Dear Annie: I am an older divorced woman and belong to a square-dancing club.
Shortly after I started, a single man joined and quickly became my dance partner. He was very smooth and a good dancer, and we also began dating.
Then he said there was something I needed to know about him, but he was reluctant to tell me. Instead, he gave me his ex-wife’s telephone number and told me to call her.
It turns out he had molested his two sons the entire time they were growing up.
But, his ex said that was 20 years ago and he had been through counseling and wasn’t the same person anymore.
I decided the moral thing to do was to give him the benefit of the doubt. We continued to date.
However, a few other things began to crop up, like chronic lying and manipulating people. He is also frequently unemployed.
So I broke it off and also quit dancing with him. I was tempted to tell others about his history and problems, but didn’t want to be unfair to him.
Now he is spreading rumors to make me look bad for dumping him.
A friend who lives in his neighborhood has cut down her contact with me, and I think that’s the reason.
I don’t know how to address my concerns. I am a bit socially awkward, and if I ask my friend whether this man is spreading unkind rumors about me, I fear it will make me look paranoid.
How should I handle this?
Dear Confused: Ask your friend why she seems to be avoiding you.
If she mentions anything about this man, feel free to give her the whole story.
Rest assured, his history will eventually come out.
While we don’t recommend trashing his reputation in advance, you are entitled to set the record straight should anyone ask.
Dear Annie: After 20 years of marriage, my wife and I separated 10 months ago. It was her idea.
Although she doesn’t seem to want a reconciliation, we also aren’t headed for divorce due to medical insurance coverage and other reasons.
I don’t know how to refer to myself when it comes up in conversation. I’m not divorced. I’m not single.
My wife sometimes calls me her “ex-husband,” although that is also inaccurate. The word “estranged” seems, well, strange.
What exactly do I call a wife who isn’t living with me anymore?
I’d like something simple that doesn’t require me to explain that we are permanently separated but not planning to divorce.
— Confused in California
Dear Confused: This is not an uncommon arrangement these days, and some people call it “un-divorced.”
Technically, you are separated from your wife, and for all but the rudest people, that should be sufficient explanation.
If any of our readers have a better word to describe the situation, let us know.