5 Common Mistakes Men Make After Divorce
Adapting to life after divorce is hard for guys under the best of circumstances. But you can make it easier on yourself, your ex, and your children if you avoid some of the most common mistakes.
1. Dating Too Soon
Too many men seek out a new relationship before the dust has settled on their divorce, says psychologist Sam J. Buser, PhD, coauthor of The Guys-Only Guide to Getting Over Divorce. They rush into new relationships -- and often into new marriages -- within the first year.
"That's no doubt the biggest mistake," says Buser, who is based in Houston.
Buser says that men often jump into dating because they're lonely, vulnerable, and sad, and they're looking for someone to help them feel better.
"The relationships they start do not often work out in the long run," he says. "I advise my patients to wait at least two years. I've never had a man take me up on that advice, but I do try to slow them down."
He also advises men to date casually at first.
"Tell the woman you've just been through a tough divorce and that you're not ready for a committed relationship," he suggests. "Acknowledge that it is not the right time for that."
2. Isolating Yourself
After a divorce, it's easy for guys to let themselves become isolated, especially if the ex gets custody of the kids. That's another big mistake. It can worsen feelings of depression, guilt, and loneliness, a potentially dangerous mix. Divorced men are twice as likely to commit suicide as married men.
Divorced men are also more prone to alcohol problems, so be careful of starting down that road.
"You don't have to drink every day to have a problem," Buser says. "Drinking a six pack is a binge."
Buser's advice: Connect with other guys. Call up old friends, join a softball team, a club, or a professional association.
"Expand your social and professional network to avoid isolation."
He also says that the aftermath of a divorce is great time to go back to school. It keeps you active, stimulates your mind, potentially advances your career, and gets you out of the house.
3. Introducing Your New Partner to Your Kids Too Soon
You've met someone new. You're excited and happy. Good for you. Just don't make the mistake of expecting your kids to be upbeat about it.
"The last thing the kids want to see is parents getting involved with someone else," says Gordon E. Finley, PhD, a psychologist who specializes in issues facing divorced men and an emeritus professor of psychology at Florida International University in Miami. "They are going to be unhappy. Date when you feel ready, but leave the kids out of it."
Buser agrees. "Focus on the other adult when starting a relationship," he says. "She can meet the kids when you know you are serious."