People warned you about issues arising that you weren’t expecting.
But you threw caution to the wind and started dating a divorced dad.
Now you’re reconsidering those cautions because the relationship is a bit rockier than you anticipated, which have you wondering: What red flags should I be looking for when dating a divorced man?
Let’s get into it.
Why Is It Difficult To Date a Divorced Man?
Dating is difficult — and partnering with a divorced man can be even more complicated.
But with the divorce rate ping-ponging between 40 and 50 percent, the likelihood you’ll date a divorcee at least once in your life is pretty high, especially if you’re 30 or older.
What can make partnering with a once-married man challenging?
- Kids: Many divorces involve children, which can complicate things.
- Ex-Spouses: Was his divorce messy? Is he locked in a dissolution war with his estranged spouse? If so, prepare for rough waters.
- Financial Complications: Divorce is expensive, which may lead to financial hardship.
- Living Situations: These days, instead of having the kids shuttle between parents’ homes, many divorced couples bear the burden of changing locations while the children stay put. While it provides stability for the kids — (which is excellent) — it can make dating a tad more complicated, especially if the exes share the “off-days” house.
15 Dating a Divorced Man Red Flags You Must Know
Again, we’re not suggesting that dating a divorced man is a bad idea. With the divorce-separation rate at nearly 50%, it would be a foolish assertion.
That said, dating a divorced man comes with unique challenges, and we encourage you to go in with your eyes wide open.
A caveat in place, here’s a list of red flags that could pop up.
1. He Never Stops Gripping About His Ex
Yes, marriage dissolutions can be contentious. And even in amicable cases, divorces are usually punctuated with contemptuous energy. So if you’re dating a newly separated man, expect to deal with some intensity.
However, if the man in question cannot go 24 hours without becoming unglued over his ex, you may want to think twice about taking things to the next level. It signals that he’s not ready and still preoccupied with his past.
The last thing you want or need is a squawking man-baby. “That guy” sucks all the energy out of a room — at all times. If you genuinely like him, let him pass through this stage without you and try again in the future.
2. He Talks Poorly About His Ex in Front of His Kids
Kids should always come first in a divorce. Parents must practice self-care, but prioritizing the children’s mental health and stability should be the goal.
A big part of that is refraining from rabidly roaring about an estranged spouse in front of the kids. Bad, hurtful things may have gone down, but the children don’t need to know.
Exceptions exist when security or abuse issues are in play, and the child needs to be on guard. Otherwise, parental discord should never become a kid’s concern.
Besmirching an ex with children around signals a lack of comportment, thoughtfulness, and in extreme cases, misogyny.
3. He Thinks He’s Blameless
Divorce is complicated, and while one party’s actions may have been the straw that broke the union’s back, both sides likely did things that contributed to the downfall.
Moreover, individuals dealing with dissolutions typically reflect on their behavior and land on things they could have done better.
So if the divorced man you’re dating insists on framing himself as a wholly blameless party, it may be a sign that he’s unable to take responsibility for his faults, mistakes, and shortcomings — which we all have.
Does his story sound convincing? Try to remember there are always two sides to a tale, and his version may be a half-truth.
A subcategory of this trope is the “married 4 times red flag.” If the man in question has been married more than three times and maintains he never did anything wrong, run in the opposite direction.
4. He Wants Too Much Too Soon
Have you been dating for a month, and he already wants you to move in? Does he want to move into your place!? Did he tell you he loved you after the second date?
While the attention and interest may be flattering, flooring the Flux Capacitor and sending the relationship into warp speed is a red flag. A whistle-stop tour of all his friends and family after a week of dating is another one.
It could be a sign of emotional instability. Or, he may be trying to fill a void because he’s yet to do the emotional work of moving on from his marriage.
5. He Sees You Through the Lens of His Ex
Experience is the chisel that shapes our personalities and outlook. So if his ex minced his feelings and shattered his trust, he may be hyper-paranoid and unfairly accusatory with you.
On the one hand, it’s human nature. A severe burn teaches us to avoid future fires.
But it’s a red flag if he treats you like the guilty party. Extending compassion and grace for psychological hardships is healthy.
Simultaneously, you deserve to be treated on the merits of your behavior and shouldn’t be smeared with the residue of his past pains.
6. He’s Tetchy About All Divorce Talk
Do you need to know all the gory details of his divorce in the first few weeks of dating? No. Not at all.
But if you’ve been seeing each other for a few months, and you’re both interested in making things official, you should at least know the broad strokes of his divorce.
At that point, if he immediately accuses you of being nosy for asking a few general questions, something may be up. He could be hiding something significant. Or he may not be as ready to move on as he thinks.
Whatever the case, if he can’t handle reading you in at the most basic level after several months, regard it as a red flag.
7. He Trafficks in Guilt
Have you ever postponed breaking up with someone to spare their feelings during a difficult time? In some situations, that’s the right and kind thing to do. For example, nobody with a conscience would dump a partner the day after one of their parents died.
But guilting someone into not quitting a relationship is toxic. Do you get in rows, then he crawls back the next day and offers up sob stories about this, that, and the other?
If you feel like the relationship’s trajectory is headed south, and you’re only lingering because you feel guilty about breaking up, consider what you’re sacrificing by staying.
Also, understand that feeling this way is a red flag.
8. He Uses His Divorce as an Excuse for Bad Behavior
Does he cry divorce anytime he messes up? Are you treated to a million excuses why he “can’t” or “won’t” every time you make a “respect request” — and all his reasons are linked to his previous partnership?
Yes, divorced men have more personal obligations than guys who’ve never been married and are child-free.
However, be cautious of folks who crow about their ex issues whenever they need to be a considerate adult. It almost always signals a case of extreme self-centeredness.
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9. He’s a Serial Cheater / Sex Addict
These days, more and more people are becoming more knowledgeable and considerate about mental health conditions, addictions, and their associated symptoms — which is super.
That said, compassionate ethics don’t require putting up with recidivist cheaters.
So be on the lookout for infidelity red flags. Dating serial scoundrels or sex addicts comes with a super-sized helping of grief. Do yourself a favor, practice emotional self-care, and dip out of the partnership before it explodes.
10. The Kids Are…a Problem
Be suspicious of a guy who introduces you to his kids after one or two dates. That’s way too early.
Here are a few other child-related behaviors that may be red flags.
- While you can’t let kids dictate who you date, things can grow unbearable if the child always acts out when you’re around. Is the guy truly worth it?
- Are his children using you as a pawn in their parents’ fight? If so, be careful. These situations tend to end in tears.
- Be honest: Are you having difficulty adjusting to the fact that his kids will always come first? If so, perhaps dating a divorced man with children is not right for you.
11. He Hides You
It’s healthy for divorced parents to refrain from introducing potential new partners to their kids until things get serious.
However, if he insists on hiding you from his friends and coworkers for months on end, you may want to start considering whether to stay or go.
Sure, he could be taking things extra slowly. But he could also be hiding something. Do your best to suss out the situation and figure out why he’s not willing (or perhaps ready) to introduce you around.
12. He’s Frustratingly Indecisive
He’s got you on a romantic rollercoaster. One minute he’s professing his affection from the hilltops; the next, he’s slamming on the breaks and insisting you slow down.
The impetus behind this flip-flop behavior is usually uncertainty about what he wants and how he feels about you. Because let’s be honest: When we have strong feelings for another person, we’re honest, upfront, and consistent.
Being jerked from one extreme to the other is taxing. It’s also a major red flag when dating a newly divorced man.
You deserve to know where you stand; if he can’t provide that, it may be time to move on.
13. He’s Suspiciously Secretive
Every time you ask a question, he clamps down like a venus fly trap. In the beginning, you let it slide. After all, circumspection in the early days is smart.
But you’ve been together for a while and still know very little about him.
Relationships can’t grow if both parties can’t open up. So if you’re in the market for something serious, his secretive nature may pose a problem.
Plus, you have to wonder if he’s a closed book because he’s hiding something.
14. He Expects You To Step Into the Mom-Role Immediately
You’ve been dating for a couple of weeks, and he wants you to pick his kids up from school or cook the family dinner.
If this sounds familiar, consider skedaddling out of the relationship. After all, you’re dating, not auditioning for the role of “new mom.”
If you end up cohabitating with Mr. Divorced Dad, then sure, you’ll likely lend a hand when it comes to child-rearing logistics. But even then, make it clear you have no desire to supplant his ex in the eyes of the kids.
If he’s off to the maternal-expectation races right out of the gate, though, we recommend slowly backing out of the room — or at least pulling on the reins.
15. He Doesn’t Have a Relationship With His Kids
Tolstoy was right: “Every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” And with that comes varying dynamics. Some divorced dads “get” their kids every other week. Others go months without custody. All of that is perfectly normal.
But you may want to question a man with kids who never — and we mean ever — talks to them. What’s the story behind that?
You can decide whether to extend grace if he’s open and honest about the situation. If he’s secretive and defensive, watch out.
How To Get a Divorced Man To Commit Again
- Kindness: A divorced man may be scared to open his heart again, so be extra tender and considerate. Compliments go a long way, but don’t overdo it. It may come across as disingenuous.
- Take Your Time: If it’s meant to be, there’s no need to rush. In fact, experts suggest waiting a year after divorcing before diving back into something serious.
- Give Him Space: Divorced men may feel more smothered than single guys, so give him space.
- Be Confident: There’s nothing sexier than confidence.
Please don’t read us wrong. We’re not suggesting you never date a divorced man. But if the red flags are piling up, you may want to take an objective step back and consider whether the relationship is serving your needs and wants.