In one otherwise forgettable movie, one of the female characters has the habit, upon encountering a man she’s attracted to, of bluntly asking a series of questions: “Are you married? Are you gay? Do you have a job?”
If they answer yes to the first two (or no to the third), she walks away without a second glance. Eventually, she finds someone who is straight, available and financially secure and they live happily ever after.
I have taken a more subtle approach, and I’ve got a wide variety of rationalizations for answers, all of which equal more or less the same thing:
- “It’s complicated” = married (or as good as married)
- “We’re still living in the same house but we’re not together” = married
- After we had arranged for me to pick him up from his vacation; leaving me at the airport to go home with estranged wife who showed up unannounced = married
- Still socializes with the in-laws on a weekly basis = still married
- “We have an understanding” = married
- “We’re seeing if there’s anything still there between us” = married
- Still wearing ring = married
- Still wearing his ring but on right hand = married
- Still has dent on left ring finger = married
- Saying divorce is imminent but he can’t see me or call me for two weeks while she’s in town visiting = married
- “I’m living with someone but I can’t resist you” = married
- “But she hasn’t had sex with me in four years!” = married
- Asking me to think of her as “an old friend” but referring to her as “my wife” to the rest of the world = still married
- “The spark is gone” = married
- Has to leave the house on pretext of going to the store to call me = married
- Asks me not to call his cell so my number won’t show up on bill = married
- Still has wedding picture displayed in dining room = still married
- Only calls from work = married
- “I just have to get her to a place where the divorce is her idea” = married
- “I can’t afford to get a divorce, she’d take everything” = married
I realize everyone has baggage. (Ahem, those without baggage tend to be extremely boring. Sorry. It’s true.) I try to be a compassionate person who can wait it out for the right guy. Not for the truly married ones mind you, but for the truly separated ones who are going through a hard time before the inevitable divorce. I wish I could be that patient, because maybe I’ve missed out on someone wonderful already. In practice, I am intolerant of ambiguity. Why is this? Take your pick:
- Lingering ex-wife baggage raises alarm bells for the little princess inside me who wants to be the absolute centre of attention.
- Fear that he’ll dump me and go back to the ex – better just not to get too involved in the first place.
- Or, you might say I’ve been burned one too many times on this one (see above).
I could just start taking the blunt approach, but then I don’t believe in Hollywood fairy tales and would never take my cue from a forgettable romantic comedy. Life is messy, and one of these times something wonderful will emerge out of the dating chaos. Relationships are hard enough as it is for pity’s sake – at least let’s start out being not married, OK?