Author Topic: Disclosure etiquette  (Read 20747 times)

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norrina

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Re: Disclosure etiquette
« Reply #60 on: June 10, 2012, 02:41:48 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.



whiterose

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Re: Disclosure etiquette
« Reply #61 on: June 10, 2012, 05:43:13 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?
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WillyNilly

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Re: Disclosure etiquette
« Reply #62 on: June 10, 2012, 07:10:37 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.

Allyson

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Re: Disclosure etiquette
« Reply #63 on: June 10, 2012, 09:40:48 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.

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Re: Disclosure etiquette
« Reply #64 on: June 12, 2012, 06:23:19 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.
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bah12

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Re: Disclosure etiquette
« Reply #65 on: June 13, 2012, 01:12:22 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.

blarg314

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Re: Disclosure etiquette
« Reply #66 on: June 13, 2012, 09:26:00 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.


Sunbeem

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Re: Disclosure etiquette
« Reply #67 on: June 19, 2012, 12:33:07 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.

...
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.

DavidH

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Re: Disclosure etiquette
« Reply #68 on: July 17, 2012, 12:02:24 PM »
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. 


Twik

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Re: Disclosure etiquette
« Reply #69 on: July 17, 2012, 01:03:50 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.
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LEMon

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Re: Disclosure etiquette
« Reply #70 on: July 17, 2012, 06:00:49 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.)