WTF Wednesday: He won’t be on the market long. So I will snatch him up ASAP.


Dear Emma, 

WTF!? I’ve been divorced for five years, dated a little bit here and there. I am grateful for my time alone, though it has been painful and very, very lonely. 

Two months ago I met a wonderful, amazing man. He is everything I dreamed of: smart, successful, kind, thoughtful, so, so, so handsome and a really great father to his two grown children. Best of all? He’s crazy for me, and I am equally nuts about him. We have both said we are certain we want to be together forever. 

I have read all your posts about the perils of being involved with men who are fresh out of a breakup or divorce. I read them because this man is barely out of his 20-year marriage. But he says (and I believe) that he has always been a relationship guy, and he wants a relationship with me. And trust me, Emma – this guy will not last long on the market. He’s a catch, and if I don’t swoop him up, someone else will.

–In love in Libertyville, Ill.


Dear in Love,

Well, I love you and this lovely love story. I so know that dopamine high that physical attraction creates. It is intoxicating like no other high. It sounds like you have found a good man and I encourage you to luxuriate in the legal intoxication of his adoration.

But your note is a curious — if not familiar — one.

You ask me no questions. Instead, your letter is a defense about why you should be with this man. It recalls my all-time favorite quote:

“Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to say you are, you’re not.” – Margaret Thatcher

In other words, that you feel so compelled, apropos of no prodding whatsoever, to argue for why you should be with him signals to me that you are arguing against your own instincts that tell you to let him go.

While I sense this is indeed a good person, the few paragraphs I’ve read about him tell me that he really has not processed his divorce. How can he honestly insist that he is a “relationship guy” when he has not had the opportunity to explore what kind of guy he for 20 years? He is terrified of being alone (and really, how many of us going through divorce aren’t?).

Something else that piqued my interest was your use of the popular phrase, “will not last long on the market long.” I recently took a digital marketing class and one of the sales tactics taught was to use one of those count-down clocks you see on sales pages. “This deal is only available for another 6 hours, 42 minutes and :07 seconds!” Marketers use these tactics because they’re proven to work. They make people buy things they know they otherwise should not because they create an illusion of scarcity. There is also an illusion of scarcity in our society that suggests that love and wonderful companionship are in short supply. If you find it once, you will never find it again. I don’t believe that. I suspect that deep down you don’t either.

Which brings me to the biggest flag, which is your admonishment that you and this gentleman are ready to commit. You are full of a heap of thinly-veiled doubts, and yet you insist that you must lock him up, stat. You want to commit because he wants to commit. You are both grasping needily on to one another in a blur of doubt and fear. Which is not necessarily a reason to bolt all together. But it is reason to give me pause.

This is what I suggest. Continue to see him. Date him and love him and bask in the glory of his attentions and your mutual affections.Then give it time. Give him time to sort himself out. Give yourself time to really get to know him. Give the relationship time to grow into what it will be at its own pace — not the pace of the ticking time bomb of this hot commodity’s risk of being plucked off the market. Because you deserve more than an impulse buy. You deserve the real, sustainable thing.

Emma Johnson

Emma Johnson is a veteran money journalist, noted blogger, bestselling author and an host of the award-winning podcast, Like a Mother with Emma Johnson. A former Associated Press Financial Wire reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Glamour,, U.S. News, Parenting, USA Today and others. Her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was named to the New York Post’s ‘Must Read” list.

Emma regularly comments on issues of modern families, gender equality, divorce, sex and motherhood for outlets like CNN, Headline News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, CNBC, NPR, TIME, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine and The Doctors. She was named Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web,” “Top 15 Personal Finance Podcasts” by U.S. News, and a “Most Eligible New Yorker” by New York Observer.

A popular speaker, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality. Read more about Emma here.

31 thoughts on “WTF Wednesday: He won’t be on the market long. So I will snatch him up ASAP.

  1. Emma you are spot on with this one. I tend to think the reader feels that she won’t get anyone better so might as well “settle” with what seems like a great catch now. A 20 year divorce is not something you can just easily walk away from without some kind of healing, therapy etc. Nobody needs to be in a rush. I wrote a post about a woman who is trying sooooo hard to have a relationship with a guy who clearly states to her that he is not emotionally ready. Even when it slams you in the face, sometimes your own insecurities make you deaf to your instincts. I hate to be a spam monster, but thought I’d share.

      1. Just because he is divorced does not mean he is a bad guy or unlovable, nor does the fact he is swept up in the romance of the moment. Imperfection does not mean she should dump him.

      2. Ya, I’m divorced for a reason…I married a man who hid the fact that his hobby was banging other woman. My boyfriend is divorced because his wife started banging someone while she was deployed. Sometimes you are just young and didn’t pick so well.

  2. Thanks for sharing Heather! (and yes, that is sharing, NOT spamming!!) It has become so cliche to tell people to follow their guts, but has anyone in the history of (wo)mankind ever followed their gut and regretted it?

    1. Best advice ever. Nothing wrong in getting to know him better and teach him to be his independent self. He might learn a few things about himself too. I never trust a guy who says he is a relationship guy. I could imagine if you are an independent person in your soul and want to do your own thing, he would suffocate Ms Libertyville in no time… Give it time and things become clear.

  3. The other point is that love and relationships don’t have to be an all-or-nothing proposition. You can be together in all kinds of capacities. It doesn’t have to be either a soulmate-forever connection or dump him!

  4. Great advice. I made the mistake once of falling madly in love with a guy who just broke up with his gf of 6 years, thinking he won’t be “in the market for long” and hence I jumped in with both feet. Well, he went back to his gf because he wasn’t completely over her and I just got caught up in his confusion. I still think about him longingly (and it’s been about 4 years since this happened).

    Slow down and think with your head more than your heart. I, too, would be concerned if this guy can’t even grieve the loss of 20 years before moving on the the next warm body. If he can be that cold to her, he could do the same with me.

  5. Great advice Emma. Well said Sheila. I did exactly the same. Fell I love with this hot-cake who had just left a wife and three kids, 14 years of marriage. Dated him for a very short time and got married not to loose such a good one! I should have thought that the guy who could not grieve 14 years of marriage, and is quick to commit to me, how long could he stay with me. Here I am, 5 years of marriage, 2 kids, he filed divorce since he was on three dating websites before he moved out of my apartment, he is probably on to his next prey!

  6. I love the bottom line advice you give in the last paragraph, Emma. “Snatching up” a mate or any other commitment made out of fear is a shaky deal. If it’s real, it will have legs over time. Still, I know how hard it is to give up a very decent guy who is ready to jump in. There really are a lot of bozos out there, and the disappointment of empty dating experiences, along with the cut of chronic loneliness (no matter how wonderful and involved we are in other areas of life) make quick partnerships really tempting. 3 months after my divorce, I fell into a relationship with an adoring guy who treated me better than any man ever had; he was also very kind to my children. He also had a very messy life, and, ultimately, I didn’t have confidence in his approach to living. We were together for a year, and thankfully, I had the strength to let him go when my confidence in him failed to grow. This same man (who claimed I was his soul mate, yada, yada) married someone new 7 months after we broke up. I’m still single and it’s painful, but I can’t and won’t be rushed into another marriage.

    1. It’s tempting, indeed. Just last week I had a close encounter with a barely separated and GORGEOUS Israeli guy who picked me up at the park. Something happens when you are a hot mess — all the emotions and pheromones are out and it is easy to attract intense situations. Rarely, do I find, are those situations built for the long-run. But in the short-term, enjoy! Just go in with open eyes.

  7. Excellent advice Emma.

    It’s interesting to me how many people start a new relationship, and get into that “all or nothing” idea; “I need to marry him/her before they get away.” While I’d never be one to suggest that anyone get married EVER, if that’s their end goal they can bask in the euphoria for months and, even better, years, before they decide to tie the knot. This ain’t the 1950s, and there are many more options, besides marriage, that they could explore in the interim. Their relationship need not be shaped by stale social norms that only jeopardize them both: live together, live apart, heck polyamory if their into that, just don’t sign a contract where the one with more money will likely be the one who loses.

    People need to look around them at all the unhappy marriages and divorces as the euphoria of a new relationship begins in order to give them a big old dose of reality. All of the couples involved started out as two people that thought they couldn’t live without one another, and at least one of them decided that they, indeed, could live without the other.

    I love Camilla’s comment “A very wise 7 year old once told me, “Mom, he’s divorced for a reason. “ Reminds me of a divorced woman who once expressed interest in me until she found I’d never been married. She told me, while looking down her nose arrogantly, as if she was so wise, “It concerns me that you could have a successful relationship since you’re in your 30s, and never married.” To which I responded with amusement, “How ironic. It concerns me that you’re divorced moreso. At least since I’ve never married there is still that element of mystery that I might be able to make a marital commitment and maintain it. Your divorce has merely proven that you will not.” Sure, neither position is necessarily inherently true (but often true, I’d argue). Rather, I was aiming to expose the slippery slope of her “logic”.

    Divorce is what shapes the perception of marriage to those of us whom have never married. Somehow it doesn’t seem to often bring wisdom to those who went through the divorce.

  8. I am in a not-yet-relationship with a man I knew 4 years ago when he was still with his wife. He was a customer of mine where I bartended and I never knew him very at all and had never met his wife. I moved across the country, got pregnant, and moved back home. I saw his profile on a dating site and messaged him. We know have a lot of mutual friends and they all gave me approval to go out with him, saying he’s a great, honest guy. I was screwed over pretty terribly by my daughter’s father and all of these people know that and I trust that they would want me to be happy, so I do believe they legitimately think this man is a good guy. So this fella and I went out twice before he had to go back to his oilfiled job 1500 miles away for 8 weeks. He is still married and has been separated for over a year, but has yet to file for divorce. He has been married for 16 years and has two children. I asked him on the first date if he wants to divorce and if he is going to do so and he adamantly said yes. He said that since the two weeks he spends at home before he leaves again is so short, that he hasn’t fit in filing for divorce. He has been gone for 4 weeks now and we talk every single day by text and on the phone almost every day when we can. He works 12 hour shifts at night, so that gets hard talking on the phone sometimes. I am extremely independent, so the fact that he’s gone for long periods of time does not bother me. It bothers me that he is not divorced yet. Am I an idiot? Am I being totally stupid by even considering dating him? I am absolutely looking forward to him being home and really enjoy our conversations together. We have discussed my want for another child and he said he would have another with me. Should I see how our two weeks together goes when he comes home in two weeks (two weeks earlier than the normal 8 weeks because he said he has to see me sooner than that!), and then wait to see if he brings up his divorce? Or should I bring it up? Does that make me pushy if I do? I will not date a married man and I don’t how long I can even talk with a man who has not filed for divorce, but I feel like there is a possibility for true happiness with this man. Please help!

    1. Skeptically Single, while you say you “will not date a married man,” that is exactly what you are doing.

      I am a firm believer that you should always, ALWAYS, make your feelings/boundaries known. If you are not willing to date a married man, then tell him to call you when he is divorced. And re-read Emma’s post above, especially the part about a man who is leaving a 16-year-marriage and jumping into the next relationship. He’s not finished his last business but he’s already agreeing to have children with you? Red flags are all over this minefield.

    2. I would not immediately assume that because he is officially married still that he is in love with her, or sleeping with her or will never leave her. In New York where I live (and other surrounding states), divorce takes FOREVER and most people I know date for YEARS before the deal is legally finalized. I know that divorces are quicker in most other states, thereby making it a bigger deal to date while officially married. But there are other legitimate reasons to stay technically married after the relationship is truly over: medical insurance, unresolved debt, and other employer benefits.

      That said, this guy clearly has some loose ends he needs to tie up. And if you feel uncomfortable about his marital status you have an obligation to yourself to address them with him. This is not “too pushy” – it is adult and mature. He is really wowing you, and you are wowed! And he owes you an explanation of his status and plans. Even if you have just started dating.

      My other advice? Take things slow. Enjoy yourself. Be skeptical yet open. And never doubt your intuition.

    3. I have two things to ask before I’d make an opinion. But here is my opinion on the still being married WHEN IT IS PROVED, that the couple is no longer together.

      My ex and I have been separated for almost 2 years, not divorced. I filed the minute I found out he was cheating on me…but I was already pregnant. In my state you can’t divorce pregnant. After I had the baby, found out he ran up a bunch of debt. We have separated everything, live in different states, when he still lived in town we had separate homes, he pays child support…but I’m staying on the insurance and he needs to pay down the debt. Soooo, my point….not being legally divorced shouldn’t be a huge issue. I am currently dating someone exclusively and he knows my whole deal and is understanding of it. Now, my family still thinks it’s wrong, but I don’t give a rat’s butt! I’m looking out for me, in NO rush to get married again, so really it’s just a legal situation at this point.

      On the flip side. My ex was a serial cheater. Told these woman that he was separated when we ABSOLUTELY were not. He is super sparkly and a smooth talker. He carried on 6 month to a year affairs in which some of these woman were completely unaware he was married. Clearly…not listening to their guts. Or just plain dumb. But, he was good at picking train wrecks for affair partners.

      Have you been to his home? How do you know that he is truely separate from his wife? If so, I really see it as a non issue.

      I have to say, it is a tad worrysome to me that you have already spoken about wanting more kids and the future…and you went on 2 dates. The man I’m currently seeing meet off an online site 9 months ago. We texted for a few weeks before my schedule could allow meeting (I had a newborn and it was gearing up for the holidays) We went out on dates, not exclusive, until we just kind of both were like…”ya, I don’t want to date anyone else but you”. This was around February. We spend alot of time together, I’ve introduced him to my kids (he has none, was married for 8 years prior. Ex cheated). Just within the past month did the conversation come up about him having kids. Sometimes I feel like we can be in such a rush to label a relationship or figure out the future and NEED to define things, that we just miss out on the present. If I had started asking him these things soon into this, then I would have had to think “Is this forever…why am I talking about this? Is he the one?!?” Instead of just having some fun. Getting to know someone, enjoying the time spent. Honestly, I would have ran myself out of this relationship and freaked myself out thinking “is this too soon…is he the one!!” And missed out on the past 6 months of being with someone who is just awesome. I really don’t see myself breaking up with him, and I’m not ready to get married again at this point. So, I’m enjoying this thing called “the moment”. And it’s fantastic!

      Rant over :)

      1. PS. Kid conversation went like this. Having a few beers on the porch after a particularly wonderous 2 hours of getting my 3 year old to go the F to sleep

        Me: “So, I know you did want kids…do you still want them.”

        Him: “I feel like at 37, it’s passed me by. But I’m ok with it.”

        Me: “I’m pretty sure hanging out with my 3,000 kids has helped you with that…”

        Him: “There is already 3 of them and 2 of us. No need to get surrounded…”

        We always allude to a foreseen future together, but enjoy the present. No one is moving in or getting married at this point, so no need to go there yet.

      2. “Sometimes I feel like we can be in such a rush to label a relationship or figure out the future and NEED to define things, that we just miss out on the present.”
        THIS. Remember: once upon a time most of were certain a relationship was the right one for ever and ever. Just chill out, hang out. What Marissa said.

  9. Follow Tammy’s advice. When I was interested in dating for serious relationships I didn’t date women who were not divorced. He’s probably still going by to bang is wife periodically, and talk about maybe getting back together with her. Even freshly divorced brings too much drama in my experience. It was later that I learned that even long divorced still brings way too much drama as well. :)

    Never believe what friends tell you about a person they know. They are almost never being honest, and don’t know the prospective date well enough to know whether she/he is worth a darn. You have to put in the time, and see for yourself, and some late night phone calls won’t be enough.

    Stay “skeptically single”, and believe me, as you watch other relationships and marriages meltdown around you, you will become “very happily single”.

    1. Oh Darth, all your wisdom and humor goes out the window when it comes to marriage talk. You always sound so, so bitter and that makes me sad. Emoticon time! :(

      1. No need to be sad, and I’m surely not bitter. While years ago -after seeing the success of my own parents marriage – I once believed marriage had some merit.

        My father married my mother later in life, so in my 20s I focused on education and a career thinking “I’ll work on finding a serious relationship” in my mid-30s like Dad, after I’m established.” That delay ended up being my saving grace because it gave me time to see most of the marriages of my friends go nuclear – as in destruction, not in family – just as I was getting started. And more often it was actually the wife who was the “abuser”, “cheater”, “quitter”, “addict” – ya know, what all we men get accused of when a marriage falls apart. My dating has only reinforced what I see in the multitude of failing and miserable marriages around me.

        Do I wish things were different? I do. And while I agree with much of what I’ve read in your blog, I also am happy – not bitter -to present a very sobering dose of reality from a male perspective.

        1. Well, Darth, as long as you are happy!! I am around plenty of great marriages! I am one of the few divorced people in my life.

          I believe marriage can work. Don’t know if I’ll do it again, as I’m done having kids. But I can see myself being with someone for the rest of my life.

          Woman and men can both be huge asshats. No one sex holds the monopoly on that!

          1. Raise your three kids, enjoy one long-term serious relationship, or many short-term.

            And yes both men and women can be asshats. No argument on that point. Still, I could write many blogs on how men generally face heavier consequences for their own asshattedness than women they do the same things crappy men do. Thankfully, we men are getting wise to the unfairness of marriage and divorce laws in the US, and opting out on marriage for many of these reasons.

            If most of your friends are in “great marriages”, you are fortunate. I am fortunate to see what I believe are a few happy marriages. I tend to see marriages stay together where there is a family or friends social “norm” of the couples remaining together and making it work. The external influences have to help. I know I aim to keep my married buddies accountable when we hang out; Just because I’m single I don’t take my married buddies with me to the singles bars for instance, knowing I don’t want their marriages to have issues. Perhaps you and Emma are fortunate to socialize with such people as well. Still, stretch out ones social circle very far, and there is that 50% of people divorce in first marriages, 65% in second marriages divorce. Then, what percentage of marriages that remain are really happy? I highly doubt it’s very many of the remaining 40%.

            I once believed marriage could work. Overall, I don’t anymore. Sure the rare marriage works, but the statistics simply don’t support that marriage in the majority is successful.

  10. You are right, men get the shaft in divorces. SAHM Wife serially cheats on you? Well, say hello to the latest affair partner moving in to your old house and you seeing your kids every other weekend and wednesdays. Narcessitic cheaters aren’t the type that will share custody of your kids with you. It does amaze me how the courts still side with woman. I would give my ex 50% time with the kids if he wanted it. It’s what is right. My luck, when he was in town…he didn’t want it.

    You do you, Darth!

    PS I’ve seen several articles recently that the statistics on second marriages are overblown, in addition to the 1st marriage statistic that 50% end in divorce. Many states don’t report divorce stats. Blah, blah, blah…yawn. People divorce. I did. I’m still not scared…well. Not too much. I applaud your stance. Know yourself and accept nothing less.

  11. If you’re referring to the recent book, and the additional media storms about the book “The Good News About Marriage” I already ordered it. While I’m not optimistic it is true, the topic is of interest to me, and I prefer to be “educated” about the issue, even about statistics I don’t believe to be true….I’m trying to remain open that the book will provide any hope.

    I remember my brother-in-law, who seems to be happily married to my little sister, telling me last Summer, “When we married 25 years ago, there were about 10 couples who got married within those same years. Now, your sister and I are the only ones still together.” In this “90% statistic” he presented only confirmed what I generally see in the marriages/relationships around me (though thankfully not in my immediate family). While I know there are other influences, like the age of bride and groom, that affect their relationship longevity, the raw evidence around me supports the high degree of divorce. I spoke with a couple marital counselors at a party, or two, who similarly confirmed the 50% divorce rate from their practices, and both suggested it is even worse in their estimation. And if two people who marry before kiddos and ex spouse drama enter the picture can’t keep it together, what chance is there that the 2nd marriage would work better?

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