Joey chimes in on the dos and don'ts of dating freshly divorced men

Joey Garcia

I’m dating a man who is separated and has filed for divorce. After four months, I’ve made it clear that I want a relationship, not just a few sweet kisses. He never responds in our conversations about commitment; he leaves. After a few days, he calls to invite me out again. My friends think he’s lonely. What do you think?

You’re blessed with smart friends. Count me in that group: Your love interest enjoys your company, no doubt about it. What he has with you now is all he wants. How do I know? Not by checking my Magic 8 Ball, but by reviewing the facts: He has not pushed you for a commitment, and he flees when you request a future with him. But, hey, who could blame him? His marriage is a jumble. His divorce is on the horizon, yet still out of reach. He’s a tween, stuck in the purgatory of separation. It’s exactly the right spot to process and release the grudges and obstacles to intimacy that cost him his marriage. It’s not the right emotional space for a new romance to bloom.

So, why would anyone feel driven to date during separation? Loneliness is a popular motivation. Another is the desire to feel desirable (also known as an ego boost), or to be distracted from responsibility for the demise of the marriage. And, for those people who say, “Our marriage was over long before we split,” there is the surprise of discovering that it ain’t over till it’s over. Yes, that means there’s nothing quite like the emotional release of holding that divorce decree in your hands.

If you enjoy this man’s company, date him. But stop pushing for more than he is capable of giving you. (No, you don’t get to decide if he is capable of opening his heart.) This isn’t a Hollywood film; he’s unlikely to suddenly gape at you with the awestruck expression of a man who realizes you are “the one.” You are more likely his transitional partner, helping him learn how to date again. His emotional distance may also be why his marriage died. Either way, your choice is clear: Accept the relationship, as is. Or end it and find a man divorced for at least two years who has spent a chunk of that time getting to know himself instead of dating.

A woman I work with is so loud in conversation and on the phone that we can hardly get any work done when she is in the office. Her language, in general, is vulgar and not appropriate for a professional setting, but the managers (mostly male) just laugh. I don’t report to her, but am frequently in meetings with her. Is there a way to handle this that won’t backfire?

Ever watch Animal Planet? The next time you’re sitting in a meeting and the cuss queen shoots off her mouth, remember that her behavior is the human animal’s equivalent of a baboon thumping his chest and hollering. Yes, you can laugh. I would. (If anyone asks why you’re laughing, say the scene reminds you of something you read in the Ask Joey column). When your co-worker is in her office decibel busting, shut her door. I would. If she demands to know why you did, tell the truth, “Sometimes it’s difficult to hear anything except your conversations.” It’s also important to talk to someone in human resources. Anyone can accidentally let a swear word or two slip when frustrated, but no one should be assaulted by foul language daily. I vote that you ask a senior manager with manners to chat with her and then with all employees about respect in the workplace.

Meditation of the week
“Where are the heroes and the saints, who keep a clear vision of man’s greatest gift, his freedom, to oppose not only the dictatorship of the proletariat, but also the dictatorship of the benevolent state, which takes possession of the family, and of the indigent, and claims the young for war?” wrote Dorothy Day, a Catholic activist. How do you employ your freedom?

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