June 21, 2010 | 8:40 pm
Posted by Merissa Nathan Gerson
I am sleeping with a man going through a divorce. Is this inherently a bad idea? How do I go about making sure he is not expecting me to fill his ex’s shoes?
-Dating a Divorcee
First things first: what are your intentions? Are you looking for a husband, a lover, a partner, a boyfriend, a one night stand, a sugar daddy? Where are you putting your energy and why? If you want a one night stand or a fling, enjoy the man, the sex, and his sudden newly cut strings. If you want more, then read on.
When dating a man for serious whom you know just emerged from another woman/man’s bed, take a few things into account. This man, whether his former relationship was long dead or recently altered, has ties to another human and their personal business. Careful that that drama does not suddenly become yours.
Even if he is with you, and loving you, and amazing, he still has a piece of himself sorting through yesterday’s baggage. This could be as simple as transferring a suitcase from home to home or as complex as dealing with the leftover shards of a cheating/lying/deceptive relationship that may have hurt him. The only thing to be truly wary of in dating a divorcee is this, being fully aware that you may not be receiving the entirety of the man resting in your arms.
Everyone is compartmentalized to some degree. Everyone has some doors to their hearts open, and others not, so in this case it is extra important to communicate. Don’t fall too hard in love with a man with a recent ex without being sure that baggage was shipped to Tahiti with a one way pass. The last thing you want is to be head over heels with a man who suddenly announces he is a) not ready for more commitment b) not over his wife c) not that into you.
Or, as you seem to fear, make sure he doesn’t just want a new version of the old love. Watch him, listen to him, use your intuition and see: is he wounded and seeking you as relief? Or has he moved on, coming to you not as a wet rag, but as a strong and equal partner?
Just keep an honest line to your own heart open, and another line open in conversation with his. Divorcees deserve love too, but the first person you should be worrying about is not the divorcee in distress, but how the whole mess might effect your personal well-being. Don’t get sucked into saving a wounded man if that’s your secret thirst.
Depth with the recently-divorced is like dating two people, the man and his ex, so just remember that and be slightly protective of your heart and very patient. That, and enjoy the wild emergence of a possibly previously repressed man. If your relationship is well-rounded, you will know because you will feel strong. If you feel drained and exhausted, like a giant human band-aid, maybe seek a new lover.
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