Dating Married Men
John R. Ballew, M.S., L.P.C.
Anyone who expresses an opinion is likely to tell you that dating a married man is not a good idea. So why do many gay men have a story about how at one time or another they got involved with a married guy?
While you might reasonably expect that the men you find in a gay bar are actually gay, that’s not always the case. Maybe you ran into someone who was in town on business – away from his wife and ready for a walk on what he imagines to be the wild side. Married men rarely start off by saying, “Hey there. My name’s Tom and I’m married. Can I buy you a drink?” The same is true with cruising online. In the age of cell phones and multiple email addresses (not to mention the anonymity of online hookups) it is easier than ever for an unsuspecting guy to find himself encountering or even dating someone who has a wife at home.
Married men can seem alluring. Some gay men fetishize heterosexuality and imagine that straight men – or at least men who inhabit the straight world – as more masculine than gay men. These gay men are often disappointed.
“Family values” advocates might lead some people to think of gay men are sexual predators out seducing hetero men. The reverse is more often the case. Married men who are struggling with their sexuality often have a neediness about them that can seem very sexy. If they are looking for sex outside their relationship, their hunger can look very passionate. If they are thirsty for male companionship, they may come across as open and vulnerable in ways that are enticing. That can look like a pretty alluring combination to many of us.
The problem with getting involved with a married man – other than interfering with someone else’s relationship, of course – is that these men are almost always ultimately unavailable. When push comes to shove, they will likely retreat to home and hearth, leaving their gay paramour feeling abandoned and bereft.
The gay man may imagine that they will be the one to “bring out” the object of their affection, but this rarely happens.
Of course, the very lack of availability is exactly what makes married men attractive to some people. They want a date or sex, but don’t actually want a relationship – even if they say they do. Married men won’t ask much in the way of commitment; how could they? They fit the bill perfectly, at least for a while.
This is not always the situation. There are male couples that met while one or the other of the partners was near the end of a heterosexual relationship. The bond between them helped the married partner through the process of separating and divorcing, and they have been together ever since. It could happen. But keep your eyes open.
What is your sense of this man’s level of honesty and openness? How emotionally mature and available is he? Does he keep his word with you, or do plans constantly end up changing – maybe at the last minute? Are you able to spend enough time with him to really get a sense of who he is? (Email, texting and online chats don’t count as much as face-to-face conversation.)
Look inside; what do you really want? If what you want is a relationship, is your connection with this man taking you closer or further away from your goal? Don’t lose yourself while pursuing someone who may or may not be open to a relationship at some point in the future.