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Separated But Not Divorced: Should You Date Men Who Are Still Married?

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Dating A Man Who Is Separated From His Wife Could Be Risky

By: Taren Vaughan

Marriages are supposed to be very sacred unions between two individuals that have an unconditional love for each other. Unfortunately, some married couples get to the point where they no longer desire to be together. Not being together can mean one of two things. Either the couple is officially divorced or they are separated from each other. Before they resort to getting a divorce, some people simply decide to separate from their spouses first. Many would argue that dating a man who is separated from their spouse is an acceptable thing to do. If a man does not live with his wife anymore, is it fine to claim him as your own?

Yes, you may be able to claim him as far as a relationship goes. But legally, he holds no true obligation to you. He is still obligated to his wife. And if something happens to him, who do you think will receive all of the financial benefits and personal belongings that are in his name? Not you of course. By law, his wife and possibly other family members would get everything. Girlfriends don’t have those kinds of privileges.

Your relationship with a separated but married man can be even more difficult to manage when there are children involved. If a man has kids with his wife, they will have to have some form of communication with each other for their children’s sake. Remember, they separated from their wife, not their children too. Take the time to really think about this for a moment. What if you just so happen to be dating a married but separated man who has absolutely no intentions of divorcing his wife? Where does that leave you? Will you forever be known as the girlfriend and nothing more? If you can handle a situation like this, my props go out to you.

Myself personally, I know it would be extremely hard for me to be with a man who I knew still had a wife. In the back of my mind, I would never feel like his number one. Dating a man that is separated from his wife just seems to be too risky. In any relationship, a woman runs the chance of becoming very emotionally attached which can sometimes lead to hurt feelings. But dating a man that is not yet divorced from his wife is potentially setting yourself up for a heart break and a boat load of drama. And no one, I mean NO ONE, is worth all that.

Despite the risks associated with dating married but separated men, there are plenty of women out there who do it. I am not knocking women who do this because there are situations like this that are indeed drama free. But you have to keep in mind that you are the girlfriend and not the wife. A spousal separation is not the same as an official divorce so don’t get it twisted. He could up and leave you one day and decide to try to make it work with his wife. On the flip side of things, he could decide to stay with you, play like Usher and finally sign those papers. But until he does this, sorry to break the bad news to you but he is legally someone else’s man.

25 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    May 12, 2011 at 4:39 am

    i am in the exact situation right now. my boyfriend (can i even call him that?) have been separated with his wife for 7 years now. he has also been away from his wife and kids for 10 years now as he needs to work overseas. he goes back and see his kids 2-3 times a year (thats what he told me). we've been going out for about 6 months now, and i would be lying to say that iv not developed any emotional feelings towards him. i have been divorced for 7 months now. he has been nothing but sweet to me. there were 3 instances where i basically wanted to runaway from this complicated situation but he kept coming back. im not so sure how to hanlde this. there are also other obstacles that im facing right now – he's only physically here for 2 years and needs to go back to his country, the different religion (which means he needs to convert in my country). but above all, we enjoyed each others company, and i have fallen for him. help.

  2. Anonymous

    June 13, 2011 at 6:21 pm

    I am in a similar situation. Correction. I WAS in a similar situation. With a man who I genuinely love and knew he was married but have been separated for over 23 years. They are now pushing to sign the papers to make it official but everytime that comes near the wife goes insane and manipulates him. They have a lot of assets together and dividing that is very difficult. He wants to be with me but the wife goes insane and manipulates him and makes him feel guilty. It's always up and down with him. Very difficult as we use to live together. I've had enough it hurts incredibly but I moved out quickly and ended it. It's the most difficult thing I have done but I have to think long term it's going to be better and I deserve better. Not going to settle. And just like the article said "And no one, I mean NO ONE, is worth all that."

  3. Anonymous

    November 20, 2011 at 5:28 pm

    I am too dating a seperated man who is still married but is living in a diffent country from his wife he said it has been over for years thats why he has moved away but still takes care of his kids he says he wants to marryme and i believe him but in the mean time i love him but i keep my options open and he knows that and that is the chance we both take

  4. Anonymous

    February 5, 2013 at 11:38 am

    The comments above are only partial truths. The other part is that getting a divorce with children or sums of property involved can take YEARS to run its way through the courts. This is the case for men as well as women. Should they all just hang it up for 2, 3 or more years and not be allowed to move on with their lives in a healthy and happy way? That is nuts.

    If someone is separated as a trial period, fine, but if they are separated and making their way through the actual divorce, I see little reason (unless other reasons are given/obvious), to assume they will get back together. Most do not.

    • Elsie

      February 25, 2013 at 7:43 am

      You are probably right, he will never go back but in the meanwhile it hurts going through the divorce with the separated person, handling their anger, listening to all the good memories that he had with his ex and their children and worst of all not being introduced to his family. I feel that I took him in unconditionally, introduced him to my parents, most importantly to my children even took him into my house, gave him a place to stay and making sure that he is ok. I have never been in love like this before, he swept me off my feet… It is challenging when both are not mentally on the same place.

      At this stage, I am feeling torn.

      • Kat

        February 9, 2014 at 10:50 pm

        I have to say I feel so similar to how you and many others feel on here. I have a difficult situation… I have been with my partner, who is now my fiance 4 years and he has been separated from his wife for over 10 years. HE is quite a bit older than me, and his daughter is the same age as me. She hates us being together, and his wife sometimes calls him to talk about their daughter or their home that he still pays the mortgage for… but I never feel included in this part of his life or with his daughter and I too am torn, not knowing what to do for the best. We are really happy in all aspects of life- day to day is fab but I wish he would hurry up and get divorced and also try to include me more with his daughter. Love is never straight forward!

      • Isabelle Dusk

        February 26, 2014 at 3:52 pm

        This is exactly where I am right now. I have been seing a man for about 8 months now. When we started dating, he was open and honest with me that he was still married but they were separated and on their way to a divorce. They have been separated since early 2013. I know now that I have fallen for him and this is becoming the point where we both need to be invested or it’s time to cut my losses and walk away.
        The soon-to-be (or not so soon?) ex wife knows that he is seeing me, but I’m not sure how much she really knows. I haven’t met his family yet, though he has met mine. I can’t fight feeling insecure that she’s going to manipulate her way back into the picture. I know that he loves me and wants to be with me. But, in our discussions he seems to be dragging his feet on going through with the divorce. He always seems to be placating her in some way to avoid drama and a fight.

        • katherine

          March 14, 2014 at 5:49 pm

          I was in that exact situation for almost one year, this man had moved to my city for work and left his wife and now 18 yr old son back in his other state….at first he made all kinds of promises to me, wanted to marry me, make my daughter and me his family, all the I love yous, I’ve been waiting my whole life for you.I’m done, this is it….and he said he was taking care of things, that he would get divorced last summer…summer 2013…none of that happened and they still had not told their 18 yr old son they are separated…i couldn’t take it, it was so hard for me even though he kept saying relax, be cool, i’m working on it, he wasn’t doing anything and then he ended up buying a house here in my city after dating me almost one year…and he got the wife to sign the mortgage since he couldn’t afford it on his own….it was a nightmare for me since I had never been with anyone still legally married, it is the worst…I wish I could rewind the clock and I had never gotten started with him, he ended up being such a liar and misleading me so much…he still has not even contacted a lawyer. Do not believe these guys unless you have proof they are really in the process of making it happen, not just talking about it.

    • Steve

      May 29, 2013 at 1:29 pm

      I see these comments and I’m amazed at the mentality ! I am in process of filing for a divorce ,but I was only out of the house for three weeks when this guy started staying at my house. My wife cheated on me after 20 years of marriage and despite the claim was made that she had cut ties with him, it’s all to obvious that the plan was still in motion. The bottom line is! The mentality that it’s ok to have a relationship with a married person is the mentality of a lower primate! If it means that much to have the other person in your life and you never took your vows seriously then at least take the proper steps by law to regain your freedom before you start acting like trash. I stayed with my wife that I still love dearly and unconditionally for ten months ,doing everything under the sun to make the marriage work! I was unsuccessful to say the least ! The conduct of a dog is unexcusable whether it be a man or a woman. Marriage is not a game and ADULTERY is not acceptable. There are multitudes of single people in the world ! Find one and leave married people alone. There’s no way to justify infidelity from either side of the wedding ring! For better or worse, in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, from this day forward , forsaking all others, till death do us part ! If the table was turned you wouldn’t be so liberal. Ill tell you,IT’S NO FUN !!!!!!!!

      • Mary

        May 29, 2013 at 1:58 pm

        Thank you Steve for your honesty. From what you said, it helped me understand why his “wife” hates me. Even though I thought that he was “single”, he never really will be until that divorce happens…if it ever happens? I am sorry for your pain, and how you truly tried to fix your marriage, and it appears she had something else in mind. I HATE being an adulterer, and you are correct when you said it is unexcusable. I was only widowed for 7 months when I met him, and I fought the relationship, but I believed him when he told me that he couldn’t afford a divorce, and didn’t want to hurt his girls. He told me that the marriage had been over for 10 years, and he stayed for his girls.

  5. angela gibbons

    February 21, 2013 at 5:57 pm

    i have been with man who has been separated for 11 years his wife lives in another province they are civil to one another for the sake of the kids who are not kids they are grown men and women and have their own lives we have been together 8 years and we have decided to move in together the wife on the other hand keeps in contact with him i’ve told him many times are you ever going to go back to her he says no he cares about her but he could never live with her and yet wifey still pulls strings by sending xmas cards and birthday cards i don’t know what to do they’ve split all their assets between them several years ago what should i do

    • sandy

      June 27, 2013 at 2:47 am

      I think its bologna to use money as an excuse.. its just that, an excuse. I didn’t have the money to divorce.. but I did it. Separation my fanny. Its a tie he’s too scared to break. Too many years… yet loves you?! Hmm… sounds like a personal savings account to me. Nice cusion to separate, and have that cusioning JUST in case… right? :( Wow, selfish and unfair! Then to see them smile n laugh together.. as friends.. while u sit and eat the words of ” were done… she’s moved on, we r getting a divorce”. When? Maybe when u realize you’re a forever girl? Hmm, just sketchy and unfair… but why? Why love another and make them believe? Why not just go back and figure it out on ur own? I wonder too?! :( It will eventually get tona policy nt where u will give up and say… no more. Its too much.. wayyy tooo much stress and wondering ALL THE TIME. It will kill you.. literally STEAL your life…. there r a lot of men out there… a lot of GOOD men.. with their heads on STRAIGHT… I say often.. he wants her… GO! Take the higher road… ur beautiful… many MEN would love to love you… withoit a DOUBT!!!!!!

  6. Lerato

    March 2, 2013 at 4:37 pm

    Im in a very similar situation. It is not easy i tell you,im dating a separated married man i even have two kids with him. It is so painful being the second,and what hurt the most is that both are not making any progress about the divorce. Im thinking of ending the relationship,but my daughter loves her dad so much. What should i do please help

  7. jennifer

    April 22, 2013 at 9:58 pm

    When a man tells his female friend;when my wife & i went to their friends house,what does that mean?

    • G

      May 25, 2013 at 1:45 pm

      Not sure what the question is

      But he’s referring to his wife. If that’s not you then you’re not his wife
      If they’re legally Married and not divorced and taking about her then it seems like “wife” is the appropriate title. Does it bother you that he refers to her as his wife? When they’re still married?

  8. Lore

    May 10, 2013 at 11:07 pm

    I was also in the same situation. And yes being 2nd hurts! I know he still has feelings for her but she’s done with him. He says he won’t divorce now because it could cost him more financially. He didn’t even want to bother to find out if that was the case. Makes me angry every time I think of it. He obviously didn’t love me enough because if he did, he’d get the divorce.

  9. Mary

    May 29, 2013 at 1:11 pm

    I have been with a “separated” man for 3 years now. He has 2 girls, who are now 18 and 22. He has been paying a huge amount of support, and some of his past bills thatf he says the court ordered him to. The “wife” lives beyond her income, and he continues to give the small amount left in his paycheck for all the extra things like car repairs, prom dresses, year books, etc. He actually took out another loan to finance the car repairs, and another charge card to pay for a huge vet bill! His “wife” actually makes more a year than him!
    I let him live with me for a year early in our relationship, but broke off the relationship and insisted that I didn’t want to continue to be a secret from his girls any longer. He told his girls about me, and made promises that he eventually broke. I have not let him move back into my house, but I continue to pay for him when we go out, and help him out financially with things like motorcycle batteries, etc… I keep track of what I spend, and insist that he pay me back after years of not doing that.
    He filed for divorce through a cheap internet site, and all she had to do is sign the papers. That was 2 years ago, and she talked him into pulling out the divorce so that SHE could file herself due to the divorce not being GOOD ENOUGH from the internet. HE DID!
    I could go on and on, but in 2 weeks he no longer has to pay support, and I’m waiting to see if he follows through on his promises to me.

  10. Mary

    May 29, 2013 at 1:31 pm

    Any advice on my above short version of what I have been through? I am a widow of 4 years, and very independant, but regret being so naive to what I was getting myself into. My family has all welcomed him into our family after me “sticking up” for him, but I am NOT allowed to attend his daughters graduation ceremony, because it would UPSET his “wife”.
    His girls do get along with me after a few years of grief, and they joined my surprise birthday party I had for their dad. But his “wife” hates me, and calls me names, which I do not understand since I met him AFTER he left her?
    What should I do?

  11. jennifer

    May 29, 2013 at 3:03 pm

    Were waiting for the divorce papers to b together.thats much better way.

  12. jennifer

    May 30, 2013 at 4:34 am

    Oh! By the way if their not happy together then they should get a divorce.specially if one isnt feeling loved.the other is just being a vendictive B-tch to hold on out of spite,the bipolar B-tch. if he/she crying because they want out the other isn’t civilized to let it go well then there should be another way to get a divorce.my parents are legally separated because my dad was out of the country when she tried twe are close friendso divorce him but he was in the army.that relationship was abusive.if two people love each other its not fair for the bipolar to keep them separated.i believe they need to fix some laws about this.i dont like seeing him upset.ill always be there for him.we are close friends;& we like each other alot.

  13. EC

    July 4, 2013 at 8:38 am

    Would appreciate advise. Here’s my unique situation; my wife left me and my son for 3 years and returned to her country. We had very little contact with her aside from a few Skype calls and just one visit a after 2 years. Finally, I decided my son and i needed a permanent situation and started dating. I met a wonderful smart woman who cares deeply for me and my son. When my wife found out she immediately started pushing herself back into my life. I’m so confused about what to do. We are moving towards finalizing a divorce, but it’s a slow process and my girlfriend is getting frustrated..

  14. april

    July 22, 2013 at 1:56 pm

    I have trying to find advice about my situation which is similar. When i first met my “boyfriend” its was last summer and was supposed to be (to me anyway) nithing more than just some fun. He was fun and laid back and i knew he had more baggage than i was willing to deal with. He was married to a woman who left him with 3 young children to become a prostitute in order to support her drug habit. It was ibvious to me he was still in pain over it. They had been seperated for 2 years priir to our meeting and was in a relationship when we furst started talking. When he left the girlfriend was when play time began between us. He and i had fell into a situation we chose to progress with…we found out we were pregnant. It seemed excited at first….i became emotional and my brain went crazy. I felt gross having a baby with a married man. He promised over n over about getting a divorce and wanting to marry me. It sounded nice but i never believed it. The paperwork was signed by both parties but never notorized or submitted. We had our daughter who is 4 months old now and he still uses the money to file as an excuse as to y he has not filed. Im well aware that he could have divorced her many times. He works full-time and im pretty much the only one paying the bills. Thats another story…yesterday he told me that he spoke with her bc she called him to say she was in drug court and out of jail….she found out we had a child (i thought she knew- she also had a child with another man which was signed to be his responsibility due to their marriage). He said during the convo that the divorce was mentioned and she agreed….um????? I thought she agreed when she signed. So when i said just that to him he told me that a couple days after she signed she called saying she was not willing to give him a divorce. That led me to believe he lied about not affording it and made me think that he didnt bc he was hopeful. Now the papers n the first call was sept 2012 and i snooped fibding a message he sent to her in oct 2012 saying he missed and loved her and woukd never give up. I should have left but i was about 5 months pregnant and very confused. Now i have become angry more about the situation. My baby has the same last name as his wife and not me. It is because of this i have become withdrawn…so much so i wish i could just walk out and leave…i cnt because i am not only a mother to our child but a mother of 2 other children who have emotionally invested in him as well as me invested in his children. I have said over n over it wont work but he turns it around n makes me feel horrible so i end up continuing with the misery with a passive attitude and a fake smile on my face. I have developed an eating disorder bc i felt nasty after having our daughter and thought if i lost weight it wouldnt matter what he is doing. Im addicted to an ubscene amount of caffine and and stay up throughout the night bc of it…that and bc i have become anxiety ridden when it comes the the house being clean. I was so happy and confident before him. I knew i was not ready for what he was bringing to this. I love hom bc he father a child of mine but im not in love. I dont have family to turn too and feel very much alone. When i try to confide in him he is quick to walk away or say im wrong :-( please help me. Im driving myself crazy and its having an effect on my being a mother. Please help me…

    • Mary

      July 22, 2013 at 2:14 pm

      April,
      (((hug))) I think you already know the answer to your question. The difficult part is to follow through with what you already know! I have been with a “separated” man for 3 years, and walked away numerous times, and ended back with him after his empty promises. I finally have walked away, and stayed away. I am a widow of 4 years, with 7 adult children. They have all accepted him over the years, but also have told me to walk away from the drama and heartache!!!
      You are being used, and not a priority. You deserve better, and the bottom line is…what are you teaching your children? To let someone treat you like sh-t?
      I read a book that really helped me. “Women who love too much” by Robin Norwood. I recommend that you read the book, and take the advice given. It changed my life! :)

  15. Jana

    August 29, 2013 at 2:58 pm

    I have been dating a guy for a year and a half, he has been separated for 4 years. They have a 5 year old together. After dating him for 5 months I found out he was still married. His wife is a attorney but yet they still are not divorced. It was filed Oct 2012 but he got a letter in the mail April 2013 stating it was going to be dismissed because of no action on it. He tells me not to worry because it will get done but he also talks about marriage all the time and we have moved in together. I know I should have not moved in with him. Am I wrong to let this frustrate me? It is driving me to be angry all the time, not that I show him I’m angry. When I bring it up he says he is on top of it, but he has been on top of it for almost a year.

    • Mary

      August 30, 2013 at 3:00 pm

      Jana,
      I also had been “dating” a man for over 3 years that is separated, and understand how difficult it is to keep hoping for the divorce to be final. It’s a long story, but what I have learned is to never dismiss how you feel. It is your decision to keep hanging on, or walk away. I have walked away time and time again, and go back believing the promises he tell me. This time…I won’t go back until the divorce is final, and I know that is what is best for me. I deserve better than being the “other woman”. We are maintaining being friends, and that is all it can be for now.
      Good luck.

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