Although there may be a person or two out there with questionable intentions, it’s safe to say that most women aren’t out on the prowl for married men. Some women are interested in relationships with married men, but they tend to be looking for a man they don’t want to have fully.
These women typically enjoy a man who’s preoccupied – meaning they don’t want him to end his marriage or be the cause of it. A post by Doctor Valerie Golden explains all the reasons why women may be out “mate poaching.” The explanations are nearly endless, some are counterintuitive, but who are we to question anyone’s prerogative.
For the vast majority of women who find themselves with a crush on a married man by chance, it can be confusing and unsettling. At first, you may have stolen a glance or polite greeting from the handsome guy in line for coffee behind you, but on your way out, you check out his wedding finger, and sure enough, he’s married.
For most, it’s easy to put a casual event like this behind us and move on. But there are many, many more instances when it’s not so easy. Developing a crush on a married man can seemingly happen without either party being out for blood. Some things happen organically, and it’s typically just a “perfect storm” type situation.
You start a new job or move to a new department, and the coworker you work closely with is at a place in their married life where they’re left feeling unfulfilled, not on the same page as their spouse, or whatever the case may be. Soon enough, after spending time together and chatting beyond work matters, one or both of you has feelings for the other.
It’s certainly a tough situation to be in. Many people find it challenging to work with someone and feel nothing once a line has been crossed. The line could be real or imagined, physical or emotional, and one or both people may even be aware of it.
It’s Just A Crush
Listen, we’re not out to make anyone feel bad for happening upon feelings for someone. Humans crave social connectedness, love, intimacy, and all of those things typically come naturally to us because we’re social creatures. Being friendly with a married man and having boundaries is one thing, but many of us couldn’t live with ourselves if our feelings got in the way of something like a marriage or, ultimately – caused hurt or pain to others.
Crushes are a normal part of our lives; they come and go. But they also develop into other things if we let them. Although it’s ultimately your decision, try to remember who else is involved in this situation. There’s a spouse obviously, but there could be children too.
Not only that, but divorce is known to rock an entire family – depending on the length of the marriage, there are sibling and in-law relationships that could be devastated by infidelity in the union. A lot of people have one reason or another – The marriage is headed for divorce anyway, et cetera as to why they’re going to continue. That may be, but the fact is it’s not over until it’s over, and you don’t want to be a part of the reason why.
To help you get over that crush on a married man, let’s talk about some of the things that might be going on in your mind right now. We’ll give you some ideas of how to move forward, instead of feeling attracted to a married man.
We want to help shift your mindset away from lusty feelings and over to logic, so one key fact to keep in mind before we move on is that relationships born from infidelity typically aren’t what we hope them to be. As Doctor Frank Pittman illustrates in his book Private Lies: Infidelity and the Betrayal of Intimacy, these relationships or marriages that got their start in infidelity are likely to crash within just two years.
In the Beginning
Let’s take it from the top and talk about how you might be feeling along the way. After all, we’re not here to invalidate your feelings, we want to help you bridge the gap between emotions and logic.
Maybe it’s the very first time you meet, perhaps it’s six months into knowing this man, but at some point, it’s come to the forefront of your mind that this man H-O-T and some part of your mind or body is feeling something for him.
We get it; it happens. Maybe the two of you understand each other, you vibe well while you’re working, or there seems to be a connection every time you meet (if he is not a coworker). Our feelings can get the best of us, it’s true. Facing the facts means that you’ve got to set those feelings aside and think with your logical brain.
Crap, He’s Married
Some men are very obviously married, while others keep that little gem of a fact hidden. Finding out he’s married can feel like quite the blow. Feelings of missed opportunity, guilt, shame, jealousy, are all normal. It’s not uncommon for someone to feel like this person was just meant to be – for them, not for that man’s spouse!
There’s not much more you can do than throw your hands in the air at this point, although you may be wanting to scream some obscenities, try to curb that feeling and let it go. Stuff happens, accept it for what it is, and move on.
Why Can’t I Let It Go?
So, you’ve come to grips with having a crush on a married man. You’ve accepted that he’s married, and you shouldn’t pursue this seriously. For some reason, though, no matter how hard you try, you can’t seem to let go. You still see him in passing, have quick chats, or you notice glances that don’t allow you to put it out of your mind.
It’s also a possibility that he’s encouraging feelings to keep flowing between the two of you and ensuring you that it is a possibility for you two to be together. Whatever the case may be, it’s holding you up from moving along.
A lot of people who’ve never been involved in an affair or any forbidden love think it’s black and white. You know it’s wrong, so you don’t do it. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. These things, our feelings, can be complicated and tricky. For those involved, it’s not always black and white.
The first step in moving on is just acknowledging your feelings and accepting that they’re valid. If you’re at the “Why can’t I move on?” on stage, then you’ve come to accept your feelings and that they create a potential problem. That’s a great start!
Just know that you’re a completely normal human being, that just because you’re crushing on someone, doesn’t make you a bad person or some kind out-for-blood homewrecker. It’s what we do from here on forward that matters.
If the married man you have feelings for is part of your work or social circle, there’s a good chance he may invite you out – to places and events where his wife and family may or may not be in attendance. The best thing you can do for yourself is to keep the distance between you two. If you can turn down the invite and spend less time with him, that’s your best bet.
If you have to attend for work purposes, don’t fall into the trap that many women do — A formal introduction to his family or circle of friends. Doing so creates a false sense of closeness. This closeness is likely to send you closer to him, instead of further away, which is the real goal.
Another reason you don’t want to find yourself in this situation is that you can bet on other people knowing you have feelings for him or if he has feelings for you. Not too many things slip under the radar of the ones we love, right? The wife, older children, colleagues or friends are going to pick up on it. That’s not a situation you want to find yourself the center of attention in.
Maybe He’ll Leave Her
Many women want to believe that what they have with this man is special – that you’re the real match or destined person for this man, and that’s why his marriage isn’t supposed to work out. The thought crosses your mind that he will leave, wondering, hoping.
It’s one thing to let a fleeting thought pass, but if you’re committed to letting this thing go, let that thought go with the wind. Imagining possible outcomes and how things might turn out is only doing yourself a disservice and not allowing you to move on.
When All Else Fails, Shoot for Distraction
So, you’ve done all you can to put Mr. Wrong out of your mind, but it’s not working. At this point, you know that you don’t want to be a part of pursuing this further, but you’re stuck on your feelings for him. Aside from distancing yourself, which isn’t always entirely possible, you can try some good old-fashioned distraction.
If you can avoid non-essential meetings or events with him, that’s a great start. After that, busy yourself, however, you can. Plan a wine night with your girls, get back to your old hobby, set some new goals for yourself and dive in.
One of the best things you can do is talk to a trusted friend. Sometimes just letting someone know what you have going on is the best thing for you. A weight can be lifted so that you’re not holding this big secret, you’re acknowledging your feelings out loud, and you’re getting someone in your corner who can help you move forward.
Don’t forget one of the best distractions is to be out enjoying yourself with another company. Download some apps, ask your friends to set you up, or drag your best friend to a speed dating event. Once you see that there are other perfectly eligible bachelors out there, you might forget about this “connection” you’ve put on a pedestal with Mr. Wrong.
Examine Your Current Wants and Needs
Now that you’ve got some healthy distance between you two and a little distraction is doing you right, it’s time to face yourself. Set aside sometime when you’re not going to be busy with other things on your mind and have a heart to heart with yourself or with someone you trust.
Sometimes processing feelings outside of an emotional event can help you to understand your true feelings. Your best friend may be able to help you since they probably know you well enough to say things you may not want to hear.
Whenever you’re ready, sit down and be open and honest with yourself. What do you want out of life? Out of the next three to 6 months? Where are you out professionally, financially, emotionally? You’d be surprised how certain feelings can manifest in sneaky ways.
Doing this will help you understand what you’re after, and why this crush is having such an effect on you. Hopefully, after this exercise, you’ll be more ready than ever to move on and put this behind you!
In many ways, getting over a crush is letting yourself go through the grieving process – especially if what you were feeling was more than “just a crush.” The grief process is a five-stage process that isn’t always sequential. There will be times that you rotate through the stages, moving backward and forwards. In time, you’ll find that you’ve grieved the possibilities and the loss that it was to you.
If you find yourself thriving one day and thinking about him the next, don’t feel like you’ve slid backward. A passing thought can be just that, a passing thought. Think about it. Let yourself feel it, and then let it go.
You may not have realized it, but you started this process already earlier when you sought out distraction and again when you were examining your wants and needs. Some of those things you did in the distraction phase and when you were opening up and being honest about your wants and needs were all about self-care.
Take this quote by Deborah Day, “Nourishing yourself in a way that helps you blossom in the direction you want to go is attainable, and you are worth the effort.”
The take aware from this quote is that emotional self-care is not only your responsibility, but you are worth the effort it takes to do so. Self-care builds you up in all aspects of their lives. For anyone that has battled depression or become stuck in a rut in life, one of the main commonalities of overcoming those hardships is self-care.
As you work on your well-being, you become more confident, more willing to reach out to others, more willing and able to express yourself, and better able to move forward and thrive.
Life gets busy, and we people have responsibilities, so it’s easy to make the excuse that you don’t have time to do these things for yourself. Perhaps you feel guilty for devoting time to yourself when other people are counting on you. In these instances, you owe it to yourself to put some time for yourself on your calendar.
This will look different for everyone; you may schedule a glass of wine and a movie for after your kids go to bed, a long lunch between business meetings, or a night out with friends after you make that work deadline you’ve been working on for weeks.
The important thing is that you make time for you a priority. This will help keep your focus ahead and in a positive direction.
If the thought of self-care has you stuck, we want to make sure you have some excellent ideas to get you going and keep moving in the right direction.
Ideas for Practicing Self Care
Practicing self-care starts with the commitment that we just talked about. If you can commit to being at work on time every day, making your best friend’s birthday dinner on the busiest of weeks, or being there for someone else even though you were completely drained of energy, you can also show up for you.
That’s right, we said it. You need to show up for yourself. Plain and simple. We understand that taking care of your well-being may not come naturally to you, that’s normal. So, drop the excuses and jump in, because your ability to handle tough situations (like crushes on irresistible married men) depends on it!
Reflection – Take a few moments once or twice a week to reflect. Let yourself feel whatever it is you need to about how things are currently going in life, your worries, fears, or thoughts that get you excited.
Self-awareness – This goes along with reflection, but take the time to become self-aware. Knowing how things in your world are affecting you helps you become better able to handle situations as they come.
Practice gratitude – Celebrating the things you’re grateful for each day, big and small, will take you a long way in changing your mindset to a positive one.
Take care of your body – That means making healthier food choices, drinking water, making sure you get adequate sleep and getting some physical activity. You will always reap the benefits of taking care of your body.
Accept mistakes – Everyone makes mistakes, accept responsibility for the errors you make but don’t keep beating yourself up about it. Accept it, make necessary changes, and move on.
Be receptive to receiving – There are far too many people who refuse to ask for or accept help, love, support, or otherwise. Be open to receiving when people want to give to you in any way.
Give unconditionally – While you’re being receptive to receiving, give unconditionally. Giving to others whether it’s a shoulder to lean on, support, time, energy, love, without the expectation of getting something in return. Doing so will help you grow in ways that you may not have imagined.
Have compassion – Be compassionate for yourself and others. You don’t always have to be right; you have to accept what you’re going through or what others are going through. Let yourself or others off the hook once in a while, be understanding.
Set and maintain boundaries – Boundaries are not only for other people. They’re for you too. Think about your boundaries and set some new ones if you aren’t happy with the ones you have now. Take the time to be real with people and let them know what they can expect from you and what you expect from them. Boundaries only work when they’re upheld though, so make sure you keep your word.
Say yes – Too often we’re quick to say no, especially to ourselves. Learn to say yes when it’s appropriate to do so.
Don’t feel bad for saying no – In the same regard, don’t feel guilty when you need or want to say no. You don’t have to explain things to people, a polite declining or firm no is just fine.
Wrapping Things Up
Falling into a crush on a married man isn’t the end of the world. If you’re feeling stuck, go back through this guide and work your way through it. Think about what you want and decide to commit to making that happen.
If getting over your crush is what you truly want, take responsibility for your emotions and your actions and make a plan to move forward. Feeling stuck emotionally happens to everyone from time to time. Don’t let yourself fall into the trap of feeling like there’s no way out. You can do anything you set your mind to, including coming to acceptance and letting go.