Divorce is painful for everyone involved.
It is a confusing time and can bring up all sorts of emotions.
If you’re dating a man who is going through a divorce, and are worried he’s pulling away, here’s what you can do about it.
21 things to do when a man going through a divorce is pulling away
1) Be as compassionate and understanding as you can
Right now you might feel frustrated, anxious, and pretty darn fed up.
It’s totally expected.
There is no doubt that dating a man who is going through a divorce brings all kinds of complications that put extra strain on everyone involved. And that includes you.
But if you don’t want to push him away, now is the time to muster up as much sympathy and understanding as you can.
Divorce is one of the most stressful and emotionally draining times of anyone’s life. Try to remember that and be as sympathetic as you can.
2) Help him take his mind off things by having fun
This isn’t about trying to sweep bigger issues under the carpet.
But the reality is that divorce is heavy. The ideal antidote to all that pressure can be to try to keep things light.
Do fun things, date, and enjoy each other’s company. Just like any other normal couple do at the beginning of a courtship.
If you feel like he is becoming distanced, it’s the best time to remind him why it’s so good for him to have you around.
3) Be a good listener
When someone is going through a tough time, what they really need is somebody to listen to them.
Yet many of us can’t resist the urge to jump in and try to fix things. So rather than listen, we end up dishing out advice or passing comments on what we hear.
As well-meaning as this might be, it can be frustrating for the person trying to share their feelings.
Recognize that emotional support is different from giving practical help.
Realize that he doesn’t necessarily need your solutions right now. All he needs is someone to listen to him so that he can feel heard and understood.
4) Make him feel wanted
The chances are that if he’s going through a divorce, some of his self-esteem could have taken a knock.
According to a psychological theory called the hero instinct, all men want to feel needed, respected, and useful.
They are genetically programmed this way. When they don’t get certain subconscious needs met, they struggle to commit.
The fact that his marriage has broken down suggests that he didn’t feel like this with his wife.
So be sure to give him what he has been missing, and be the one who does trigger his hero instinct.
You can actually do this in some very subtle and simple ways. We’re talking about asking for his help, bigging him up, and showing you appreciate him.
The best thing to do is watch this free video on the hero instinct.
It will show you how to tap into his primal desires to make him feel better, love harder, and commit stronger.
5) Take care of yourself and stay busy
Don’t get so drawn into his problems that you forget to focus on your own life and happiness.
Make sure you still go out with friends, spend quality time with family, and do whatever else makes you happy.
Remember that you deserve to live a full and rewarding life too. Don’t let your relationship become an excuse to neglect yourself.
This not only helps you support your own well-being. But you also present yourself to him as someone desirable who has their own life and isn’t needy.
6) Don’t take it personally
There could be all sorts of things running through your mind. You might be telling yourself fearful stories about why he seems to be pulling away.
You might worry he is losing interest. You might be scared he simply isn’t ready for another relationship. You might fear his feelings will change for you.
But try not to take his actions right now personally.
It can be hard to remember, but any bizarre behavior is likely to come from the situation and is not a direct reflection on you.
7) Resist bad-mouthing his wife
Whilst it’s true that gossiping can increase social bonding, it’s best to stay clear of any negativity aimed at his (soon-to-be) ex-wife.
For starters, it’s not the most dignified of things to do. But he is also likely to have some conflicting feelings about her.
If you start criticizing her, you’ll just add fuel to the fire. And you won’t be helping him either.
Instead, keep your comments neutral and supportive. Focus on you two instead of her.
8) Don’t bombard him with questions
It’s understandable that you want to know what’s going on.
But if he’s already feeling the pressure, the last thing he wants is to face constant questioning from you when you spend time together.
It can be overwhelming. Particularly if he doesn’t have any clear answers right now.
He may feel pressured by your persistence. And you risk pushing him further away. So resist the urge to ask him things he doesn’t want to talk about.
9) Stay focused on the present, not the future
Now is not the time to make big demands about the future.
He may not know exactly what he wants or where he stands. He may be confused by the whole process.
The truth is that he hasn’t yet formally ended his marriage.
During such an unstable time, it’s not the right time to make plans for the future. Enjoy what you have right now and try to stay in the present.
10) Talk to him about his feelings
Trying to keep the pressure off doesn’t mean that you should stop communicating.
It’s important to be as open with one another as possible. This is how you bond and feel like a team.
So you should ask him how he’s feeling and make it clear that he can talk to you.
Similarly, let him know how you feel and share your emotions with him in a constructive way.
11) Make sure you feel supported
It’s not your divorce, but that doesn’t mean the situation won’t take its toll on you.
He isn’t always going to be the best person to share how it’s impacting you.
He has a lot on his plate and you may feel it’s challenging to be brutally honest about the wide range of emotions you could be experiencing. Especially when you are already worried about him pulling away.
Talk to friends, family, and people you trust in order to release any frustrations you have. You may even want to talk to a professional who can support you through things.
12) Don’t be too demanding
One surefire way to push away a man going through a divorce who is already pulling back is by handing out ultimatums.
Extra pressure is not what he needs right now.
The more you want from him, the more likely he will move further away.
The sad truth is that right now he has a lot going on and might not be able to give you everything you want from him.
Try to curb your expectations, and avoid emotional blackmail or manipulation. It won’t help you to get your own way.
13) Let him handle his own business
Every man needs to fight his own battles. So don’t be tem pted to try to swoop in and be his mother or his savior.
This is linked to the psychological concept I mentioned earlier: the hero instinct.
Another way of triggering his hero instinct to stop him from pulling away is letting him feel like he has autonomy in his life.
A reminder that you can learn all the clever ways to trigger his hero instinct by watching this insightful video by James Bauer.
He is a grown man and needs to feel like one. It can be incredibly emasculating if you criticize or question the handling of his divorce.
It could be seen as interfering or nagging and he doesn’t need that right now.
Try not to be judgemental and recognize that he may handle things differently from how you would.
14) Give him space
When we care about someone and we sense them starting to pull away our instincts can be to try to pull them close again.
But unfortunately, this is usually counterproductive.
Right now he may need more time alone, simply to process everything that is happening.
When a woman tries to crowd a man who is pulling back, it only makes things worse.
15) Be thoughtful
Thoughtful gestures can go a long way right now.
This is how you show your support and affection in a lowkey way.
It might be picking him up his favourite coffee on your way over. Leaving him a cute note. Or offering to cook dinner for him after a long day.
These small gestures can really lift his spirits.
They also send a message that you are thinking about him and that you are there for him.
16) Ask if there’s anything you could do to help
Not sure what to do or what he needs most? That’s understandable. So ask him!
Every man is different. Maybe he needs to have some fun. Maybe he wants some time alone.
The best way to get it right is to ask him what he needs right now from you.
Telling him you want to help shows him you care about his well-being and are there for him.
17) Don’t make it about you
He is going through a crisis. Yes, it impacts you (and you need to be mindful of your own mental health) but doesn’t forget that it’s his divorce, not yours.
Don’t let your own feelings cloud your judgment. When it comes to his divorce, you have a supporting role. Don’t make yourself the star of the show by demanding his attention.
If you start feeling jealous or insecure, remind yourself that right now it is better to simply be here for him.
You are not competing with anyone else. So give him space and let him work things out on his own terms.
18) Respect his boundaries
We should always respect our partner’s boundaries anyway.
But when a man is going through a divorce and starting to pull away, now is the time to really consider his boundaries and if you are honoring them.
For example, he may still need “family time”, particularly if he has children with his ex.
His time and energy may be more divided than you would like. Or there may be things that he simply doesn’t want to share with you about his divorce.
Even if you don’t always like them, you do need to respect the boundaries he chooses, or risk pushing him further away.
19) Try to embrace some unpredictability
One of the reasons it can be particularly hard dating a man going through a divorce is a feeling of loss of control.
It’s true that there are more factors that are out of your hands.
Whilst that isn’t always going to feel good, it can help to try to make peace with the fact.
Rather than desperately trying to create order, find acceptance that for a whole at least things might be a bit up in the air.
20) Be patient
The brutal truth is that choosing to get involved with a separated guy means that you have entered into a more complex situation.
And in doing so, you’ve got to deal with the fact it’s not going to be all plain sailing.
Now is the time to muster up your patience.
So take a deep breath and remember that this too shall pass.
21) Stay positive
You might be worried, unsure of where you stand, and even a little scared about whether it will all work out. But try not to dwell on negative thoughts.
When you’re dealing with someone who is going through a divorce, you need to try to stay positive.
Keep your head held high and remind yourself that you are strong enough to handle whatever life throws at you.
This will help you to focus on the positives rather than dwell on the negatives. It will also help you to keep his spirits lifted and be his rock to lean upon.
Can a relationship coach help you too?
If you want specific advice on your situation, it can be very helpful to speak to a relationship coach.
I know this from personal experience…
A few months ago, I reached out to Relationship Hero when I was going through a tough patch in my relationship. After being lost in my thoughts for so long, they gave me a unique insight into the dynamics of my relationship and how to get it back on track.
If you haven’t heard of Relationship Hero before, it’s a site where highly trained relationship coaches help people through complicated and difficult love situations.
In just a few minutes you can connect with a certified relationship coach and get tailor-made advice for your situation.
I was blown away by how kind, empathetic, and genuinely helpful my coach was.