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Trust but Verify: How to Discover Whether He's Actually Married

Red wine date last minuteDear Annie, The last three men I dated told me that they were single, but I later found out that all of them were married! I’m a 57 year-old, single woman who wants to be in a relationship. I went online to meet single, divorced or widowed men near my age. 

I dated one of these guys for almost three months before I found out that his wife was alive and well. I was crushed, as we had gotten along wonderfully and I was beginning to think that we might have a future together.

I discovered that he was married when I ran into them at the dog park. When I saw him, I kissed him hello and he ignored me. She put her arm around his waist and he put his around her shoulder. That was completely humiliating! He called later and told me that his marriage has not been working for a long time.

He said that he and his current wife live separate lives and begged me to continue our relationship. After a lot of soul-searching, I reluctantly decided to stop seeing him. After all, what are they doing together in the dog park if their lives are so separate?

I decided that the online dating scene is not great for me. I don’t feel like I can trust anyone online, so I have decided to go a different route and try to meet through a mutual connection.

I have asked some people I know to introduce me to their single male friends. I have two upcoming blind dates.

Why do men lie about their marital status? Coral

Meeting men in person is a great way to go, especially if your friends can make introductions.

Online dating is just another way to meet people. All it does is introduce you to men who have described themselves by answering some questions and posting a few photos. It favors those whose photos are engaging, write well and who understand how to best use a particular site.

One of the problems with online dating is that it’s easy to get the impression that you can make assumptions about someone’s character and relationship potential from information gleaned from reading a profile and a handful of email correspondence. But, in reality, the only way you can find out about someone is to meet him in person as quickly as possible and take it from there.

I suggest that you approach getting to know a new man in the same way as you would if you met a gentleman at a bar. Ask lots of questions. Verify his answers. Observe how he behaves over time. Find out how he thinks, what he values and what his life has been like until you met. This is a "buyer beware" situation.

The same is true when you meet someone through a friend. Your friend can't possibly know how the person to whom they introduce you handles love and romance. They can't possibly know whether you'll click in the long term.

In either case, I suggest that you always take the following steps when you meet someone new, whether your introduction originated online or in real life.

  1. Ask for his last name and other identifying information. It makes no sense to go out with someone without having such basic information. You are not prying when you ask for a man’s name, address and place of employment. That is information that you’re entitled to if you’re going to go out with him. If he’s reluctant to provide it, consider it a red flag.
  2.  Look him up on the Internet. Take it a step further than just Googling him. Search on sites like Zabasearch.com, Spokeo or Zillow, which provide homeowner information. If his home has a woman on the title, you should investigate further. It could be innocent – he might have his daughter or ex-wife on the deed. Or, it could be his current wife.
  3. Many work or social media bios provide good information. Take a look at the website at his place of employment, LinkedIn or Facebook profile. While it’s not unheard of for someone to create a false social media profile, this information should corroborate with other research that you may have done.
  4. If he is widowed, find out when his wife died. Ask for her name and Google death notices to make sure she is actually dead. One of my clients became suspicious when her widowed date was reluctant to have her over to his home. It turned out that the man’s wife was very much alive. It's why I recommend that you see a man's home before the fourth date and definitely do so before becoming emotionally entangled. A married man is likely to bolt before allowing you anywhere near his home.
  5. Technology has made cheating on one’s spouse easier than in years past. All family mail used to arrive in the same mailbox. Families shared phone lines. But, the advent of separate cell phone numbers and email addresses has made it very easy for a married person to have a secret life.

All kinds of men are looking to meet women, in person and online. Many are ethical and seeking relationships. Some are not. The best way to proceed is to prioritize discovering who the other person is while you take your time becoming involved with someone you don't really know.

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The Art of Approaching an Interesting Woman

Hi Annie, I often see interesting women at the grocery store and gym, but I’m hesitant to start a conversation for fear of intruding upon their privacy.

What is a woman’s point of view on being approached when she’s out and about? Is there any way I can introduce myself without making women feel uncomfortable? Ron

Introducing yourself to a stranger requires courage. It helps if you can appear casual and self-assured, even if you’re not feeling that way. Take a few deep breaths and go for it!

There is no guarantee that you’re not going to offend a particular woman. Each woman is going to respond in her own unique way. You can’t fault yourself for making an effort if you express yourself in a respectful, polite and friendly way.

Consider other factors, such as time of day, what she’s doing and location. Obviously, there is a big difference between approaching women at a grocery store or gym in broad daylight and saying hello when you encounter her in a dark street.
Your best bet is to approach someone when she’s not focused on accomplishing something. Say hello when she’s walking, sitting down or waiting in line. You’ll quickly discover if she’s open to a casual, lighthearted chat.

Women who are unavailable will often let you know in the course of a short conversation. Otherwise, you can find out if she’s single by complimenting something she’s wearing and asking if her husband gave it to her. If she says that she’s not married, ask if it is from her boyfriend.

If she’s single, tell her that you’d like to get to know her a little bit better at a more convenient time and offer her your phone number. She’s more likely to respond positively if you do this in a friendly, open manner.

It helps if you know what to say to a woman who is unavailable. You could tell her that her significant other is a lucky guy or ask her how they met.
I suggest that you practice chatting with new women as often as possible. You’re likely to find that the vast majority of them are open to a brief conversation. You can’t predict how some women will react. The right woman might be happy that you made the first move.

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Don't Get Left Hanging Until The Last Minute

Bike Riding AfricanAmerican Couple webDear Annie, I met Mark online a few weeks ago. We had a delightful first date. He texted me the following Thursday and we went out that same evening.

The problem is that he always asks me out at the last minute.

I love spending time with him, so it makes it difficult to make plans with my friends. The only dates that we’ve ever planned ahead are those that I have initiated.

As a modern woman, I think it should be fine for a woman to ask a man out. He almost always says yes. Since I like to plan ahead, I’ve become the person who initiates most of our dates. I wish that he would ask me out as often as I ask him.

How do I get him to ask me out ahead of time? Kathleen

You and Mark have an understanding that has been brought about by the behavior patterns that both of you established as you've gotten to know each other. He knows that you will call him if you want to see him, so he has no reason to ask you for a date.

You need to do things differently if you want to break this pattern. First, let him know that it would make you happy if he would ask you out in advance more of the time. This tells him that you’re not blowing him off if he doesn’t hear from you.

Your direct communication will provide him with a heads-up that things are going to be different. If he wants to see you, he will know that he needs to make a date earlier in the week. If he says he can’t plan in advance, that is a sign that he may be unwilling to compromise with you.

If he asks you out when you are busy, you don’t have to tell him what you’re doing. You’re not accountable to him after just a few weeks. In fact, if he is like many guys, he will feel relieved when he realizes that you are not relying on him as your sole source of entertainment.

When he calls for a last-minute date and you’re busy, tell him that you are sorry because you would love to see him. Remind him that you prefer to plan a few days in advance, and that you wish you were free that evening. You can also say that you would love to have a rain check. That way he won’t interpret your unavailability as a subtle form of rejection.

I suggest that you keep your calendar somewhat open until a day or two in advance. Of course, it’s necessary to plan some things ahead of time. But for anything else, tell your friends that you don’t want to make a final decision until a day or two before a casual get-together. That way a man who asks you out beforehand is more likely to be rewarded by your availability.

A man who likes you will want to spend time with you. You will turn most men off if you are always too busy.

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How to Open Up to Love After a Bad Breakup

Hugging on boatDear Annie, Tom and I went out for a few months. We had an extraordinarily passionate relationship. He was very loving and attentive in the beginning, but he lost interest over time. I did everything I could to please him, but nothing seemed to work.

He told me that he was ending our relationship because he couldn’t be the kind of boyfriend that I deserved. That made no sense, because from my perspective, he was exactly the kind of boyfriend I’d been seeking! He was everything I wanted in a man. I couldn’t get him to understand that he was already perfect for me.

He had a difficult relationship with his mother, which resulted in him struggling when he was involved in other intimate relationships. I’m OK with this; after all, almost everyone has some sort of pain from their past. Even though it’s been over six months since we dated, I miss him and would still be willing to be supportive in the event that we got back together.

I told him that my intuition led me to believe that we would be fantastic together. He said that a successful relationship consists of two people who want to be together. He told me that he is sure that he will never love me.
I did my best to stay away, but couldn’t help but call or email every once in a while. He has now made it very clear that he wishes no further contact with me. He won’t return my phone calls, texts or emails.

I still hope that he will come back because I don’t believe that he will ever find anyone as good as me. I think that one day he’ll recognize that he threw away the best thing he ever had. Despite this, I have decided that it is time to move on. I started dating again about six weeks ago. I’m on OkCupid and have an easy time getting dates.

The problem is that no one resonates with me like Tom did. I go out with these guys and I feel absolutely nothing except boredom during the date and despair when I go home. I worry that I’m never going to feel anything for any other man. What can I do to get over Tom? Or, maybe get him back? Nancy

You have two problems: 1) Getting over your break up and 2) not being able to meet someone new and interesting.

Chances are that you’re not going to meet anyone appealing until you’ve dealt with the first problem.

Because you haven’t let go of your hopes for a reconciliation with Tom, you’re comparing every man you meet to him—which means that no one except Tom’s identical twin is going to have a chance with you.

This is your fundamental problem with Tom: Whatever other desirable characteristics he may possess, he is not interested in engaging in a relationship with you.

It sounds like he was initially attracted to you and enjoyed your company. But he didn’t want to take it any further. Your hope that Tom is going to rekindle your romance is holding you back. He’s made it unambiguously clear that he has no romantic feelings for you, to the point where he insists on completely disconnecting. It doesn’t matter why he broke it off. Maybe it has to do with his relationship with this mother. Perhaps he’s interested in someone else. Maybe he’s not ready for a relationship at all. In any case, it seems obvious that he didn’t feel the connection in the same way as you did.
Whatever his reason, your first task is to accept that he is gone forever. This isn’t easy. It often feels like a death, because you are dealing with the finality of the end of a relationship that deeply resonated with you.

Treat yourself gently. It’s important to acknowledge the depth of your sorrow.
Set aside dedicated time to mourn each day until you no longer feel the need to do so. Write in a journal. Get exercise. Do something that brings you even a tiny bit of joy or satisfaction each day.

In order to move on, it’s best if you let go of everything that reminds you of Tom, including photos, jewelry and gifts. Disconnect from his social media. Rearrange your furniture. Do whatever it takes to make your home relaxing and inviting without having reminders of Tom lurking around every corner.

It’s hard to become involved with someone new while you’re still attached to an old love. Once you have emotionally disconnected from Tom, you’ll have an easier time opening up to a new man.

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Single or Not? How to Find Out Without Looking Desperate

Flirting At WorkDear Annie, I’ve had an enormous crush on Joe for almost a year. We see each other frequently, as we work in the same building. We have different employers so there is no reason that we can’t date.

Both of us become energized whenever we encounter each other. We can’t stop smiling and he always compliments me. He brightens my day every time I see him!

We occasionally have lunch together in the cafeteria. He tells me about his adult kids, where he likes to go on vacation and what he does most weekends.

The weird thing is that I don’t even know whether he has a girlfriend, fiancé or a wife. I’m assuming he’s single, but all I actually know is that he’s fun and that he makes me feel special when I’m around him.

It’s obvious that we like each other a lot. People have told me that they can clearly tell that we enjoy each other’s company.

I’m afraid to ask him if he’s married. I’m ashamed to say that I’ve snooped around a little to try and find out whether he’s attached, but no one seems to know. He doesn’t have a ring.

How do I find out if he’s available? Noreen

Discovering whether someone is romantically attached is one of the first things you should do when you find yourself attracted to someone. Otherwise, you face the possibility of wasting your emotional energy on someone who may not be available.

It’s easy to find out if someone is attached. You just have to put a smile on your face, take a subtle, deep breath and ask any of the following questions:

  1. “Are you single?”
  2. “Is there anyone in your life who might mind us flirting with each other?”
  3. “What did you and your wife do this weekend?” If he says that he doesn’t have a wife, then say, “Oops, I meant your girlfriend.” If he says that he doesn’t have a girlfriend, say, “I can’t believe that a fun, good looking man like you is single.”

There are a couple of keys to pulling this off comfortably:

  1. Behave in a fun, playful and confident way.
  2. Keep a smile on your face and act supportive no matter what you discover about his relationship status. Figure out in advance how you will best respond to each possibility: single, married or has a girlfriend.
  3. Plan what you’ll say to get out of this conversation with your dignity intact. If he’s involved with someone, you can ask how he met her. Most people enjoy talking about how they found love. If he’s single, ask what he most enjoys about being on his own.

If you find out that Joe is single, you may be able to set the groundwork for seeing each other outside of the workplace by talking about things you like to do in your spare time.

Even if he is single, he may be hesitant to ask you out for any number of reasons. If he doesn’t do so, I suggest that you let go of your crush and focus your energy on getting to know men who are actually romantically interested in you.

Finding out if someone is single and getting to a date often creates a few awkward moments. Don’t worry about them—they are normal—just laugh them off.

If you’re having trouble understanding how to figure out what is going on when you’re dating, my upcoming 4-week group class/ webinar will be a game changer for you! Click here for details.

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How to Succeed When You're Looking for Love on Online

first date met onlineDear Annie, I am fed up with online dating! I’ve been doing it for almost a year and only occasionally get a first date. I have never gone out on a second one. The quality of the men I meet online is very poor.

I’ve exchanged lots of emails with men who never ask me out. Others ask for a date, but disappear when I say yes. I don’t understand why they bother to be online when they don’t really want to meet someone!

I am a decent looking and successful professional woman. I have done everything I know how to do to make my profile appeal to men. I read desirable men’s profiles in order to discover their interests. I follow up by making sure that my profile reflects each man’s interests and describes me as someone he wants.

I reach out to men I’d like to meet and write interesting emails, but three quarters of the time I don’t get a reply.

On the rare occasion that I get a first date, it’s always a big waste of time. Most of the men don’t look like their picture. They lie about their age, height and even about what they do for a living!

I spend half of each first date trying to determine if a man wants a committed relationship and tactfully verifying as much information as possible. It’s emotionally exhausting.

While I haven’t ever gone on a second date with anyone I’ve met online, no matter how hard I try, I haven’t had much luck meeting men off-line either.

I’m 53, so perhaps I’m too old for most guys. Many men my age are looking for women who are far younger. I’m disgusted by the dishonesty and the poor quality of the men out there.

Every time I’m about to give up, I hear about a friend who just met someone fabulous online. So I keep trying. Please help. Gail

The thing that I love about online dating is that it creates opportunities to meet people you would not otherwise encounter. I suggest that you look at a man’s profile as way to get an idea of how he sees himself and as an opportunity to discover if you want to meet in person.

One of the well-documented difficulties about online dating is that the vast majority of people don’t know how to accurately describe themselves in writing. I believe that you only begin to become acquainted with a potential mate when you meet in person.

Part of the fun of early dating is getting to know whether you enjoy each other’s company. That pleasure will be severely curtailed each time you approach a date as a way of testing a man to see if he qualifies as a potential partner.

Dating works best when both people take a little time to get to know each other casually.

Think back to when you were in high school or college. You became familiar with certain boys because you were in the same place at the same time. You got to know, trust and like each other slowly.

Fast forward to online dating. People expect to know each other by reading a profile and meeting for an hour or two. Often, they make a decision whether to move forward on very limited information.

In your case you’re meeting a man and primarily examining him for flaws. This isn’t exactly fun or romantic.

It’s smart to expect that a first date with a stranger is likely to feel somewhat unpredictable. As long as you’re meeting in a safe place and don’t share sensitive information, allow yourself some time to get to know each other.

In the meantime, rather than expecting that you’re about to figure out if he’s Mr. Right, shift your attitude so that you’re simply spending a little time getting to know a stranger. Focus on the positive aspects of your date. This way, you’re less likely to be automatically suspicious or disappointed.

Keep the following things in mind when you’re meeting someone from an online dating site.

  • A man may be looking for a committed relationship, but he isn’t likely to know whether you’re the right person for him until he’s gotten to know you better.
  • Statistics say that 85% of people lie about something on their online dating profile. Usually these are social lies—things (like age, income or height) that you would not know if you met them in person. One of my clients once said, as an example of this behavior, that “No one looks like their photo. Some look better, some look worse.”

I suggest that you approach each date as a way to try and see the best in each man you meet. Keep it under an hour, and find out what he enjoys. Talk about what makes you happy and what amuses you. Discuss your hopes and dreams, but stay off topic of relationships and other serious issues.

If you see a first date as a way to meet someone new and have fun, you’ll have a better chance of getting a second date. As you get to know each other, you’ll increase your odds of getting the relationship you desire.

If you’re having trouble understanding how to figure out what is going on when you’re dating, my upcoming 4-week group class/ webinar will be a game changer for you! Click here for details.

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The Art of Deciphering the Phone Snub

Shes not picking up his callHi Annie, I’m tired of being disrespected by women who can’t be bothered to pick up the phone or return my calls. I don’t understand why they give me their number if they don’t want to talk to me.

I’ve had to make multiple calls to schedule dates, make reservations or confirm plans. I would estimate that 50 percent of women don't return calls. It is just outright rude and passive aggressive. Al

I partly blame this problem on the mixed messages women get about dating. Many believe that they will appear desperate or too eager if they return your call promptly. However there is nothing further from the truth.

Not returning a man’s calls, texts or emails often creates a huge source of frustration. Rather than inspiring a man to like or respect the woman who is not returning his calls, it simply makes him annoyed because she is positioning herself as an opponent rather than as an ally.

There is also another reason that a woman might not return your calls. She may have given you her phone number, but later changed her mind about wanting to get to know you. Rather than being direct, she believes that you will take the hint when she ignores your calls. The problem is that most people aren’t mind readers.

The most successful way to deal with the situation is to set clear boundaries around your phone calls. Wait at least 48 hours between calls, or she might get the impression that you’re a stalker.

  • If she doesn’t pick up your first call, leave a message saying that you would appreciate a return call. Tell her that if she’s not comfortable doing so, you would appreciate a text back telling you the best times of the day to contact her. Say that if she doesn’t call you back you will be in touch in a day or two.
  • The second time you call, repeat the first message. Tell her that you enjoyed meeting her and that you would like to get together for a quick date. That way she won’t worry that she might get stuck on a long, romantic date with someone she barely knows.
  • If you call her a third time, let her know that you’re making a one-time exception to your general rule of not contacting someone more than twice in a row. Tell her that this is the last time that you will be in touch, and that you would appreciate a return call.

Your tone of voice on these phone calls should be friendly, self assured and flirtatious. It helps if you put a smile on your face--she will be able to hear it in your voice--to remind her that you are a friendly guy.

Note to women: It’s kinder of you to let a man know if you’re not interested in him. Many of my male clients have expressed deep frustration when they have been in a similar situation.

Men simply want to know whether you’re interested. They don’t read smoke signals—especially those sent by women! Clearly communicating whether you are interested in getting to know a man a little bit better is both a respectful and thoughtful way to approach the situation. Ghosting him by not returning his calls is rude and thoughtless.

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Long Distance Lapse: How to Discover the Truth About Your Relationship

Flirting at a barDear Annie, Friends introduced me to Fred when he was visiting Berkeley from his home in Seattle a couple of years ago. We hit it off right away. He’s intelligent, has a great sense of humor and is down-to-earth in exactly a way that I like.

He’s called me almost every evening since we met. We talk for at least half an hour, often much longer. He stays with me every few months when he visits the Bay Area.

I haven’t gone out with another man since we got together. I doubt that he’s dating anyone else. I can count on his calls, and he’s always friendly, affectionate and interested in my life.

I’m concerned that he’s never invited me to stay with him. I brought it up once or twice, but he says that he can’t accommodate guests as his place is being remodeled.

I’ve talked to friends about my situation and several of them think that I should be proactive and visit him, uninvited, in Seattle. I feel it would be presumptuous and awkward. I can’t imagine telling him that I’m planning to visit his home.

My friends also tell me that I should ask him if he’s dating anyone else. I don’t know if he’s ready to have that kind of a talk. I love him and want to continue our relationship. I’m afraid that asking him such prying questions could scare him away. He’s a sensitive guy and I don’t want to pressure him.

On the other hand, when I look at what is truly important to me, I don’t want to waste my time with someone who has no intention of being in a long-term relationship with me.

How do I find out whether we’re both on the same page without risking our relationship? Molly

You’ve waited quite a long time to ask questions that are likely to seriously impact how you approach your connection with Fred.

It’s unwise to assume that you’re in a committed relationship with someone unless they have agreed to that with you. This is something you need to talk about, so you don’t misunderstand each other’s intentions. Until then, assume that you’re both free to date others.

For all you know, Fred could be married to a woman who works in the evening. He could be dating other women before or after your regular phone calls.

There are several signs that you and Fred might not be seeing your connection in the same way. A man who treasures you would want to see you more often than every few months. He would be likely to include you in his life and introduce you to his friends and family during the first six months or so of your relationship.

It’s time to be brave and discover the truth. You could start by asking him how he envisions (let's change verbs) your relationship. Are you friends or are you boyfriend and girlfriend? If you are, is your relationship exclusive? How does he see your future together? Does he have any intention of moving to Berkeley or inviting you to move to Seattle?

The prospect of asking these questions may make you feel awkward, but they could save you a great deal of pain in the future.

Reluctance to have a discussion about this topic once caused a friend of mine a great deal of misery. She dated a man for about four years, during which time she assumed that they were dating exclusively. When she discovered that he was also seeing someone else, she accused him of cheating. But he countered, saying that he was free to do whatever he pleased because they had never agreed to date exclusively.

Gaining clarity about the nature of your relationship, as it progresses, will give you the ability to make the best choices for your future.

If you’re having trouble understanding how to figure out what is going on when you’re dating, my upcoming 4-week group webinar will be a game changer for you! Click here for details.


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