My passion is writing about love, sex, dating, and relationships. I write based on my own personal experiences and those that I relate to.
Even though he is not legally married, doesn't mean he's not still emotionally married....
Some men have a very difficult time emotionally letting go of an ex-wife, especially when the divorce was not their decision. Add children to the mix, and dating a guy like this will make you feel like a constant loosening third wheel. Yikes!
You would think that if a marriage ended due to:
- His wife cheating
- His wife having a full on affair
- His wife leaving him for another man
- His wife completely falling out of love with him
- His wife having zero respect for him—and clearly demonstrating this
...that he would not only want to move on emotionally, but also have very little to do with her. Unless, of course, they have children, and if so, keeping the communication strictly about the kids.
Although that might sound great in theory, there are men who are either too ego driven—not accepting their fault in the divorce, too insecure with themselves—to believe they deserve better, or a combination of both. Great.
Both ego and insecurity can be self-destructive....
The ego of a man (and frankly the competitiveness) will convince him that he still wants a woman who has left him, even if he didn't try hard enough to keep (or value) her when he had the chance. Once she "causes" the demise of her marriage—cheating—or leaving him, his ego will set in and determine that he still wants her. Seriously?! His ego will convince him to do anything to win her back. What he fails to realize is that most women, when they emotionally move on—due to lack of feeling secure—are hard to obtain again.
Often, when a woman decides to have an affair—emotional or physical—it is because she is not feeling emotionally secure, financially secure or supported by her husband anymore. Once this break-down has happened, winning her back is not always an option. However, the ego will convince him to try even if it's not about honestly wanting to keep her. Yikes!
There are men who cannot accept a woman being the one to end things. So when she does, it is a huge bruise to their ego, making it their mission to get back together with her just so that he can be the one to officially end things. Of course this will usually tend to backfire in his face. And if you are dating or in a relationship with a guy like this, it will make you feel like you are never good enough since he is always thinking and talking about his Ex.
Being emotionally tied with an Ex does not happen with just ego driven men....
Many insecure men cannot deal with the fact that a woman has ended the relationship because they did something wrong. When this happens, they will seek forgiveness in the form of being a doormat for their Ex. Men like this will also look for things they are doing wrong or "think" you're unhappy with—assuming they will never be good enough for you since, they weren't good enough for their Ex. Wonderful.
Regardless if he emotionally pushed her towards the decision to get divorced by his actions (or lack of), taking ownership for his part is just as hard for an ego driven man as it is for a guy who has insecurity issues. Denial is an immature way of dealing with any problem, however so many men are guilty of this.
What men don't realize, denial can also cause a man to be subconsciously emotionally invested in his ex-wife—who no longer wants him. If you are in denial, how do you expect to move forward with a new love? Guess what, women have to deal with issues all the time in order to be able to move on. Not dealing with your issues because you’re too insecure, is not only exhausting, it ends up being a relationship killer.
Insecurities will only hold you back from having a successful, healthy relationship...
Men who are insecure don't always acknowledge their faults in the demise of a relationship. Instead they will focus on what their ex-wife did—cheating or leaving—in order to make themselves feel better. Hmmm...
Here's the problem, by not being honest with yourself—regarding what you did to push her away, you will continue to make the same mistake in future relationships. Also, by being dishonest, you are keeping yourself emotionally connected to your ex-wife. Constantly worrying about "rocking her boat" and upsetting her or overly trying to please and appease her. Until you can own up to your mistakes and forgive yourself, energetically you will keep yourself tied to her.
Being in denial will make you a puppy dog to your Ex and her needs. Playing the victim will keep you the victim and that is an unattractive quality. Yikes!
Manning up and taking ownership will help you not only emotionally move on, it will deter you from needing constant approval. Knowing you were part of the reason why your marriage ended means that you no longer need to seek validation and forgiveness from your ex-wife. Love is a two way streak and problems that occur are rarely one sided. By recognizing your mistakes you can also recognize hers. If she cheated, left you for another man, etc., regardless of your actions that doesn't justify or excuse hers.
There are tell-tale signs when a guy is still emotionally married to his Ex:
- If you and his Ex are both in need of his support—he will choose her over you
- If he has kids, he won't (or hardly) ever switch custody days with his Ex—for anything important having to do with you.
- He reminds you (frequently) that she is the mother of his children and will always be in his life (duh)—but that should not mean she trumps you!
- He will gladly let his Ex switch her custody days whenever she feels like it.
- He will leave work early to pick up the kids for his ex-wife on her days—but she will never reciprocate.
- If she calls him upset, he will stress out until he can call her back.
- He has zero backbone when she is around.
- In her presence he will be wanting to get her attention like a lost puppy.
- Even if she is in a relationship, living with a guy or remarried, he will still go out of his way to help her when she is sick, has surgery or is injured.
- Her plans will always trump your plans that you have made together.
As woman we really (really) want to believe when a guy proclaims that he is over his Ex, that he actually is, especially if it's been years since the divorce. Unfortunately, men like this can be convincing because they are in denial themselves.
Most men don't want to admit that they are still in-love, harboring feelings or care (to a high degree) about their Ex—and what their Ex thinks or feels about the them—when the reasons she finally left were due to falling out of love or cheating. He will think that by still harboring feelings for her, he is pathetic. Is it pathetic to admit these feelings? Or is it more cowardly to be in a relationship with another woman knowing you are secretly pining for validation or in need of an ego boost? Either scenario, being with a guy like this is a lose-lose situation for you.
Ladies, being with a man who has not sorted out his true feelings and emotions (other than some therapy) regarding his ex-wife means that you will live in the shadows of her. Until he is open and willing—and actually deals with his unresolved feelings—he can never be the man who can one-hundred percent give himself to you. You deserve to be with a man who is emotionally ex-wife baggage free. Don't allow yourself to come second in love.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
holly on December 26, 2019:
i just left a man was with him three years lived with him for two he was very attached to his ex wife the last straw for me was he would hardly ever go out just sit around and watch sports i heard through a friend he gave his ex wife fifteen thousand dollors for another house she had a house she wanted to move his kids are 18 and 20 they are not babys so dont say its for the kids i saw signs along the way but i thought time would help him we were high school sweethearts i was his first love but to me all his lies about her texting and calling when i would go out i quess it wasnt enough for him to cut the cord a little bit to have his attention on his new relationship with me all i heard him tell me i am finally with my soulmate all this bs and now im the one who left i feel like i was dumped also he would always say i have to get away from my ex wife i will never understand his thought i know they have kids together but he still treats her like his wife for the last fourteen years but im the one whos hurt and anger and he just is i dont know mad at myself for beleiving him
Raquel on September 05, 2019:
My partner has two kids to his ex 3 and 12. She’s horrible and only wants the kids when it’s convenient (always going to parties) he’s obsessed. Always talking about her talking crap to his kids about her even tells his kids the horrible things she says about them. We fight all the time about it. I hate my life because of this. I’m in a relationship we’re he comes home and tells me she was crying about she can’t trust or depend on him and he got mad that she didn’t trust him. He complains about what he does for the kids and how he lives his life without acknowledging how I help him. Mentally I’m tired. I want this to be over now.
Mary on June 10, 2019:
Very true article! Thank you. My husband is acting even worst!!! He and his ex never had kids. But all this time they keep texting to each other. She is still on his Amazon prime account, he shares his banks accounts password to her, she is in his Costco membership. I feel I’m NOTHING for him! We are together about 7 years. His father passed and did not leave Will, and he started fighting against a sister for the legacy, even his sister took care of her old dad. After almost 2 years fighting they divided inheritance 50/50. guess what my husband has done with those money??? He gave to his ex 200k dollars!!! Because they are “ best friends” ! After they got a divorce he bought a beautiful condo for her, new furniture, all supplies. He helped and supported her like his own little baby.. he hold her on his health insurance. He sold also their common house and gave her her half, in spite he invested our marital money for improvements of this house. I feel neglected, because he never wanted to spend any dollars for my needs buying everything for her. !!! I feel that my feelings of love and attraction are over. I want to leave him, don’t trust and and believe in his promises and words about his love. They are not “ just friends” they are still real husband and wife am an odd.
Lisa on September 20, 2018:
O my....I have been in a relationship and finally all the pieces have come together. After reading this he is 10 for 10. Yes, I asked many times if he was still in love with his ex and he said no every time. But yes, he is in love with her. Sadly she treats him worse than a doormat and he quietly takes it. This a a very strong man in business, yet with her a pansy.
Thank you so much for this article.
Chelsea Brock on April 21, 2018:
What if your bf still legally married and how long does it take to get a divorce and still get pictures and clothes of her and mail what does that mean
Jane on April 05, 2018:
My husband was calling my health insurance to find out which hospital was covered when I was having extreme pelvic pain. When they asked for the birthdate of the plan member, he gave them his ex-wife's birthday. I was mortified. We dated for 4 years and been married for 6. In that moment, my son was there, I said that's not my birthday, that's XXX's. And I slowly and painfully left the room. He didn't bring it up after, I had to and he tried laughing it off. He didn't apologize until I said it was the least he could do. Then he said he was embarrassed, didn't know why, etc. She has caused incredulous drama with us, the kids (never wants them, except for child support money), had to go to court, and she cheated on him and was leaving their marriage for someone else. He hardly fights her unless it's a legal issue (we always win). She has stalked me to the point I had to get a restraining order, would come by the house and start fights with him - he just stands there, lots of things that a psychiatrist said were sociopathic (on her part). Now their kids are affected and not in a good way. Lot of the most bizarre yet show how uncaring they are issues with the oldest of their two. He does not set the kids straight much either.
Before this, I was holding out until my youngest graduated high school, 3 more years. I don't think I can take this anymore. It's sad because I really loved him. Even when the kids turned on me in Year 1 (they were great while we were dating, but that changed immediately after getting married as the ex apparently was upset that I "took him off the market"). I feel like if I leave now, I disrupt my kids' years before they head off to college and they have already been through 1 divorce - although I have a sane and appropriate arrangement with my ex. I also feel like she wins if I leave. Their youngest kid has figured out the Ex is mentally ill after several incidences. Their oldest is still covering for the Ex, she is lost emotionally even after her mother does several things she doesn't agree with or causes her problems. I have no real relationship with them since I married their father and the Ex went full parental alien on the kids and pulled lots of crap with him via the kids. I have been to priests, lawyers, psychiatrists, friends, family. No one has an answer but I am fast approaching my time to leave as painful as it is.
holly on March 25, 2018:
thank you for your answer oh he trying to make me more sucure by hiding ex text cause he knowes I go on phone he is trying not to upset and to make me think they are not that close I will be going with him to his son graduation cant wait trying to have trust I quesshe is going to try prove they are not close but I will see and feel how they are then I will decide it a shame cause we have a great relationship if he was honest from the beginning I would be ok but hiding and lying broke my trust a bit
Stephanie Bailey (author) from Denver on March 04, 2018:
Holly, if you are questioning your significant other's true intentions and you can’t trust him then the real question: what do you want?
We can’t build a lasting relationships when there are trust issues.
I agree, you can’t change him (nor should you want too). A man should want to make you feel safe and sucure on his own, not full of doubts and questions.
Knowing his situation with his Ex is upsetting you why isn’t he doing what he can to make you feel more secure?
Since there are children involved, not talking to his Ex is unrealistic and unfortunately you can’t control or monitor what they talk about (frankly, that would be an exhausting job).
I do feel that Exes can be friends—with adequate time apart after the relationship has ended. Most people can’t just be friends with their Exes if there are still unresolved feelings, that’s why it can take years apart from an Ex before a true friendship can successful occur. Again, your situation is harder since children are involved.
In order for a man to respect you, you must first respect yourself. Threating to leave is not the solution, most people don’t deal well with threats and if you don’t back it up with action you are teaching your Ex that’s its OK to treat you poorly because you will continue to accept his behavior by staying.
Communication is the key. If he’s not listening and more importantly HEARING what you are saying, then you need to ask yourself: is this the man you are meant to spend the rest of your life with?
I understand you have history together, however history doesn’t always equal eternity.
Know that only you have the power to change your situation, but first...you must love yourself enough to do so.
Thank you for sharing your story and for reading my article.
Holly on February 24, 2018:
I’m too now in this situation living with him now for a year and he tells me his ex wife has no one to vent so she is constantly text about everything but the teen age kids and now I check his texting only her text is a dark gray no color like everyone else so I’m thinking it’s coming in on a different way can’t figure it out and I have spoke to him we are not that close I know he is lying to me told him that but in may his ex lives out of state I’m going to his son graduation told me he really wants me to go I don’t want to meet his ex she very manipulative person she got him by his balls I want to move out I think that’s the best thing cause he is not being honest about their relationship and this has been going on the last thirteen years they were married six years what to do can’t change him he will not back off a little that all I ask I was his first love thirty years ago we ran into each other and it was great for a while life is to short to be unhappy I was going to threaten to leave him I doubt that will stop him from hiding and deleting her text I know he loves me trying to act like they are not close but I think I had enough he’s a great guy but I think I deserve better right
Marlene from FL. on January 31, 2017:
You're welcomed! very true, I agree.
Stephanie Bailey (author) from Denver on January 30, 2017:
Thank you Safari Chic for reading my article and commenting. I'm glad you liked it.
And yes, it's not a good idea to get involved with any guy who is still married to their Ex.
Unfortunately, with a guy who is no longer legally married but is still emotionally married, this situations isn't always easy to spot until you are already emotially invested in him yourself. And men who are still wanting or pinning for their ex---even years after the divorce---will convince themselves and you that they are over their Ex amd moved on even when they clearly have not.
dashingscorpio from Chicago on January 30, 2017:
"Often, when a woman decides to have an affair—emotional or physical—it is because she is not feeling emotionally secure, financially secure or supported by her husband anymore." True!
However I would probably add people cheat because they are looking to compliment what they already have. Very few cheaters are looking to (replace) one relationship with another.
Divorce or breakup was always an option but for whatever reason the person has chosen to (stay) with their mate and attempt get whatever they feel is "missing" from someone else.
Whatever they're not getting in their eyes does not rise to the level of going through a messy divorce and lowering their living standards. Since cheaters (never believe) they will get caught cheating seems like the most cost effective and appealing route.
I agree there are some couples who never really stop being "couples" even after a breakup or divorce. They just expect any future mate to accept this as a fact of life.
If someone challenges them especially if there are no children in the picture their mate attempts to shame them by calling them "insecure" or "paranoid".
Marlene from FL. on January 28, 2017:
Good hub. It's not a good idea to get involved with a guy who is still married to his ex