Separated But Not Single

I'm an attractive, nice, 45 year old guy who has been legally separated for about six months, yet emotionally estranged from my wife for several years. By the time I moved out of our house, I had already worked through many of my feelings regarding the demise of my marriage. We do have two kids, (14 and 17) who live with their mom in another state, and who spend some holidays and part of the summer vacation with me. They appear to be dealing as well as possible with the break-up of our family and we have not had many challenges confronting us in this area.

My issue is that I believe I am very ready to be in a relationship again and have even posted a profile on a large dating site. The problem is that women are very reluctant about dating a guy who is not legally divorced and/or has only been out of his marriage for a short time. I have received only two replies in over a month and they were from women who are clearly not my type and not looking for the same things I am.

Would it be completely out of line to put "single" for my marital status, as I am only still married in the legal sense? If I do this, when is the best time to tell someone the truth? Is there a way that I can explain my reasons without sounding like a dishonest player? If I leave my profile as it is, I may as well take it down and forget about dating until after the divorce is final, which is something I really do not want to do. --Gus

Dear Gus--

Until you are legally divorced, you are married. Being married in name only is like being a little pregnant, you either are or you are not. Therefore, you would be starting a relationship with a lie, which is never a good idea, for all the reasons that I think you already know and have been considering. Misrepresenting yourself as single may net you more responses in the short run, but will most likely lead to many promising starts with interesting women, that end quickly and badly.

The time to tell someone the truth is at the beginning--before they have begun to get interested (and invested) in this guy who seems to be what they are looking for, based on everything they have been told. You don't have to highlight the fact that you are separated, just avoid outright deception about it. You can experiment with your profile by leaving this question blank, then answering it during a subsequent getting to know you email or phone conversation.

Use your profile to highlight your strengths, unique attributes and values. Be very clear when you talk about what you are looking for in a woman. Emphasize your desire for a long-term, committed relationship. This is something that a married man would not be asking for. Be careful to avoid any language or include any references of a sexual nature. This is always a red flag, and one that is often present when a married guy is masquerading as single and available.

You are not looking for a lot of women, you are looking for one. By telling the truth, you will get fewer responses, but the women who are interested will be accepting of your situation and the trust factor will be greater because you did not try to hide or distort the truth. If you are truly concerned about wasting valuable relationship building time, tell the truth and save yourself from the inevitable hours of explaining and apologizing that you will be setting yourself up for.

(from June 2006)

Want to read other columns on this subject?

"The Challenges of meeting online"
List of more
"Online Dating"

"The "How We Met" Cover Story"


Toni Coleman, LCSW
Phone: 703-847-1768


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