If you’ve just begun dating a divorced man, you may soon realize that the “regular” dating rules don’t always apply. Whether it’s due to encounters with his ex, issues concerning his children or heavier-than-average baggage, dating a divorced man can be especially challenging. For tips on how to enjoy a fulfilling relationship with a divorced man, heed the advice of Dr. Christie Hartman, author of Dating the Divorced Man: Sort Through the Baggage to Decide if He’s Right for You.

Q: In which ways is dating a divorced man different than dating a man who has never been married?

A: Divorced men have more baggage than never-married men. And while baggage doesn’t have to be a negative thing, it does create more challenges that you will need to be prepared for.
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Q: Tell us about the specific challenges…

A: Well, first and foremost, all divorced men have an ex-wife. Because marriage is such a serious commitment, ex-wives tend to have more power than ex-girlfriends, even after the marriage ends. If they had kids together, she will always be in the picture, feel protective toward her kids, and feel she has certain privileges with him due to having had his children. What’s more, women without kids may be surprised by the amount of time and care that children require, which will influence the freedom the couple has. Lastly, divorce can be financially devastating. On top of the actual divorce costs and having to split up all the family assets, divorced men may have child support or alimony obligations. These factors will influence his future—and his future with you.

Q: When dating a divorced man, is there anything in particular that women should be wary of?

A: Women should definitely be on the lookout for a guy who’s not yet over his marriage. He’ll talk excessively about the marriage, ex-wife, or divorce, frequently praise or badmouth his ex, and spend more time with the ex than is necessary for children or polite friendship. It’s OK if he displays these signs once in a while, but they should not occur frequently.

Q: In your opinion, are most divorced men looking for another long-term relationship?

A: Some divorced men, especially if the divorce is recent, may be more interested in having fun than in having a relationship. Unfortunately, they may not be aware of this, or if they are, they may not share it with you. Usually after being single for a couple of years, the issues surrounding a man’s divorce — and his grief about it — will resolve itself.

Q: When it comes to dating divorced men, are there definite don’ts?

A: Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Find out if his divorce is final, when he separated, if he has children, why his marriage ended, etc. Also, don’t give too much too soon. Divorced men, especially if still divorcing or recently divorced, can be needy. Never give more than you are getting.

Click here to read the other side of the story, “How to Date a Divorced Woman.” Chelsea Kaplan’s blog, “I’m Somebody’s Mother?” can be found at www.chelseakaplan.com.