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Each week, author and syndicated columnist, Tom Blake e-mails his "Finding Love After 50" newsletter to subscribers across the United States and throughout the world. Each newsletter features a column pertaining to dating and relationships for people in the age-50 plus category, plus many comments from readers.
Ellen, Boston: "Your newsletter is bright, interesting and touches on topics pertinent to those of us over 50. You helped me deal with dating a grieving widower...we are now just friends...I couldn't handle the rejection. Keep up the great work."
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From my Orange County Register editor: "If only all of our columnists were as professional and popular as you..."
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Should “married-but-separated” people date?
In last week’s newsletter, we quoted Cindy, a 59-year-old married-but-separated executive from New York City who said meeting men was difficult. I suggested she might be having difficultly because she was still married and men might shy away from her. Should married-but-separated people date?
Most people say no
Most who responded said “no” to dating someone married.
Pat Duncan, Little Rock, Ark., wrote, “Start dating only when the divorce papers are signed. Until then, you’re still married, like it or not.”
Suni e-mailed from Florida: “I never date men who are separated. It’s asking for trouble. Some attorneys have used that as an adultery issue. Plus, the spouse may not be used to the idea of a former mate dating, and sometimes that’s a nightmare in the waiting.”
Ed Hebert, San Francisco said, “I dated a woman who was getting a divorce. She was using me as a rebound to her spouse, proving to him that she could date also. She was harboring deep feelings for him and not ready. In the bar business, they used to call it a one-night stand.”
“Separated does not equal available; I refuse to connect with anyone who lists their status as separated,” e-mailed Rhonda NeSmith, 47, Atlanta, GA.
“There is no such thing as being ‘separated’ unless you’re an egg,” shared, Patricia, from Pittsburgh, PA. “Men or women who try to act as if they’re single, but aren’t divorced, have no integrity.”
Julie Britt, Houston, TX: “When I discovered my wonderful Internet date was separated, not ‘single’ as as he had posted, and was avoiding the pain of ending his marriage, and obviously not available for a healthy relationship, I moved on.”
Some singles, like Pat Sickler, Shickshinny, PA, shy away from dating separated people because of the experiences they’ve had. “I was burned badly by an old friend of many years who was in the process of getting a divorce. He went back to his wife.”
Roseanne G of Tyler, Texas, met a guy who “was in the middle of a divorce that was to be ‘final in four weeks.’ Things grew too close too fast considering his situation and my naïve acceptance that we had something worth holding on to. Two-plus years later he still wasn’t divorced. Haven’t seen him in a year and a half. He just called and said the divorce would be final Feb. 20. Laughing out loud.”
Reader Val said people shouldn’t date until after the divorce because it’s not fair to drag whomever you meet through the emotional traumas and court battles. “Also, you are vulnerable emotionally and are likely to do something stupid you’ll regret like sleeping with someone because you’re lonely or don’t remember how to say no.”
Are there exceptions?
Might it be acceptable for a married person to date, depending on the circumstances? Carol Turenne, Oakdale, MN, thinks so: “Depends on where a person is in a relationship. If it’s completely over, why not start dating, not fireworks, but dating?”
“I’m single and I’m not single,” a 60-year-old separated woman wrote. “My being ‘not’ single is pure technicality. A complicated financial issue precluded putting my estranged husband’s and my signature on the divorce agreement.”
Another woman in her 70s separated from her husband six years ago because he was having an ongoing affair, and had been for years. Since then, he has developed advanced Alzheimer’s and is in an assisted-living facility.
She said, “I have chosen not to divorce…financially it would be impossible to maintain his level of care after community property were divided. I would be fine but he would not and I cannot leave my daughters with the sole responsibility for their father.”
She’s been dating a widower for two years. Neither is interested in re-marrying; he is aware of her situation. “Both of us realize we must enjoy each and every day we are given.”
Is she wrong? She could divorce him and cut off his health care. Or, stay married to protect him and yet get out and enjoy what years she has remaining. I think she is a remarkable woman for the decision she’s made.
Personally, I dated before my divorce was final. My wife cleaned out the house on Xmas Eve and left. Was I going to sit around and wait for the divorce papers out of respect for her? No way, I needed to jump start my life and did.
Some still-married people have every right to date. They could become great mates. The problem is: How do you distinguish between who is lying and who has a legitimate reason? The Internet is rife with married men dating (and cheating). If you decide to date someone married, proceed with caution and protect yourself.
How do you know if someone is married?
Barbara Sloan, Wallingford, CT: “I ask for their home phone number and call them there, rather than giving out my phone number. This allows me to make sure I can block my number until I’m sure I can trust a man. It’s a red flag if he won’t give out his number.”
Excuses singles hear from married people
Faylee, Kingsport, TN, wrote, “I’ve heard, ‘I can’t get a divorce until my mom dies, it would kill her to have a divorce in the family,’ and ‘My kids wouldn’t talk to me if I divorced their mom, ’only to find out the kids are in their late 20s and already divorced themselves.”
Are you available?
In the movie “Forget Paris,” when Billy Crystal found out the woman he had fallen in love with was married, he told her, “Don’t make yourself available if you’re not available.”
Married folks wanting to date need to ask themselves: “Am I available?
Only they can determine that, and then they have to convince the new love they’ve just met that they’re a safe bet for the future. Depending on their situations, they might have a tough sales job on their hands.
* * *
Nancy, Marion, Ohio: “I received an Internet response from a fella in a neighboring state who wanted my measurements as he liked to ‘carpet wrestle!’ How risky is Internet dating for women.” Tom’s Response: Another one of those floor-burner guys. Handle them with two words. “Delete” and “next.” That’s another ploy to get the sex topic on the agenda early. Always trust your instincts.
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