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Pros & Cons of Dating Married Men
by Carolyn Bushong

Pros & Cons of Dating Married MenAll the Good Men Seem to Be Married,” column from Rocky Mountain News, 8/16/87

Recently, in a Cherry Creek bar, I met a wonderful man. Conversation flowed. I knew the attraction was mutual. There was only one problem. I forgot to ask if he was married. And, of course, he was.

Female friends and clients complain over and over again. “All the good ones are taken.” I swear to them it’s not true. But I, myself, am beginning to wonder.

Most single men today are not only afraid of commitment, but they’re even afraid to date the same woman more than once. Often, the only men we meet who aren’t afraid of us are married ones to whom commitment isn’t an issue. They’re usually warm, emotional, and open – because they have nothing to lose. They know that we know they aren’t going to meet our expectations.

Most men are afraid of getting too close to a woman for fear she’ll push for commitment. A male client I’ll call Jerry has been separated from his wife for several years, but has never filed for divorce. Recently, I pressured him again about his procrastination. He finally admitted why he hadn’t done it. “It’s easier for me to date and enjoy women when they know there’s no chance I’ll marry them,” he said. Jerry uses his state of limbo – separated, yet not divorced – as protection. This is the only way he feels comfortable getting close to a woman.

Another client tells me his wife always accuses him of being cold and unemotional. He says it’s not true; in his affairs, he’s a very sensitive, warm man.

It’s not fair. Women end up with only two bad options: cheating husbands or single men who run from intimacy.

It isn’t hard to understand why many women today choose to date married men. They’re making the decision to be mistresses – rather than a cheated-on wife or a woman sitting at home alone.

In the long run, women usually lose with married men. We all know the horror stories: If he’s dishonest with her, he’ll be dishonest with you. He’ll probably never leave her; and if he does leave her, he’ll cheat on you, too. Either way, you can probably count on spending holidays alone.

An affair usually provides enough of an outlet for a married man that he can stay in his marriage indefinitely, without ever having to confront his wife on his unhappiness. Dating a married man is “enabling” a cheater to stay married, much like “enabling” an alcoholic to keep drinking.

So what do we do? One of the few places a single woman can find romance and love today is with a married man.

So, if you’re not looking for marriage and you just want to get your love needs met temporarily, then dating a married man might be for you. But don’t allow yourself to be engulfed. Accept the relationship for what it is – an exciting, short-term way to meet your needs for sex and affection, that will not, and cannot, go anywhere else. Then, and only then, is it safe to date a married man.

But, if you do it, be sure you take care of your needs first. Don’t wait for him. Don’t always be there for him. Let him know you won’t be monogamous with him as long as he’s still married. Use him the way he’s using you. He’s getting his needs met so he can maintain his marriage. Use him to get your needs met, so you can take your time with single men who have something long-term to offer. Dating a married man can keep you from rushing into bed too soon or coming across too desperate with a man you may really be interested in.

It sounds cold and calculated. But the risks involved in dating married men are too high not to protect yourself.

But WATCH OUT! If you see yourself falling in love with a marred man and wanting more, get out. It’s a no-win situation.

[Note: This column was written by Carolyn Bushong about meeting Alan (who was married when they met), her now significant other of 19 years. She did not take her own advice, however. She did not date him while he was still married. They both believe that deciding not to cheat with him is a major reason why they are still together and happy after all this time.}

Carolyn Bushong, Relationship Therapist
360 So. Monroe St., Suite 290
Denver, CO 80209


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