Do’s and Don’t of Dating Someone Recently Divorced
Don’t underestimate the problems of adjustment for these newly single men.
Did it take too long for him to pick the children up from her house? Does she call too often and too late? Does he spend too much money and too much time with her? This is typical of a recently divorced couple. If you really love him and feel that your relationship has potential, hide your jealousy and give him the space he desperately needs. Marriage takes years to build and months to tear down. The passion, pain and potential will not end over night.
Let the divorced couple set new boundaries and expectations for their new separate relationship. They need to address their new roles in each other’s lives. Hint: Let him spend enough time with his ex and he will quickly remember why he divorced her. Have faith in your love.
The National Center for Health statistics, 1995 reports that although divorces occur to adults of every age, they are more likely to occur in young adulthood than middle age. The divorce rate for men was 32.8 per 1000 married men in the 15-19 age group and 50.2 per 1000 for men in the 20-24 age group. Couples in the first marriage, one in eight can expect a divorce after age 40 (Uhlerberg, Cooney & Boyd, 1990). Based on these statistics there is a good chance that you are or will be dating someone recently divorced.
Don’t underestimate the problems of adjustment for these newly single men. The following dating tips will give you insight on how to have a stable relationship even though your mate is recently divorced and emotionally unstable.
Don’t criticize his ex-wife
Don’t criticize his ex-spouse, no matter how tempting, let him talk and listen with an open mind. Most likely, your mate is still hurting over the break up of his marriage and is confused and angry. By criticizing his ex-spouse you are indirectly insulting him, because who and what she is – is partly a reflection of who and what he is. When feeling attacked he will argue in her defense because in a sense he is protecting himself.
Without letting you know, he may begin to feel that she wasn’t so bad after all; because you don’t know what she was like when she smiled. Yes, they are divorced for a reason, but better yet; don’t forget that they were once married for a reason; and at this moment, they were married a lot longer than the two of you have been together.
Be careful, you only know one side of the story, keep quiet. No matter what he tells you, remember that his marriage to her was not all bad. Your mate must re-define himself outside of the marriage. Let him bare his soul to you and build a relationship based on trust and understanding by remaining non-judgmental and objective.
Don’t let him move in with you, before he is emotionally ready to commit
You’ve been dating him for less than 18 months and he wants to move in with you. Don’t let him. Make sure he is ready for another meaningful relationship and not a crutch for his broken heart and empty wallet. He may be the “one” for you, but remember: If you combine all of the right ingredients together to make the perfect cake, if you take it out of the oven too soon, you will destroy it. Don’t ruin a potentially wonderful relationship by moving to quickly.
Give him space to get over his ex
You are convinced that he still loves her. Even when he tells you how much he hates her, you can see it in his eyes. Your mate is more susceptible to sentimental feelings around the holidays, family gatherings and funerals. Reminiscing and feeling sad over the good that was lost during the divorce does not mean that he is in love with her and wants to rekindle the relationship with his ex-wife. Let him mourn his loss without feeling you are abandoning him. Don’t tell him to let her go. This is something he must do when he is ready. This issue is out of your realm.
Studies show that a typical couple needs 3-5 years to heal after divorce before they are emotionally ready for re-marriage. Of course this isn’t true for every person, but realize that he must come to an understanding and acceptance of his emotions of separation that may be riddled with guilt. Let go of him and move on, if you want and need more than he is capable of giving to your relationship.
Don’t let him take his anger out on you
You are not his punching bag. Yes, he has been through a great deal of pain and he doesn’t trust women, just yet. Sure, he apologized and said he will never say nor do those mean things again. Un Huh. If a person had a contagious physical disease such as measles, you would take precautions to protect yourself. Right? Well, think of emotional distress as a spiritual illness, and do the same. Run for cover! People tend to give what they themselves have – even if it’s not on purpose.
Divorce is a very painful process and sometimes the person is naturally depressed and moody. Let them know you care, but maintain boundaries to maintain your self-esteem and self-respect.
Clarify your expectations for the relationship
You are a potential danger to your newly divorced mate. Be careful with his emotions by being open and honest about your intentions and expectations for the relationship. The wounds of his broken heart are fresh. He is open and vulnerable to further damage by you. The divorce may have left him insecure and uncertain about his masculinity and ability to nurture a healthy relationship. He may need to know that he is still lovable and seeks refuge in your heart. Handle him with care, some broken hearts are fragile.
Don’t rush to meet his children
Do take your time before meeting his children and ex-spouse. Your presence is crystal clear evidence that things are not the same and that the marriage is indeed over. Often time’s children are not emotionally ready to see their parents with someone new. If you meet them too soon, they may erroneously blame you for their parents break up. Get to know your mate much better before adding the additional strain of trying to build a relationship with other hurting family members. Be patient and give the family time to adjust at least 6 months to 1 year. Forcing togetherness may complicate your relationship with your mate.
Do you really care for him or feel sorry for him?
Always be honest with yourself at all times and encourage him to do the same. If you see unappealing characteristics that you are not comfortable with, tell him immediately. Give him a fair amount of time to address your concerns. Ask yourself if his behavior is a part of his transition into being a single person, or is this just who he is.
When people are going through a traumatic change, they may need time to re-balance their lives. Be gentle and tell him to be true to his heart, even if it means leaving the relationship with you. Don’t short change yourself, you deserve all of his heart, hopes and dreams, not left over feelings of guilt and fear of starting over. Listen to your heart and move on if necessary.