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

Woman consoling 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!

    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.

  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. 

  16. 16

    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.

  17. 17

    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.

  18. 18

    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. 

  19. 19

    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.

  20. 20

    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!

  21. 21

    @Melody…thanks for the comment.  Those are great examples.  I have a good friend who got divorced, and she was ready to be in a committed relationship as soon as she was free(or maybe even separated).  So in her case, she did not stay with anyone that felt was not marriage oriented.  Who knows what will happen with her second marriage, but the point is that some separated and recently divorced people are very interested in being committed again, and some aren’t ready (although I think that after 3-4 years, you should get professional help b/c there is something that needs to be healed to move forward that time clearly isn’t enough to resolve).  

    I think that people should proceed knowing that there are always a lot of ways things can work out, and unfortunately there will be some failures and disappointments no matter what .  

  22. 22

    It didn’t come out quite the way I would have liked, so I would like to thank Dan for posting #8 and EMK for his story.   I can see myself ending up in one of those situations as a possibility.   Having read these two things I will be less likely to go with my reflex and instantly blame myself.

  23. 23

    @Hadley Page, #6.

    Actually, not ALL of us women care about the why.  I don’t.  I only am upset if a guy lies to me about the situation, or disappears and doesn’t have the guts to at least tell me he’s not ready.

    Please don’t generalize us.

    1. 23.1

      Agreed. It’s the lies, game-playing, and waste of time that upsets me. I don’t care why, that is enough for me to move on. I wasted enough time already, no need to waste more time and energy figuring out why because it does not change anything. 

  24. 24

    Isn’t it true that sometimes they just want to know that they’ve still “got what it takes” in the dating arena, to see how the scene has changed since they left? It doesn’t always have to be so deep or so sinister.

  25. 25

    Just how does one define “ready?”  Sure, some people need time to “heal” or just time to figure out who they are now after being in a significant relationship for a long time and suddenly finding themselves single.

    But honestly, the “I’m not ready” excuse is so over-used — both by people who will likely never be ready and by people avoiding the discomfort of saying “I’m afraid you are just not what I’m looking for.” I get it that it’s hard to be direct with someone you don’t feel “it” with. Who likes hurting someone’s feelings? But in reality, anyone who participates in on-line dating will see this same Mr. Not Ready (or Ms. Not Ready) is right back out there, actively seeking, maybe even adding new photos to their profile. Either way, it hurts, but we survive.  

    There should be a bumper sticker: “Dating Is Not For Lightweights.”

    As has already been said, there are no guarantees. I suspect that the reason Shanna freaked when it started getting serious is not because she isn’t “ready;” it’s because she’s afraid. Join the club. When you start feeling a real connection with someone, it can be both great & overwhelming. But you will never move beyond that fear if you don’t just go ahead anyway, dive in and hope for the best… especially if that other person is doing all the right things — as was the case with Allan.

    But really, will there ever be a time when there is a strong connection without some level of fear or insecurity, whether freshly divorced or a seasoned veteran in the dating world???? It’s the nature of the beast.  


    1. 25.1

      I completely agree, have friends who have cried buckets of tears while sharing lists of reasons men gave them for ‘not being ready’ yet my friends see them back online the next day, week or even blocked two of my friends in different situations. Those two men. I saw pop up and were online the entire time.

    2. 25.2

      EXACTLY!  Who is ever ready……… people who have been single for a long time and feel ‘ready’ experience the same fear, what if’s, am I ready as the recently separated.

      It’s about a choice to be BRAVE – do I succumb to fear and live in the past or do I be brave and live life.

      There are no guarantees – but what if there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow – I think it’s pretty sad that people pass on genuine connections with people because of fear. Sometimes, all those people like Allan expect is to be given a chance, a chance that you just might be worth it

      1. 25.2.1

        wow, thanks Emma.  You hit the nail on the head.  ” Who is ever ready……… people who have been single for a long time and feel ‘ready’ experience the same fear, what if’s, am I ready as the recently separated.
        It’s about a choice to be BRAVE – do I succumb to fear and live in the past or do I be brave and live life.
        There are no guarantees”… the choice to be Brave really hits home.  I’m feeling vunerable and rejected right now, but dude who I’ve been with a few weeks needs love, not expectations. He’s the one that got out of a 14 year relationship only 9 months ago.  He’s still healing.  I’m scared and I’m sure he is too and said he need to heal.  So, I’m backing off even though my ego says other things.  Thanks for your reality check and insight!

      2. 25.2.2
        lisa j

        Actually Emma, time does make a difference. While I agree that there will always be a an element of fear to starting a new relationship, if you jump on the horse before you are “ready” you will hurt everyone involved. I believe a lot of it has to do with how the previous relationship ended and what kind of person you are. Sensitive people who were highly truamatized by the break up just can’t move on quickly and there is nothing wrong with that. You absolutely can’t judge anyone else by your standards.

  26. 26

    @ Dan #8

    “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…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.”

    I agree with what you said 100% Dan. 

  27. 27
    Kate Candy

    People date like they go to movies or any other kind of entertainment.  You watch a TV show; you like the TV show, but what if the TV show had the ability to call you and want more.  What if the TV show wanted to be the only TV show you ever watched.  What if the TV show wanted you to care about how it was made, the problems it was having with its producers and how it was afraid that it might get cancelled.  All of a sudden, you realize you’re not ready for a relationship.  You just wanted something to distract you from the awful gritty feeling of going through a divorce or having a challenging job or whatever.

    In a world where people only take their own needs seriously and are so very needy, and refuse to set boundaries and honor them, people will hurt other people all the time.  No one calls it lying.  People feel a bit bad about hurting other people, but not bad enough to change the system.  

    As for the guy who does everything right, and gets dumped, I would bet the guy was not very dynamic in bed or had no ambition.  As for the women who get dumped, guys are waiting for something better to come along, read richer, more attractive.  

    In the study of economics, researchers take for granted the idea that individuals want to maximize their own satisfaction and therefore act selfishly, but we don’t seem to realize this in dating.  People are selfish.  All people, regardless of gender.  


  28. 28

    @ Zann,
    ” But in reality, anyone who participates in on-line dating will see this same Mr. Not Ready (or Ms. Not Ready) is right back out there, actively seeking, maybe even adding new photos to their profile. Either way, it hurts, but we survive.”
    I was that person (twice over the past two years, actually), so I understand completely where they’re coming from. 
    Right after my divorce last spring, I went on POF and started dating, because by then, I was long over my ex (had been since about 1996, if truth be told), and figured I’d gain nothing by sitting at home and waiting for the proverbial ink to dry. I was pretty upfront with the guys I’d dated, telling them that, at the moment, I was just trying to see how it was done and what was out there, to get a better feel of what I wanted to be looking for. Ironically, the only guy who had a big problem with me not wanting an LTR, was separated himself. He hadn’t even signed his MSA, and didn’t know when he’d get around to doing it. Yet he lectured me on how there had to be something wrong with me for not wanting a relationship.
    Second time, this summer. This time I was online looking for an LTR, because I’d already had one last fall/winter (old friend of mine) and really enjoyed it. It feels good having someone you like and trust cover your back, if you will. Well I searched and I searched for my LTR, until I came across a guy who dumped me immediately after sex, just when I thought we were getting a connection. It was totally out of the blue for me, and left me pretty depressed. I later found out that, not only did he have some seriously bad personal stuff going on, that, if it happened to me, would’ve stopped me from dating altogether – he was also only very recently divorced (actually was still separated when I met him – online profile of course said he’d been on his own for two years), not only that, but he still had an ex(?) GF in the picture – a very nice girl, actually – had I known that she existed, I would’ve refused to meet him. One night he had two dates with me and her back-to-back… I had to leave early, she didn’t, so they ended up at her place! and then he met with me again two days after that, and we ended up at his place! Dude’s got game, LOL… I didn’t find out all the details till later. Seriously though, I have no bad feelings against him. It’s just that we were at completely different stages in life, and there was some mutual misunderstanding on top of that. But I digress…
    Anyway, after he ended things, I did what Evan tells us to do. I went right back online, opened a new account on another site, started talking to new people, scheduled three dates in the next three days, the works. In my new profile, I said I was looking for an LTR. Pretty soon I met a man looking for the same. I really really liked him, I swear! He was all I’d been looking for. We clicked right away, had a couple of dates, he’d get on chat at the same time every morning to say hello… He’d call me babe and GF and say things like “I can’t wait till we get off this site together!” and after a few weeks, I freaked out. I realized that I was still feeling down from what had happened with the previous person, and that I did not have that warm and fuzzy loving feeling to offer the new guy. But, at the same time, I knew that, if I’d quit talking to new people and get off the site altogether, then I’d just end up sitting home and going over every little thing that had gone wrong with the previous guy, and would feel even more depressed than I did already. And it would take me months, if not years, to get out of that funk.
    So what I did was, I told my serious man that I wasn’t yet ready for anything serious. He was very understanding about it, and we parted ways. I think he actually got off the site a month later, so hope he found what he was looking for. Then I edited my profile to say that I wasn’t ready for anything serious right now, but was still okay to hang out and chat. Then I proceeded to meet a few creeps and a LOT of awesome, understanding people. The creeps I deleted, the awesome people, I stayed friends with. Things may or may not turn into something serious with one of them – I’ll be cool either way – because now, I’m ready for it if it happens, but won’t be too upset if it doesn’t.
    Come on, let’s give our fellow daters some credit. No one is evil. No one is intentionally out to hurt others. Also, it’s not always about you, you, you. Sometimes the person really doesn’t have it in them to get serious with anyone. So, when you hear it, there is no need whatsoever to blame yourself. You’re a great person, he or she is a great person, but the timing was bad. Period, end of story.

    1. 28.1

      Hahaha I had to laugh ‘dude’s got game’ haha he certainly did! Boy do I know guys like this, there was a time it would have made me hurt but now looking at it (also what I got up to) we all play games until we finally meet the right person at the right time I guess 🙂

      I also LOL when you stated ‘ So what I did was, I told my serious man that I wasn’t yet ready for anything serious.’  Hahaha you’re hilarious!! Aren’t we all a lost cause lol!

  29. 29

    Zann #25

    I do think part of belng “ready” is the ability to push past the fear. Those who aren’t ready tend to be more afraid of getting hurt again. When you’re ready, you’re more willing to take the risk for the potential benefits of a relationship. 

  30. 30

    If you’re going through a breakup, or are just out of a relationship, the painful feelings are still too present. People like Shana need to be clear about whether they are serious about a new person, or are just looking for a distraction or a temporary fix.

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