The first word of advice in any guide to dating a married woman would have to be "don’t." Except in special circumstances, dating a married woman is generally a very bad idea. However, there are some occasions when going out with a married woman is permissible, and these can potentially lead to healthy relationships. Even in these cases, it is important to keep in mind certain challenges and boundaries unique to pursuing a married woman. You’ll have to look elsewhere if you’re seeking a guide to successful cheating. In most cases, adultery is morally questionable at best, can be damaging to friendships and social standings, destructive to families and may even be against the law in some areas. It often means creating and maintaining a secrecy that is not healthy for any of the people involved. Even in the rare situations this article will deal with, you should carefully consider the long-term consequences before dating a married woman.
So what are these rare circumstances? Some couples have chosen to pursue “open” relationships that allow them to date other people. More commonly, a married woman may be legally separated, or going through a divorce. In cases like these, she could well be available for dating someone else. But remember, her husband may have a different opinion of her availability! Presuming you’ve cleared these hurdles, here are a few more things to keep in mind when dating a married woman:
- Determine the nature of her marriage. You need to find out how her husband feels about his wife’s dating. If you met her through personal ads, for example, and have no other social connection, this may be challenging. But somehow, you have to make sure she’s not taking advantage of your trusting nature. If you met through friends or another social group like work or church, it will be easier to figure out her situation with discreet questions.
- Respect her boundaries. If she’s seeing someone outside of her marriage, she may well want to control who knows about it. Dates and rendezvous may need to take place where you’re not in danger of running into her kid’s teacher, for example. Talk to mutual friends with care, bearing in mind that a bit of gossip like this can seem extra-juicy (remember: if more than two people know, it’s not a secret anymore). If she doesn’t want you near her home, her kids or her family friends, don’t force the issue.
- Respect your own needs. The flipside to that is balancing her needs with your needs for a “normal” relationship—whatever “normal” means to you. You have to consider her situation, but make sure you’re not shortchanging yourself in the process. This may involve some soul-searching, but that’s okay—if you’re going into such a complicated situation, you should think about what you’re doing, and whether you’re doing it for the right reasons.
- Protect yourselves. If her husband isn’t cool with you dating her, all sorts of ugly situations can develop—you can see the results on the louder news programs. Remember that adultery can be a factor in divorce cases, and that the phrase “crime of passion” was practically invented to describe jealous husbands. Oh, and it’s ridiculously easy to track people in our technological age.
- Remember that her marriage came first. Even if it’s over or soon to be, she has a priority to deal with its issues; you can be supportive or get out of the way, and sometimes both is the answer. Whether you like it or not, there are three people involved when you’re dating a married woman. If your presence causes too much friction, you may opt to end it, or at least back off until her situation stabilizes.
- Communicate well and often. There can be many drawbacks to dating a married woman, but it is possible to create a rewarding relationship. You both have to be creative and flexible, and above all, communicate. Assume nothing, ask questions and be clear about what you want and what you don’t want. It may seem odd, but the key to successfully dating a married woman is honesty.