Ask Margot-He misled her about his divorce

She thought she was dating a divorced man, but it turns out he is still married. Now what?

By Margot Carmichael Lester

ear Margot,
I have been dating a Muslim man for four months now. He said he was divorced. We have already been intimate and I believed this relationship was leading to marriage. But when I asked to see his divorce papers, I found out he was not legally divorced. Not surprisingly, I was crushed. He says
If I were in your shoes, sugar, I’d dump him.
he does want to marry me, but now he thinks we should just be friends until he gets a divorce. The problem is that he wants his wife to seek out the divorce so that he does not cause bad feelings with her family. He has not seen her in over two years! What do I do? Do I wait for him or dump him? I do love him.
—Confused and Sad

Dear C&S,
I’m sorry you’ve had such a shock. But I’m afraid I don’t have much solace for you.

I’m not going to go down the “he’s a liar, why would you want to be with him path,” because divorce is tricky enough when you don’t also have culture mores and norms to factor in. So he gets a rare pass on that from me. I’ll work off another premise.

I get the feeling that this dude thinks quite a lot about his own interests and needs — and very little about yours. At best, he’s not ready to be a partner. At worst, he’s horribly selfish and self-absorbed. In either case, is that the kind of man you want as a life partner?

If I were in your shoes, sugar, I’d dump him. If he comes back with divorce papers and a renewed sense of commitment, then you can always reconsider. And if he doesn’t, you didn’t waste your time. In the meantime, you’re free to pursue relationships with others who aren’t so similarly encumbered.

In love as in so many things, timing is everything. Sometimes you’re not ready; sometimes your date’s not ready—in this case, able. But unless both people are in the same place, it just doesn’t work. This may be one of those cases where you may have found the right guy, but not at the right time. Which, ironically, makes him decidedly NOT the right guy.

I know this is painful. You have invested time and emotion into someone who wasn’t really ready to return the favor. That’s got to hurt on several levels. And intimacy makes it more complicated. But this is an even more important reason to move on now. Clear the decks and start looking again. There are plenty of fish in the sea and as many ways to catch them as there clichés to talk about it.

Don’t be too blue as you begin your new search. You’ve learned a valuable lesson here about availability. Playing the waiting game just isn’t for you. And now this is something you can bring into any new relationship
As soon as I was clear about what I wanted, I got it.
you initiate. You’ll be very clear that you’re looking for a marrying man, not a casual date. This tidbit will help you make better choices. And be more honest with potential partners, too.

No one can foresee how long it will take to feel truly committed to another person. But your current boyfriend has something big in his way so it’s not likely he’ll come around soon. You, meanwhile, have put your all into this romance and have received little but deception and disappointment. You deserve better. And that’s why I think you should head out into the world and find a man with a clean slate. Lord knows there are plenty of them out there.

This time out, you’ll know what you’re looking for and you can be clear in your expectations. That will help you weed out those wishy-washy potential partners who don’t know their own minds. I’ll bet you find someone a lot faster than you think you will. How do I know? Because it happened to me.

I had been dating a man who was just fantastic. He was in the process of divorcing, but it wasn’t final and he wasn’t mashing the gas to make it that way. As a result, though he was crazy about me, he wasn’t ready to commit to “us”. So I decided to let him go. And guess what? About a week later, the man of my dreams showed up in my inbox. As soon as I was clear about what I wanted, I got it. Life is funny that way. It was about a year later before the first dude was ready to be in a relationship. As soon as he was, he met a woman who’s perfect for him. So it worked out great for both of us.

I guess my best advice to you is to try to make some lemonade from this lemon of a guy you’ve been seeing. You know what you want. Now get online and find it. Be honest about who you are and what you want. You may be surprised about what shows up in your inbox, too.

Best of luck in your search!

Margot Carmichael Lester, a freelance writer based in North Carolina, has been a columnist for since 2003. She has contributed to the Los Angeles Business Journal, Go magazine and other national publications.
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