Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Life...in general => Dating => Topic started by: whiterose on June 05, 2012, 06:22:08 AM

Title: Disclosure etiquette
Post by: whiterose on June 05, 2012, 06:22:08 AM
If a person has previously been married (whether it ended through divorce or death of a spouse), how early should he or she disclose it to potential romantic partners?

Should he/she list it in his/her profile if on a dating site?

Should he/she disclose it on the first date?

If it was a clean/amicable divorce that was final years ago, is it ever okay to not disclose it until the other person asks?

Is it ever acceptable to not reveal from the very beginning that you are still legally married?

Should a person assume that the other person will search public records and thus assume that he/she does not have to reveal previous marriages because the other person will find out through online searches?

All of this is assuming that first marriage did not result in children, and thus there is no concrete evidence of its happening. How late is it too late to disclose a previous marriage without engaging in deceit?
Title: Re: Disclosure etiquette
Post by: purplemuse on June 05, 2012, 06:29:30 AM
Not sure about the rest, but I think a current marriage, even if only on paper, needs to be disclosed ASAP-- before the first date, if possible.

I know for me (and I'm sure, others) it's a big enough dealbreaker that I would feel deceived if the information wasn't disclosed (as opposed to certain other issues that might come up naturally in the course of conversation).
Title: Re: Disclosure etiquette
Post by: QueenofAllThings on June 05, 2012, 06:33:31 AM
I'm not sure why someone would want to hide it (and no, I don't think it's acceptable to 'not reveal' that you are still legally married).

I've been out of the dating scene for some 13 years now, but I would think that past marriages would come up relatively early in the conversation. Whether it was five or fifteen years ago, it was a major event in life, and shouldn't be avoided - it seems almost like a lie by omission to me. I'm not saying that on the first date you need to blurt out that you're divorced, but it should come out naturally while getting to know each other.

Person A: How long have you lived in Chicago?
Person B: I moved here after my divorce.

Person C: Wow! You collect vinyl? That's awesome!
Person D: I love it. My ex was in the record business and that's how I got into it.

I would never assume that you don't need to mention it because someone will do a public records search (if I did a search and discovered it, I'd really wonder why you hadn't mentioned it - what are you 'hiding'?)
Title: Re: Disclosure etiquette
Post by: Swimmer_Heather on June 05, 2012, 06:46:23 AM
I agree that a current marriage needs to be disclosed at the beginning.

The others don't need to be disclosed immediately, but should eventually crop up in conversation.  You shouldn't expect that other people will do a record search on your history, and the sort of person who evaluates their date by trawling through marriage registries doesn't necessarily sound like a good prospect to date.  (Although evaluating your date by Googling their name is easy and common.)

Sometimes a divorce or death may have been a significant trauma, and might come into discussions only after people feel comfortable with each other.  It's good to be honest about past relationship history, but it doesn't have to be all laid out at the start.
Title: Re: Disclosure etiquette
Post by: susku on June 05, 2012, 07:24:52 AM
Current marriage should definitely be immediate disclosure.

The other examples - well, they do need to be discussed quite early like every other serious issue in a relationship, whether emotional or sexual in nature. But they do not need to be disclosed upfront immediately, I think before getting serious or exclusive is fine.

ETA - going through public records would never enter my head and I have to say I'd probably end a relationship immediately if I found out someone I was dating had done to that to me rather than ask me upfront.
Title: Re: Disclosure etiquette
Post by: Winterlight on June 05, 2012, 08:34:20 AM
If a person has previously been married (whether it ended through divorce or death of a spouse), how early should he or she disclose it to potential romantic partners? I vote for early on. You don't have to make a thing out of it, just a casual mention.

Should he/she list it in his/her profile if on a dating site? Yes.

Should he/she disclose it on the first date? Not necessarily the first date, but fairly soon in.

If it was a clean/amicable divorce that was final years ago, is it ever okay to not disclose it until the other person asks? No. Especially if there's any chance your ex might walk up to you while on the date. *g*

Is it ever acceptable to not reveal from the very beginning that you are still legally married? NO!

Should a person assume that the other person will search public records and thus assume that he/she does not have to reveal previous marriages because the other person will find out through online searches? No. While googling your date has become more prevalent, you still need to tell them.

All of this is assuming that first marriage did not result in children, and thus there is no concrete evidence of its happening. How late is it too late to disclose a previous marriage without engaging in deceit? I think if you are a month in and never mentioned this, I'd definitely wonder why.
Title: Re: Disclosure etiquette
Post by: LadyClaire on June 05, 2012, 08:59:01 AM
Current marriage should definitely be immediate disclosure.

The other examples - well, they do need to be discussed quite early like every other serious issue in a relationship, whether emotional or sexual in nature. But they do not need to be disclosed upfront immediately, I think before getting serious or exclusive is fine.

ETA - going through public records would never enter my head and I have to say I'd probably end a relationship immediately if I found out someone I was dating had done to that to me rather than ask me upfront.

I agree completely with this. I would like to know if someone has been previously married at some point, and I'd want to know before we ever even started dating if they were still legally married.
Title: Re: Disclosure etiquette
Post by: Visiting Crazy Town on June 05, 2012, 09:04:33 AM
Current marriage should definitely be immediate disclosure.

The other examples - well, they do need to be discussed quite early like every other serious issue in a relationship, whether emotional or sexual in nature. But they do not need to be disclosed upfront immediately, I think before getting serious or exclusive is fine.

ETA - going through public records would never enter my head and I have to say I'd probably end a relationship immediately if I found out someone I was dating had done to that to me rather than ask me upfront.

  Bolded would seriously creep me out and if the what if it isn't even that person.  a lot of people have the same name so you could be looking at the public record of someone else rather than the person you are dating
Title: Re: Disclosure etiquette
Post by: whiterose on June 05, 2012, 09:33:06 AM
Say, for example, Robert and Alice have been dating for a few months. Neither one of them has mentioned a previous marriage- but has not explicitly asked the other about a previous marriage either. Robert and Alice are both in their late 30s. Robert has never been married before...

But Alice has been previously married and divorced. Divorce was finalized 7 years ago. There was no property owned, no children, no alimony, and no complications- it was as clean and amicable as could be. It was in another state- so local and state records would not show anything anyway, even if Robert searched. Alice has no ties to the ex.

Robert and Alice begin discussing marriage. Robert is thrilled saying that it will be his the first time. Alice states that she has been married before but did not have a wedding ceremony or reception. Robert is surprised and asks Alice why did she not tell him that she had been previously married. Alice replies "You did not ask".

Did Robert do anything wrong in not asking? Or was Alice supposed to let Robert know about her divorce early on- especially way before the 6 month mark when they began discussing marriage? Was Robert supposed to ask? Does age make a difference?
Title: Re: Disclosure etiquette
Post by: Zilla on June 05, 2012, 09:44:11 AM
Say, for example, Robert and Alice have been dating for a few months. Neither one of them has mentioned a previous marriage- but has not explicitly asked the other about a previous marriage either. Robert and Alice are both in their late 30s. Robert has never been married before...

But Alice has been previously married and divorced. Divorce was finalized 7 years ago. There was no property owned, no children, no alimony, and no complications- it was as clean and amicable as could be. It was in another state- so local and state records would not show anything anyway, even if Robert searched. Alice has no ties to the ex.

Robert and Alice begin discussing marriage. Robert is thrilled saying that it will be his the first time. Alice states that she has been married before but did not have a wedding ceremony or reception. Robert is surprised and asks Alice why did she not tell him that she had been previously married. Alice replies "You did not ask".

Did Robert do anything wrong in not asking? Or was Alice supposed to let Robert know about her divorce early on- especially way before the 6 month mark when they began discussing marriage? Was Robert supposed to ask? Does age make a difference?


In this scenario, since it never came up before or was asked, I think Alice was perfectly in the clear.  It happened 7 years ago, it was amicable and did not "change" Alice drastically.


It's like discussing previous boyfriends, if it isn't asked or comes up in conversation, I see no reason to disclose it.


And when a conversation about marriage did come up, she was like Oh, I was married before.  This is how it comes up.


With this caveat: No children and no crazy ex stalking.
Title: Re: Disclosure etiquette
Post by: Judah on June 05, 2012, 09:54:57 AM
Say, for example, Robert and Alice have been dating for a few months. Neither one of them has mentioned a previous marriage- but has not explicitly asked the other about a previous marriage either. Robert and Alice are both in their late 30s. Robert has never been married before...

But Alice has been previously married and divorced. Divorce was finalized 7 years ago. There was no property owned, no children, no alimony, and no complications- it was as clean and amicable as could be. It was in another state- so local and state records would not show anything anyway, even if Robert searched. Alice has no ties to the ex.

Robert and Alice begin discussing marriage. Robert is thrilled saying that it will be his the first time. Alice states that she has been married before but did not have a wedding ceremony or reception. Robert is surprised and asks Alice why did she not tell him that she had been previously married. Alice replies "You did not ask".

Did Robert do anything wrong in not asking? Or was Alice supposed to let Robert know about her divorce early on- especially way before the 6 month mark when they began discussing marriage? Was Robert supposed to ask? Does age make a difference?


In this scenario, since it never came up before or was asked, I think Alice was perfectly in the clear.  It happened 7 years ago, it was amicable and did not "change" Alice drastically.


It's like discussing previous boyfriends, if it isn't asked or comes up in conversation, I see no reason to disclose it.


And when a conversation about marriage did come up, she was like Oh, I was married before.  This is how it comes up.


With this caveat: No children and no crazy ex stalking.

I agree with Zilla.  Since the divorce was amicable, there were no chldren or property, and no reason to think the previous marriage would impact the current relationship, I can see Alice just not thinking about it.  It's probably not something that's at the forefront of her mind. 

A current marriage, even if it's only a technicality, needs to be disclosed upfront.
Title: Re: Disclosure etiquette
Post by: dearabby on June 05, 2012, 09:56:20 AM
My rule of thumb is this: Is the event something that has some bearing on my current life?

So I think people should definitely disclose early on their current marital status if they are still legally married, separated, or very freshly divorced. They should also disclose within the first few dates whether they have children, a stalker ex, mental or physical issues. I'd probably throw any major fiscal things into that mix, like being currently unemployed or different living situation.

My background is very similar to Alice's, so I don't bring up the divorce (especially since it was disclosed on my dating profile), but I would mention it in passing at some point. (e.g. Oh yeah, I've been to X island - that was where ex-DH and I were married). I don't think it's ever gone more than a few weeks without being discussed.

At some point it feels a bit odd that it hasn't come up and if I were the guy I'd wonder if she'd kept it from me for a reason. But if they were straightforward in other aspects, I'd let it slide.
Title: Re: Disclosure etiquette
Post by: TurtleDove on June 05, 2012, 10:05:57 AM
I don't think past marriages or divorces are something shameful or always negative factors when dating.  I know oftentimes a divorced person looks for another divorced person who has experienced marriage, living with someone, heartbreak, etc.  Oftentimes a widow seeks out a widower who also understands the loss of a spouse.  Some people are turned off by past relationships, others see them as positives because of the experience the person brings to the current relationship.

I cannot imagine this not coming up in normal getting to know you conversation.  I would advise people to reveal past significant relationships early on in a positive light.  For example, "My husband cheated on me, which is why we got divorced.  It really taught me to respect trust in relationships."
Title: Re: Disclosure etiquette
Post by: whiterose on June 05, 2012, 10:12:52 AM
Assume that either Alice did not list it on her dating profile because they did not ask about previous marriages (only if she was not currently legally married), or that Robert and Alice did not meet through a dating site/service and thus it would not have had a reason to come up (say, they met at church/work/social organization/online message board about a shared hobby/party/etc.). Hence Robert would not have had any way to know that Alice had been previously married unless he had asked directly. Does Alice still have to mention it first?

Title: Re: Disclosure etiquette
Post by: TurtleDove on June 05, 2012, 10:17:35 AM
Does Alice still have to mention it first?

Have to?  No, but it would seem odd that it would never come up and depending on circumstances and personalities, it makes sense that Robert would feel deceived.  It would then be up to Robert to determine if the perceived "deception" is a deal breaker or not.  Again, I cannot fathom a dating getting to know you situation where a past marriage would not come up in coversation naturally, and if Alice purposefully concealed the marriage when it would naturally have been mentioned, I would say she is taking a pretty big risk.
Title: Re: Disclosure etiquette
Post by: #borecore on June 05, 2012, 10:25:11 AM
I would find it extremely, oddly, deal-breakerly weird not to find out until I was already engaged to someone that they had been previously married.

That said, I actually like to get to know my partner, including many details of their personal history. Clearly Robert wasn't too interested in Alice's past, and vice versa, if it came up in this way. So their responses would be otherworldly different from mine.

She doesn't have to mention it, but not mentioning it until after an engagement is bizarre in my world.
Title: Re: Disclosure etiquette
Post by: susku on June 05, 2012, 10:28:07 AM
I would find it extremely, oddly, deal-breakerly weird not to find out until I was already engaged to someone that they had been previously married.

That said, I actually like to get to know my partner, including many details of their personal history. Clearly Robert wasn't too interested in Alice's past, and vice versa, if it came up in this way. So their responses would be otherworldly different from mine.

She doesn't have to mention it, but not mentioning it until after an engagement is bizarre in my world.

I agree. I certainly would expect something like this to come up before an engagement, even if it's a whirlwind type relationship.
Title: Re: Disclosure etiquette
Post by: TheVapors on June 05, 2012, 11:13:57 AM
If a person has previously been married (whether it ended through divorce or death of a spouse), how early should he or she disclose it to potential romantic partners? Early. Previous marriages, regardless of how they were ended, are a big deal. I'd think within the first month of dating.

Should he/she list it in his/her profile if on a dating site? Absolutely. No excuses.

Should he/she disclose it on the first date? It would be nice. It doesn't need to be brought up like a big, dark secret, but it can (and probably should) be casually mentioned.

If it was a clean/amicable divorce that was final years ago, is it ever okay to not disclose it until the other person asks? No. It is never OK to not mention it.

Is it ever acceptable to not reveal from the very beginning that you are still legally married? NO. NEVER.

Should a person assume that the other person will search public records and thus assume that he/she does not have to reveal previous marriages because the other person will find out through online searches? No.

All of this is assuming that first marriage did not result in children, and thus there is no concrete evidence of its happening. How late is it too late to disclose a previous marriage without engaging in deceit? Too late? Maybe after the 2nd month. I know that I, personally, would want to know about it within the first date or two, though.

As for Robert and Alice. I have to wonder why Alice wouldn't have brought it up. It's not Robert's responsibility to ask. It's Alice's responsibility to tell. It seems almost sketchy that she wouldn't mention it.
Title: Re: Disclosure etiquette
Post by: purplemuse on June 05, 2012, 11:31:16 AM
After reading more responses, I have some thoughts on the issue of disclosing a past marriage. I think there are some things that aren't out and out wrong to keep to yourself (as long as you're not directly asked-- I don't think lying is helpful for any of these things), but that if they remain undisclosed for an extended period of time, indicate that there's something wrong with the relationship*:

A past marriage is one of those things, IMO, along with things like "I have a PhD," or "My parents literally disowned me for getting a tattoo."

*Maybe one person is too self-focused to listen to the other's life events; maybe one person is too secretive; maybe one person is keeping a secret because revealing it would reveal a huge incompatibility and wants to hold on to the relationship as long as they can; maybe one person thinks the other is really judgmental and doesn't feel safe sharing some things.
Title: Re: Disclosure etiquette
Post by: jimithing on June 05, 2012, 11:34:27 AM
For me, dating someone who has a previous marriage is definitely a thing I would want to know. It's not a deal breaker, but it could be, depending on what went down in the marriage. People grow up, and 7 years is a long time, but I would want to know that my future husband takes *our* marriage seriously.

If I found out after a person was engaged, that they had been married before, I would probably see that as a lie of omission, and feel like they were hiding something. It would definitely give me pause.

If Alice doesn't really see it as a big deal, I don't understand why she can just be open and up front about it.
Title: Re: Disclosure etiquette
Post by: Zilla on June 05, 2012, 12:33:03 PM
I agree, I think if the subject of marriage comes up, then that's the time to disclose it.  I can't imagine being engaged and not disclosing it.


If they popped the question with no discussion of marriage in the past, then accept/decline whatever.  And then within an hour or so say, "I am so happy you asked me and what a surprised but I wanted to let you know though..." 


But if marriage never comes up, in all the scenarios you presented, and you aren't even thinking about it, I wouldn't disclose it.  I am kind of giggling at it actually imagining:


Hey what do you feel like eating tonight? 
Oh I need to tell you, i was once married.


Talking about work issues.  Oh by the way, I was once married.  Or the dreaded, "I need to tell you something..." statement. lol


See how do you bring it up?
Title: Re: Disclosure etiquette
Post by: QueenfaninCA on June 05, 2012, 12:38:51 PM
Did Robert do anything wrong in not asking? Or was Alice supposed to let Robert know about her divorce early on- especially way before the 6 month mark when they began discussing marriage? Was Robert supposed to ask? Does age make a difference?

I think 6 months is way past the time past relationships should have been talked about. For me it would be somewhat important to know how much "relationship experience" my partner has (and although that includes scrabble and related stuff, it is important for me to know how many relationships and of which length he has had to judge how he deals with relationships, conflict etc.)
Title: Re: Disclosure etiquette
Post by: TurtleDove on June 05, 2012, 12:40:04 PM
See how do you bring it up?

In my experience, it naturally flows in any number of ways, and is not presented as a negative thing.  Especially once two people start talking seriously, I cannot imagine why it would not be discussed even in the context of "have you always lived alone?" type questions.
Title: Re: Disclosure etiquette
Post by: AustenFan on June 05, 2012, 12:50:41 PM
Yes, Alice should have voluntarily disclosed it. In a situation where two people love and trust eachother enough to be getting married the onus shouldn't be on one party asking every question under the sun to get the other parties information.

If I were Robert I would seriously be wondering what else wasn't a big enough deal to mention and why my (possible) future brides "don't ask don't tell" policy is more secretive then the military's.
Title: Re: Disclosure etiquette
Post by: Yvaine on June 05, 2012, 12:50:51 PM
I find that it just comes up (no marriage for me, but a couple of long term past relationships). You'll be telling an anecdote and, for it to make sense, you have to explain the other "character" in the story.
Title: Re: Disclosure etiquette
Post by: QueenofAllThings on June 05, 2012, 01:00:42 PM
Frankly, "You didn't ask" is a patently ridiculous answer. We aren't talking about whether Alice ever owned a pair of red shoes or had been to Hawaii. I'm sure Robert also didn't think to ask whether Alice had a life-threatening condition, a peanut allergy, or children - under the assumption that these are important enough to volunteer.

We can't think of everything to ask - we assume that, over the course of getting to know someone, we will find these things out, particularly if we are discussing marriage.

I would really have to step back and think long and hard if I was in Robert's shoes. Not because Alice was divorced, but because she felt the need to hide it. I would wonder what else she was hiding.
Title: Re: Disclosure etiquette
Post by: Calypso on June 05, 2012, 01:12:08 PM
It's kind of weird for me to imagine feeling close enough to marry someone but not close enough to tell them about my life before I met them....and I say that as someone whose sweetie moved in with her after knowing each other for about three weeks. We'd extensively talked about one another's lives before that just because we were so interested in each other!

I would never forgive someone who was already married and didn't tell me, because their negligence would have caused me to break my own ethical rules---I don't (didn't) date people who were married or in a relationship. I did have one date with a guy who didn't bother to mention he already had a girlfriend. I met her shortly thereafter at a group event and that was it, he wasn't even potential friend material after that.

I wouldn't feel any need to include previous marriage info on a dating site. I would if the site required it, but I wouldn't mind if I didn't find that out about a person until after we'd gotten to know one another.

How long should that take? I don't have a timeline, but it should be shortly after we've decided that we're not just casually dating, we want a more serious commitment. I think that's the point for disclosures.

I don't think what Alice did is a dealbreaker, but if I was Robert, I'd have to wonder what else she didn't think to tell me. It says more about her communication style than about her as a person, if you see what I mean, but compatible communication styles are crucial for a good marriage.
Title: Re: Disclosure etiquette
Post by: magician5 on June 05, 2012, 03:02:36 PM
Previous marriage? Sure, tell, and then let the matter pass ... it's a dead issue.

Profile? No, dead issue.

Disclose on first date? Sure, right before you say "can we get Chinese food?" - For all of these questions, if it's a fact from your past, early in a possible relationship it's on a par with "I have green eyes." If the guy thinks it's a deal-breaker, get it out on the floor and stop wasting your time.

Still legally married? Now that's a challenge. If you have a written legal separation agreement that stipulates that you're just waiting the mandated waiting period, and if you're truly divorced in all but name only and not trying to save the marriage, I think you're entitled to date. Other people may differ. One of my previous relationships had just such an agreement, that spelled out that each partner was entitled to get on with their life and behave exactly as if they were single.

If you failed to reveal it from the beginning (if we were dating) I'd have a problem with that.

I'd also have a problem with being public-records-searched. At least, if someone did that on me, in anticipation of our becoming seriously involved (call it "due diligence") I'd wish any relationship we had supported an accurate judgement of my character without detective work. It would probably cause me to say "bye".
Title: Re: Disclosure etiquette
Post by: WillyNilly on June 05, 2012, 03:30:39 PM
If a person has previously been married (whether it ended through divorce or death of a spouse), how early should he or she disclose it to potential romantic partners?

Pretty gosh darn early.  IMO absolutely before the second date.  If chatting, phone calls or emails is going in before the first date, it should be before the first date.

Should he/she list it in his/her profile if on a dating site?

Absolutely.

If it was a clean/amicable divorce that was final years ago, is it ever okay to not disclose it until the other person asks?

No, that is lying by omission.  Many people would never think to ask.

Is it ever acceptable to not reveal from the very beginning that you are still legally married?

It is never ever acceptable to date while married without making absolutely sure your date knows you are still married.

Should a person assume that the other person will search public records and thus assume that he/she does not have to reveal previous marriages because the other person will find out through online searches?

No you should never assume people are doing such extensive public record searches on your to find out information a potential mate should have disclosed to them openly and honestly.

All of this is assuming that first marriage did not result in children, and thus there is no concrete evidence of its happening. How late is it too late to disclose a previous marriage without engaging in deceit?

Absolutely too late is after sexual intimacy, but I really think this needs to be disclosed before a second date, so I'm standing by that.  You simply don't let someone get attached and interested without presenting an honest truth about who you are.

(All "you" statements are of course general)
Title: Re: Disclosure etiquette
Post by: Calypso on June 05, 2012, 03:35:18 PM
h "I have green eyes." If the guy thinks it's a deal-breaker, get it out on the floor and stop wasting your time.

Still legally married? Now that's a challenge. If you have a written legal separation agreement that stipulates that you're just waiting the mandated waiting period, and if you're truly divorced in all but name only and not trying to save the marriage, I think you're entitled to date. Other people may differ. One of my previous relationships had just such an agreement, that spelled out that each partner was entitled to get on with their life and behave exactly as if they were single.
 

Oh, of course. If the marriage is over in every way but on paper, I've got no problem with that. It's becoming a party in someone's current relationship I object to.
Title: Re: Disclosure etiquette
Post by: TurtleDove on June 05, 2012, 03:38:26 PM
Oh, of course. If the marriage is over in every way but on paper, I've got no problem with that. It's becoming a party in someone's current relationship I object to.

And to withold the relationship status from someone you are dating is not a good way to start a relationship - I think being currently married, even if only on paper, is something that absolutely must be disclosed up front.
Title: Re: Disclosure etiquette
Post by: MariaE on June 05, 2012, 03:41:01 PM
Oh, of course. If the marriage is over in every way but on paper, I've got no problem with that. It's becoming a party in someone's current relationship I object to.

And to withold the relationship status from someone you are dating is not a good way to start a relationship - I think being currently married, even if only on paper, is something that absolutely must be disclosed up front.

I agree with is. In fact, it would be a dealbreaker to me if this wasn't disclosed at the latest while the first date was being arranged.
Title: Re: Disclosure etiquette
Post by: spaceheatersusan on June 05, 2012, 03:50:19 PM
My fiance (will be husband in 11 days :-D) told me on our first date.  But he also has a child with her, which he told me on our first date as well.  I think it's good to get that information out of the way right at the beginning
Title: Re: Disclosure etiquette
Post by: WillyNilly on June 05, 2012, 04:05:24 PM
Oh, of course. If the marriage is over in every way but on paper, I've got no problem with that. It's becoming a party in someone's current relationship I object to.

And to withold the relationship status from someone you are dating is not a good way to start a relationship - I think being currently married, even if only on paper, is something that absolutely must be disclosed up front.

I agree with is. In fact, it would be a dealbreaker to me if this wasn't disclosed at the latest while the first date was being arranged.

A potential date being married - regardless of separated, in the process of divorce, etc - would be an absolute dealbreaker for me and I would need to know that before any date, or quite honestly before any extensive communication-in-relation-to-dating occurred. 

If such information was disclosed I would decline the date, but could still remain friendly
If such information was withheld and I found out later, the relationship and any potential friendship would be over forever.
Title: Re: Disclosure etiquette
Post by: blarg314 on June 05, 2012, 08:09:24 PM

Currently legally married is something that should be disclosed *before* the first date. Some people won't care, but for a lot of people it's a walk out of the date as soon as you find out deal-breaker, even when it's the 'Well, we're still married on paper, but the marriage is totally over, I promise' variety. I wouldn't go on a first date with someone who was legally married, no matter the circumstances, other people are free to if they want.

Children (including non custodial) and previous marriages should be brought up during the 'getting to know you' phase, when you're going on dates, but before becoming exclusive/established.  Also in the 'need to know before getting too serious' category are sexual orientation and gender, mental illnesses and addiction (current or past), and criminal records. STD status should be revealed before becoming intimate (and while ripping each other's clothes off does not count as 'before').  These are all major things that can seriously affect a relationship, and may be deal breakers, or at least deal changers, for many people.

And I don't think "you didn't ask" is a good excuse. If that's the reason for not telling about a previous marriage even though they are engaged, I think it would be good to put the engagement on hold while you come up with a list of other things that you haven't asked about but may be important.
Title: Re: Disclosure etiquette
Post by: Winterlight on June 05, 2012, 08:34:26 PM
Yes, Alice should have voluntarily disclosed it. In a situation where two people love and trust eachother enough to be getting married the onus shouldn't be on one party asking every question under the sun to get the other parties information.

If I were Robert I would seriously be wondering what else wasn't a big enough deal to mention and why my (possible) future brides "don't ask don't tell" policy is more secretive then the military's.

Agreed. I would have thought that was something my partner would disclose on their own before we got anywhere near considering marriage. I mean, I wouldn't ask someone if they had had a kidney transplant, either, but that's something your partner should be telling you without being prompted.
Title: Re: Disclosure etiquette
Post by: LifeOnPluto on June 05, 2012, 10:23:04 PM
I think the onus was on Alice to tell Robert, rather than for Robert to ask. And I think Alice should have told Robert early on in the dating process (not necessarily on the first date though).

For many people, dating a divorcee is a deal-breaker, regardless of how long ago the divorce was. So I think it's only fair to both parties that such information is disclosed early on.
Title: Re: Disclosure etiquette
Post by: Mikayla on June 06, 2012, 10:32:20 AM
Frankly, "You didn't ask" is a patently ridiculous answer. We aren't talking about whether Alice ever owned a pair of red shoes or had been to Hawaii. I'm sure Robert also didn't think to ask whether Alice had a life-threatening condition, a peanut allergy, or children - under the assumption that these are important enough to volunteer.

We can't think of everything to ask - we assume that, over the course of getting to know someone, we will find these things out, particularly if we are discussing marriage.

I would really have to step back and think long and hard if I was in Robert's shoes. Not because Alice was divorced, but because she felt the need to hide it. I would wonder what else she was hiding.

I POD all of this.

I also have to confess I'm not a fan of whirlwind romances, and this is one reason why.  It isn't just the lack of full disclosure of certain facts; it's that there's no context to put that in.  That heightens the risk factor for Robert, because of course he'd wonder what else was out there.

If they had been dating 18 months, this may not be as big a concern. 

I know, I'm insanely old fashioned :)
Title: Re: Disclosure etiquette
Post by: Sterling on June 06, 2012, 12:59:38 PM
I got married at 19 and divorced a year later.  We didn't own anything or have childre.  there were no hard feelings but we also didn't keep in touch afterwards and I have no idea where he is today.  That said it still came up fairly early in any relationship I had.  Maybe not right off the bat but generally with in a few months I would mention my ex-husband for some reason.  I think actively trying to not talk about having been married before or not saying anything unless asked directly makes it seem as though you are trying to hide something.
Title: Re: Disclosure etiquette
Post by: auntmeegs on June 06, 2012, 04:26:01 PM
I think the onus was on Alice to tell Robert, rather than for Robert to ask. And I think Alice should have told Robert early on in the dating process (not necessarily on the first date though).

For many people, dating a divorcee is a deal-breaker, regardless of how long ago the divorce was. So I think it's only fair to both parties that such information is disclosed early on.
[/b]

I agree that it should be disclosed as soon as possible, but this reason doesn't really make any sense.  There are tons of things that you might not find out until a few dates in or even later that could be deal breakers.  That's the point of the dating period. 
Title: Re: Disclosure etiquette
Post by: purplemuse on June 06, 2012, 05:41:27 PM
I think the onus was on Alice to tell Robert, rather than for Robert to ask. And I think Alice should have told Robert early on in the dating process (not necessarily on the first date though).

For many people, dating a divorcee is a deal-breaker, regardless of how long ago the divorce was. So I think it's only fair to both parties that such information is disclosed early on.
[/b]

I agree that it should be disclosed as soon as possible, but this reason doesn't really make any sense.  There are tons of things that you might not find out until a few dates in or even later that could be deal breakers.  That's the point of the dating period.

IMO, when you present yourself as being available for dating, there is a strong implication is that you're single-- I would expect not dating anyone else, but definitely not married-- to the point where if you are married, I, and (I think) most other people would consider asking someone out without disclosing that marital status as being deceitful.

Religion, kids, smoking, etc... none of those potential dealbreakers are indicated just by asking someone out.
Title: Re: Disclosure etiquette
Post by: whiterose on June 06, 2012, 08:32:14 PM
Not to derail my own thread, but is discussing marriage after 6 months of dating really a whirlwind courtship?

I would have thought that whirlwind courtships would be more like getting married after 3 months of dating- 6 perhaps at most. But not simply discussing marriage- or even getting engaged- after 6 whole months of being a couple.

 
Title: Re: Disclosure etiquette
Post by: AustenFan on June 06, 2012, 08:47:16 PM
If the couple has only known each other for 6 months, then in my mind that qualifies as whirlwind.  6 months experience is an incredibly short time on which to base a decision that you intend to stick with for the rest of your life.

If they have been friends for more then a couple years prior to dating then for me that changes things, but if we are still talking about Alice and Robert they obviously haven't known each other for years or her would already know about her divorce.

Title: Re: Disclosure etiquette
Post by: WillyNilly on June 06, 2012, 11:12:48 PM
I think at 6 months its pretty on target but on the early end of th spectrum to start discussing the direction of the relationship, which might include "are we on a mariage track" and "how far along until we talk marriage?" But I think actually seriously planning for a wedding, getting engaged, etc, 6 months is pretty whirlwind.

I know there are groups and religions that have very quick engagements and marriages... but then I would think religious folks would consider knowledge about a divorce to be very important.
Title: Re: Disclosure etiquette
Post by: auntmeegs on June 07, 2012, 08:43:12 AM
I think the onus was on Alice to tell Robert, rather than for Robert to ask. And I think Alice should have told Robert early on in the dating process (not necessarily on the first date though).

For many people, dating a divorcee is a deal-breaker, regardless of how long ago the divorce was. So I think it's only fair to both parties that such information is disclosed early on.
[/b]

I agree that it should be disclosed as soon as possible, but this reason doesn't really make any sense.  There are tons of things that you might not find out until a few dates in or even later that could be deal breakers.  That's the point of the dating period.

IMO, when you present yourself as being available for dating, there is a strong implication is that you're single-- I would expect not dating anyone else, but definitely not married-- to the point where if you are married, I, and (I think) most other people would consider asking someone out without disclosing that marital status as being deceitful.
Religion, kids, smoking, etc... none of those potential dealbreakers are indicated just by asking someone out.

Ok, but Alice is not still married. 
Title: Re: Disclosure etiquette
Post by: purplemuse on June 07, 2012, 09:08:52 AM
I think the onus was on Alice to tell Robert, rather than for Robert to ask. And I think Alice should have told Robert early on in the dating process (not necessarily on the first date though).

For many people, dating a divorcee is a deal-breaker, regardless of how long ago the divorce was. So I think it's only fair to both parties that such information is disclosed early on.
[/b]

I agree that it should be disclosed as soon as possible, but this reason doesn't really make any sense.  There are tons of things that you might not find out until a few dates in or even later that could be deal breakers.  That's the point of the dating period.

IMO, when you present yourself as being available for dating, there is a strong implication is that you're single-- I would expect not dating anyone else, but definitely not married-- to the point where if you are married, I, and (I think) most other people would consider asking someone out without disclosing that marital status as being deceitful.
Religion, kids, smoking, etc... none of those potential dealbreakers are indicated just by asking someone out.

Ok, but Alice is not still married.

Oops; I'm sorry; I misread that-- for some reason, I thought you were talking about people still legally married. That's what I get for trying to multitask...

Never mind then; I agree with you.
Title: Re: Disclosure etiquette
Post by: takeheart on June 07, 2012, 10:29:52 AM
If you're still legally married, regardless of how long you have been separated, it would be best to disclose the information immediately. If you are divorced, I think it would depend on the pace of the "relationship." If you're casually dating, I would wait until it got a little more serious. Speaking of any kind of marriage too soon can be a deal breaker.

I was married when I met DH. Ex-husband and I had been separated for a couple of months, but for all intensive purposes over with before then, when Sister and BIL introduced me to DH. DH thought that I was married, but I informed him before we met in person that I was still married legally. It became a moral issue for him then. We discussed what happened, why had I not filed for a divorce yet, etc. I told him that I understood if he wanted to cancel our date. He appreciated my honesty. Long story short, he didn't and we have been together for four years (married for two years)!

This topic makes me wonder how does one go about bringing up that they used to be married? Do you do the serious, "We need to talk" approach or the casual, "By the way, I used to be married" approach?
Title: Re: Disclosure etiquette
Post by: WillyNilly on June 07, 2012, 10:34:56 AM
This topic makes me wonder how does one go about bringing up that they used to be married? Do you do the serious, "We need to talk" approach or the casual, "By the way, I used to be married" approach?

You just slip it into conversation:

Oh you just came back from Hawaii?  I went there years ago when I was married...
The first time I had Ethiopian food was back when I was married...
MY ex-husband has a pit bull so I'm somewhat familiar with the breed...
I lived in Pittsburgh for a few years while my ex-husband finished up his degree at Carnegie Mellon...
I gave up on dating guitarists after my divorce from one...
The Courthouse?  You mean the one with the fountain in front?  Sure I've been there, I got my divorce there...
Title: Re: Disclosure etiquette
Post by: bah12 on June 07, 2012, 08:55:39 PM
Still legally married should be disclosed ASAP.

As for the rest, I wouldn't say that it has to be immediate, but I can't imagine ever getting to the point in a relationship where marriage is discussed without your SO knowing about significant parts of your life...like previous marriages.

As a matter of fact, I would be wary of someone who didn't mention it that deep into a relationship or if they chose to disclose it to me only because it's something I could find concrete evidence of.
Previous marriages, in most cases, aren't even close to deal breakers (I guess there are those out there), so I don't know why it wouldn't be mentioned.  It may be awkward to blurt out, but it can be mentioned casually enough.  My DH told me about his previous marriage (widowed) on our second date. 
Title: Re: Disclosure etiquette
Post by: kareng57 on June 07, 2012, 09:03:53 PM
If the couple has only known each other for 6 months, then in my mind that qualifies as whirlwind.  6 months experience is an incredibly short time on which to base a decision that you intend to stick with for the rest of your life.

If they have been friends for more then a couple years prior to dating then for me that changes things, but if we are still talking about Alice and Robert they obviously haven't known each other for years or her would already know about her divorce.


I find it unfortunate that you feel that way.  Late Dh and I knew that it was right within 4 months of meeting, although the wedding was more than a year later.

And it lasted 31 years.
Title: Re: Disclosure etiquette
Post by: MRSW on June 07, 2012, 09:21:27 PM
My fiance was not married before, but he was engaged previously.  I found this out a few weeks after he proposed and about a month before we were going to see his family for the first time.  He brought it up, though; it wasn't something I'd thought to ask.  It was done in a "I want to talk to you about this, I'm not sure how to bring this up," type of talk.

Honestly, I was a bit shocked because I thought that it surely would have come up before.  It just didn't, though.  We ended up having a good talk about it, and it's all good.  My main concern was whether his family had liked her and I worried about them having liked her better than me.  It ended up being a non-issue.
Title: Re: Disclosure etiquette
Post by: MariaE on June 08, 2012, 12:09:57 AM
If the couple has only known each other for 6 months, then in my mind that qualifies as whirlwind.  6 months experience is an incredibly short time on which to base a decision that you intend to stick with for the rest of your life.

If they have been friends for more then a couple years prior to dating then for me that changes things, but if we are still talking about Alice and Robert they obviously haven't known each other for years or her would already know about her divorce.


I find it unfortunate that you feel that way.  Late Dh and I knew that it was right within 4 months of meeting, although the wedding was more than a year later.

And it lasted 31 years.

DH and I were both hesitant to start dating, because we knew that if we did, that would be "it" for both of us, and we weren't quite sure we were ready for that. Thankfully we got over that ;)

Sometimes you just know.
Title: Re: Disclosure etiquette
Post by: AustenFan on June 08, 2012, 01:14:47 AM
If the couple has only known each other for 6 months, then in my mind that qualifies as whirlwind.  6 months experience is an incredibly short time on which to base a decision that you intend to stick with for the rest of your life.

If they have been friends for more then a couple years prior to dating then for me that changes things, but if we are still talking about Alice and Robert they obviously haven't known each other for years or her would already know about her divorce.


I find it unfortunate that you feel that way.  Late Dh and I knew that it was right within 4 months of meeting, although the wedding was more than a year later.

And it lasted 31 years.

Why are my feelings unfortunate? I feel it's better to err on the side of caution, especially with a life changing decision. I don't see anything "unfortunate" about that.
Title: Re: Disclosure etiquette
Post by: #borecore on June 08, 2012, 12:15:41 PM
If the couple has only known each other for 6 months, then in my mind that qualifies as whirlwind.  6 months experience is an incredibly short time on which to base a decision that you intend to stick with for the rest of your life.

If they have been friends for more then a couple years prior to dating then for me that changes things, but if we are still talking about Alice and Robert they obviously haven't known each other for years or her would already know about her divorce.


I find it unfortunate that you feel that way.  Late Dh and I knew that it was right within 4 months of meeting, although the wedding was more than a year later.

And it lasted 31 years.

Why are my feelings unfortunate? I feel it's better to err on the side of caution, especially with a life changing decision. I don't see anything "unfortunate" about that.

Not to mention AustenFan never said whirlwind=unacceptable, just that it's fast.

I agree that it's fast, probably too fast for me, but I wouldn't begrudge someone happiness if it took 2 months or 2 decades.
Title: Re: Disclosure etiquette
Post by: SuperMartianRobotGirl on June 08, 2012, 03:32:30 PM
If the couple has only known each other for 6 months, then in my mind that qualifies as whirlwind.  6 months experience is an incredibly short time on which to base a decision that you intend to stick with for the rest of your life.

If they have been friends for more then a couple years prior to dating then for me that changes things, but if we are still talking about Alice and Robert they obviously haven't known each other for years or her would already know about her divorce.

I married my husband after only knowing him a couple of months, and we've been married 14 years. My parents got married 6 weeks after meeting each other and have been married just 50 years this year.

Anyway, back to the original issue. I know people who consider someone being divorced a deal breaker, although I don't understand why. But people have a right to only date/marry people who meet whatever standards they want. And also it would seem weird that it wouldn't come up in conversation over 6 months? I think that she should have found a way within the first month or so to casually bring it up in conversation. I don't she had to make a big deal over it but she probably should have found a way to say something.


I find it unfortunate that you feel that way.  Late Dh and I knew that it was right within 4 months of meeting, although the wedding was more than a year later.

And it lasted 31 years.
Title: Re: Disclosure etiquette
Post by: weeblewobble on June 09, 2012, 05:58:27 AM
I have a friend whose husband died very young.  It was an incredibly tragic story, leaving my friend with two young children to raise alone.  She was completely devestated.  It took almost five years before she would even consider dating again.  When she did start dating, she didn't want to be "that girl with the tragic backstory" and make her dates feel sorry for her.  She came up with succinct answers that she could give without getting upset and then immediately follow with a question.

Date: So have you been married before?
Friend: Yes, my husband passed away five years ago in a car accident.  Have you been married before?

She didn't give a lot of details.  She didn't talk about how much she still missed him or how hard it was to raise the kids on her own.  She did still miss him and it was terribly hard raising the kids on her own, but these were not subjects she wanted to discuss with a virtual stranger.  If they went on more dates, she would introduce more information into the conversation if the date asked.


 
Title: Re: Disclosure etiquette
Post by: cicero on June 09, 2012, 07:09:04 AM
I think it should be disclosed from the beginning (eg., i would put it in my profile if i were on a dating site).

for some people - it is significant. and the not disclosing is lying by ommission (IMHO).  If i were datign someone who *didn't* disclose a past marriage - and then i found it, either by them telling me or by my going to public records - i would be wondering what else he didn't tell me and why he felt it important to keep this info from me.



If a person has previously been married (whether it ended through divorce or death of a spouse), how early should he or she disclose it to potential romantic partners?

Should he/she list it in his/her profile if on a dating site?

Should he/she disclose it on the first date?

If it was a clean/amicable divorce that was final years ago, is it ever okay to not disclose it until the other person asks?

Is it ever acceptable to not reveal from the very beginning that you are still legally married?

Should a person assume that the other person will search public records and thus assume that he/she does not have to reveal previous marriages because the other person will find out through online searches?

All of this is assuming that first marriage did not result in children, and thus there is no concrete evidence of its happening. How late is it too late to disclose a previous marriage without engaging in deceit?
Title: Re: Disclosure etiquette
Post by: Yvaine on June 09, 2012, 10:57:56 AM
If the couple has only known each other for 6 months, then in my mind that qualifies as whirlwind.  6 months experience is an incredibly short time on which to base a decision that you intend to stick with for the rest of your life.

If they have been friends for more then a couple years prior to dating then for me that changes things, but if we are still talking about Alice and Robert they obviously haven't known each other for years or her would already know about her divorce.


I find it unfortunate that you feel that way.  Late Dh and I knew that it was right within 4 months of meeting, although the wedding was more than a year later.

And it lasted 31 years.

DH and I were both hesitant to start dating, because we knew that if we did, that would be "it" for both of us, and we weren't quite sure we were ready for that. Thankfully we got over that ;)

Sometimes you just know.

There's no one formula.  :) I've seen couples get together crazy fast and have great relationships, and others that take years to finally collide in just the right way (for example, BF and I had known each other for about five years as casual acquaintances before getting together, but it took that long for us to both be in "looking for relationship" mode at the right time).
Title: Re: Disclosure etiquette
Post by: poundcake on June 09, 2012, 11:02:45 AM
Quote
but for all intensive purposes

Heads up! It's "all intents and purposes." Huge grammar peeve!  ;D

Also agree to "disclose from the beginning." I would find it a red flag that someone hadn't mentioned it after the first one or two conversations or dates.
Title: Re: Disclosure etiquette
Post by: rigs32 on June 09, 2012, 12:59:52 PM
Everyone has different deal breakers.  I think it should be on the person who wants/needs the information to ask the question.

As an example, some people find it necessary to know their SO's number of previous scrabble partners.  Others find that question rude.

If you need to know someone's marriage history, I think you need to ask.  A quickie marriage and divorce can have a lot less impact on someone's life than a five year live in relationship that never resulted in marriage.

Title: Re: Disclosure etiquette
Post by: norrina on June 10, 2012, 01:41:48 AM
I don't think there's a one-size-fits-all answer to the perfect timeline for mentioning previous relationships. The length of the relationship, when it occurred, and whether there were any children all are going to factor into that, for one thing.

I was married for 16 months when I was 20-21 y.o. There were no children, and the divorce was over 11 years ago, but generally the marriage still gets mentioned casually with some regularity because having occurred at such a young age it is something of a cornerstone of my adult life. On the other hand, i was briefly engaged to the man that I dated for 7 years after that, yet only rarely refer to him as my ex-fiancÚ because the engagement had such a small role in our overall relationship that I just don't think about it.

DBF has a child with his first wife, so that marriage was out in the open from day one. He and his second wife however separated after only four months, and do not have any children together. He does not talk about her, and one of the few times he has he referred to her as an ex-girlfriend. When I called him on it, his explanation was that she felt more like an ex-girlfriend than an ex-wife, and from the circumstances of their marriage, I can understand how that could be a truth not an excuse.

I did know about both marriages from almost the beginning, because I did run him through the public records. When we met, I did title searches as a large part of my job, and in the county where we lived any domestic incidences (and divorce records) were filed in the same office as real estate liens. Even though he did not present any red flags of being an abuser, I wanted to run his name through the system out of an abundance of caution. Both his divorces had been filed in that county, so they both showed up in the search.

All this is my long-winded way to say that I can see (from personal experience), how and why a previous engagement or marriage might not come up right away, or why someone might run a "public records" search on their date.
Title: Re: Disclosure etiquette
Post by: whiterose on June 10, 2012, 04:43:13 PM
How about lesser things not involving the state? Meaning previous engagements and cohabitations that did not result in marriage? How late is it too late? How early is it too early?
Title: Re: Disclosure etiquette
Post by: WillyNilly on June 10, 2012, 06:10:37 PM
How about lesser things not involving the state? Meaning previous engagements and cohabitations that did not result in marriage? How late is it too late? How early is it too early?

For me, these things should IMO be the types of things that have come up in conversation before a relationship gets to the marriage-talk state but are less dire.

Just an FYI its not the legal ("state") part of marriage and divorce that is the dealbreaker issue for many people, or at least not me. For me its more to do with marriage being a lifelong commitment. Many people consider marriage a sacriment. Its a vow. IMO it speaks to a deeper part of life then just living together, or being in a LTR.
Title: Re: Disclosure etiquette
Post by: Allyson on June 10, 2012, 08:40:48 PM
Talking about ended marriages only, not current ones.

I think if it's an absolute dealbreaker to date someone who's ever been married before for any reason, it's on them to ask early on. I wouldn't think it was weird to not find this out on a dating profile, or on the first few dates.

But, I can't imagine not knowing this about someone I've been dating long enough to get engaged to. To me, it'd be on the level of finding out they had a sister they'd never mentioned. Not a 'dealbreaker' for what it was, and I wouldn't assume malice at all. Especially in a case like with Alice where she didn't even seem to see it as that big a deal. However, I'm a very communicative person, and I would find it really strange that it never came up in any discussions til then. It might just be me, but I find the 'past relationships' talk happens pretty quickly into a relationship.
Title: Re: Disclosure etiquette
Post by: Mrs. Pilgrim on June 12, 2012, 05:23:19 PM
I don't know if I missed a post where someone brought these up, but I can tell you some circumstances in which early disclosure is critical:

1.  Religious reasons.  Some religions do not accept divorce for any cause, and some only accept it as valid for limited reasons (such as adultery by the other spouse, abuse, or other such).  Some regard cohabitation or even "scrabble" as the same as marriage, even if there was never a formal ceremony.  If the uninformed party to the prospective relationship belongs to one of these categories, they may need to know whether the other is "eligible".  It's unpleasant to get involved with someone only to find out that you've invested emotionally in an impossibility.

2.  Paranoia.  The interested party may have been repeatedly betrayed in past relationships, or doesn't necessarily accept that "amicable breakups" preclude any possibility of rekindling old flames.  They may wish to limit their risk exposure by not taking up with someone who has pleasant memories with past partners.  (NB:  Telling them to "grow up" and "stop being so paranoid" doesn't help.  Making them out to be a bad person for this concern is worse.)

3.  Risk assessment.  Not quite paranoia, but it's not unreasonable for a person to want to know the reasons for a divorce or breakup.  If it was over adultery or criminal behavior by the prior partner, that's one thing--but then again, if "I just wasn't happy" or "I loved him/her but wasn't in love anymore", that could reasonably make someone question whether this is going to happen again, and they may not want to be the one it happens to.

IMO, it's better to disclose early and screen out the impossibilities--perhaps not always immediately, but certainly before any deeper connection forms.

And as to disclosing a current marriage:  Oh heck yes, always, regardless of the stage of the paperwork.
Title: Re: Disclosure etiquette
Post by: bah12 on June 13, 2012, 12:12:22 PM
I don't think there's a one-size-fits-all answer to the perfect timeline for mentioning previous relationships. The length of the relationship, when it occurred, and whether there were any children all are going to factor into that, for one thing.

I was married for 16 months when I was 20-21 y.o. There were no children, and the divorce was over 11 years ago, but generally the marriage still gets mentioned casually with some regularity because having occurred at such a young age it is something of a cornerstone of my adult life. On the other hand, i was briefly engaged to the man that I dated for 7 years after that, yet only rarely refer to him as my ex-fiancÚ because the engagement had such a small role in our overall relationship that I just don't think about it.

DBF has a child with his first wife, so that marriage was out in the open from day one. He and his second wife however separated after only four months, and do not have any children together. He does not talk about her, and one of the few times he has he referred to her as an ex-girlfriend. When I called him on it, his explanation was that she felt more like an ex-girlfriend than an ex-wife, and from the circumstances of their marriage, I can understand how that could be a truth not an excuse.

I did know about both marriages from almost the beginning, because I did run him through the public records. When we met, I did title searches as a large part of my job, and in the county where we lived any domestic incidences (and divorce records) were filed in the same office as real estate liens. Even though he did not present any red flags of being an abuser, I wanted to run his name through the system out of an abundance of caution. Both his divorces had been filed in that county, so they both showed up in the search.

All this is my long-winded way to say that I can see (from personal experience), how and why a previous engagement or marriage might not come up right away, or why someone might run a "public records" search on their date.

In any of these cases, I would say that the onus is on the person that has these personal restrictions to say so up front and be blunt about it.

While I expect that previous marriages/engagements, etc would eventually be disclosed, especially as the relationship progresses, I wouldn't tell someone that they had to say so on the first date.  If these are absolute deal breakers, then that person needs to say so "My religious beliefs/paranoi/etc. prevent me from dating someone who is divorced. If you have married in the past, I'm sorry but I don't think we should go out."

If the divorce is disclosed at any time after the first date, then the person who has the personal issue with it and didn't say so, IMO, doesn't have much of a right to be angry.
Title: Re: Disclosure etiquette
Post by: blarg314 on June 13, 2012, 08:26:00 PM
While I expect that previous marriages/engagements, etc would eventually be disclosed, especially as the relationship progresses, I wouldn't tell someone that they had to say so on the first date.  If these are absolute deal breakers, then that person needs to say so "My religious beliefs/paranoi/etc. prevent me from dating someone who is divorced. If you have married in the past, I'm sorry but I don't think we should go out."

If the divorce is disclosed at any time after the first date, then the person who has the personal issue with it and didn't say so, IMO, doesn't have much of a right to be angry.

I agree for this type of issue.  If a person will only date someone who has never been married or cohabiting, is a virgin, or is of X religion, then it's up to them to ask on or before the first date, as a filter, because these two situations are things that can be deal breakers, but are also extremely common, due to a high divorce, cohabiting/scrabble before marriage rate and a high level of religious diversity. If you are dating within a particular religious or social community where these things are held as a community standard, then the situation changes.

Currently married is different, I think, because of an overwhelming societal assumption that someone who is going on a date is single.  The grey area of someone who is separated but not divorced (or not separated but "the marriage is emotionally over") and is dating but not legally able to marry someone is a fairly new and small one. I would put people in open relationships in a similar category - if you're married or in a serious relationship, and you and your partner have agreed that you can see other people, then it is up to you to tell someone you are asking out what the situation is, before or early in the first date, because there is a fairly small chance of this happening, and a lot of people would basically end the date and run from the room on finding out.  Other situations that would fit in the "before dating" disclosure category would be dating against your known sexual orientation, or being asexual.

Title: Re: Disclosure etiquette
Post by: Sunbeem on June 19, 2012, 11:33:07 AM
I don't know if I missed a post where someone brought these up, but I can tell you some circumstances in which early disclosure is critical:

1.  Religious reasons.  Some religions do not accept divorce for any cause, and some only accept it as valid for limited reasons (such as adultery by the other spouse, abuse, or other such).  Some regard cohabitation or even "scrabble" as the same as marriage, even if there was never a formal ceremony.  If the uninformed party to the prospective relationship belongs to one of these categories, they may need to know whether the other is "eligible".  It's unpleasant to get involved with someone only to find out that you've invested emotionally in an impossibility.

...
POD.  Back when my mother was newly into the "real world" she went on a date with a guy.  Now, my mother's religious beliefs dictate that 1) Divorce = wrong, except for the limited reasons mentioned above, and 2) that marriage = marriage = marriage, period - for a married person to even date someone other than the spouse (since dating obviously implies the pursuit of scrabble and even marriage with the new person), a married person going out with someone beside their spouse would constitute cheating or attempting to cheat, depending on where you draw the line. 

This particular guy was aware of her general religious beliefs (at least the part where dating while married constitutes adultery), due to the nature of the setting where they met, though probably wouldn't have known that she will not date/marry a divorced person.

So imagine her horror when she's out in public at a restaurant with this guy, and he says "Oh by the way, I'm still married.  I hope that's not a problem."  She had assumed he was single, since he asked her out, and her horror must have showed on her face because he hurried to reassure her: "Don't worry, we're going to get divorced!" My mother, mortified that she had unwittingly become part of his attempt to leave his marriage, asked to be taken home immediately.  She was also pretty miffed that she had been tricked into a situation where people she knew may have seen her dating a married man). 

Shortly thereafter, Mom heard that the man and his wife had reconciled, and several years later were still together.
Title: Re: Disclosure etiquette
Post by: DavidH on July 17, 2012, 11:02:24 AM
Currently married, to me, is something that should always be disclosed since the assumption typically is that the person you are dating is single.  I would add that currently living with someone or in a relationship is equally important to bring up as currently married. 

I understand the reasons for disclosing a divorce, but I think the circumstances around it matter as to how important it is to disclose and when.  The more recent, the longer the marriage, and having children make it more important to disclose for me.  On the other hand, a brief marriage, without children, that ended a long time ago doesn't seem critical to disclose unless asked.  For example, someone in their 50s who was married for a few months in their 20s may not think of that time often and I can see how that wouldn't come up in conversation until rather late in a relationship.   

I don't think a full list of every past relationship is a reasonable expectation unless the person is asked.  Hiding is very different than not bringing up in conversation.  For example, if you lived with a prior gf or bf for a month or two over the summer in college, is that really something you are expected to bring up 15 years later on a date and how relevant is it and why would you start talking about it.  If asked, I don't think it's right to lie and omit mention of it. 

Title: Re: Disclosure etiquette
Post by: Twik on July 17, 2012, 12:03:50 PM
I think a first date among people who don't share the same social group may logically include a casual question, "So, tell me about your life?"

This is a good time to mention things that would be considered "vital statistics", such as marriages (current or previous). children, criminal convictions, etc. It also is an opening to find out a lot of less obvious things as well.
Title: Re: Disclosure etiquette
Post by: LEMon on July 17, 2012, 05:00:49 PM
To me, the people in my life have shaped me in some fashion.  Marriage, engaged, long-term relationships, and even short-term ones tell something about that person - who they are, what types of people they are interested in, what their deal breakers might be, how they handle stress.  dating is the time when, in my mind, the idea is to learn who this person is and if we are a good fit.  For them not to tell me about the past relationships would be similar, in my mind, to not introducing me to their friends and family.  I would feel I was only getting a surface impression of them.

When this should be talked about?  Well, if you are getting serious enough to talk about the future, the past should be something you can discuss.

(I also recognize that I am awful at asking the deeper questions so I have no idea how I would start these conversations.  I am also very happily married and so don't plan on dating.)