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Hello Dr. Hartman,
I recently read your book, Dating the Divorced Man. It was very helpful and validated all that I’ve been through, and my only complaint is that I found it too late.
Six months ago, I met a man at a coffee shop I don’t even usually go to. We started talking, then left the coffee shop and talked until 4 am. It turned out he travels to Chicago (where I live) from a town about 4 hours away, every 2-3 weeks for work. He asked me to stay the night, which I didn’t. He also mentioned he was in the process of divorce and had full custody of two kids (ages 4 and 6). After he left Chicago, we talked on the phone every day, morning, noon, and night. Then when he returned to Chicago, we saw each other again and carried on this great conversation. We talked or saw each other day and night. He seemed genuinely interested in me, despite his divorce and everything.
He did tell me about his divorce, that he’d been neglected in his marriage, that his wife was crazy. I listened and tried to be supportive. I really fell for this guy. He was a great listener and we would talk for hours. Our relationship went on for three months, and then something changed. He started calling much less and sort of disappeared. He had to deal with moving (he was living with his ex during the separation and had finally sold the house and moved). I know how stressful that can be and I didn’t want to pressure him more, so I didn’t say anything. Although I did offer to help him move, but he said no, that he hadn’t told his kids about me. But after not hearing from him at all for two weeks, I emailed him and asked what was going on and said we needed to talk. When he came back to Chicago, he was totally different. He wasn’t caring or affectionate, he seemed unhappy. He said I was very special to him, but that things were very stressful for him right now and that he couldn’t handle a relationship. It’s been over a month and I haven’t heard from him.
I find it hard to believe I was just being used or just a booty call, since he called me so often and seemed to really care. He used to talk about future plans, like going on a trip or spending time together in the future. Although I was excited, I didn’t pressure him for any commitments or try to rush things.
I miss him all the time. I used to be so on top of things, and now I feel like an emotional wreck. What should I do? Should I contact him, tell him how I feel? Can I get him back? Or was I just the Rebound Girl?
First of all, I’m sorry for what you’ve been though. I know it’s painful. Unfortunately, I’ve heard this story many, many times from other women. While the details may differ, the central story always goes like this: a woman meets a separated guy. They fall for each other right away. She loves that he is so open, so warm, so interested, especially considering how much he’s been though. She falls for him. Then, he withdraws and disappears, saying that he’s got too much going on and can’t handle a relationship right now. And she’s left brokenhearted.
Separated men are some of the most High-Risk men you can ever date. This isn’t because they’re bad men. It’s because the probability of a successful relationship with them is very low, and the probability of getting your heart broken is very high. Many dating experts will tell you to avoid dating them – I’m not one of them because that advice doesn’t work. Instead, I tell women what the risks and signs of trouble are. And Sarah, if you had known the signs, you would have been better off. So, for the sake of women everywhere, I will list the signs of trouble here:
1) Your guy had barely begun the divorce process. Newly separated men aren’t even close to finished with their grieving and they’re never ready to date… but they always think they are! To make matters worse, this guy hadn’t even moved out from his marital home and had no business dating anyone.
2) Things moved WAY too quickly. You talked “morning, noon, and night,” which is way too often, and spent a lot of time together. Women love when men seem so open, so willing to talk, and so into them. It’s very seductive. Yet, if you date a regular guy who isn’t getting divorced, he will rarely do this. NEVER trust a man who moves this quickly.
3) You weren’t involved in his life. In all those months, you never saw his home, met his kids, met his friends, or did any of the things people do after they’ve dated for a while. You were his escape from his life, not a part of his life.
Separated men are grieving and needy as hell, and they don’t know it. This neediness makes them affectionate, giving, and craving closeness – all the things women want. But it’s a hoax – once they get that need met, they withdraw and run away because it wasn’t what they really needed.
Yes, Sarah, you were the Rebound Girl. It’s normal to feel like a wreck after what you just went through. Don’t be hard on yourself – you took a chance and he broke your heart. Taking a chance is something we all do every time we fall in love, because we can get our hearts broken! However, a separated man has a much higher risk of heartbreak. But you didn’t know that.
Let him go. Don’t contact him. Spend some time healing your heart (which should be what he’s doing as well). Next time you meet someone, proceed more cautiously. Date a man who proceeds at a normal pace and who can include you in his life.
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