Not all newly divorced guys are bad news.
Men who are dealing with divorce deserve to be in a relationship as much as anyone else but many women are wary of dating them. What does dating after divorce look like for men?
The divorce process is not easy for anyone. If you’ve ever had the misfortune of being the rebound, you might think that staying away from all newly divorced or recently separated men is the answer to sparing your heart. Some dating advice might even say so.
I get it — I’ve been Rebound Girl myself on more than one occasion. The “It’s not you, it’s me” conversation is never pleasant.
As someone who’s conducted a multi-decade, deep-dive exploration into relationships, dating, and understanding men, I’ve made some observations about newly divorced men — grabbing your sneakers to run from them as fast as you can might actually be a mistake.
And what’s behind this oh-so-common deal-breaker is fear.
Fear of falling for someone hard then getting the rug yanked right out from under you. You’re trying to mitigate heartbreak before it happens and who could blame you for that? (Definitely not yours truly.)
When we’re dating, we’re often dealing with strangers. And when you’re connecting with any stranger, there are no guarantees.
You might be wondering, “Why would a newly divorced or separated guy be dating before he was ready anyways? What’s the deal?”
The answer? Recently separated or divorced men are usually looking for two things: sex and attention. And there’s no faster or efficient way to get sex and attention at the same time than to go out on a date with a delightful and positive person.
But does this mean that a real and lasting connection and a healthy relationship isn’t possible? Nope.
When I met my husband, he was newly separated — five weeks, to be exact. And we’ve been together for years and years.
My BFF and her husband? Six weeks into his separation and now married years and years.
I could keep going on the list of couples I know who got together from his first date after divorce or separation is long — and I mean really long. And they are in successful and healthy relationships.
Now, before you run off to go hang out at the lounge area of your local Marriott Residence Suites, allow me to offer a few observations from my own research.
If you’re looking to date men in their mid-40’s and older, there are 3 types of men and one is totally okay to date and form a relationship with.
1. The one who values his freedom
This guy tried marriage and learned it really wasn’t his cup of tea. He found that marriage was a series of compromises and negotiated collaborations that weren’t worth it in his grand scheme of things.
For him, the delicious and comforting aspects of partnership didn’t make the trade worth the sacrifice.
He enjoys companionship. He craves adventure. And since he loves women, he’s going to work on spending time with as many of them as he can for the rest of his life. When this guy says, “I’m never going to get married again”, believe him.
There is a subset of humans who have unkind things to say about this guy.
I’m not one of them. I think he’s awesome. If he wants to be single, date women, and buy fancy whatevers (cars, boats, etc.) that make him happy, then that’s his business just as long as he’s not making any false promises to the women he dates. (He can promise whatever he wants to his boats.)
2. The one who is not over his failed relationship
When a divorce is sudden and didn’t see it coming, he might be in shock. Or even if he knew it was inevitable long in advance, depending on how he manages the emotional side of his life, it might take him a minute to pull it together and be ready for someone new.
His whole world got rocked and he needs to find his footing again in a new life after divorce.
The hot-mess-divorcee comes on strong. You are the most amazing woman ever! You two get “swept up.” And then he has a moment of clarity, which is when you learn you’re the rebound. It feels like being dropped to the ground from a thousand feet in the air.
So, if this is how it goes, why? Why would smart women like me and my BFF be willing to put ourselves through it over and over with the newly divorced or separated guy when this specific category of dating is so painful?
The answer is easy: Not all men.
3. The one who is ready to date after divorce
You, too, have a shot at meeting the newly detangled guy who says, “Wow, I didn’t think I’d meet you so soon.”
And boom — done!
How can you tell which one you’ve got?
Easy, but it might take a minute.
The “I’m free! I’m free! I’m finally free!” guy will usually tell you before you can ask. He might all but bring a bullhorn to deliver this message on your first date or he’ll say so right there on his online dating profile — “I’m only looking for fun,” “I want to meet new people for adventures,” or “Not looking for anything serious.”
They’ll tell you. Is there room for exceptions? Sure. But you have a whole lot of vetting to do.
The hot mess might be needy, clingy, or overly reminiscent about his past (with his ex or the ex before the ex). You might get the sense he doesn’t see you — at all. When he’s looking at you, he sees a mother, a savior, or the fantasy he’s always wanted.
He might not have a confident sense of self at this point in his life, so he projects onto you. Or you might get to the “We’re dating” part, but you can tell he’s so guarded that he’s not going to let you in or fully commit.
These signs will be obvious if you’re willing to see them for what they are — or it’ll become obvious when he ghosts you because you were the rebound. Alternately, he may take the “showing up but not opening up” path.
I’ve had both, more than once. And if I had been truly honest with myself, I could have caught even the “It takes time because he’s not opening up” ones much faster if I’d been willing to take off the rose-colored glasses and stop making excuses for him.
Keep your eyes wide open, ladies!
Then there’s the “Terrible timing, but it’s you” guys. They both show up and open up. You can count on them to do what they say. They take actions that match their words (in other words, not all talk). They’re not too busy for you. They’re leaning in by calling, texting, and planning fun new adventures with you.
On my second date with my now-husband, I said, “Wow, you’re really great! It’s too bad our timing is so terrible”, referring to his newly separated status.
He replied, “It’s not bad timing for you. The bad timing is on my side. It’s not for you to worry about, it’s mine, I got this.”
Hot, right? I sure thought so.
And there are more hot things to note about this type of newly disentangled guy:
- He knows how to commit and he’s likely willing to do it again at some point.
- He likely “grew up” in his marriage and as a result, he’s an upgraded version of himself thanks to his ex and the experiences he had with her
- He’s realistic about what he needs and what he is able to provide in partnership
- The fantasy of “happily ever after” without putting in any work is well and truly shattered (good)
- Bonus points if he has a good relationship with his children: Those little humans have done unspeakable things to and on him, and he still loves and cares for them. (That’s staying power!)
Good men who love partnership will find it again, and often quickly. Most women have this fantasy that a guy will wait, mourn, do inner work, heal, take a few personal growth workshops, wait three years, and then go find his new wife.
But it doesn’t work that way in the real world.
What I see consistently is men connecting with their new forever people either straight away or after the first rebound (or three) when the old wounds aren’t yet entirely healed, ink still not dried (or even inked yet in some cases), but getting there.
These are the men who hold their new person’s hand, and willingly pull them into his future while still doing the work to shake off the past. (Sorry, I don’t create the realities, I just observe them.)
So, what do you think? Still gonna grab your sneakers and run away from the newly disentangled guy as fast as you can? Or are you going to give them a chance?
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