When you’re looking for a new relationship, is it a disadvantage to be labelled as ‘separated’ rather than ‘divorced’. Isobel (41) wrote to Parship on the subject.
I’ve discovered that, if I’m honest in my profile about being separated rather than divorced, I don’t get many approaches from men. Recently I read on your website about a female member who’d had some negative experiences with ‘separated’ men and who had consequently stopped responding to men who weren’t yet divorced. “Well, I’d like to point out that there can be many reasons why someone is not yet divorced, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that they haven’t moved on from their previous relationship ... You could be married to a foreigner and want to ensure that they can stay in the country. There might be tax reasons for staying married to someone you no longer love. Or it might simply be a question of red tape with the divorce laws. “The last man I met on Parship said he was divorced. When I met him he confessed that he had been living apart from his wife for six years, though they were not actually divorced. What was I meant to make of that? And then you get people who have split from someone they weren’t married to, but who are still tangled up in the old relationship. Where do we stand on that kind of thing?” Isobel
Dear Isobel, First of all, thank you for sharing your experiences with us. They certainly provide plenty of food for thought. On the one hand, people who are separated can find it hard to communicate their status in an unambiguous fashion in the online profile; on the other hand, many online daters are wary of prospects who describes themselves as ‘separated’ – perhaps through a fear of encountering excess emotional baggage or of a relationship which could turn out to be merely a ‘filler’ for the other person.
Beware of preconceptions!
There is a danger of creating unnecessary obstacles here. As Isobel rightly points out, there can be all sorts of reasons why someone is separated, but not divorced, but those reasons don’t really say anything about how ready that person is for a new relationship. Anyone can be carrying emotional baggage around, whether they’ve been married or not, but for some reason separated people have to battle more than their fair share of prejudice.
Honesty is the best policy
The only way to confront and overcome any of these potential prejudices is to be honest. If you are not yet divorced, don’t pretend that you are. If separation is a ‘delicate’ subject, don’t let it make you feel inhibited about who you are and what you want. Parship Singles Coach Sabine Wery von Limont recommends making the situation clear in your dating profile, adding flesh and blood to the bare bones of the word ‘separated’. “You might not yet be divorced, but you can make clear in your profile that you have moved on from your marriage. It can be as simple as saying: “separated, but no baggage”; that really can help put any doubts at rest. You also need to be honest with yourself - ask yourself just why you still aren’t divorced. If you are still harbouring hopes of reconciliation with your ex, then maybe you really aren’t ready to embark on a new serious relationship.”
Don’t work on assumptions
If you are looking at the profile of one of your recommended partners and see that he or she is ‘separated’, Sabine Wery von Limont recommends that you should be wary of preconceptions. “If you find someone’s profile interesting, don’t let the word ‘separated’ get in the way. You can still make contact with them, and if you’ve got any questions that need answering, you should be ready to raise them. If you aren’t satisfied with the answers you get, you can always bring the correspondence to a close.” And it’s always worth remembering that, after a certain stage in life, almost everyone is going to have a number of ‘separations’ behind them, whether or not they’ve ever been married.