Should I date men who are still technically married?
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I got divorced after a long marriage shortly before COVID, and recently started dating. I've met some great guys who are still married or in a long-term relationship – one living in a house his wife and an adult child, one living on a different floor in the same house with the mother of their teenager, and one separated but living a few blocks away from his wife sharing custody of two teens, and even though he refers to her as his "ex" … he’s not divorced. None have explained why they haven't ended their relationships with the mothers. Should I avoid getting involved with men in these situations? I'm not interested in waiting around for a guy to decide if he's ready to end his relationship completely. But I'm wondering if this could be a missed opportunity if he is truly emotionally over his ex, and just hasn't been able to leave his situation for an unrelated reason such as finances or to keep custody of his kids.
– Debating in Duxbury
Every situation is different. I won't tell you to stay away from all of these men because divorce can take a long time. Frankly, lots of divorced people aren't ready to date, while some still-marrieds are.
One rule that does seem fair: maybe don't date men who live with an ex-partner. Even if the situation is above board, it seems like it'd be difficult. Logistically annoying. It sounds like you'd rather meet a guy who has his own place. That's fair.
That rules out Man 1 and Man 2 in your letter, but Man 3 – the guy who lives down the street from his ex – might just be a really a really involved dad who's dealing with divorce paperwork. It's worth getting more information about him, right? You can ask why he’s not divorced (go for it after a few other, less complicated questions).
I know people who had to wait more than a year – sometimes two – before a divorce was final. No matter what was on the books, they weren't great to date until their new living situations were settled.
The right person, if he's married, will be able to explain what's going on. He'll be transparent and show you his home life, while protecting his kids.
Remember that if anything feels off at any point while you're dating someone, you can walk away. You can give people the benefit of the doubt but follow your gut.
Good luck – and keep me posted, please.
Readers? Any rules about still-married single people?
Speaking of Love
"I love you, in a really, really big pretend-to-like-your-taste-in-music, let-you-eat-the-last-piece-of-cheesecake, hold-a-radio-over-my-head-outside-your-window, unfortunate way that makes me hate you, love you." — Meredith Grey, Grey’s Anatomy