In most instances, these relationships were never explicitly established or mutually ended, but unilaterally effected by the men detaching and cutting these women out of their lives.
After reading many of these it became, unfortunately, formulaic. They usually met while he was going through, or recently divorced, began as a friendship, or fling, but quickly deepened just as it also became apparent he was unresolved about his divorce. Being realistic, I would caution against them, but I hope to offer some understanding about divorced men, why relationships with them can be difficult, and how to approach the challenges while maintaining your integrity.
Emotional availability and openness are the basic criteria for developing new relationships. However, considering very few men emerge from divorce unwounded, expecting them to meet this criterion, and in a place to have a relationship, might be a tall order. After what most divorced men have been through, women find they respond encouragingly to and rarely assume, even the slightest positive attention. All she sees is a nice guy, with space in his life though, left by his ex and, unlike typical single guys, he appreciates, and knows how to be in a relationship.
Well, for openers, because out of the 7 billion people in the world 3. Divorce is like being a kid with a new friend. With initial relationships, a divorced man is like a kid with a new friend. The friend not only really wants to come over after school, but when the new friend sees his toys, he can barely contain his enthusiasm. Yet the kid immediately tries to discourage his new friend from actually playing with them. For many men to be divorced is to be betrayed.
Not just by their spouse, but their life, the expected trajectory of its story, and the possibility they are powerlessness to avert the contrary.
See, the reality is that most divorced men had realized the value of their marriages. But why would she? Women grieve relationships before they end, men grieve them after they end. The alternatives can be set in motion without his buy-in: Because in order to continue to be their father post-divorce, requires learning to compartmentalize his feelings and re-contextualize his experience. With kids, he tries to be open and loving, but without them, he just closes down again.
Add to this, having to interact with their mother, though his ex-wife, neutrally, despite the acrimony underneath. New relationships and priming ourselves for survival. At a primal level relationships are instinctually motivated for our survival. In this way, any threats are experienced as a mortal threat and automatically trigger the fight or flight mechanism.
Activated over a prolonged period is what causes trauma. The abandonment men perceive with separation, is commonly experienced as a threat to survival, and presents as trauma.
Typical of trauma, their reactions are intended to reverse the traumatizing event and ward off the threat. In many of the responses, women asked, Why do divorced men run so hot then so cold? The same reason soldiers learn to duck. Divorce is like finally pulling the trigger of a spring-loaded rifle, after years of tension. For the sake of his kids, he may be hesitant to introduce you.
But it should be said, regardless of being divorced, when men are anxious in interpersonal contexts they tend to speak in abstractions and, to a certain extent, use ambiguity to reserve their assertions, until they have a sense of how these are being received. It may also be useful to consider, men generally have less tolerance for emotional experiences than women, prefer solving or fixing over relating, and more quick to react.
In relationship conflicts, anger is usually expressed or experienced as push back. Learning to go slow when dating wounded men. Loss, though a difficult feeling, is especially intolerable, and rather than feeling their way through this and grief, men try to think their way out. Although his thinking can become obsessive, he may be unaware it has, or become good at hiding it.
Listen and learn, provide some feedback. But be prepared to hold some back, because he may not genuinely be over his marriage or in a place to have a relationship yet. While appreciating him, and anything he has to offer, validates him, he may in part usurp this to invalidate his ex.
Dating a divorced man can feel like entering into an alliance against a common enemy, although that commonality is nil, if only incidental. Yet participating in this alliance can be hard to resist, especially if participation increases his enthusiasm for you.
This can be confusing or backfire, wondering whether his enthusiasm is for you, or for taking his side. If so, pause, step back. Learning to fight through the pain and discomfort. There are two ways of seeing this: Nor should he insist that you do. Secondly, although feeling resentful is understandable, realize its development is subtle. For example, early on, you made a comment about something in his place—a painting, let us say.
His response may have included something about his relationship with his ex-wife. She always hated that picture, or Yeah, one of the few things she left behind. Initially, you saw this is as part of this context, the aftermath of his being divorced. On some level, you tried to keep your comments neutral, but as the relationship developed, his continually referencing his marriage became part of the landscape. Looking back you may not know whether your participation was out of trying to be understanding or collusion.
This can be confusing. While you meant to establish togetherness, he may have been usurping your participation to devalue his ex, under the guise of creating distance. Even though his intention was to establish separation from his ex-wife, in reality, it only reinforced her presence, keeping him stuck and you feeling like a placeholder.
But hold on, part of this too has to do with gender differences. Women seek shared experiences in relationships, while men common interests or proximity. The unique challenge of reigniting passion in divorced men. Relationships with divorced men present a mix of ordinary and unique relationship challenges.
Coming from a marriage—proximity, where the contentment of sharing day to day life took precedence over romantic and sexual desire. Men sometimes relate to their wives like more of a buddy that, when feeling the urge, or desire for sex, shifts to more immediate, playful gestures. Yet while divorced men potentially get to re-experience being desired and having sex initiated, they also have to put effort into paying attention and staying engaged with their new partners.
Looking back, a part of him may miss the advantages to the less effort-less sex trade-off, because it allowed him down time. Besides, how well did the last one turn out? By and far, the biggest complaint though about recently divorced men is their back and forth.
A lot of this is his expectation that he needs to make a new life. Common sense would say, Well, just ask him. Why you need to support him in developing independence. While you do need to give him space, support him in developing independence, you also need to make sure he understands what it is you want for yourself. In fact, this may be the most important thing you can do for him to re-learn how to be in relationships. What do you expect from him in the meantime to stay engaged?
This might include the number of dates nights, where or whether you spend the night, integrating social life, timelines, including being kept in the loop around his divorce.
This can lead to dysregulation or severe distress. All of us have some degree of narcissism, healthy or otherwise. The dysregulation men experience by the narcissistic wounding of divorce though has its own complexity. Like its loss and grief, the cause can be assigned to something outside acting upon them—i. Depending on his degree of narcissism, he could whither, withdrawing into depression, or continue reacting with pushback, seeking revenge or, as with trauma, undoing a wrong, by finding ways to reverse the feelings of passive victimization into active control, at times unintentionally inflicting pain in attempting to rebuild their own self worth.
Hence, displacing in an inability to affect his ex, by affecting you. The crux of the challenge though is recognizing this stems from his need for self-protection, preservation and to establish safety, and not get thrown off by it. Because of the divorce, he is oversensitive to both survival and narcissistic threats and prone to aggression need to learn to be assertive.