Why Do Men Date If They’re Not Ready for a Relationship?

woman consoling her sad man

Evan, is it a good idea to date a guy who is in the final stages of a divorce or even right after his divorce is final? A guy in the final stage of his divorce pursued me every time I ran into him and called and said he’s so into me and hasn’t been attracted to any other woman. I was apprehensive to become involved because I thought he would need time and space and to be out there on his own for a while. We haven’t slept together, but still have become emotionally involved and the chemistry is intense. I thought it was time to make the connection physical and intimate… Now, he’s saying he doesn’t know what he wants and doesn’t think he’s ready to make any kind of commitment and if we become intimate, then what? He feels I would have some expectations and I’m not into casual sex, so I’m sure I would. Why would he lead me on to begin with, even when I was hesitant to become involved when I knew his situation? —Donna

I dated a guy for 6 weeks; after a casual conversation to ensure that we were on the same page, he apologized to me for being so detached because it was never his intention. He said he wished that his life was more stable and that he felt it would be unfair to bring me in any further when he felt like he was in a world of uncertainty and physically & emotionally numb/exhausted. He also informed me that he was at a crossroads in his career and that he felt like he may be going thru a midlife crisis. I believe he is honest and sincere about these things because those things are hard for any man to admit. We have remained friends who occasionally meet up for happy hour (nothing more!!) However, I see him online ALL THE TIME. So my question is…. Why do men remain active on online dating sites when they know they are not in an emotionally available place? Is it something to boost ego and fill their alone time at home? Is online dating a hard to break habit? Are they opportunists hoping to “get some” until they are at a better place in life? Or was he blowing smoke up my ass and I believed it? Regardless, I know when to stay and when to go, but I’m curious to hear your opinion on emotionally unavailable/available men! -Stephanne

Dear Donna and Stephanne,

Perhaps this story will lend some clarity to why men seem to be emotionally available, but aren’t really ready for a serious relationship:

Shana is 46 and has been divorced for six months, following a 15-year marriage.

She and her husband fell out of love and they parted ways, but there’s no denying that there’s a tremendous void in her life after spending most of her adulthood with one man.

Furthermore, Shana hasn’t dated since her mid-20’s and feels woefully inexperienced. She’s slept with fewer than 5 men. She’s never tried online dating. She’s trying to put her life back together, trying to figure out how she’ll keep her upper middle-class lifestyle post-divorce, trying to get happy and be a good role model for her children.

She knows, intellectually, that she’d like to fall in love and get married again someday…

She knows, intellectually, that she’d like to fall in love and get married again someday, and likes to think that she would be receptive should a good man enter her life.

In fact, Shana is so serious about not making any big mistakes with this important aspect of her life that she hires a dating coach for smart, strong, successful women!

She can’t even believe that such a thing exists, and she’s definitely not breathing a word of this to her friends, but what this guy writes seems to make sense. If Shana’s going to get back out there at all, she wants to be prudent and make effective long-term decisions.

Shana and I were only working together for about four weeks when she met Allan.

Allan’s 50, cute, balding, a divorced dad, an advertising exec, and leaps and bounds more thoughtful and generous than Shana’s ex-husband ever was.

He’s been alone for 5 years and has been through all the ups and downs of online dating. He’s had some intense one-month flings. He’s had a one-year relationship. He’s ready for the real deal, and the moment he meets Shana, he’s got this gut feeling that she might be “the one”.

She followed her heart because she wanted to be ready.

Careful not to smother her, Allan does everything right.

He calls her the day after the first date to say he had fun.

He sends her the occasional flirty text.

He makes plans in advance to book her for the weekend.

He hints that he’s falling for her and talks about what they’re doing to do for the holidays.

Shana is swept up, having the time of her life, feeling a way she hasn’t felt since she was 20, and thoroughly enjoying the attentions of this kind, decent man.

After their fifth date at a nice restaurant, following a bottle of wine, Shana sleeps with Allan. It’s good. He’s good. In fact, he’s too good.

The second they’re finished, Shana starts to panic.

Out of respect for Allan, she tries not to let it show. But she can’t fall asleep, and after a half hour of snuggling, tells him that she has to get home (even though her kids are with their dad).

The next day, Allan calls her, as he always does.

She lets it go to voice mail.

Later that night, she sends Allan a text to say that she had a hard day and that she hopes he’s well. But the process has begun.

Shana is pulling away from Allan. Sweet, generous, consistent, emotionally available Allan, who didn’t do a single thing wrong in his courtship of my client Shana.

Shana genuinely cared about Allan.
She definitely didn’t mean to lead him on.
She certainly never wanted to hurt him.
She very much enjoyed the conversation, the connection, the attention, and the affection.
She followed her heart because she wanted to be ready.

But when she found herself staring down the prospect of being in another serious relationship, she just couldn’t take it.

Instead of giving Allan more of a chance, instead of stringing him along in a casual relationship for six months, Shana had to do the right thing and break up with him.

He deserved someone who was available and, despite her desires, she realized that she wasn’t even close to being available. Not for the real thing, anyway.

Online flirtation, maybe. First dates, sure. A regular booty call, possibly.

But she’ll determine that later.

Right now, Shana just needs to sort things out and make things right.

If only she knew what would make things right…

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  1. 1

    Dr. Christie Hartman, author of the *research based book <a href = “http://www.christiehartman.com/books.html”>Dating and the Divorced Man</a> states that men tend to date before they are ready to date after a divorce.   Bottom line, avoid dating divorced men until the ink has been dry on their divorce papers for at least a year.

  2. 2
    my honest answer

    I don’t think there’s any such thing as ‘not ready for a relationship’. There is only not wanting to be in a relationship with YOU.
    If real true love came along, few people could resist it, or want to resist it. If they are resisting being in a relationship with you, it’s for the simple reason that they don’t want to be in a relationship with you.
    Unfortunately most people realise this when someone tells them they’re not ready for a relationship, and then, wham, two months later, they’re in a committed relationship with someone else. It’s just another excuse people use.

    1. 2.1

      Sometimes this is true, but not all times, if you have scientific proof then please share it with us.    There were times in my life I look back and thought I found a good man and thought I wanted a relationship but I think, wow, thank goodness that didn’t become a relationship because I was so not ready that quickly after my divorce.   If  someone wants to prove to some version of themselves that they are not lovable and that this “no relationship” is some out in out rejection then great your post will certainly ring rejected to them.   However,  there are all kinds of reasons that someone might not want to be in a relationship, one of the millions of reasons is that they don’t want one with you, but that is just one of them.      Not  all men who say they don’t want a relationship end up in a relationship with someone else, if you have evidence that suggests that 100% of the time a man who says this ends up in a relationship  shortly after then please show us this evidence.   Sometimes that may happen, sometimes, not all of the time.   I have friends who were with a  couple men each who said this and guess what those men are still not in a relationship.     Relationship readiness is sometimes where a person is at in their life journey and sometimes they are using it as an excuse because they don’t feel like the person they are with is the right person for them, but the latter is not true 100% of the time.  

    2. 2.2

      That very thing happened to me.   A woman I was seeing told me she didn’t want to commit too soon & wanted to date other people for 3-4 months.   This was after seeing each other for about a month & had become physically intimate.   Then, she sent me a message on Facebook saying she wasn’t ready & didn’t want to commit to anyone or anything serious now.   I don’t do casual, so I broke things off.   After spending a month ruminating over the situation, I ran into her in town.   She didn’t see me, but seeing her upset me.   I called her, telling her I saw her and wanted to be with her.   I told her I guessed I wasn’t being considerate of her feelings by ending things.   4 days later, I receive a text from her saying she’s now seeing someone regularly (as opposed to casually) and doesn’t want to talk.   

      I suspected she was lying when she said she wasn’t ready for anything serious, but wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt.   I feel like what she did was cowardly and shitty.

      1. 2.2.1

        Shitty? How about self protective from men, well, kinda like you? Try to see this from her perspective, not just yours.

        Why would she not want to see you again? Any ideas? No? How about you appeared to lead her on and dropped her like a lead balloon last time round? How about you told her your truth then… or did you not? How about she isn’t attracted to you? Or how about she did meet someone who she’d rather be with?

        Instead, you see her withdrawing from you as shitty. Self entitled much? Not meaning to be rude but that sure is how you come across… and that often is the attitude of people who’ve lived/been alone too long.

        be well and best

        1. SparklingEmerald

          libragal – you need to re-read his post.   He didn’t lead her on and drop her, SHE told HIM she want to be casual and date others, that’s not what HE wanted so he broke it off.   He broke it off with her because she wasn’t willing/able to meet his needs.   He did EXACTLY what EMK advises women to do.   That advice works for men as well.

    3. 2.3

      Not true 100% of the time. Someone I liked ad admitted to me that he liked me back. Then he proceeded to ask if we’re going to be taking it to the next level and I said no. I’m not ready for a relationship yet. I’m that type of person who likes to adventure by myself to find out my fears and whatnot. I’m still not quite done with that phase in life so I said no. Just because you feel that connection with   someone doesn’t   mean you should be   with   them.

    4. 2.4

      The whole point of this blog is that Shana was interested in Allan, that he was a great guy who did everything right but that she wasn’t ready to be in a relationship with anybody, period.   Nowhere is there any clue or indication that she rejected him because of something about him.   No, it was about her.   She wasn’t ready.   It’s a shitty situation for both of them, really shitty.   To generalize and say that every breakup happens  because he/she wasn’t into you is a  ridiculous oversimplification.

      1. 2.4.1

        Thank you.   I am so sick and tired of the phrase “not that into you”.

      2. 2.4.2

        I have no respect for anyone who dates before they are ready, and self professed “nice guys” who got burned by their ex’s are especially infuriating… there they are crying into their soup claiming they are such a good person they didn’t deserve anything but the best and how unfair it was for their ex to cheat, mean while, they’re looking for another woman to USE for support, sex, companionship, etc. knowing full well they’re not over their ex but refusing to admit it no matter how obvious it is because hey… this “nice guy” doesn’t give a flying f*** about your feelings… it’s all about him and what he wants and needs. If you just got divorced, go away, lick your wounds, and leave us single, emotionally available women alone… we deserve better than you!

        1. BS

          Thank you for posting this response.   It is a breath of fresh air and I can relate.   I have met quite a few guys who expect women to make them forget about their ex or who have not resolved or worked through emotions related to their breakups.   They pursue us hot and heavy, claiming we are the one they want to be with, constantly contacting us, whine and dine us, and then get scared and start to shutdown, etc.   I am not into sticking around to be there for a person who is not fully capable of a healthy relationship when I am.   You just end up feeling deceived, let down, drained, and depleted.   Its tough, but you have to see how guys act over time.   This will indicate their intentions, if they can deliver on their initial promises they make to you, and if they are healthy enough to be emotionally present.   Otherwise, you end up getting scraps of what you deserve and end up upset and settling the whole time.   Working on building your self-acceptance can make you more self-reliant where you can detect bs a mile a way and will detach as soon as the are inconsistent (regardless of what they said prior to sweep you off your feet that does not match what they are doing now).   Maybe some people don’t mean to do that, but we can have enough insight and self-awareness to know when to let go of potential partners who do not meet OUR needs.   Good luck everyone:).

    5. 2.5

      I agree!   If you really liked someone or fell for them romantically, you couldn’t help but be in a relationship with them!

      1. 2.5.1

        Wanting to be in a relationship and knowing this is the person takes time. The situation mentioned here doesnt seem to be one where these people know each other well enough to know they want a relationship. Attraction isnt enough… you can get attracted to unavailable men/women. That’s why it’s scary. And that’s why attractuon is actually what might make you run away. Coz u like someone so much so quickly you are not sure you know them enough yet. So you run away to protect yourself.

    6. 2.6

      Excuse me, but that’s crap. I’m a widower. Ten years of a beautiful relationship were cut short by cancer. I turned down two dates and cut off my dating profile for a really simple reason. I’m not ready. How do I know this?

      Because I talk to her portrait every night.
      Because sometimes, when I’m alone I cry for hours at a time.
      Because I gave away every bottle of liquor in my home so I didn’t drink it all in one hit.
      Because I avoid socialising with good friends so as not to be too needy, let alone go on dates.
      Because if I come across photos of her on Facebook it can trigger overwhelming grief, hence I avoid social media.
      Because I’ve needed to fork out for EMDR therapy just to keep myself stable enough to keep going to work.
      Because I paid for a goddamn sex worker after cancelling two dates in a row because I still have urges but wasn’t even prepared to risk the emotional cost of a hookup.
      Because even after the months have rolled by I’m still not ready. I get irritable, surly, angry and depressed all things that’ll kill off a date let alone a relationship. I don’t want to dump that on anyone. Trust me, if I disliked someone enough to take out my crap on them I wouldn’t be dating them!

      I saw my wife die in a hospital bed, at least I got to tell her I loved her and hear her tell me the same before her heart stopped. She was my best friend, my mentor and my confident. I can’t just replace her.I’ll know when I’m ready, if ever. It’s not now.

      So don’t tell me there’s no such thing as ‘not ready!”

      1. 2.6.1

        Thank you for your comments, Michael. My situation involves a widower and let’s just say the time since the passing is less than 10% of the total time he spent in this very long-term relationship. And there are older, yet dependent children involved, that he is also sensitive about, in terms of them having to deal with him dating. Our connection, in more than one definition, is just tops. However, he clearly has told me that he cannot have a “relationship” right now. We dated exclusively for a little while and it got to be too much (and I had mentioned to him a couple of times earlier whether he was sure he was really ready for this, but he didn’t even want to go there…). He got back in-touch months later and we began spending time together, but that was when he made it clear that he realized he is not up for having a relationship right now. However, he definitely seemed to enjoy talking with me, texting with me and being physically close. We had the most (overall/comprehensive) intimate time recently and that is when he backed off. I really think he needs to come to terms with his feelings for his late wife – and that of his children – and a life of being just a guy and not a married guy (in general; not necessarily in a dating freedom way). They say timing is everything. And I also dated someone else for years who was absolutely not ready and didn’t show signs that he would ever get married in this lifetime, but now considers marriage all the time and even considers that with me. You can’t just “wait around” for a person, but timing is definitely important in a person’s life. A person can’t give you what they don’t have at that time. Michael, I am so very sorry for your loss. I hope that things have gotten somewhat more peaceful for you and who knows, someday, you may be ready to date. You, of course, have the skills to be in a relationship. Best wishes.

    7. 2.7

      This is crap. But I’ve certainly seen it spouted enough times by insecure people who’ve done no research but have been rejected once or twice and then extrapolate their experience to the entirety of humankind.

      There are a multitude of reasons why a person might not be ready. See Michael’s response below. His wife just died. People who are separated are not ready. People in major life transitions are not ready. People not over a major heartbreak or grief are not ready. People experiencing mental illness or major health problems are not ready. People who are immature, still want to sleep around or not sure what they want yet are not ready. For these people, the best partner in the world could come along and they would not appreciate or “see” them.

      I’m not saying people never  use the “I’m not ready” as an excuse to break up with someone they don’t like enough, but I think it happens far less often than you might think. In my experience, if someone seems not ready… guess what, they’re not ready. In my experience, such people will generally stay single for months or years still. I highly suspect that the example you gave of someone saying they’re not ready and then being in a committed relationship two months later happened to you or a friend of yours once, and you’re trying to make it seem like a set-in-stone rule.

  3. 3

    Evan, so what do you suggest? What if she lets him pass by and doesn’t meet anyone that great for another six years or even 12 and gets messed up by all the emotionally unvailable men she is very likely going to date at a later point? Why can’t she try to make it work? I know it’s hard to be able to date right after a divorce. But the problem is, life doesn’t offer us great opportunities every day.

    1. 3.1

      She must let him pass her by because she isn’t ready for a relationship no matter how good the man is.   You can’t find your true love until you are ready.   Also, if you think that life doesn’t offer us great opportunities every day then that is what you will encounter.   This man is evidence that there are men who want relationships, and hopefully when this woman is ready she will meet another one, so long as she has a positive outlook.

  4. 4

    I don’t see anything wrong in being online, per se, even when you’re not ready for a serious relationship. As long as you don’t commit what a friend of mine called “dating in bad faith” and tell people you’re looking for an LTR when you cannot handle one.
    I liked OKC in that regard – I’ve been on it for about three months and my impression of it so far is of a site where it’s OK to hang out, chat, and make friends. If something more serious happens, good! If not, no big deal, you just go on chatting with your friends and meeting new ones. Whereas on Match, for example, I was feeling this pressure to find someone and get off the site already, and meeting people that were under similar pressure.

  5. 5

    Uh I think I somehow deleted my previous comment. But what I was asking was basically:
    Evan, how do you deal with that type of situation as a dating coach? I mean, if this guy’s great for her… how likely is it she will again meet anyone that great in the next decade? There are so many assclowns around! I have been looking for a decent guy for a lifetime! Don’t you think she should try to make it work? From your experience is it even possible to try to make it work when you’re emotionally not really ready for another relationship? Can’t people heal IN a new, healthy, empowering relationship?

    1. 5.1

      Miranda, i also have met great guys,   only to be terrified. He was perfect. He came at the wrong time. The judge had not signed my divorce papers yet, even though my husband had moved out and started dating this porn star looking woman with breast implants, fakey white capped teeth, and a fake bake–and later married her. (It did not last long.)

      The guy was purely enamored by me,   and he was dark headed, handsome,   wealthy. He was about to sit for the bar exam, and then later   he became quite successful at his profession. However, when we dated, I was irrationally afraid that my ex was driving by, or peering in windows. I felt like I was being followed, and I actually think I was. I had prior-to   hired an investigator to show he had cheated on me multiple times, which he had according to spyware we used–which was legal as long as Hard drive was in my name. I told him I caught him, and he wanted to also find proof on me.

      I simply was in too much fear. I wish I had been ready, but I was not. My date would not wait on me. He foumd someone shortly thereafter.

  6. 6
    hadley paige

    “not ready for a relationship” = not interested in pursuing you said nicely.
    In the final analysis, it doesn’t matter why.   And why women spend so much energy attempting to get to the “why” is a constant source of mystification to me. Its a gigantic   misdirection of limited   mental & emototional resources available for the work (and it is work) of dating to find a Significant Other.
    Bottom Line> He doesn’t want you. So move on & get on w your life. Be prospective not retrospective.

    1. 6.1

      No, sometimes you’re really not ready for something new and it has nothing to do with the person. I recall meeting a wonderful man right after I broke off my engagement. He was attractive, successful, engaging, and chivalrous. He was everything I could ask for in a man and I bolted. I freaked out because I knew he was Emotionally available, he provided so much intimacy and consistency and my feelings were so unpredictable at the time so I ignored his calls and his texts. After we first had sex, I damn near ran home because it was so uncomfortable. All I could think about was how hurt I was about ending a relationship with a man I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life with and the embarrassment of calling off a wedding.   All of my emotions were stuck on my ex-fiance and I was unresponsive to love. I didn’t want my ex back but I wasn’t ready to be loved by another man yet either. I deeply regret not sticking with that guy and he’s now happily married.

      1. 6.1.1

        Stacey- thank you for adding your comment.   It helps me to understand what happened to me in a previous situation.   Her behavior was very much like how you described yours, especially the first time you had sex and emotions being stuck on the previous guy.

        I was wondering, how did you end it with Mr Available?   How long was the relationship with him?  How did he handle your  emotions and ambivalence and being the rebound guy?     Just curious.   thanks.

  7. 7

    I disagree that there’s no such thing as not being ready for a relationship. And I think the main thing is whether or not someone is ready only for something casual or for something more serious. The biggest problem is that people  want  to be ready, but wanting to being ready and really  being  ready are two different things. And men are notorious for allowing themselves to get caught up in the moment when they’re with a woman they like.  

    I don’t think it’s something that you can force yourself to feel. People have to grieve the loss of a marriage, and that takes time. I think our culture tends to give the grieving process short shrift. That’s why someone hires a dating coach when they might be better served by spending time alone getting their life back together, or by hiring a therapist.

    1. 7.1

      Ruby- I think you are exactly right.   
      And I agree with Dan #8.   It happens to us guys too.   and it hurts like hell and leaves a mark for a very long time.  

  8. 8

    From a man’s point of view (me), Evan’s story about Shana is spot on. Allan’s experience has happened to me a few times. A single guy friend of mine has also had this happen to me a few times. And it has hurt! Very much.
    At least in Donna’s and Stephanne’s letters, it sounds like those guys didn’t take this as far as sex. Maybe it was just as hurtful to them, because sex means more to men, and those guys felt “honorable” by not going all the way, but emotionally, they may have hurt Donna and Stephanne just as much.
    In my case, and in my guy friend’s case, the women did have sex. Maybe these women were not as emotionally connected during the dating phase, but for us guys, going so far as sex and then pulling out of dating is just as hurtful.
    There are a lot of men and women on-line that are in Shana’s position (and in the position of the guys Donna and Stephanne mentioned). They don’t need a dating coach. They need a therapist or a life coach. I’ve met women on line that have been in 4-5 year relationships that ended 10 years ago, and they still get cold feet about entering another relationship. Yet they are on-line all the time on these dating sites. Sadly, online dating sites are like a “porn” addition for them.
    The human heart is a fragile thing. I only wish those with such hearts have the courage to think about the others they are dating too.

    1. 8.1
      lisa j

      I don’t think there is anything wrong with not being ready for a relationship. The problem lies when you aren’t honest with yourself or other interested parties about where you stand and a lot of that comes from not knowing yourself well. I disagree that these women need a therapist or life coach unless they feel they need to change because it’s perfectly ok to never be ready to take the plunge again. I have been on both sides of the fence and I also have had friends that have made the horrible mistake of not being ready( over the ex) before trying to move on.   I know when I’m not “available”….and I know that causal sexual relationships aren’t my thing but that still doesn’t make loneliness and the need to connect with other people go away. Sadly people “date” when they should just hanging out at friends and not worrying about it but many don’t do that. Unfortunately there is no proven way to get “ready” for a relationship. Only you will know when you are ready and yes the “perfect” person can and does come and go, sometimes more than one or more than once….but timing is everything and sometimes timing is just off. It’s just flat out wrong to assume that someone is blowing you off when they say they aren’t ready, however some do that. If they do that, just consider yourself lucky because that person has zero integrity so they did you a favor.

  9. 9

    @Dan, I really appreciate your comment since so many people claim that sex only has an emotional meaning for women…not that I believed it, but it’s nice to see a man chime in on it.   But sorry your friends felt connected and then were dumped.

  10. 10

    @ Ruby #7, I totally agree! And may I add that, in addition to which stage we’re in with our love life, we also have a family, work, other factors going on. Things happen in people’s personal lives that can make a relationship the last thing on their minds… and the person may or may not realize this.
    @ #2, I think it’s too simplistic of an approach to assume that everyone, at every moment of their lives, needs and wants an LTR, and if they say they don’t, then they’re just not interested in you personally. There’s life outside of dating. Believe it or not, sometimes it takes over.

  11. 11

    Sometimes they are not ready and sometimes it is YOU.   Doesn’t matter. Either way there is no need to analyze!!!   MOVE ON FOLKS!

    Also, although Allan is a great prospect there is no way to know if they will go the distance.    

  12. 12

    @ Steve’s advice seems spot on. I dated a man who pursued me greatly during his divorce. I went against my better judgement and ended up in an intensely passionate and romantic relationship with this man – and it lasted for 2 years. One day out of the blue, he told me he needed “time” since I was his first girlfriend after his marriage, he needed space… That time and space he needed, as we all know, resulted in a very sudden (and heart aching) break up. I regret going against my better judgment (voice inside) that told me to steer clear of this guy. He was one of the Divorced men I call emotional vampires- didn’t care what or who he was hurting as long as he was moving on. My advice is to go ahead and maintain a friendship with those going through a divorce but be very weary of getting involved on an emotional or physical level until well after they have healed from their ordeals.

  13. 13

    Geez Evan, once again it looks like you’re peering into my life.
    I agree w/ Ruby #7 that people may be ready for different levels of relationships.
    But I’d like to dovetail off of Miranda…
    I started seeing a man (divorce pending after long marriage) I met online, we connect very well, intimate after a few dates (but only on the request exclusivity).   He agreed. Week later he said he could be exclusive in that he’s basically not ready yet after such a long marriage.   Not seeing anyone, but wants the option.   Still wants to see me, too.   I agreed he needs time (though couldn’t help feel rejection) and we still date though not intimate.  
    He’s a good man, and I want to give him time to get through the emotional upheaval he’s been through.   I don’t want to lose touch with him, but feel uncomfortable knowing he’s interested in meeting others (ouch!)

    1. 13.1

      I had this happen to me also..

    2. 13.2

      Wow. I am experiencing the exact same situation. The rejection leaves me in tears way too often but he has no idea. Yet every time i make up my mind and decide im going to stop being intimate and go back to friends only status, he does or says something that completely derails me and i get weak and give in. I have other prospects i could date but this is a good man and i dont waant to lose him.

  14. 14

    EMK’s story and this thread is extremely helpful.   What happened to Dan and some other posters can happen to anyone.   Knowing that this sort of thing happens to people can help people from mistakenly assuming the problem is with them unless they have other reasons to think so.

  15. 15

    I became interested in a guy that I knew from my job who was divorcing.   He was interested in a friend with intimacy; in other words a casual relationship.   I told him that I wasn’t interested in a friends with benifits, but was willing to hang out with him.   He was really depressed about the loss of his wife.   We talked alot on the phone, but never got to hang out.   He actually distanced himself from me and told me that he liked me but just didn’ want a relationship now.   I know that he’s actually seeing someone else.   Maybe he’s casual with her; I don’t know.   I honestly believe that some men aren’t ready for something serious and look for casual.   With this guy, I don’t believe he was ready for a relationship because I saw how hurt he was.  

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    Goldie #4 – One of the challenges to your point about it being ok for people to date as long as they don’t do it “in bad faith” is that many people think they’re ready, when they really aren’t. I’ve been on both sides of that coin, and people got hurt (myself included obviously) as a result. Now, there’s always risk involved in dating, so everyone needs to learn to accept that, and develop some ability to handle it. However, it’s also the case that time outs from dating to reassess your life after the end of LTRs really could be employed by more folks.  
    I actually think that fewer people have clarity about wanting just a casual relationship than appears to be the case these days. Lots of folks talk about wanting to just date around, or do something “light and easy,” but then they get involved and a whole mess of other things come up.
    If Shana has some clarity that she’s not ready, then that’s a hell of a lot better than a lot of us. It might be a risk to let this guy go, but taking time to clean your own house is always worth it in my opinion. Because you have to live with yourself all the time.

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    I know that I THOUGHt I was ready for a relationship after my divorce, but it is only now, 4 years later that I feel truly ready and able to be open and receptive.     Steve is right in that it is easy to think you are ready when  you really aren’t.

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    I believe that you need a year after the ink is dry on a divorce to start dating again – there is just too much dust that needs settling. And never mind if there are kids involved. Everyone needs to develop a new groove. Also, if you have issues you are not going to respond to the right guy. If you are getting a divorce you most assuredly have issues – big issues – either for picking the wrong person and putting up with bad behavior in the first place to being the wrong person.  

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    I would argue that no one knows when they’re ready . . . and that the timeline is different for each person.   Three cases that illustrate this point.

    1. My mom started dating my stepdad several months after he separated from his wife.   His wife cheated on him.   It got rocky a few times in early dating, but fastforward 14 years and they are STILL married.   My mom was rewarded for her patience and for taking the risk on a separated man.

    2.  I divorced after my husband had an affair.   Several months after separation, I started dating someone and was initially head over heels for him.   He was very good to me.   Fastforward 9 mos . . . I broke it off.   Why? He had a clear vision of us married with kids (I already have one), and I just couldn’t jump back into that vision so soon.   I needed fun and no pressure at that point.   I’m sure he feels like he shouldn’t have become involved with me and perhaps even that I was an “emotional vampire” using him to get over my ex.   But I never intended it that way . . . I enjoyed my time with him until I didn’t (which correlated with him getting very serious and marriage-oritented).

    3. The last guy I dated was 3 years post-divorce.   36, one kid, seemingly enough time to get over the divorce.   Fastforward 3-4 mos when I start wondering if exclusivity is happening any time soon . . . he freaks and admits he hasn’t been able to commit since his ex.   I knew what happened with me right after divorce, so I avoided freshly divorced men, but was burned anyway.

    I think even if someone waiting to date, it would still be a rocky first few attempts . . . the first time back dating is still the first time back dating.   If you didn’t date again right after divorce, you might have some healing before dating, but I think a lot of the loosening up and opening up that occurs after time actually comes with more experience in the dating process.

    So, the moral of the story:   there are no guarantees.   If you’re on the “burned” end of this stick, take comfort in knowing that it’s about the other person’s healing process, not about you.    I think  people have to know that there’s higher risk invovled with dating freshly separated/divorced people, but  sometimes the risk pays off (in my mom’s case, it did!).   The way I see it, in each relationship, there’s a 50% risk of being the one who gets burned.   Dating someone who’s separated or freshly divorced probably ups your risk (to 60-70%?).   Is that an acceptable increase in risk to you?   If so, go for it.   If not, don’t.   But you have to accept risk if you want to date.

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    Melody, great examples and well-thought conclusions.    
    Not sure I’d use the label “burned” because I don’t think there is usually intention to cause hurt.   The post-divorce person is is testing the waters and learning about themselves again.   (Aren’t we all?)
    Thanks for the wonderful considerate insights!

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