What makes a man want to get married? In my decade-long dating after divorce journey, I met, talked with, dated, became friends with, and got into relationships with dozens of divorced men, so I feel like I know the divorced man pretty darn well.
Before I generalize and tell you who the divorced man is, I want to note that I think every divorced man and every divorce situation is unique, so not every divorced man has these characteristics. But, here is my take on most of the divorced men I met along my dating after divorce journey:
The divorced man is a wounded soul who in many ways is having a harder time than his spouse with the divorce, though it may not appear that way. The divorced man needs sex. Badly. He desperately craves the validation that he is still attractive to women.
The divorced man wants a girlfriend, yet he doesn’t want to be smothered. He wants someone who is trustworthy, loyal, and all-in. Then again, he doesn’t want to feel obligated to commit. Mostly, the divorced man just wants to be with someone who gives a shit about him, unlike his ex-wife. In a nutshell, the divorced man is a guy who went from contented husband to soon-to-be-ex-husband and dating app addict, grasping to soothe his loneliness and find happiness in post-divorce love, even if he has no idea what that means and is all over the board.
Some divorced men want to get married again, some even want that really quickly. Others play the field for a long time, and some divorced men become serial daters and have several long-term relationships that never result in marriage.
So, what if you are dating a divorced man and you desperately want to marry him, but he’s not quite there? That can feel frustrating and disappointing, and sometimes there’s nothing you can do. You may be asking, why do some men just never want to get married again?
Possible reasons that have nothing to do with you can include:
3. The fact that he doesn’t want stepchildren.
4. He wants a certain single-guy lifestyle.
5. Fear of true commitment.
6. Trauma from being so hurt in the divorce.
While you can’t control many reasons a man might not want to get married, here are a few things that might make a man more receptive to the idea.
What makes a man want to get married?
1. When his girlfriend doesn’t talk about the future.
“Where is this going?” “What are we doing?” “Do you think I’m the one?” No divorced guy wants to be asked these questions. He has no clue as to what the answers are. He just knows he just got divorced and can only handle the present for right now. So, women who enjoy the relationship for today and talk only in present terms are the ones who end up getting the guy to commit to marriage. Men who feel like they can breathe and get to the future are more likely to want to get married.
2. When he has space.
A divorced guy recently got out of a long term relationship (his marriage.) He doesn’t need a girlfriend that he has to call every two minutes, or that he feels obligated to go out with every Saturday night. He might want to spend time with some of his guy friends, or even more so, his children.
3. When he’s having fun.
Chances are, the last few months (or years) of his marriage weren’t fun. He probably can’t remember the last time he had a good time. He might enjoy going to cool restaurants, an interesting museum, a concert, or on a fun trip.He needs to feel like the relationship is refreshing.
4. When he’s not being nagged.
Excessive nagging leads to getting dumped. Fast. No divorced man wants to marry a woman who is constantly telling him what he can and can’t do, badgering him about the things he does wrong and the bad habits he has. A guy who feels accepted is more likely to want to tie the knot.
5. When he’s shown affection.
With divorced guys, there’s a fine line when it comes to how much affection they want to be shown. Divorced men want to be adored. They want cheek kisses and hand holding and hugs and an arm around them at times. They’ve most likely had a lack of those things for awhile. On the other hand, they don’t want to be smothered. They don’t want a woman plopping herself down on his lap and making out at the dinner table at a fancy restaurant. Somewhere in between platonic-like touching and mauling makes a divorced guy happy and committal.
6. When there are no games.
Divorced men aren’t into games. They want to know if a woman likes them. If he calls his girlfriend, he wants her to call right back. If he texts, he wants a text right back. He doesn’t want the games. I don’t believe divorced guys get scared as much as they did before marriage. They like commitment. On the other hand, if the woman starts calling him her soul mate, starts texting him every five seconds, and talks about the details of their future wedding, he will most likely run.
7. When he doesn’t feel pressure to spend time with your kids.
He’s trying to spend time with his own kids, who he sees so much less than he did when he was married. Why should he feel pressured to be with his new girlfriend’s kids? It’s not personal.
8. When he is treated with kindness.
Chances are, when the guy was married, his wife wasn’t very nice to him. I’m not faulting her, by the way. Whatever the situation was, at the end of the marriage, she was most likely anything but sugary sweet. So, divorced guys need sweet. They like nice, thoughtful gestures; a card, a homemade dinner, a little gift. Thoughtful gestures make people feel important, respected, adored, and loved.
9. When his partner is focused on her career and/or other hobbies and passions.
There is nothing sexier to a man than a woman who loves her career, who has a passion for her work, and who goes to her job everyday with enthusiasm. It takes the pressure off of the relationship, because he knows the woman has a life outside of him. It also fosters respect and admiration.
In closing, let’s be honest. I wouldn’t ever want to have to be the one to beg my boyfriend to marry me. He has to want to do it. Badly. He has to be the one who truly wants the commitment. I know I sound old fashioned, and you might not want to hear that, but if your divorced man isn’t dying to marry you, I would decide to either: break up (if marriage is truly what you want) or accept the relationship you have. There is no wrong or right answer, but remember that you deserve to be truly happy and not settle for a situation that isn’t really what you want.
Like this post? Check out, “9 Signs of a Healthy Romantic Relationship”
All 9 are behaviors which are good for the divorced woman practicing them. All will make us feel better. All ought to be done just to do them.
Cool, Jackie, thanks.
(If I ever meet a guy I like, I’ll practice them; in the meantime, I’ll practice them for me. Even affectionate platonic physicality can be practiced with loved ones who aren’t a potential partner.)
This doesn’t work with men who already have children and grandchildren an I don’t have kids I never came first with him when I was around his family
BRILLIANT! So knowing and insightful … each one made me go “Wow! … you read my mind and just nailed it!” Bravo! – A divorced man in Chicago
Took the comment right out of my keyboard… She nailed it. I’d love to put together a similar list from the male perspective… How to get your divorced girlfriend to fall in love with you!
Great article Jackie. I dream of meeting a woman who knows this. Thank you for writing.
How can I make a 3 months divorce man love me back? I really love him but he is having a had time forgetting his ex wife.
Wow – you absolutely NAILED it. Thank you.
Hi great article
Lots of insight
The newly separated guy I’m with has arranged to see me on Thursday but it was 5 days ago I heard from him or a text.
Iwwnt camping with his kids the long weekend.
But still nothing today’s tuesdsy .
I text twice to ask how it went but still nothing
OMG I LUUUUV THIS….ITS SOOOO VERY HELPFUL!! Im so gld 2 kno Im doin thingz rght!! Thank u 4 the confirmation. 🙂
Avery useful post. I thnk it ll help most of the people who r in luv wid a divorcd guy like me 😉
Im in this right now with a guy I met in college 20 years ago. He moved back home because he had no reason to stay where he was and didn’t want a long distance relationship. I get he lives with parents, as do I for health reasons, he doesn’t have a car and just started his new job. I don’t mind driving since I work down there anyways. I feel like I’ve done everything right, ok safe. I’ve suggested date ideas, been relaxed and flexible, understanding his process etc… It seems like the more understanding I am, the more distant he grows. It’s been a month since I’ve seen him. He sent me a text ‘just checking up on you’. It’s getting frustrating. I need someone to be there for my crappy days too. Come on, we’re 40 years old. Enough with the mind games! I’m very fragile and it gets harder to rebuild after every failed relationship. What is a timeline for being patient. I’m not clinging, needy, naggy… I wait for him to text him- he’s not a phone guy, but either is our new society. He says he wants to take away the sadness in my eyes and make me forget every other man. He says he wants my full submission, but when I allow myself to be vulnerable, he disappears. I want a face to face conversation about how his silence is misleading and hurtful. It’s a delicate balance. If I call him out am I pressuring? If I wait and see am I saying it’s ok to treat me like I’m invisible? I don’t want to lose our friendship, but I don’t want to be a rebound either. I am trying to ‘listen’ to his actions and not put too much into his words. I’m at a loss right now. I think he is wonderful, just in a bad place right now. His distance is causing my walls to go back up and making me grow distant. I’m losing trust in him. Ugh!!!!
This was a really great article. I’ve been divorced for a year and back in the dating pool and you hit home on some things I’ve been wondering. The affection limit was genius. And space to breathe especially surrounding the kids.
Great article Jackie! By following your advice in this article, and Evan Marc Katz’s blog, I have landed an absolute honey of a man. He is 7 months out of a 10 year relationship, and I am 7 months out of an 8.5 year relationship. We’re both a bit all over the shop but really like one another and we’re happy to take things slowly and see where we end up. Much like a divorced man, I need my space and am wounded/grieving to an extent but would like to feel loved.
Very happy for you both! Best wishes!
Wow, as a guy whose wife left out of the blue-infidelity (divorce pending) 7 months ago, I don’t think I could’ve summarized what I would like to experience when I get back into the dating/social scene again. I especially liked how you pointed out that the last few months or years of the relationship/marriage could’ve been really lacking in many ways for the guy as the wife/girlfriend withdraws. I experienced that big time. Also, if men turn this around and act similarly towards the recently divorced woman, I can’t imagine that she wouldn’t appreciate it as well. Thank you for publishing this article.
Thanks so much.am dating a divorced man and its as if u read my mind.thanks a bunch.am a nigerian
Thanks for writing/publishing. Wife of 11 years left in the summer, moved out of state to be with the guy she left me for, divorce finaled 2 months ago. I’ve been reading a lot over the past several months, this was the most resonant one for me personally that I’ve read yet. It was soothing to absorb, (you know what, I do need that) and a relieving to know it’s been made available for partners to learn. Thank you Jackie.
I’ve been intentionally not dating while doing the emotional work in front of me, to both protect myself, and others from my neediness. It’s helpful that you named these things like, being treated with kindness. Under no circumstances would I ever ask that of another person, so thank you for explaining it sans blame.
You sound like you are on a great path–getting emotional support and help before diving into a relationship. Wonderful. When you are ready, it will happen and it will be so much better because you will be so much better equipped. xoxo
I do think this article is great for a recently divorced man or woman for that matter. I am looking for something for those who aren’t so fresh out of the marriage. Seems to be many articles for women in their 20s-30s not so many for those in their 40s with divorce in their background. How long does it take for the previous wounds to heal with them and to move on with life. And when is it time to look for something else because like the movie, somethings got to give?
I’m dating a divorced Dad for the first time, I’m 39 and never married. He’s great and I really like him, but don’t want to mess this up. This article was great, gives me good tips.
Awww, try to focus more on the fact that he is lucky to have you and HE better not mess this up! yes, you need to be understanding of his situation, but you still deserve to be treated wonderfully, and he has to understand that you have never been married or had kids, so if you want a big wedding, etc., babies, I hope he gives that to you. You shouldn’t have to miss out on anything.
Woah!!I love this, am dating a divorced man, I Will follow every point of yours, thanks for this.
Those are good tips, but only if the lady’s personality fits. Otherwise you are advising being fake until he’s trapped and then the ugly comes out.
I would never tell someone to fake it. If it’s too hard for someone to follow this advice, then the person should get out of the relationship. My whole point is that some women don’t realize their independence and how confident and empowered they can be. It is inside of all of us. The difference is, some women can’t find the courage or confidence and others do. Those are the ones who end up happiest in a relationship–when you don’t NEED the person, when you are fine with some distance (Not forever, just at the beginning.)
I’ve been friends with a divorce guy for a year. I was infatuated at first and got too emotionally involved. I have been telling him I want to just be friends. There is definitely some chemistry between us. He hasn’t dated yet. Should I put down my emotional wall and tell him how I feel or just see where things go? I don’t want to be his first girlfriend after his divorce.
Why not? I am curious as to why you don’t want to be “his first girlfriend after divorce.” What is holding you back about that? That you think you are his rebound? that he will want to date other people? that he isn’t over his divorce? I can understand all of these concerns, but remember that all of these things are possible in any relationship. In other words, there are always risks. I would give this guy a chance, but explain how you feel and see what he says. I know a lot of people who end up marrying the first person they dated after the divorce. Every situation is different.
To avoid the loneliness, and to be very caring, loving, and committed to just one woman. That is, if we can only find the one.