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

Dating a separated man can be super challenging. You’ll need to be patient for plenty of reasons, but how long should you wait for him to straighten everything out, get divorced, and be ready for you?

Can Dating a Separated Man Work?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 things that can come up in this situation. However, one thing is for sure – if he’s not divorced, it’s going to be complicated.

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 with his wife?

For some men, this is a huge burden and they need time to heal. That usually cannot happen until the divorce is final, which can take years.

So, if the guy you’re dating is still separated, you’ve got a LONG HAUL in front of you. This is your first red flag.

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 and pays dearly. This is a second red flag.

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. Or be available to talk with them 24/7 with no boundaries. This can create a total nightmare for dating.

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 maybe not even that will be guaranteed.

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. This is a third red flag.

Dating a Separated Man with Children – Is He Ready?

dating a separated man with kidsRegardless 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 since they have too many priorities.

Romance is usually not at the top even though they welcome female company and sex, of course.

How to Know If He’s Not Ready?

how to know if he's not ready to dateOnce you know what to look for about 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 of the following when you first meet, so listen closely:

“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 do NOT want a relationship, commitment or anything serious.

They want something easy, uncomplicated, and commitment-free with no expectations.

If you can handle that, great! But, if deep down, you’re hoping he’ll see how great things can be with you and change his mind, you are looking at disappointment, wasted time, 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 tons of baggage and no matter how great a guy he is, he’s a package deal with all that stuff from his marriage.

Only HE can do decide to move on, cut his losses and start fresh.

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. This is healing and gives him the opportunity to get reacquainted with himself, like anyone after divorce.

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? It depends on how much of your life you are willing to put on hold waiting for him? How much time do you want to waste?

If his divorce is just a couple of months away from completion  and there’s a court date, 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 – that won’t change!

The Bottom Line

how to know if a separated man is ready to dateCan dating a separated man work out? Sure. On super rare occasions a man will finish his divorce, feel ready for a new 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. How can he be the perfect guy if he’s not free and available?

Consider this – if you are just starting to date, please avoid separated men as 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. Instead, go after what you want! Move on from men who can’t love you the way you want or offer the kind of relationship you seek. Look for a man who is READY and AVAILABLE 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

Single for too long, Ronnie wanted to find love. She put her skills from personal development and her spiritual path to work, dating 30 men in 15 months to meet her adorable husband Paul. Discovering the keys to manifesting and midlife dating, she founded It’s Never Too Late to help smart, successful women find love or live an empowered and magical life. Ronnie Ann Ryan, MBA, CCC, is a Certified Coach who has helped 1,000s of midlife women with her Love & Magical Life Coach services. She’s the host of the Breathe Love & Magic podcast and has been featured on NBC, ABC, & Fox News, NPR, BBC, eHarmony,, and Connecticut Magazine among others. Also, Ronnie is the author of 6 books which are available on Amazon.

117 thoughts on “Dating a Separated Man: How Long Should You Be Patient?”

  1. “Regardless of what he SAYS, most men who are separated are not ready for a new serious relationship.” That’s very odd. ALL men who are separated don’t want a new relationship? I have so many male friends who have re-married. Basically what you are saying is that if you are a woman older than 30-ish you might be single for the rest of your life as separated men doesn’t want a new relationship. That’s completely hilarious and false and creates anxiety. Perhaps it’s cultural as I live in Sweden where we often re-marry. perhaps America is more conservative and doesn’t encourage that.

    • Hi, I think you have misunderstood my meaning. Wanting a relationship and beeing ready for a relatonship are not the same thing. Many may want a relatinship, but is the heart ready for a new commitment if not finished with hte old relationship? I’m suggesting to give men a chance to complete the breakup/divorce process before dating them, if you are a woman hoping to find lasting love. That’s why it’s best to not date a man who is not divorced or ready. It takes time to let go, grieve, and heal – this is what I meant in the post. Plus, some men say they are separated but they are really married and just want something on the side. Women looking for lasting love find this hurtful and not dating a separated man is a way to avoid this problem as well.

  2. Hi, I’ve been in a relationship over a year. When we met he said it’s been 3 years him and wife been separated after 20 years of marriage. He continued to promise but we now live together and still excuses. He even still has intimate pics of them on facebook and doesn’t see what the big deal is on my end that they are there.

    • Hi Roni, Not sure I totally get what is happening but it sounds like you live with a man who is not divorced. To be honest, that’s the first problem. You are complaining he is still attached to his wife evidenced by photos on Facebook but he’s not divorced. You have to make a decision. Since you were willing to be in this relatinship where he’s still attached, then be in it and enjoy it. Why get angry about old photos on Facebook? Unless he is also currently seeing her, everyone has a past. Or, you can break up and look for a new guy who is single and more emotionally available to be with you. I’m not sure how many people would take down their old FB photos to be honest. There must be other problems if you are only pointing to this one.

  3. Hello, I have been in my relationship for over a year. When we met he told me him and his wife of 20 years were separated and had been for three years and due to kids and finances, they put it off but that he is going to get a divorce. Flash forward a year, I told him before we move in together he needs to get a divorce and he said he will and got papers. He still hasten divorced AND won’t delete their intimate pics on Facebook and doesn’t see the issue with them on there even though him and I live together. We also have intimacy issues on his behalf. He tells me I am his world, wants to grow old with me yet it’s always an excuse to file for divorce. I need help!

    • Hi Roni, I know this is difficult, but you agreed to this relationship and let him move in before he his divorce was complete. That was your decision. He may have promised but this story is a common one. If you don’t want to be with him because he promised to divorce his wife, and it’s hurting your integrity, then breakup. That’s your only choice since you can’t make him get divorced if he doesn’t want to do it.

      Now, you are in this situation. So, another option is to just enjoy him. It’s already been a year. Is he good to you and does he treat you well? If not, then kick him out. You KNEW he was still married, so why look at his Facebook photos? Everyone has a past. Why do you care unless he still spends time with her or his main photo includes her? If they are just in old posts from years ago, I don’t see the harm. Especially since they have kids and probably family photos too.

  4. Hi I been talking to this guy for 5 months. When we first started talking he told me that he was in seperation from his ex that he been with for 3 years. He told me that they haven’t talked in a while to now that they haven’t been in communication like that. Since we been dating our communication, time n effort been off and it’s complicated and confusing since we work at the same job together. He asking me to be patient with him and want everything to plan out n just go with the flow to whatever happens what we got . He wants to fix what he got going on on his end to not let it interfere if what we have .

    • Hi Aaliyah, I’m just going to be straight with you. Your man wants everything HIS WAY. But if he was READY for a REAL relationship, he would never ask you that! Selfish and self-centered. I bet he’s not doing a thing about getting divorced. If you want a balanced relationship, he’s not your guy. He’s still married!

      What are you getting out of this relationship? Does he meet your needs? How can he? Its all meeting his needs. I urge you to strongly reconsider if this relationship is in your best interest. There’s a better man out there waiting for you to become available. If you don’t know how to breakup, tell him you’ll date him as soon as his divorce is final, if you’re still free.

  5. I’m dating a man who is separated and has been for about 3 years now. His ex is knee deep in drugs and is a drama queen. He claims that he can’t stand her. Even said that he doesn’t care if she dies. They have 4 surviving kids, 2 under 18. He started the divorce 2 years ago but it’s been at a halt. He said there’s a military rule that allows her to possibly have claim to his retirement (up to 50%). But he says he doesn’t care. He is financially and willingly able to sign and be done with this. We’ve been dating for a year now and he still hasn’t done anything towards the divorce. Whenever I ask him what the hold up is, he doesn’t say anything. He gets mad at me for bringing the divorce up and changes the subject. I haven’t gotten a straight answer from him yet. What should I do?

    • Hi Beatrice, Sadly, you are dating a man who is not fully available. He may hate her but he’s not cutting the ties. Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do. I’m sorry to say you can’t win with a man who is not free and healed. So, you can stay with him as is or make the hard choice move on and find a man who is free and ready to date you, love you, and focus on you.

  6. Hi I was dating a separated man not divorced yet for a couple of months. He came out of a domestic violence relationship and wife cheated he was with her 10 years. He did show me proof. They were living separated. Initially I wanted to be a friend but I fell hard for him because his actions how he treated me was great qualities. We did not have sex just kissed but after that my feelings became stronger. Then I started to feel frustrated that the divorce was not moving, so I cut him off and I said contact me until I see a divorce decree or something moving. He said he will do it in a week, time has passed and I haven’t heard back. Should I contact him ? wait on him ? I am confused and hearbroken. I am worried about him since he was in a domestic violence.

    • Hi Allison, He’s an adult – do not worry about him. You can’t save him anyway. Sadly, I have to tell you that if he wanted to move his divorce along he would. And divorce can take years if there’s a lot of contention. Unfortunately, this man is not truly available and waiting around for him will break your heart and waste of your precious time.

  7. Hi Ronnie,
    After a lot of self healing from very bad relationships, I am finally ready for a healthy amazing relationship, I am looking for long term.
    I moved back to my home country and met a great guy right away. He is separated from his wife for over 2 years and they have lived apart the entire time, no kids and he has dated other women since.
    We have been dating for nearly 4 months and we are taking things slow as we both need.
    Everything was great then he started to really pull away a few weeks ago and I tried to break it off with him because I know I deserve better, I also give better. He apologized and told me what was going on with the divorce, court date is in the near future and he might loose his home etc.
    I do understand and empathize with that situation however I have my own needs and wants that are not being met. He reassured me he does really like me but also said he understands if I walk away.
    I have never even dated a separated or divorced man before and I’m not sure what to do with this.
    Any advice at all is really appreciated! Thanks so much!

    • Hi Leah, You are in a tough spot. Who knows if his court date is real or what will happen? Follow your gut- that’s my best advice. You already made a decision – why doubt yourself? You could tell him to contact you when his divorce is done and you can discuss next steps then, if you are still available.

  8. Hi. I have been dating a great guy for eight months who still lives with his ex. It is a 22 year common law relationship. She cheated on him 2+ years ago but has still not moved out. He has been to a lawyer and a financial agreement is set but he is not giving her anything until she moves. She has said she has her name in for housing but I fear this will take years. The other complications is we live 4 hours apart so only see him when he can visit approx. Once a month. I of course cannot visit him due to ex. Ii believe it’s over with them but not sure how much pressure I should put on him about getting her out if any. She doesn’t pay for any household expenses so why should she move.

    • Hi Arlene, This is a very difficult situation and sadly a perfect example of why its better to avoid dating a separated man. The way you have described the situation, there is no end in sight to this complicated relationship. I see only hardship so take time to consider if he’s really worth all this trouble. How do you even know this story of lawyers etc. is even true?

      To be completely honest, this situation makes me think he has no intention of leaving her. It’s the perfect story to tell other women because he appears powerless to change things. I think he’s cheating on her. Think about it – since you live hours away, he get’s to have a second relationship with no risk of his two women bumping into each other or knowing the same people. Please be cautious with your heart and this man.

  9. I’m going through a 27 yr divorce no way I’m going back.I’ve had a friend that I have been friends with for yrs that he had been separated from his wife but hasn’t started his divorce yet!!! Both of our kids are grown so that’s no problem and I don’t want to her from my ex and he talks to her ex and I hear about her from him or his kids I’m tired of it what should I do

    • Hi Chirese, If you read the post where you wrote this question, then you know my suggestion -don’t date a man who is not divorced. There’s no way to avoid hearing about his ex, You an ask the kids not to tell you stuff, but that’s hard for them. You can ask him not to tell you stuff, but if he could do that he would have done it already. So, it’s up to you – do you want to put up with what’s going on or not? Sorry, there really isn’t another way to look at this but making a choice.

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