Guide to dating a divorced woman
1. Painful past
One of the most obvious challenges of dating a divorced woman is dealing with the pain. Every divorce is painful, so any woman who’s gone through a divorce has gone through a lot of hurts. Pain is something that changes you, usually in negative ways- which will lead to many of the challenges and red flags in this post. One of the challenges of dating a divorced woman is that you have to deal with her painful past, just as she has to deal with it.
This is not something that happens quickly. It can take months or even years to overcome the troubles of a divorce. Every relationship comes with problems, at least with a divorced woman you will be able to anticipate the challenges ahead.
Many divorces happen with children involved. It’s usually the mother that gets custody of the children and so if you’re dating a divorced woman, you may have to deal with not only her but her children as well. Children also come with many painful experiences from divorce and as you become the man in their mother’s life, they’re going to look to you as a surrogate father for better or worse. Are you ready to nurture another man’s children? Don’t make a divorced mother choose between you and her children, that could destroy her.
3. Lack of closure
One big challenge is that in many divorces, the two people who were once married are still interacting with each other, which makes it difficult to find closure for the divorced woman. This is especially true if she has to share custody of her children. Many divorced people remain in the same towns, the same communities, and even live nearby each other.
That means that many divorced women not only have to deal with their Exes a lot, some of them actually would like to still be married to their Ex if they could. This lack of closure leaves many divorced women feeling uncomfortable and incomplete with emotional wounds that never have an opportunity to heal. There are going to be times when you feel that your relationship is merely a substitute for what they really want. This takes a man who is secure in his identity and what he offers to a relationship.
4. Fear of failure
Ultimately every divorce is a failure. Once we have failed in painful ways, we are naturally afraid to fail again. So a divorced woman may have many fears related to dating, sex, marriage, and relationships in general. And so she may deal with her anxiety in inappropriate ways such as through lying, manipulation, emotional instability, and even depression.
She may send mixed signals due to her mixed desires of attraction to you and fear of messing up again. You should be extra-patient and understanding as she learns to build a new, healthy relationship.
5. Lack of insight
Sometimes divorced women don’t really understand that their behavior and habits contributed to the divorce and instead blame the entire divorce on their husband. These women may not have any insight into why they’re husband wanted to leave the marriage and so they may be resistant to self-improvement.
They may be very insistent that they are victims and that those who disagree with them are wrong, if not evil. And so they are very resistant to change which could be very counterproductive when you interact with them. Perhaps you can help them gain insight into the problems that their poor behavior has inadvertently magnified.
6. Dealing with the Ex
As you get to know the divorced woman more, you may have to interact with her ex, which can be a very uncomfortable and even a threatening situation. Most Exes are not happy to see their ex-wives dating someone else. Those ex-husbands don’t want to see another man in the life of their children. Many times an ex-husband would like to see his ex-wife suffer miserably, as that would be a kind of a vindication for him. So the more you are making the divorced woman happy, the more her life is doing well, the more unhappy her Ex may be and he may show his displeasure around you. Don’t let him actively try to sabotage your relationship, and try to minimize your interaction with her EX in general.
7. She has more experience than you
Many times the divorced woman will be much more experienced in life than the person she’s dating. This can be intimidating if you’ve never been divorced, as this woman has gone through a tragedy that can only imagine. And so, this can make it difficult for you to be a leader in the relationship as every time you try to do something that she doesn’t like, she can pull out the divorce card and say, “But you don’t understand what I’ve been through, you haven’t experienced what I have.”
Try to show your concern, but there are times you must insist on doing things your way, not for selfish reasons, but because you are convinced that you have chosen the best path for both of you. Make every effort for her to see that as she respects your decisions, you will take care of her concerns.
8. You will always be compared to her Ex
Sometimes her ex is really a terrific person and they have many accomplishments. You may feel insecure when being compared with that person but unfortunately, you will always be compared with her ex in both negative and positive ways. It will be very natural for her to reference her ex and everything you like everything you do. You can only hope that eventually, she will stop comparing and accept you as a unique individual that you are. Perhaps if you start comparing her to your ex-girlfriends, she’ll see how it feels to be compared to an Ex. Just don’t overdo it – this is not about revenge.
9. Your maturity
Perhaps the biggest challenge of all is your own immaturity. You have to discover if you have what it takes to deal with the challenges that a divorced woman has in her life. There’s nothing wrong with the deciding that this is not the kind of relationship you want to deal with. But be honest about it and don’t blame a divorced woman for having the typical problems that divorced women have.
B. Red Flags
1. Financial problems
While there are many challenges to dating a divorced woman that can be overcome, there are some warning signs that the relationship will not succeed. One red flag is in the area of finances. Many women who go through a divorce will have a very difficult time financially. They will often have trouble collecting alimony, they may have trouble both taking care of children and maintaining a career as an only parent.
You may discover that the divorced woman that you are dating has a number of financial burdens and so you cannot enjoy the kind of life together that you want. Her financial issues may have begun way before the divorce as many marital problems concern money. You should not let this woman become a financial burden to you in either the immediate term and in the long-term.
2. Psychological problems
Many women who go through divorces don’t fare well in a psychological sense. They find the great difficulty in dealing with the failure of the marriage as well as the causes that led to it. They may be relying on codependents such as family and friends to help them avoid dealing with their painful past.
Be on the lookout for anything that seems unbalanced in their life or the presence of exaggerated coping behaviors such as alcoholism, drug addiction, overeating and any number of unhealthy issues which point to deeper psychological issues that remain unresolved. Such women are not yet ready for healthy, successful relationships.
3. Family problems
It could be that the children who have gone through a divorce are angry or bitter; perhaps they’ve even been used as weapons against one parent or the other. Many times children are confused and blame themselves for the divorce. If you find that a divorced woman’s children are finding it extremely difficult to cope with this new reality, you may need to back off and give her family time to deal with this.
And family problem exists when a divorced woman’s parents or siblings do not like you. They irrationally resist your relationship despite your good qualities. In such a case, it’s better to end the relationship rather than make her choose between you and her family.
4. Seeking instant commitment
There are a number of divorced women who find the loneliness and rejection of divorce too painful to deal with and so they want to get married again quickly and they’re looking for a man who gives them instantly the kind of commitment that’s really should take months or possibly even years to develop.
That woman might be looking for a man to provide a stable home and family for her children or perhaps she’s looking for a steady financial source. Whatever the reason, if the woman is looking for a very quick and permanent relationship that should be a dangerous sign that she’s actually not ready for what she wants.
C. How to not push
1. Don’t seek intimacy too quickly
Many times a divorced woman is not quite sure how she wants to pursue a relationship. She can be a little bit gun-shy from her past relationship failure. So don’t push her too quickly even if you’re confident that you can overcome all of the challenges and red flags that you see. Just as you would with any relationship, take time to build up a basic and strong foundation by getting to know each other and working out your differences before trying to push for a deeper relationship.
2. Don’t be a “white knight”
There are some men are called “white knights” (which has nothing to do with race). They aim to be like a good knight in shining armor who rescues his Damsel in Distress. He helps her to solve all of her problems and ought to be thankful and she will owe him her affection and loyalty. But White Knight does have not a healthy relationship with a woman.
Some women will take advantage of a white night and they will take everything he gives but they will return very little back to him. Other women will actually be grateful and thankful but they won’t develop into mature and healthy people. They will stay in that codependent relationship until eventually, it fails.
In order to avoid being a white knight, you have to refrain from solving a divorced woman’s every problem and instead to help her help herself. You can be her support without actually taking over her life and fixing all the problems.
3. Don’t try to get her family to like you too soon
While having a divorced woman’s family like you is essential to any long-term relationship, you have to be careful not to try to quickly ingratiate yourself with them. They the children of a divorced woman and her family need to come to terms with the end of the marriage before they will warm up to you. So take it slowly as you would with any relationship.
4. Wait for her to have closure from her Ex
Many times a divorced woman does not have a very successful ending to her divorce and so she has problems that are still unresolved with her Ex. Even months or years later, she can still have issues that she hasn’t dealt with yet. You need to give her time to deal with that and you need to make sure that she does deal with it and not leave it to you to deal with her ex for her. It’s her responsibility to deal with her ex and if she is unwilling to face this issue, this could be a red flag.
D. What about divorced Christians dating again?
1. Best not to date or marry
The Bible says that people should not divorce except in cases of infidelity. Yet modern people get divorced for any and all reasons. Likewise, the Bible says that if you divorce you should remain single and not remarry. Based on that advice many Christians and churches impose a rule that divorced people never marry again, let alone date. Thus, divorced Christians must remain single for the rest of their lives.
That is the best biblical outcome. Unfortunately, there a now a multitude of divorced Christian women who struggle to follow these precepts of living single and pure lives after being divorced. Hence, this guide is written for all who consider dating a divorced woman.
2. Better to date/marry than fall into sin
The Apostle Paul writes about marriage as a practical issue- to help people avoid falling into sin. And in the same way, dating/remarriage after divorce is also a practical issue. If you find it a great struggle to remaining single and pure, then the bill most practical advice is to begin dating again. Of course, Christians should only date/marry other Christians. It is better to take care of your needs through a second marriage than to fall bondage to sin.
3. Find a supportive church
Many churches and many influential Christians will reject Christians who are divorced and dating again. That’s up to them and their conscience. You need not stay in such a church, but you need to find a supportive church.
Too many Christians these days are trying to be Christians without any organized fellowship. But in fact, divorced people need the loving relationships and spiritual accountability that all good churches offer. Find and join one of the many churches that have special divorced Ministries that will help you deal with your unique relationship challenges.
4. Making it work this time
If you are dating a divorced woman, you need to consider how both of you can change yourselves, adjust yourselves to make a better dating relationship and ultimately a better marriage in the future. All relationships take a lot of work, especially so for those who have been divorced. Not every relationship lead to marriage but most divorced women who date are looking to get married again.
If you recognize that you and the divorced woman not able to build a strong foundation, feel free to break it off. Its if better to end things early rather than go through a more painful breakup later. Just try to end the relationship gently and without blame.
But if you believe that your relationship can lead to a successful marriage then you need to do everything you can to make sure that this time the marriage works out successfully. You want to deal with problems during the dating time rather than face these kinds of troubles after you’ve married.
That’s the one advantage of being divorced- you are more aware of the problems that didn’t get resolved in the marriage were actually present as warning signs during dating. You might even want to get pastoral counseling to work out your issues.