Monday, January 25, 2010

Military Man Questions How to Describe His Online Status

Dear Dr. Gilda,

I’ve decided that online dating is the way to go, but after two years of separation (I am in the military, and my wife is back in the states), my divorce is still not final. I am stationed halfway across the world, and I am at the mercy of her lawyers. I am lonely and need support. I thought I might find someone online who could get to know me, and then when my tour was over, I could get back to “real” dating. By then my divorce should be final.

My question is, what do I put on my profile? Do I say “currently separated,” because it’s the truth? I worry that women will see that and assume I am a cheater who is looking for something on the side. Or do I write “divorced”? I have filed the paperwork, and I don’t know when the divorce will be final.

I just need to find someone to connect with and to confide in. I am so lonely here and hope is the one thing that will get me through this. I just don’t want to screw this up. Please help, Dr. Gilda!!

Private Lonely

Dear Private Lonely,

I counsel a lot of military people around the world, and loneliness is one of their most prevalent emotions. While they’re coping with life vs. death, they feel isolated and distant from the world they used to know. They pray they will eventually return in one piece — and they fantasize about settling into life as they knew it. But life “as they knew it” is never the same. Many of their marriages fall apart, just as former military man Senator John McCain’s did when he returned to civilian life, and just as yours did, long-distance.

One way to find love that lasts wherever you are is to embrace it without neediness. As my Gilda-Gram says, “We attract not who we want, but who we ARE.” Needy people attract other needy people, and with so much need, there is only disappointment.

This is what I suggest you do now:

1. Definitely peruse the online dating sites — but instead of searching for love, look for friendship first. My Gilda-Gram advises, “Friends first, lovers later.” Right now, you need a pen pal who can offer emotional support and understanding, not a promise of something you may later regret.

2. Seek several such friendships. As you search, begin to recognize what YOU can offer each of them. Your letter to me is abundant in YOUR needs, but says nothing about what you want to provide someone else. Self-involvement is a sign you’re still hurting from being in divorce limbo. It also proves you’re not ready for love.

3. Be honest online. The term “currently separated” is not a disease! Since you’re not looking for love right now, your marital status is irrelevant. If a friendship gradually turns to love, hopefully by then your divorce will be final.

It is horrible to feel so out of control. Hopefully, you will soon be home. We Americans thank you for protecting us. Also protect yourself — that means physically and emotionally. I hope you have plenty of time to meet those who will be anxious to meet you and can give as well as receive when you return!


Dr. Gilda


Relationship expert Dr. Gilda Carle (Ph.D.) has a private practice and is an associate professor at Mercy College in New York. Her best-selling books include Don’t Bet on the Prince!, 99 Prescriptions for Fidelity and How to Win When Your Mate Cheats. For more information, visit her at

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