Dating a man who is not quite divorced? You could be in for a challenging time.
When it comes to seriously dating a nearly divorced man, there is usually a third person in your relationship – his not-quite-ex-wife.
It feels like he’s the one for you, but the strong emotions he feels for his wife are a challenge. You have been loving, generous, and available. She was a bitch. And yet he seems to be grieving the loss of her!
How can you combat your feelings of insecurity and work through this challenging time?
If you’re involved with someone who’s going through a divorce (or will be), you need to be ready for the roller coaster ride. It takes having a strong sense of yourself and your worth, and having a very effective support system in place. A sense of humor really helps. And being able to be empathetic and compassionate toward both of you is key.
That’s a pretty tall order, isn’t it?
It basically describes what we’re all striving to be in our lives, and that’s WITHOUT the added trigger of your man being a nut as he goes through his divorce, and the anxiety you feel about whether or not this will all work out in your favor!
'Til Death Do Us Part
Although I’m sure there are exceptions to this, most people marry intending to honor their commitment of a lifetime union. And they make these commitments to each other because they love each other and believe that entrusting their future happiness to their mate is a safe bet.
Fast forward a few years, and in at least 50% of those marriages, one or both partners will bail on that commitment.
Even those people who are completely clear, and convinced they’re doing the right thing in ending the marriage, can hit a very painful phase, particularly as the reality of the divorce hits them.
They can feel things like regret, fear, guilt (magnified 1,000 times if there are kids involved), a sense of failure, sadness, anger, jealousy over a new lover in their mate’s life, and more.
Not For the Faint of Heart
Dating a man while he goes through a divorce isn’t something just anyone can do.
It’s one of the reasons that for years now, my advice to my clients has been this:
Don’t date a man unless he’s been legally divorced a year, and until he’s already had (at least) one transitional relationship.
Sure, there are successful relationships out there that started off with one partner legally still in a marriage, but the odds are agains that outcome.
I’m not saying this situation can’t work. It’s just that you’ve got your work cut out for you.
And, an important piece here, my advice here is based on the assumption that you’ve done your work to know that this man fits your requirements and your vision. (If you feel you may need assistance with these, please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Having said that, have you got what it takes to pull off this part of your journey with your man?
What it Takes
Here are some things you may want to remind yourself of, as you deal with this phase of your relationship:
• He’s doing the very best he can right now (even if you’re SURE he could be doing better);
• This too shall pass!
• He did love this woman at one time, and the habitual attachment, no matter how painful and dysfunctional it may have been, is hard for a man to let go of at times;
• When a man feels like a failure, it is hard for him to behave powerfully;
• Remind yourself not to take it personally when he’s being an emotional wreck (if he’s even revealing that to you - he may just head into his “cave” and hide out)
And here are some things you may want to do, or do more of:
• Make sure when you two are together, you are having high-quality connection time (it will be different, depending on circumstances, of course, but consider these: physical connection, empathic listening, giving him ways to give to you that he can manage well, playing together in whatever way you do that, taking breaks from the intensity of what he’s going through, being together with no agenda);
• Spend time with good friends/your support system and do things you enjoy;
• Take exquisite care of yourself (all acts of self-love will help you remember you are worthy of love);
• Gently let him know if he’s doing things that are feeling hurtful to you (before you do that, check in with the “don’t take things personally” item first, and see if you still need to say something to him);
• Praise and acknowledge any and all things about him that you can…it will be like water to a man in the desert at this point.
Choosing to be in a relationship with a man who’s not yet divorced is a challenging journey. It will call forth your very best qualities: being loving, patient, trusting, empathetic, vulnerable, honest, holding yourself in high regard, being able to be flexible, and being accepting of yourself and of him. Oh, and if you can keep your sense of humor, that is a big plus!