Now that January has arrived, it is time to act on our 2016 resolutions. For singles often times this goal means connecting with a compatible special someone. Coincidentally, the start of a New Year ushers in a busy season in the world of dating, either via on-line sites, using an app or by personal introductions. Truth be told, one of the more challenging aspects of being single is determining whether the people you are meeting are legitimately available. If the person whom you are looking to go out with has never been married, or is divorced or widowed, then their status is clear cut. But, when someone is in the category of "separated," a lot more due diligence needs to happen before concluding if they are free to date. It may be that their circumstances are too complicated for a new relationship. How does one properly vet the people they are being introduced to, so as to gauge if they are truly single vs being in marriage limbo or just unhappily married?
• Living Situations: Those who are serious about leaving their marriage do just that. If one is living in a separate bedroom in the house or in the basement, this is not a conducive scenario for embarking on another relationship. There is no proof as to sleeping arrangements or interactions inside of a home. If this situation is temporary and there is a move out scheduled, that is one thing, but if a lease on a new property is not in the works, do not date this person. In order to start over, one must be present in mind, body and soul.
• Wedding Rings: It is very difficult after years of marriage to take off the gold band that represents the eternity of a union. The gesture of removing a ring is the final threshold that a person must cross in order to be fully released and unencumbered from their spouse. Putting aside one's wedding band symbolizes that the past is indeed in the past and that there is a readiness to move forward.
• Social Gatherings: There are instances when even a couple's family and friends do not know that a break up is imminent. Publicly, the duo may still go to functions and parties together, thus giving off mixed messages. These individuals should not be dipping their toe into the dating pool until they are actually living apart. Those who are still concerned about appearances and each other's feelings are not ready to put an end to their marriage.
• Contacting an Attorney: Before separating, many men and women meet with an attorney to assess the state of their affairs. Note that there is a huge difference between a consult and a retainer (both in your wallet and mindset). A big chasm also lies between saying that you are getting a divorce and actually filing. Do not accept a date with a person who has not crossed this line.
• Custody Agreement: If kids are involved, one of the hardest parts of leaving the marital home is not being able to see the children everyday. Many people say that the love in their marriage is over, but they don't want to exit until the kids are out of the house. Although staying for the immediate future may be considered a noble gesture, this person is not ready to get a divorce. Do not get involved with someone who is claiming they will leave once the nest is empty. This individual is basically comfortable enough at home and does not want to rock the boat.
Caveat Emptor -- Buyer Beware: Be an educated consumer. The same way that you spend time in the produce aisle, examining your fruits and vegetables, and asking others' advise before buying, do likewise with the people that you date. Remember if the peach is riding around in someone else's cart it is not available for you to purchase. Head immediately back to the produce aisle and choose the next best available option. You will be happier with your "fruitful" choice in the long run and you won't be forced to leave fruitless.