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The rules to dating a separated man

Based out of Dallas, Texas, Mary McCoy is a writer and social worker for disenfranchised women and children. She's a single mom, lover of Texas barbecue, and a die-hard fan of yoga

Look before you leap

We don't exactly advocate dating a separated man. But if you're determined to go down that road, here are the rules to live by.

Couple on date

Rule #1: Understand the separation

First and foremost, you'll need to have a healthy respect for the fact that your prospective date is still married. Separated isn't divorced, so he still has legal commitments to his wife. With that said, people get separated for all kinds of reasons, so it's important to understand the ins and outs of his separation and what the separation is supposed to accomplish. Before falling head over heels, have an answer to the following questions:

  • What is the separation accomplishing for him and his wife? Is it a stepping stone to a certain divorce or is reconciliation still his aim?
  • What events led up to the separation, and what was his role in those events? Although it will be tempting to vilify his wife, remember that relationships are comprised of two people and he most likely had at least a minor role in the failure of the marriage.
  • Is his wife aware that he is dating another woman? The answer to this question may help clarify what he hopes to accomplish with the separation.
  • Is there a reason why he wants to date prior to the finalization of the divorce? You may want to wait until the divorce is final to ensure that he's not playing you.

Rule #2: Put away your jealousy

As painful as it is to hear, your prospective date has no commitment to you. He does, however, have a legal and emotional commitment to his wife until the divorce is finalized. The commitments are even more pronounced and complicated if he has children with his wife. As he goes through the process of separation, he will likely need to visit and converse with his wife. You cannot be jealous if he follows through on his commitment.

Rule #3: Know your risks

Just like dating single men, dating a separated man has inherent risks. There's no way to remove all risks associated with dating, but you need to approach your prospective date with an awareness of the risks you're taking on. While each situation is different, consider the following risks associated with dating a separated man, and protect yourself accordingly:

  • He may still be sleeping with his wife. Many separated couples still have sex as they're figuring out their changing dynamic. Protect yourself from sexually transmitted diseases.
  • He may be sleeping with other women. He may view separation as a chance to sow his wild oats, so again, protect yourself from sexually transmitted diseases.
  • He may be using you for an emotional bridge when he needs to focus on his healing from the broken marriage. This is a big one. Many professionals recommend that divorcees wait several months before leaping back into the dating pool so healing can occur. Make sure he's not neglecting his emotional well-being by pursuing you.
  • He may still choose to return to his wife, children and vows. There's always a risk that a relationship will dissolve, but you need to be prepared that he may decide to reconcile with his wife while you're dating.

Rule #4: Beware of rebound

If he cannot provide a good answer for why he's dating prior to the finalization of the divorce, just beware that you may be his rebound. Some women are OK with serving as a rebound as long as they get something from the deal, but many women are not. If you think you may be his rebound, take your emotional and physical relationship slow and steady. You do not want to have an emotionally entangled and confusing relationship in which you feel used at the end.

More from single girls' guide

Dating guys with kids: What you need to know
Stop obsessing over guys
How to play hard to get

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