When Men Quickly “Replace” After Separation or Divorce

Posted by Delaine - September 11, 2013 - Dealing with the ex, Fears & Challenges, Grief/ Anger, Loving & Trusting, Relationships, Surviving, Understanding Men/Women - 9 Comments

When Barb contacted me via email last week, she was clearly very upset.  Only six months into her divorce, she’d discovered that her separated husband had a new serious girlfriend; they were even making plans to move in together.  “It’s not that I want him back,” she wrote.  “But it’s such a slap in the face – how could he move on so quickly?  It’s as if the 15 years we were together meant nothing to him.”

Barb is certainly not alone in this situation: MANY divorcing women report that their husbands ’get right back out there’ and quickly find a new partner.  Does this mean that men are better able to move on than women?  Does it mean they didn’t really care for or love their former wives?

The answer to both of these question is NO.  Men’s tendency to ‘replace’ is a dangerous choice they usually make to avoid the pain of the loss of their marriage. And I want to explain this further here today so that stunned and upset wives can understand what’s probably going on.

The first stage of healing after divorce requires that both men and women take the time to grieve and get help.  But grieving and healing a broken heart is not a process that is instinctively understood by most men. They don’t naturally recognize that allowing painful feelings to surface over and over and over again, is an essential part of moving on.

Instead, their instincts are to “solve the problem,” get rid of the pain – and their priority becomes doing whatever they can to get rid of it.  And what is the quickest and easiest way for them to do that?  Throw themselves into work, or, find a new relationship. THAT’s why we see this common thread time and time again.

So to those of you like Barb who are newly separated and grimacing at how your husband has seemingly moved on, know that his new relationship does not mean he never loved you; nor does it reflect the depth of his care.  All he wants to do is get out of pain.  Sometimes, the greater a man’s pain is, the quicker he replaces with a new partner.

The truth of the matter is that his efforts to move on in this new relationship will probably be counterproductive; for until he takes the time to properly work through his grief and get help, it will haunt him and he’ll never fully let go of his pain.  Once he’s three to six months into this relationship, his feelings for his new partner will probably change.