Is It All In My Head? Signs A Married Man Is Pursuing You
Updated March 16, 2020
Reviewer Laura Angers
Being pursued romantically is generally a wonderful feeling that produces a welcome rush of excitement and emotion. Being pursued ranges dramatically in its scope and progression. Some people are pursued with dogged determination, and are wooed with gifts and lavish attention, while others are pursued with a quiet, slow-paced individual who values autonomy and careful consideration. Although there is not necessarily one form of healthy pursuit that trumps the other, there are some situations that warrant discomfort and a quick shutting-down of romantic pursuit and interest-among them, being pursued by a married man.
Romantic Pursuit: Definition
To be clear, romantic pursuits and friendly interactions are not one and the same. A married man expressing an interest in carrying on a casual conversation does not denote a serious interest in a romantic dalliance any more than a single man striking up a conversation means that the possibility of romance is imminent. Romantic pursuit is not being friendly or carrying on a conversation, but is a concentrated and clear effort to forge a romantic attachment.
A romantic pursuit differs from simple friendliness or general conversation largely in its subtext. While two different people can utter the phrase, "It was nice to see you today," the subtext visible via body language and tone can change the meaning of the phrase from its face value ("I enjoyed seeing you") to a more charged definition ("I want to see more of you").
Someone who is romantically pursuing you is likely to single you out above others-i.e. pay you more attention than your peers, create more ways to be physically or emotionally close to you, and devote more time and energy to making you smile. Someone who sees you as a casual friend will invest time in you, but will not try to promote situations wherein the two of you are alone together. Someone who is trying to cultivate a romantic relationship, conversely, will likely try to find ways to get the two of you alone.
The Problem with Infidelity
Although some would argue that infidelity is not inherently a moral issue, there is some evidence to suggest that cheating is cruel, without the presence of social or religious mores. The most significant issue with infidelity lies in the way that infidelity makes other people feel; cheating is problematic because it violates the trust you share with another person-or multiple people-and a violation of trust has the potential to wreak havoc on a person's mental health and emotional state. Cheating is far more than just a step outside of social norms: it is a violation of a contract that you created with your spouse, which disrupts the emotional and physical intimacy and bond that you have created. This type of disruption can leave severe emotional wounds, which can take years and intensive therapy to heal.
Infidelity does not only violate the relationship you have with your spouse, however. It also violates the trust you have with everyone in your life. When you commit to spending your life with someone, and vow to be faithful, a violation of that promise can negatively impact your familial relationships, friendships, and even workplace relationships. Infidelity rarely casts the person stepping outside of their marriage in a positive light, no matter how many pleas of "She's crazy!" or "I'm not being fulfilled!" are uttered, because it is typically seen as a coward's way out of a marriage, or a selfish means of attaining pleasure and validation. Even if this is not the case, it may be difficult for the people in the lives of cheaters to view them in the same way after an affair has been engaged in.
Signs A Married Man Likes You More Than A Friend
While the notion that men and women cannot be friends is outdated and unhealthy, the thought persists, which may lead some men or women to question their friendship with someone of the opposite sex who is married. There are significant differences, though, between friendships and the start of romantic relationships, primarily in the way that people interact. If a married man is interested in you, there will be noticeable signs-signs that can alert you to a need for boundaries, the termination of your friendship, or (in some cases) the need to reach out for help. These signs include:
If the two of you only ever interact in public, or in groups, there is very little room for infidelity. Ultimately, cheating will likely not occur without the two of you finding a way to be alone together. If a married friend or coworker seems to always be right behind you when you are walking alone, or pops up unexpectedly when you've gone off on your own, it may raise a red flag.
2) His Ring Disappears
Removing a wedding ring can have many meanings. He may have gained weight recently, and his wedding ring doesn't fit. He may have lost his wedding ring, and simply has not replaced it yet. He may not have a wedding ring, because he and his partner cannot yet afford to purchase rings. These are all valid reasons a married man might appear out and about without a ring. If you find, however, that his ring specifically seems to disappear when he is around you, or that his ring only began to be noticeably absent after the two of you began talking, it may be due to romantic interest.
3) He Speaks Negatively About His Marriage
Guilt can be a powerful motivator, and many men experience intense guilt while stepping outside of their marriages. If you find that he constantly seems to talk about how his marriage is falling apart, or his wife is unkind, or can only seem to criticize and nag him, he may be trying to convince you-and himself-that an extramarital affair (whether physical or emotional) is justified by the lack of passion, love, or commitment in his marriage. Although some married men who are seeking an affair will speak positively about their marriage in the beginning, it is far more common for his marriage to be portrayed as a prison, or a setting that is deeply (and unjustifiably) unhealthy for him.
4) He Tries to Work on Projects with You
This is one of the more common signs a married male coworker likes you, but may also be seen in other settings. If a married man likes you and wants to be around you, but is either unready or unwilling to indulge his feelings, he might try to be around you as much as possible, without it being a particularly romantic or sexy setting. Partnering in a research project about warts, for instance, is unlikely to get either of your blood boiling, but it does give him access to your time, your company, and your thoughts, without technically drifting into infidelity.
What To Do
Cheating is never a healthy, courageous act. Whether you are the married partner, or you are the person to whom a married person is attracted, cheating is a reprehensible act, and should be avoided whenever and wherever possible. Although it may seem that cheating only hurts a person or two, it can actually break down an entire social group, including the friends, family, and loved ones of everyone involved.
If you believe that a married man is expressing or indicating romantic interest in you, and you are experiencing the same, the first step would be to discuss what you feel is happening-in a controlled, safe, and unromantic environment. If he denies his interest, all the better: the two of you can move forward with reinforced boundaries. If he acknowledges interest, though it is time to determine a game plan. Is he going to leave his partner? Is he going to stay? Is there a way for the two of you to terminate your relationship? Showing kindness and deference to his spouse is the best course of action, even if the attraction is mutual.
In some situations, you might need to bring a third party in. This could be the case if the man in question is your boss, or someone who is in power or authority over you. This could also be the case if you express your discomfort, and he refuses to mitigate his advances. If at any point you feel unsafe or uncomfortable, do not hesitate to reach out for help.
Is It All In My Head?
Unfortunately, if you feel as though a married man is expressing interest in you, he very likely is; misreading romantic cues is not terribly common, and people are usually able to sense romantic or sexual interest. If you have found that a married man tries to be alone with you, tries to find ways to be close to you, confides his marriage woes in you, or seems to try to erase evidence of his marriage when in your presence, he is almost undoubtedly interested in you. While it may be tempting to pursue a relationship with a married man, these types of relationships are not healthy, as they involve secrecy, denied communication, and the emotional degradation of someone else. If you find yourself in this situation, you can go straight to the source and work out the best way to proceed.
If you've found that you are being pursued by a married man and you feel uncomfortable, unsafe, or at fault, you may wish to speak with a mental health professional. Therapists are trained in conflict resolution, communication, and emotional intelligence, and can help you navigate the situation you are in with grace and aplomb, while also offering a fresh, unique perspective on how to proceed. Therapists can also assist you if the situation escalates or gets out of hand, should you need a place for support and encouragement.
There are distinct signs a married man is interested in someone, many of them plain to not only the person being pursued, but also the people around them. If you are not sure that you are being pursued, you can reach out to others who have interacted with the two of you, to gauge how perceptive your suspicion actually is.