08/12/2010 06:24 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Fantasia Barrino: How to Date a Married Man

and not feel awful.

Well, you don't. You can socialize with a man who has filed for divorce and minimize getting devastated. As most articles I write, I do not know if what is being reported is true about Fantasia Barrino, however I am going to talk about it as if it is were true to discuss an important issues.

How to date a married man and not be miserable or get hurt. I'm going to address this directly to women to avoid mental, emotional and physical trauma.

First ladies, he is married and married is married until a final divorce is decreed by the courts. No matter how mean he tells you his wife is, how much he says she doesn't understand him, how much more he loves you compared to her, he is still in a legally binding contract with another woman who he most likely swore to be faithful to until death do they part. It is especially hard to remember this if you have amazing chemistry or if he is wealthy or famous. After all, he is so unhappy with her and says you make him so much more happy. Even if he lives separately, even if he says he and his wife have not been intimate for years, even if he says they are "separated," even if he says that they both want a divorce, even if you meet her and she says she is okay with it, this is all theoretical. When things actually happen, people do not react logically but instead emotionally and unpredictably. One couple I knew had been separated for five years, the wife spoke with and approved of her husbands potential girlfriend, and yet when he fell in love with the girlfriend, the wife fell apart and threatened to ruin his reputation with their children. Eight years later, they have still not even filed. And, as you know, most women, no matter how unhappily married, harbor a hope deep inside that their husband will "get it" and change and come back to them. So, even if he tells you his wife is a big meanie, he chose HER out of all the women he met to pledge his life to and she often hopes he will come back and they can be happy again.

So, what do you do if you meet the most wonderful man? In addition to continuing to date at least two to three other men at all times until you are feeling comfortable committing, here is how to handle a man.

Step 1 -- Ask him when his divorce was FINALIZED. This means that he and his ex-wife a) filed for divorce, which requires a public legal document, b) waited the mandatory waiting period for that state (it can be 60 days up to a full year), c) took care of any custody and financial issues, d) submitted these to the court and e) the court approved the dissolution of the marriage -- also public information.

If it is finalized, you can ask to see the final document or even check with the court where it was filed. It is public information.

Step 2 -- If he says that he is getting divorced or separated, this is crucial, ask "When did you file for divorce with the court." This is so important. Do you want to know why? Filing for divorce means that both the husband and the wife have been notified that a divorce is in the process. He may have moved out, he may call himself separated, he may have the best sob story you have ever heard. It doesn't matter. If he or she hasn't filed, there is no legal and concrete intention yet to divorce. If he has filed, you can ask to see a copy of the front page of the filing with the official stamp and also check with the court before you decide to see him at all. It is public information.

Step 3 -- If he hasn't filed for divorce I do not recommend spending any time with him at all. He is full blown married and if you have good chemistry with him, you will bond and he will be unavailable and you just entered into a mess. You deserve a great guy like that, but one who can be there for you. You can tell him. 'I'm very flattered that you want to date me however I am not comfortable even socializing with you until I see a copy of your divorce filing. If you do file, I'm willing to see you socially during the daytime without physical touch until your divorce is final." This helps you to not bond or be too devastated if he does go back to his wife, realize he doesn't want to break up his family, lose custody of their pets, or decides he needs some "me time" after you have been his shoulder to cry on for his divorce. It also helps you to see how serious his intentions are with you. For, if he is just looking for a fling or some "marriage enhancement," you just became too high maintenance. If he is serious about you, he will want to provide you with whatever makes you feel comfortable.

Step 4 -- If you are already involved with a married man, I suggest you read my article on how to unmistress yourself and find out if he has even filed. The minute he became involved with your body under the pretense of the two of you becoming a couple, you have a right to know where the divorce is in the process and a right to end physical contact or all contact if you have been lied to. And, if he is serious about you, he will be transparent with you.

Step 5 -- Finally, what is a decent man doing complaining to you about another woman, even if it is his wife or soon to be ex-wife? That is his problem. There is a relationship expert, Dr. Pat Allen, Ph.D., who says, "Never ask a man how he is feeling unless he is puking or bleeding." It might sound harsh, however it speaks to the fact that his focus ought to be on self-discipline and shielding you from his divorce messiness, not dumping it on you. He can talk to a good friend or see a therapist. If he is serious, he is courting you and looking to make you happy.

If he has filed for divorce and he is serious about you, he will be happy to just spend time with you, take you to lunches or early dinners and go for walks with you. He will not try to shame you, bully, coerce or guilt you into any physical contact before his divorce is final and before you feel comfortable. If he does this, he is a selfish, dishonorable, immature boy who will most likely cheat on you one day when he is unhappy.

Spending non-physical time with him in the daytime is socializing and getting to know each other. Dating is when you might allow the available man to kiss or touch you during and after the date.

And, remember, continue to date other available men while socializing with the still married man, so, if he caves into the pleas from his unhappy children and decides to stay, reconciles with the woman he walked down the aisle with, you are only slighly heartbroken but have other available options that have been courting you as well. And, you may even be able to feel happy that you didn't interfere with couple or family reuniting. And, if you conduct yourself like this, no matter what anyone else says about you to your face, behind your back or in the paper, you know that you handled yourself virtuously with a married man, there are no "videos" floating around and you respected his commitment to his wife and family (and God) even if he was looking to disrespect it.

Perhaps you feel you and he are "meant to be" but for that to be a reality, he needs to be legally single for him to truly be "the one" for you.