Online Marital Status After a Very Short Marriage

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I received an email some time ago that actually hit pretty close to home in regards to my experience with online dating: How should I handle listing my marital status when I was divorced after a very short marriage? Especially when the divorce was caused by the other person cheating? Here is the email that was sent to me (I’ve changed some details to protect her identity):

A few years ago, my very short marriage of about a year broke down because I found out my husband was having an affair. I feel like I’ve been ready to move on to a new relationship for some time now.

I’m ready to give it another go using online dating but before I do please could I ask your advice about the “Divorced” word? I think many men will see me as a strange case – 27 and divorced! They probably think: “She couldn’t make her marriage work!”

I hate being labeled as “Divorced”, it’s not something I believe in, and doesn’t represent any of my morals or beliefs. I was brought up as a Catholic and whilst I’m not devout, I believe in loyalty and commitment and the values of the church. But, the way I see it, because of something that somebody else did, I now have to wear this horrid label.

Do you think I should hide the fact that I am divorced and reveal it at a later stage if things went past a first date (and explain my reasons for not being upfront about it?).

When “Divorced” Delivers the Wrong Message

At the beginning of this article I mentioned this hit close to home and this is why: this was the exact situation that the woman I eventually married was in…except she was 25 and divorced. Same story too – in less than a year she found out that he had been having an affair during most of their relationship (and through all of their marriage).

The approach she took was she listed herself as single. Then on our first date she got that out in the open right away. She apologized and she was very emotional about it. It was obvious that she was sincere but her thoughts were she didn’t want to ruin her chances to find someone new because of what some jerk did to her. In a sense it was almost unfair to call her divorced because she had so little control over that situation! She would have never cheated or sought a divorce. He drove that situation forward so why should she pay? I can get behind this idea and I think it would be fine for other people to do the same.

Divorced and Online Dating

As most people probably know, Facebook has an interesting relationship status that people can use: “It’s Complicated”. I think a case like this shows why a status like “It’s Complicated” was needed in the first place. I like the approach my wife took in her case: she listed “Single” but the as soon as we met she explained that it was actually “Complicated”. I didn’t feel misled and she was able to discuss her situation with me almost immediately, which I think was helpful for her peace of mind before we started to date with any seriousness.

One thing I’ll say: I think my wife had it right. The first date is where this information should come out. The longer she would have waited the more I would have felt misled.

But Isn’t This Lying?
I suppose some people would argue that this is lying but I don’t see this as anything like being dishonest about your age or weight or whatever. This is a very personal piece of information that doesn’t contribute much to who the person is at their core. It’s more about an experience they went through.

I’m not proud to admit it but I can’t say for certain that I would have contacted my wife if she had listed herself as divorced. Now that I’m married to her I hope that I would have, but I just can’t say with confidence what I would have done. And that’s the thing: putting a label of “Divorced” on a profile hardly tells the real story when that person was barely married and then betrayed in a matter of months.

This isn’t to say that I believe that everyone who has been divorced should list themselves as single. Listing yourself as divorced will often be the most correct thing to do such as if you were married for years or had children in the marriage. Still, I think there are cases where holding back on this information until the first date is the appropriate approach.



About the Author:

Brad initially struggled with online dating but over time became quite successful using it. He met his wife using online dating and has been giving advice and helping people improve their results since 2007. He has written a Free Online Dating Guide to help others find success with online dating. You can learn more about his personal experience using online dating and running this website here.


  1. Patrick  April 4, 2013

    Thanks for this article, I am in a similar situation and wanted to know if my status of “Separated” should perhaps be “Divorced” or even “Single” instead due to circumstances. My ex-wife and I were married only 8 months before separating due to different career paths. Her career, which she loves, requires her to stay here, while my career will require that I move a long ways away in just over a year. We had discussed this issue before marrying but at the time she didn’t have, and didn’t expect to have, the career she later acquired that led to our separation. As soon as we realized our impending doom we decided to separate amicably, rather than waiting until the bitter end. I’ve had my time to mourn and regain my sense of independence and confidence, and now I want to move forward again. Alas, legally I am “separated” at the moment, even though I feel I have no baggage. When I read “separated” on someone else’s profile, I don’t assume there will be baggage due to my own situation, but perhaps I should, and perhaps that’s what potential partners are doing when they read my profile. I think I will follow your wife’s example and declare single until the first date, where I can explain in person.

  2. John  April 10, 2013

    I was married for 6 months and left. It was a terrible situation and I was misled on many fronts before the wedding. In my online dating, I’ve put “Single,” and as we message back and forth, when they accept the date, I say “by the way, I want to tell you before we meet in person that I’m divorced from a 6 month marriage. I’m totally cool talking about it, so feel free to ask me any questions you want if that makes you feel more comfortable.” I’ve had lots of success with this and it leaves the first date open to getting to know each other rather than discussing my divorce. Even when I was separated and not yet divorced, I was meeting new people and I told them my situation on the first date. “I’d like to see you again, but I’d like you to know that I’m separated, but emotionally available. I have not contact with my ex, yada yada.” Again, I had good success with this strategy.

    I know how you feel. Being divorced does not define who we are. Sometimes tough things happen. And, if you meet someone that doesn’t want to date a divorced person, then that’s out of your control. Being divorced can be a kind of “crazy person filter,” in that you are able to recognize those who are not mature enough to know that sometimes people have hardships, and those hardships are different for everyone.

    My most recent date told me that she was reassured that I told her I was divorced because, as she said, “I know that you know what you want in a relationship and are not willing to settle.” That is a sign of emotional maturity. That is also the positive about being divorced: we know exactly what we want!

    Good luck to you.


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