11 Brutal Reasons Why You Should Dump Your Married Boyfriend Like a Hot Potato


dating a married man

There are some really good reasons to avoid dating a married man BESIDES the glaringly obvious, 100%, completely valid moral argument. When we shame people and use morality as a coverall, the other rationale behind why one should stay far away often get lost. It also makes the whole thing into a race to get the other person to leave their spouse to justify the whole thing.

Then people say, “it was true love, it was MEANT TO BE.”

The problem is, even IF he leaves his wife for you— whitewashing the morality/shame issue— you’re still picking wrong. That’s why it’s so important to talk about the OTHER reasons why creating a relationship with someone married is bad news. There are rational self interest reasons WHY that married dude is a terrible choice.

And, when we’re talking about love, it’s really hard to get to reach people’s rational self interest if we just use shame. So I want to set the judgment part of why you shouldn’t date a married person aside for a moment and talk about the other consequences of dating a married guy.

1. He doesn’t have much time for you.

Between his job, his family and his other everyday responsibilities, it’s unlikely that you’ll get a real shot at his weekends or nights off. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day to provide you with a full relationship. Your interactions will take on a boring, same ‘ol quality, since you are limited in times you can be in public and the hours of the day that you can share.

2. The intrigue, sneaking around thing distracts you from serious compatibility holes.

Sometimes the emotional, forbidden fruit thing takes over, and before you know it, you’re so hooked on the illicit intrigue nature of the whole affair that you miss the fact that there isn’t much there besides sex and sneaking around. Real compatibility INCLUDES the fact that they are single and could have a full relationship with you, not something part-time.

3. Are you really living your life to the fullest?

I like to think about things I’m doing in terms of if I saw this on the front page of the NY Times, would I feel good about myself? If the answer is no, it requires reflection.

When we’re in love, it’s really hard to keep it to ourselves. Like Tom Cruise jumping on Oprah’s couch, fresh new love has a “sing it from the rooftops” quality. If you fall hard for a married person, the only person who might remotely be happy for you in this case is your dog. Do you really want to introduce Mr. Married to your Mom and tell her the truth? I don’t know your Mom, but shiver at the thought.

4. Why would you invest your resources on someone who can’t invest back in you?

Your body, time and attention are your capital. They’re what you have to give in a relationship. You should not be a non-profit. The married person CANNOT give you what you can give them, aside from the fact that they’re divided with someone else, there simply aren’t enough hours in the day.

5. If he feels like it’s okay to act like this with you, why wouldn’t he act like this later and cheat on you?

Okay, I know this one is a cliche, but I find it rings true a lot of the time. Say after months of your affair, Mr. Married actually leaves his wife for you. You’ve now got him all to yourself.

If you put aside your excitement about finally having him all to yourself, doesn’t that strike fear into your heart at least a little teensy bit? You might think your relationship is different than his relationship with his ex, and it very might well be, but unless you’re totally oblivious, the trust between you already starts out on shaky ground. Do you really want this in your life? Do you really want to look over your shoulder wondering “what if” all the time?

6. He skips past a lot of personal growth.

As much as breakups and divorce suck, they foster a TON of personal growth. If done well, this is a process that takes hold sometime after a relationship fails.

When someone overlaps their relationships, they skip this period of rational self examination. That leads to trouble down the line when they come to the realization (consciously or not) that they really needs to DO SOMETHING to make themself happy— since there was a reason they cheated in the first place, beyond the obvious. That something that makes them happy cannot be you, since the minute things go into rocky territory, they’ll use the same coping method– cheating– to get happy again.

7. You’re wasting the best years of your life.

It doesn’t particularly matter WHEN you date a married person (or which of your years you’re using up), if you do it, you’re wasting a lot of time you could be better investing in finding someone who can be your true partner in all ways. Someone you could build a future with.

Your time is precious and irreplaceable. Don’t spend it on someone who can’t build a life with you.

8. You’re settling for crumbs when you should get the whole cake.

This goes back to investment of resources. When you’re participating in an affair, you’re using your resources in a way that is risky. You’re at the track betting on a lame race horse. Even if you “win” at a relationship with them, you still lose.

9. You’re participating in hurting someone else who you might not even know.

And that other person is real.

No matter how dead your lover purports his marriage to be, by participating at all you’re still hurting someone else.

This one is tricky, because no cheater wants to admit to themselves that they’re being horrible, so they will tell themselves (and you) whatever they have to to look at themselves in the mirror in the morning as a justification for the unjustifiable.

Things like:

“We don’t have sex anymore, the passion is gone.”

“They’re cold to me.”

“They don’t appreciate me.”

The problem with these excuses is that they may very well be true (probably not though), but there is NO REAL EXCUSE. These things are meant to justify being a shitty spouse and not either calling it quits in their marriage or dealing with the problem internally. They also help make you feel superior, like your relationship with Mr. Married is special and BETTER and therefore justified. We WANT to help the poor bird with the broken wing. Problem is, he’s a predator in disguise.

The idea, “but his wife is a terrible person,” has helped more women justify dating married men than virtually anything else. You’re STILL participating in the betrayal of someone else.

10. If he’s cheating to escape their crappy relationship, he’s using you.

I can hear your protest about this one already, “but, but Elizabeth I knew what I was getting myself into. They’re not using me if I agreed to it!” Yes they are.

The thing is, if your boyfriend is trying to escape something that he hasn’t dealt with in his marriage, he’s using you for emotional support and most likely sex without being able to truly meet your needs in all senses of the word. This makes him a bad choice as a partner.

11. You’re perpetuating the idea that people don’t have to deal with their problems directly.

If *everyone* refused to go anywhere near anyone else who was already in a relationship, lots more people would be forced to deal with their marital problems directly. There’s a reason why it’s called *quiet* desperation– because people don’t face it or deal with it head on, so it endlessly festers, begging for a resolution that never comes– because no one DEALS WITH IT. By dating someone married, you’re directly participating in this cycle.

So What Should You Do?

Cut him off. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. This man is NOT the end-all be-all, last man on Earth. I don’t care if you feel like you’ve had the most super connection in history, the fact that he can’t give you a full-time, real relationship means it’s game-over.

You will fall in love again. Take your higher self out, dust her off and make her happy. She deserves a whole, complete loving partnership.

Please note that this piece is obviously for women who already know that their boyfriend is married to someone else. Obviously if you were lied to, you can’t use this rationale UNTIL you know— at which point you need to break it off.

Elizabeth Stone

About Elizabeth Stone

Elizabeth Stone is a bestselling author, head love coach and founder of Attract The One.

Through her coaching, writing and online programs she has helped thousands of women reunite with their men and create amazing, soul-level connections. She is thrilled to have helped so many couples reignite the spark in their relationships.

Tirelessly focused on helping people improve their love lives, her work has gone viral on Your Tango and Thought Catalog as well as been featured on EHarmony Blog, Mogul, The Good Men Project, Fox News Magazine, Ravishly, Femalista, Popsugar, Read Unwritten, Medium and many more.


  1. Starr Williamson

    April 8, 2018 at 7:59 am

    This article absolutely changed and saved my life.

    I knew every single one of these truths in my heart. I watched the movie Waitress and Spanglish on repeat, subconsciously knowing the thing I should do (and, really WANTED to do, I now realize) was leave. But he gave me such elaborate gifts and made such sacrifices to make time with me, memories, go on secret trips, promise to have a baby with me someday after they were divorced. Agh! He constantly said “Im sorry I ruin your life. I hold you back,” and I was set up to make excuses to him AND THEREFORE TO MYSELF as to why this half relationship was worth more than any other real one. Why it was worth the never-ending pain. He was manipulating me. The truth is, he was holding me back. And if he truly loved me the way he said, he would have done the hard thing and let me go. Stopped holding me back. The truth is, if someone wants you around when it’s not good for you, they don’t really care about you very much.

    Instead, I had to do the heavy work of realizing this, doing the breaking up, being the bad guy, and THEN grieving the loss of something I never had. He also told me all the time “No one will ever love you the way I do.” Under the guise of being romantic. Of declaring ultimate love. But i beleieved him. And what that told my heart was “dont leave. Be fearful and cling to his incredible love, because you’ll never get this again.” Well his love really was truly incredible. And I’ve found a love that is moreso. Ive been loved deeper. AND this love wants to do anything to be with me.

    But my departure and the unexpected amount if strength needed to leave started with this article.
    Thank you!

    • Elizabeth Stone

      Elizabeth Stone

      April 8, 2018 at 11:36 am

      You’re so very welcome, Starr! I really appreciate you coming back and sharing your experience with me.

      You were so strong and courageous to do that, it must have been really hard– even when you realized the relationship wasn’t working for you. I’m so glad you found deeper love after refusing to continue what wasn’t right for you.

      Thank you for sharing. This touched my heart.

  2. Ellie

    May 4, 2018 at 6:11 pm

    I took the first step ending it with a married man I love about a week ago. I let it go on for a year, bu in the end, my inner Jiminy Cricket won. I don’t want to be a catalyst to a marriage ending event. Let him do that without me. I was ashamed to love a man who wasn’t mine. I would never have a real future with a married man. I’d honestly rather be a crazy cat lady than continue living in the relationship of shadows I’d been in. I needed help coping and reminders of why I’m doing this, so thank you for being there as I muttered “how is this my life?” when googling how to break up with a married man.

  3. Db

    June 21, 2018 at 10:36 pm

    I started meeting up with a former co-worker. We worked great together. We caught up a year ago with beer and popcorn -talking for 4 hours. He’s married, but I had married friends before w/no issues. About 2 months ago, we met for a few lunches. Again, simple. No issues. Then, he mentioned after one lunch that he understood why men act badly around me. He. Said he almost took his ring off before lunch. I said he was funny, but had to admit I had a little crush on him. That started a lot of texts that got sexual. Then 2 weeks later, we met for a dinner – no popcorn. His wife was out of the country for 2 weeks & child was away. We had a blast by kissed at the end of the night. Amazing. He seemed to panic the morning after. Later, another dinner and panic. After a 3rd dinner, he found out the next day that a coworker was busted by his girlfriend for texting w/ other girls. Pulled 2 months of texts from his phone records. My guy panicked wondering what if it was him. I helped him learn how to delete all of them – including the cloud.

    Oddly, he still wanted to see me that night. I figured he’d just tell me we had to stop. Didn’t want to go, but decided I wanted to face him. He said we needed to stop the romantic stuff but still wanted to stay friends and lunch. I asked if that was the truth, and he said absolutely. He walked me out. Gave me a huge hug, and then walked me to my car. Asked if he could kiss me. Odd but I did. Guess that was the kiss off. I’ve heard nothing since – even texted him I had some questions on a project. No response. I’m crushed mostly because I lost a great professional relationship, a fun, budding friendship and romance. But he just left me hurt w/ no need to really just say goodbye.

    I know this sounds stupid. Yes we cheated by kissing, but it went no further. Now I miss him. Thoughts??

    • Susan

      February 11, 2019 at 7:44 pm

      You dodged a bullet! He’s a jerk. Don’t waste another moment thinking about him. Feel sorry for his wife.

      I was not as fortunate. Went down the wrong path. Thought it was more. Turns out I was played. Live and learn.

  4. Susan

    February 12, 2019 at 3:43 am

    These men lie to their wives, their families, you & themselves. I fell for someone’s lives & it hurt like heck to break it off. But when I came to my senses and said I’d had enough of the lies, secrecy and self-deceit, I gained my life back. These affairs are soul draining. Trust me, once these men find a new side piece, or they fear exposure, you are expendable.

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