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. So, she made a few tweaks and then dated 30 men in 15 months to meet her adorable husband Paul. Discovering the keys to midlife dating, she founded It’s Never Too Late for Love to help other smart, successful women find love too! Her mission is to share her proven dating advice  and keen insights about men with women everywhere who are serious about finding love with the right man. Ronnie Ann Ryan, MBA, CCC is a Certified Coach who has helped 1,000’s of midlife women with her Love & Dating Coach services. She’s been featured on BBC’s 5 Live Radio, NBC, ABC, and Fox News, NPR, eHarmony,,, Connecticut Magazine among others around the world. An established author, you can find her 6 books on Amazon.

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

  1. So , Im current in a “situationship” with a married man. He is separated and we met literally a few days after them separating. We started off as friends with benefits. And it’s grown to more within 3 months. We have a strong chemistry but he hasn’t started the divorce process cause his wife is barely going to give birth to their first child. She cheated on him a few months before she found out she was pregnant. So that put a halt on serving her. But i know its gonna take time. I feel sometimes he is going to decide to be with her still. An its so sad and crazy our relationship grew to so much more than we expected. He is a great man, and I don’t need a man at all in my life, I just feel like I know what I want. We both got out of a long term commitment at the same time which is also crazy. He doesn’t live with his wife but once the baby is born He will be there 24/7 with her an I understand cause I also have a son. I met someone special yet he has a lot to still go through to be free. I’d really like to hear an outside person’s perspective on this.

    • Hi Breana, Chemistry does not indicate a desire for a long term relationship. He’s going to be with her 24/7 when she has the baby and you fear he’ll go back to her? Of course you do and chances are strong! You say you don’t need a man and that he’s special. So special he can be with another woman until she gives birth? How do you even know his story is true? Men say and do all kinds of things to get some side action. If you don’t need a man then let him go and move on. Otherwise, I’d say you are in for a long and painful ride that may never end in the relationship you dream of.

  2. Hi, I’m dating a guy who is separated and doesn’t live with his wife. They got married without letting their parents know and separated when their parents found out. They never lived together after marriage and have been trying to break it off. I’ve read his conversations with her on WhatsApp secretly. I’ve been with a guy for 6 years who I don’t love maybe. I check on him, speak to him, I feel 100% myself with him. He loves me, but I don’t let him touch me as I don’t feel it. Hence I took a break in the relationship and met this separated guy. I probably love the new guy. He’s aware of my feelings and I’ve been honest. I have been trying to push him away so he figures his life out and if still I feel for him I may be with him. But he is asking for some time. I want to get married – the 6 year guy loves me and is the safest option financially, mentally. He loves me and has been loyal always plus no ex wife. What should I do?

    • Hi Sophia, You are in no position to marry either man. The separated guy isn’t asking you to marry him and is not even ready for a relationship. He’s not divorced and wants space. So he is not an option.The 6 year guy is not an option either. The reasons you stated are good reasons to marry a man you love and want. If you don’t desire him, you cannot MARRY him. How long will a sexless marriage work for either of you? If you don’t feel attracted to him then honor that and let him go. Sounds like it’s time to start fresh and stop looking only for safety. Of course you want to feel safe with a good man, but that can’t be your only criteria for marriage.

  3. So I’m dating a guy who’s still married but plans on leaving her when he gets stuff together. He always spends time with me. His wife cheated on him when he was in the army 10 years ago but he never divorced her. But I guess they never were really around each other cause he’d get deployed. And then he lived in another state and had a girlfriend for about 9months.. then they broke up cause the girl was moving. Then he decided to move in with his wife and her parents cause her mom was sick. Me and him started working together and we just hit it off and became really good friends and I knew he was married but I thought they were separated because he said they were. But over time I realized they were still together since she’d still write she loved him but he’d never said it back. Over time she stopped checking in on him. I asked him before what he tells her and he says to her that he’s with a friend. Sometimes I feel bad.. but then I know she cheated on him and he thinks she is now too. It’s been almost a year we’ve been together and I’ve given him til July to move in with me because I’m tired of him being married. I just don’t wanna waste years being with someone for it to never go anywhere. And I love him so much I’m scared to lose him. What do you think I should do ?

    • Hi Ashley, This man cheats on his wife! RUN AWAY don’t move in with him! He has no integrity and will break your heart. I agree – don’t waste any more time waiting for him. He’s not going to divorce her if he hasn’t yet. There are more men out there – single and available. Go find a man who is ready for commitment and willing to keep one. Respect yourself enough to aim higher than this cheater/liar. Leopards don’t change their spots!

  4. Hi Ronnie, I’m currently dating a guy who is separated from his wife for a year now. But due to some housing law issues with my country and them wanting to keep the house still, they will have to maintain legally married for another year before looking into finalising the divorce. It might however take another 2 years more depending on the proceedings of the house. He confessed that he has feelings for me and I told him that I feel the same way about him. And he has told me that he has thought that due to so much uncertainties in the future, he doesn’t know what would us be. So he told me that he doesn’t want me to wait or anything. But when we meet, it feels like we’re already a couple. I don’t really know what should I do at this stage but he’s a really nice and caring guy. Should I move on or should I try talking things out with him?

    • Hi Adele, The most important piece of the story you told was that your guy told you to move on. When a man pushes you away – that’s when can trust his HONESTY! He told you not to wait – so listen to him. My dating advice would definitely be to move on. Otherwise you will be in limbo for YEARS. Or this might be his way of hoping you’ll move on because HE wants to move on. There are other men out there. Avoid the married and separated ones if you want to find healthy, lasting love.

  5. Hi Ronnie!

    I have been dating a man for 3 1/2 years who is not legally divorced as of yet. When I met him he was only separated for 2 months (she cheated on him and left him for another guy) anyways, the divorce has been basically going on since then and I am getting frustrated at the situation. I feel like I have heard many excuses of why the divorced is not finalized such as financial reasons, being too busy and work and forgot to follow up, lawyer hasn’t got back to me, etc. I am almost 40 years old (never married) and have two boys (he has 4 children with ex) and I really want to start building our own life together… his ex is even still in his will as the beneficiary!! I am trying to be understanding and patient but I don’t want to waste my life waiting for something that will never happen. Am I wasting my time? Thank you and take care!

    • Hi Jenn, OkI’m going to be really direct about this – but please know I have compassion for you. His ex is still in his will? I can’t say for sure, but how do you know he’s even getting divorced? Has that thought ever crossed your mind? I hate to be so suspicious but his excuses are completely lame. What if…he’s still with her or doesn’t want to get divorced? I’d say you’ve spent 3.5 years and that is more than enough time wasted on this foot dragging liar. Tell him you are moving on and he can contact you only when the divorce is final. Then stay hard lined on that – don’t give in! There are better men out there. If you do decide to move on, next time no dating any men who are not yet divorced. Walk away and look for a man who is free and relationship ready!

  6. Hi! I have been dating a separated man for 8 months. His wife left him 9 months when we were already dating. She claimed he was cheating on her with a lady I know, I mean she is just but a friend to him. The wife didn’t know I was in the picture of their marriage. I believe my boyfriend is emotionally attached to his ex wife but physically separated. He keeps talking about her when we meet but claims he doesn’t want her back. We have had 1 break up which he initiated and I accepted and employed a no contact rule for 3 weeks. He reached out to know how I’m doing and why I didn’t contact him. I haven’t shown interest of getting him back but we communicate normally. I am confused and can’t tell if he is serious with this relationship and if he’s not going to disappoint me later. I love him and believe that our chemistry and connection is great. Right now my feelings are attached to him but failed to visit him at his place after giving me two invitations. Kindly advise.

    • Hi Sheila, If he’s still attached to his wife – he’s not ready for anything serious with you. Women often mistake chemistry and connection as signs of a good relationship. Those are good qualities for a relationship, BUT they do NOT indicate a man’s intent or interest in anything serious. He is probably lonely and he might really like you, but that doesn’t mean he’s ready for what you want. Keep this in mind, whether or not his wife knew about you – he was CHEATING on his wife with you. So, that means he is a man without a lot of integrity. I don’t know why you broke up or why you are not responding to his invitations, so I’m not sure how to advise you on that. What I will say is that I think you can do better. Look for a man who has been divorced for a year or a man who is single so free of entanglements.

  7. 3 years ago i dated a guy. After one year being together, he told me he is married and with 1 year old baby. But he’s not happy with his wife and willing to get separated. He didn’t want to lose me so hid it from me in the beginning. I’m already in love and i decided to be with him till situation changes. I’ve been with him 2 years more. Now he promised to get divorced in 4 months. We really are happy together and love each other from heart. I will hold on for him. I stopped having sex and spending less time, but I’m not sure if this is right coz maybe this can make us far from each other. I just dunno how should i act in this 4 months – what to do and not do. Please, please can you advice me on this

    • Hello Farsee, I’m not sure what to say here because you’ve already been with this married man for three years. Why are you acting differently at this point? Did you threaten to leave if he didn’t divorce and that’s why you aren’t having sex? You already spent two years after knowing he was married. If you feel pulling away will make him keep his word and divorce his wife try it. Then you’ll have to leave him FOR REAL if he doesn’t keep his word in 4 months, so you can move on to find a man who is truly free to love you.

    • I didnt know what to do. I have nobody I could trust and explain the situation so I kept searching about it online. It was saying on many websites You should stop having sex at anytime because he will not do anything as long as he has you and he got his wife too.
      but if you do this he knows you are serious about this and if he ask you for sex is not a good sign.
      Im just following that and I dont know is what im doing right or wrong.
      Do you recommend this way that I Im going?
      Can you please guide me how to keep my relationship with him at this time

  8. 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.

    • 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.

  9. 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.

    • 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!

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