Dating a Separated Man: How Long Should You Be Patient?

Dating a separated man can be a challenge. You’ll need to be patient for plenty of reasons, but for how long? Read on to find out what you need to know.

Can Dating a Separated Man Work?

The best answer I can give on dating a separated man is that  – it depends. There are so many variables and I can only cover so many, but I will do my best to touch on the main points.

His Personality

First, it depends on the man’s personality. How much can he handle living in the flux of still being legally married, but not in a romantic relationship. For some men this is a huge burden and they need time to heal. That usually cannot happen until the divorce is over. So, if the guy you’re dating is still separated, you’ve got a LONG HAUL before you.

His Ex Wife

Another contributing factor depends on his ex – is she a high-drama type or civil and reasonable. If he claims she’s crazy, you are sure to suffer being in a relationship with him. It doesn’t matter if this seems fair or not, when the ex is difficult, everyone is affected.

His Children

Some men have no trouble seeing their kids and having a life for themselves. Others feel tremendously guilty and as a result must spend every waking moment with their children when they have them. What that means for you is you’ll always be a second-class citizen and never come first. This will show up in many hurtful ways and never get better so beware if this is your situation.

You might only see him on his off weekend or may be not even that will be guaranteed. You can forget about anything regular if he works weekends, is passionate about his hobbies, or his wife offers more time with his kids than their agreement stipulates.

Dating a Separated Man – Is He Ready?

Regardless of what he SAYS, most men who are separated are not ready for a new serious relationship. If you’re OK with casual, which means you’ll see each other whenever and not every weekend, then it might work. Not all women want a consistent, close relationship fearing their independence will be at risk. This can be perfect if you are not looking for a commitment.

However, if you want a committed relationship, weekend companionship, consistent weekly dates, you are out of luck when dating a separated man. He will have too many things taking up his time to offer what you want or meet your needs.

In addition, emotionally a separated man can’t handle much pressure. They tend to be sporadic in their dating efforts. Romance is usually not a top priority even though they welcome female company and of course sex.

How to Know If He’s Not Ready?

Once you know what to look for if dating a separated man, it’s easy to spot a guy who is definitely NOT ready for the kind of love you want. He might say variations for the following, so listen closely when you first meet a new guy:

“I’m not looking for anything serious, but I’m happy to get to know you and see where things go.”

“I need space, but we can get to know each other and see what happens.”

“I just got out of a relationship, but let’s get to know each other and see how things go.”

Turns out men who say this are being HONEST with you. Right up front they are telling you they don’t want a relationship, commitment or anything serious. They want something lose and commitment-free with no expectations.

If you can handle that, great! But, if deep down, you are hoping he’ll see how great things can be with you and change his mind, you are looking at disappointment and possible heartbreak.

Dating a Separated Man with Baggage

The truth is, dating a man who is still married will always be a problem. They have all kinds of baggage and no matter how great a guy he is, you can’t separate him from this baggage. Only HE can do this.

Until he’s ready to move on and make you a priority, he’ll be full of excuses. Maybe he feels too guilty to go through with the divorce, even though he promised and he’s close. Or he might want his freedom to do whatever he wants, whenever he wants including helping a friend, dating other women or watching football all weekend.

This can be a highly selfish time for a separated man and in truth he NEEDS this time for himself. No matter how much you like him or how much he claims to like you – he’s got family and emotional baggage you’ll have to put up with. And that will not be fun. Love is not enough to have a healthy relationship no matter how long you are willing to wait.

Dating a Separated Man Who Lives With His Wife

What could be worse than dating a separated man who is still at home living with his wife? Sometimes he feels too guilty to leave, he feels like she needs him, or he can’t afford to sell the house and move out. What a mess! How can this situation bring you anything but heartache?

I’ve heard crazy stories about men who agree to still go to family events with their wives or show a good front for business, regardless of being in a new relationship.

How Long Should You Be Patient Dating a Separated Man?

So, how long should you be patient with a separated man? Depends on how much of your life you  are willing to put on hold or waste waiting for him? If his divorce is just a couple of months away from completion, well that might be worth it. However, if he…

  • Hasn’t even started proceedings; why wait for what could take years?
  • Doesn’t keep his promises and often disappoints you; that will not suddenly improve
  • Was super nice for a while, but that’s all changed; it won’t revert back to how things were
  • Doesn’t have time for the relationship you want; that’s who he is, and it won’t change
  • Has a million excuses why he can’t see you; things won’t get better in the future
  • Loves you and you love him, but this doesn’t make you happy; it won’t change!

The Bottom Line

Can dating a separated man work out? Sure. On super rare occasions a man will finish his divorce, feel ready for a relationship and commit to you for the kind of romantic partnership you want.

However, playing the lottery makes more sense since the odds of winning are better. Please don’t think YOU will be the EXCEPTION. I know so many women who wasted the best years of their life dating a separated man who promised to get divorced.

Your separated guy is NOT the only one for you, no matter how it seems. And if you are just starting to date, please exclude separated men from your list of potential partners. Eliminate the drama and pain. Why even get started when you know this situation is 99.9% sure to be a tear-jerker?

Stop being patient and understanding and instead, go after what you want! Move on from men who can’t love you the way you want and find a new man who is ready for the healthy relationship you dream of and deserve.

Curious about other big dating mistakes that can ruin your chances for love? Get my free book 7 Dire Dating Mistakes

39 responses on “Dating a Separated Man: How Long Should You Be Patient?

  1. Ronnie Ann Ryan Post author

    Hi Marley, This is so difficult and of course you would have avoided the whole thing had you known. But what matters most now is his level of honesty which is not sitting well with you. There’s no getting around the fact that he lied which makes you wonder what else he might lie about in the future. In fact, how do you know he’s even really going to get divorced? We’ve all heard that one before. This could take YEARS and with him not living in the same county, how can you really know what is going on? Think long and hard about how much more time you’ll give this man. Since he’s not single – you could also date local men to see who you find. It might be better all around to stay local and not keep hoping to move to another country for a man who may someday get divorced…or not.

  2. Marley

    Hi Ronnie, I’ve been dating this guy more than a year to find out he’s not separated yet. I’ve already met his family (parents, siblings, son even). His wife presented divorce paperwork earlier this year but he hasn’t signed yet. They were only been married a few months when things went rocky for the next 8 years. He wasn’t truthful about not being separated in the beginning. I never suspected a thing but now it’s dampened our connection. So am I fooling myself? Over a year that’s been invested with a great connection. It’s a long distance relationship so we took turns visiting, went out and had lots of PDA. I guess time will tell, but how long should I wait? We have a strong connection but he’s been with her almost 9 years with her and I’m starting to lose hope. Am I in denial? The ball is in my court to stay or not. We’re still talking to work this out. I don’t want to be tangled up in that situation. Please enlighten my situation – pros & cons? Thank you.

  3. Ronnie Ann Ryan Post author

    Hi Chrissy, Sadly a lying, cheating man often says horrid things about his wife to get sympathy from unsuspecting women. Seems to be working. If it was so bad, he’d leave her. Seriously, he doesn’t know where she lives? Sure. He has no intention of getting divorced and who says he’s even separated? If you really want to get married and have a family, RUN don’t walk away from this man. You’ll be trapped waiting and hoping for a divorce that never comes. You deserve better than him – don’t settle for this cheater!

  4. Chrissy

    I have recently been on few dates with this gentleman. We have great connection, chemistry. He told me on the second date, he was married and just wanted to be honest with me. I know I should walk away but he wants kids and to me married. I have no kids, never been married, 40 years old. He went on to mentioned that in the marriage his wife was physically, emotionally abusive. He has been separated for two years and they were married for a week before she left him. It sounds like a whirlwind romance. He also took on her son from a previous relationship. He hasn’t started the divorce process yet, which concerns me but wants it annuled. I said I can’t date him exclusively until things are sorted. Can he get the marriage annuled if she won’t cooperate? Is he better off with a divorce? He does not know where she lives.

  5. Ronnie Ann Ryan Post author

    Hi Denise, Good for you for recognizing what you want vs. what you have. Of course you deserve to spend holidays with a man and be included in his life and with his family. He has not let go of his wife yet so you are like a guilty secret, even though the marriage is on hold. That means his is not really available. Get out before the holidays to skip another year of what isn’t working. Then after the New Year, decide to start again and look for the right man – one who is ready for the kind of relationship you want and who treats you well from the very beginning. Never wait around for a man to treat you better – either he does or he doesn’t. Be strong and go for what you want!

  6. Denise

    Thank you for this article. I’ve been in a relationship with a separated man for 4 yrs and thinking of ending before the holidays because it recently dawned on me he will not include me in his life. The first couple of yrs were exciting as I didn’t really need to spend much time with him, but as we evolved I realized I’d like a man to build a future with. We have never spent any holidays together since we’ve been together and he still has reservations about introducing me to his immediate family. He just showed me pics of them. Part of me feels like continuing this relationship is settling for someone who cant treat me the way I’d like. Even though he’s separated, his sons’ mum is very much involved in his life and his family loves her. This whole situation has started to affect me negatively which is why I have decided to put an end to it. Your article lists a lot of points I can definitely resonate with. Thanks!

  7. Lynn

    Thanks Ronnie,

    I will keep your advice and see how far it goes. I am so thankful that we have this site for a person like me that have some personal questions that can’t get the answer with friends or family.

  8. Ronnie Ann Ryan Post author

    Hi Lynn, Normally I would say not to date a man who is separated and not divorced. But since he’s treating you so well and he’s including you in his life, why walk away? In truth, any man could get hurt you, so why not see how things go with him. There’s only so much you can guard your heart. If he changes or shows signs that he’s no longer interested, that will be a different story. But right now things are good so see how it goes.

  9. Lynn

    Hi Ronnie,

    I am dating a separated guy, we been together only for few months and he been separated since Feb of this year. His kids are older so they don’t live at home anymore. I met his son, parents, friends and siblings. Everything just feels right but I am still hesitant if he is ready for a new chapter of his Life. I see him every day, we just got back from a weekend get away and he’s been treating me like a Queen. He constantly talking about me to his friends and family. I know his phone password and everything. But again he is not divorced yet. I am confused and don’t want to push him away just because of the peace of paper, however I don’t want to invest all my feelings and get hurt in the end.

  10. Ronnie Ann Ryan Post author

    Hi Melissa, So sorry to hear about this and your pain. Healing takes time and cannot be rushed. You might want to read this post about how to heal after heartbreak. I encourage you to treat yourself well, get some energy work, maybe talk to a professional, try yoga or exercise, spend time with friends, start a new project. Anything to distract yourself or that helps you smile and feel better. You will get over this and move on. Give yourself another good month and you’ll be feeling better soon.

  11. Ronnie Ann Ryan Post author

    Hi Mary, This is why I recommend not dating a separated man – nothing is settled yet. That does make things very difficult. He doesn’t have time for the quality relationship you want – but the truth is, you are not together. You live far apart and facetime which is not the same as an in-person, committed relationship. He has a point. Unfortunately, you have no leverage and he has a lot on his plate, so the timing is sort of bad. If this doesn’t suit you which I would completely understand, you may need to let go and move on. Otherwise you are sure to be dragged through ever bit of drama of his divorce which doesn’t sound pretty.

  12. Mary

    Thank your for all the reads. I am 41, reunited with a guy I dated in my 20’s. We have been together for 18 months, they filed for separations 4 months after and he was getting paperwork prepared and not she wants more. So she’s strong to save for an attorney. and idk how long I can wait? I have met his kid through face time briefly and he hurries as if does not want to? I am in Kansas and he’s in New York… I feel like the reading said dead ass second class, he’s no longer putting the effort he was in the beginning. He made a comment, “Stop, this is crazy, you’re mad because I’m spending time with my kid, if u where here I would be with u, but ur not. ” times are already hard. But this just strikes me, he takes his kid every single weekend, he hasn’t established boundaries and she runs the show. We used to wake up on the weekend face time and talk drink our coffee… now there is no time. Because of his kid, I have offered to sit and chat with his kid, and says he will and stays busy, ignores me and noting never happens. I’m so hurt, he’s a good guy. But it it worth to keep reminding him? Did u see about an atty? Did you call places? Think I’m done… ?

  13. Melissa Jean

    Hi Ronnie,

    I have just ended a 4 confusing month with a separated man with a 4 year old son. When I met him he was separated from his wife for 6 months. I asked him if it’s too soon for him to date and he said no because the marriage has been over few years back (they were married for 4 years only). I believed him, stupid me. He was amazing on our first 2 months. I met his son and parents. Fast forward 2 months, he started being cold. He blamed his demanding business for the his bad treatment of me and it continued to get worst. His explosive temper scares me. He is lashing at me all the time even if I did not do anything wrong. I feel miserable than happy being with him and just like what you said, never a priority since there is a son who always come first. I asked him 3 times who I am to him and he cannot give me an answer. I decided right there and then to end things for good. I didn’t see him or speak to him after that. It’s been 3 weeks and I am still thinking about him and crying everyday. I miss him but I don’t miss the treatment. I want to heal first too before I start seeing someone again. Do you know how long will this mourning last? I’m really tired of crying everyday.

  14. Ronnie Ann Ryan Post author

    Hi Genie, You are in a tough situation. But, and I say this with great care, how do you know he’s telling you the truth about the judge and the papers? You are not in the same country. He’s not even saying his wife is holding things up. Sounds fishy to me. A great way to have you and not have to commit. If you want to have children, set a time limit and then move on. What about 6 more months? Be smart. Choose when it’s time to let him go and don’t look back.

  15. Genie

    Hi Ronnie, When I met my boyfriend, he was already legally separated from his ex for 2 years. In that time he tried dating other women, and even went back to fix his marriage, tried couples therapy but it still didn’t work. We met and have been together for 2 years. All this time we’ve been waiting for the divorce to finalise, the judge just needs to sign the papers. It’s been 2 years and the slow court process has been agonising. We want to marry and have kids someday, everything about the relationship is serious and we are both committed but without the divorce going through we have been unable to move on. As each day, month, year goes by… how long should I be willing to wait? Note: marriage is the only way for us to be in the same country together.

  16. Ronnie Ann Ryan Post author

    Hi Paige – your situation is different because you live with him, but it’s the same because he’s not divorced. So, you suffer like any woman with a man who isn’t free. You didn’t ask a question so I’m guessing you just need to see things through. There are only 4 months left to the year, you’ll get through it. If this continues to drag on, you don’t have much leverage. What can you do? Your only choice is to stay or go, so if you want to stay, you have to stick it out.

  17. Paige Mia

    My separated man has a a lot of baggage. We have been dating for a year now. He filed for a divorce in July of 2018. We started dating at the end of July. He has two kids by his wife, and he also helped raise her other two by a previous marriage that she had. The divorce is still not final due to disagreements and not being able to agree on custody of their two children together as well as selling the marital home and her $50k vehicle that is in both of their names. We moved in our first apartment together in June of 2019. The wife knows about me and he shows me off to his family and all “4” of their children. I’m being very patient but I need to this divorce to hurry up. The final hearing should take place hopefully before 2020. My situation is different because he is committed to me and my two children. He wants to get married and start a new life with me and my kids and his two kids too.

  18. Ronnie Ann Ryan Post author

    Hi Lisa, I say this with care, but honestly, never put your life on hold for a man. He’s already told you he can’t have a relationship. Waiting for him will only keep you single. I’m glad you respect his honesty. Now it’s your turn to respect yourself, be smart and move on to find a man who is ready NOW, not “some day” for the love you want.

  19. Lisa

    I’ve been seeing a man who’s been separated this July 2019 for 1 year. The divorce has been going through the process since the separation started as well. He has 2 children age 5 and 6 which started by a one night stand – turned into marriage which lasted only 3 years. The mother is a train wreck and he’s fighting for sole custody. He told me his life is upside down and can’t be in a relationship and doesn’t want to hurt me. That made me respect him. 1. Taking care of his children and 2. Being honest and upfront with me. I can’t help thinking he’ll be a single dad needing and wanting help, companionship and a mother figure for his children. Waiting for him and being patient has been my own decision in hopes for the best, but can’t help but wonder if in the end he chooses I’m not a good fit. Your advice was extremely helpful, blunt and straight to the point, but I also feel this is a unique situation bases on what I’ve read. Please give me your honest opinion

  20. Ronnie Ann Ryan Post author

    Hi Mia, I’m not sure what you want me to say. I understand your concerns – he’s not divorced – he hasn’t even filed papers. What if you set a deadline in your own mind for his divorce. For example, if he doesn’t file papers in the next three months, you’ll accept the fact that he might never do it. Then you’ll have to decide to stay or not. It’s not easy being the other woman and you deserve to be the priority. But when a man doesn’t know what he wants, you are putting your life on hold at his mercy.

  21. Mia

    I’ve been seeing a man for about a year and a half. He’s been back and forth a few times between me and his ex. Never actually leaving me and not wanting to go back to the miserable marriage but feels guilty and doesn’t feel he deserves happiness. He always comes back to me stronger than before, but the divorce still hasn’t been filed. We lived in a different state (while not living together) than his ex; however, this recently changed. He said a few weeks ago that he is completely ready, but I’m so scared with her not far away she’ll be able to manipulate him and guilt him into staying. The plans we have for our future are everything I could hope for and more, but the reminder that the divorce isn’t final is weighing me down this last week.

  22. Ronnie Ann Ryan Post author

    Hi Shakthi, The man you are seeing has no business dating – he’s clearly still heavily involved with his ex and has nothing to offer other women. Casual dating means no strings attached. So you are right; sounds like you want a relationship even though part of you thinks you aren’t ready. The best thing to do is hold off until you feel stronger. Don’t let a man use you as his emotional crutch like this guy. He’s relying on you for emotional support and you provide it hoping for love. Don’t do it! This shows a bit of neediness on your part or a desire to feel needed. Instead, rebuild your life with new friends, activities and self-care so you can enjoy life without “needing” a man. Then you won’t be needy when you decide to start dating again.

  23. Shakthi

    Great article. Thank you. I’m feeling down and confused. I got divorced 7 months ago and am over my ex, but not ready for commitment. 3 months ago I decided to date casually and met a man who’s separated and will be divorced in 3 months. They have been separated many times before and go back and forth. He stated he’s never going to be ready for any commitments or marriage. He wants to date casually and see others. He’s confused and emotional about divorce and they still do family events. When he gets home, he’s lonely and calls me for emotional support. I have feelings for him. We really connected and attraction is super high. He thinks the same but not emotionally connected like I do. He still has feelings for his wife. I’m trying to get out of this mess and not see him anymore. I guess I’m not wired for the causal dating? I’m also confused because I don’t think m ready for a relationship or full blown commitment. What’s your advice?

  24. Ronnie Ann Ryan Post author

    Hi Shannon, Yes you are in a frustrating situation. Even though your man might not have meant to drag things out, he simply can’t close the loop right now. Perhaps its not just about his credit, but he still has some attachment which is why it’s best not to date a separated man. He’s not completely free or available and can’t provide what you want and need in a relationship. You did the right thing by cutting yourself out of the picture. Now make it real to heal from the situation. Then you are free to find a man who is available. At some future point, if he comes back and you are available – great, maybe it will work. But in the meantime, you can’t put your life on hold, hoping he’ll get his act together. That’s a huge emotional compromise and will keep you single. Take care of yourself and then find a new man to love – one who is ready for a relationship with you.

  25. Shannon

    Thank you Ronnie for writing this, it truly opened my eyes. I’ve been with a separated man for 18 months now with no date set for a divorce yet. His wife wants the equity out of their home, but he can’t refinance because his credit is not the best. She’s giving him time, but this can take another year. He won’t sit down and have an adult discussion with her about options because it stresses him out too much. I told him last night this makes me feel like I’m in second place. I told him to come back to me when he has a divorce date set, in the meantime it is tearing me apart waiting on them. He got angry with me and said he will not be contacting me again since I don’t love him enough to wait. To me that just shows he never had any intentions to file or actually cared about losing me.

  26. Ronnie Ann Ryan Post author

    Hi Jenny, There are exceptions to every rule. And even if it doesn’t work out, I bet it’s been great to have someone to go through it with. You sound level-headed and have your expectations in line. Enjoy and keep your eyes open. I hope it works out!

  27. Jenny

    Thank you Ronnie for writing this. I think if you have found someone who may be right for you, it is reasonable to take your time. I have been dating a separated man for a year. We are actually BOTH separated. My separation has been very cordial-we have our settlement written and now are filing for divorce. His has been far from cordial, but they have decided on terms and he filed. We had time apart (3 months) because there was too much conflict with his ex when we first started. It was heart wrenching for him. I had to be sure he really wanted this divorce , and since we’ve reunited we continue to take it very slowly seeing each other perhaps 2x a month but talking frequently about our life transition. Once divorced (this Summer) our relationship will really start. We don’t know if we are perfect for each other and need to give it time. We decided each other are worth it, so we are both crossing fingers. He’s a wonderful person, so far!

  28. Ronnie Ann Ryan Post author

    Hi Ava, When a man makes you feel super comfortable talking to him about anything, that can be a seduction method. Once you trust a man, you’re more likely to sleep with him. So, you could be right – he sees you as a fling to get him through his divorce. This is why I strongly urge women who want a serious relationship to AVOID men who haven’t been divorced for a full year. Your guy is not even divorced yet and there is so much emotional stuff to get through. The lack of depth cold be related to his being emotionally unavailable or he might not have the depth anyway. When you discover a man is not right for you, let go and move on. After you recover, seek a man who is more compatible and aligned with what you want n a relationship. This guy is NOT ready.

  29. Ava

    Thank you for the advice. I have been dating a separated (over 1 year) man for the last 5 months. We clicked instantly on our first date, and ended up talking well into the next morning about all topics that I normally feel self-conscious discussing with potential suitors. He made me feel comfortable sharing my stories with him, and we hit it off. However, I do feel like I am a rebound for him based on his emotional unavailability. We have great times together, but there doesn’t seem to be any depth to our relationship. We spend every other weekend together, but he doesn’t seem interested in getting out of the house much and never puts any effort into making plans with me, even on my birthday. I am also wondering if he may still be depressed about his impending divorce, because he has been seeming very depressed lately. I am beginning to feel like I am just a convenient fling to make him feel better about himself.

  30. Nicolinala

    Thank you Ronnie for a great advice and words of wisdom! I forgot to mention in my previous post that I did told him that if he comes to me again he will have to bring with him his divorce papers. Without that I’m not willing to talk about us at all.

  31. Ronnie Ann Ryan Post author

    Hi Nicolinala, First, congrats on standing your ground and creating a deadline. Excellent! However, you can’t take him back even if he says he’s willing to commit because he could drag this out for years! He’d need a final court date for his divorce before you could take him seriously or you could find yourself at 40 and still in the same place. It happens all the time. Even though it’s hard, let him go completely because he is not ready and too uncertain.

    In the mean time, do the healing you mentioned – smart! You can start dating again in May. Make rules for yourself based on what you have learned here. Decide “I won’t date any separated men or almost divorced either.” Cross them all off your list because they are NOT ready or healed. It can take a year to heal after divorce. Look for a man who is ready NOW to have the solid relationship you dream of, get married and have a family.

  32. Nicolinala

    I was with a separated man for a year and a half. I’d insisted that he finalize his divorce, he’d promise to do this and gave me empty promises. I’ve met his kids and his parents, spend Xmas together. I didn’t felt right because I felt he was not committed. He got fed up with me nagging about finalization. We talked and he said he needs some time alone, think about things, finalize his divorce. He thanked me that I’m willing to give him space. He said he’d call (who knows when), and then the ball is in my court if I’d want to live with him. Here I am in my prime time, I’m in my mid 30′, he’s older. I don’t know how long should I wait for him? We decided to break all the contact until he finishes his business. We are without the contact now for 3 weeks, I told him I’m willing to wait till end of April. After that I decided to seriously date other people. So he has 3 more months, I’m not willing to give him more time. I can’t date right now because I feel hurt and need time to heal first. Do you think I should take him back if he decides to commit to me? What would be the right signs that his really ready? What should I be looking for? Thank you!

  33. Ronnie Ann Ryan Post author

    Hi Caroline, Good for you for getting real and looking at the truth of your situation. do NOT wait around for that man. It could take years or he may never leave her. You are in your prime time child-bearing years. Don’t waste that on him! Break up and move on to find love with a man who is free to be all yours. No excuses!

  34. Caroline

    Thank you so much for this article. This is my current situation. We have been together for 3 yrs. At the beginning he would occasionally mention he plans to divorce but in the past year I get the sense that he might not be ready. I feel like he does not really see me in his future. I’ll need to ask him to confirm. I am 31 and don’t want to waste my best years like you said waiting on him to make up his mind. I guess I knew all along and just needed to hear/read it.

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