Dating After Divorce: Does Their Marital History Matter?

When I first started to contemplate dating after my tsunami divorce, I was taken aback when a friend posed the question, “So, are you looking for guys that have never been married or are you looking for a man that is also divorced?”. Since the last time I was on the dating scene, I was just looking for boys who were old enough to drive, I had never had to consider prior marital status before.

I rolled the imagined pros and cons of each around in my mind for a few moments.

Never married – No ex-wife to deal with, not one to marry impulsively, and has had sufficient time to fully enjoy the bachelor life. On the other hand, perhaps they are not ready for marriage, they don’t know how to “do” marriage and they may struggle to adapt to the lifestyle changes.

Divorced – Knows how to be married, may have friends that are more marriage-oriented, and they are not commitment-shy. Of course, there is always the ex-wife, the newly single man about town energy and they may be dealing with residual triggers and bitterness from the divorce.

I concluded, “I’m fine with either. I figure at my age (32 at the time), I’ll find more that are divorced. Of course, kids are a deal-breaker for me, so that may mean I find more that have never been married.”

And during my period of Match Madness, I did date both. And I found that some of my assumptions were incorrect. I met married men who, based upon discussion, never did learn how to be married. I met lifelong bachelors that had certain traits that made it difficult to imagine anyone wanting to marry them. Ever. And I discovered that difficult and in-the-picture exes were as likely to be of the girlfriend as the wife variety. Divorced doesn’t mean “damaged” any more than never married means “defective.”

In the end, I fell in love with a man (then 37) who had never been married. Not because he had some fatal flaw, but because he knew himself well enough to wait until he was ready. He may not have known how to be married, but that was okay. After all, I didn’t know how to be married to him. And every marriage is different. We gave each other the gifts of time and patience – for me to work on healing and letting go of the residual anger and for him to adapt to a partnered life and learn what it means to be married. And now that never-been-married-before man is a seriously amazing husband.

Just like I wouldn’t want anyone to hold my past against me, someone’s romantic history doesn’t tell the story of their romantic future. Focus more on their character traits than on the characters they dated or married. Pay more attention to their readiness now then their readiness then. And most importantly, look for someone that will learn along with you as you navigate a life together.

Thank you for sharing!

12 thoughts on “Dating After Divorce: Does Their Marital History Matter?

  1. I loved this! I contemplated what I thought I wanted and what I didn’t. Should they have kids like I do? Will they understand how to be parents if they don’t? And, I discovered similar things. It really comes down to character, readiness to adapt. I found a man that wasn’t marred yet and had no kids, though I thought I’d want someone who already had a family and would ‘get it’. The man I dated who had a daughter, wasn’t much of a father at all… the man who has no children loves my kids so naturally! I’m amazed at how beautiful this second go is turning out to be!

  2. So, what are your thoughts on the history of how their marriage or (last relationship) ended? (that is if they are truthful about it to begin with). What if the marriage ended due to infidelity? Just curious as to your perspective. Perhaps a topic to be explored in a future blog posting.

    1. For me it definitely matters and would pretty much be a deal-breaker. For the most part, it would reflect negatively on their character from my perspective. That being said, I would at least listen to the story before discounting them. That’s one those things that everyone pretty much has to decide for themselves if it’s a deal-breaker or not. Thanks!

  3. This is really great advice. I have preconceived notions but you brought up valid points i should keep in mind!

  4. Thanks for the advice. I, myself have struggled with this. My ex cheated with his secretary for 2 years, and then tried to manipulate my kids to think he was divorcing because I was a horrible mother. He rewrote our 20 year marriage, so I have a hard time believing men when I they talk about their bad marriages. I know mine wasn’t what I thought it was, but I devoted 20 years of my life to my family which is now completely different than we were two years ago.
    My ex had me believing things were my fault before I found out about the affair, so I know he manipulates anyone he talks to about me and how our marriage Ended. So how do I believe any new potiential men and trust myself to trust again?

    1. Gaslighting and betrayal really mess with your ability to trust. I’ve written quite a bit about my own struggles with this and how I’ve (mostly) worked through it. You can find these by putting “trust” into the search bar on my site. Sorry you’re in that position – it’s not easy.

  5. Yes, I hate being “labeled” divorced, as it seemed to have a negative connotation. I had wrestled with the idea of just saying “single” and leaving it at that. Lol! I am okay now it now. I am just peeking through the door at a male companion right now, but at least I have cracked open the door. 🙂

  6. I haven’t been able to get a date in 16 years since my wive left. I was 30 now I’m 46.

    She had a family, I had nothing but the bills she left.

    I tried online dating, I found it very depressing, sending out messages to be ignored. Or reading the lists of “must haves” it felt more like a job interview with to many applicants. I’m tall and good looking, I’ve kept myself in really good shape, have a good job and a nice home, but apparently that isn’t enough these days. zero dates in 16 years.

    I really hate asking women out, I’d rather go to a really bad dentist for work I don’t need. (probably cheaper too) . “Game” is not something I want.

    So I’m alone, I’ll never have a family, women my age are past their childbearing years anyway so I’m calling it quits.

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