I once endured an uncomfortable situation where a single woman asked me, “Why are women attracted to married men?” on an elevator in front of the married man, my boss, she was currently shtupping. I remember stammering out some grand theory for about fifteen seconds before I decided discretion was the better part of employment.
I’m sure many unfortunate women are wondering the same thing, so, having given the pros and cons several years of thought, both as a married man and not, here is my best attempt at a diplomatic and balanced answer.
Think of it this way: it’s the same reason women enjoy having a gay best friend - protection. You get all the pleasures of spending time with a good looking guy who shares your interests without the inevitable heartbreak. When he moves on, he was "just a friend" and "gay anyway". Women who are afraid of getting hurt seek out relationships with a built-in excuse for failure.
“Now, wait a minute,” she says. “I get hurt all the time when a married man stays with his wife. Especially when he lies when he says he’ll leave her.”
Yeah, sure, but be honest. You knew that going in. It's an acceptable loss. Vegas is more fun when you expect to lose every bet. Here's why.
A married man starts off as unavailable. You know he's married. When he goes back to his wife, a part of your ego says, "Yeah, well, that's what society demands." You are still free to believe all the lies he told you about not loving her, about wanting out, etc. You can rationalize it until it’s nobody’s fault. Even better, you can paint yourself a hero by giving the man a second chance, a third chance, a fourth chance, by forgiving him for cheating on you with his wife. In this relationship, there is always hope.
There is a kind of safety in chasing a married man – knowledge. You know he’s desirable because someone else already desires him. This sense of safety increases the better you know his family, especially when you started as best friends with his wife! You know he's a great husband because your friend tells you so every day. You know he's good with kids because you've seen him with his own! His successful marriage is a glowing resume, and his wife practically a reference.
Contrast that to a relationship with an unmarried man. When he leaves you, you have no rational fallback position. You are completely exposed with no hope at all. Worst case scenario: he decides to leave you to "find himself" without even having a fling or girlfriend to replace you. What could be more soul crushing than that? You know the only reason he left is you!
Your ego is very much in play. You’re out to prove to yourself that you can be the heroic conqueror, the irresistible vixen you think you are. Stealing another woman's husband, even for one night, is a far bigger challenge than bagging that drunk, horny guy at the bar. Anyone can do that. By going after the Big Catch, you risk everything in an epic battle, pitting your attractiveness against all of womankind! Now that’s something worth loving for!
Or is it?
There are three reasons your relationship with a married man is doomed to fail.
1. Married men aren't stupid. They can see a woman like you a mile away, and they'll happily lie and play you to get the only thing they're missing in their marriage - sex. It’s easy to go home to a miserable marriage if you just got laid. He'll keep a mistress as long as you put out. If you want to find the heart of your relationship, go Lysistrata on his ass. Tell him you're holding off on sex until he marries you. Don't expect a call back.
2. Even if you do steal a husband, and marry him, chances are he's learned his value and will cheat or trade up in a few years. All the emotional work you've put into the romance only benefits the next woman in line.
3. Finally, are you going to be faithful to him? Be honest. If you're the type of woman who thrives on competition, if your ego hinges on the chase, if you moral compass says marriages only work when the scales tip in your favor, the captive life is not for you. You’ll be looking for a way out of that cage in a matter of months.
The great irony is that, while you subconsciously date married men for emotional safety, you’re only going to get hurt. You'll never find the committed relationship you're looking for until you have a partner eligible to commit and until you are willing to take a real risk with your whole heart.
Don’t give up hope, ladies! If this article describes you, I also have the solution!
Date a divorcee, preferably a man whose marriage ended within the last year without him cheating on his wife. Why?
A divorced man exhibits all the benefits you're looking for with none if the risk. He's already "house trained" and used to the crazy whims of a woman. He's coming out of a bad relationship, so he's thankful for your kindness and attention. Best of all, when you get married, he'll spend the rest of his life giving you that "better woman" look you've always coveted. You know, the one where you catch him staring at you for no particular reason thinking, "I am so lucky I ended up with her instead of my first wife." He’ll probably even remain faithful because you’ve granted him a reprieve from a bitter lifelong bachelorhood.
There's still the thrill of the hunt while you get him to commit. He might say he doesn't want to get married again because it hurt too much the first time. Now, though, instead of competing against an incumbent, you only have to convince him that you’re right for the job. Suddenly your sexuality is an asset rather than a liability. Good sex is awfully convincing.
I hope this helps those single women who are stuck in a rut with a married man.
Unfortunately I have to close with a message for the men in the audience. First, thanks for reading to the end. Second... Danger! If a woman confesses to dating married men, run! If you want drama, stay home alone and grit your teeth through Gray's Anatomy.