Dr. Romance:

I stumbled upon your article
"Contemplating Divorce"
while I was searching for advice on dating a divorcee. I can't help but wonder what advice you would give to a girl who has never been married who is currently seeing a divorcee. I have never in my entire life dated a divorcee, so I am clueless.

I am a single girl in my twenties, and the guy I'm seeing is about six years older. We met via an online dating website and have been communicating for several months now. We live in different countries. We've never met but he is coming to visit me very soon.  I know quite a lot of details about his divorce as he was very forthcoming. He told me how they met, how she treated him, what kind fights they had, how her negative attitude affected him and their marriage, even her (seemingly bad) cooking and bed skills! These discussions all took place within the confine of texting. Most of the times the details flow out naturally when we ask each other questions during the getting-to-know-each-other phase. Is this sort of revelation normal? Him opening out about his past may be a good thing but I wonder if he talked about it too excessively.  I admit I love hearing the dirty bits on her.

He did mention that she has some good qualities about her, but he was never explicit about them. Curiously, he never mentioned the negative things he had done either. I always assume it takes two to tango, on in his case to divorce. She may be the malicious person he made her sound to be, but it would be silly to think that he was an angel that walks on water. How do I ask him his faults?

Last night we entered into an argument. Granted, my timing was bad because I sorta jumped the topic on him when he has just finished work. But his replies towards the end of the conversation gave me mixed feelings. First he said I was selfish. Second he said that some of the things I told him were the exact kind of things his ex-wife told him. He found it irritating. I panicked because I have never been compared to an ex before in my life, what more being told I did things that irritated him as much as his ex did. I am not sure if I did the right thing, but I apologised. I told him I did not know that those things I said irritated him.

However, after having replayed the conversation in my head, I realised some red flags are appearing:

He is still angry with what his ex wife did - it has been more than a year since the divorce, is he still emotionally tied up to her?

He once alluded to me that he actually hates his ex wife - opposite of love is indifference, not hate. If he has truly moved on and has no feelings for her, what I did would not had pushed his buttons the way she did. I personally feel that 'hate' tends to make us think more of someone, it is a way of holding on.

One part of me is feeling that he was simply telling me not to repeat what I did because those were the very mistakes the ex wife's did and he hated them. But another part of me feels like he couldn't leave his past behind and not try to color his present relationship with hurts from his previous one. Being compared to the ex's negative attitude or reminded of their arguments is just an unhealthy way to base our relationship on.

What should I do? Your insights and wisdom are truly appreciated.

Dear Reader:

The first thing that stands out for me is that you and this man live in two different countries. No wonder you're anxious! You are way ahead of yourself. You didn't mention if you two have talked at all about how you're going to handle the distance, but I think this is more fantasy than reality, for both of you. My concern is that this very long-distance relationship which has all the odds stacked against it is keeping you from finding a real relationship that will actually work.
 "Stupid Cupid"
will give you a list of questions to discuss before deciding your relationship has potential.

You are right to pay attention to what he says about his ex, because there are lots of clues about how he feels about women in general there, as well as clues to what didn't work in his marriage.  You are also right to think that most marriage problems take two, and he doesn't seem to be acknowledging his part in creating the problems. I suggest you say that to him: "When you talk about your marriage, everything seems to be her fault. What did you do wrong?" Keep in mind, that if you should actually create a relationship out of this, that the "dirty bits" he's saying about her, could be what he'll be saying about you. Don't worry about making him mad, this is the time to do that, because you need to see what he does with his anger.
"Anger: Cleansing Squall or Hurricane"
 will help you understand the difference between healthy anger and temper tantrums.

He may not only be still angry at his ex, but angry at all women, perhaps beginning with his mother. That is not a good kind of man to get attached to. I also agree with you that his hatred for his ex is a warning flag.

However, it's natural for the issues from the past relationship to come up in the current one. If he's worked through and accepted responsibility for his part of the problems, and learned and grown from them, he should just be able to say "I don't like it when you say that," and have a discussion instead of getting angry and comparing you to his ex.
"How to Avoid Loving a Jerk"
  will help you figure out if he's a good guy or a bad guy.   
"Couples Can Cooperate for Success"
 will give you strategies for negotiation instead of arguing.

The good thing about a man who's been married before is that he knows what marriage is all about, and that can be helpful. The biggest warning flag I see here is the fact that you are thinking there's a real relationship here, based on texting and never meeting. The odds are very much against that, and the obstacles the two of you face are enormous. My question is, why aren't either of you finding mates closer to home? What is the problem there?
"Where is Love?"
 will give you a more productive way to think about relationships. 

How to Be Happy Partners: Working it out Together
 will teach you tools you need to create a realistic relationship that can succeed.

Happy Partners cover

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Author's Bio: 

Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D. is a licensed psychotherapist in S. California since 1978 with over 30 years experience in counseling individuals and couples and author of 13 books in 17 languages, including It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction; The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again; Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting About the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage, The Commuter Marriage, and her newest, Love Styles: How to Celebrate Your Differences. She writes the “Dr. Romance” blog, and the “Happiness Tips from Tina” email newsletter.