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. Hi, I started dating a man in November and he is so lovely, but there are issues. He has kids and sees them every other weekend. When he does , its up to them what they do and I am forgotten about for that weekend. He doesn’t see the problem in that, or if I complain he says its my problem. I want to get to know his kids and be involved. He knows mine well and I never say he can’t be around us. He also suffers from bouts of depression that he won’t talk to me about and he can go silent for ages. I don’t know if its worth to keep pursuing when he makes me really upset in these two situations. The rest of the time when we are together, he’s all over me like a rash. I don’t want these negative things to effect me and hence effect my children. Just want to lead a happy life and be loved. Am I asking to much?

    • Hi Tilly, Ok this might be a little hard to hear. You are not asking too much, but sadly it’s too much for THIS MAN. Since you said he’s “all over you” when alone, sounds like he’s seeking sex with some connection. If he wanted a TRUE relationship, he’d make you a part of his life with his children. He has NOT and that is a HUGE RED FLAG. The other red flag is shutting you out. Depression is no excuse for not communicating. So he might be a great guy, but he’s not offering you a healthy relationship.

      These are not small issues. He is not treating you well and you know it. That’s why you question it. If you have any sense of self-esteem and self-preservation, you will walk away. You could talk till you’re blue in the face and he will not change. He’s getting his needs met every other weekend and that’s all he cares about. If you want a mutual, healthy relationship, you will need to break up with this man who cannot deliver that, and find someone new who can.

  2. Dear Ronnie, Your page has helped me understand my situation better. I’ve met this guy 2 months ago, in the bar and he had ring on his finger (married). Still I liked him (mistake) as he told me he is separated but still living with wife and kid. We met a few times, talked every day, he showed me affection and treated me very special. He told me he wants to slowly date me. We went on 2 long weekend trips. Last trip I showed him more affection and 2 days after, he cut me off. Told me he is not ready to be with someone, it was great together but leave it at that. Said he doesn’t have any feelings and better to that say now. I was shocked, as I’m in love already. Maybe I did something wrong? I’m blaming myself, because he doesn’t like me anymore. Is it possible that he doesn’t like me so fast ? This is my lesson, never date separated men.

    • Dear Ss, Glad to hear you have learned the lesson not to date a separated man! Frankly I don’t think he’s even separated since he wore his ring. While your feelings are hurt, imagine how horrible this would be dating a man who is not free/available? The drama, legal, and money problems would greatly affect you. Good for you for swearing off all separated men.

      Regarding if you did something to make him stop liking you, I doubt it. Yes, if he noticed you were more into him that could have made him think about what he was doing. He was happy with a no-strings attached situation but didn’t want to start another relationship. Sometimes men just cheat to mix things up but aren’t looking for anything consistent on the side. Whatever the case, he didn’t stop liking you. The truth is, and I don’t mean to offend, he was never that into you. He had no long-term intentions, merely the short-term desire for affection from another woman.

      My dating advice for you is to avoid this situation completely which you have come to your own conclusion about. Choose the men you date wisely. If a man is married, separated, or says he’s not looking for anything serious, walk away to avoid heartbreak.

  3. I started dating a married man in August 2020 and he has recently moved into his own apartment. He has told me that he will officially file in March because they are working with a mediator to improve communication for their children. Over the last few months he is been extremely consistent (texting, calling, and setting up dates). He has even shown me documentation from the separation that they both intend to move towards divorce. I have recently started to pull back even though he has given me no reason to doubt him. I have started canceling last minute for our dates. I’ve even missed some really important events that he has invited me to (his birthday, his Re-enlistment, and award ceremony). He has been there for me even though I haven’t been treating him the greatest. What should I do?

    • Hi Blair, You chose to date a married man, so why did you start backing out of important events? I’m confused by this. I don’t think it’s wise to date a married man because there are so many emotional battles during divorce, which continue even after the paperwork is done. Experts say it can take a year to heal. Who knows if he’ll fit the pattern or be happy he’s with you and not sow wild oats. But if you treat him poorly, what’s his motivation to treat you well? You need to decide if you want to date him or not and if you stay, you need to apologize and explain that fear was behind letting him down.

  4. Hi Ronnie. I started seeing a married man since June. We have a great connection and all I’ve been searching for in a man. He still lives with his wife but she works in a different country and he sees her for a month out of a year. According to him, the marriage has been sour for a while and she wants a divorce. He says he’s the one that wants the marriage to work but since knowing, me he has lost interest and wants the divorce. She recently came home and there has been some changes. We usually talk every night but now not even text messages. They don’t sleep together. He still takes her everywhere she wants to go. She’s staying with him is because she doesn’t have anywhere else. They have an apartment where she’ll live when it’s finished. I asked why still puts her first. He says he wants to end on good terms because she can make his life hell. I’m really into him but I don’t like how I’m feeling.

    • Hi Kim, Seems like your guy isn’t too honest with you. Do you really believe he doesn’t sleep with her? This recent lack of communication is not a good sign. Truth is he is STILL MARRIED. While he’s all you’ve been searching for, one part is off target – he is not single and not honest about his wife. If he was, he’d still be communicating like always. Perhaps he’s lonely and so he found you. Ask yourself if he’s really free and available. Doesn’t seem to be. Keep your dignity and decide what to do. Pay attention to his actions which tell you more truth than his words ever will. This is true for ALL men.

  5. I met my boyfriend 3.5 years ago. I was beginning separation, he was separated but living in the same house as his wife and kids. To add to the complication, we are long-distance. Having separated for enough years now I applied for a divorce (where I live this is mandatory) but he still lives at home, but separate rooms.

    Over the 3.5 years, I have seen him deal with severe mental health issues that often render him barely capable of functioning. He has mentored and helped me give up alcohol and pursue my dreams personally and professionally. I see him once a year, the rest of the time we talk when he’s not with them. No one knows about me. I am so lost. I don’t know what to do anymore.

    • Hi Mia, Perhaps when you started this relationship it suited your needs. Just starting the divorce process, you didn’t mind his situation or expect much since he still lived at home. You supported each other over the years which is wonderful. But now that you are moving on and your divorce process is coming to an end, you want more of a normal relationship vs. virtual. This is understandable. Not all relationships are meant to last a lifetime and this man can’t provide what you want, plus has mental health issues as well.

      It might be time to move on and look locally for a healthier situation with a man who is relationship ready and wants the same thing you do now. I’m sorry to say I just don’t see how things can work or change with your current boyfriend, given his difficult circumstances.

  6. Hello Ronnie,
    I’ve been dating this man for a year now, he’s separated but of course still married. He keeps telling me he’s going to get divorced but hasn’t even started the paperwork. I’ve told him I would give him time until December to get the divorce done, it’s October and he hasn’t done anything. Yesterday I asked him if he already started doing any paperwork as December is two months away and a divorce with children’s usually takes time and his response was no that he hasn’t done anything and what I find strange is he said he was going to talk to her and that’s it. Making me think that he doesn’t know how divorce work or doesn’t want to get a divorce at all. He thinks that by talking to her about the divorce that’s how a divorce work. I’m tired of him not doing anything and ps he’s older than me. I don’t know if I should deal with someone like him but at the same time, I find it really hard to break up with him as we live together.

    • Hi El, I agree – clearly he has no plans to divorce. And if he did, it can take years. Since you live with him, that’s tough. My heart goes out to you because I’m sure this is a painful thing to face. You have two choices that I see. 1)Ask him to move out until he has an official divorce court date. To get him to move, you’d need to be very firm. 2)Move out, depending on when your lease is up. If needed, make plans for yourself, save money, and find the place when you are free to move.

      He has no motivation to get divorced since he can live with you and enjoy your relationship while married. This man has lied to you. If you want a man who is single and available, you’ll have to find somebody else. In the future, please don’t date men who aren’t single or divorced already. Just cross them out as prospects. There are plenty of other men to meet!

  7. Hello Ronnie, I am happy to have stumbled onto your website. I have been seeing a married man since December 2020. We have known each other 3 years, but became romantically involved in Dec. I love him and he said he loves with me. We have mutual friends and they have confirmed his marriage is a loveless and the wife is cold, so I do believe him. He has financial issues and I know that his willingness to divorce is hinged on this.

    My issue is…I am not willing to wait for him. He told me he’s taking the divorce at his own pace, but I have my life well in order and am missing the romantic aspect of a mate. I am extremely frustrated and broke it off a few times recently, but this upset him and he wants me to wait and be patient. I feel I’ve done the right thing by breaking away. I haven’t seen him in over 2 weeks and frankly, I am suspicious and that doesn’t give me a good feeling. I think I am over it, but obviously not over him and its killing my heart strings. I hope I can stick it out and move on. Thank you for being here for women like me 🙂

    • Hi Allison, Good for you for making this big decision! You are honoring yourself by moving on vs. wasting your life waiting on this guy. So many men say they’ll get divorced and don’t do it. He wants you and he wants everything else. I hope you stay strong and seek out a man who is free to love you and ready for a commitment.

  8. Hello,

    I have been with my boyfriend for about 18 months now. He is separated, he does live with me but also stays in his home that his wife and kids live in on some days (to see his kids). I know that him and his wife are not together. They made an agreement to divorce when the kids are 18 and in uni, they are 15 now.

    Im not sure whether I should wait. Sometimes I feel I can but then other times I feel annoyed at this. Him and his wife talk pretty much everyday on text even when he isn’t with her. About the kids or financial things. They have family group chats with both of their sides of the families etc. I just feel so left out at times and I’m not sure if I should wait another 3 years for this

    • Hi S, How could you not feel left out? This man is living a double life – one with his family and another with you. He won’t start the divorce process for another 3 years and who knows how long it might take. This seems like a lot of ask of yourself – to put your life on hold for years. How do you know he really will divorce? You don’t. This is a perfect example of why dating a separated man is just to complicated and painful.

      Only you can decide what is right for you. So, ask yourself if he’s worth putting your life on hold for an unknown number of years. It’s already been 18 months and you seem to be questioning he wisdom of this situation. And there is no end in sight. You deserve a man who is free to be with you and focus on you, even if he has kids. I wish you all the best.

  9. I’m dating a man who has been separated off and on for 4 years and now 2 years. His ex left him for a woman but doesn’t want him to move on. She plays games and he just lets her. He says he needs to set boundaries but doesn’t. He says he cares for me and I do him but then he will do something in left field like go shopping with ex or have her come see his daughter and let her to stay as long a she wants. She is on drugs and alcohol and he asks if she needs rehab and says he will take her. Why isn’t her girlfriend taking her and why she reaching out to him? He keeps saying he will get divorced but hasn’t. Has excuses. I said I’m out in a year if he hasn’t and I think that is being super patient for someone who SAYS his ex is crazy and wants to move on. Now he is going to church and I cant stay over any more. I’m tired of wondering where I stand and if I matter at all. He is still pining away for his ex despite drugs, alcohol and her leaving him to raise two kids alone.

    • Hi Jean, Sounds like you ARE pretty clear about him and that this isn’t working. He is obviously still in love or at least very attached to his wife. He’s making excuses – never a good sign. These issues let you know you are NOT his top priority. Why do you need to wait a year? Leave now before you waste more time. This man has proved he’s not ready for a commitment with you. I’m not saying he has no feelings for you, but what is there is not enough to override his not-quite ex. There is no need for patience, just move on NOW to find a man who is available. And please avoid dating any men who are not fully divorced.

  10. I’ve been dating a hispanic guy for 8 months who’s been separated for 4 years from his wife from a different country and when I bring up the divorce he says I don’t want someone asking me all the time . When I’m ready ill do it. He keeps saying he wants to marry me and he bought me and my girls a house for when he does but I don’t think he’s ever going to because he would have done it by now.Now he’s saying he owes 60,000 to send over to his country before we can get married. I just don’t know what to think. he wants me to trust him but he’s broken my trust twice now.please help

    • Hi April, If a man has broken your trust twice already, why would expect anything to change? He has already established a pattern. He doesn’t seem motivated to divorce his wife and there is a big road block owing such a large sum of money.

      However, I’m going to suggest something unusual. Do you need to marry him? He lives with you, not his wife. He bought a home for your family. Overall, is he a good man and does he make you happy? If the answer is yes, that is worth thinking about. Sometimes women over look the good because it doesn’t fit their picture of perfection.

      Only you can decide – do I need to be married? If the answer is yes, then follow your heart. You are with a man who will likely not marry you. You deserve to have what you want, but you will probably need to leave him to find a man to marry you. And that could be your smartest choice to stay in integrity with yourself.

      On the other hand, if you decide you DO HAVE what you need and the official status doesn’t matter, maybe you can enjoy what you do have. I hold no judgement either way and support whatever choice suits you best. The only choice I recommend avoiding is staying with him, hoping he will change. That is unlikely and will keep you stuck and unhappy.

      Now, it’s time to decide what is for your highest good and your children, make your choice, and move forward from there.

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