Today’s article is in response to a question from a reader (via Ask Melissa!) about how to decide if you should wait for him finalize his divorce and be ready for a relationship with you, or if you should move on. In my response, I provide guidance on how to approach this question, what choices you ultimately have, and how to make the best choice for your long-term happiness.
I’m a divorced mommy of 2 beautiful children I share custody with my ex-husband. I have met a new man who is also going through a divorce and has 2 children. His ex is very controlling.
The lovely man I was seeing, we were very entwined together has now said he needs time to finalize his divorce, he’s also starting a new job and once telling his ex about his relationship with me she became very traumatic about everything.
They are in a grey zone in their breakup and still spend a lot of time together. I spend little to no time with my ex, the less the better with us, and are only amicable on a level for the children.
Do you wait for the one you love to be in a better headspace while finalizing their divorce? Or do you move on because they are not emotionally ready for you like you are them? How much contact do you have in this time?
Thanks so much for reaching out. You’re not alone in how you feel. This is a very common question and concern of women who are dating the divorcing man.
Should You Wait for Him to Be Ready for a Relationship?
You would first need to figure out what would make it worth it to you to stay (what are your needs and are they being met?) and what would make it necessary for you to leave the relationship (what are you deal-breakers?).
For example, if you want a relationship in which your needs are met but he is not able to meet some of those needs right now because he wants to focus on finalizing his divorce and starting a new job, you would need to think about what choices you have in this instance.
Your choices might be:
- Stay in the relationship and be unhappy because your needs are not getting met
- Stay in the relationship and let go of some needs (perhaps temporarily as he moves through this transition, knowing that there are no guarantees that he will meet those needs even after his divorce and after he gets settled into his new job)
- Leave the relationship and have your needs met elsewhere
- Are there are choices and scenarios you can think of?
Check out the article Should You Wait for Him to be Ready for a Relationship? and Is He Ready for relationship After Divorce? as it explores this question in depth.
Any Decision Is Highly Personal and Involves Risk
Deciding to stay in or leave a relationship is a highly personal decision because what makes staying in a relationship “worth it” to one person might be entirely different for the next person.
Staying in a relationship or leaving a relationship while he’s still in the middle of divorce both involve RISK.
You risk not getting your needs met and not having the relationship work out as you had hoped if you stay and find that he’s taking forever to be really ready for a relationship.
And you risk losing touch with him and the both of you moving on if you leave the relationship or step back from it.
So there’s risk in ALL scenarios.
The key to deciding whether you should hang on or leave the relationship is to figure out:
How much risk are you willing to take on?
And what would make the risk worth it to you?
Is there enough compatibility and evidence of him being a great long-term match for you and enough evidence of his intention and readiness for a new relationship that would make staying in the relationship (or waiting for him) a risk that you would be willing to take?
For example, does he want to be in a committed relationship with you after his divorce?
Have you had that conversation with him about what his vision is for his life after divorce?
Or is he unsure what he wants and says he wants to figure that out before committing?
So How Much of a Risk Are You Willing Take?
When we visit my in-laws who live out of state, my stepkids and their aunt and uncle love to stay up all night and play the card game Rook.
After the cards are dealt at the beginning of the game, you have to take a look at your cards and decide whether you’re going to bet or pass.
Depending on how good your hand is you can bet pretty high.
But you don’t know what cards other people have or what cards are available for taking (during your turn) in the middle of the table.
On the flipside, if your cards are not that good, you still have the opportunity to get new cards when your turn comes along.
Similarly, you don’t know what cards other people have and what cards are available in the middle of the table.
So it’s a risk either way.
But you make your decision on whether to bet or pass based on your cards in hand.
Deciding whether to continue dating him is like deciding whether to bet or pass.
You have to take a look at the cards you’re dealt.
How complicated is his situation?
How ready is he for a new relationship, even after divorce?
Maybe you believe your “odds of winning” are really good and so you decide to bet.
Or maybe your hand of cards isn’t great to start with but you decide to keep playing, keep getting to know him and testing your needs and relationship requirements, to see if you might uncover better cards.
Or maybe you take a look at your cards and decide that this relationship isn’t worth risking your time, energy and heart, and you decide to fold your game entirely.
So when you’re trying to decide whether to wait or move on:
- Determine your vision, needs and relationship requirements. What do you really need in order to be happy in your life and in a relationship?
- Asses your odds of “winning.” What are the odds of actually having the relationship that you really want? How favorable or unfavorable are those odds?
- Decide on how much risk you’re willing to take. Both waiting for him and moving on involve risk. How much risk are you willing to take based on what you know about his readiness, vision, needs and relationship requirements, and your own vision, needs and relationship requirements?
How Much Contact Should You Have With Him?
If you decide to step back, should you remain in contact?
It really depends on your relationship with him and what you want to achieve in your time apart.
If he wants time away from his relationship with you to finalize his divorce and settle into his new job, what does that time apart mean and entail?
What parameters do you want to have around this time part?
In other words, if you both are planning to step back from the relationship and you both want to reconnect after he takes care of some things, can you both agree on some parameters for the time apart?
For example, could you both agree on whether or not you’ll see other people?
Could you both agree on how much contact you expect to have with each other and whether that contact will be by phone or in person or via text?
There’s no rule out there on how much contact you should have.
It just really depends on what you intentions are for the relationship.
However, if you want to move on, I recommend NO CONTACT for at least eight weeks (because staying in contact just reopens wounds, perpetuates attachment, and makes it extremely difficult to move on).
But if you both intend have a normal relationship after his divorce is over and after he gets settled into his new job, then maybe you can agree on some parameters for this time in your relationship.
If you go that route, I would think about what parameters are really meaningful to you.
For example, if you want to wait for him, how long would you be willing to wait? Six months? Two years?
You won’t be able to control when his divorce is finalized and when he gets settled into his new job.
But you CAN control how long you want to wait around for those things to happen.
And again, there’s always risk in any direction you take.
You might decide to wait and he might never come around.
Or you might decide to leave and he decides that he doesn’t want to reconnect with you.
I know it can feel like a scary decision.
But I remind you that you’re always empowered with CHOICE.
As the powerful creator of your own experience, you get to decide how long you’re willing to wait and how much risk you’re willing to take on.
Dating a Divorced or Separated Man and Need Personalized Relationship Help?
All relationship situations are different, especially if you’re involved with a separated or divorced man. There are complexities you may not have dealt with before in a dating situation. His kids. His ex. His marital status. And all the drama in between.
How do you overcome the dreaded “waiting”?
Does HE lack boundaries with his ex and kids, or are YOU the one who’s being intolerant?
How do you get him to prioritize you and your relationship??
I totally feel you. I’ve been in the same boat. I’ve dated my share of separated and divorced men back in the day.
And…I’m happily married to and have kids of my own with one, too!
If you’re feeling stuck, confused, or frustrated in your relationship and want personalized solutions, I can help.
If you’re suffering, you don’t have to continue suffering. I promise. Sometimes you just don’t know what you don’t know. Let’s talk about how to overcome the relationship challenges you’re facing.
In a private 1-on-1 Relationship Clarity Session, you’ll get personalized dating and relationship help for your specific dating issue so that you can successfully navigate the complexities of dating a divorced man and know exactly what you’re getting into, overcome the challenges, and consciously create the deeply fulfilling relationship you want!
Ready to improve your relationship and overall happiness? Click the button below to get all the details, view my calendar (I usually have some openings every week), and conveniently book a session:
How to Decide if He’s Right for You
Download my free Relationship Choice Assessment to help you get started. In my free guide you’ll discover:
- 30 questions to ask yourself to help you decide if you should give him a chance or if you’re wasting your time
- 22 red flags you should be aware of if you want to avoid heartbreak and painful surprises
- How to assess your compatibility with your partner to know if your relationship has long-term potential
Download my free guide Should You Stay or Go? Relationship Choice Assessment: