Sunday, April 18, 2021

The Journal of Steffanie Rivers: Men Who Do the Hokie Pokie

Steffanie Rivers

*There are two things I hate: One is to waste my time. The other is to waste my money. I’m decisive about how I spend my money. I’m even more selective about with whom I spend my time. I promised myself I won’t spend time cultivating a relationship with a man who doesn’t have a passport, because I like to travel. If he doesn’t have a passport he’s going to get left behind. Sooner or later that’s going to cause issues.

Even if he’s divorced, I won’t date a man who has underage children, because most of his time and nearly all of his money is spent on child support and ex-spousal support. Also, experience has taught me nine times out of ten he’s still intimately involved with the mother of his small children. Divorce or no divorce. Then there’s the third category.

Lately I’m running into men who have a passport, have time and extra income to travel and they say they want to start a committed relationship, but they are in the middle of a lengthy separation and haven’t gotten a legal divorce. They’ve got their left foot in the marriage and their right foot outside the marriage. They’re doing the Hokie Pokie.

Why do people stay separated for YEARS, never follow through with their divorces, but get entangled in other interpersonal relationships?

When I first met him – we’ll call him Tony – one of the first things he asked me was the kind of man I wanted to spend my time with. I told him about the passport thing, the no small kids thing and the no indefinite separation thing. I thought we were on the same page and I had checked off those three boxes where he was concerned. Then a month later Tony confessed that he has been separated for 16 years! He said finalizing his divorce never was a priority. Since I value myself too much to get entangled in a relationship with somebody else’s husband – even if they’re separated – I ended our budding relationship and moved on. Two weeks later he called me. He promised to get a divorce and wanted to pick up where we left off.

I’ve been accused of being unforgiving and uncompromising when it comes to my standards. I realize nobody is perfect, including myself. So I agreed to continue to communicate with Tony while he got his personal affairs in order. Plus, I thought us spending time together might help him realize the potential of what our relationship could become. I gave him a year to get it together.

Eight months later Tony hadn’t moved any closer to a divorce and – as far as I’m concerned – he lied about his intentions from the start. After 16 years of separation it doesn’t take a year to finalize a divorce. Since he hadn’t started the process in 8 months I cut my losses and ended it!

I can’t consider it all a total loss. In those 8 months Tony showed me how to pay off $8,000 in credit card debt faster. He showed me how to refinance my mortgage loan so I can save thousands of dollars in interest payments. And we took a few exciting vacations together.

Perhaps the only reason we crossed paths was so he could help me with my balance-sheet and I could help him get in touch with his adventurous side. Maybe it was a seasonal relationship. If that’s the case, then mission accomplished. Still, I can’t get past why a man who is so intentional in one area of his life is so undisciplined in another.

Although I welcome your constructive feedback, I’m only sharing this with you as a way to hold myself accountable for what I’ve decided to do and never to do again. If I put it out in the universe I’m less likely to go back on my word.

I’m not asking for a marriage proposal from anyone; I just prefer to spend my time with someone who is unencumbered and able to move forward in life together doing whatever we decide. I won’t take anymore excuses from anyone when it comes to my personal life preferences. Every time I’ve made allowances I end up disappointed. That’s not his fault. That’s my fault. I won’t let it happen again.

Steffanie is a freelance journalist living in the Dallas-Ft. Worth metroplex. Email her at with comments, questions and speaking inquiries.



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