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What are red flags in dating a divorced man?

Dating a divorced man can come with unique challenges. While every relationship is different, there are some common red flags to look out for when getting involved with a man who has been previously married. Being aware of potential issues can help you proceed mindfully and avoid heartache. Here are some key things to keep in mind if you are dating a divorced man.

He talks badly about his ex

It’s understandable for a divorced man to have complicated feelings about his ex-wife. However, he should not be constantly trashing her or making overly negative comments. This is a red flag for several reasons:

  • It shows he may have lingering anger or resentment towards his ex that he hasn’t fully worked through.
  • He is unlikely to take responsibility for issues that may have contributed to the divorce.
  • You may worry he will talk negatively about you too if you break up.

Occasional venting is normal, but frequent bitterness is a warning sign. It also does not reflect well on his character or ability to sustain a healthy relationship.

He pushes intimacy too fast

Some divorced men jump into new relationships very quickly. They may press you to move in, get engaged, or meet his kids after only a few weeks or months of dating. This can be motivated by:

  • Loneliness – they miss having a live-in partner.
  • Needing help with childcare or other domestic duties.
  • Wanting to prove they can still attract a serious relationship.

Regardless of the reasons, moving too fast is risky. It’s important to let a relationship progress at its own pace, rather than being pushed into commitments prematurely.

He has a complicated relationship with his ex

It’s common for divorced co-parents to still have contact regarding the kids. However, clear boundaries need to be maintained. Watch out for signs like:

  • Frequent non-essential communication with the ex.
  • Seemingly intimate knowledge of her life and emotional state.
  • Inside jokes, pet names, or overly familiar ways of referring to her.
  • Being defensive or secretive about contact with the ex.

These behaviors can indicate he still has an emotional attachment to his ex. That turmoil can spill over into your relationship and prevent him from fully investing in you.

He has unrealistic relationship expectations

Some divorced men have an idealized notion of relationships based on nostalgia, romantic comedies, or comparisons to their previous marriage. They may expect you to:

  • Fulfill all their emotional and physical needs.
  • Never argue, disagree, or upset them.
  • Adapt to their schedule and always be available.
  • Take care of domestic tasks and organizing social activities.

These excessive demands can be draining over time. It’s healthier when both partners have realistic expectations and accept each other’s imperfections.

He shows controlling or possessive behaviors

In some cases, a divorced man may struggle with abandonment issues or insecurities. Watch for signs like:

  • Needing constant check-ins and reassurance about your feelings.
  • Wanting to control your appearance, social life, or work schedule.
  • Isolating you from family and friends.
  • Extreme jealousy and accusations of flirting or cheating.
  • Invading your privacy by checking phone, accounts, etc.

These types of controlling behaviors are very unhealthy. They often get worse over time and can be early signs of emotional abuse.

He resists commitment

If a divorced man sends mixed signals about closeness and commitment, proceed cautiously. Signs may include:

  • Only introducing you as a “friend” even after months of dating.
  • Avoiding discussions about exclusivity or defining the relationship.
  • Saying he is not ready for another marriage.
  • Dragging feet on long-term planning.
  • Flirting with other women or keeping an active dating profile.

He may simply need more time before fully committing again. However, these behaviors can also indicate underlying hesitancy or inability to be intimate and vulnerable in a relationship.

He seems largely unchanged from his marriage and divorce

For a marriage to deteriorate to the point of divorce, it’s likely there were some dysfunctional relationship patterns. True change requires self-reflection and personal growth. Watch for signs your partner hasn’t done that work, such as:

  • Blaming the divorce entirely on his ex, rather than looking inward.
  • Not seeking counseling or showing insight into bad habits.
  • Saying his marriage failed because he married too young.
  • Repeating the same complaints about his ex that he made while married.

Without meaningful personal growth, he is at risk of falling into similar negative patterns. Proceed slowly until you see clear signs of change.

He has unresolved emotional issues

Divorce can be extremely emotionally difficult for men. Signs he still has emotional work to do include:

  • Anger
  • Bitterness
  • Moodiness
  • Sadness about his previous family life
  • Feeling like a failure

You should not attempt to be his therapist and “fix” these issues. He needs to process the divorce at his own pace. Jumping into a relationship prematurely often backfires. Be supportive, but don’t tolerate mistreatment because of his emotional baggage.

He has complicated family dynamics

Dating a divorced man often means you need to interact with his ex and kids. Be cautious of challenges like:

  • High conflict with his ex over custody.
  • Kids who are disciplinary problems or resistant to you.
  • Ex wanting information about your relationship.
  • Navigating tricky holiday schedules and family gatherings.

Step-parenting can be complex terrain. Think carefully about whether you are ready for potential complications.

He focuses on past relationship failures

Dwelling on past relationships can be a red flag. Signs of this include:

  • Frequently comparing you to his ex.
  • idealizing past relationships.
  • Talking about his ex all the time.
  • Making comments like “My ex-wife used to do things this way.”

This fixation stalls him from fully investing in your relationship. It also rarely leads to satisfying intimacy. He needs to live in the present, not the past.


Dating a divorced man can work out beautifully. However, to avoid heartbreak, be cautious of these common red flags when getting involved with a man who has been previously married. With open communication, emotional maturity, and clearly defined boundaries, a relationship with a divorced man can absolutely thrive.