“A busy, vibrant, goal-oriented woman is so much more attractive than a woman who waits around for a man to validate her existence.”
~ Mandy Hale
Some people will swear off men who are going through a divorce. My opinion is more nuanced…
Is he ready?
How will I know if he is ready to be in relationship? Well, the truth is you won’t. Like all connections, there are inherent risks. Some people don’t understand that the nature of all relationships in a flow of connection—deep connection—mis-attunement (aka disillusionment)—repair. It’s the couples who do the repair part well that make it. So we are not looking to make a hurt-free relationship. If you are really into him— go for it….and let’s think about a few things critically.
How does he respond when you ask him about going through the divorce? Is he defensive? Is this a really drawn out process? Is he only a week separated? These are at least yellow flags if not red ones…proceed with caution.
How does he talk about what happened?
If he is speaking in really black and white terms (think rigid, like this is the way it happened, no questions allowed), if he doesn’t seem to want to share information, if he throws himself under the bus, he may not be ready for a new relationship.
If he wants to move fast or introduce you to his kids right away…run for the hills! These would be indication that he still has some processing to do before he can move forward to someone new.
If he can talk in depth about his marriage and divorce, if he has created a coherent understanding of what happened on both sides that would be an indication he might be ready to move on.
Is he in this for a fling? you can just ask him, maybe he will be honest with you and maybe not but putting that question out there won’t destroy anything it just let’s us all know where we stand.
Are you ready?
How do you feel about a fling? The truth is a lot os people (note, not just men) are not ready to head into a serious relationship while ending a marriage. They might not know what they want and often don’t figure it out until they discover this is not what they want. If your heart and soul is open to a fling then this might be a yes.
How are you with complicated?
This is probably a relationship to take slow, there may be children and complicated exes involved. If you can stay open and curious towards yourself as well as him, you can probably navigate these choppy waters.
So you met a man who is currently going through the difficult divorce process and you are not sure if you should get involved with him. The key to finding out whether or not he is worth your time is to communicate with him about what YOU are looking for and then ask him what HE is looking for.
A lot of women with anxious attachment styles are terrified of verbalizing their concerns to a man because they fear they will scare him off. Let me me ask you this...if he is so easily scared off, why do you need him in the first place?
Here's how to communicate YOUR needs:
- Use "I" statements such as I want, I need, I feel. So for example, saying something to the effect of "I'm at a point in my life right now, where I feel ready for a serious relationship"
- In order to ease your anxiety about communicating your needs, tell yourself communication is key to any healthy relationship and this is a good test of his communication skills while also giving you practice with finding your voice and therefore, empowering yourself.
- You will always have to stand up for yourself in life, including relationships...so why not practice with this guy?
-Remind yourself that the more you practice, the easier it will become to voice your concerns, opinions, wants, feelings and needs
- Your voice matters...just like anyone else's voice matters. Your voice does not matter any less. You deserve to be heard and the only way he will know what you want is if you tell him.
Here's how to ask him what HIS needs are:
- Be straightforward. And just ask.
- Be very direct. If you want to increase your chances of getting the answer you NEED to know (does not necessarily mean it will be the answer you WANT to hear), then just go ahead and ask him: "I know you are going through something life altering right now, I was wondering what exactly is it that you are looking for right now?"
- The sooner you ask, the sooner you will know.
- This shows him you are a good, healthy and effective communicator and also sets the tone for the future of your relationship with him in terms of how you want for you guys to communicate with one another...HONEST AND DIRECT
If he tells you he is not ready for a relationship and he is just looking to "have fun" or for a "fling" or simply "companionship", then you have the ability to make the choice of whether or not you want to engage in such relations with this man.
BUT do not fool yourself into thinking that you might change his mind with time because he will fall endlessly in love with you once he gets to know you. Is that a possibility? sure, why not? But is that likely to happen when he is going through the turmoil of divorce and possibly even child custody and has way too much on his plate to really be able to see clearly what a wonderful woman he has right in front of him?
He will most likely not be able to truly value your amazing worth at this time. Not because he is incapable of valuing your worth but because he is blind to it at this moment since he is blinded by all the stress of divorce.
If he tells you he is interested in a relationship, well then that's great!
Just be wary of how he talks about his soon to be ex-wife. Does he seem to still be in love with her? Is he so bitter that he can't stop talking about her and it is starting to drain you because you find yourself feeling obligated to listen to all his divorce drama. For those women with anxious attachment styles, BEWARE! don't fall into a co-dependent relationship with this man.
In this case, setting boundaries is important.
Let him know you are not looking to be his therapist -- politely of course! First, validate his feelings by saying something to the effect of "This situation is causing you so much strife in your life right now. Maybe seeking someone unbiased to talk to would be helpful, such as a therapist".
Then, if he continues to burden you on a consistent basis with his problems and you are starting to feel drained, telling him "I want to be here for you and of course I will continue to be here for you as much as I can, but I don't think it is healthy for our relationship to be constantly talking about this on a regular basis. I'm worried it can deteriorate our relationship."
Hopefully, that will wake him up and make him realize he needs to talk to a therapist and not put so much burden on you and your relationship with him.
Dating a man who is going through a divorce can be tricky or if the man is coping well with the divorce and is seriously open-minded to finding love again, it can be very rewarding and easy. Each man is different, so therefore, there is no way to know for sure if a divorced man is ready for love again or not....unless you ask him directly.
If you’re thinking about dating someone who is going through a divorce, here are some things to reflect on.
The Breakup Experience
You’ll know, if you’ve lived through it yourself, that a relationship breakup is one of the most painful experiences in life.
Even when the breakup is mutually agreed and not marked by acrimony and conflict, it’s still painful. And that pain takes time to work through. So, conscious uncoupling or not, it hurts.
Then, when you factor divorce into the equation, there is added complication arising from potential legal matters, including property and custody of children. These can be very stressful issues to navigate for anybody in that situation.
So, to put it simply, the man you are considering as a dating partner, is going through a lot. That leads us to the next point.
Understanding the Rebound Relationship
It is not uncommon for someone during the time of a relationship breakdown or divorce to consciously or unconsciously seek a new romantic liaison to distract themselves from their pain. Relationships formed during this time are commonly called rebound relationships.
Rebound relationships have certain characteristics. One is that they tend to be short-lived, because the newly single person is understandably emotionally unstable. Remember, he is grappling with a lot; his emotions are in turmoil.
The upshot is that the person on the rebound is probably not yet ready, in any thoughtful way, to enter into a new intimate relationship. This is despite what he tells any prospective partner and despite what he might be telling himself.
And, whether, he acknowledges it or not, he’s likely looking for a safe place to land while he’s dealing with his past and adjusting to his new present.
More Things for You to Mull Over
So, now let’s place the focus where it needs to be – on you and your choices. Here are some ideas and suggestions.
Contemplate What You Need and Desire in A Relationship
Assuming that you are seeking an enduring intimate relationship, it’s important that you are clear about what you most deeply desire and need in that relationship. Be clear about the qualities you desire in a partner. I encourage you to write all of this down. This will be your guide in pursuing any new relationship.
Once you’ve done that, I invite you to consider whether this relationship, at this time, can meet those needs and desires.
Consider the Importance of Balancing Needs in a Relationship
A balanced relationship is one where the needs of both partners are paramount.
So, a relevant question is this: is this man at this time able to focus on your needs in equal measure with his own? Remember, he’s carrying a load of emotional pain and, knowingly or not, he may simply be looking for balm to soothe his wounds.
One way to judge this is the tone and content of his conversation with you. Is it by and large self-focused? Is his dialog consistently centered on his ex-partner and issues surrounding his divorce? Does he demonstrate a sincere interest in you, your needs and desires? Does he listen to you or does he use your time together to vent about his own situation?
What you want to avoid is falling into a pattern where you’re the one of doing all the giving while foregoing your legitimate needs in the relationship.
So, I suggest that you look very carefully at your motivation for wanting to get into this relationship, because if you become the ever-giver, you will likely experience dissatisfaction with the relationship sooner rather than later.
Gage His Readiness for a Lasting Relationship
Assuming that you are looking for a long-term relationship with someone who’s ready to be with you in every sense (mentally, physically and emotionally), you need to work out if this man is in a place where he can be that.
One way to know is to ask him e.g. Is he looking to date casually or is he looking for something deeper? Then, honestly share with him what you are seeking in a relationship and see where that conversation leads you.
Consider Backing Away and Giving Him Time
This man may tick a lot of the boxes for you. He may even seem intensely interested in a relationship with you right now.
But keep this in mind: because he’s experiencing disruption and confusion in his life right now, what he may want once the divorce dust settles, may be something completely different than what he’s chasing right now.
After all, he’s still got to work out who he is as a single man.
Thus, something you could do is to step back and give him time to get his life in order before you involve yourself in a romantic relationship with him. How long that might take is difficult to determine, because it’s a journey and not a destination.
Mary Rizk, Transformative Coach - www.maryrizk.com
It’s always better to take some time to prepare yourself before starting to date men who are going through a divorce.
Be aware of a few things. You’d want a guy who is feeling clear and complete regarding his past experience. You’d want someone who is emotionally comfortable and ready to move on with someone new. You’d want someone who learned the lessons he needed to learn so he doesn’t repeat the same mistakes of his past. And you’d want someone who has done the inner work, resolving his anger, conflicts and insecurities, before getting out into the dating world.
Studies show that dating “on the rebound” –– inevitably leads to a failed relationship and often depression.
So, the lesson for you is to be sure your partner is not moving too quickly into dating again. Notice the behaviors that seem defensive. Keep an eye on his language towards you. Pick up on any signals that may seem uncomfortable, rash or confusing. Take the time to really explore his behaviors because his intentions may be different than yours, since he is in the throes of a challenging part of his life.
If you truly feel the guy is worth your time, patience and understanding, then pace the relationship.
You are opening the door to new possibilities and happier outcomes for him and you want to be sure, he is on the same page as you.
Obviously, he’s not going to rush into marriage any time soon, so you must realize that this relationship will take time.
If you’re OK with that and still want to commit, enjoy the romance, because you’ll have time to get to know each other and explore your compatibility. When times get tough, during his divorce, you’ll be ready to support and encourage him through his long personal crisis.
Amy Sherman, M.A., LMHC – www.yourbabyboomersnetwork.com
Common wisdom is that you don’t date someone going through a divorce and that’s generally good advice.
Divorce is traumatic; you’re better off to wait until that portion of his life is over and he has recovered enough emotionally and maybe financially to be ready to be really present for you. Of course there are people who while still married, have been emotionally separated for a long time. People stay married for practical reasons that might not have anything to do with an emotional connection.
You, however, really need to assess what kind of circumstances your potential partner is dealing with.
Is he truly done with his marriage? Is he jumping into something with you as a way to avoid the pain of his divorce? People who are divorcing can feel a complicated set of emotions, including anger, betrayal, loss and failure. That’s why although the marriage has ended, the partner’s are often not yet really free. The past doesn’t just end when the papers are signed. There could be baggage that you may not want to deal with.
There are also practical issues, like does he have kids whom you would need to have a relationship with? Will he be financially strapped? Is it an amicable divorce, or is it fraught with conflict that you might not want to be a part of?
These are questions and considerations that must be addressed and that takes time.
While he may not be lying to you, he may not really be able to accurately gauge his emotional readiness for a new relationship. It takes time to recover from a bad marriage and a divorce. Marriage and divorce are hugely complicated life events and their demise needs to be processed. He needs to understand why it didn’t work. What was his part in it? Has he learned enough to not repeat the same mistakes? Has he healed enough to be available to a new partner? Is he really emotionally available or is he looking for a way to feel better? You don’t want to be a transition object!
At some point in time, almost everyone you meet will have been married or in a long-term relationship.
This probably includes you! When you are seriously considering a new relationship, I recommend pre-marital counseling. You will both have a neutral forum to discuss your feelings and ideas about marriage and what you hope to create together. You will also learn how to handle differences and resolve conflict constructively. Instead of waiting for problems to arise, you will learn how to avoid creating them. Pre-marital counseling is time and money well spent.
You may not, except with express written permission, distribute or commercially exploit the content. Nor may you transmit it or store it in any other website or other form of electronic retrieval system.