Any relationship brings its share of challenges, but dating a man who is newly divorced certainly requires tough skin and hard work. Although you are attracted to your new partner in so many ways, the prior life he shared with another woman may affect your own relationship with him or be at the heart of future arguments. There is no perfect answer for any relationship, but there are some steps a woman should take when beginning a new relationship with a recently divorced man.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Challenging
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Decide to accept what you cannot change. Before getting involved with a recently divorced man, you must understand that he does have a history. No matter what you do or how close you become, his past experiences and life with another woman will not disappear from his memory altogether. According to "Psychology Today", on special days of the year, such as birthdays and anniversaries, a recently divorced man will struggle even more and possibly expect certain things from his new partner, as he remembers how he used to celebrate these occasions during his marriage. As the new girlfriend, you must be prepared to deal with his past, both the memories and the feelings that come with it.
Tell him you would like to take your dates one step at a time. "Psychology Today" states that many who divorce "rebound" or jump into a new relationship sooner than they are ready to out of desperation, fear of being alone, guilt or other emotions.You don't want to wind up being the next divorce statistic or unintentionally break your vulnerable partner's heart by accidentally leading him on. Clarify your feelings.
Ask him to be honest with you about his situation before your relationship with him becomes serious. Many newly divorced men have complicated situations with their ex-wives. Find out what the legal implications are from his previous marriage, including finances, children and assets. Before you get any more involved, consider how these factors may or may not affect your relationship with him and your own life goals.
Suggest to him that you would like to be more involved in his life -- children, family functions and all. Take this step only if you are truly committed and interested in a long-term relationship with him after several months of casual dating. Keep in mind that "often time's children are not emotionally ready to see their parents with someone new," according to an article on the Beyond Jane website. His children may mistakenly identify you as the cause of the divorce.
Tell him you understand he needs time to untangle his previous life and marriage. There may be things that still tie him to his ex-wife and most changes don't happen overnight, especially when emotions are involved. Encourage him to find support during these changes through new friends who will be able to offer unbiased advice.
Communicate your feelings to him clearly as your relationship grows and listen to his feelings as well. Very likely he has a good amount of built-up hurt from his past relationship and no outlet to express it. If it is too painful or too hard for you hear about his previous relationship, suggest he talk to a counsellor or possibly join a support group. Although this may seem awkward or uncomfortable for you, it is important for him to have an outlet to release his feelings so that he can heal and your relationship can thrive in the long run.
Tips and warnings
- You are getting into a complicated relationship, especially if your newly divorced boyfriend has kids. With this in mind, take your time, be open-minded and pay attention to your own feelings as well as his.
- A recently divorced man can sometimes take out his frustration and anger from his previous relationship on a new partner. If you find this happening to you, let him know you care, but take a step back. It's important he respect your boundaries and you. Besides the punchbag effect, a newly divorced man may not disclose the full truth of his situation right away. Proceed with caution early on to prevent a heartbreak.
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