Why Won’t He Take Steps To Finalize His Divorce?

Angry woman doing her account while boyfriend relaxed on the sofa

I have been with someone for six months. He and I are very compatible and have a great time together. He has two kids who I’ve grown to adore. The only problem is that he’s still married.  

He’s been separated from her for three years (she cheated on him). He wants a divorce from her and she’s a massive pain to him, but he just won’t take the steps to begin his divorce. Until recently, he was still paying her bills on top of his own (she refuses to get a job because she’s a “musician.”) She has custody of the kids and all he can talk about is getting custody of them, but I can’t get him to begin to take the steps he needs to go through to get to what he wants.

On top of this, any time I bring it up, he accuses me of being worried he wants to go back to his wife. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. I just want him to be happy and it is obvious to me that he’s not happy in his current situation. Please help me. I love my boyfriend and he loves me. I love his children. I just want him to take the steps towards being legally separated from her. -Caitlin

There’s absolutely nothing preventing your boyfriend from getting a divorce.

Your question reminds me of one I got a year ago, in which a man wrote in that his girlfriend wanted him to get a divorce, but he wouldn’t because he was on his wife’s healthcare. In that instance, I sided with him. He was clearly in love, but he was caught between a rock and a hard place, because getting married would cost him tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills.

It was one of the rare instances in which the majority of my readers disagreed with me. And while I haven’t changed my position one bit, it’s always stuck in my craw that I couldn’t get more people to see his point of view.

And that’s why I chose your dilemma, Caitlin. Because while your situation is similar, there’s a very important distinction that tilts my sympathies in your favor:

There’s absolutely nothing preventing your boyfriend from getting a divorce.

In the previous case, a divorce wouldn’t benefit the man at all. In your case, a divorce would free him officially from his ex and allow him to start over with a clean slate.

So that begs the question: why would a man who has been separated for three years from the wife who cheated on him NOT want to divorce her?

Beats the hell out of me.

Which is why your question is better directed towards HIM than yours truly.

I can’t omnisciently declare what’s going through the minds of all men, especially when it’s not clearly rational.

The best source of clarity, therefore, would be your boyfriend.

When he says, “You’re afraid I’m going back to my ex,” and you say, “No, I’m not. I’m afraid that if you never get divorced, we’re never going to get married,” you’ve ended his false line of reasoning and put the ball back in his court.

Now, instead of letting him wiggle out of it with another non-answer, nail him down and get an answer to the following $64,000 question:

I can’t omnisciently declare what’s going through the minds of all men, especially when it’s not clearly rational.

“Why don’t you initiate divorce proceedings and get legal shared custody of the kids? What’s holding you back?”

You may learn that he’s financially dependent upon her.

You may learn that he still hopes to get back together one day.

You may learn that a divorce will cost him a lot more money in alimony than he wants to pay.

You may learn that the status quo is fine and that a divorce may hurt the amount of time he has with the kids.

Or you may just realize that he’s a doormat — a man who is willing to pay the bills for his cheating ex-wife and play entirely on her terms.

No matter what you learn, Caitlin, at least you’ll get some clarity moving forward.

And if marriage is your endgame and he’s not playing, it’s time to walk.

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  1. 1

    One excuse could be:   why should he?   he doesn’t want to marry again, there is no reason to.

    1. 1.1


      1. 1.1.1

        It’s called having one’s cake…especially if the new lady in his life is attractive, but a psycho. Good enough for sex but you wouldn’t want to deal with the lunacy, permanently. Why add another divorce? Most likely he’s no gem, either.

      2. 1.1.2
        Marie Williamson

        Im 44 never been married I moved cause my boyfriend said he started his divorce so I said ok I’ll move closer to him that was our agreement that was into 2009 still no divorce..I had more then patients waiting my mind was made up that I wasn’t getting married but he made it clear that I was gonna be a princess on my wedding day and he was marrying me it’s now 2018 still waiting lol now I just laugh because I’m getting the feeling guys just say nice things to you cause they know it’s a dream since I ws a little girl, every relationship is the same thing and I told my recent boyfriend don’t say anything it you don’t mean it cause marriage means alot to me so actions speak louder then words now nothing…I mention it and he just says something silly back like we minus well be married..yea well we’re not so don’t say we minus well be cause that’s not working with me..just tell the truth of what is holding u back we live in jersey she’s in Florida if I new the reason and he was honest I’m sure I would understand! Just seems that guys mess with ur head and tell u nice things just so they get there way with you! Well not anymore I will not give in until he tells the truth! I told him he’s got a booty the one he married so mine is not his and he’s not getting anything…it’s sad we get along great everything is fanstaic until he as another let down he was even looking for rings I told him didn’t want a ring until divorce is over how can I say I’m engaged or getting married when he’s still married! I would look like an idiot..bad enough I feel like one cause I know it’s another lie! I can’t beleive I fell for it for like the 4th time he ws so convincing..So now I lay here at night thinking don’t sleep how I mess up and why no one wants to marry me…I just feel like screaming to get his divorce or I leave but I’m not mean like that! I don’t know how much lol ne’er I can wait all he’s doing is pushing me away little by little cause now I’m at the point I don’t trust anything he says!

    2. 1.2
      Gill M

      thats what I get coz my fella been separated 5 years

      his cheating wife doesn’t want him but neither will initiate the divorce

    3. 1.3

      Well, if he’s so attached to remaining married to someone he claims he doesn’t want to be with, then he shouldn’t be misleading other women that they will every be as important to him as his ex’s health benefits. Sounds like someone who
      Doesn’t want to be divorced and shouldn’t be dating.

  2. 2

    Your boyfriend may genuinely want a divorce, but he lacks the motivation to do anything about it. It’s easy to want something, but it’s an entirely different process to act upon it and to do the hard work it takes to bring it to fruition. The reason(s) for his lack of motivation could be many. You don’t explain how you bring the issue up or specify what you’re asking him, so it’s difficult for anyone to know how to advise you.
    As difficult as it may be to understand, there is some kind of payoff or satisfaction he’s receiving by not moving forward which is greater than his state of unhappiness. He may not be insightful or self-aware enough to recognize this.
    At the end of the day, no matter how great your love, support and encouragement are, they are not going to be able to get him to change this part of his life. He is the only one who can release himself from a way of life that he has chosen to live. It has to begin and end with him. In fact, your best intentions could actually push him farther away from dealing with the issue. Your continual, loving presence in his life, despite the circumstances, might make him feel that he doesn’t really have to change anything. It’s status quo.
    The decision you have to make is whether you’re comfortable waiting for a hoped for outcome that may not happen, and for how long. How much do you love him? More importantly, how much do you love yourself?

    1. 2.1

      Bottom line: he was unavailable and we should not have gotten involved. He told me he was “in the process” of a divorce; found out that was not true. He and his wife were also in bankruptcy and foreclosure, her parents purchased a house “for her” and they spent weeks playing games about who would live in what house until it went back to the bank. She played games: he would be on “suicide watch,” he car-chased her when she was drunk to get her to come home…ridiculous. I later learned, after much thought, they were co-dependent, and she was being treated for alcoholism and abandonment issues and he felt he was the only one who could help her. He told his father-in-law he was in love with me and that night she tipped a heavy, circular wooden table on to its side in rage. It was a verbally and physically abusive relationship between them. We never slept together, but she found the phone call bill and hit the roof, and in 24 hours, he was gone, breaking up with me via email. That was all 4 years ago. We were only together for 4 months, but it felt like we’d known each other forever, he made promises to me, talked about getting married, the whole 9 yards. I can’t get over him. Still so much pain. I wouldn’t recommend it.

      1. 2.1.1

        I totally know what you mean. I just recently ended mine with my married boyfriend. When I met him, I had no idea he would be married with kids. We are both in our 20’s and he was only a couple years older than me. Not really something that jumps to mind when you meet a young, good looking guy. I got manipulated into thinking he wasn’t happy and he no longer loved her. This went on for 3 months. She found my number and email and would threaten me constantly. He left home to be with me, but that only lasted for about a week before he realized his kids “needed” him. He was selfish. He wanted both sides. He told me he wanted me and the kids, but obviously that wasn’t what he was telling her. He kept telling me he wants to leave her but she kept threatening to take the kids away from him. Long story short, he never even thought about seriously divorcing her because when she hit her limit and told him she was done, that’s when he kept pleading for her to stay while telling me she wouldn’t leave.

        1. Andrea

          Because mistresses like going after shitty husbands. Good men don’t cheat. It’s all these pathetic women can get-and even the loser husbands don’t marry them lol

      2. 2.1.2

        Omg wow. Soo similar to my experience. Hurts so much, it’s been only 10 days of cutting off contact and I’m miserable. We were together a year so magical, met my whole family I met his, he was a hairs width from divorce, then she got phone records, learned about me, she must be holding the kids over him, and reading all correspondence because he tells me in email that he loves her and not me and that’s it.
        I hAte myself.

        1. Kat

          Aww don’t hate yourself ! Learn to love yourself ❤️

    2. 2.2

      Profound…well said!

      1. 2.2.1
        Abbey Odell

        Andrea. Exactly but wives still take them back an want them back for the kids. I am one. Found out he has been living with his girlfriend our entire separation. Asked why the hell has the filed. He said because I didn’t want to. He was coming home and did for 2 days but left again saying he needs to think. I know I’m better off but want to save my family for my kids. We dont fight like cats and dogs. Just the cheating is out of hand. Why do men cheat? Why get married in the first place? Divorce and stay single and stop hurting us. Meanwhile we’ve been seeing together while separated. It’s a big mess. Half of me says just let it go and file myself and the other half says we can fix it. I give up!

        1. Maria

          That’s my exact situation right now.

  3. 3

    Look, it really doesn’t even matter what his reason is. You got involved with a married and unavailable man. It may have been acceptable to you at first if you thought divorce was  coming, but you now  can see  it’s not a priority for him.

    I’d  tell him that since he has unfinished business and is unavailable (emotionally, psychologically, or whatever) for a new relationship, I’m leaving, and  when he is free he can look me up.

    But since you’re not, IMO, being  completely honest with yourself  due to your reason for wanting him to get  things moving  that you “just want him to be happy,” I suspect you’ll  be strung along for years.  

    Don’t do that to yourself, run, date others, and let him figure out what he intends on doing  without dragging you into this drama as well.  

    1. 3.1

      this helped me a lot and it wasn’t even my story.

      1. 3.1.1

        me too.

        1. Dawn Mullins

          ,Glad I read this about all the issues with men who married and not legally separated. My daughter   never married has chosen to date and love an emotionally unavailable man with two small children. As her Mother I advised her she is wasting her time. She is an adult. We all have free choice but the consequences are not free. So she chose to work on this relationship hoping to get married to him. It’s been three years later and he has not filed for even legal separation. She did choose to alienate me from her life because I am not approved of this relationship . I want her to be happy yet these types of bad discisions effect the whole family. I have not seen her or spoke going on two years. It’s all so sad and hurtful as this guy is just using her. She will be 50years old soon. I wish her well on her journey. I’ve lost a daughter because she got lost in a lot of bunk he was feeding her â¤ï¸ heart. I had to accept and. Move on. We have to take care of ourselves ladies. If he really loves you you will know it he will profess his love   protect you and provide. Not use you just for booty.

        2. ADD

          Thank you Dawn. You sound my mom, who gave me the same advice in a similar situation as your daughter, except it was in the beginning stages. Thank God for parents like you! It was hard, but I had to distance myself.
          Saddens me that you two lost contact. Hope your relationship can be restored. Thanks for sharing.

    2. 3.2

      I don’t think it gets much simpler than this.

    3. 3.3


    4. 3.4

      Love ur response, i walked away he kept saying he is doing it ten months later i asked he never did start said he doesn’t want to pay that money. Im heartbroken but dont deserve this thak you, im healing now.

      1. 3.4.1

        I am in the boat as many women here have written. Men will divorce when they’re ready to divorce. “Don’t cast your Pearl’s before swine”. I am mad at myself because the signs were there from the beginning but I ignored them. I am better than that and I deserve better that this. I was hoping that this man would see the good in me and choose me. He is so caught up in his own drama he can’t even recognize the correct things to do. Take the pearl back and let them grow up.

    5. 3.5

      I agree with you…I was with a men for 7 years…he wouldn’t get a divorce …he would say it was to expensive …until one day he said if it wasn’t for his ex-wife family he would still be with her…he thought I had not heard him say that…since my back was towards him…the next day while he was at work…I lft him…..its my fault for not leaving him once I found out he had been married ..

  4. 4

    Caitlin, I saw the title of this post and I thought uh-oh, this sounds wayyy too familiar to me.   I was involved for two years in a similar situation with a man whose wife not only cheated on him, but moved out and moved right in with the guy three years earlier.   He didn’t want to get a divorce and would say the same thing … “I’m not going back to her, so why are you worried?   Its a non-issue.”     He was paying for her health insurance, life insurance, and cell phone.   Finally, she hired an attorney and went after his house, retirement and alimony (he had custody of the 1 child still living at home).   He waffled about getting his own counsel until things looked bad for him, and then in the end, she ended up getting his entire retirement savings, but not the house or alimony.   I was there for him all through this, supported him emotionally and listened to his rants against the soon-to-be ex wife.   The end of the story?   Right before his divorce was final, he broke up with me, and then two months later, after the divorce was final,  started dating this woman whom he works with, and he threw me out like last year’s trash.   He basically cut off all contact with me, saying his new gf wouldn’t like him talking to me, and that our friendship “wasn’t worth it.”   Now, I’m not saying that your guy would be so cold and callous as this jerk, but be careful.   I thought this was the love of my life, and in the end, he used me as a salve for the pain of going through the divorce.   My guess is that the new woman wouldn’t date him until his divorce was final, and when he saw that it was imminent, he got rid of me as fast as he could.  

    Be very clear as to whether there is a commitment from him, and what happens to the two of you post-divorce.   Be listening for statements of the future that include the two of you, like “we will do this, or that,” and “our lives,” “our home,” and so on.   If you aren’t hearing sounds of a commitment in the future, and he isn’t making a move to get the divorce, you should be wary.

    1. 4.1

      He sounds like a narcissist! !

      READERS beware..do your research on 2 topics before getting involved in a relationship   “LIMERENCE” and “Narcissism” YouTube them seriously! Save yourself pain and games!!

      1. 4.1.1

        Tania! Thankyou for opening my eyes to Love or is it Limerence! I now have my answer to my broken heart torment & have the strength to end my relationship I now see I never have had to begin with. Bless you.

    2. 4.2

      Kim, your story rally meant a lot to me!

      I broke up yesterday because i took the desision because he cant stop talking about his ex and he cant take the devorce, even if she already is dating the guy who cheated him. I know im right, i know things will be better for me other wise I WILL BE THE ONE WHO CANT MOVE ON, just like he is!

      In my opinion he is a weak person, obceced by her.

      its just too hard now but i know how good i am my friend! And i was there, just like you, supporting him for the last year and i know he can do the same to me tha your ex did to you . I read your coment and i know i did right, even if im suffering a lot now.

      thank you a 1000 times

  5. 5

    Caitlin, I do not  know if the reason a woman will not divorce her husband would be the same for a man, however, I have been separated from my husband for 7 years now. The reason I have not divorced him is because I havent found anybody that I want to marry yet. Of course I am looking, do go on dates, and have had boyfriends, but none have lasted long enough for a serious relationship. In your case, since you have been with him in a serious relationship for 3 years, I think that it is time for him to divorce if he wants to have a future you. It took me along time to finally get over him. I think I was also hoping that maybe by staying married to him, one day soon we would get back together. Maybe he would beg me to come back to him. He never did. You should tell him to divorce asap. If he still refuses, he may not be ready to move on.

  6. 6

    Caitlin, this is a BAD situations because no matter what his excuses are for delaying the divorce, you want to be married. Tell him if he won’t divorce her, you’re leaving.

    1. 6.1

      I am involved with a separated man. Im not leaving here no matter what. So maybe with all these negativities enlisted then maybe you should have one postitive note. I dont have low self esteem or nothing. We live together. I dont care how others think or feel. Marriage is just a piece of paper and no, they don’t have children together. Im supportive first because he’s my friend. In the long run, if things dont work out,   they don’t   He will always be my friend and that’s that. It makes no sense to advise so much negative feedback. Nothing I’ve read is postitive. I’m not leaving. Call me stupid that’s fine. My opinion matters to me. If he wasny married and got in another relationship with someone else, would it be the same effect and if not..then clearly it remains unclear.

      1. 6.1.1

        Then plan on being used. After all, you got yourself involved with a married man, it really is your own fault. He isn’t leaving her because he doesn’t want to, you are simply a side girl that will due for now. Don’t be stupid. It is what it is

      2. 6.1.2

        Marriage means you have rights and entitlements that side chicks don’t, by law. Hardly a piece of paper. That is what women stuck with men that won’t commit, tell themselves.

      3. 6.1.3

        I believe in karma

        what goes around comes around… it’s that simple!

        If he’s going to cheat with you , he’s going to cheat on you. It’s not that everyone is being negative . We have all been there and done that. Men will tell you what you want to hear…. As a woman you have to love yourself first before you can love anyone else . Please take note of this!!

      4. 6.1.4

        but yet here you are reading and replying to this post.

    2. 6.2

      Im not leaving.

      1. 6.2.1

        He won’t divorce his wife. He has no respect for you. No man respects a woman who dares them when they are married, they don’t trust you. You are a doormat

        1. KB

          And, to be honest, you really deserve to be. No decent girl dates a married man. Unless they are insecure and pathetic. It is true 😉

      2. 6.2.2

        Your loss. Way to sell yourself completely short. You need self-esteem.

  7. 7

    As everyone on this forum should know, divorces can be super complicated and take a long time. There may be factors that Caitlin hasn’t listed, especially financial ones. I have a friend that has been separated for 3 years and the divorce, while in the works, is incredibly slow and tricky because of all the financials: two kids, co-owned property including a foreclosure, they live in different cities, he changed jobs etc. They’re both dating other people and the fact that they’re still legally married hasn’t been a roadblock. This requires good lawyers and accountants to work through, not dating advice.  

    On another note, Caitlin should find out what the real  considerations  are and respect his timeframe is it’s legit.

    1. 7.1

      He will be poor. Move on, ladies. Big difference between initiating a divorce and messing around wasting time because he just doesn’t want to get remarried, or likes the “old family” life that once was. Find a single man without baggage.

  8. 8

    Hi Caitlin,

    I can empathize with your situation, but seeing that it is YOUR feelings and emotions, I don’t think you should go to your boyfriend with the idea: “I just want him to be happy and it is obvious to me that he’s not happy in his current situation.”

    YOU aren’t happy, whether or not you believe that he is unhappy, and YOU aren’t happy because he has a massive roadblock up that is obviously impeding your relationship from progressing.   Make this about YOU.

    If he is financially unable to get a divorce at this time (which seems questionable if he is footing his wife’s bills) OR even more important, he feels this will damage his relationship / the time he gets with his children, back down and decide if you are in it for the long haul.    

    I agree with Lance… find out his timeframe.   If there is no gameplan, you better take some time and think.

  9. 9

    I agree with Angie. (Well, I agree with almost everyone so far.)
    This statement.. “I just want him to be happy and it is obvious to me that he’s not happy in his current situation,” seems to be a bit of reaching on the letter writer’s part to make it seem as if she’s not ONLY thinking about herself, but about her boyfriend too. I find that women (yes, I am one) do this a lot… like if a woman knows a man she’s dating is seeing someone else, she’ll say, “Well, I should tell the other woman too for HER sake.”
    But is that really it, or is it more of a need to get some semblance of revenge? And in this case, is it really about wanting the boyfriend to be happy or the fact that SHE is unhappy and wants things to change? Own your emotions instead of trying to put up a seemingly altruistic front to deflect from the real issue here.
    Anyway, right now, this man seems to be perfectly fine with the state of his relationships as they are. He might not be happy or the situations might not be ideal, but he hasn’t finalized his divorce for a reason — and that reason doesn’t matter. The question Caitlin should be asking is why she’s bothering with this. Six months is not terribly long to cut her losses and move on, and no, no ultimatum needed.
    I wish people who choose to date folks who are still married would think about these things before they get themselves emotionally involved. It’s very likely that your married boyfriend/girlfriend has no plans to divorce for a long time and if marriage is what you want, you’re chances of that are immeasurably better with a man or woman who is NOT married when you meet him or her!

  10. 10
    Kate Candy

    I’m separated and have no plans to divorce my estranged husband.   We are not romantically involved, but we are close friends.   People who date me want me to get a divorce.   I explain that I have no plans to do so and ask what my being divorced would change.   That stumps the men I’m dating and they realize that our relationship would be no better, no worse if I were divorced.

    In the case of the LW, she sounds very angry to me.   She is angry that her boyfriend is spending so much money on his ex, and that he has not moved forward to get custody.   I think the LW has no idea how complicated divorces can become.   Even simple ones require time and a few hundred dollars.   As Terry (#1) posted earlier, why should he?   Men love to complain about their ex-wives.   It’s best to shut that down.   After all, he married the woman and had children with her.   So she cheated on him.   That doesn’t make her an evil person.   

    As everyone here has noted, this is about the LW, not the man.   He doesn’t want to get divorced.   If he wanted to, he would be.   It also sounds to me that this relationship is flawed and his being divorced will not change that.   

    The LW should move on to another relationship.   She’s learned what she needs to from this one.

    1. 10.1

      A divorce costs thousands of dollars per party just for the attorney portion of it all. Depending on what state you reside in,   without a prenuptial agreement in a community property state, it will cost the breadwinner in the marriage a lot of money.

      You know why getting a divorce is so expensive?

      Because it’s worth it!

      Prenuptial agreement is a must! Marriage changes things. You find out who you really married when you get a divorce. I speak from experience.

    2. 10.2

      Hmmm…I live in Australia and perhaps our legal system and financial legislation is dramatically different here. If not, then not getting a divorce after many years does, indeed, make a difference – not just to your own legal and financial position but also to that of any new man in your life (or woman.)

      If there is no divorce by the time you pass away, then your ex will probably inherit the bulk of your estate. If your newer partner, by that stage, has been in your life a number of years, they’ll find themselves completely uncatered for financially. That’s a terribly unfair thing to do to someone who’s been by your side in the day to day for years, sharing finances and all aspects of a normal relationship. If the two of you happen to have bought any property together or made any investments together, then your ex, because he’s still legally your husband, can make a big claim on those joint investments. Sure…the will can be contested…but that alone can take tens of thousands of dollars and many, many years. Is that the sort of headache and heartache you want to leave the person you presumably love?

      In this country, if a people have lived together, divorced or not, for at least two years, then they each have a legal stake in the other’s property. If you separate, it’s going to get really messy when the property settlement between you comes around. You’ll find that he is able to make claims on YOUR money and property (as well as your ex’s) but I’m not so sure you can counter this with your own claims…because you are still legally tied to your ex. You would be considered to own half what your ex owns. It would be a long, drawn out, messy battle with an uncertain outcome. Your newer partner may well end up walking away with half your property as well as half your ex’s. How is that fair to your ex? Or to you?

      There are a number of different scenarios that can play out, depending on whether or not you and your new partner separate in the future; and which one of you dies first. All of this affects your childrens’ inheritance – and the potential inheritance of any children your ex may have, or have in the future.

      Severing financial and legal ties with an ex is an essential step; one which requires us to look at the situation as adults, not self-indulgent children who can just run with our feelings. The fallout can be massive and none of us have the right to inflict that on others.

      I have found many of the comments here to be really naive in this respect.

      How the writer of this blog could side with the ‘poor’ guy who stood to lose money because of the cost of health insurance beggars belief. His new partner, on the other hand, is expected to take enormous risks just because she loves him. I’m still shaking my head, wondering if we ARE, actually, in the 21st century yet.



      1. 10.2.1
        Jesse Lindsey

        Your words speak volumes!..I’ve studied the laws and rights universal (psycological and biological factors as well) but have had trouble understanding them due to perverse use of language that is used that Im sure is to aid in buying time for the use of manipulation in a takedown scheme and the law that concerns me the most in a situation as such(relationship while separated) is it could be court ordered(or possibly just a marital right) that conversations between spouses be kept confiditual with a fiduciary orders or rights to break trust in the relationship..another thing if I’m understanding it correctly is that a marrige is a Union job as in employment and can hire/tax the relationship prospect without their knowledge using intelectual property.

  11. 11

    The question really is…….with a hundred million SINGLE(not married,seperated etc…) men on the planet why do SOME women have to get involved with married men and then piss and moan when it’s complicated and doesn’t work out smoothly?

    I date seperated women all the time,ya know why? Because I don’t want to get married and they can’t ask anything of me because THEY’RE   M A R R I E D !!!

    1. 11.1

      Im In the same situation. I went through a divorce a year ago. I had some guy come after me and I was excited since I usually go after them. Said he was going through a divorce… It’s been 8 minutes news dating him now and he’s still married. Never even filed for divorce. I get what everyone is saying in the comments. But a relationship takes two to tango no matter what kind of relationship it is. No one is being selfish or thinking about themselves because they want their significant other to divorce. My man pays the rent in the house his ex wife lives In (for the last 2 yeas) and multiple other things. This angers the hell out of Me that she just walks all over him and takes advantage of him on a daily basis. But when I push for a divorce he says it’s to messy. She cheated on him and left him for another man. More than once. Says he pays her rent cause he doesn’t want his kids out on the street. But he has his own home! His kids can live with him! And they come over and stay the night all the time! I’m not angry that he doesn’t spend his money on me. I’m angry because he’s so busy spending money on her that he can’t pay all of his bills and falls short and I end up covering it for him. I want to be there for him and be his support system. I am also not looking to ever get married again. I just like spending time with him and being with him. But his ex is always popping up and interfering. She doesn’t work, refuses to, and the house he pays rent for for her, her boyfriend also is living there. I guess I will never see why a man would ever want to fork over money for such a low life and let her control his life 2 years later. But I guess maybe he’s not a man after all. Maybe a coward for hiding behind everything.

    2. 11.2

      I couldn’t agree more! My husband and I have been separated for four years and he has been in an on-again off-again relationship with a girl 23 years his junior (he’s now 53, she’s 30). No, I’m not waiting for him, I’m not divorcing him for a few reasons: I will lose co-benefits; I am the beneficiary on his life insurance -as is he on mine (this is because we have two kids); but most importantly because it is the one thing that he is going to have to put effort into doing if he wants it. I separated from him because he was non-participatory in parenting, took care of his wants and needs only; never reciprocated the things I did for him throughout our marriage and, unbelievably this took me a long time to figure out, is a classic covert narcissist. I handed him the life he always wanted…no more parental responsibility, freedom to live and do as he see’s fit with no accountability, so why in the world would I make the effort or fund a divorce. Footnote: I have chosen not to date because our sons have been shoved aside enough by one parent and I don’t want them to have to feel second best by their mother. Once they are launched into University, it’ll be my time.

      1. 11.2.1

        By the time your sons are in University you will be older maybe difficult to find someone.   The good men are all taken what is left wants younger womene.


    3. 11.3

      It sounds like you have control issues. I hope you work through them and find happiness…not just for your sake but for the sake of the separated women you date, who are probably just really looking for authentic love.

      1. 11.3.1
        Yet Another Guy


        I do not see anything in JB’s post that signals he has control issues, commitment issues, maybe, control issues, no.

        1. Melinda

          I find it rather controlling to date ‘separated’ women because he doesn’t want to get married…and if, at some point, the woman he’s dating wants to get married…and is ready to pursue a divorce in order to move the relationship forward…then he holds up his trump card. That is, the fact she is not yet divorced, so what leg does she have to stand on? It’s the premeditated way he’s thought this through and dates these separated women expressly because he’s formulated an ‘out’ for himself. That’s extremely controlling.

        2. Yet Another Guy


          There is nothing controlling about it.   He is not attempting to make her do anything. JB is basically choosing to date a woman who is not in a position to get serious.   JB may be practicing commitment avoidance, but what he is doing is not controlling by any stretch of the definition.

  12. 12

    He has been dating her for 6 months.     If he is very interested in her it would seem that he would have voluntarily and proactively explained why his divorce is taking more than 3 years.
    Am I being naive in thinking this?

  13. 13

    I am not without compassion for Caitlyn because she loves this guy but it’s time for them both to fish or cut bait.   I suspect that while the dude in question loves Caitlyn, he’s holding on to the situation for as long as he can and recognizes that it has a shelf life.   He may be sad if Caitlyn leaves but deep down he knows he wasn’t willing to do anything to change the situation.

  14. 14

    “She has custody of the kids and all he can talk about is getting custody of them, but I can’t get him to begin to take the steps he needs to go through to get to what he wants.

    On top of this, any time I bring it up, he accuses me of being worried he wants to go back to his wife.”

    If he really wanted a divorce, he would take the necessary steps. Perhaps he really would like to go back to his wife, even though he may realize that it isn’t possible. He may really want custody of his kids, but he isn’t ready to cut the cord with his ex. Or -and this might be the most likely scenario – he just doesn’t want to remarry, so staying tied to his ex gives him a convenient excuse to avoid it.

    He hasn’t even started the steps towards a legal separation after 3 years? Something is very wrong here. How much time has Caitlin got, because she’s got a long wait ahead of her. Being separated and actually being divorced are two different things.

    1. 14.1

      I agree, Ruby. Well said.

  15. 15

    I agree with Terri @ 1.  

    He’s probably not interested in getting a divorce.   This way he can keep his make-believe family intact and avoid making a commitment to another woman.   Chances are he still secretly harbours hopes of getting back together with his ex.     How much more time are you willing to spend on this?

  16. 16

    ” Even simple ones require time and a few hundred dollars.”

    Wow.   What state is this in?   In Cali it takes several hundred dollars in court fees just to file the initial petition. Maybe a short term marriage with no children, property or support payments can be this cheap. I came out of a divorce with essentially no contested property claims and near complete agreement on parenting and custody. It did take about $6k in mediation and individual consulting lawyer fees before we both had a clear realistic picture of what support would look like. After that, we spent a total of another $10k before the agreement was completely drawn up, all the little details were hashed out and various fees were paid.   Oh, it also sucked up about 200 hours of rather emotionally draining hours of my time over a period of several months(*).

    Why the long tale?   His divorce is is going to be expensive. His divorce will take an emotional toll over a long time. This is why people dread the task.   Relationships with pre-divorced folks are harshly tested by the process. Oh, and even if the relationship survives, the divorce process can be a time of self-evaluation and some people come out of it with a different direction in life. This is the reason many people on Match.com treat “separated” as a deal breaker and filter them out of their searches. When I was separated several potential dates declined to meet me specifically because of that. I never understood why until I came out the other side of the tunnel. Good luck.  

    (*) Part of that soliloquy is venting about how f**d up it is that you can get into a contract so easily without appreciating the 20+ pages of legalese needed to end it. 🙁 Also that even a non-adversarial mediation process feels like a scam. They bring up details we never would have considered and probably would not have missed from the agreement, yet they became talking points at hundreds of dollars/hour.   Oops!!   Still venting! 😀

    1. 16.1
      [email protected]

      It only cost $150 for my divorce here in Alaska. We agreed on everything and I have custody of our son.  

      1. 16.1.1

        And it only costs around $350 here in Australia, where we have no-fault divorce. The only necessary condition for a divorce being granted is ‘irreconcilable differences’, which is adequately proved by a physical separation of at least 12 months.

    2. 16.2

      Florida is $300 filing fees and you can do your own paperwork if uncontested. My husband an I have been separated for 4 years. He is engaged to someone but has not made a move to start divorce proceedings. I refuse to pay for the divorce since he was the one who left. But beside that point, I wonder why she is so stupid to put up with it. I believe he just doesn’t want to remarry and I’m a good excuse. Anyone in those shoes needs to think   very carefully the motivation behind your fiancée or boyfriend, girlfriend not going ahead with their divorce.

  17. 17

    Oh come on. Sure, divorce is usually a very unpleasant thing. It can be emotionally wrenching while at the same time tedious, all while ripping up your self-esteem.   But this doesn’t sound like a case where divorce proceedings have simply gotten bogged down in the fine-tuning of custody/property/financial issues.   This guy hasn’t even started the ball rolling. I agree that the reasons don’t really matter, and it likely has nothing to do with love or a lack of it. But he’s still in a marriage, still complaining about it (victim), and yet not taking any steps to get himself out of it. That tells me he feels quite safe and secure in his self-made prison, while enjoying the company of Catilyn. And not to put too fine a point on it, but you have to admit, there’s nothing quite like still being married to make you marriage-proof in the dating world.

    I know the last thing I want to be doing in a developing relationship is trying to convince my man he should really, really get divorced.   That’s something he should want to do because he wants to be free to get serious about me. But he should also want to do it so he can get on with his life in general, instead of just complaining about it. As for Caitlyn, I just hope she believes that her discomfort with this situation is reasonable and that she’s not responsible for his happiness — he is. I’m sorry, but he sounds like he’s got some serious whiner-blamer potential to me.  And I’m sure it’s no picnic for his kids, either, being in this limbo for 3 years, while mom and dad do their immature feuding and complaining about each other instead of getting on with their lives.   

    1. 17.1

      Well said. Thank you.

  18. 18

    Maybe he’s just delaying the inevitable trip to the cleaners.   It’s no fun  facing the fact that  you’ve been a cash cow to an entitled princess (which is what she sounds like).

    Or maybe he hasn’t moved on emotionally.  

    Or he has moved on and sees no particular reason to get divorced, like some people see no particular reason to get married.

    You won’t know until you push the issue, which after three years seems like a reasonable thing to do.

    There’s another version of this story where he’s divorced but still hasn’t moved on emotionally – it isn’t always about the piece of paper.

  19. 19

    I was involved with a married woman for about a year recently. There was a lot of wonderful things about the relationship, but she was also stuck when it came to making things final with her husband. It was all quite complicated.
    But my main point in this discussion is that while I believe these situations can sometimes work out, what my own experience as well as what I have seen for others, is that the whole ground upon which the relationship is built isn’t stable. When one or both partners come into a relationship with this kind of unfinished business, they tend to be muddled and unclear. So, even the best expressions of love and desire for a future together are mixed with tangles from the past.
    I think you do have to be direct and find out where this guy stands. And even though it might be terribly hard, if he doesn’t want to make a plan, take steps, or offer some really good reason for why things are as they are, it’s best to leave.
    I was basically forced to leave, which maybe was just as well. Whatever you do, Caitlin, don’t let the same thing go on for years on end. It will be much harder to break free the longer it goes.

    1. 19.1


      i m in the situation U got out of my only problem is that he told me he was divorced when we met and months later told me he was separated that was 4 1/2 yrs ago… Im still in it n now he wants kids wth me . I told him today im not having kids till he get divorced and he said he is not getting divorced so I feel ur pain but I now ..  

    2. 19.2

      Well said. i have been involved with a guy for nearly 8 years. He doesn’t live with me. He works with me in my self employed business and thinks he owns half of it even though I do all the work behind the scenes and pay the bills to keep business rolling around. He visits his ex everyday, as he wants to see his kids, ( 14 and 16 now!) Sometimes he stays the night on the couch, they have mutual friends and I dont get to be with his kids or his mutual friends. Might see his kids once a year. Lately I have had enough. And have asked him about a divorce. He says all in good time. Feeling like I am now way past the waiting game but have to sort my business stuff etc. His ex is not interested in him at all..she has had numerous affairs but she complains as she feels she has to have kids all the time and do everything and yet she hardly works. I often wish I hadnt stayed for this long as it becomes harder to leave the longer you stay..Im slowly making my way out of here and getting back my own life..and enjoying it..bus still struggle to let go of that last small connection which makes me hope he will divorce her and marry me..more than likely he won’t

  20. 20

    For the record….it’s usually women that won’t date separated men or  filter them out online.I’ve never met one guy that has said they wouldn’t date a separated women just because her divorce wasn’t final etc….especially if the said woman was attractive.

    Every online dating site  can track and prove that men have no problem contacting “separated” women about 100X more than women will even respond to an initial contact from a separated man.

    1. 20.1

      Because they want sex. Duh. Those women probably are not interested in a serious relationship when they aren’t even divorced, and the large majority of men on cheap dating sites aren’t seeking serious commitments, either. It’s called a “win-win” by circumstance.

      1. 20.1.1

        You hit the nail on the head, I believe.

      2. 20.1.2
        mccart katty

        yes they want sex

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