Defining “Available”





One thing I am learning is that middle aged men (i.e.: men between the ages of 45 and 60) have an interesting way of defining “available”.  Recently, I have encountered two men who  are “looking” under the guise of being available.  My definition of available is you are single – not married or in a mutually agreed upon monogamous relationship. In other words, there is no one around who assumes they are attached to you enough to get angry if you are in any way involved with someone else.

If a person was involved in a long-term relationship at some point, single means that that relationship it is over as in you are no longer living with that person if it was a long-term non-maritial situation and if you were married, you are divorced (as in papers signed and finalized).  On the outskirts of that definition is the person who is out of the marital home and has the separation agreement negotiated, signed and is waiting for the court’s final divorce decree.  A person in any other spot along the timeline of a significant relationship is   un-available.

However, I have discovered that many people disagree with my definition. Recently an acquaintance asked me if I would like to meet a nice man who is available – as in coming out of a bad marriage.  I agreed to meet him and he represented himself as available.  On out third meeting, a game of tennis at his club, he asked if I would like to go to his house for  a late dinner.  Realizing the possible implication here ( some people think there is a “third date” rule regarding sexual relations to which I do not prescribe), I asked for clarity in terms of his marital status which had previously been only vaguely defined.  It turns out that he and his wife are not yet even officially separated.  She has been staying with her mother for a few months but they have yet to engage in any negotiations of property settlement or even actually agreed to divorce.

“So, you are actually married.” I say.  “Then why are you dating?” (This man had already told me he is on

His response, “I just want conversation. I have been totally honest with you. I need a carrot to know that there are other ways to have a relationship so I can stay on track with this whole thing.”

I told him that I am not a carrot.       I am not a carrot.



What, in your opinion, is the point in the “break-up” process when someone is considered available?


8 responses »

  1. I’m with you on this one: If a person is married, at the very minimum, he needs to have a legal separation agreement. And being vague about his marital status is shitty and dishonest.

    No, you are not a carrot. Jeez.

    • Mary,
      No indeed you are not a carrot. You’re a dynamic thinker and fully engaged human.

      So here I am, a Y-chromosome — loving your insights, and so I thought I might offer a little “Focus Group of One” input from the middle aged male perspective. I don’t pretend to speak for my entire gender. With that said, as a 48-yr-old, divorced father of three, I’m more typical than a-typical…though I’m sure you’ll find two ex-wives and some ex-girlfriends who will say I’m a-something!

      The late, great comedian, Mitch Hedberg, had a great line, “I don’t have a girlfriend; I just know a girl who would be really pissed off if she heard me say that.”

      There’s Available and then there’s Available…first, the blurred lines aren’t always from the male side of the aisle. I recently received an email from an angry and confused husband with the subject “What is your interest in my wife?” Gulp! I had been told they were separated; the truth I discovered here is “separate bedrooms” doesn’t mean “separated.”

      Still, men no doubt are more mushy with definitions than women — we’re the ones who tend to put the wedding band in the pocket or on the keychain when going into a bar, so I claim no moral high ground for my gender. With that said, I don’t think “available” must mean “Divorce Decree in Hand.” The fastest-growing trend in divorce is the mediated settlement; it’s much more likely for the two parties to be saying to each other, “Hey look, it’s over — let’s not drag this out for a variety of reasons; let’s just get on with our lives.” And in these cases, my anecdotal evidence from conversations with friends is that they’re likely to eschew the (court-appointed) one-year ban on dating/sex. So a Separation Agreement in hand? Yes. Divorce Decree in Hand, if you really want to play it safer, fine. But I don’t think it’s necessary. What IS necessary is authenticity.

      But where I really thought you were going with this question — and in fact the question I identify with the most — is “Am I Available even when I’m Available?” I’m a middle aged man, yes. And though I am not likely to ever get married again, I’m certainly not bitter. In fact, I think I’m kind of a Romantic. I believe in Love, if not the institution of Marriage per se. I’ve just re-entered the Dating World because I’m Available — but I sense that the walls I’ve consciously constructed put my Availability in question. I’m not being flippant whatsoever because I feel like the act of blurring the definitions, (as in the examples you cite) and the Emotional Availability go hand-in-hand; our male egos have been trained to be outwardly focused, seeking continuous affirmation — so perhaps another blog topic might be “He’s Available. But is he Available?!”

      • Thanks for your comments! You have given me some insight and inspired me to explore this topic further. You are right, a signed paper fails to make one emotionally available yet, for me, who is looking for a long-term committed relationship, it is really important in terms of legally available.

        I will expand on the emotionally available stuff in an upcoming blog. I certainly have had my share of “available” yet not available in every sense of the word.

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  4. It’s not just papers, it’s when they’re emotionally available. My general rule is I won’t date someone for 2 years after they have finalized the divorce. I went out with one woman who finally said, “Well, officially, the divorce is not finalized because I need to keep my son under his insurance.” My experience is there are many reasons why divorces are not finalized or cleared, but that someone who is emotionally ready to detach from a spouse will get it done. And once they’ve done that, they need time to rediscover who they are by themselves, without someone so close that they are sharing a sense of identity, before they’re ready to date.

    I admit that I broke this rule with my girlfriend, but that was after serious consideration and watching her for a number of months to be clear that she had emotionally detached from him long ago. I was very careful in that decision because, other than this time, every time I’ve broken that “two year rule,” I’ve been burned. (And I don’t mean two years to the day or hour, but two years is a pretty good figure for that.)

    • That is a good rule of thumb, Hal but I think it is funny that you had your best success by breaking your rule. LOL! Thanks for you comments.

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