I met a great guy! He's in the process of getting a divorce. Should I bow out now before getting hurt?
March 6, 2011 10:26 AM   Subscribe

I met a great guy, but he's in the middle of a divorce. Should I bow out?

I met a guy through an online dating site about a month ago. He was very honest with me that he is in the process of getting a divorce (started in December), but felt as if he was ready to start dating. His relationship status did give me pause, but I thought there'd be no harm in meeting him.

We met and clicked pretty easily. Since then we've had several great dates and great sex...but I'm beginning to feel that he's just not emotionally ready for a relationship, and I am starting to think I should back away now before I get hurt. He's in a huge transitional phase of trying to sell his house, move to a new apartment, custody issues with the kids, etc. I like him a lot, but don't want to be the transitional woman who helps him get through a rough time. I'm the first woman he has been with since his marriage (which lasted 15 years), and although the divorce is amicable, I would think he needs some time to mourn the loss.

I'm thinking of telling him that I don't feel the timing is right, that I like him a lot, but don't want to be the rebound woman. I'm looking for a serious relationship, and maybe once the divorce is settled, he's in a better place, we can try again if we are both still available and interested.

Has anyone been in this situation and taken the risk for the relationship or walked away? How did it turn out? Help!
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (20 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
As a guy who took a self-inflicted pause of almost four years after my divorce, and had a short but memorable false start after that nevertheless, I believe that your instincts are good. You should at least openly address the matter and give him some stuff to think through, but perhaps it is indeed better to wait, if you have the patience...
posted by Namlit at 10:32 AM on March 6, 2011

Some people need a "rebound," and others don't. I have known several "serial monogamists" who spend 10 years in one relationship and then are able to almost immediately get into another fulfilling long term relationship. There is nothing inherently wrong with this.

Also, many people who are going through divorce, especially with children involved, have "checked out" emotionally a long time before. They try to work it out, they stay together for the kids, and by the time they actually get divorced, the relationship has been dead for a long time. They have already mourned the loss.

So my advice to you is to stop worrying about what's going on on his end. If it makes you uncomfortable, that's one thing, but don't end the relationship because you THINK he needs something that he might not need at all.

Good luck!!
posted by katypickle at 10:33 AM on March 6, 2011 [20 favorites]

Trust your instincts on this one. I think your idea of telling him you want to take a break until he's in a better place is a very good one, based on my personal experience and that of various friends I've watched go through both sides of this kind of relationship.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 10:33 AM on March 6, 2011

I would think he needs some time to mourn the loss.

Speaking from experience: not everyone needs time right after the end of a marriage. It's possible that this divorce was brewing for a long time and he's already finished "mourning".
posted by ripley_ at 10:37 AM on March 6, 2011 [6 favorites]

Everyone is different, and I think you should really listen to your gut on this. Just make sure that you're responding to his behavior, and not to random doubts put in place by cultural norms. My aunt and uncle started dating just one month after my uncle lost his wife of 8 years, and they've been happily married for 15 years now. We're all unique little lumps of cells, so be certain that it is the person and the behavior that is giving you pause, not the movie cliche.

Good Luck!
posted by Nickel Pickle at 10:38 AM on March 6, 2011 [6 favorites]

I think rebounding is a myth. Some people, including the man I'm in a (hopefully) lifelong domestic partnership with (8 years and counting) are simply the committing sort. As long as it's working, why stop?
posted by RedEmma at 10:55 AM on March 6, 2011

Listen to your gut, if you're getting messages that emotionally he isn't ready yet. I split from my husband in October of 2009 after years of being the only one trying to revive a dying marriage. I thought I was ready to date (after all, my ex didn't wait for us to be split to start dating). I met someone in early December 2009, and we clicked. We dated for 10 months, but then I began feeling claustrophobic. If he had been someone else, then perhaps it would have worked (he was very immature for a man in his 40's, and I didn't need another "kid" to take care of), but I am much happier on my own right now. No matter how much he may feel he was ready, he may not be. (Speaking from experience).
posted by annieb at 10:55 AM on March 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

If the relationship is working for you, stay.
If it's not, break up.

I am one of the serial monogamists mentioned above.

I met my current girlfriend (almost 11 years now) right before the end of my marriage of ten years. I had mourned the end of that marriage way before it "officially" ended.
posted by freakazoid at 11:14 AM on March 6, 2011 [2 favorites]

Nthing "go with your gut." I have seen this go both ways and there is no way to predict based on anyone else's experiences but your own.

The kids thing makes it much more complicated than just a question of how the two of you feel, of course. Have you met them? Based on what I've seen, the issue of whether you enjoy his kids is going to be the biggest single factor (as opposed to whether he's emotionally ready or you're a rebound or whatever.) Enjoy the kids = all good, as long as he's a standup guy. Crazy about him but meh on the kids? Run.
posted by fingersandtoes at 11:14 AM on March 6, 2011 [2 favorites]

Trust your instincts. Rebounds can work, but not if their emotional energy is tied up elsewhere. You deserve someone who can put you first, not second behind other priorities.
posted by yarly at 11:16 AM on March 6, 2011

Have you talked to him about how he's processing all this?

I am a filthy parallel monogamist-- my very happy seven-year relationship (married for 2.5) arose out of a failed attempt to negotiate a better solution to my prior unhappy marriage. I was ready to date and commit because things with the first Mr. F were way past over for longer than anyone would have guessed.

Ask him.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 11:18 AM on March 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

(Also, if you are worried that he will do unto you as he and his ex-wife have done-- well, "serial monogamist" doesn't always mean "intent on divorce as soon as something else comes up.")
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 11:22 AM on March 6, 2011

I think you should go with your instincts but talk to him about why you're doing that. He might not see his situation the same way you do, so be prepared for your approach/response should he dispute what you're seeing.

My advice comes from experience. The kind where hindsight is 20/20 with a laser assist.
posted by batmonkey at 11:23 AM on March 6, 2011

I don't know about him, but you seem like you're not as enthused as you might like to be. Is that possible?
posted by tel3path at 1:00 PM on March 6, 2011

You'll have to go with your gut here.

But generally speaking it sounds an incy tincy bit too soon if you are expecting something serious.

I've been divorced and definitely "mourned" the relationship before I left it... and I still needed time to get committed again. I thought I was ready during the first few years. But not so much, it turned out.
posted by jbenben at 2:45 PM on March 6, 2011

Don't avoid dating him because he's in the middle of a divorce. But do avoid dating him if you think he's not emotionally ready for a relationship. It's the emotional content that counts, not the legal timetable.
posted by KathrynT at 4:14 PM on March 6, 2011 [3 favorites]

Go with your gut, but don't count him out. My girlfriend is going through a divorce, and we both know this is no rebound relationship.
posted by emelenjr at 10:34 PM on March 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

Another perspective here from the spectator seats.

I watched a similar situation involving a relative. Although the marriage had long been troubled, in this case Husband was done with the marriage, Wife was not. Enter New Woman, (aka Rebound Woman), whose presence made it impossible for Wife to leave her marriage with her dignity intact. Not pretty to watch, especially for their teenage children. Made New Woman's place in ex-husband's family pretty impossible, as most felt New Woman should back off until things sorted out. Ultimately the new relationship fell apart.

Timing sometimes means everything.
posted by Breav at 5:22 AM on March 7, 2011

I was mentally out of my marriage for about 6 months before I filed. Then there was a 2 month waiting period after that for the divorce to be final. I was plenty ready by the time that was happening. I started dating Mr. Getawaysticks 6 weeks after my divorce was final, and we are still together over 6 years later.
posted by getawaysticks at 8:57 AM on March 7, 2011

Have you thought about asking him if he's mourned his relationship? Maybe some communication and some more information would help sort this out.
posted by veryblue1 at 6:56 PM on March 25, 2011

« Older Romance Noob   |   Can you help me fix this problem with an old sink? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.