I'm Dating This Guy Who is in the Process of Divorce
by Susan Dunn, MA, CEQC, Relationship Coach
I get letters. As a Relationship Coach, and the "How to Attract the Man of Your Dreams" expert on a major website, I get letters.
"I've been seeing a guy for a year who's in the process of a divorce," writes Anne (not her real name). She goes on to recount a familiar story. He dates her, then goes back to his wife. He comes back to her, then sees another woman. Anne has fallen in love with this man, says she knows he loves her, and can't figure out what's going on.
My client Beth calls me for relationship coaching and tells me the latest with her "legally separated" man. "He's so sweet and loving," she says. "We have a wonderful time together, but then he completely over-reacts to something and there's this totally off-the-wall outburst and I just know it has to do with his wife. Soon-to-be-ex-wife. I sure hope he goes through with this. Then he goes away for a while. He won't answer my phone calls. I think he might be sleeping with other women. Then he calls again and wants me to come over. This is all so confusing. I know he loves me. ..."
What's happening here is many a good, loving and otherwise clear-thinking woman gets involved with a man who's separated, "legally separated," divorcing, or newly divorced, and enters a maelstrom. The best way to describe it is "when it is good, it's very very good, and when it is bad, it is horrid."
It can't be understood, because it's every bit as confusing as it feels! And then you want to fix that for him!
If you're in this position, first let me say that I'm sorry, especially if you have lost your heart to this man. Men in this transitional stage can be at their most loveable, because of their temporary vulnerability, but they ought to have warning signs on their backs: CAUTION: Danger. Stay away.
Why is this? And why do we get so fooled?
There is something alluring about a man coming out of a marriage. The feelings you have are real, and his responses to you can be wonderful, but here's the deal. Men suffer terribly when their marriage breaks up and cannot tolerate being alone with their awful feelings - betrayal, failure, grief, longing, guilt, and most of all, being alone. And when men hurt, they don't sit and hurt, they take action to make it go away. Emotions are problems to be solved. Men are primed to do this. It's one of the things we love about men, but in this case, you want to stay clear.
Missing one woman, they will go and find another one, and they aren't always particular about it. It isn't exactly thought-through.
This is no reflection on you. It has happened to many a woman before you. Relationship coaching is all about avoiding this.
We women, you know, we eat ice cream, cry, listen to music, talk to our friends or our coaches about the painful feelings, and write in our journals. We usually don't rush into another affair because we know we aren't ready and don't have anything to give. Women are, according to emotional intelligence assessments, more "socially responsible."
The man, good as he may be, much as you may truly love him, is not ready. He is not emotionally available, although you are getting "emotion" and that's what's so confusing. The emotions, though, are all about him and his pain. And here's the hardest part - sex is the best antidote in the world for pain. It releases all those endorphins.
In addition, to a man, sex available is sex available; the emotions don't necessarily go along with it, as they tend to with women. So you fall in love, you bond, and he doesn't. For now, well, maybe, well that's scary because he just got hurt so bad, but she's so nice and nice to me, and I hate to be all alone, and she's willing ... she's the one who started all this ... you see how it goes.
Emotional intelligence assessments also show that men are lower in "empathy." Combine this with lower social responsibility and you have someone who is going to assuage their loneliness and, yes, horniness, on you, without really understanding or caring about how you might be feeling. Driven by pain, they don't really care.
That's what's going on. Because men take action, they need to know what they are doing before they act, or it's a real mess.
One dynamic I see as a Relationship Coach is that the more an ambivalent man likes the woman, the more he runs. So, you see, it's a "can't win" situation that continually raises and frustrates your hopes. In fact, a common scenario is that eventually you explode, and he says you are too demanding or have a bad temper, and takes his exit.
Why this dynamic? He got hurt real bad. When he starts to feel love again, he remembers the pain right along with it. For right now, the two are hooked together: love=pain. Everyone who divorces goes through this, and I doubt that he is intentionally trying to hurt you. He's pretty much focused on himself right now and not thinking too clearly, because that's what emotional turmoil does - cloud our thinking. We learn this in emotional intelligence.
You're clear about yourself and your feelings, but you get sucked into the chaos. You get so many mixed messages and signals - "come here, no go away; you, no her, no HER." The man is not necessarily conscious of this, so when you ask for clarification you either get nonsense, or he gets mad at you for asking, or about something irrelevant, to make the irritation of not-knowing go away.
When will he be ready? What should you do if you've given your heart already? Working with a Relationship Coach can help you get through this maze, and avoid them in the future. There are rules about dating after divorce - things that work, and things that don't work, and certain signs to watch for.
"But," you say, "Fred and Thelma started dating when he was married and they're..." As a Relationship Coach, I see the end results as well, and the odds against this lasting are very, very small. I'm not saying I like this scenario any more than you do, but the divorce rate for second marriages is even higher than the divorce rate for first marriages; and worse yet for thirds. I don't like the odds, do you?
Get some Relationship Coaching and give yourself the best chance possible. Find out how to catch a man at the "right" time, and what you must do, and what you must not do. You don't want to become a statistic!
About the Author
(c)Susan Dunn, Relationship Coach, www.susandunn.cc, email@example.com . Relationship coaching, EQ, transitions, resilience. Susan is the author of "Midlife Dating Survival Manual for Women (www.webstrategies.cc/ebooklibrary.htm.) and other ebooks and Internet courses. She trains and certifies coaches worldwide in a fast, effective, no-residency program. Email for fr** ezine. Susan is a founding member of Coac
COMMENTS: SAY SOMETHING!
7:05 AM, mtatum4496
As a man who has been through a divorce, I can attest to the validity of every last bit of advice given here. I was in no shape to make any type of commitment for at least two years after the divorce. If you are looking for a relationship, or are the type of woman who naturally feels the pain of others, then do yourself a favor and so not get involved with a man who is getting a divorce or just got one. The chances of it working are just way too low.
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