“Just because he’s dating doesn’t mean he’s single. Just because he’s single doesn’t mean he’s available. Just because he’s available doesn’t mean he’s going to want you. Just because he wants you doesn’t mean you should want him.”
It’s easy to get caught up in the thrill of dating. After the initial hesitation you may face about getting involved with someone new, the moment you decide to jump in it can seem like a relief and even a little overwhelming.
As a woman, the attention we get from a man who is interested in us can be exhilarating. Online dating seems to simplify one aspect of dating that has always been confusing and difficult to determine: Is he single? Is he available? Well if his profile says he’s single, he says he’s single. He must be single! WRONG.
In daily life, unless you know from someone that someone else is single, you have no way of telling. With many people living together or having long relationships without getting married, it can be hard to tell if someone is committed. Even if a man is married, he may not wear a ring. So, it can be very confusing. The embarrassment of thinking someone is available and finding out later that they are not, after you’ve flirted or asked for an introduction can make you lose interest in trying.
So it seems great, when you go online and basically you are bombarded with profile after profile of single, available men, looking for a relationship. And according to the emails and winks, they are interested in a relationship with YOU!
Or if you meet in person and he shows interest in you, it’s easy to think you are the object of his affection. You’ve never felt so attractive, so enticing, so in demand! Suddenly, you’ve gone from lonely to the life of the party? The world is your oyster!
I’ve got some bad news for you:
Times have changed. His attention is likely going in many directions. You are not his one and only. You are his one of many.
1. Just because he’s dating, doesn’t mean he’s single.
There are quite a few married men looking to cheat, testing the waters or perhaps planning their exit from their marriage who have accounts on online dating sites. They may lie and say they are divorced or never married and they may say they are separated. It can be hard to tell, but you do have to be careful.
In addition to the obvious emotional and moral problems you would face with getting involved with a married man (with or without your knowledge) there can also be legal ramifications in your state. Two laws that can target the love interest are Alienation of Affection and Criminal Conversation. Essentially, if a romantic relationship with you is determined to be the cause of an eventual divorce, whether or not you were aware he was married or not, you can be sued by his spouse.
This is one reason why if you are going to get serious with a guy at all, ask to add him on Facebook, or even (yes, I’ve done this) ask to see confirmation that his divorce is final. These records can also be researched online for a fee.
Sure, you can say it seems really cynical to ask for divorce papers or for confirmation that someone is divorced, however, when you see how often it happens, it seems like a fair technical detail that should be easily resolved. I never ask for anything I’m not also willing to provide.
PS. If a man and woman are still living in the same house, they are still married. They may be planning a divorce and emotionally separated, but in most states, a couple is not legally separated until they are living under separate roofs.
2. Just because he’s single, doesn’t mean he’s available.
I’d like to see a poll on how long after a break-up, someone activates their online dating profile. For many who have already used online dating, I’d venture to suggest that they activate their profile before the argument is even over!
I can’t even tell you how many times my friends or I started dating someone great who we really connected with, only to find out a month or two into seeing him that he was going back to his ex. Or wasn’t really over his ex. Or they were just on a break. It can be very disheartening to find out that someone you were starting to imagine a future with was just using you to make him feel better during a tough time or as a backup option in case his primary love interest fell through.
There are a lot of people, men and women, who are dating but aren’t ready for a relationship. There are just as many who have no interest in a relationship at all. They want the benefits but don’t want to be burdened with the responsibilities, obligations, limitations or investments necessary for a healthy relationship.
Whether they are still involved, still in love with their ex, still dealing with issues from their relationship that they shouldn’t be bringing into a new one, or not wanting to commit there are many reasons why people who are dating are not available for a relationship.
This is one of the reasons it’s important to take your time in dating. You don’t want to get too emotionally or sexually invested in someone who is keeping you as a backup or “side chick.” And if he isn’t taking you around his family, introducing you to any of his friends or inviting you into his “world,” chances are, there’s someone important who isn’t supposed to know about you.
3. Just because he’s available doesn’t mean he’s looking for a relationship
There’s really very little incentive these days for most attractive, financially stable man to commit to a single woman, much less marry her. Easy, no strings attached, sex is plentiful. It’s not even regarded as a negative for a man to be single or “dating around.” Why would he limit himself?
Further, when dating after divorce, especially with kids involved, it can be nearly impossible to juggle schedules. If you’ve got your kids most of the time, or if he doesn’t have kids or his kids are grown and out of the house, why would he want to limit his social options simply because you are tied up at home? If he wants to go to a party on the weekend you have Mommy duty, he’s going to go. Committing to you means he’s going to end up turning down invitations to things he wants to participate in or going alone. Neither sound like a lot of fun to a man who very likely just got out of a stifling marriage where many of his needs were not being met. Just as much as you are thrilled to now have “You time” to focus on your passions, interests and enjoy those things you may have missed out on during your marriage, he is having his “Me time” too. Can you blame him?
As long as he has the resources to support it, there is nothing preventing him from having a different “girlfriend” every night of the week and for every type of event. He can have his concert girlfriend, his thoughtful symphony girlfriend, his weekend barbecue girlfriend. And chances are, he’s having sex with all of them too.
4. Just because he wants a relationship with you doesn’t mean you will want one with him
After you’ve identified that he’s single, available and interested in you for more than fun and games, you need to really consider if he’s someone you really want to invest your time, energy, heart and body. Here’s the reality check. Most people are divorced for a reason. Despite the story everyone wants to tell about how innocent and blameless they were in the crumbling of their marriage, I don’t buy it, and neither should you. This doesn’t mean people are terrible or not worth getting involved with. And I don’t want to suggest people aren’t capable of change, they are. But anyone who paints themselves as the victim of a horrible person who was never good for anything, is likely to be hiding something, or simply so un-self-aware that he is doomed to repeat any mistakes he made. Yes, this all goes both ways.
There’s also the possibility that he just doesn’t like women for more than the occasional company and romp, but has no intention of developing a passionate, intimate bond with a woman now or ever.
You’ve got to be smart. Investing your time, heart, energy and body in someone else is not something you want to take too lightly. Don’t invest more than you’re willing to lose.
A few pointers to keep you from diving into the pool of love head first before confirming it’s filled with water:
- Don’t invest more than you’re willing to lose and don’t invest more in him than he’s investing in you
- It is a DATING site, not a RELATIONSHIP site. You can’t assume you are the only woman he is dating. You are only in a relationship by mutual decision
- If he isn’t introducing you to friends or family within a few dates, there’s a reason
- You’ve got to stay sharp and informed. The consequences of getting involved with the wrong person can vary from disappointment to legal action!
- Other people aren’t going to value your time and body as much as you do. It’s YOUR job to protect yourself.
You simply can’t take anything for granted. Finding a balance so you stay hopeful and optimistic without being naive and where you are cautious but not cynical is very difficult. But it’s worth working to find that balance. Without it you will be like a pinball pouncing from date to date, highlight to heartbreak without any idea how to stop the madness and find the balance you want.