“Dating the Divorced”

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Welcome to my blog! My blog will be devoted to a variety of topics having to do with dating and relationships. As you know, I am the author of Dating the Divorced Man, a book that guides women through the challenges of dating men who have ex-wives, children, and emotional baggage. Therefore, my blog will emphasize this special topic as well.

I recently came across a blog entry by a Dr. Helen Smith, where she commented on two articles written by Chelsea Kaplan for MSN: one on dating divorced men, and another on dating divorced women. Chelsea Kaplan interviewed me for the article on divorced men, and interviewed another author for the article on divorced women. (Unfortunately, these articles are no longer available online). Helen Smith felt the article on dating divorced women advised men to be supportive, whereas the article on dating divorced men advised women to be cautious. “Note the difference: a divorced man has baggage and is a challenge. Dating a divorced woman is a special concern and leads to a fulfilling and wonderful relationship,” she said. Helen Smith’s conclusion? The articles were “sexist.”

At first glance, she has a point – when you read the articles, the advice for women is more cautionary than the advice for men. But there are two problems with her commentary: first, she based her opinion on two brief online articles, rather than scoping out the books the articles are based on. Second, and most importantly, she doesn’t understand that men and women experience dating divorced people very differently. If they didn’t, my book would be called Dating the Divorced, and geared toward both sexes.

I have interviewed countless men and women and done a considerable amount of research on dating after divorce. And in all this research, I have come across more women than I can count who’ve been badly hurt in relationships with divorced men. Some women wind up playing supporter while a man leans on her during his divorce crisis. Others are at the mercy of an angry and vicious ex-wife. Still others wind up taking care of the man’s kids, just to be treated like a second class citizen by them. And how many fairy tales have perpetuated the stereotype of the evil stepmother? By contrast, men dating divorced women don’t typically have such stories. They don’t get stuck playing shrink. They aren’t abused by ex-husbands. They don’t slave over her kids while she’s off working. No one’s ever heard of an evil stepfather. When dating divorced women, men have their challenges as well, but they aren’t getting badly hurt. Why is this?

I just got done watching Suze Orman speak on public television. If you don’t already know, Suze Orman is a bestselling author, speaker, and host of her own TV show, all devoted to helping people become financially smarter. Her inspirational talk was geared toward helping women take control of their finances, and the central theme was that women struggle financially because they often give to others before they give to themselves. “Our nature is to nurture,” she said. The same thing is true with relationships and family – women often care for partners and kids before they care for themselves, at the expense of their own happiness and well-being.

How does this apply to dating those who are divorced? Divorced people, particularly if they have children, can have a lot going on. They have emotional hurts, difficult exes, and/or financial problems. They have baggage – more baggage than someone who’s never been married. A woman dating a divorced man must be cautious with how much she gives, because these situations can be demanding and it will be very tempting for her to give too much. Men are not as prone to making this key mistake, so when dating divorced women, caution is not their primary focus.

This does not mean divorced men are trouble. As I discuss in Dating the Divorced Man, they have the capacity to be excellent partners – in many ways, more so than men who’ve never been married. But, caution is in order when you date them, and it’s important to look out for yourself first – if you don’t, nobody else will.

Resources

Christie’s Books