Are Separated Men Just Looking For Sex?


Name: Liv

Question: I’m in my 40s and have done some online dating with limited success. I tend to stop communicating when I see red flags. I wonder if this is one:

I’ve corresponded about 3x with a guy, late 40s separated. We’ve had a bit of a lengthy conversation about interests, passions and background. I was getting messages from him every day and even got messages saying: Im so excited we’re talking, your message made my day, woke up thinking about you, and something along the lines of we have such  similar interests this was meant to be. (Our interests aren’t that unique)

Is it just me or is that all too premature?
Inexperienced dater or clingy guy?
I’m losing interest and would like to give him the courtesy of a goodbye rather than dropping off completely. Do I owe that courtesy or an explanation?

We have not corresponded for more than a week.
Age: 46

Personally, I don’t have any problems dating men who have been separated for awhile. My only concern is that, in many cases, they’re starved for sex. Things in their marriage must have been pretty lacking and strained in the time leading up to the separation, so it makes sense to assume the guy wasn’t having a ton of sex. He could have been cheating, of course, but I think the former scenario is more likely than the latter.

Should you be wary of this guy’s effusiveness? Abso-fucking-lutely. For starters, it’s simply not healthy for someone to be so excited about a person they’ve never met. Let’s assume for a moment that he’s sincere. His investment level hints at possible attachment issues, as in he cray. A person who gets that excited about a one dimensional persona is giving off all kinds of warning signs that they don’t for healthy attachments.

It could also be that this guy doesn’t know how to be alone, and so he’s looking to jump right back into a relationship. These dudes scare the bejeezus out of me. They literally hop online the moment their cable is set up in their new bachelor pad.

Depending on how long he was married, there’s also the chance he’s just rusty at the ways of wooing a woman. What worked ten years ago doesn’t work now.  Ten years ago, there weren’t a plethora of options and opportunities out there to meet people and hook-up. Nowadays, men in their forties don’t have to pour it on so thick. They’re up to their ears in vagina.

Then there’s the other, more likely, possibility: he’s a thirst bucket, starved for affection and sexual gratification. He’s saying all the right things thinking they’ll get him laid. Why do men do this? Because it often works.

Newly separated men and women are emotional landmines. They’re too shaken up to be good for anything beyond sex.

You don’t owe him anything, but it would be kind of you to first stop answering his texts and then – if he continues to contact you – tell him you’re off the market for some reason and wish him well. See if he gets the hint first before launching into some melodramatic good-bye.




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24 Responses to “Are Separated Men Just Looking For Sex?”

  1. KK Says:

    Eh.well. Ten years ago the only difference wad no tinder. And while online dating was not quite as prevalent then as now, already a lot of peopke used it to hook up and for relationships. But he might be off the market for 20 years. A time un which few used online dating and it was considered sketchy. He probably was off the market for a really long time

  2. mxf Says:

    I used to root for separated daters when the topic was covered on this site, because I always felt like they were getting a bad rap. And then because I was personally invested, dating someone who had been separated 1.5 years when I met him. So while I would never write off an entire group based on an experience with one person, I would also personally proceed with crazy caution with anyone separated again. As I learned for myself, it wasn’t enough that his love connection with his ex was severed. Over time, seeing how their financial ties and co-parenting situation were still messily entangled, with no clear light at the end of the tunnel, I realized that he might have been ready to be in love again, but was in no way ready to commit to a new relationship until he’d finished extracting himself from the last one. His relationship with his ex was really unhappy and full of friction, but it also still had a very powerful role in his life, and then eventually in mine. I just wouldn’t have the stomach for that again.

    For this guy, it’s hard to know why he’s coming on effusive without meeting him in person. If he’s desperate you’ll know right away. If your relationship goals are for something longterm, the odds are lower of him being a candidate. And if you already don’t want to meet him, just make up something bland and move on.

    • Selena Says:

      mfx: “His relationship with his ex was really unhappy and full of friction, but it also still had a very powerful role in his life, and then eventually in mine.”

      Similar experience here. Once with a partner who was separated, later with a partner who had been divorced 5 years. In each case, they tried their best to compartmentalize their relationships with the ex, their children, me, but the friction with the ex sometimes bled into our relationship.

      It might be easier to just say no to the separated and the obviously “still really bitter” divorcees. But ex drama can rise up with anyone when children and finances come into play.

      • fuzzilla Says:

        **It might be easier to just say no to the separated and the obviously “still really bitter” divorcees. But ex drama can rise up with anyone when children and finances come into play.**

        Yeah, that’s a pickle. Your comment makes complete sense, and yet, after a certain age, if you refused to date someone who was divorced or had kids, your available dating pool would pretty much dry up. I guess just get really good at spotting deal breaker level drama, and fast.

        • Selena Says:

          “..after a certain age, if you refused to date someone who was divorced or had kids, your available dating pool would pretty much dry up.”

          Yup. That is indeed the pickle for middle age singles. :-)

          • fuzzilla Says:

            Yep, I’m in that middle aged bracket. I’ve been with my boyfriend coming up on three years now – he is divorced and does have a kid.

            Anyhoo, I think one thing to look out for in general is when they’re constantly like, “You just don’t understaaaaaand because you’ve never been married/had kids” (if that is indeed the case). I mean, if they say that kinda thing constantly as a line to get out of being an attentive partner. It’s like – okay, yeah, having kids can be stressful, but WTF does that have to do with you not calling me back last night? Yes, you have a kid, but he was in the next room playing video games, not in the freaking ER. Basically, if they try to use their kids as some kind of dating get out of jail card.

            • fuzzilla Says:

              That whole masking selfishness as concern for their kids thing could prolly fill a blog called And That’s Why You’re Divorced… :P

              • AnnieNonymous Says:

                It’s a red flag for me when a guy brings up his kids too often as code for “I am a good dad and therefore a quality person.” Like um….you’re out here at a bar hitting on me and basically living the single life while your ex is at home actually parenting your child.

                I once read a one-off comment on another blog about the whole step-parent dilemma. Basically, her stance is that she loves her husband enough to make the kid issue work, but she wouldn’t have gotten involved with him to begin with if she knew in advance what it would be like. Step-parents have all of the responsibility of a parent but none of the authority. She has to make room in her home and schedule for children who aren’t hers. She has to constantly participate in conversations about and with the ex-wife, who her husband hasn’t been with for 15 years. It’s not like she has cause to mention her high school boyfriends to her husband on the daily.

                tldr – It is almost impossible to ensure that your relationship can exist without constant intrusion of your partner’s former marriage.

                • fuzzilla Says:

                  I suppose I’m technically a step parent, but his kid lives out of state and is legally an adult. There’s a little bit of weirdness, but I really don’t have anything to complain about compared to a lot of folks.

                  I wonder if there’s a way to pre-screen for baby mama drama before you’re too involved. Ask friends or uninvolved third parties about their relationship? Maybe the age of the kids would make a difference?

        • mxf Says:

          “Get really good at spotting deal breaker level drama, and fast.”

          Yup. For me, I’d be on the lookout for the absence of any forward momentum. I have a friend who separated a couple of years ago from his wife, and they have four kids together. When things with a new girlfriend looked like they had the potential to become serious, he and his ex had zero difficulty getting the childcare and divorce details finalized they so could both move on. It wasn’t like it was pleasant for them, but they didn’t put it off at all. Watching him made me realize that my then-boyfriend’s strategies for ‘escaping’ his marriage didn’t actually include any concrete, permanent steps, the ones that would have been harder but ultimately more liberating to take. I just couldn’t wrap my head around ignoring that elephant in the room. Not at first, but after awhile there was a distinct feeling that my relationship was at a standstill as long as theirs was too.

          I’m seeing someone now who has kids with an ex-wife, and I’m trying not to look for problems where there aren’t any, but it’s tough. I’m sensitized to the red flags now, I feel over-vigilant sometimes.

  3. Dark Sarcasm Says:

    “Nowadays, men in their forties don’t have to pour it on so thick. They’re up to their ears in vagina.”

    Man, I wish men really lived the life that Moxie imagines that we do.

    • Annabelle Says:

      Lol. I referred this matter to a male friend of mine – handsome, employed and in his 40s. His response: in their 40’s are not swimming in vagina.

    • Nia Says:

      I think when she says men in their 40’s are swimming in it, she means:

      Social mores have changed significantly over the last 10 years. It’s now perfectly normal to meet someone off an app and hook up, wash, rinse, repeat. Where men even 5 years ago would have to live in NYC or San Fran to have access to a wide pool of self-identified interested parties, now they’re everywhere.

      Divorce, while still not desirable, is commonplace, and many couples divorce in their early 40’s, meaning it’s no longer odd or weird for a 40-something man to be out and about and on the prowl.

      Many men are coming into their own at 40. Looks-wise, money-wise, career-wise. The man who, at 30, was beginning his own business, or as a junior associate or day trader is now a VP with all the perks.

      Many men, in all honesty, don’t really settle down or mature into relationship material until their very late 30’s. Few women *actively pursue* childish men who are obsessed with video games, sports, “boys toys” and who don’t know how to “be” in a relationship. Sure, they’ll date and have fun with and try to make it work with a 27 year old, but as far as going all out…nah.

      Women seem to, in general, be much more open to dating both younger and older. So a man of 40 has his pick of “club girls” of 18-24, mature young women of 22-30, and marriage minded women of 32+, as well as your older ladies who would like to get with a younger man for the same reason older men get with younger women (of course all these are generalizations!). Very few 20-or 30-something’s have such a wide range of available partners. No sane, reasonable 35 year old would date a 22 year old. But a 53 year old woman might go for a 41 year old man, no problem.

      So what she means is OPTIONS.
      Men are swimming in options. What they do to “close” on those options…well, that’s another story.

      • Beta Male Says:

        You’re confusing hobbies and interests with indicators of character. Eliminate all the men who “are obsessed with video games, sports, “boys toys”” you would have no men left.

        • Nia Says:

          O…kay, obviously I didn’t cover all possible scenarios there. What I meant was “men who are interested primarily in video games, sports, and toys *to the exclusion of other things like family, career, self improvement, travel, or other wider interests and developments*.” A lot of guys sort of fade on video games (my BF did before we met) or other obsessions as their 20’s wane and they mature.

          Can a man who loves to play video games be a wonderful father? Of course! But it’s more often you see a *younger* man, in his 20’s, who is more interested in self-indulgent pastimes and “fun” than a 40-something.

          But honestly, the whole point of my comment was that men have options, not that women should say “no” to men who like video games, sports, or “toys”.
          They can do whatever they want!

          However, throughout much of my 20’s and now, in my 30’s, literally every woman I know has said, in one form or another, that a man who doesn’t like video games/sports/boys’ toys is a HUGE FIND and that they vastly prefer that man over a comparable man who spends hours on those pursuits.

          • fuzzilla Says:

            Yeah, I remember dating a guy where it’s like, I’d go to his house and watch him play a video game and he’d call that a date. Um…yeah. Granted, fine, some women enjoy video games, but did he ask me if I did or what I wanted to do or even offer to let me take a turn on the damn game? No.

            Granted, he was The Worst Guy Ever for reasons extending far beyond that. Point being, no, video games aren’t in themselves a turnoff, but being obsessed with them to the exclusion of all else is definitely A Thing women encounter in the dating world and a HUGE turnoff. I don’t think many or any guys would be turned off if I enjoyed shoe shopping, but would I plan a whole date around him passively watching me try shoes on? Y’know? (I guess it’s a little different if it’s a committed relationship and you have errands to run, but framed as a date? In the wooing phase..? Unless he said he’d enjoy it because of some fetish or something, that’s stunningly self-absorbed behavior).

  4. AnnieNonymous Says:

    I would worry that separated-but-not divorced guys are more trouble than they’re worth. They still have to deal with the legal parts of the divorce, which means that the beginning part of a new relationship would likely involve him saying lots of bitter crap about his ex. You don’t want to spend the “honeymoon stage” of a new relationship helping a dude navigate his child custody issues. He might not have a permanent place to live and might therefore be online basically looking for women to move in with. To me, it’s not about the sex. It’s about the fact that he’s still married, and smack in the middle of the most dramatic and stressful stage of marriage – the dissolution. He’s still fighting with his ex. Just no.

    • Selena Says:

      Excellent points. Sometimes the divorce process brings out the nastiest characteristics in otherwise reasonable people. Not pretty to see – especially for someone hopeful about enjoying a new relationship.

      I tend to see separated people as the ultimate in unfinished business. They may believe they are “done”, but they aren’t “done-done”. Separations and divorces can drag on much longer than anticipated. If one is free and clear, why choose someone who is still mired in unfinished business when they could have someone else who is free and clear?

  5. Yvonne Says:

    My problem with separated men, and the reason I avoid dating them, is that they often think they are ready for a new relationship because they want to get away from the tough issues that go along with a divorce, but not because they actually are ready. They’ll swear they are and enjoy the sex and the romance, but once the relationship becomes more serious, reality sets in. I’ve experienced it even with recently divorced men out of long marriages who are still processing what went wrong and enjoying their new-found freedom too much.

    In my case, one of the separated guys I dated actually ended up remarrying his ex, something he swore would never happen, and the other would have stayed too, if only she hadn’t decided she was gay. Trust me, you don’t want to be the transition girlfriend.

  6. Miffed Kitten Says:

    So I’m about a year and a half separated, 40, and bloody confused by the dating scene.

    I’m pretty sure that this environment seems entirely normal to everybody who has been part of it all along. However, the last time I dated I was eighteen. I didn’t have time to develop the weaponized bullshittery that seems to be stock and trade for today’s eligible bachelor. I’ve also got no idea how to parse the expected reciprocal interactions.

    As someone already pointed out pacing is particularly perplexing, a day early and you’re creepy clingy a day late and you’ve already been assumed to be ghosting and they’ve moved on. Get it wrong in the middle and there’s apparently a new thing called “cushioning.” These standards are very different than they used to be, and are very different at 40 than as a college student.

    There is also a real gap between how you’re expected to interact with people you’re trying to be friends with and people you’re trying to date. That’s also really confusing. I’m assuming most separated people know how to be friends but using those standards as a basis for interacting with a potential romantic interest is a magnificent failure especially if you’re used to being generous person with your time and resources.

    For example, if a coworker offers you a pie because they made too many for an event that’s nice. However if a guy you just met a couple of weeks ago offers you a pie, suddenly we’re all trying to figure out what pie means relationshipwise. It gets worse if there is a monetary value what is offered.

    It appears the same to the giver, but it seems bigger to the recipient because it might conceivably be tied to some nefarious plan to be nice to them until they decide that sex might be a good idea.

    Someone else has already pointed out the children don’t magically go away. If you care a lot about availability of time and money, or don’t want a guy interacting with his ex, then children are going to really screw all that up.

    Now I this is where it’s really problematic, I’m pretty sure these issues don’t go away when you switch from separated to divorced.

    I’d like to think with a reasonably formal separation agreement most of the other issues that people are bringing up about custody, finances etc. can be dealt with. I’m not sure however that from the outside “separated with things sorted out” is easily distinguishable from “separated with a vicious legal and emotional battle ahead.”

    There are a lot of financial disincentives to moving from “sorted out” to “divorced.” At the higher end of the income spectrum, taking this step means spending thousands on legal fees & financial planning and ten to twenty grand in taxes a year. I’d rather spend the difference on my kids and the legal battles for their special education support, than on making dating marginally easier.

    I’ll note that my dating prospects improved in a strangely obvious way as soon a few preconditions were met: (1) I passed a full year separated (2) my ex could be described as in a relationship with someone else. I think that speaks to a common fear that separated men, aren’t.

    I’m personally caught between finding all this dating stuff juvenile and petty, and a real desire to have someone to share the rest of my life with.

    • Rick Says:

      Miffed, I was hoping your comment wouldn’t end, I wanted to read more! I’m recently separated and I haven’t had much luck finding quality information and/or conversation on the interwebs. Thanks for sharing your insightful thoughts. I also agree with your follow up post – TRUTH!

  7. Miffed Kitten Says:

    On the topic of sex starvation, is it possible that people are mistaking affection starved for sex starved?

    I’ve had some conversations with divorced & separated friends, in our collective experience, the absence of casual and affectionate physical contact with other people is more difficult to handle. That type of contact probably petered off in the last relationship before the sex, sex may even have been used as proxy towards the end of the relationship.

  8. thepinch Says:

    I was separated from my husband for 13 years before I got a divorce. I never met anyone I cared enough about to finalize it, and vice versa. He was the one to initiate final proceedings.

    BTW, my second sentence is the most revealing.

    But karma, as they say, is a b_tch.

    I connected with a lover from school who pursued me for nearly 3 months. He was ONE WEEK away from his divorce, and the morning after we made love, he dumped me on the spot. Worse, I was 200 miles from home at his cottage.

    Please read my lips: no dating until the Decree Final.

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