Ever wonder what goes through a woman’s mind when she finds out you’re divorced? If she’s interested in dating a divorced man? If you’ve ever read Malcolm Gladwell’s bestselling book, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, you’ll understand his take on the value of snap judgments. The book makes that argument that although our decisions are often skewed by our own judgments, experiences, and biases, when we trust our instincts on such matters, we are often as accurate, if not more than, were we to make the same decisions after poring through scads of data.

We Won’t Jump Into Dating a Divorced Man

When a woman considers dating a divorced man, trust that she is scanning you like a silent, non-claustrophobia-inducing MRI. Why? Because we’re looking for signs. Glitches in your matrix. Things we may not be able to put on a finger on but that, given our judgments, experiences, and biases, may scare us off from someone who may be a really good guy. Things that, if you’re aware of them and able to address them, may lead to a second date. And then a third.

While Encyclopædia Britannica refers to the fight or flight response in response to acute threats to survival, the lesson to be learned definitely carries over to dating life.  So for starters, let’s put fear in context.  Psychology Today describes fear as a “vital response to physical and emotional danger”.  Let’s take that definition and dial it back, way back. While dating a divorced man is not an immediate threat to our survival, we don’t want to get hurt either. And to us, not getting hurt in this case means protecting ourselves. Our hearts.

To that end, here’s a user-friendly guide to what we’re afraid of.

We’re Afraid You’re Not Over Her. 

We don’t want to date your ex.  We want to date… you. Just like The Ghost of Christmas past in Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”, traces of your ex may linger. There are several telltale signs we look for that indicate we are on a date with someone who is haunted by the ghost of his ex-wife. These signs may show up together, or they may appear independent of one another. While we each bring to the table experiences from past relationships, we don’t want to feel her presence in the room. One of the first signs that tell us you’re not over your ex is flamingly obvious.  You can’t stop talking about her. 

“These are the shadows of things that have been. That they are what they are, do not blame me!” The Ghost of Christmas Past to Ebenezer Scrooge. 

If we took our time to come out on a date with you, that means we came to see, hear and learn about you. Not her. There may be times to pour your heart out over what happened. But 99 times out of 100, a first date won’t be one of them. Especially not if you want a second. If this makes you feel like you can’t trust yourself not to rage against the machine, opt for a preemptive strike. Don’t bring her up.

Trust that If we want to know, we’ll ask. First dates are light. Casual. And totally not the Spanish Inquisition. So even if we ask, keep you answers short and sweet. Especially if you have nothing kind to say about her. You’ll have more time to share on subsequent dates and know that even if it’s difficult to discuss your divorce now, it grows easier with time. So allow for that, and opt for the ‘less is more’ approach on first dates.

If the subject of exes is such a potential landmine on a date, why would we bring it up in the first place? Well, we may not.  But if we do, take it as a good sign that we’re interested and are asking because we are considering seeing you again. We’re looking to see how entwined your life is with hers.

What your words don’t tell us, your body language will. Joe Navarro, author, speaker and recognized expert on body language interpretation posits that up to 80% of our communication is nonverbal. And while, unlike Joe, we’re not catching spies for the FBI, we as women know what we know. Whether or not we’re savvy enough to articulate what tips us off, we’re still taking you in. Does your jaw tighten? Does your fist clench? Are you weeping in your PBR at the mention of her name? The more you talk about her and the more passionately, emphatically or angrily you do, the more clearly she comes into focus. We asked for a table for two. Not three.

We’re Afraid We Might Be the Rebound Girl

If we ask about your divorce, we want to know how comfortably you’re able to talk about it.  And we’re also listening to see how new you are. New to the divorced life. New to dating again. Why? Because we’re gauging for distance from the event itself, and we want to know if we’re your first.

Put yourself in our shoes for just a moment to understand this one. The shorter the distance, timewise, from your divorce being final, along with the number of dates you’ve had since, is a point of interest.  Why?  Because dating a divorced man, especially a newly divorced man, runs the risk of us being the rebound girl.

This concern is amplified for us especially if your ex initiated the divorce. And while plenty of people have found happiness with the first person they met after a divorce, the fear of being the rebound still exists.  Which is to say, no woman wants to be the one you turn to when you feel like an emotional basket case to only be left in the dust the moment you feel better about yourself.

And, so what if you were dumped? That’s not the end of the world either, or cause for us to ask for the check. If we think you were dumped, we’ll simply look for signs to see how well you’ve dealt with it. We want to know you’re dating us for us, not to fill some void she left.

We’re Afraid You Don’t Know Why I’m Telling You This

As women, the judgments and fears we bring to a date are not without merit. Neither are the fears and insecurities you bring as a newly divorced man. Quite frankly, they’re the filters through which we perceive one another, at first. My hope is that neither men nor women come together on the first, second or any date pretending to be someone we’re not. Until we trust one another enough to know otherwise, what we have is right in front of us.

While we will follow our instincts and make snap judgments, it comes from a natural place of self-preservation. So, if you still feel the sting of your ex, or her ghost in the room, and that has deterred you from dating, now may be the time. Understand that you won’t feel the same level of intensity in three or six or even nine months. I’m pointing out these factors so that you’re aware.  And can be the person you will be in three months, today.


Have you been turned down by a gal afraid of dating a divorced man? Tell us your experience in the comments below.


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(c) Can Stock Photo / photography33

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