Avoiding the Still Married Separated and Newly Divorced

Assume that you've taken all my warnings to heart and you've waited the appropriate period of time. One of your friends at the office tells you his ex-sister-in-law has just moved to town and thinks the two of you will be terrific together. Your first question is not "How old is she?" or "Can I see a picture?" or "Does she have kids?" It's "How long has she been divorced?"

The only people who are eligible for sane dating situations are people whose divorce has been final for at least one year. You know how crucial that waiting time was for you, and you can do the world, your potential date, and yourself an enormous favor by immediately asking the question, "How long has the divorce been final?"

The following words and phrases are all fancy or not-so-fancy ways of saying, "Still married":

1 Separated

1 Staying together for the sake of the kids 1 Living like brother and sister

1 Waiting for her mother, brother, aunt, or dog to die 1 Can't afford to live separately right now 1 In the hands of the lawyers 1 Have almost everything worked out 1 Working on an annulment

^ Only until I find another job, apartment, or reason to live ^ I'm not sure if I'm straight

Don't date married people, and if you're married, don't date. Married people who date are unhappy, dishonest, and confused, or they're people who use other people. Who needs to be in that kind of situation? And even if you're tempted, maybe I can convince you not to if you realize that

^ You will be alone every Christmas, New Year's, weekend, and holiday.

^ Married people who date lie. If this person really does get divorced, they either need recovery time, or they are the kind who will cheat on you since the pattern has already been established.

^ You'll be viewed either as someone who cheats (if you're the married one) or as someone who has so few scruples that you'd date someone else's spouse.

Who needs to date someone who is already proven to be capable of adultery, bad judgment, or both? Who needs the heartache? Walking into a propeller is just plain dumb, and dating someone who's still married is walking into a propeller. Even if that someone hasn't been living with his or her not-really ex, what makes you think the person doesn't use his or her legal purgatory as a way to keep potential dates or mates at arms' length? You truly can't win. You can only lose.

The proper response to finding out that your prospective date has not been divorced the required one year is, "I've read (or I know) how crazy that first year is. I think you're special enough to wait for because I think we might really have something here. I'll call you in (fill in the blank) months, and we can celebrate the anniversary of your divorce together."

Anniversaries of separations are not to be celebrated. If you're feeling like you really want to be the emotional Red Cross, go take a cold shower. Once you've dried off, donate some time to a worthy cause, but not to a walking disaster area that is a person freshly out of a relationship. I promise you will be an emotional Band-Aid, and we all know what happens to used Band-Aids. You deserve better.

You don't have to walk away forever, but you do have to walk away. Everybody needs to regain his or her equilibrium after being on storm-tossed seas. Whether the boat sank or floundered on the rocks or was commandeered by pirates, get your breath and your sea legs back. Give yourself some time. It will be time well spent even though it's hard to do.

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