Dr. Elizma van der Smit clinical psychologist                      

Therapy for Individuals, Families and Couples                                                                                                     

       The Time Has Come!!! It is time to be better!!




By: Elizma van der Smit    B.A., B.A. Honns.,M.A. Klin. Psig. (PU vir CHO), M.Phill (PPL) (RAU)


1.        Your boyfriend is divorced

1.1    Different examples of emotional baggage that may be involved when you are involved with a divorced man.

 All divorced men have an ex-wife. Because marriage is such a serious commitment, ex-wives tend to have more power than ex-girlfriends, even after the marriage ends. If they had kids together, she will always be in the picture, feel protective toward her kids, and feel she has certain privileges with him due to having had his children.

Especially if the divorce is recent, a divorced man may not yet be over his ex-wife. A man who is newly divorced may be especially eager to find a new relationship to fill the void left by the departure of his wife

If a divorced man has children, he may have limited availability for dates because of visitation schedules or child care obligations. 


He may also have a financial obligation to support his ex-wife, their children or both, which leaves less discretionary spending to pursue a new relationship. Statistically for men, second marriages fail at a much higher rate than first marriages. The reason is simple, and it's critical every woman contemplate it before marrying a divorced man. Many men fail to glean the lessons from their failed marriages and consequently never heal their wounds Many aren't even aware they're the walking wounded

1.2    What are the red lights or warning signs that it is best to leave the relationship?

 To find out if your boyfriend is not over his ex-wife yet, watch out for the following: "He'll talk excessively about the marriage, ex-wife, or divorce, frequently praise or badmouth his ex, and spend more time with the ex than is necessary for children or polite friendship.

Be careful if the divorce is recent. Divorce will devastate a man both financially and emotionally. Most divorced men begin dating long before they're finished grieving, and you don't want to be his rebound or wind up with a guy who can't give you what you need.

Be careful of men that may have adopted a "kid in the candy store" mentality, engaging in numerous short-term liaisons “before he has met you”.

Evaluate if your input (effort in dealing with all the baggage) is lower than your output (satisfaction, friendship, and good times).  If the input exceeds the output, it may be time to move on.

1.3     Tips on how to deal with the emotional baggage of your divorced boyfriend.


Be careful if you take the role of the “rescuer” who would do anything to relieve his pain, including trying to fix his problems with his ex, children, finances etc.  The focus is not on you and this imbalance will eventually cause unhappiness. Once he has healed, he may dump the girlfriend who has offered him emotional support.

You don't have to become best friends with a man's ex-wife, but you should try to develop a cordial relationship with her. If he's recently divorced, be cautious, take things slow, and make sure you get your needs met. Rather wait en give him time to grieve properly. Seek help.

Your boyfriend has family issues.

 2.1   Types of family issues that can cause problems for the relationship.

Different forms of addictions present in a parent/sibling or other family members. 

An abusive family member – physically or emotionally. 

Family members who is over protective 

Family members that is over critical 

Family members who is fighting each other 

Family members with financial problems 

Family members who do not know boundaries

2.2   What are the red lights or warning signs that it is best to leave the relationship?

No parent, step-parent, relative or friend of the family is allowed to abuse you – physically, sexually or emotionally.   If this cannot be stopped or handled effectively, the relationship will probably suffer too much as a result of it.


When your boyfriend shows rigidity in behaviour and attitudes, having an unwillingness to change when you or him are avoiding conflict at any price, and often repress your own feelings and opinions to keep the peace.

When he fails to take care of himself due to the absorption in the needs and concerns of other people, and acting like martyr, living for others instead of for himself.

We also know that if your boyfriend who grew up in these types of families does not address these powerful and poignant issues, it is likely that he will unwittingly continue these patterns of abuse into a new generation.

2.3   Tips on how to deal with your boyfriend’s family issues.

There's a saying that when you marry someone, you marry their family too. This is just like that. We can choose our partners but not their families. I personally find that you can really dislike their family and still be very much in love with the person you're dating.


Most importantly, you need to listen. Sometimes there is nothing you can do but listen, and be there for emotional and/or psychological support.

In other instances you may be able to come up with some suggestions. However, never tell him he should not feel the way he does, or say something like, "cheer up there is always others who have it worse." That just says you’re dismissing his feelings. Pain is pain, no matter how relative it is, and it still hurts. 


Face reality. Be fearless and compile a list of what must be accepted and what must be changed both internally (within yourself) and externally (situation specific). This is your starting point for prioritizing challenges and identifying the resources you'll need to resolve them. It will also help you identify what is and is not within your control.

The key to moving beyond unhealthy relationships, no longer staying stuck in the past, and blaming our parents for everything that is wrong in our lives is learning to forgive. Without moving to a point in our lives when we can forgive our families for any perceived transgressions, we cannot heal, and we cannot move forward.


Take care of yourself as well, and try to talk to someone about how the problem has been affecting you.


3.Your boyfriend has children

3.1   types of emotional problems involved when your boyfriend has children


Kids (and an ex wife) that seem to be quite hostile to the idea of a relationship (and to you!) could cause a lot of emotional pain

Boyfriends that struggle to juggle both the responsibility of kids and a relationship will leave you with a sense of resentment that your needs are not being met.

It becomes an issue when you don’t have the same idea or values with regards to raising children and how to discipline them.

When the boyfriend and his ex-wife fight over and about the children – your relationship will be under pressure due to the constant animosity and negative energy.

When you don’t like each other’s kids it is bound to cause strain in the relationship. 


Dad might often feel guilty and scared that he’s seeing his kids less so forgets the word “no,”  and starts letting the discipline go, and/or because smart kids of any age learn to “game the system” and play one parent off the other.

3.2  What are the red lights or warning signs that it is best to leave the relationship?

Unfortunately, this is part of a vicious cycle in relationships. We repeat what we know. People who grow up in chaos, and have been the victim of abuse will have a hard time breaking that pattern when responding to their own children or partners in a relationship. We continue to repeat what is familiar when we are in a situation that requires a response. It takes a great deal of mental, and sometimes physical, effort to break old habits and patterns and change our behavior and response.

Take a deep breath and make sure you can handle this kind of relationship.


Being with a man with children is never an easy thing and it isn't for the faint of heart. Don't feel bad if you can't deal with the division of attention. Consider it self-preservation. Take some time alone to make sure this is what you want.

His children are a part of his life. He is their father. It’s a fact of his life. To stay with your boyfriend, you are probably going to have to accept the fact that he has children. If you have a problem with his children, it may be very difficult for the two of you to stay together. It would not be fair or reasonable to ask him to stop seeing his children or to decrease the amount of time he spends with them.

Are you able to get your needs met in the relationship without too much difficulty? If it takes too much effort to get your needs met, then your relationship is doing you more harm than good. Leave.

Do you and your partner have mutual goals and dreams for your future together? If you aren’t planning to spend your future together, something’s terribly wrong. Take off.


3.3   Tips on how to deal with your boyfriend’s children


Make a point not to meet his children until you've been dating at least six months and until you have a very strong agreement that you will have a future together. The best scenario is to wait until you are engaged, then meet the children and wait an additional year and really get to know the kids well.


Try to have a cordial relationship with the kids' mother (if she's around). Don't become best friends (your guy will feel like he is being double teamed) but don't be cold (she may turn the kids against you). Don't be afraid to ask your man about his relationship with her. What they did, but more so, why they did they break up? Sometimes figuring out her quirks will help you deal with her better (him too).

Early in the relationship, show some interest and ask about the child and the child's interests.

Do not overreact if occasionally "something comes up with the child" and a date must be broken.

Be friendly, but allow the children to come to you, do not push your friendship on them.

Don't be upset if one of the children initially doesn't like you. It could be for one of the reasons above. Or it could have nothing to do with you. Manage it gracefully and talk to the child with respect.

Talk to your man. Sometimes discussing how you are feeling will not only make you feel better, but it will let him know how you are feeling. Granted, you can't whine about every little thing, but repression is bad.

It takes two to make a marriage work. Problems in your marriage are only caused by you and your spouse, and how the two of you deal with situations. You should never be blame marriage on your stepchildren, ever. 


4.       Your boyfriend has a string of exes


4.1  Types of emotional baggage involved when your boyfriend has a string of exes

He could have a serious problem with commitment.

He could always looking for the perfect woman who does not exist.

He only sticks around when it is nice, the moment real problems arise (which is inevitable) he disappears.

He might lack certain skills in dealing with problems or conflict.

4.2  What are the red lights or warning signs that it is best to leave the relationship

If he blames circumstances or his ex-girlfriends, it might be that he is not taking responsibility for his mistakes en therefor will repeat them.

If he does not respect the earlier relationships.

If there is a pattern going e.g. relationships only last a few months.

When you don’t trust him or vice versa.

If the relationship is mainly about his needs and you’re only tagging along trying to make him happy.

If you think you can change him.

4.3  Tips on how to deal with your boyfriend’s string of exes.

Talk about previous relationships and focus on mistakes made and the lessons learnt.  If there is no communication or lessons learnt – it is time to run!

Don’t make the exes part of your relationship by continuously asking about the personal details – you might become insecure en compare yourself to them continuously.

5.       Your boyfriend has debt

5.1    Types of problems involved when your boyfriend has debt


Love may make the world go ‘round, but disagreements over money can stop even the best relationship dead in its tracks.

Studies show that when it comes to money, men and women often have different views. Women see it as a sign of security and stability. They like to save for emergencies and become worried when financial problems arise. Men take more risks with money and see money issues as a threat to their self-esteem.

In a new relationship, resolving money issues means adjusting to each other’s spending and saving styles, and coming up with a system you can both live with.  The inability to do this can cause strain in the relationship.

In most relationships, one person takes on most of the financial responsibility. But that means they’re also likely to shoulder the blame if a money decision goes bad, which can lead to some serious tension.

Due to your boyfriends added responsibilities after divorce, scaling back your standard of living could affect you and your relationship.

Whether you have them or not, you know that raising a child is expensive. From housing and food costs to building a college fund, children come along with an ever-expanding list of expenditures that can easily strain a relationship.

5.2   What are the red lights or warning signs that it is best to leave the relationship?

If you bring up the topic several times and your partner still gets defensive, "that might be a ‘red flag' that he or she may not be able to have honest communications about other things,

When you as a couple are unable to work together to come up with general spending rules or limits. 

When you’re basic financial needs are continuously not met.

When your boyfriend has trouble working with money (e.g. not paying basic bills, overspending, gambling), but is not willing to get help/advice.

When your husband has a history of financial problems and continuously blames it on something/somebody else.


5.3  Tips on how to deal with your boyfriend’s debt.

If you are getting serious start talking about money right away, particularly if it has been an issue in past relationships.

Find a Neutral Time to Talk Money. Couples don't usually talk openly about money. The goal with your new partner is to have a calm, relaxed discussion when there's no particular money issue at hand. Sit down with your partner and have what I call a "money talk." 

Together, discuss different money scenarios and how each of you might address or resolve the scenarios (e.g., overdrawn checking account, fired from a high paying job, lost credit card, the pros and cons of joint or separate checking accounts in a committed relationship, etc.)

Make Sure the Issue is Really About Money. Too often, disagreements about money have little to do with money itself and more to do with issues of control, security, self-esteem and love. 

If you have concerns about your new partner's spending habits, financial decisions or role in managing money, express those thoughts during this talk as well.

Bear in mind that not all people are comfortable talking about money right away in a relationship. Be patient but persistent.

 Try to understand your partner's perspective. Compromise is often essential. It is fine to disagree on some issues, but don't let them get in the way of your overall goals as a couple.

Once you become a committed couple, it is important to work together to come up with general spending rules or limits. 


6.       Your boyfriend is unemployed


6.1  Types of problems involved when your boyfriend is unemployed

The day a man loses his job is among the most stressful of his life. Sudden unemployment can turn a man’s world upside down, influencing every aspect of his life, including his relationship. Even the sturdiest of romantic bonds can be shaken when a man finds himself among the jobless. The stress caused by unemployment can eat away at a relationship like cancer.

the loss of financial resources, social connection, and stability leads to disastrous results for many, including depression, anxiety, insomnia, relationship problems, and substance abuse.

And though every guy hopes that his partner will actually help him weather the storm of unemployment, it’s also not uncommon for a guy to feel that having another person to worry about, and another stressed out individual in the house, just makes matters worse.

6.2  What are the red lights or warning signs that it is best to leave the relationship

He is not making an effort to find a job.

If you are the one browsing websites, buying newspapers, getting leads instead of him.

If he is unable to accept help, especially If he has a history of unstable jobs and financial difficulties

If he is too defensive or aggressive and therefor unable to talk about the problem.

If he constantly takes his frustration out on you or blaming you for his situation.

6.3  Tips on how to deal with your boyfriend’s unemployment.

When your boyfriend lost his job, is can be a devastating experience. Anger, fear and nervousness are natural responses, and it’s OK to give in to those emotions -- for a while. It’s fine to be upset, and have understanding, but a day or two of moping is pretty much all his allowed. Both of you need to start planning your next move and looking for a new job, not wallowing around your apartment in your sweats.


Just because his not going in to the office anymore doesn’t mean you’re on vacation. It’s crucial that both of you stick to a schedule. Try waking up at the usual time with and leaving in the morning. Simply getting out of the house will keep him motivated and increase his productivity. It will also help you retain some resemblance of normalcy in your relationship.

Be honest about your current financial situation. If things have gone south, continuing the same lifestyle that was possible before the loss of income is simply unrealistic.

Don't hide income or debt. Bring financial documents, including a recent credit report, pay stubs, bank statements, insurance policies, debts, and investments to the table.

Don’t blame.


Construct a joint budget that includes savings

Decide upon short-term and long-term goals. It's OK to have individual goals, but you should have family goals, too.


But what saves the day is when the significant other says something amazing like, "It's okay, I understand. This is important and it's hard on you. You're a talented and intelligent person. The right job IS out there for you. If you need to talk, talk."

Here are some ways to know if you should break it off.

You're no longer getting what you want or need from the relationship. Let's face it. If you're not happy, chances are your partner isn't either.

You can no longer communicate with your partner. Everyone has different communication styles, says Laurie Moore, Ph.D., author of Creative Intimacy and Choosing a Life Mate Wisely. "However, you don't want to spend all of your time in the relationship trying to communicate with each other. It's just too much work.

You no longer look forward to spending time alone with your partner. You may still have a good sex life, but you don't talk to your partner. You prefer to spend time with other people to avoid being alone together.

You criticize or micro-manage your partner. If you're always concerned with some aspect of your partner's personality or appearance, don't look at them — look at yourself. People who are in love overlook minor annoyances and see the bigger picture.

You compare your partner to others. When you love someone, you don't compare him or her to others. If you find yourself doing this, you should re-evaluate your relationship.

You try to change your partner. Often we fall in love with people who don't suit us. If you find that you're constantly trying to change your partner, it may be time to move on.

You don't laugh anymore. Humour is something that all relationships need. If you no longer find his jokes funny, or you can't have light-hearted conversations, it may be a sign that the relationship has lost its zing.

You're doing all the giving (or all the getting). Relationships are about mutual benefit. If one partner is benefiting over the other, the relationship is unhealthy.

Your friends no longer like being around you when you're with your partner. Your friends may like your partner, but they no longer like the affect your partner has on you. Dr. Northrup says when a relationship's not right, our friends tell us the truth and often are the first to see when a relationship turns sour.

You no longer feel good about yourself. Think about how it felt when you first fell in love with your partner. If this feeling is lacking, you may want to look at your relation.