To Date or Not to Date a Separated Man? That Is the Question

To Date or Not to Date a Separated Man? That Is the Question

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Why dating someone who is separated is a no-no

The answer is no!

Do not do it! Run the other way. Close the door, lock it, and throw away the key—then barricade yourself in a closet with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s, in the fetal position, rocking back and forth.

How do I know this with 100% certainty? Because I’ve done it, over and over and over, and it never ends well.

Let’s back up:

Pretend you are a dude. You’re in an “unhappy” marriage (as in, you aren’t having enough sex and fantasize about life with Scarlett Johansson). You’re pushing 50—or 40 or 30 or 60—and you don’t want to spend the rest of your life wondering, What if? You think, It’s now or never, and you wouldn’t feel this way if the marriage were working. So you separate. You get an apartment or move in with a friend. You’re thinking, This is awesome! I’m living the life! Chasing the dream!

What’s the first thing you do? You go online. You sign up with Tinder, Bumble,,, and all the other dating sites your other separated dude friends are on.

Your separated dude friends help you write your blurb: “Gentleman and great communicator seeks partner in crime. If you love romance, laughter, and adventure, I’m your guy. Looking for my other half. Hoping for an LTR.” (Your friends explain to you that “LTR” is the hip way of saying long-term relationship.) Then you wait . . . or should I say, lie in wait.


Pretend you are a Solo Mom (as in, me). You go online because you are too dang busy to hang out at bars, go to concerts in the park, or any other number of places where singles with free time go to meet other singles. You are looking for an actual partner—an actual LTR! You read Separated Dude’s blurb and actually believe what he says. He is available and looking for the same things you are.

You match. You “Tinder-text,” move on to real-life texting, graduate to the phone call. He’s funny, charming, compassionate, and overflowing with compliments. You like him. You make a date. Then, at the last moment, he casually mentions, “Oh, by the way, my divorce isn’t quite final.” Ugh. But he uses this scenario to demonstrate how honest he is. He’s fully transparent and would never mislead or lie to you. “The marriage was over years ago. The only thing left is to sign the papers.”

So you accept this and try to remember all the people you know who separated and then immediately found the love of their lives. You can’t think of anyone, but he seems super sincere, so it’s totally OK.

Note: Sometimes the above exchange does not happen until you are actually on the first date. Sometimes it does not happen until after you’ve had sex. Sometimes it never happens at all because he just got out of a ball-and-chain marriage and just wants to get laid!

Once you have rationalized going out with a separated man, you can count on one of the greatest dates of your life. He will adore you, put you on a pedestal, and desperately want to rub your feet. After all, he loves to rub feet. And he means it. He hasn’t felt amorous in years. You are a raindrop in a desert of male hormones.

This surge of affection will continue until you have sex, wherein he will swear it was the best sex of his life. He means this as well.

It’s at this point when everything goes horribly, drastically wrong:

You will start to like him. And if you continue having sex with him, you will begin to think you love him because women can’t make love over and over again without feeling love.

And once he gets a whiff of you developing feelings for him, it’s all downhill.

The thing about separated men is in the beginning, fresh out of the wedding band, they are available and eager. But then, as if by witchcraft, the closer a separated man gets to divorce, the less available he becomes.

This natural phenomenon is due to one of three reasons:

1. Jessica Alba Syndrome (aka JAS, sometimes known as Scarlett Johansson Syndrome). If he can get you, then who else can he get? He’s not getting any younger. He wants to spread his seed. He wants to date and screw as many women as possible. He thinks he can get Jessica Alba . . . or Scarlett Johansson.

You have sex with him. You are crazy about him. The next day he comes up on your BFF’s Bumble feed, “Looking for a partner.” Tears.

2. He goes back to his wife. The separation was temporary. He was testing the waters of bachelorhood but missed the old ball and chain. He needs to try to make it work—for the kids. He got some nooky, sans guilt, and it’s time to return to the nest. Tears.

3. He’s a douchebag. He said what it took to get you in the sack. He’s a liar and most likely a narcissist. You get why his wife filed for divorce. Tears.

In my five long years of online dating, I have knowingly or unknowingly been involved with several separated men. In fact, most of the men in my demographic (Solo Mom, over 40) who are online dating are separated. Never once has this worked out, not even close. In fact, never once has it not ended in tears (for me).

I’m sure there are exceptions. I’m sure there are lovely separated men who would happily commit to 1% of us fabulous Solo Moms. I haven’t met one yet—or even a distant cousin. So if you happen to come across him, please give him my number. I want to test his DNA. Otherwise, when faced with a separated man, for the love of God, please do not date him.

You’re welcome.

Kathleen Laccinole, ESME’s Dating Resource Guide, has penned numerous films and parenting books but is best known for producing the highly lauded Greta, age 20, and William, age 16.

Please feel free to contact us with any comments or questions.

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