Jane (all names have been changed) has been divorced for five years. After a string of disappointing first dates, she was excited to discover George's profile on Match.com. He had many of the must-have qualities she was searching for in a partner: a good sense of humor, a similar religious belief system and he was a good listener. But towards the end of their first phone conversation, she grew a little concerned. He told her he was in the midst of a nasty custody battle with his ex-wife. His finances were suffering because of high alimony and child support payments. And if that wasn't enough stress, his mother had just moved in with him! On our last coaching call, Jane said, "George seems like a keeper. He's not like most of the men I meet online. He has great values, he's smart and nice looking, and we have so much to talk about. But, there are all these outstanding issues. Should I continue to date him?"
Should Jane date him or ditch him? George might be a great guy, but right now he's got too much turmoil in his life to focus on building a relationship with Jane.
Top 3 Post-Divorce Red Flags To Look Out For:
- Outstanding legal or financial issues
- Ongoing custody battle
- Blaming an ex for ruining his life (and not taking responsibility for his share)
Once his issues are resolved and his life is more at peace, he will be more emotionally ready for a relationship. If she dates him now, she'll probably feel more like his caretaker than his significant other. That won't be good for Jane or George. Did Jane follow my advice? Not at first. She dated George a few times. By the third date, George's constant complaining about his problems became too much for her. She was looking for a relationship that was more balanced, a give and take between two emotionally healthy, happy and independent people.
Don't get me wrong; I am not advocating that women never listen to men's problems — quite the contrary. A good relationship requires trust and open communication. Each partner should feel comfortable celebrating the good stuff and sharing the challenges of life. But when one partner becomes a victim of his/her circumstances and is bogged down by the issues at hand, the balance is way off. It's almost impossible to begin a good relationship when one partner is still working through the chaos and turmoil that a divorce can bring.
On their third date, Jane ended things with George. It can be exciting to find someone you click with; he gets you, you're attracted to each other, and you share some core values and goals. George and Jane did click on many levels. But pay close attention to red flags. George was bitter about his divorce and outstanding financial and legal battles. I feel it's best to not get involved with someone like that. You might want to reconnect after the dust has settled. It could just be a matter of bad timing.
Have you had a relationship that began with unresolved divorce issues? Please share your experience.
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