There are many things to consider when you make the decision to date a man who is recently divorced. Probably the first is whether or not you are ready to deal with the issues that are involved. You alone know yourself and your heart, and you have to decide whether or not this is something you are ready to take on.
Understand the implications
Whether the divorce was an ugly one or not, there are emotional issues he needs to deal with. Though we all heal at different rates, it’s important to remember that he may still have fresh wounds and will need time and space to deal with that whether it’s apparent or not.
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On the surface he may seem carefree and happy to be out of the marriage, but remember that men show feelings and emotions differently than women do. Also, talking about those feelings and emotions may not be something he’s all about. Think Venus vs. Mars here. Whether he puts on a brave face or not, expect that he’s still trying to make sense of his world which very definitely could include where you fit into it.
There’s also the issue of the ex-wife. His feelings toward her maybe mixed and confusing. He may habor animosity while struggling with feelings of anger, failure, or even guilt. He needs to recreate his world without her. This doesn’t mean he still wants her in it. It just means that he needs to adjust how he lives his life. He needs to get his feet under him.
If there are children involved, there will still be ties that will obviously remain for a lifetime. This, of course, presents a whole other set of issues he needs to deal with. How to father his children in this new situation, how to co-parent with someone he’s no longer married to and custody arrangements are just the tip of the iceberg and are, honestly, probably best discussed in their own regard.
What it means for you
First of all, you need to go into this with your eyes wide open. Don’t delude yourself into thinking it’s going to be a cakewalk regardless of outward appearances. There are a variety of situations you will need to try to be prepared for.
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Probably first and foremost, remember that there may be times when he space to work through his feelings. He may pull away or cling depending both on the situation and how he typically processes his issues. We all handle stress and issues in our own way. Some people want to talk, some withdraw, some drink, and some get angry among other things. Though it may be difficult, you have to figure out how you are going to deal with what he’s dealing with. It can be very challenging not to take things personally whether they actually involve you or not.
If you yourself are divorced, you know that he may be, at times, moody and depressed. That’s really as it should be but, at the same time, don’t sacrifice yourself. You need to take care of you. Establishing and maintaining healthy boundaries is essential. Letting him use you as an emotional punching bag or playing fast and loose with your feelings isn’t going to do either one of you any good. Remember, if you are not making sure that your needs are met, no one else is going to either.
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You owe it to him, and to yourself, to be honest and open about your feelings, expectations, and intentions. Understand that he may be questioning whether he can even nurture a successful, healthy relationship. Whether he shows it or not, he is vulnerable and open to being hurt again. Are you willing, or even able, to take on that responsibility?
Are you really up for the challenge?
This is really what it all boils down to. Can you do this? As I said to begin with, you know yourself and your heart better than anyone else. Only you know if you are emotionally able to date a recently divorced man.
You are going to need to be completely honest with yourself here as well as with him. If something crosses your boundaries, makes you uncomfortable, or hurts you, you need to let him know. While his feelings may be very tender, yours are not inconsequential. Don’t sacrifice them for his.
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Though he needs to deal with and process this change in his life, you need to figure out if the way he handles you and your relationship is part of the transisiton or a part of who he is. That being said, he needs to be true to his heart and you to yours. You may need to be prepared to let him go both for his sake and for your own.