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 are you 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

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

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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!

  4. 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!

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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!

  10. 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!

  11. 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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