Why He Has A Girlfriend 3 Seconds After Getting Separated

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By Jackie Pilossoph, Editor-in-chief, Divorced Girl Smiling, 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. Another major heartbreak happens shortly (extremely shortly, in many cases) after a couple decides that getting separated is really happening. I feel like I  hear this so often from women going through a divorce: 3 seconds after getting separated, her ex is either dating someone new, or she finds out he is on a dating app.

 

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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 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 your ex is seeing someone (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.

 

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 the bitch leave? He can find no fault in himself. 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.

 

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 hate to generalize, but I will anyway. I think 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.

Like this article? Check out, “A Question That Baffles Me When A Spouse Leaves”

 

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The Center for Divorce Recovery

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Jackie Pilossoph

Editor-in-chief: Jackie Pilossoph

Divorce is a journey. Live it with grace, courage and gratitude. Peace and joy are on the way! Jackie Pilossoph is the creator and Editor-In-Chief of Divorced Girl Smiling. 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.

8 Responses to “Why He Has A Girlfriend 3 Seconds After Getting Separated”

  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.

    Reply
    • Jackie Pilossoph

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

      Reply
  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!

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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!

    Reply

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