Here’s something we don’t talk about nearly enough. The perils of dating a guy who has just exited a marriage. Not divorced yet. Recently separated. Should you proceed?
The answer is a huge big enormous NO.
When I met my ex-husband, Rob, he had recently separated from his wife. In my defense, he lied to me about their official separation date. They had filed for divorce several months prior but continued living in the same home until just weeks before we met. Had I known this, I would have run for the hills.
The problem with dating a recently separated guy are numerous. First, he is still married. If you believe that it’s ok to date a married guy, then you can stop reading right here. Because if you’re morally and ethically ok with that, then you date really horrible men and you deserve the men you date. Enough said. And when your guy cheats on you and makes your life hell, you deserve it.
<p”>But for everyone else, seriously, it is imperative that we respect the institution of marriage. Marriage is a huge commitment. Most of us hope that our marriages will last forever. Knowing that it’s ending is sad and traumatic – as it should be. Marriages should never end easily. As such, you need to allow their marriage to end before you hop in. Why? Because it’s simply the right thing to do.
Simply put, dating married men is completely wrong. And try to justify it all you want, a recently separated guy is still married. Very married. Almost the worst kind of married– the one in the middle of a HUGE relationship crisis. Their marriage hasn’t ended yet and you have no right whatsoever to insert yourself into the middle of their relationship even if he is inviting you to do so. Let the two of them muddle through the end of their relationship without your input, distraction, or presence. She (and he) deserve that.
He may be telling you that their marriage has been dead for years, that she is evil and psychotic and crazy, that he was ready to move on for years, that they never had sex anymore, blah blah blah. You have no idea the truth, you have no idea of their marriage dynamics, and you shouldn’t be in the midst of it. If you find out your guy is in this situation, tell him to call you back when his marriage is OVER. I will give you one exception here: If he has separated from his wife eons ago, the divorce is moving along at a decent pace, and the divorce just isn’t done… well, then that’s a different picture.
My divorce took almost two years to finalize. I didn’t start dating in earnest for seven months post-split and when I did, there was zero chance of any reconciliation ever. I had stopped all communication with him except between lawyers. I had taken (some) time to heal the best way one ever can and gain perspective first. Some divorces can take years to finalize. But before you proceed, you’d better make sure that the end of the marriage is simply a signature away and nothing less.
Seriously, if you meet a guy who has just split from his wife you really have to wonder about his emotional maturity and character. He is one damaged guy and why is he jumping back into another relationship? One reason: to hide. To not face is inner demons. And he is using you to hide. He needs time to address why his marriage ended, come to terms with his own culpability, help any children he has to come to terms with the end of his marriage, and to reconfigure his life. He has no business jumping into a relationship with you or anyone else and, if you proceed knowing full well his history, shame on you. You are enabling him to continue hiding and ignoring and deflecting.
Jumping into a new relationship will also complicate his divorce tremendously. If you care about this guy or maybe see some potential, you – yes you – can make his divorce a lot longer, more painful, and a lot more expensive. When it comes to the destruction of a family, keeping things as simple as possible is essential. Emotions are running high, there is so much raw pain, and untold confusion, trauma and turmoil going on. Why would anyone ever knowingly insert themselves in the middle of it? The answer is: no one in their right mind.
For every minute he’s spending on the phone with you, for every evening you two are at dinner, he should instead be in therapy. Group therapy, individual therapy. Religious retreats. Reading self-help books. Journaling. Meditating. Working out. Getting himself together. Not dating. If he is, he is a sick man. Even if you manage to keep the relationship going for a long period of time, even post their divorce being final, you have now ended up with a boyfriend who has yet to deal with anything. Your boyfriend is a fucked up mess in the head. Congrats.
If you find yourself post-split and are ready to start dating, you need to think very clearly about your motives. It’s exciting and interesting to look at who is out there. You may have been in a sad and lonely marriage and you are ready for your next step. But STOP. Take a deep breath. Relax. You must focus on you, your children, your divorce proceedings, and your life first. That’s how you proceed as healthy as possible with the next phase of your life. What is the appropriate amount of time? Each situation is different but I’ll say at least six months. And before you start dating, develop some boundaries for yourself. What kind of man are you looking for? Be choosy. Take your time. Don’t jump hard and fast. Caution is key.