Are Separated Individuals Free to Date?

Dear Catholic Exchange:

I'm hoping that the answer you provide to my question is the same as my recent decision about dating a man I met.

I am single, 51, never married, Catholic but not currently attending church. I recently met a man who said he was divorced but after a month he told me it was not legal yet although he will be filing for divorce and has spoken with his priest about an annulment and said that is in process. He said everything would be final about July 31, 2007.

He has not lived with his wife for a year or so, and she left him to be with her first husband. This was my friend's first marriage, and they married in the Catholic Church although she was not Catholic. He said the reason he has delayed things is because of money issues (they own property together).

As soon as he said he was still married, legally and spiritually, I made the difficult decision to tell him I could not see him, have contact with him or correspond at all. I firmly believe that God is in charge and that I have to do what is right in His eyes as well as the Church.

I felt a very strong spiritual connection to this man and wonder if I made the right decision. I don't easily fall in love and have not ever been desperate about having a relationship or being single. I cannot stop thinking about this man and feel this is the most difficult challenge God has ever made me face (not to contact my new friend).

Tell me that what I have chosen to do is the best choice.




Dear Carolyn,

God bless you for sharing this very personal information. My heart goes out to you as you struggle with this difficult challenge.

You made a courageous, morally upright decision to no longer see your friend. Perhaps the Church will ultimately grant a decree of nullity with respect to his prior marriage, but until that actually happens he is presumptively married. You do well not to give your heart away to a man who may never be free to marry you.

At the same time, if this gentleman were to obtain a decree of nullity in the future you would be absolutely free to marry him in the Church. If he really is the one who is meant for you, God will make it happen. You may wish to tell your friend, if you haven't already done so, that you would be willing to talk with him again once his marital status is satisfactorily resolved in the eyes of the Church.

Lastly, I couldn't help but notice your comment that you're not currently attending Church. I want to warmly encourage you this Lenten season to come back to the sacraments.

I hope this information was helpful to you. You are especially remembered in my prayers today, Carolyn.

Sincerely in Christ,

Leon Suprenant

President, Catholics United for the Faith
827 North Fourth Street
Steubenville, OH 43952
800-MY-FAITH (800-693-2484)

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