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.

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

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

Leave a Comment