So you have just found out that the man you have the hots for has some baggage in the shape of a divorce. Of course no one in their right mind hopes that the person they lust after has been married and possibly has kids, but it is also surprisingly common given the current divorce rate.
Some people worry that a divorce means that someone is not good at relationships, but there are loads of reasons someone might be divorced. Many of those reasons will be no different to reasons to anyone who has had a straight-forward break-up.
So are there any risks in dating a divorced man?
Like with any break-up, there are risks. Men are actually found to cope less well than women after a divorce. A study of over 3000 people found that even 2 years after the divorce, 41% of men report still feeling a deep sense of sadness.
Here are a list of the top 6 hazards of dating a divorced/divorcing man and how to avoid them.
- Dating too soon – Men might not be over their ex and instead of grieving, look to just replace their ex with someone new.
AVOID – Make sure at least several months have passed, that they can show they grieved and that they are sufficiently over it that they can talk about the good and the bad parts of their marriage.
- Anger and Bitterness – If men can only say horrible things about their exes and wish badly on them, this is a sign that they have not healed well. Another sign of bitterness is resenting others for being happy. Showing consistent unpleasantness about others, is generally no healthy to be around.
AVOID – Listen closely to how he speaks about others. If he shows too much jealousy at their success, does not show a level of happiness for the well-being of others or is too pleased if things are going well for others, then stay away
- Picking you because you are the opposite of his ex – Some men (and women) will be attracted to the opposite of the person they were with, both in terms of personality and interests. Sometimes this is appropriate, but sometimes people swing the other way too much.
AVOID – Listen to what they would like their life be like long term, and listen to what they were like before they got married. Are there consistencies with your plans and personality? If they are totally different, this could be a sign of rebounding.
- Using you as a therapist – Are you supporting your man through his divorce? This could be a sign you are bonding with his grieving self. You want to know that you can both have things in common with his healthy self.
AVOID – If you are spending most of your time consoling him it might be best to walk away. This might hurt him, but you should not be his counsellor hand through this early stage of your relationship, you should be bonding over things you enjoy. You can always come back to each other when he has finished grieving and see if there is still enough between you.
- Too scared of being hurt again – If you notice that the relationship is up and down, and that this man withdraws from you, particularly after you have had an especially nice date/moment, then this could be a sign that the man is afraid of intimacy.
AVOID – See if things improve over time, or if they are willing to seek help. If they keep blowing hot and cold, this is not good for your self-esteem.
- Putting his children first – And so he should. This is a sign of good parenting but how will you deal with this?
AVOID – You will need to be sufficiently secure to understand that he can have a strong, different but special love for you, even if you are not his priority. Make sure that you have your own life which you are happy with so that you are not so needy?
- Still in love with the ex? – Do they keep dropping everything at their ex’s request? Do they text back immediately with a little too much affection? Do they get angry if you are perceived to criticise the ex? Conversely, do they seem a little too angry with their ex? These can all be a sign that they are still very much in love.
AVOID – Have they made changes to their life so that they have made a space away from their ex? Check that when they have plans, they can stick to them, even if their ex begs them to see her (this might be more complicated if children are involved). Check he has his own interests and is not obsessing over her.
It’s not the rejection, it’s the reflection….
People make mistakes, if anyone says otherwise, you need to run a mile in the other direction as it shows a total lack of self-awareness. What matters is not so much the mistake, it is the reasons for the mistake, and the level of reflection as to why the mistake was made.
Here’s a thought…. a divorced man might actually make a better husband by learning from his mistakes!
Dr Isabelle Hung is a co-founder of divorceclub.com and clinical psychologist. Having got through her own divorce just three years ago, she is now remarried and happy to report that divorce really is an opportunity for growth and positive change.