Why Do Married Men Flirt? 6 Reasons Why And What To Do About It

Updated December 16, 2020

Medically Reviewed By: Karen Devlin, LPC

"I, John, take you, Sara, to be my wife, to have and to hold from this day forward;

for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death we do part…"

Wait a minute!

There's nothing in those vows that mentions a married man flirting with another woman! Granted, that's being facetious, but married men flirting with other women can be a very serious issue that can appear harmless, and yet is anything but. So, if that's the case, then why do married men flirt?

Is He Flirting Or Just Being Nice?

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It's a gray area. Some people are naturally friendly, no matter who they're talking to or interacting with, and have no intention of flirting. And sometimes a guy who's a sincere and friendly married man may still come across as being flirtatious, even though he doesn't mean to. To know the difference between being nice and flirtatious, here are some common signs that a married man may be flirting with you.

His Body Language. Body language is one of the best ways to tell if someone is flirting with you. Check out these indicators: Does he turn toward you when you stand or sit next to one another? Are his feet pointed at you? Does he look at you directly in the eyes when you're talking with each other?

His Touch. Yes, friendly people can be touchy as well, but one of the surest ways to tell if he is flirting with you is if he's touching you. This can be as simple as a gentle touch on the arm when he's laughing at your joke or asking how your day is going. He'll find a way to be close to you and touch you every time he's with you.

He Teases You. Most men are great at teasing. Why? Well for one they've been teasing girls since elementary school on the playground. They've had a lot of practice, and practice makes perfect. It may seem juvenile and almost silly for a grown man to tease you, but it's just as effective in the arsenal of flirting techniques.

He Remembers What You Say. He saw you last week at the end of season little league barbecue, and a week later at his kid's birthday party, he sees you again. Even though a week has passed, he remembered the details of your conversation seven days ago. He follows up, asking how your son's scraped knee is, how the girls' night out went, and how the chicken marsala came out. Married men who aren't interested in you normally won't remember those minute details, nor will they bring it up to spark up another conversation, either. He's married, and those conversations are meant for his wife.

He Texts You All the Time. A text here and there might be innocent, especially if the content is dealing with things that do not include just you two; but if the texts are coming in all day and night and the messages are intimate and of his personal life, then he is probably flirting with you.

He Focuses On You. He should be focusing on his wife, not you. There could be 100 people, including his wife, in the middle of a party, and his attention is only on you. He doesn't look away when he talks, he holds that eye contact, he listens to you intently, and you might find him leaning in and asking, "What did you say?" Even if he did hear you, he's focused on you and will use any excuse to get closer to you as well. Signs a single or married man is flirting can be observed by proximity and physical contact. 

6 Reasons Why Married Men Flirt

1. He's Feeding His Desire To be Wanted

The majority of married men flirt to feed their desire of being wanted. Even though he's married, he wants confirmation that he's still attractive, not just within his married life. He wants and needs a boost to his self-esteem, ego, and confidence. It may be that he doesn't feel wanted or desired by his wife. Or, maybe his wife does express her attractiveness toward him, and yet he still has a desire to be wanted despite being a married man. Why? One reason could be because he felt rejected in a past relationship or as a child, and he hasn't dealt with it. Studies show that our brains deal with social pain in the same ways it deals with physical pain. In other words, we hurt when we feel rejected or not accepted, and maybe he's needing an overload of needing to feel desired to compensate for his lack thereof in a single or married status.

2. His Marriage Lacks Intimacy

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This is similar to his need to feel wanted. He might not be receiving the attention and intimacy that he once had with his wife. There could be several reasons why, including the mere fact that life is busy and full of responsibilities, kids, work, and as a result, the attention to the marriage has taken a step back. The spice and thrill of the early days after the honeymoon might have fizzled into more of a partnership than a marriage, and he's looking to fill that void through flirting as a married man. 

  1. The Thrill Of The Chase

Men like the thrill of the chase. The lure of the unattainable, excitement of something new and risky. This is especially true if his marriage is in a doldrum. What was once a hot full sprint pursuit after his wife has become a sluggish gait at best; and in needing that "high" of the chase, he's looking to flirt with other women. If you know someone’s husband is a flirt, do not just stand by and be his forbidden fruit. Yes, people flirt, but married life is meant for flirting with one’s spouse, not flirting elsewhere. 

  1. It's Risky

Similar to the thrill of the chase, some married men flirt because it's risky; they know it's wrong and dangerous and could have dire consequences if they get caught. And that's where the excitement comes in. The fact that it's bad and dishonest is the very reason he's doing it. Similar to an outlaw, his desire to break the rules is strong (though surely he doesn’t want a  “Wanted: Married and Flirting” sign posted around town). It can excite and arouse him. The inclination to take high risks may be hard-wired into the brain, intimately linked to arousal and pleasure mechanisms, and may offer such a thrill that it functions like an addiction.

  1. He's Manipulative

If a married man feels a lack of intimacy in his marriage or a lack of desire from his wife, or if the marriage is just in a holding pattern and he feels disconnected, he may resort to manipulative measures to get what he wants. In this instance, the married man will flirt with another woman within eyeshot of his wife. He wants her to see him flirting. That's the sole purpose: flirt with another woman to make his wife jealous and insecure so that she will overcompensate and fill his needs. This form of flirtation does not display how this married man is attracted to the woman. It does not display how this married man is dedicated to his married life. It does not display how this married man is aware of or concerned for his wife’s feelings not only to flirt but to flirt in a group setting. The fact that he is displaying emotions he shouldn’t instead of attraction to his wife, dedication to his marriage, and awareness shows manipulation. People who manipulate, influence, and control others through the use of mental and emotional exploitation intend to have power and control over you to get what they want. Manipulation is not only wrong and destructive to married people, but it is emotional abuse and should be dealt with.

  1. He Wants Sex

Some married men flirt to have sex. Period. Although the majority of reasons men flirt have no sexual intention behind it, some married men flirt with the sole purpose of having sex. It's a combination of other flirtatious reasons that fuel this one: it's risky, and it's the thrill of the chase; in fact, him flirting with jumping in bed with another woman might have absolutely nothing to do with sex. His married life sex life with his wife might be great, and yet he'll still flirt with another woman to fulfill that risk, thrill, and flirtation. 

Say No To Flirting

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Having a married man flirt with you is never good. His intentions behind the flirting more likely have nothing to do with you and everything to do with him-he lacks feeling desired, his married life lacks intimacy, he gets high off the thrill of the chase, he loves that it's risky, he's using you to make his wife jealous, he wants to have sex with you. These facts about flirting are harsh but real, and when signs a married man is flirting are evident, you should leave/end the situation immediately. Everything behind the flirtation is for his benefit; in fact, you could go as far as saying that there's a dash of manipulation with his intentions. He wants something, and he's flirting to get it. He might tell you every wonderful thing you want to hear: how beautiful you are, how he loves your smile and your cute laugh, how his marriage is dead anyway. Ask yourself this: If his wife was you, would you want him flirting with another woman? Do you want to break apart married couples only to have him go back to his wife after he used you for his gratification? Flirting can lead to emotional and physical infidelity and as a result, can be one of the most destructive things to married couples. Facts about flirting show that 22% of married men have committed an adulterous act at least once in their life, and 17% of all the divorces are due to adultery. It can undermine trust and crumble the foundation of the relationship. If you find yourself in this situation with a married man, what steps can you take?

What Do You Do If A Married Man Is Flirting With You?

Be Honest And Straightforward About Your Intentions. Even though you might enjoy the attention and accolades he gives you, he's married. He’s involved with a married woman who is not you and is not you for a reason. Being involved with a married man who is using you will only cause you (and his wife) heartbreak. Be upfront and honest that flirting with you is wrong, and it needs to stop immediately.

Stop All Contact. Remove him from your contacts and all social media. Doing this will help eliminate the temptation to answer his call or respond to his text, especially if you're feeling lonely or down. A married man flirting will not bring you permanent company or joy. 

Focus Your Attention Elsewhere. Now that you've removed him from your contacts, focus your attention on something else. It could be a hobby, out with friends, a good movie. This will help you resist the temptation to contact him, which will be easier as each day passes.

Mention His Wife. Oops, the cat's out of the bag! Granted, you knew he was married, but still, this is a very effective measure to illuminate the obvious. Ask him how his wife is doing, or what they have planned for the weekend. This seamlessly shifts the spotlight from you and him to his wife and him.

Whether you have questions about married men flirting, relationships, or anything else, know that ReGain is always available to help those in need. With ReGain, you can speak with a therapist 24/7, seven days a week. With chat, text, phone, and video chat options, you can speak with a therapist in a way that is most convenient for you. You can contact ReGain by clicking here.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 

What does it mean when a married man flirts? 

If a married man is flirting with you, it may mean a plethora of things. For example, some men have expressed a lack of physicality in their marriage, which prompts them to go outside of their marriage specifically for sex. Thus, this flirtation may be a step towards sexual relations. Other men have experienced problems with their marriage because they are not the top priority in their spouse’s life anymore. This priority “problem” can be due to several factors such as children taking precedence and much of the wife’s love. Additionally, the romantic “spark” and level of interest could have dimmed after being married for a period of time. Some men have also expressed a lack of communication and emotional distancing in their marriage. Whatever the case may be, there is a level of attraction that can diminish when these types of problems arise in a marriage, making flirtation an outlet to show the man is attracted to you since he is not getting that attraction at home. 

How do you tell if a married man likes you quiz? 

Clues that a married man likes you can vary depending on the man. Like any other human being, this man is unique and probably has his own indications of attraction. That being said, adjust these next indicators as deemed necessary. An attraction for men tends to rely on physicality. If he maintains a closer distance to you or touches you in any way, this married man probably has or is developing romantic feelings for you. Physicality aside, a married man may express his attraction for you through emotional conversations that are deeper than friendship warrants. Another key component of analyzing a married man’s feelings for you is acknowledging when you are alone together. If he actively tries to meet you or get you alone, then you should be wary of his relationship expectations. 

How do you tell if a married man wants to sleep with you? 

Signs a married man wants to sleep with you and signs a single man wants to sleep with you are probably going to be similar. There may be some physical contact, direct and continued eye contact, animated conversation, and sharing of more personal/intimate information. Some signs a man wants to sleep with you can include the location where you are meeting. For example, if you are meeting a man at his home alone for whatever reason (dinner, after-hours work, drinks), you can safely assume he will be hoping for sex or physical contact during your evening visit. Similarly, if you meet at a restaurant or anywhere that is “neutral ground” - not on either of your personal properties - and he asks if you want to go to his house or somewhere more intimate, similar hopes for physical contact may be imminent. 

Why would a married man flirt with a married woman? 

If a married man is flirting with a married woman, his gaze may be fixed on someone his wife is not or someone he wants his wife to become. His motivations can involve the “other woman” being a better resemblance of his wife (or a completely opposite version that he prefers over his wife). It is possible the two women have some similarities in common which the married man is attracted to; however, the married woman he flirts with is bound to have qualities that he deems important which his wife does not possess/express. This variety-seeking can be another form of manipulation towards his wife, encouraging her to be someone she is not in order to gain his attention and affection back from the woman with whom he is flirting. His actions may also be self-serving, using someone else’s wife to compensate for what he wants in a wife. 

How do you make a married man miss you? 

Making a married man miss you is a tricky situation. First and foremost (like any other relationship), you need to ensure that the individual’s well being and wishes are at the forefront of your thoughts. If the man breaks off a relationship with you to return to his marriage, you need to be respectful of his decision. However, if this married man is attracted to you and continues to go back and forth between his wife and you, you have every right to end the relationship for your own physical and emotional benefit. You should also consider ending the relationship as soon as you find out about his marital status considering the motivations he may have behind dating/courting/using you as well as his actions towards his wife. The moral and ethical decision of ending a relationship with a married man may seem difficult if you are single and genuinely in love with this man. However, you must keep in mind the heartbreak his wife will experience (if she doesn’t already know about her husband’s affairs) and save her (and yourself) from the pain this twisted love triangle will bring. The motivations of the man can also be manipulative. In these cases, a married man flirting with you, trying to sleep with you, etc. can be using you for physical/emotional contact that he isn’t receiving at home. The key component of this statement is that he is returning home. No matter what this man says to win your heart and affections, the reality is that he is using you as compensation and will continue to return home to his wife and married life, not you. 

Is he being nice or is he interested? 

Signs a married man is being nice versus signs a man is interested vary to the degree of his actions. For example, 

  • Is the attention he is giving you over-the-top or common?
  • Is his eye contact never-wavering or good but occasionally lingering? 
  • Are his comments personal and deep or just small talk? 
  • Does he do favors for you without hesitation or does he just give advice? 
  • Does he make physical contact with you or maintain a good social distancing? 

These minute details (and more) can help identify if a married man is just being friendly or being friendly with an intimate intention. Be on the lookout and when in doubt, communicate your questions/concerns to him for clarification. 

Do guys give subtle hints? 

If you are with a married man and are trying to decipher if he is flirting with you, hints can include (but are not limited to): 

  • physical contact, 
  • eye contact, 
  • topics of conversation, 
  • locations where you meet him, 
  • types and times of meetings (i.e. Social or work? Professional or casual? During the work hours of after hours? With other people or alone? 
  • Does he mention his spouse while with you?

While there are surely other hints to his feelings and intentions for you, these are some starter basics to be looking for. Please read “Is he being nice or is he interested?” for more information. 

How do you know if a married man likes you through text? 

The types of messages a married man sends should be kept casual and/or professional. When details start to get incredibly personal, you should be wary of his intentions. What makes texting difficult can be a lack of emotional comprehension. While this may sound childish, emoji’s are an excellent way to determine the intentions of someone’s texts. If a married man sends you heart-related emoji’s in a context that is not joking but genuine, this could be a sign that he likes you as more than a friend. If these texts start appearing from him, be sure to clarify with him and express your feelings and concerns regarding the situation and your relationship. 

How do affairs start? 

Affairs tend to be triggered by foundational problems which manifest into larger and more destructive reactions. Looking at the marriage itself, affairs may occur if certain relational needs or desires are not being met to the degree one of the spouses wants. If these needs are not met, then a partner may go looking for satisfaction elsewhere. Additionally, affairs can form from past love interests that have not been resolved or that still possess sexual and/or emotional tension. Affairs can also begin through different communication platforms: face-to-face, texting, social media, and via phone, email, postal mail, etc. With access to so many communication platforms, one must be vigilant of how individuals communicate with you. 

What is crossing the line in flirting? 

When it comes to flirting with a married man or woman, any flirting could be seen as crossing the line. Generally, flirting should be something kept between marital partners and not shared with others. Because flirting can progress to more emotional and personal feelings, any and all flirting should be kept to significant others/spouses. If flirting is used in a joking manner (and is acknowledged and accepted by the other spouse), then crossing the line of flirting starts when the flirting initiates romantic feelings and urges or concerns the spouse. At this point, a conversation needs to occur so that the jokes can cease or that a consensus can be made to ensure marital fidelity. 

Why is a married man texting me? 

Think about your relationship with said married man. Is this person a stranger? If so, you should be concerned and block the number if you did not give permission for this person to contact you. Is this person someone you know well? If so, what is his reasoning to text you? If they are simply asking a question or extending greetings as a friend or spouse of one of your friends, then you probably do not need to be concerned about their intentions. When the texts become more personal questions that are usually discussed with a significant other instead of a friend, bring those conversations to light and ask for clarification regarding the man’s reasoning. Better yet, tell him he should be discussing these topics with his wife instead of you. If you reach a point of discomfort, openly share your discomfort and explain you do not wish for this type of communication to start/continue. 

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