Shortcuts: “He Proposed, But He’s Still Married”

It’s time again for Shortcuts. For every question, I’ll give my advice in just a few sentences because sometimes the answer to a person’s question is so obvious and the need to hear it so great that being as clear and frank as possible is simply the best way to go.

I have met a wonderful guy who, on our first date, explained to me that he was still married and had two kids by another woman. We have been together for four years now and we have a daughter together. He hasn’t been able to get a divorce yet because of financial reasons (not enough money), but they have been separated for 1 1/2 years so I know it is over. He definitely wants to finalize it. Here is the twist: He proposed to me and he wants us to get married. Now, am I a fool for accepting this and continuing on with this relationship? I love him and he has given me no other reason not to want to marry him, but this current marriage of his has not been finalized so who knows how long it’s going to be. Am I holding myself back because of this? I’m almost all-in, but I want some advice. — Almost All In

I’d think accepting a proposal from a guy who is still legally married is probably the least foolish part of this scenario, with the most foolish being dating a guy for four years who had a wife and family and then having a child with him when he apparently didn’t even have enough money for a divorce. (How can he afford another kid of he couldn’t even afford a divorce)? And how can you say he’s given you “no other reason not to want to marry him”? The man’s a cheater and a liar, and this whole thing sounds foolish all around.

My husband and I have been married for just under a year now. When we go out drinking, his flirting and inappropriate sexual comments to other women makes me extremely uncomfortable. Usually, when he flirts, I’m pretty good about it and honestly don’t care, but when he starts getting very sexual (physically as well as verbally), it pisses me right off. I recently brought it to his attention and he said he was sorry and that he shouldn’t have been doing that to me. I told him I don’t want him to change but that I’m simply stating it is disrespectful and extremely hurtful. Then, the very next weekend after this conversation, he got drunk again and started flirting with a mutual friend and making inappropriate comments such as, “I just wanna pick you up on my shoulders and wrap your legs around my neck.” I actually cannot deal with this. Am I over-reacting? — Pissed Right Off

I think you’re under-reacting, actually. Your husband gets crunk and then gets sexual, physically (and verbally, which is bad enough) and you actually tell him you “don’t want him to change”?! Why on earth would you say that? Because you want to be “the cool wife”? Because you don’t want to seem like a nag? Please. What he’s doing is not only disrespectful to you, but it’s also extremely disrespectful to the women he’s basically assaulting. You need to woman up and demand that he stop this behavior and get help for his out-of-control drinking, or you’re going to leave him. This is NOT ok.

Help me with this one: On my birthday he sent expensive candy and a $100 gift card. He’s been asking me out for dinner, but he never calls to confirm plans. He’ll call every now and then, so I don’t know if he is serious or if I should move on already and just stop calling him. — Candy is Nice, But Dinner is Better

Is the guy married or otherwise partnered up (because, it sounds like he could be)? If so, MOA. If not, call him one more time, ask him when he’s going to take you out for that dinner he’s always inviting you out for, and, if he still hems and haws, MOA.


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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.


  1. Typo alert: ” husband gets crunk” should that be “drunk”?

    1. Avatar photo Raccoon eyes says:

      Im pretty sure that was an awesome intentional wording.
      Also, it makes me sick to my stomach to think that a married guy is saying that to his wife’s friend. “Crunk” or not, there is NO excuse for that. Ick, so so soooo disgusting.

      1. Ah, new word of the day. Kids these days have all the fun.

      2. Avatar photo Cleopatra Jones says:

        Ha ha, in my world crunk is a dance style or you just got really raw/crazy with someone.

      3. RedRoverRedRover says:

        That’s the only way I’ve heard it used as well!

      4. Avatar photo mrmidtwenties says:

        mmmmmm crunk juice (aka alcohol)

  2. Avatar photo Raccoon eyes says:

    Uuuuh, LW1, how have you been with him for 4 years and he’s been separated from his wife for 1.5 years, but you have no reason not to want to marry him? Duh what?

    1. I’m a little tired so I missed that and somehow read it differently thinking they were separated before they got together. NO idea why she’s feeling so unsure about this!

  3. RedRoverRedRover says:

    Even if he does eventually leave his wife, why would you want to marry him? He cheated on her (for 2.5 years!), what’s to stop him from cheating on you? Also, I don’t know how “real” a proposal is from someone who’s already married and has no concrete plans to change that situation. Hey, maybe he’s for real. And if you tell him you’re not going to get engaged to him till he’s single, and then he actually works on becoming single, then you’ll know he’s for real. But for right now, it’s easy for him to talk about it because he knows he’s safe from ever doing it. So why would you agree to that?

  4. ArtsyGirl says:

    LW1: In the four years you have been with your BF he has not been able to save up any money for a divorce? (And I am not even touching the fact that he only separated from his wife 2 1/2 years in your relationship).

    LW2: You need to tell your husband to cut down on the drinking because it makes him a jackass. Disrespecting you and your female friends is not funny or endearing. Call him on the behavior.

    LW3: Just because he buys expensive gifts does not mean he automatically wants to date you. WWS

  5. Here’s a real “shortcut” response to all three: Self-Respect.

  6. findingtheearth says:

    LW1: You know people can file for divorce on their own, right? In Montana, it’s all together about $400. You can divide the assets and the debts yourself. However, it may mean he has to pay child support. Is that the real reason?

    1. RedRoverRedRover says:

      If it is, that just says even more about this guy’s character. Sounds like a major class act.

  7. I’m wondering if this isn’t a triple MOA… maybe LW2’s relationship is salvageable if she can get the husband to address his drinking problem (which I’d guess is the underlying cause of his inappropriateness).

    1. Avatar photo Cleopatra Jones says:

      I dunno, even without the drinking that’s still pretty sleazy stuff.
      I feel like the alcohol is the excuse he’s using to do that stuff. As in, ‘I didn’t mean to grab Kay’s ass and stick my tongue down her throat. I was just drunk, it won’t happen again.’ Of course, until the next time it happens.
      And it’s the excuse LW is using so she won’t have to address his sleazebag behavior cause that would mean she would have to end the relationship.
      Just sayin’ millions of people around the world get drunk and they manage not assault & molest their spouse’s friends.

      1. RedRoverRedRover says:

        I agree. Drinking lowers your inhibitions, it doesn’t turn you into a whole other person. Personally I don’t think I could get past this behaviour, because it would make me think the guy’s a sleazebag at heart. When he’s sober, he’s able to hide it, but it’s still there.

      2. Avatar photo Cleopatra Jones says:

        Yeah, I always feel like alcohol just makes you more of the person you really are. It’s like you can’t hide the real you from the world.

  8. Avatar photo Raccoon eyes says:

    LW3- you ask if you should MOA, but from the short blurb, it does not appear that there is any kind of “relationship” to in fact move on from… sooo stop getting hung up on a guy that is a mere potential suitor and YES, stop calling him.

  9. Avatar photo muchachaenlaventana says:

    ugh LW1 how do you know he even is separated from her, doesn’t sound like you two live together. And you have a child by him. I just really can’t this morning
    LW2 I have a friend like this- when sober he is seriously an upstanding, nice, respectful guy. When he gets black out he has a strong history of sexually harassing an assaulting all his female friends, which now is super awkward because he’s in a long term relationship with my best friend. This past weekend he drunkenly pinned me to a bed and made some really awful comments. Its just such a shitty awkward situation, you need to tell him to stop drinking to that level or you will leave him. My friend hasn’t really laid down the law like that and its just uncomfortable. Because I know and love him and her its like oh that’s just Tim being drunk, but its really embarrassing and pathetic. Not a good look.

    1. Avatar photo Cleopatra Jones says:

      Pinning someone on the bed (drunken or not) and making what I will assume is sexually explicit or graphic comments is not a nice, respectful, or upstanding guy.
      He shouldn’t get a free pass for almost sexually assaulting you because he’s dating your friend. If he had been a stranger at a party, you would have at least kneed him in the balls and told someone what happened. He should have received no less than that (at a minimum).
      This time it was ‘drunkenly pinning on a bed’ but these kind of guys tend to get more aggressive over time and use the alcohol as an excuse so they don’t have to take responsibility for their actions.
      Please tell your friend and if she doesn’t do anything, then you may need to end your friendship.

      1. Avatar photo muchachaenlaventana says:

        Eh its not like that though. Its kind of a gray area. It’s easy to say “this is categorically wrong” but he is completely blackout and honestly has no idea what he did-when someone tells him, he is seriously humiliated and ashamed and goes out of his way to apologize.

        This is not a guy who would ever be legit aggressive to a female, and it is different in the dynamics of friendships. He is also one of my really good friends, not just that hes dating my best friend. Yeah its really annoying and uncomfortable, and there have been times in the past before they were dating he would do this and I would legit tell him to back the F off and get a grip, and the answer is he shouldn’t drink period, but he definitely is a borderline alcoholic so its just a bit more confusing than that.

      2. Avatar photo Cleopatra Jones says:

        Oh, I think he passed the border of ‘almost an alcoholic’ into full-fledged alcoholism a long time ago.
        To me, if you’ve had multiple episodes where you’ve done something horrendous and can’t remember because you were drunk. You ain’t on the border anymore, you’re a resident of drunktown.

        But if you think it’s OK, then I’ll take your word for it. 🙂

      3. I can understand making excuses, it can be really hard to deal with this when you know and love the person and see how ‘out of character’ his behavior is. That said, I would just say be careful. He might suddenly do something worse. I knew people like that and even though I can’t think of them as “bad people” I still had to distance myself for my own safety.

    2. RedRoverRedRover says:

      Does this guy know he does this? If he does and he doesn’t stop getting blackout drunk, then that’s 100% on him. I can’t believe people are making excuses for him assaulting his friends!

      1. Avatar photo muchachaenlaventana says:

        I agree its on him, but he is an alcoholic who hasn’t yet realized he is an alcoholic, at least to the extent of his binge drinking, so sadly I think that realization has to come first.

      2. RedRoverRedRover says:

        I just don’t know how people can make excuses for him. What if he raped someone? Would him being embarassed and apologizing be ok then? Where is the line? Because one of these times he’s going to cross it (for me he would have crossed it already), and then what’s going to happen?

    3. Ugh, that sounds awful!
      LW 2, my honest answer is dump his ass. You don’t need a guy who’s that disrespectful and embarrassing when drunk. I feel like it’s a character flaw that probably won’t go away.

  10. LW1, maybe if the fact that he’s a cheater doesn’t convince you, it would help to consider that your boyfriend is either unwilling or too stupid to get a divorce. I absolutely don’t buy that “not enough money” could drag out a divorce for years. Is he afraid of having to pay child support that he’s now avoiding? In which case we’re back to he’s a shitty person.

    1. Avatar photo Cleopatra Jones says:

      Yeah, I haven’t figured out how on the first date he told her that he was married and she went on a second date much less have a kid by him. He didn’t even try to hide the fact that LW was going to be a long-term side-piece & she went along with it.
      I suspect the ‘marriage proposal’ was put out there to keep LW from leaving him. She has probably been bugging him to make the relationship real but he really can’t because he’s already married to someone else.
      And separated for 1.5 years does NOT = divorcing his wife. A divorce means a divorce. The wife may have just found out about you and is pissed so she left and is coming to terms with her husband’s behavior. Honestly, they may end up back together and LW will be SOL.

      1. pebblesntrix says:

        I think you’re right. I suspect he characterized it like, ‘oh, i’m married with kids but my wife and i are having problems and i’m really just staying for the kids but we’re in the process of separating’ or some b.s. like that. If that’s the case and she took his word for it and it still took him 2.5 years to separate, and yet she’s taking him seriously about the fact he’s getting divorced anytime soon to start a future with her, heaven help.

  11. To all: Girl, get yo mind right!

  12. Laura Hope says:

    LW2–I don’t know but when I read your letter my first thought was wow, that guy is pissed off. That’s one big fat eff you. I mean if it was really about flirting, cheating, whatever, he wouldn’t do it right in front of your face. This sounds more like a nasty passive aggressive way of saying something’s very wrong with our relationship.

    1. Avatar photo Astronomer says:

      Ooh, ooh, I know what’s wrong with their relationship. He’s an asshole.

      What do I win?

  13. Laura Hope says:

    Yes he is. But I’m assuming he didn’t behave this way before they were married. So something’s going on. Or I could be totally wrong.

  14. pebblesntrix says:

    WWS; WCJS.
    LW1: Why would you be all-in when he’s not? It took him 2.5 years before he decided to separate from his wife and another 1.5 to ‘propose’ marriage, when you two had a child together, and in all this time couldn’t save up for a divorce–how is he taking care of his kids by his wife (yes she is still his legal wife separated or not) and by you? He is all talk, stringing you along. They may be separated but when a man wants a women (or really anything, seriously), he will hustle to make it happen and in the 1.5 years he’s been separated he has not made this divorce happen or come up with the money to do it. More than that, he hasn’t even given you a timeline on when that will happen. I mean if he was like, look, I’ve saved up x amount of dollars and I need y more and I need 6 more months to make that happen, etc. etc. that’s something. I shows a plan, deliberation, determination. But none of that is happening. You are letting him play you for a fool and that part of your gut that keeps you back from being totally all-in is the part that knows he needs to put up or shut up/put his money where his mouth is/not talk about it but be about it–catch my drift? He’s not going to do anything until you make it uncomfortable or untenable for him to keep doing what he’s doing which is having his cake and eating it too.
    LW2: Why would you tell him you don’t want him to change when obviously you do and he needs to. You are not okay with his behavior. You said so yourself. You want it to stop. When you called him on it, he knew it was wrong and didn’t try to deny it. But because you didn’t want to be a “nag” trying to “change him” you gave him an out/pass and basically said it’s cool. So, of course, he went out and did it again next week. Basic egregious disrespect isn’t the time to show you’ll cool and understanding and empathetic, it’s the time to show you’re another human being in the relationship who matters. You need to readdress this and be clear that his behavior does need to change and you need to be clear about what you want to change–the amount he drinks or who he drinks around or how he behaves when he drinks (if he can’t control his behavior after drinking then the drinking itself is the problem hence the first two options)–and you need to be unapologetic about it because it is wrong. Don’t feel wrong for demanding that he treat you, your marriage, and your friends with basic respect. And be clear, it should be a non-negotiable demand, like, if you can’t get this under control or aren’t seriously working to get it under control (maybe he needs to spend some time in AA before totally getting himself together) then this relationship isn’t going to work or some other serious arrangement like eliminating the boozy socializing with female friends.
    LW3: Look, don’t invest your time or energy in this. If you like the attention and gifts, by all means, let him keep half-pursuing you but put your time and energy elsewhere. Either he will get serious on his own when he sees you’re not sweating him or he’ll let it peter out because he was only half-hearted to begin with. If it’s causing you more distress than anything, just cut him loose and tell him that when he’s ready to get serious, give you a call. Otherwise, he needs to tend to the other gardens he’s obviously involved with because half-assed doesn’t cut it with you. Some guys will only treat you as well as you require and if dropping a bit a cash and offering up vague plans and promises is all it takes to keep your attention without him having to actually show up, then that’s what he’ll keep doing.

  15. pebblesntrix says:

    Also, LW1, you say, “they have been separated for 1 1/2 years so I know it is over”. Just because couples are separated for a long time doesn’t mean it’s over. Often, it can be the prospect of finalizing the divorce after a long separation that leads them to reconsider the relationship or want to give it one last chance to be sure it can’t be salvaged. Married people get back together all the time, sometimes even after divorcing, but divorce is usually the final nail in the coffin and demonstrates to themselves, each other, and the world that they are truly closing the door on this relationship. Until he has finalized the divorce, the mere fact of their lengthy separation shouldn’t be enough to convince you its truly over. And I know he’s with you know but for two and one half years he was seeing you both so there’s nothing that puts it out of the realm of possibility that he might start something up with his wife again while seeing you or in the event you two don’t make it. Don’t put so much implicit faith in him. Make him earn it with his actions,

  16. LW1 – Your mistake was to not MOA after he told you that he was married. If he wanted to get divorced and marry you he would have done so several years ago. He’s just stringing you along because you let him.
    LW2 – I would have told him after the first incident that it was a deal breaker and, if it happened again, I would be gone. It’s not too late to tell him that now.
    LW3 – If he wanted to see you, he would. I think he’s stringing you along because his calendar is currently filled up with other women, a wife and kids, or both. You’re on his B list, and he’s trying to keep his options open.

  17. dinoceros says:

    LW2: I think it’s a little odd that you told him what he does is hurtful and disrespectful but you don’t want him to change. But you want him to stop, right? It’s OK to ask someone to change if the way they are currently acting is hurtful. His behavior is not normal, and I think if he cannot or will not stop, then that’s a sign you need to move on.

  18. bittergaymark says:

    Yay! Another friday! Another column brimming with proof that only the best and brightest among us are truly breeding like rats… 😉

    1. RedRoverRedRover says:

      Including Wendy and all the other pregnant DWers!

  19. Trinita M Benjamin says:

    My husband got a divorce for free. He filed a waiver for the filing costs. If a man wants to make you his wife, nothing will stop him

    1. Certainly a proposal while still married is a fairly meaningless gesture, the equivalent of an offhanded I’d like to spend the rest of my life with you, with no follow-up. It is a way to buy more time for a non-committed relationship, which he never expects to be committed, at least no commitment from him. An undivorced current wife is a great talisman for warding off demands to commit.

  20. Ziggywigs says:

    LW1- he isn’t serious. How can he propose when he isn’t free? Move on with your life. If he becomes free e is likely to marry someone else.

    LW2 – this man is an alcoholic. By making excuses or him you are enabling him. Until he feels the effects of his behaviour than he has no reason to address it. Alcoholics need enablers. Hr knows his beahiour is bad when he drinks yet continues to drink. This man is a ticking time bomb.

    LW3 – MOA. No matter how busy someone interested would make time to take you to dinner.

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