Recently Separated Man Responds

divorce anger

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

Divorced Girl smiling recently received the comment below from my post, “Inside the Mind of a recently separated 40 something woman.” The comment was from a recently separated man who wanted to give me his perspective.

I really do make an attempt not to be gender biased, but since I am a woman, it isn’t always easy. That said, I have much compassion for all people going through a divorce, whether they are a man or woman. So, I’d like to respond to the recently separated man.

Here are his comments, with my responses in italics:


Here is a perspective from the opposite side: Inside the mind of a recently separated 40 something man.

1)    I was the sole provider for my family and while my soon-to-be ex (stbx) has plenty of education and plenty of employable skills she was practically unemployable for most of our marriage. As a result I had the higher salary and thus must pay ridiculous alimony to my over-educated, over-skilled but utterly unemployable stbx — to the tune of 35% of my salary FOR THE NEXT 10 YEARS!!!! Am I bitter about this? Yeah, wouldn’t you be?


Yes, if I were you, I would be bitter and pissed. BUT, I want to know. Do you have children? If so, did your wife and you choose for her to stay home with them? If so, do you realize how difficult it is for a 40 something woman who has been out of the work force for a long time to get back in? She could have a Harvard MBA, but if she hasn’t worked in a decade, good luck getting a job. Especially in this job market. I know from personal experience. I was an award winning pharmaceutical rep for 5 years, who blew away every quota possible. I tried to get my job back a few years ago and wasn’t even granted a second interview. Whether you have kids or not, here’s the thing. The two of you made the decision several years ago that she quit her job and stay home, right? So, give her a little bit of time to figure out what she is fit to do now. Trust me, it isn’t easy. That said, I’m sure there is a huge sting if she is the one who wanted the divorce. That’s where I have a big issue with the court system in this country. So, please understand that I do get how you can be bitter about this. BUT, at some point you have to let it go, suck it up and forget about it. Because, the bitterness and anger will only affect YOUR future and YOUR life. If you let it go, and realize you can’t control the fact that you have to pay her 35%, you will be a happier person.

2)    I was dumped by my stbx wife because she wasn’t haaaaapppy and told me to my face that I repulsed her, and that sex with me was a ‘chore’ for her for at least a year. Of course she never bothered to communicate any of this to me beyond vague and confusing ‘signals’. Needless to say my self esteem, self worth and self confidence was (and to a certain extent still is) about zero.


Ouch. That’s awful. It sounds mean and hurtful. But, did she try to talk to you about it? Did she ever suggest counseling? Maybe you weren’t paying attention to the signals well enough? The thing is, instead of focusing on her cruel comments to you, let yourself let it go. I think it is normal for any recently separated person to have low self esteem, self worth and self confidence. The good news is, it’s temporary. As you begin to embrace the future, make good, healthy choices, be the man you want to be and grab the life you want, your self esteem will start to return to where it was. This advice is for both men and women. The key is to focus on finding ways to get it back, instead of focusing on the fact that “your ex did this to you.” That mentality can only hurt you.

3)    I felt like a failure, a loser and less of a man for my failed marriage and questioned everything I ever thought was true about my life and my marriage. I began to wonder how long my stbx felt this way about me and wondered if any of it was real at all. Or had she despised me for years before her confession and just faked it. To this day I don’t know. I probably will never know and these doubts will haunt me for many years to come.

It sounds like the wounds of abandonment are still very raw. I’m really really sorry and would give you a big hug if I knew you. A couple thoughts: Ask her. Sit her down and ask her. Or, if that’s not an option, find a therapist to help you. I personally think therapy should be required for every person going through a divorce, even if for a short time.

4)    Despite what women say about the difficulties of dating during separation, after divorce or after 40 it is NOTHING compared to how difficult it is for a separated, 40 something man. Women will avoid separated or recently divorced men like the plague. It’s like I’m walking around a scarlet letter on my forehead warning women to ‘AVOID AT ALL COSTS!’.

As a divorced woman, I can say with authority that this is very much not true. Women don’t avoid recently separated men. Women avoid recently separated men who seem bitter and/or angry and who we can see clearly haven’t been able to move past the fact that their wife left them. They are completely still in the marriage. As I said before, therapy is very useful at this time. You can tell your therapist a million times that your ex is a bitch and that you hate her for what she did to you. You can’t tell that to a woman you are dating. You just can’t.

 And unlike the writer the chances of a cute woman coming up and hitting on me at a party are about as good as me winning the lottery. It ain’t going to happen.

With that attitude, you are correct. It will never happen. Please change your thinking.

I feel like I’m invisible to women now, and that I’m destined to be a celibate monk for the next year or so until the scarlet letter on my forehead begins to wear off.

You are the only person who can make your scarlet letter wear off. YOU have the power to do that! How? Only you know. You’re going to hate me for saying this, but stop feeling sorry for yourself. You’re NOT a victim. Yes, this crappy thing happened to you. But, are you healthy? Do you have beautiful kids? Do you have a roof over your head? If you do, you have everything!! The world is your oyster!!

 I’m waiting for my ‘spiritual awakening’ that changes everything for me and makes me feel better about myself and my life. Because right now it just SUCKS!

Yes, it does suck right now. But things will change. You have the power to change it. I am wishing you the strength to begin putting your past behind you and embracing a new life that could bring wonderful things, including a wonderful woman who will love you like you (and everyone else) deserves to be loved. Someone who won’t think sex is a chore, someone who wants to hold your hand, someone who cares about how your day went. Best wishes!

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Jackie Pilossoph

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.

3 Responses to “Recently Separated Man Responds”

  1. Elle Jay

    Thanks for posting this, Jackie. I started following your blog recently as I am in the process of a separation. I’ve really enjoyed your posts! It’s been helpful to see that there is life after the fact – and it can be a good one. 🙂

    To the recently separated man: I’m sorry you’re going through such a horrible situation. My ex has also accused me of pretending to be happy in our relationship and not speaking up when I had issues. He wasn’t altogether wrong. But there are always two sides to the story and your words here are very one-sided. It takes two people to end a relationship, even if it’s just one who makes the decision.

    You can’t change the fact that your relationship is over but you can still learn from it. I wholeheartedly agree with Jackie – counselling can really help you get to the core of the issues and understand your role in the demise of your relationship. It can be even better if your ex is willing to come with you, especially if you have children because they’re the ones who will truly suffer from the unresolved conflicts between you. Either way, the best thing you can do is to learn to let go of what you can’t control (ie: your ex) and focus on improving the things you can control (ie: yourself).

    You can choose to dwell on your past, fall into despair, and be a bitter and unhappy man for years to come. And if you expect a nice, positive, well-rounded woman to come and make everything better for you, you could be waiting forever. I have been spending a great deal of time dealing with my past so that I can become a better, stronger, happier person for the future. It’s not easy and I’ve been in some very dark places. But I can tell you that when the time comes for me to get back into the dating game, I will certainly be looking for a man who has done the same.

  2. Kay

    Well said, Elle Jay!! And Jackie, I want to say that your posts have really been spot-on. You put it all out there and I truly appreciate your courage!

    And if I may, I’d like to add my thoughts to this recently separated man…

    It’s all too new for you. It’s too raw and you are feeling every nerve ending, as you should right now. This does suck.

    It may sound trite by now, but please consider finding a counselor or trusted confidante to talk to – someone who won’t just “yes” you to death, but challenge you and help push you forward, with truth, not just a band-aid. You’re understandably not in a great place right now, and only you can take that first step out of it. It’s okay to need, and ask for, help. It’s okay to just say “This sucks and I hurt.” Period. Nothing else needs to be said.

    In your comments, you talk a lot about who would want you. I understand. Regardless of gender, we all feel that way coming out of a place of rejection and abandonment. But please realize you’re wounded and you need to give all you have TO YOURSELF. You don’t have anything to give to anyone right now. Take care of yourself first and then you’ll see how different things look when you come out of it.

    As a divorced woman who feels she’s ready to find someone again, do you want to know what is the topmost thing on my list? Not looks or money. But bravery. Courage. A man who rises to the challenge when life gets hard, instead of running away from it. A man who is brave enough to be vulnerable, who can open his heart fully in spite of the risk…a man who knows who he really is and has earned his stripes. (Note – some men who have all of this may not be a good fit for me, nor I for them. That just happens sometimes, and it’s okay)

    Don’t think down the road. It’s too far away for you. Think here and now, and find your way back to who you really are. You are so worth it.

  3. mgm531

    I just came across this post today and if I am not mistaken the author of the original comment is me. It certainly sounds like me and it is something I would have written. So, now a year later allow me to further expand and update.

    1) First and foremost we are still separated and not divorced yet because my stbx is still fighting to get every dime she can out of me. I’ve tried settling out of court at least 3 times, but she is still expecting me to pay her thousands of dollars a month in support. Money that I didn’t have before and still do not have today. She won’t budge and now two years on, I’m 10’s of thousands of dollars in debt and see no end

    2) Yes, we have one child, a daughter who is now 12. I never asked my then wife to stay home with our daughter because she wanted to go back to work and start her own career. So we put my daughter into daycare (which I paid for since, as I said before, stbx couldn’t hold a job to save her life). Further, when my stbx decided that she didn’t want to do what she was doing I was the one that paid for her education and/or training because I wanted her to be happy and for her to have a job she likes. But after the 3rd time of switching careers after thousands of dollars in training in education I said ENOUGH! I wasn’t going to pay for another one. In fact on of the biggest issues holding off the finalization of our divorce is she has decided that she doesn’t have to go back to work because she is going back to school full-time to get yet another worthless degree.

    3) I’m not as angry or bitter as I was before, but I am very frustrated with all the petty and immature things my stbx has done over the past 2 years to make an otherwise uncomplicated and straightforward divorce extremely complex and expensive. I did not want to litigate this, but she did and once one side decides to litigate YOU HAVE NO CHOICE but to fight back. Her lawyer through everything at us and I had no choice but to respond and defend myself. I HATE my stbx for being so childish and immature to force us both to waste 10’s of thousands of dollars on legal fees that otherwise could have been used to pay for our daughter’s college education. In fact the combined legal fees that both of us have paid could pay for two years at an Ivy League school.

    4) I’m frustrated that my stbx does petty things with custody that forces me to either respond legally or let it slide. We have no set schedule because her school schedule is all over the place. At least a couple of times a month she will tell me that my daughter doesn’t want to stay with me and she will keep her for a few days, a week or more — blatantly violating the court ordered 50/50 custody arrangement. Yes, I could fight it, but all it will do is cause more discord and stress on my daughter. Not to mention MORE legal fees. So I won’t and don’t fight it. My stbx knows I won’t and uses it against me.

    5) Yes, we tried marriage counselling — for all of two sessions. That was exactly the number my stbx would agree to. She didn’t want to do counseling — she wanted out of the marriage and there wasn’t anything that was going to change her mind. In fact it took all of two months after our date of separation for her to find a boyfriend. Which not only did she introduce to my daughter but spent time with his family WITH my daughter. While we were still technically married, mind you.

    6) Despite the fact that my stbx decided not continue marriage counseling, I did and in fact became a client of our marriage counselor. She has been extremely helpful and I still do see her on occasion. I am in total agreement that every person going through a divorce NEEDS to go to therapy.

    7) I still have had no luck in dating. Ironically enough I had much better luck to first few months after my initial separation that I have had in the two years since. I’ve been on, OkCupid, eHarmony and Chemistry (which is now owned by and have little luck. I would send out dozens of emails and get nothing. I changed my profile and pictures so many times I lost track. Finally after a year of chasing my tail I just gave up. It was just too emotionally draining to put so much effort into something to get so little in return. I decided I was going to take a break from dating until I get the divorce finalized. Little did I realize that it would take two years (and counting) to do it. In the meantime I’m staying very active and quite frankly don’t miss the dating.

    8) I still contend that it is much easier for a divorced or separated woman to find a date or sex than a divorced or separated man. I say this because most women are extremely cautious about who they date and/or become intimate with — rightly so. Most men JUST DON’T CARE! So you can see the imbalance. Despite all the gains of gender equality it’s still a world where men are the initiators and women are the receivers of romantic attention. I’m not bitter about this, not at all. What I am tired of reading is the same ‘divorced woman got her groove back’ story over and over again like its some easy thing to do. Trust me, it’s not. I’d like to get my ‘groove back’ someday, but I don’t even know where to begin to do it.

    In closing I will say that I am a much happier and less bitter person today than I was even just a year ago. I have my down days and fits of frustration of how ridiculous and stupid this whole divorce BS is. I still get angry at my stbx when I look at my enormous debt, the house that I lost (with all the equity that I paid vanished) and the years it will take me to get back on my feet again. But not as much as before. It has gotten better and will continue to do so. Just wish it hadn’t taken this long and cost this much in emotional stress.


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