Dating a Separated Man Is a Major Dating Mistake

dangers of dating separated manThe dangers of dating a separated man are significant. Here are some dire situations to watch for when dating a man who is still married that so many women somehow overlook.

The Dangers of Dating a Separated Man with Children

“Dear Ronnie, Love & Dating Coach for Women,

My intuition is telling me to walk away from my current romantic situation, but there are other factors involved and I don’t want to make a mistake.

I bumped into an old flame in June and he asked me out on a date. He is currently separated from his wife and has been for almost two years. We are both in our 50s.

I went out on three dates with him before he told me that he’d told his wife about us. Within a week,  he informed me that she was texting him constantly and putting him under a lot of pressure and he was feeling guilty.

On our 4th and 5th date he suddenly went very cold on me. The last date was an absolute nightmare.

Sorting Things Out with the Wife

He then informed me he was going to see his wife to ‘sort things out and move on one way or the other’ and he hoped I understood!

I was fine with that but, heard nothing for a few days. I was a little anxious when he eventually texted me. He said things were really bad between them and they had loads to sort out.

I said I wasn’t happy with how things were going between us and suggested I give him some space which he agreed to.

He said he would text me when ‘his head was sorted’. That was over a month ago. I’ve had a few texts since, but nothing to indicate that we are getting back together.

Did I Push Him Away?

I bumped into him recently – he was a little drunk and all over me. I admit to pushing him to make a few dates along the way but have never texted or called him first.

I’ve not always been available to meet him, which he did not like.

I’m not sure if I’ve pushed him away or if it’s really his circumstances that are keeping him away.

I have pushed guys away in the past and have tried very hard this time to be more aware of my actions.

Should I Move On?


Should I walk away or wait a while before moving onto someone else. I guess this is one of the dangers of dating a separated man. I’d appreciate your advice.


Left Hanging in Hingam, MA


Dating Someone Who Is Separated

Dear Hanging,

First off, this situation is EXACTLY why I warn women about the dangers of dating a separated man. And why I encourage you to avoid men who have not been divorced for at least a year. (Same thing goes for women too.)

Before you enter the next dating situation, be sure to ask the man how long he’s been divorced. If it’s less than 9 months to a year, walk away!

Why Do You Like Him?

There are a number of things you mentioned that puzzle me about this liaison. I wonder why you’re interested in dating this man after…

  • He went cold on you after three dates
  • The last date was a nightmare
  • He’s still clearly attached to his not yet ex-wife
  • He stopped asking you out
  • He’s not emotionally available

Any of these are reasons are enough not to see him again! What is it about him that makes him worth compromising your sense of self-worth and your time or affection?

dating a separated man You Are Compartmentalizing

When certain parts of a man capture your attention and cause you to overlook unattractive characteristics, that’s how you KNOW you are compartmentalizing.

What does that mean? In your mind, you separate the things you like about this man from the things you don’t like, which you then ignore.

These traits are all PART OF THE SAME MAN. You cannot separate them! He is a package deal and you need to see him as a whole – the good and the bad.

When you do, my bet is you’ll decide to move on quickly. No matter how cute, fun, intelligent, rich this man is, he is also emotionally unavailable, attached to his wife, and well…rude.

Read Between the Lines

When this man said to you he had to “sort things out,” that was ManSpeak for “I can’t see you anymore.” You hung around wondering how long it would take.

He said he hoped you would understand, but you missed his meaning. He was exiting the new relationship. Next time a man says he’s got to sort stuff out, say GOODBYE because that’s exactly what he means.

All on His Terms

You said that perhaps you pushed him away by not being available when he wanted to see you. But you are allowed to be busy. On the other hand, you mentioned that you’ve pushed other men away and that’s worth looking at.

I encourage my clients to make themselves available when a man asks you out. I don’t mean to cancel plans, but be sure to keep some open space in your calendar.

If you can’t make a date, always suggest another time. In this case, it doesn’t sound at all like you pushed him away.

A Pawn in His Marital Drama Game

dating a separated manI can’t help but think he used you to make his wife jealous, one of the dangers of dating a separated man. Otherwise, why would he ever tell her about you?

There’s only one reason – and that is JEALOUSY. I think he was hoping to get her back by dating you which is sort of a crummy thing to do all the way around.

Given everything I’ve explained in this post, I hope you see the wisdom and only real choice – move on to find a new man.

You deserve better than dating a separated man and this kind of dysfunctional situation.

My Dating Coach Hopes for You

I hope you meet men who are divorced for more than a year and healed of the trauma. Consciously choose to date guys who are ready to date, are emotionally available, and seeking a serious relationship.

The men you date should not text or talk on the phone during your date and show you far more respect and interest. Know you are worthy of a man’s full attention unless there is an emergency.

Wishing you love,

dating advice, date online, dating coach



Want more insightful dating advice about not dating a separated man, not chasing men, and valuing yourself more? Download my free book 7 Dire Dating Mistakes Women Make that Keep You Single and get my newsletter too.


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.

50 thoughts on “Dating a Separated Man Is a Major Dating Mistake”

  1. I’ve been dating a married, but physically and mentally separated for over 5 years, man for over a year now. I told him from the beginning that if he wanted to date me he had to get a divorce. Well he reached out to the wife, who lives in a different state, asking for a divorce. He hadn’t spoken to her in over 4 years. I knew that he really was trying to get a divorce but it’s been over a year now and he still hasn’t filed. The divorce is going to be non-contested so I’m honestly not sure what the hold up is. We’d recently discussed him moving in with me but I told him that he can’t move in until he, at least, files for divorce…he acted like the “info” I just gave him was something new, something I’d never said to him before? I was stunned to hear him become so upset over me saying that, actually stunned isn’t the appropriate word…CONFUSED, LOST, made me feel like I was “crazy”, like he’d never heard it ?? Just wow….so my question is: I should just walk away huh? He has no intention of following thru, huh? I’m basically answering my own question, huh?

    • Hi Tanya, So sorry this is happening to you! What you have seen with your man, some refer to as “gaslighting”. In fact, this the definition of gaslighting – to deflect responsibility and make another feel crazy for asking. So, yes, if you value your sanity, walk away. And I encourage you to be firm and block him from social media your pone etc. Now you know that not only is he going to get divorced, but he’s going to blame you for whatever he doesn’t want to do in life. That’s two reasons, not one to leave. Even if he does manage to get divorced some day, you’ve now seen a very ugly side to him and you deserve better.

  2. My boyfriend is 2 years separated. We’re 1 year together. Divorce papers raised a few months now by my B/F are unsigned /ignored by his estranged wife who moved out 2years ago, so let’s call it pending. In the mix is a co-parented teen son who wants as little as possible to do with me on the rare occasions I visit make me feel uncomfortable. When my B/F and I are together at my home, we share lovely times and a vision for a future together. Yet the storm which is his divorce is yet to ride through. I’m divorced 5 years. Messy details pop up often as he tells me everything about the coparent disagreements which have now escalated with talk of divorce. Lack of boundaries for the son do not align with my parenting style so I must often bite my tongue. I foolishly listen to all the tales to be supportive or perhaps have a compulsion to know, then I wish I hadn’t. I find this causes me headaches so maybe it is better I say that he not share all his gritty with me. Or is this unfair to not listen to all, pretend the background stuff doesn’t exist and we are in a bubble? Till the divorce is done and dusted, it may get worse before it’s better, but do you feel this may settle down?

    • Hi Rosie, How can I say? That’s a question for a psychic. what I can say is that this is a relationship filled with strife and you cannot hold your tongue forever. The teen son could be a huge problem with how he is acting already. What do you get in return for all your understanding and support? You already get headaches for suppressing your true feelings and the stress this causes. Only you know what is right for you but, I will tell you love usually cannot conquer all.

  3. Great advice, will definitely follow Forever from now. Even if you’re sure your boyfriend and his (soon to be?) ex-wife aren’t ever going to get back together, I still recommend avoiding a romantic relationship until the divorce is over! Why commit to someone who can’t commit to you!

    I’m lucky I didn’t wait, because I might’ve ended up married to the guy if I’d met him after his divorce (though I’m still wondering if it will ever actually happen!)The fact that he still hadn’t finalized his divorce a year into our relationship (and after being separated for 3 years, having dated a couple other women before me) was the “last straw” and helped me just walk away.

  4. I’m dating a married man, he told me they were separated, then confessed they live together for the children. After a couple of months I realized they live as a married couple. He said they have separate rooms. I’m not after him to leave his wife. They both date, she knows about me and we’ve talked on the phone so no deception. But he did deceive me initially. He tells me that they no longer sleep together but my gut says that’s not true.

    He is very caring/loving, talks to me twice daily for 8 months, sets up regular dates Saturday night, but even though I’m not ready to form a full on lasting relationship this is not good. I’ve tried to break up several times but he becomes frantic. He is loving and kind but married. He tells me he loves me but I want to walk and I can’t seem to. I think I’m being judgmental and a prude. Help!

    • Hi Lilly, Even though this couple has an open marriage and are ok with dating, doesn’t mean it works for you. This does not make you judgmental or a prude – you just have a different moral compass. Since this is making you feel uncomfortable, my advice is that you honor yourself and end it for good. Be true to your feelings. There are other men and if you keep going with this you might become attached and then what will you do? I’m sure this served its purpose, but now you are thinking twice. Listen to yourself and tell him it’s over. You might need to block him on your phone because he sounds very persuasive.

  5. Dating a separated man is no worse than dating a separated woman. Any sincere dating coach would have pointed that out. This coach didn’t, so I did!

    • Of course- its exactly the same I agree – but my audience is women so I don’t always bother saying the obvious.

  6. I was with my boyfriend for 9 years and left him October due to verbal and financial abuse. He started calling to say he loves me and wants me to come home. I considered it, but found out he was also messaging his ex wife on facebook. Today I saw a message from her to him on the news thread she only wants to be friends for now. I feel in my gut that he is trying to hold on to me so I will come back and provide the financial support due to his being on disability and me working. I get the feeling that I’m his back up plan and his ex is his first choice. He’s been threatened me for 9 years that she’d take him back. Should I just work through the process of getting over him and stop the calls? Should I go back to him?

    • Hi Barbara, You already left this guy once? What could possibly make you go back? He doesn’t cherish or treat you well and you know he’s your back up. So what is there to go back to? Take care of yourself, build your self-esteem, keep your dignity and cut off all communication with this man. He offers you nothing but heartache.

  7. Just wanted to speak as a spouse who is trying to save her marriage. My husband and I separated and I did not want a divorce or separation. Our situation was extremely complicated, but I still had hope that we could work things out if things cooled down and we had time to process and eventually get to marriage counseling. 6 months after he moved out, he called me and told me he was going to start dating. I knew this meant that he had already found someone. I was devastated. He called and told me he had thought about coming back, but decided he didn’t trust that things wouldn’t get bad again. I could tell he was still on the fence about what he wanted to do. He told me many women had asked him out and I was dumbfounded. He was newly separated and people were trying to get in a relationship with him? For those of you thinking of dating a “separated” person, you don’t know the other side of the story. There may be a spouse who still wants to save the marriage. Inserting yourself into that situation could make it so that that family is not reunited. Wait until the divorce is over. If the person has a kid, I can tell you they will blame you for the fact their parents didn’t get back together.

    • Hi Pearl, Thanks for sharing your story. I had to shorten it a bit for the blog, but I’m so sorry things didn’t work out. I completely agree with you and I always advise women not to date a man who hasn’t been divorced for at least a year. I wish you all the best and lots of love.

  8. Hi,

    I have been dating a separated man for nine months. I have met his parents, I haven’t met his kids yet. He stays at alternate weeks with his parents and the next week with his kids in his house (supposedly the ex does not stay with him). We spend most of the time together on his free time, does not get calls from the ex ( I haven’t noticed). He says he is ready to move on (his ex was unfaithful to him). I am getting tired of waiting and waiting for the separation…. need some insight.

    • Hi LJ, I’m going to be straight with you – this is the classic separated man scenario.( Married, cheating man scenario too.) Why are you so heavily invested in a man who is not truly available? This is all you’ll get for YEARS because he is not divorced. But he sure has you on the hook. Don’t believe for one second that his wife is not in the house on his weekend. This is the reason I say love is NOT enough because your love for him cannot make him leave his wife. A separated man is NOT divorced so he is not truly free. I’m not being moralistic – this is pure FACT. The BEST thing you can do is break up and move on. Start dating others. If he really has strong feelings and intentions to be with you, that might motivate him. But DO NOT count on it. He’ll likely go find another woman who will put up with his bullsh*t.

  9. Hello, I recently began speaking to an old flame of mine who married his wife over me due to them already having a child together. The experience crushed me and it took me a while to get over him.. Now, they are separated and he contacted me. We’ve seen each other once so far but he always wants go out, but there is no divorce in process or anything. He tells me “we can be there for one another during the process”. Smh!!! My gut is telling me to run.

    • Hi Dana, Run is right! Men who are separated are NOT divorced. So he is not free for the kind of relationship you want. He already passed you over once so why open yourself up to further hurt from this guy? Much smarter to start fresh with someone new.

  10. I have been dating a guy for 9 months. He and I are both married however I will soon be divorced in January. He told me was also getting divorced. During our relationship I always felt like he was never fully healed. He always said “I don’t want her” or “You must want me to go back”. He was at my house everyday as if he were living with me. After 9 months, he says “until we are fully divorced we can’t be together”. Cut me off for a week then reaches back out. I snooped around in his phone and found out he’s trying to reconcile with her…lol which I kept asking him if was he completely over her. I confronted him with the info I found out and he denied then admitted it. So now I don’t call nor text him but he still tries to reach out asking for my friendship. My question to u what does he really want? Why doesn’t he leave me alone? Why does he keep reaching out? Was it me that drove him back to her?

    • Hi L,
      I know this is hard for you but no you didn’t drive him back to her, he never left her. He’s a liar and a cheat and he keeps reaching out because he wants you both. Of course he wasn’t healed – it takes at least a year AFTER divorce to be healed enough for anything but casual dating. So while you tried to make sure he was ready, there’s nothing you can do about it except – avoid men who haven’t been divorced for one year. Ignore him and block him on your phone if you really want to be done with him and move on. That’s the healthiest thing you can do for yourself.

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