Dating a man who's taken? Are you attracted to him, or his wife/girlfriend?

Dating a man who's taken? Are you attracted to him, or his wife/girlfriend?

by Gina B.

I respect relationships, and I’ve always made a practice of avoiding men who are taken. And by that, I mean men who are in relationships, engaged, and especially married men. Sadly, there are women who will date nothing but. Some will argue that those women have low self-esteem, commitment issues, a general lack of respect for other women, and a belief that man-sharing should be a common practice. I suppose that any or all of those things can be true, coupled with the fact that men who have women in their lives are more attractive.

Even the most evolved bachelors can be rough around the edges. Their lairs often need “a woman’s touch,” which generally means a sense of refinement and a hint of softness, a higher level of cleanliness, or the addition of decorative accessories that contribute to a cozier, more comfortable home.

A man’s personal appearance is usually improved as a result of a relationship. Most wives and girlfriends like to assist their men in selecting clothing and accessories that most single men don’t have the patience or inclination to choose.

I never understood the appeal of married men until I accidentally dated one for a few weeks, several years ago.

We met at a conference, through friends. He was different than most of the men that I normally met. While he was tall and naturally handsome, he was also very meticulously groomed with a precision haircut, lotioned hands and beautiful white teeth. He was attractive in his tailored suit and understated cufflinks that were a tasteful addition to his delicately monogrammed shirt. His shoes were expensive and were obviously regularly shined and stored in an organized closet, complete with cedar shoe trees. He wore just the slightest hint of cologne – detectable at a safe social distance, but also enough to entice a woman to want to bury her face in his neck. And there was no presence of a wedding ring.
He was a gentleman. He offered a drink, held my chair, and without asking, he took my jacket that I was holding uncomfortably and returned with a coat check claim.

My friend and I decided to join him and his friend for a drink later that evening. He had great conversation. He was obviously very smart and successful. When the conversation took a personal turn, he and his friend discussed the nuances of his alleged divorce, which according to the two of them, occurred some years ago.

He asked me out for dinner the following evening. I accepted, and so began the dating.

The story from here goes as most tales of lying married men unfold: His time was oddly fragmented and he had weird phone behavior. I quickly grew suspicious. He adamantly and defensively attempted to quell my suspicions. My gut won the battle. I stopped seeing him without concrete proof of his current marriage, and months later received confirmation that I had been right all along. There had never been a divorce. He was actively married. I had been fooled, and he and his friend were both lying sacks of shit.

Essentially he was a spruced up asshole.

When I reflected on that brief period of time, I thought about all of the things that I found attractive about him. His perceived refinement really had nothing to do with him, and everything to do with his wife.

I loved his wife’s taste in clothes. I loved the way she took care of him, and that having her in his life allowed him to focus on his career. I appreciated that he was a good listener – a skill likely acquired over the years of his marriage. Her presence in his life enabled his calm, confident demeanor. I admired what must have been her gifts to him – the cufflinks, the monogrammed shirt, etc. I wished that she had enforced his need to wear a shiny band on his left hand. I appreciated the fact that she probably reinforced his requirement to treat women with respect socially (yet hated the fact that the respect was merely a mask). Had I ever visited their home, I’m certain that I would have loved her décor.

I found myself wanting to talk to her – not to blow the whistle on him, necessarily (although the thought did cross my mind), but to befriend her, and see if she understood that her ass of a husband was taking all of her loving gestures, and using them to attract and deceive other women.

She and I never spoke, but I think that if I had met her, I might have liked her even better than I liked her husband.

After him I was slightly traumatized and grew leery of men who were a bit too well-put-together. More than ever I aggressively sought to determine the relationship status of each man that I encountered. When I met a new guy I asked myself why I liked him. Was I attracted to the exterior, or could I peel the onion and appreciate who he was underneath? I grew to overlook minute details of the external and focus on men who I thought were naturally attractive good people, despite the fact that they could use an overall woman’s touch.

I made the decision to do the work and BE the woman’s touch, with the hope that my handiwork wouldn’t eventually grow to undermine my relationship.

So, ladies . . . the next time you think it’s a good idea to engage a man who’s taken, please understand that in his presentation, he could be taking the credit for the hard work of another woman. Instead of disrespecting that woman and making a play for her man, maybe you should seek her out and befriend her. Perhaps she can teach you a thing or two so that you're prepared when you meet your own good guy who might benefit from the presence of a good woman.

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  • I've never actively pursued a taken man however I have dated a few. One relationship (can you really refer to them as such? I don't even know.) lasted for a while. I knew he was married. We started out as friends and became closer as his marriage was getting worse and he confided in me often... and things just evolved (devolved?) He was never all that polished as you describe your encounter but it does make me wonder what about him that I was attracted to can I attribute to her influence.
    I prefer to date single men. I'm weary of seeing anyone even if they are separated. I'm far more cautious now and have no interest in putting myself in such a situation again. And after reading this, even more so now. If I'm going to be with a man, I want to be with the man for who he is not what he's been molded to be by another woman. Once that relationship ends (IF it does) who is to say he won't turn into someone else .... show his true colors that really aren't that attractive.
    Thanks for the insight! And... okay ... a mild guilt trip ;)

  • Good Stuff!

  • This is a fascinating thought. And as a guy -- YES -- I've probably been made into a better person by the solid efforts of my last two or three girlfriends (holding open doors, etc).

    Though I must admit, I started reading this because the title put a far sexier thought in my head than what the subject turned out to be. Still a good read.

  • Very interesting read. Nicely put!

  • Hi everyone:

    Thanks so much for reading!!

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