggest that he didn’t learn from his past mistakes. These signs can go like this:
• He has no clue what caused the divorce. Reasons such as “we fought all the time”, “she cheated on me”… are symptoms of marital discord and not reasons for a divorce. The real reason would be usually a high incompatibility, growing overwhelmed with responsibilities…
• He blames his ex. Even if his ex had cheated on him, maybe he should ask why would she cheat? Did he neglect her? Was he not supportive enough? Does she have a history of infidelity? And even when his ex is a long-time cheat, it would still be partly his responsibility that he chose to marry her despite the fact that she had a history of cheating. Blaming his ex would make him feel like a victim and this will prevent him from learning from his mistakes.
• He’s eager to remarry. Especially when he hasn’t been divorced for so long, too much eagerness might mean that he dislikes single life and is looking to fill the void.
Problem 3. He isn’t interested in remarrying or having children.
It isn’t uncommon to hear a divorced man claiming that he’s had it with marriage. It’s a normal part of grieving. However, most men will recover from this stage and will be ready to commit again. So if you’re looking for a serious relationship and to have children, it’s important to make sure that he’s going to recover. But don’t waste too much time finding out what his feelings are on the subject or hoping that he might change his mind.
Problem 4. He has financial obligations.
He might be burdened with too much financial obligations especially when he has many children and his ex-wife didn’t work during their marriage. In that case, he’ll have to pay alimony to his ex on top of the child support. Adding to that, normal living expenses such as a house mortgage, a car loan, bills… not much is going to be left of his income, that is if he’s not already deep in debt. In this case, you might find yourself giving much of your income to compensate for the payments he has to make for his former marriage. This is an issue to be aware of and to discuss prior to any commitment in order to work around it.
Problem 5. You’re not his priority.
When it comes to his time and his attention and when he has children from a former marriage, you might find yourself not on top of the list of his priorities. He’ll have to spend time with his children, which is acceptable. However, some boundaries need to be set, especially when it comes to dealing with his ex-wife. For example, he shouldn’t fix his ex’s car or act as her confidant or break dates with you to help her with a personal problem.
Five Rules For Dating Divorced Man Rule 1. Ask plenty of questions.
Just as previously advised for the soon-to-be-separated and the divorcing man, asking questions, as early as possible, when dating a divorced man is important. This will help you evaluate the relationship and how much you’re getting out of it, in terms of satisfaction and happiness considering all the challenges it involves and all the sacrifices you'll have to make. You can ask the following:
• When his divorce was finalized? This will tell you whether or not he’s divorced to start with, and how far he is in the grieving process. Someone who has been divorced for years is usually done grieving and is available.
• Whether he has children and if so, how much he has them? Children require a huge amount of time and money, but it can also mean an ever so present ex-wife that might create some problems in some cases.
• What type of relationship he has with his ex? You might not get an honest answer regarding this question, but it’s something you should observe over time. This is especially important when she’s too involved in his life, whether it was because of the children, or just because they remained friends, or even because she’s not over him yet.
Rule 2. Assess his baggage.
Assessing how much baggage he has, will help you plan ahead how to deal with it and not get overwhelmed down the road. The level of baggage to deal with depends on the following:
• The children. Their number, and if there are any, how much does he have them, what ages are they, and how is their behavior. Someone with little to no baggage would be someone with no children, or with one child who is over 17 years old, who’s at his dad’s house once in a while and is polite and well-adjusted.
• Financial problems, including maintenance problems and child support.
• The ex-wife. An angry or a difficult ex-wife, who has children with him and is around often, can make a high level of baggage to deal with.
• His attitude about former marriage. Someone who’s bitter, who has no clue why it ended or is refusing to talk about it, is having a high level of baggage.
Rule 3. Take things slowly.
With a divorcing man, you don’t have to be as concerned about going slowly as with a soon-to-be-separated man a divorcing man. However, because of the 5 problems illustrated above, it is important to detect whether any of these problems apply to him and how big are they before investing too much in the relationship. Here are some ways to take things slowly:
• Don’t rush into a serious relationship with him, until you have a clear idea of what the situation is like.
• If he has children, wait until your relationship becomes serious before meeting them, and getting attached to them or they to you.
Rule 4. Evaluate your needs.
A man with too much baggage, especially when he has children, can be unable to satisfy your needs. He’s already loaded up with his own problem and might not be there for you to give you the support and attention you need. Depending on how big his baggage is, you need to evaluate how much you’ll be sacrificing and whether that might lead to unhappiness down the road. Here are some questions to ask yourself, before getting involved with a divorced man:
• Am I comfortable enough sharing him with his children? Or with his ex-wife whom he must deal with on a regular basis because of his children?
• Am I comfortable with his financial obligations?
• Am I comfortable with the way he’s raising his children?
• Do I get enough time, love and support from him?
• Am I a high enough priority in his life?
Rule 5. Be adaptable.
Once you made sure, the challenges are manageable and figured out a plan, consider that some things can’t be changed and therefore, you’ll need to adapt to them. In other words, you’ll need to become accustomed to his divorce-related baggage.
Rules for dealing with the ex-wife
Rule 1. Figuring out the ex-wife.
Usually his ex-wife will fall in one of those categories:
• The polite or absent ex-wife. She’s someone who’s over the divorce. She can be totally absent from his life, or friendly and polite especially when they have children together.
• The ever-present ex-wife. She calls too often, always having a crisis and constantly needs help with one thing or another. If they have children together she might be overly concerned about the kids when they're with him. This woman isn’t over him yet and couldn’t adjust to life after divorce properly.
• The angry or difficult ex-wife. This is the most challenging type of ex-wives. She is rude, resentful or jealous. She probably is going to badmouth you in front of him and others including the children. She might go as far as harassing you or trying to keep him from seeing his children.
Recognizing what type of ex-wife he has, is crucial for you to assess the relationship and how to deal with the challenges you might have to face.
Rule 2. Be polite.
Although your partner should be the one communicating with his ex-wife, you might find yourself in a place where you have to deal with her too. No matter what type of exes she is, you won’t be always able to avoid answering the phone or opening the door for her. Try to be polite with her and keep a businesslike attitude. With such a neutral attitude, she won’t have any excuses to be rude. If this isn’t working with her, simply cut her off. If she’s being rude, hang up the phone and close your door. Any bad behavior from her part would only show how pitty she’s being.
Rule 3. Minimize her involvement.
One of the main reasons why dealing with an absent or a polite ex-wife is easy, is because she’s rarely around if involved at all. However, an ever-present or an angry or difficult ex-wife is around too much. The good news is that your partner has control over that. He can minimize her involvement by doing the following:
• If they have children, he should encourage her to phone only for child-related issues. If she isn’t taking the hint, he should be more explicit.
• He should ask her to use e-mail more often.
• He should have her calls on his cell phone instead on the house’s phone.
• He should encourage her to find someone else to help with her personal problems.
It’s important for him to make these changes in order for the relationship to work. Otherwise, you’ll constantly feel invaded and eventually resentful for having a relationship with a man who has another woman in his life.
Rule 4. Establish boundaries.
Lack of boundaries equals troubles. Establishing boundaries will help you feel less invaded and run over. And unlike with soon-to-be-separated men and divorcing men, with a divorced man, boundaries are much clearer.
• Your relationship with him is yours. Once the relationship gets serious, you should take priority over his ex. Even if they remained friends, he should make it clear to her and to you, that you’re his priority. This applies even when they have children together.
• Your home is yours. Once you move in together, he should make it clear to his ex-wife, that the house is yours and she can’t go in as if it was her house.
• The kids are hers. No matter how close you become with the kids, they are still hers and you should let him and his ex handle them. It’ll take some pressure off of you and it’ll also show the kids that you’re not trying to take their mother’s place.
• The ex is his. You shouldn’t find yourself in a place where you need to deal with his ex, other than occasionally greeting her on the phone when she calls or when you run into each other. Even when he doesn’t want to talk to her and is trying to avoid answering her calls, it should never put you in a place where you have to deal with her. Let him handle it.
Rule 5. Protect yourself.
Especially when it comes to the angry or difficult type of ex-wives, you’ll need to protect yourself from any kind of threatening behavior. Whether she’s harassing you by e-mails or phone calls or at your home, you need to protect yourself by keeping track of this behavior and having evidence you can take to the police in case she went too far. Even if the evidence isn’t enough to charge her or to warrant a restraining order, you’ve begun a paper trail that will provide a basis in case she continues her behavior.
Rule 6. Be curious, not obsessive.
When it comes to dating a divorced man, it’s only natural to be curious about the ex-wife. what kind of person she was and what she looks like. Knowing why things didn’t work out for them, might help you make things work out for you. However, be careful not to start comparing yourself to her and become obsessive about it. Signs such as refusing to meet her and trying to avoid any contact with her, or resenting her, or feeling extremely uncomfortable with the fact that he’s still in touch with her or keeping any old photos and most importantly, constantly comparing yourself to her, these signs might indicate that you’re becoming obsessive. In this case, you need to do the following
• Set boundaries that will make you comfortable enough, such as no contact beyond child-related issues.
• Remember that she helped your partner become the person he is today, i.e., someone who wants to be with you.
• Think about what you have to offer to him. If you believe that you can’t make him happy, then why be with him in the first place.
Dealing with his children.
A relationship with a man with kids are much different than a relationship with a man without kids. Children provide enough challenge to give the relationship a high difficulty index. Children don’t just require care and support, but they also can force people to change the way they think, behave, and live. This effect largely depends on custody and parenting time. These two terms, oftentimes are used interchangeably. However, they aren’t the same thing.
Custody means who has the legal right to decide how the child should be raised including, what school he goes to, where he should live and what doctor he should see.
On the other hand, parenting time refers to the percentage of time each parent gets with the child after the divorce. The traditional setup is that the mother has sole custody of the child and the father would have a certain percentage of parenting time such as every other weekend. However, courts are beginning to acknowledge fathers’ rights and are giving them more parenting time. So, you can meet divorced men with joint custody and with parenting time closer to 40 or 50 percent.
Problems with dating a man with children. Problem 1. They don’t like you.
However excited you might be meet his children, they might not be as happy to meet you. They might seem uninterested, ignore you and even treat you disrespectfully. They might be grieving the divorce, or they might simply be slow to warm up to people. However, if they seem to be constantly rude and disrespectful, then that might reflect poor parenting.
Problem 2. You don’t like them.
There are several reasons why you might not like his children. You might think that they’re bratty children, especially when they’re constantly rude and disrespectful. Also, you might not be fond of children altogether. Some people only want their own kids. If you feel this way, don’t get involved with a man with children. The kids will suffer because they’re with someone who doesn’t like them. The dad will suffer because he cares for his children and you don’t. and you too will suffer because you’re stuck dealing with his children.
Problem 3. The children come first.
Although this sounds logical and understandable, many women fail to realize the impact of the statement “the children come first”. This might mean that he can’t go with you to Paris and blow off his child’s school play, and it might also mean, that you’ll always, in his heart, come second to his children. However, if the relationship becomes serious, you should never take second place when it comes to his heart and time. If you get involved with a man who tells you upfront that his children will always come first, know that this might be a reflection of his own guilt. Which isn’t exactly healthy for him or for his children who will eventually lose respect for him as they sense that he’s trying too hard to earn their love.
Rules for dealing with a man with children. Rule 1. Take things slowly.
Before you meet the children, you need to wait until you move from the dating phase into a serious relationship that offers a sense of stability. Once you meet them, take your time getting to know them. In other words, don’t try too hard and don’t try to buy their affection.
Rule 2. Adjust your expectations.
Unless he plays a small role in his children’s lives, his children will have a considerable impact on his life and will affect the time you spend with him. He simply doesn’t have as much freedom as the childless man. also, you might not find yourself included when he spends his time with his children, which is only normal as the children will need alone time with their father. So if you’re fun of weekends away and dinners out, you might have to reconsider the relationship.
Rule 3. Accept only respect.
Some women are treated poorly when they first meet their partner’s children, and even after a while. A man who lets his children treat you poorly isn’t just a poor father, but also a poor partner. Children should be taught to respect others. Don’t settle for less than respect and set the example by always treating them respectfully.