My Ex Moved On Immediately: 3 Seconds After We Got Separated In Fact

my ex moved on immediately

By Jackie Pilossoph, Creator and Editor-in-chief, Divorced Girl Smiling site, podcast and app, Love Essentially columnist and author

There are many heartbreaks that happen during a divorce. The first heartbreak occurs during that gut-wrenching moment you know you are getting divorced: either you both realize the best option for you as a couple is to split, or your ex blindsides you with a conversation that starts with, “Honey, we need to talk,” and then tells you he/she wants a divorce, or you’re the one who knows you need to leave. But there’s another major heartbreak that I hear so often from divorced people: “My ex moved on immediately; 3 seconds after getting separated, in fact.”


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Women do it too, but I cannot count the number of calls and emails I get from women, where the conversation starts out, “You are not going to believe this…” Through tears, they tell me the story of how “My ex moved on immediately…” they just found out that the person they split up with 2 weeks ago is already seeing someone, or that someone they know called and told them they saw the ex’s profile on a dating site. Or the worst one, the ex is already in a serious relationship.


It doesn’t matter who left who, finding out “my ex moved on immediately” (or even worse, in a serious relationship) hurts like hell. It happened to me, and 11 years later, I still vividly remember the raw pain I felt and the burning anger and feeling of injustice I felt when I found out my ex had a girlfriend. It still upsets me to think about, only because I thought she was my friend. But the thing is, he wasn’t cheating, he wasn’t lying, and he wasn’t doing anything wrong. We had decided to get divorced. Still, it killed me.


Why? Why? You might thinking. Why did it kill you if you were already getting divorced? Ask any woman and she will say, “It just does.” I guess it’s because you can’t believe that your ex can move on that quickly, and the reality of the divorce hits home. You are really doing this. It also feels unfair—like why does he get to be happy and enjoy a new relationship, while I’m sitting home bawling every night? There is so much anger and resentment, mixed with sentimental feelings of the old days, when the two of you were happy and in love.


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So, why do some people rush into a relationship or to dating when their separation is still so raw? I can think of a few reasons:


1. They are lonely.

Usually when two people separate, they have been unhappy and disconnected for quite awhile, so they feel like they’ve been alone for a long time. When they get separated, it’s like getting a license that allows them to either have sex with someone else, or even just enjoy the company of another woman. Loneliness is a terribly painful emotion, so in that respect, I do understand a man (or woman’s) need to start dating.


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2. They want to validate that they still have sex appeal.

Do I still have it? That’s the question I think men want to know. Does my equipment still work? Am I attractive to other women? Can I still turn heads? Am I desirable to women and to what kinds of women and what age? To get this validation, they seek out other women.


3. They’re angry and want to hurt their spouse.

There is a deep-seeded anger in some men that might drive them to date other women. The person might even be doing it on a subconscious level, but they are so pissed that their wife wants a divorce, that the best way to get revenge is to show her that you will be just fine, that she is making a huge mistake and that she is going to regret splitting up your family.



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4. They want to numb their pain.

I am completely guilty of this one. Having fun with someone new, and having a physical relationship temporarily soothes or takes away the pain of what you are going through. It’s like any other Band-aid: drugs, alcohol, etc. any quick fix to take away the stress and the pain of all the crap you are dealing with in your divorce.


5. They are in denial that any of this is their fault.

This pertains to the guy who has zero self-awareness and plays the victim. His wife just left him and he has no idea why she wasn’t happy. He was a great husband, he wasn’t a drunk, he provided financially, and he wasn’t abusive. So, why did she leave? He can find no fault in himself. Therefore, SHE becomes the problem.


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Maybe she begged him to go to counseling and he refused. Maybe he didn’t listen to her when she tried to talk to him but he thinks she is just dramatic, a spoiled brat. Nothing is his fault. So, he is “moving on” with his life and is going to be with a woman who truly appreciates him. In other words, the problem isn’t him, it’s his soon to be ex wife.

In closing, whatever the reason is that so many men get a girlfriend 3 seconds after getting separated, it drives the ex-wife crazy. It is the biggest punch in the stomach you can give your soon to be ex. (Which again is one of the reasons some men do it.)

I’m not saying a woman is justified for feeling this way, and I’m not even saying a guy shouldn’t date when he is ready. I’m saying that this it is shocking and beyond hurtful to a newly separated wife to know her husband has chosen to sleep with another woman (or women plural.)

I think, generally speaking, that men and women grieve in very different ways. Women tend to take things more slowly and wait to get involved with other men after a divorce. (of course, there are many women out there who cheat and leave their husbands for another man, or who date immediately.) A lot of men use dating as a way to cope with the end of their marriage. Nothing is right or wrong and every situation is unique. But that’s my answer to a question I think countless women really want to know.

If your ex has moved in quickly and is in a relationship, I know this sounds crazy, but don’t take it personally. It’s about HIS need to do that for whatever reason. I know it’s hurtful, it’s painful, it’s infuriating, it’s sad, and it might even make you regret the decision to divorce.

The best thing you can do is focus on YOU and how YOU are coping. How are you coping? Here are some healthy ways to cope: Get into a support group,  get into therapy, hire a divorce coach, get physical (whether that means yoga, exercise, meditation…), sign up for a class pertaining to a hobby or passion you have, READ (my daughter who has severe anxiety started reading novels a couple months ago and I have seen a drastic change in her anxiety level), stay social, eat healthy, I could go on and on, but the main thing is, take care of yourself and whenever your mind goes to that place of thinking of your ex with “her,” shift your thoughts back to you and YOUR life and YOUR kids.

It’s going to be fine, I promise!


Like this article? Check out, 9 Signs of a Healthy Romantic Relationship


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    Editor-in-chief: Jackie Pilossoph

    Divorced Girl Smiling is here to empower, connect and inspire you. Jackie Pilossoph is the creator and Editor-In-Chief of Divorced Girl Smiling, the site, the podcast and the app. A former television journalist and newspaper features reporter, Pilossoph is also the author of four novels and the writer of her weekly relationship column, Love Essentially. Pilossoph holds a Masters degree in journalism and lives in Chicago with her two teenagers. The author of the novels, Divorced Girl Smiling and Free Gift With Purchase, Pilossoph also writes the weekly dating and relationships advice column, “Love Essentially”, published in the Chicago Tribune Pioneer Press and the Chicago Tribune online. Additionally, she is a Huffington Post contributor. Pilossoph holds a Masters degree in journalism from Boston University.

    21 Responses to “My Ex Moved On Immediately: 3 Seconds After We Got Separated In Fact”

    1. Yvonne Abdul

      Thank you for writing this. My husband (currently going through the divorce) started dating someone new three weeks after moving out of the family home. We had been together for 26 years and have three children. I initiated the split so a lot of what you say makes sense as he didn’t accept that we were not working. He’s still with her a year later but I don’t get any sense of joy coming off him. His problem now though, not mine.

      • Jackie Pilossoph

        It seems she is his Band-aid. I hope he will seek therapy. Sounds like he needs it.

    2. Kelly

      after being married 28 years and miserable the last 10, I can understand the lonliness and wanting to be in the company of anyone who enjoys being with you. On the lonliness aspect- I totally get it. In my observations the person initiating the divorce is usually the person whose been ‘over it’ before they approached their spouse about the split. they’ve already wrestled with emotions of a split & are ready to move on by the time they approach you. Usually the person receiving the news has to process it & come to terms with what’s going on. It’s easier for the initiator to begin dating first- they were over the marriage long before they told you!

      • Gina

        You hot the nail on the head. My soon to be ex-husband was seeing someone else a few days after he told me he wanted a divorce and moved our of our family home. This was five months ago and they are now living together even though our divorce is nowhere near final. It comes as a shock to me as the person who didn’t want the divorce but I realized for him he may have been processing this for months prior to telling me which makes it easier for him to deal with.

    3. Byron

      Since we’re “generalizing,” I tend to see one of two things “sorted out” by a divorce: Those people who might be shaken, but are otherwise resilient, confident, and can find inner happiness, and … those who aren’t and can’t.

      It’s not a gender thing. I’ll agree that we all grieve differently, but I’ll go beyond that to say that we ALL grieve differently. Even women grieve differently than other women.

      I was fortunate to have been able to spend a year in therapy during my divorce. Highly recommended. He mapped the road I’d be on and warned me of the potholes (see 1-5 above). Yeah, it took some willpower to resist. But, I feel like I’ve weathered a pretty brutal emotional storm and come out pretty well now on the other side. I know myself a lot better than I did before. Life’s good.

      The only life we control is our own. If you’re watching your ex latch onto someone new right after you split, I think you have to wonder if they were emotionally present or attached to you in the first place? And if they weren’t, there’s not much you’re going to do to change that, and you deserved better anyway. Don’t dwell on their behavior, unless it’s for private amusement. I think my ex is on #5 in less than three years. I stayed away from dating for a full year, and #1 is still around two years later. Yes, life’s pretty good. I deserved better. It took a divorce to realize that.

      • Gina

        Since we’re “generalizing,” I tend to see one of two things “sorted out” by a divorce: Those people who might be shaken, but are otherwise resilient, confident, and can find inner happiness, and … those who aren’t and can’t.

        That statement is so true. My husband initiated our divorce after 9 years of marriage and coincidentally after we returned this year from Spring Break with our young sons. Three days after he moved out of our marital home I found out he was seeing someone and now five months later they live together(with her three children she was also married at the time they got together) I kept wondering how they could be ok with this but through therapy I figured out they are both searching for something and are broken and have temporarily found that in each other. Considering our divorce is nowhere near final I wouldn’t even consider “dating” right now but again my search is for peace and happiness not fulfillment from an individual. For the sake of our kids I wish him well.

      • Kristi

        Thank you for this Byron, the first thing my therapist said to me when I started to see her was that she could see that I am resilient.

        I always kinda felt it in my gut that my now-ex-husband may have always been cheating, again like you said, because I always felt like he really just wasn’t that emotionally present or just plain old in to me. I used to say to him that I loved him more. I finally came to the realization last night that it was easy for him to move on because he didn’t have anything to mourn. Losing me was or our marriage was no big deal to him because he was already done with me and was just waiting for me to leave so that, as he says, he can get on with his life.

        My question is how do I catch my breath again? When I found out I felt like I had been sucker punched in the gut and couldn’t catch my breath and I still can’t.

        • Mistymeeru

          Dear Kristi, Same here its looks like lm reading my own story.
          How are doing right now? lm still kind off angry and grieving at the same time. My ex husband cheated on me and he left me for the other woman.

    4. May

      I can relate the pain. I separated with my husband (only married for 2.5 years) for a week now, but he was cheating on me with paid sex and has been on dating websites for a 6-7 months before he moved out (that’s the reason for the separation). I went through the grief before we actually separated, it was tough. I cried so much. Now knowing him already on dating apps doesn’t trigger any emotions to me anymore.

    5. Katie

      Agreed! My ex had a girlfriend quite quickly. Even though I initiated the separation and subsequent divorce, it still hurt more than anything I’ve ever experienced in my life. Every time they broke up for awhile he’d come back and say he wanted to try again with me. Each time I told him he had to be alone for awhile and show me he could be happy alone and by himself before we could try again. Each time he went back to her within days. It’s been 3 years and I recently started dating an old friend. Its healthy and I’m happy because I ran into this guy during a time when I was completely content to be alone and didn’t feel like I needed anyone. It makes for a great partnership where we are each responsible for our own happiness. I’d take the wait over the on and off relationship and internal loneliness that my ex has sentenced himself to any day!

    6. Amy

      23 years in a relationship. Married for the last 9. One child. I gave him permission to leave. He would have stayed unhappy, threatening to leave monthly for the rest of our lives if I didn’t. We were best friends, but grew comfortable. So comfortable that we were both unhappy (sexless). Nothing we did fixed it. Nothing… motivated us to show affection for eachother.

      He moved out at the beginning of the summer & it was very noneventful. We still talked on the phone, shared time with our son, still had dinners together once a week as family. We even went to Magic Mountain together last month & took our son out trick or treating. Besides not living together, it was almost like nothing had changed.

      Until I realized it was just me who felt that way. Through a series of events that he didn’t plan on happening (breaking his arm- another long story), I found out he had a girlfriend. For weeks now! In fact, he is taking her to another state to visit his family. Guess it is serious.

      My anger lies in that I was easily fooled. He has always come off as the nice guy. He is the one who will omit information or white lie to avoid hurting you. He did this perfectly for months. I shouldn’t feel betrayed. I let him go. I am actually okay with my decision. But the realization that he has actually moved on is devastating. It made it real. It closed that tiny window of hope that things could have changed. It is now “over over”. It hurts. Very badly.

    7. Caroline Bavey

      Hi there,
      I was married for 25 years. He had betrayed me before and I always stayed. January Last year I decided it had to stop and we separated. I felt sick and sad and scared. For the whole of last year every time he came back to the house he would cry and make me feel really bad and that I was breaking him to the point of total darkness. I have suffered all year with my decision wondering was I right in doing so etc etc. However in the New Year I found out that within 2 weeks he had moved on with the person I thought he was up to no good with and she willingly accepted knowing he was married as at first she didn’t know about the separation however claims now she isn’t at fault and it wasn’t her fault. Prior to Christmas they had planned on coming out publicly and moving on with their lives, but still at Christmas he came home to spend Christmas as a family and begged me to take him back, at that point I was contemplating doing so, Christmas was amazing he said he would call their relationship off, and he did. To try for us to reconcile. After finding out everything else recently and I told him it won’t work between us, within an hour he was back to the girlfriend asking her to take him back, that he had made a mistake and it was her he loved and wanted. She rebuked him and he came back to me????
      Why though do I still feel a pang to forgive him and take him back? I’m terrified of the future and I also live in Rural Scotland with 2 kids it’s highly unlikely I get to move on as easy as him moving away. However I don’t think I’m emotionally stable to move on and I agree with others above, that I need to learn to love me and find me. It isn’t easy, though it broke my heart when I found everything out and I feel I am back to square one. I didn’t end my marriage because I had moved on or didn’t love him. I ended it because i was beginning to resent him and what he was doing and I didn’t want to be that bitter married woman making their husbands life a living hell. I thought I could wait and hold out for the children’s sake but I was so unhappy and all the trust had gone. I feel for anyone that is going through this. I will not hate the father of my children but I do find it difficult to be near him. A year on and I feel like it has just happened all over again!

    8. Steph

      Mine found a gf on a dating site about 2 weeks after we separated after 25 years. He’s an alcoholic who does not believe he has a problem. We have split up twice before (all three times with a restraining order). He wasn’t contributing emotionally, physically or financially. He had no relationship with our kids. I had his phone line turned off and he uses her phone to contact our adult kids because he hasn’t any money (apparently) to get his own phone line. I’m actually heartbroken over it and cannot get these images and f them out of my brain or the thoughts of him giving her everything I asked, waited and begged for all these years. It’s gut wrenching.

    9. Katy

      April 11, 2020 at 2:52 pm
      I had a mental breakdown left my husband of 23 years, told him I needed time to fix me but filed for legal separation. He was devastated within 1 1/2 months he joined tinder for a hookup found a girl and slept with her 2 week broke off she wanted more . Then she came back said ok I get it saw her again for a couple weeks. I knew he was seeing someone was ok with it……. now we are back together and I feel betrayed I feel I need details he refuses to give… he says I did nothing wrong and he’s right he didn’t however I still feel cheated on and he won’t even say he would be with me had I went with another man….. how can I make him see how desperately I need this to move on…the truth cannot be near what my imagination is doing to me anxiety and bouts of depression he still won’t tell me…

      • jimmy

        Ok, so you had a mental breakdown, left your husband, and filed paperwork.
        What did you think would happen?

        You basically abandoned him on all levels with the only explanation of “I need to fix me” and I don’t want your help. That’s pretty devastating bomb to drop on someone.

        Did you even think about what might happen to your marriage when you walked away?

        Who was going to fix him after you dropped that bomb on him?

        How much of a catch he might be for other woman?

        You can’t expect someone else to put their life on hold until you can figure out if you still want to be married. That’s something you should’ve did before you left. It’s selfish and inconsiderate.

        Stop bemoaning the fact things didn’t go as you planned and that other women still find him attractive. It makes you look weak and petty.

        Focus on the fact he came back to be with you.

        Keep in mind, you betrayed his trust. Not the other way around. Show some accountability for yourself instead of trying to valid your feelings as facts.

    10. Ali

      The most obvious is missing – #1 reason is that they checked out of the marriage LONG ago & are simply ready to move on. The last 2 years of my marriage my Ex became emotionally unavailable & completely detached from me, then moved onn to someone else.

    11. lydia

      My husband and I recently separated. We’ve been married for six years and it has been an abusive marriage of sorts. I wanted to resolve the issue myself so that I can be a great mother and wife to the family, but I feel it’s a waste of time trying to fix my marriage because. broken down and emotionally depressed I wanted peace so i can focus on my children. I feels it is unfair for me trying to fix it alone putting all my effort I was confused.

    12. Dor

      I think the ex who moves on quick definitely wants to prove to himself that he can find someone
      He is insecure
      I don’t think they are lonely, there wasn’t enough time to be lonely
      Maybe the ex is needy
      Moving in too quickly with someone can be damaging
      You don’t really know someone even in a couple of years
      Take ur time finding the right person

    13. Pat

      I read this article a while back when I was actually going thru this exact same thing. After 17 years and 2 kids together, he moved on a month after we seperated. He became a completely different person overnight. I was the one to stay behind to clean up the mess. She ended up being his rebound and it only lasted just a few short months. This person did cause a lot of damage though. There was another article here that talked about why people move on quickly and I remember it helped me better understand why it happened even though this was something I personally never could do myself. It was to fill the void of us ending and running away from his problems, it was just simply his way of dealing with things. To this day he hasn’t been able to keep a relationship. I can say I am fully healed and have found the love of my life, when at the time, I never thought this would happen to me or that anyone would want me. Its scary at first and I know its cliche but do your best to focus on yourself, it takes a very long time. I now go to the gym, spend time with friends, travel and get to focus on myself more then I would have ever done had I stayed with him, I was set free and I have no regrets now. Years ago I would have never felt this way, so trust me I know the pain you all feel. Its like mourning a death. It takes time. My kids and I went to therapy and that helped tremendously. Don’t stew in your anger, it eats away at you it consumes you while they move on with their lives not caring about you, so ask yourself, why bother wasting any more time over this person? Please take the time to heal, hurt people-hurt people.


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