Picture this scenario: You’re feeling great now that the divorce is behind you; the kids are doing better, you’re feeling more financially confident, the devastation of your split is becoming a distant memory, and—surprisingly—you finally meet a guy you like.
Then the shoe drops. You find you’re not the only woman your new guy is dating, and suddenly you realize you shouldn’t have ignored the red flags you saw when he was getting all those late-night texts.
More heartbreak is the last thing a divorced Solo Mom needs, but if you’re not careful in the men you choose to date, you could get hurt. Here are seven types of men to avoid dating, not just after your divorce, but any time:
1. The drinker. Excessive drinking can lead to only bad things. DUIs, alcoholism, cheating, and other bad behavior are just some possible outcomes of overindulging in alcohol. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, almost 25% of adults surveyed said they engaged in binge drinking in the past month.
So if he’s ordering three or four drinks every time you go out for dinner or if all your dates involve alcohol, he may have a drinking problem, so it’s important to pay attention to it. I also realize that when men and women are newly divorced and on first dates, they might drink more alcohol than they normally do to ease nervousness. Still, don’t let the infatuation you feel toward him mask a problem that might end up being significant.
2. The narcissist. Narcissistic personality disorder can include an excessive need for admiration, the failure to recognize other people’s feelings, the inability to handle criticism of any kind, and a sense of entitlement. Know anyone like that? A person like this can be very difficult to be around and can really hurt your self-esteem, which is why you want to stay away from him.
3. The womanizer. I find that some older, divorced men turn into womanizers, a result of possibly not wanting to commit again for fear of getting hurt. They are pretty easy to spot, and you will know within a few dates if your guy is seeing other women. You might be OK with that, but don’t try to talk yourself into accepting a situation you don’t want to be in because either you think he will change or you are settling. I believe that dating someone who is dating other women leads to low self-esteem, disappointment, and unhappiness.
4. The angry, bitter guy. This guy is toxic to be around. You don’t deserve to have to deal with someone’s divorce baggage—you have your own. An angry, bitter guy will complain about his situation, bad-mouth his ex, and focus on how unfair life is. Stay away. Spending a lot of time with someone like this is exhausting and depressing. Encourage him to go to counseling and then be done.
5. The gambler. The National Council on Problem Gambling reported that 15% of Americans gamble at least once a week, and six million adults meet the criteria for problem gambling. I’m not saying all men who bet on sports are gambling addicts, but be wise enough to know the difference between someone who is just having fun and someone who has a gambling addiction. If you end up in a long-term relationship with him, it could be detrimental, not only emotionally but also financially.
6. The pothead/druggie. Much like the gambler, this guy could have an addiction that affects you greatly. Have the wisdom to recognize it and the courage to separate yourself from him if your gut tells you there is an issue.
7. The rebound guy. Perhaps the most difficult to admit to yourself, the rebound guy isn’t over his ex. He is constantly talking about her, and you have a suspicion that he is using you to help break away from his feelings. I have been the rebound guy’s girl before, and trust me: it isn’t easy. When it ends, you feel used, even though he didn’t intend to make you feel that way. Divorce-support expert Cathy Meyer says if you find yourself in a relationship with someone who has recently broken off a long-term relationship, be cautious. Don’t allow your new relationship partner to set the pace. If you do, you will find yourself in the middle of a whirlwind. You don’t want to be left in the dust once he decides to move on. The rebound guy is usually a good guy. He just needs a little bit of time before he is capable of being in a healthy, romantic relationship. If you end up dating one of these guys, consider it bad timing and bad luck, and never, ever take it personally.
In closing, there are so many wonderful divorced men out there who aren’t addicts, womanizers, narcissists, or angry and bitter. It might take time, and you might have to date quite a few frogs before meeting that special guy who feels like the right match, but when you meet him, he will have been worth waiting for. In the meantime, be smart by doing your best to stay away from these seven types of guys. They are the biggest frogs of all!
Jackie Pilossoph, ESME’s Divorce Resource Guide, is the creator of Divorced Girl Smiling, a website that helps men and women facing divorce. She is also a weekly Huffington Post divorce blogger; the writer of a weekly column, “Love Essentially,” for the Chicago Tribune’s Pioneer Press; and a freelance corporate and business content writer. Pilossoph holds a master’s degree in journalism. She lives in Chicago with her two children. Oh, and she’s divorced.