Social Question

mostlyclueless's avatar

Can you give some dating advice regarding someone going through a divorce?

Asked by mostlyclueless (701points) May 25th, 2011

I recently started seeing someone new. He told me up front that he was going through a divorce and the process had begun roughly six months ago.

He seemed very interested in me and pursued me very actively, and within a few dates had asked how I felt about a more serious relationship with him. Having been through many varied but ultimately unpleasant dating situations lately, I was feeling somewhat guarded, and told him I wanted to wait to (1) have sex and (2) have a more serious commitment. I explained my reasoning to him, primarily that I wanted to know what kind of relationship I wanted with him, and that it included sex, before we took that step.

He continued to seem interested, and after more dating and discussion, when I felt comfortable about where things were and where they were going, we had sex.

TWO DAYS LATER, he says he wants to slow things down emotionally and keep them casual because he has not been single for very long and he doesn’t want to rush into anything.

I did not react well, and he backpedaled and suggested we just agree to a committed relationship. I didn’t want him to do this out of guilt/fear, so I suggested we table the issue at least until we see each other next.

So, I ask you: is this yet another asshole who lost interest in me after I slept with him? Or am I overreacting, and it was just unfortunate timing? Should I take him up on his offer of commitment, or insist that he wait until he is very sure that he has been single long enough, and I am not just a rebound situation?

Thanks for your help.

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28 Answers

Kayak8's avatar

There are any number of reasons why he seems to be cooling off—could be temporary or more permanent. Without getting inside his head, it is impossible to know. The best way to get into his head is to ask him the question you asked us.

Cruiser's avatar

Emotional powder keg with multiple fuses. Are you aware of the issues of his marriage breakup? Could be classic re-bound for him looking for companionship. He is not yet divorced so legally and emotionally he is still married to his ex…that in itself should be a red warning flag to take this relationship cautiously.

chyna's avatar

It does sound as if he became distant after having sex. It also sounds like he has no idea what he wants to do in a relationship, cool off, be committed. Are you ready to be with someone that will be jerking your heartstrings like this? Only you can answer that.

skfinkel's avatar

He has not really been divorced for very long. Although it is true some men meet people fast, there are clearly those who get burned in the process of their re-entry. If you like him, date him, but don’t expect this will end up as your dream relationship.

mostlyclueless's avatar

@Kayak8, suppose the truth is that he really did just lose interest after I slept with him. I think he’s unlikely to come out and say as much, regardless of what I ask him.

@Cruiser: Yes, we have discussed the issues leading to his divorce. They’re complex but boil down to wanting different things.

BarnacleBill's avatar

He’s too close to not being over his marriage. Hold your ground. This is about sex at this point.

JLeslie's avatar

I don’t think it is about the sex, what I mean is I don’t think he is using you. I think he has not been divorced very long, and you could very well wind up the rebound girl. In his defense, he is probably all confused himself and you might be part of the collateral damage as he tries to find his way back to normal. It may just all work out. I have seen relationships after divorce start of rocky and wind up being long term, eventually marriage, and I have seen them fall apart fast. But, for sure 6 months is nothing for getting through and over a divorce.

I think you guys are just talking about it too much, let the relationship follow a normal path for a while. Why have to define it right now?

WasCy's avatar

I don’t understand the whole scenario. He wanted “a more serious” relationship, but you wanted to wait until you had sex (!) and “a more serious commitment”.

I don’t understand any of that. When I have sex with a woman it’s because I’ve already decided that I love her and want the more serious relationship that goes with that – I only hope that she does, too. It’s not always a bilateral thing, and sometimes I get burned. So be it; it’s still my policy.

You stated up front that you wanted to have sex before you made a more serious commitment. Then you had sex, and he seemed to change his tune. What’s wrong with that? Are you the only one with options in a relationship?

Maybe I misread that, and “what you said isn’t what you intended” happens all the time here. So in that case fill me in on what I’m missing.

JLeslie's avatar

I was just thinking, maybe he liked you wanted to go slow, because he wanted to also. Then when you did have sex he felt things speeding out of control in his mind, because sex had been set up as the thing that would signify things getting more serious.

mostlyclueless's avatar

Sorry, I can try to explain a little better.

I wanted to be sure that I was not going to feel like he was just using me for sex, but I also wanted to make sure that I was interested in a serious relationship.

He wanted to have sex right away, but backed down when I explained my feelings on the issue. Then he quickly brought up that he was interested in a more serious relationship, and I had to consider if that was what I wanted, as well. (He brought it up after the third date—this was way too soon for sex OR a serious commitment in my mind.) I wanted to just date casually with no sex and no serious commitment while we got to know each other, and got to know what we each wanted.

Once I had decided that I did foresee a relationship with him, I was ready to have sex, and we discussed before it happened that we both felt like it was kind of in relationship territory already. Since it seemed clear to me that if it wasn’t already there, it would be there soon, I thought it would be ok to have sex.

Kardamom's avatar

It’s never a good idea to date someone that is still married, even if they are in the process of going through a divorce. He needs to finish his business with his wife, get his bearings a little bit, by being on his own, then figure out what he really wants to do.

If I were you, I would have a sweet little conversation with him and say something like, “Ralph, I think we jumped into this thing too quickly, and I realize that you have unfinished business, what with you still not actually being divorced. As much as I like you, I don’t think either one of us is ready to make any kind of a comittment, and you really need to get your house in order and then decide where you want to go from there. So why don’t we go back to being just friends, for now, and then see where it goes, maybe six or eight months down the line.”

That way, you are not accusing him of using you as a rebound person (although that may actually be the case, but it may not) and that way, you can still see him and talk to him, but not by “being in a relationship” with him. Make sure that he is 100% divorced when and if you decide to try it again with him.

He’s likely to just going to fade into the background, though. He’s in the middle of a divorce, and no matter how amicable a divorce can be (and they usually aren’t) the whole thing is fraught with emotion and there’s simply a lot of time and mental energy that has to be spent dealing with the whole thing, the money, the ex-wife, any children that might be involved, figuring out how he’s going to spend the rest of his life (and not necessarily knowing at this point in time).

In the meantime, go out with other people, enjoy the activities that you alreay enjoy, spend time with friends and family, and if you meet someone else that you like, don’t hesitate to go on a date with him (just make sure any new guys are not married either). You are not obligated to the married guy, even though it is possible that you two may end up dating again in the future. Just wait until he’s 100% free and at least 80% positive that he does want to date you and be monogamous with you.

This fellow may not like any of this and may just decide to walk away from you altogether, and he may immediately jump into another relationship with another woman. I’ve seen it many, many times. If that happens, just chalk it up to “dodging a bullet.”

mostlyclueless's avatar

@Kardamom, I’m inclined to agree with you. It is just heartbreaking to me though. I thought I did the right thing, and waited until this seemed likely to work out (at least for the foreseeable future), and I really let my guard down. It is a rare thing to find someone who you really connect with, who shares your values, who you have such strong chemistry with, and it frankly blows to have to give that all up. But I think you’re right and that’s probably the most reasonable course of action.

blueiiznh's avatar

He is GOING THROUGH a divorce. He is not emotionally ready or emotionally available.

Russell_D_SpacePoet's avatar

It’s too soon for him. He is on the rebound. Had the same thing happen to me in my last relationship. I was assured she wasn’t on the rebound. It had been approx. six months also. Needless to say, she was rebounding…

Coloma's avatar

I’d strongly advise to not go there.

Yep, rebounds rarely ‘work.’

I want to know someone can be alone, HAPPILY, and has done their healing/growth ‘work.’

Wave that flag, wave it wide and high…..

wundayatta's avatar

I skimmed the comments, so I apologize if anyone mentioned this. I’m not about to try to read his mind, or yours. I will not make any firm statements about what he thinks or what his motivations are, nor, for that matter, yours. Too little information, and a foolish business to be in, anyway.

What I will suggest is that if you want to know the answers to your questions, you go talk to him. He’s the only one that knows. If you can’t talk to him, then that’s not a good sign for a relationship. Go talk to him and have a frank discussion. Find out what the story is. Ask the questions you want answered.

We could make up all the stories we want, but that won’t help you. What you need can only be gotten from the horse’s mouth.

Coloma's avatar


In theory, yes, in reality, a scared, whipped horse, thats been rode hard and then kicked out to pasture with a stone in his shoe, isn’t gonna be whinneying anything other than lame misery. He just wants someone to give him a rub down, a warm blanket and a lump of sugar. lol

blueiiznh's avatar

@Coloma a perfect analogy!

JLeslie's avatar

@Coloma Maybe he doesn’t know what he wants. Then a conversation probably won’t do much good.

Coloma's avatar


You mean @wundayatta I think

I’m for leaving divorce horse out to pasture. haha

blueiiznh's avatar

a conversation would only play into his manipulation

JLeslie's avatar

@coloma Oops. But, regarding your comment, my comment half applies. I don’t think he necessarily, purposely, just wants a rub down, lump of sugar, and blanket. He might just not know what he wants.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

My first thoughts on reading what you’ve posted and then followed up with to others is that he went ahead and did/said whatever it was in agreement with you until it led up to the sex. To me that says he really wanted to have sex with you and see if it sparked him to further interest. Now that he’s had the sex with you, he wants to backtrack and think it all through because after the sex then he knows you’re expecting the relationship part.

If he’s really fun to be with and great in bed then see him but I wouldn’t put any money down on him being a good relationship partner for you, at least not for a good while and not before he yanks your chain in so many more different ways. I really wish the broken hearted married-but-not married guys would be shuttled off to their own little city while undergoing anger management classes, family economics studies, addiction programs and prep for re entering single society. ’

wundayatta's avatar

@blueiiznh If it’s manipulation, then that should be it. She should get out of there. If she can’t have a conversation with him, that means it should be over. This double reverse inside out guessing of what his motivations are is ridiculous. There’s really not point. Look at his behavior. See what that tells you. If he’s backing off, he’s backing off. Let him go. If he wants you, he’ll be back; otherwise, good riddance. I would not assume he’ll be back.

mostlyclueless's avatar

@wundayatta maybe this is dumb but I don’t know what else there is to say to him at this point. I told him I understood his feeling like he needs to be single but that it also felt like he was specifically less interested in me. He said thats not the case, but like I said above, I cant imagine a situation in which he would say, “yeah actually you’re right, now that I nailed you I guess I’m just not as into you.”

wundayatta's avatar

@mostlyclueless I would trust my feelings here. Words can lie easily, but it’s harder to lie with feelings.

About the “nailing” thing. It may be just that he had some idea of who you were, but when he got in bed with you, discovered you weren’t what he was expecting. It’s not necessarily a scoring thing. Even if he was trying to see if he could still attract someone, the plan may not have been a plan so much as an urge that he couldn’t articulate to anyone, not even himself. I think women give too much credit to men for our deviousness when, in fact, we’re just following the “it felt right at the time” dictum. Not really considering the future.

blueiiznh's avatar

Men can be sexual hypocrites. They push women for sex, then blame them for having sex. They think if a woman hops into bed with them quickly then she must have done this with lots of other men as well.
Men also act like hunters in a way and once they reach their goal, they disappear physically and emotionally.

As I said earlier, He is not emotionally ready or emotionally available.

Coloma's avatar

Listen to @blueiiznh & myself. ;-)

How can someone so raw and confused have ANY idea of what, they MIGHT, ultimately, want? Impossible.

I had ONE ( against my better judgement ) rebound romance some years ago.
I was, however, very grounded, without any hidden agenda, which was GOOD!

This person swore up and down that they had thought I was awesome for several years, even though no overtures were made. They went on & on & ON…about how they ‘knew’ I was the one they had been waiting for…haha.
Uh huh….as I said I was cool, not really wanting a serious relationship myself, but…let me tell ya, after a few dates and a romp between the sheets, the weirdness began. lol

We were shopping together one day and I took him in Pier One imports with me to look for something I wanted. I made a couple of suggestions, based on his lamenting about how he didn’t know how he wanted to decorate his new house.

OMG! Can you spell ‘SPOOKED’ lol

He freaked out and thought I was planning on decorating his house for the TWO of us!

Um, no…and where would my FARM ANIMALS LIVE in your custom suburban digs? haha

My POINT is….the FEAR beneath the NEEDINESS will…ultimately WIN! haha

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