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by Abigail Van Buren

Words of Warning: Think Twice About Dating Separated People

DEAR ABBY: This letter is for people who are involved with folks who say they are separated. If you have feelings for someone who is separated, ask when they plan on getting divorced. If they come up with excuses like there are children involved, property disputes or they can't afford a lawyer, end the relationship immediately.

Do not start dating or sleeping with a separated person. They can easily return to their spouse, leaving you high and dry (or pregnant, if you're female). Just remain friends until they are divorced, and afterward proceed with any relationship you two desire.

Bottom line: "Separated" means still married. While I'm not in this situation, I have known several people who were, and they regretted it. -- WORD OF WARNING IN VIRGINIA

DEAR WORD: That's pragmatic advice, and I hope readers will heed your warning. As anyone who has read my column knows, I have printed countless letters from heartbroken readers who wasted time and energy on partners who weren't free.

Read more in: Love & Dating