Single, Separated, Divorced: How Honest Should You Be?

This Frisky article might spark some interesting discussion. Once again, I left a comment and it’s being moderated. I’m starting to think it’s personal. :) From the article:

Finding out that “single” signifier on his online dating profile actually should have read “divorced” has happened to me a grand total of FIVE times. I shit you not! Yes, all the guys listed themselves as “single” online, but mentioned their divorces at some point on the first date during the whole “this is my whole resume and life recap” bit. One guy referred to an ex as his “ex-girlfriend” first before letting it slip that they had been married. 

Personally, I don’t care how they present it initially. As long as they are available and not breaking laws or vows/commitments, I don’t care. I totally get why some people (because women do this too) are hesitant to reveal that they are divorced. This Frisky article, to me, has an underlying tone of judgment. Divorced = baggage/bad. Men and Women both know that people will make assumptions about them if they reveal that they are divorced.

“Oh God. Crazy Ex-Wife/Husband alert!”

“He doesn’t have any money because he got screwed in a divorce!”

“Oh, she lives off alimony. Gold digger!”

That’s why some people aren’t upfront about it. As I’ve said before, people who expect total honesty and full disclosure this soon reveal their own inexperience and issues.

I agree that Single, Separated but Single and Divorced are three totally different things. Divorced and Single, to me, are the same thing. I’d want to know sooner than later, but I wouldn’t automatically assume he was being shady if he told me later.  I’d wonder why he felt uncomfortable revealing this info. That would be my first question to him.

I do agree that someone should be upfront in their profile about just being separated. I’d prefer to know that before I decided to meet them. I still might meet them, though. These situations are rarely cut and dry. Someone could be legally separated but no immediate plans to get divorced for financial reasons. Is that an ideal situation? No. But if the guy comes clean and explains it in a way that doesn’t set off any buzzers, I’d be willing to give it a go.

And an honorable mention goes to O’Ex-Boyfriend who dated me exclusively for two whole months before he let it drop that he wasn’t actually legally divorced yet, only separated. Oh, did you just happen to forget to mention it?!?

If a man you’re dating “exclusively” reveals that he actually lied or intentionally mislead you about his marriage/separation status, guess what that means? It means he was never committed to you and that “exclusivity’ was just a weak promise to sleep with only you “for now” or because you pressured him into committing. It’s not the lie itself that bothers us. It’s the implications/motivations behind the lies and revelations that freak us out.

I once went out with a guy from OK Cupid. On his profile he states that he is single. He didn’t fill out the offspring option and left it blank. He also didn’t reveal in what field he worked.  He encouraged women to read his questions. He answered the question about whether or not he wanted to have kids by checking off No. He qualified that by saying that more kids were not in the cards for him.

But here’s the funny part. He was divorced (which he offered in an email conversation) and has 2 kids and works in a field that didn’t appear relevant or connected to things he admitted in his profile. Yet, despite being secretive and almost intentionally misleading about these points, he discloses in his profile that he wants to meet women who don’t mind that he’s already dating other women. Interesting thing to choose to reveal, no? He’ll be honest about that, yet not forthcoming about things as simple as what he does for a living.  I showed my friend his profile before I met him. He laughed out loud at the line about already dating other women.

“That’s like if I sat here talking to you and, out of nowhere, just poked you in the eye. It’s rude and unnecessary.”

“Maybe he just doesn’t want to date women looking for anything serious or exclusive? That’s why I responded to him.”

This particular friend is my Yoda, Robin Williams in Dead Poet’s Society and Hannibal Lechter all rolled into one. I half-expected him to look over his glasses at me and say, “Noooo…that’s incidental.”

“No. It’s just rude. It’s meant to be shocking.. Ask yourself why someone would do that.”

I went into that particular date far more alert after that conversation.

Back to the article. The piece also suggested that people should reveal their STD status in their profile.

Ami and I disagree on this one. She doesn’t think that going on a date with someone means there’s a presumption that sex will take place and that people should disclose once it’s clear sex is going to occur. Meanwhile, I say that you should at the very least obliquely indicate your STD status in some way prior to meeting a person for two reasons. One, so other people wirh similar STDs who may want to date someone who knows what they’re dealing with can find you, and two, so someone for whom an STD is a dealbreaker knows whether to to invest the time.

This just in: most first dates go absolutely nowhere. Why should someone make themselves that vulnerable that soon? It’s like the author of this piece doesn’t even take into account how being public about something like that could compromise other aspects of his life.I also find it really…inconsistent…that someone like this particular author who is constantly talking about sex-positivity would write something that makes it clear that she considers an STD a deal breaker.

It’s not up to a virtual stranger to help you manage your expectations and personal biases. Dating involves investing time and money and accepting that there may be very little return on each investment. If you consider investing time in ONE DATE to be a challenge, then it’s really no secret why you struggle to find someone to date regularly.

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30 Responses to “Single, Separated, Divorced: How Honest Should You Be?”

  1. Speedy Says:

    This one just goes round and round. It would be nice if people were honest all the time and other people respected them for being honest all the time but the world doesn’t work that way. The author of the piece is going to ‘think you are acting shady’, lets all quake in our boots shall we? We all want the other person to lay all their cards on the table, writing the article demanding that article is easy, which is why it gets written so often (although which men are going to read it on The Frisky I don’t know, preaching to the choir again). The one about what you give away is a different matter.

    The article confuses things anyway. The issue isn’t really what you say in the ad, its what you allow someone to find out easily. If you’re going months without mentioning something like this, what the hell is going on? Either it is a massive deal for some reason (which is why they aren’t saying and that is bad) or… I dunno, I think The Frisky lives in a murky world of dates quite unlike the kind of situation where normal enough people meet and talk and stuff like normal human beings. I don’t know about STDs but I reckon I could find out if a random person I’d never met before was divorced on a bus ride, never mind going on a date with someone where there is kind of an agenda to get to know them.

  2. wishing u well Says:

    I think that the single vs divorced issue can have more importance at different stages in one’s life. It likely wouldn’t phase me as much if I were in my forties as it would were I in my twenties. For me, I’ve tended to listen to what the men have to say in general. Are they bitter? Do they blame the other spouse completely for the dissolution of the marriage (which may lead one to wonder whether or not this man takes accountability for his part in his life story and other things)? How long ago were they divorced? And the like.

    The only exception to this for me personally is this: if I ask you directly whether or not you’ve ever been married, come clean. I don’t care what the reason is for not giving me a straight answer on this. One need not delve into the details initially, and I can respect that. However, if a person tells me “no” initially and then changes the answer later on, then that’s all I need to know. If the man in question is lying to me about that, obviously he’s not taking me seriously. And since that’s what I’m looking for, I’m out. If not, and he’s just one to lie about things consistently – likely I would have seen him lie about other smaller things prior to that revelation, and the end result is the same. Exit, stage left. Habitual lying would be the dealbreaker, not the divorce itself.

  3. LostSailor Says:

    Jessica Wakeman can bite me. She’s a liar:

    However, I would challenge men to assume why they think being divorced is automatically a negative on the dating market. For many women, it’s not a negative at all: a man who has a proven willingness to commit is actually an asset. But my concern is more psychologically paranoid. Nondisclosure of a piece of information so huge — they once legally bound themselves to another person, promising “’til death do us part” — makes it seem like there’s a reason they’re not being up front.

    Yeah, that’s the ticket. Men should be up front about it because it’s not a big deal, possibly even a bonus, except that it’s apparently a huge deal. And it happened to her FIVE (count ‘em), FIV times. Sorry, “single” equals “not married.” It happened to you FIVE times (!!!) because to most guys it’s an irrelevant distinction that is all in your fevered mind (not to mention that apparently these five guys mentioned their divorce during a first date; their effrontery, their gall, their insolence was to choose “single” in the profile).

    Generally, just the fact that someone is divorced shouldn’t be an issue. It’s not that they’re “hiding” it to try to trick you. But to the Jessica’s of the world, it’s just another reason to preemptively reject.

    That said, I agree with wishing u well that divorce will mean different things at different ages. Someone who is divorced in their 20s is a different situation from someone divorced in their 40s. And if someone is trying to hide a divorce, the fact of the divorce is really immaterial in light of the deception.

    To be nice, I will agree that if you have kids you need to be up front about it. STDs are a much trickier matter. I would definitely not mention STDs in a dating profile as they are public documents and once on the web, forever on the web. But clearly this info needs to come out before any intimacy that could remotely result in transmission, including making out.

    But Jessica Wakeman can still bite me…

    • Andthatswhyyouresingle Says:

      It’s also important to note that she appears to use OKCupid. (The part in the article about the guy answering the STD question is the clue. That’s one of those questions OKC asks.) OKC doesn’t offer a “Divorced” or “Separated” option. She doesn’t reveal that fact because, well, that would mean she has nothing to complain about and likes making the guy fully responsible for why she’s single.

      I was also amused at how she’s was trying to be all “STD’s are not a deal breaker for me! I’m referring to other people. Not me!” Right. You’re all sex positive and kinky and shit. You would never shame someone for having an STD. Okay.

      • LostSailor Says:

        Don’t mean to be picky or judgmental, but STDs are a deal breaker for me. I’m not going to shame anyone over it, but, sorry, I’m not getting intimate with you.

      • Speedy Says:

        I don’t believe she has one.
        I think she is a journalist writing to a genre formula.
        If you flick back its a follow up in effect to something she wrote previously.

        She is in the wrong demographic to even need to think about dating in these terms.

    • DrivingMeNutes Says:

      “because to most guys it’s an irrelevant distinction…”

      Exactly. And, I will add that this is true of all questions asked by an online dating website. Who made Jessica Wakefield and the official arbiters of what’s important? How old am I? Fuck you. How tall am I? Fuck you. How much do I weigh? You get the picture.

      You’re not obligated to answer any of these questions truthfully. Its an advertisement not an affidavit. A tool. This is not a morality play, its dating. The only question is what strategy will lead to success (however you define it). And, yes, everyone gets to define it. For themselves. Sorry, Jess.

  4. ISOf16 Says:

    This whole discussion is rather silly about what people put on their profile – single – divorced – separated. Technically a guy. or lady. could just put divorced on their profile, but still be married… and not be lying. He could still marrried, but was divorced from a previous marriage. So…. lying and telling white lies are the game these days, and most people do it without blinking an eye… in one form or another. It up to you to be detective and find out. Of course I had a discussion with a lady once when she found out I had Googled her. All she said was …WHY…. She just would rather be surprised on finding out stuff……

  5. D'Alias Says:

    I really don’t see the big deal. These men ARE single. And clearly aren’t hiding their past since she knew about the divorce very early on. The purpose of the profile is to get to the first date. The rest is history.

    In the fall, I had a first date with a guy who left the offspring question blank. Things go well after the first drink and out comes the photo of his three year old son. Who cares? He said it right away.

    I don’t think it’s fair that people think people should disclose their entire life online just to make it easier on strangers they don’t even know. It’s selfish of the stranger. As long as you get the info early enough to make an informed decision, I don’t see what there is to complain about. We don’t do Scarlett letters anymore.

    PS – most sex positive types are sooo full of it

    • fuzzilla Says:

      Yeah, it wouldn’t even occur to me make the “OMG, divorced is not single” distinction. Divorced *is* single, and who doesn’t have baggage past a certain age?

  6. GManJamin Says:

    I have to agree, her argument makes little sense. Being divorced equals being single. Would she think the same thing of a man that live together with a woman for 8 years but was not technically married as she would for a man that was married for two years and divorced? Both of them are now single.

    Of course I don’t understand the why a guy would be vague about this. Is being divorced really a deal breaker for a lot of women? If it is, then guys need to be upfront about it if they truely want a relationship. Everyone has different deal breakers. I would suggest just being open and honest. You don’t have to be an open book in your profile or on a first date but don’t be secretive. There is nothing worse then to be really into someone and then find out a big deal breaker. Like she is a single mother that never mentions having kids for the first couple of dates.

    • D'Alias Says:

      I have a dear friend who met her husband on match about four yrs ago. He checked single even though he was divorced. She is so so happy he did, because she said she used to exclude divorced men from her searches so she would have written him off. Limited disclosure worked out well for them.

  7. LaMotta Says:

    Totally agree about not over-revealing for the first date. The first date should be about determining if there’s an attraction. Everything else is pointless unless that is present. Revealing too much might hit on preconceptions or biases that will later not be an issue once the person “knows you for yourself”.

  8. SwimmerChix Says:

    and then there are those of us who have been legally separated for 4-5 years and did not process the divorce paperwork just so that we could continue to receive excellent medical benefits not available otherwise. (yes i pay in for them). this is more common than you think.

    • fuzzilla Says:

      A friend was telling me about a couple she knew who were separated but never filed divorce papers. “He would literally die if that happened.” (He has cancer and needs expensive meds).

    • wishing u well Says:

      Yes, it might be more common. However being legally separated is not single. The couple is still married and may choose to remain so. Being divorced is being legally returned to being single. To me – being separated should be disclosed up front. If you don’t list it in the dating profile, come clean by the 2nd or 3rd date and let the person make their choice. There is a difference here, and not everyone will be thrilled at that logic…or being “tricked” into dating someone who declared themselves to be single.

      • Eliza Says:

        wishing u….I agree! and folks–even though you have been separated for years and “living in the basement” or never at home…you are STILL married – by law. So please do the right thing–and come clean about it. Nothing to feel bad about – but don’t be deceptive, and define yourself as “single”–when you are still technically a married man OR woman. In my opinion, once people reach the late 30’s, 40’s age range…it should not be such a shocker to hear someone is divorced…since the divorce rate is so high. I wouldn’t judge someone based on that. There are other characteristics you can go by, to determine what type of person you would be getting involved with. Rule of thumb…never EVER talk negatively about any “ex” spouse or ex-partner.

        • fuzzilla Says:

          >So please do the right thing–and come clean about it.<

          SwimmerChix never said she wasn't; simply made the point that people's reasons for dragging out divorce proceedings can be pretty complicated and not because anyone is a "bad guy" (I do agree that separated is *not* single, though).

          • Jen Says:

            I have been separated for a few years and we have gone through the entire process of divorce except signing the papers. We have gone through the hard and painful part of it. I consider myself divorced. The only reason we haven’t filed is because of shared medical benefits and the cost of the filing. I live in BC Canada and the only difference between being legally separated and divorced is that a divorced person can get married. I say I am divorced in my POF profile, however, I will tell someone in person within the first couple dates. The only reason people here file for divorce is so they can get remarried.

            The main reason I say divorced vs separated is that saying separated usually implies that it was very recent and they haven’t dealt with the legal aspects (such as assets, kids, etc)

            • myself Says:

              Same here in Quebec….all monies, house, etc dealt with, just no signature on the papers. We’ll be divorced within 30 days when they are because we’ve been separated so damned long.

            • LostSailor Says:

              Sorry, Jen, but it doesn’t matter what you consider yourself, until you sign, you’re still married. You’re not single. And you’re essentially lying. Don’t wait until several dates, be honest up front. Pull the trigger…

    • myself Says:

      yeah both my sig other and I are separated, me for longer than I was married (12 years!!!) and him for about 3, my ex won’t go order his birth certificate….if you can believe it….and his divorce is just dragging. I consider myself single, haven’t spoken to my ex husband in about……2 years or so? Needs to get done for legal reasons…

      While online dating, I put divorced. We are not getting back together. If anything progressed, I explained the situation.

  9. ivan Says:

    well woman want confidence in a man. They want to find that mysterious guy, always on the low. Now if a guy doesnt reveal he is divorced more then once its a problem. woman drove this into mens mind. Thats why woman go for the guy who doesnt reveal things who is sneaky. well you get what you wanted ladies. maybe woman should go for the guy who is honest and reveals his secrets. But woman dont want that they want a challenge.

  10. jp Says:

    What if you cheated on your ex-spouse. I’m not talking about serial philanderer, but you got involved with someone and it lead to the end of the marriage.

    When would you tell a new love interest…sooner or later?

    If you were the new love interest, would you continue seeing someone who told they’d cheated?

    • ivan Says:

      well your past is your past. Why tell them you played your ex dirty. First see how your dates go. see that the woman is into the guy first. woman have a way of running out the door for the little things. How much details do woman give guys why they are not with there ex? I am not saying lie to her but there is no need to tell everything in your past. Guys can tell there male friends. But dont bother telling woman why your divorced. check in with doc love he will tell you.

    • LostSailor Says:

      jp, yes, of course, you should be extremely up front with this vital information. This is first date material, and if you’re online, it should be in your profile. People respect honesty and find an admission of past infidelity refreshingly candid and attractive.

      If a woman I was dating told me that she had destroyed her marriage by cheating on her husband, I would admire her forthrightness. Especially since I know that she’s never cheat on me

      • fuzzilla Says:

        Go for a subtle, classy, scarlet letter A tattoo.

      • jp Says:

        I appreciate the sarcasm. But seriously, considering the divorce rate, this can’t be a rare situation. The marriage and the affair are over, perhaps 5-10 years ago, you’ve paid for your mistakes and moved on, hopefully wiser, and determined that if you find someone you want there to be honesty in the relationship. How do you handle the fact that you f*cked up? Or do you just stay alone the rest of your life?

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