Being in a relationship with someone else’s husband doesn’t feel right – you feel it in your bones. You’ve probably spent countless hours, sleepless nights telling yourself you’re going to put an end to it. Then, he comes around, and all those feelings come rushing to the fore, all the long speeches you had prepared in your head dissipate, all that sound reasoning seems irrelevant. Once again, you find yourself unable to act on your resolve to stop dating a married man.
This vicious cycle can keep repeating in a loop, making you feel powerless. Even though it may not feel like it, you do have the power to make your own choices in life. Hard as it may be, you can figure out how to let go of a married man and end the affair. The first step in that direction is to face some cold hard facts:
- No matter how perfect he seems or how great you two are together, his marriage will take precedence over your relationship
- You will have to keep the relationship under wraps, which may leave you feeling like his dirty little secret
- You can’t count on him to be there for you when you need him the most, owing to which it can never be a whole, fulfilling, healthy relationship you deserve
- In all likelihood, it’s a relationship without a future. Research suggests less than 25% of cheaters leave their primary partners for an affair partner. And only 5 to 7% of affairs lead to marriage
Unless you’re okay with being treated like an afterthought in the most intimate relationship of your life, walking away from a married man is in your best interest. We know it’s easier said than done but we’re here to hold your hand through it. Let’s take a look at how to stop loving a married man and survive a breakup.
Why Do Women Get Involved With Married Men?
Before we tell you how to end a relationship with a married man, it’s vital to understand why women fall for married guys. Whether you’re single or married and in love with a married man, it’s no secret that this complicated equation is the recipe for a disaster waiting to unfold (unless he has kept his marital status a secret – which is a whole other messy affair that needs to be dealt with separately). You likely never saw yourself getting involved with a married man and earning tags such as the other woman and home-wrecker, and setting yourself up for a whole lot of agony and emotional turmoil.
Yet, here you are, deeply in love with a married man and in the thick of a heady affair, finding a way to rationalize your choices. And you’re not alone. According to study, 90% of women are interested in men who are taken, as compared to only 59% who want to date men they knew were single. Why? Here are some reasons why so many women end up dating married men:
- Mate poaching: According to research, the enhanced attractiveness of men who are married can be linked to the inherent instinct of mate poaching that makes females of certain species prefer males who have mated with others before
- Low-maintenance relationship: Given that a married man already has a full life, his demands and expectations from the affair are likely to be a lot less than a single man who is fully invested in the relationship. This low-maintenance relationship can seem attractive to women who want an intimate connection but without going all in
- Boost to self-esteem: Attention from a guy who is already committed for life can be extremely flattering and huge boost to the self-esteem
- The forbidden fruit: The lure of the forbidden fruit has caused mankind to cross all sorts of boundaries, from the time of Adam and Eve. This is no different. The secret relationship can trigger dark fantasies because of the thrill and the rush involved. Given how good that can feel, it may not seem like you’re wasting time on a married man
- Proven ability to commit: Considering that he is already married, there is solid evidence that he is not one to shy away from commitment, which can be a real drawcard, making you feel like you’ve finally found yourself a real man
- Sexual gratification: The experience he has gained over the years means he truly knows his way around a woman’s body. The mind-blowing sex with a married man, enhanced by the thrill added by the element of secrecy, can blind you to the fact that dating a married man is a waste of time
Any one of these reasons is enough to keep you hooked. The fact that they often exist in tandem makes ending a relationship with a married man that much harder. Be that as it may, it doesn’t change the fact that this relationship is riddled with complications, and despite the rush and excitement, often unfulfilling. That’s why it is best for you to make up your mind to leave a married man, the sooner, the better.
Related Reading: Questions To Ask Yourself When You Are Falling For A Married Man
15 Tips To Stop Dating A Married Man
Once the initial rush of getting involved with a married man begins to settle down, you may begin to see the red flags. And that’s when you start to wonder how to distance yourself from a married man. Perhaps, you have been trying to get out of this relationship for a while now but your feelings for him and the hope of a happily-ever-after gets in the way. Or maybe, every time you tell him you want out, he emotionally manipulates you into putting off the decision.
You can see this relationship with a married man going nowhere, but he asks for one last chance, some more time, or tells you that your love is the only thing that keeps him going. Here are some things he may say whenever you try to walk away,
- I love you, and only you. My relationship with my wife has been long dead and you know it
- I’d have walked away to be with you in a heartbeat had it not been for the kids. Please understand. If you don’t, who will?
- If I could, I’d spend all my time with you but you know I have compulsions. What can I do?
- Being with you is the only silver lining in my otherwise bleak life. Please don’t take it away from me
- Don’t ruin whatever little time we have together by overthinking the future
- Let’s just enjoy what we have here and now
When he beseeches you to stay, your heart may melt into a puddle. But the cold, hard truth is, when push comes to shove, he will choose his family/his marriage over you, leaving you in a world of pain. Ultimately, you will have to figure out how to stop loving a married man and let him go. Why delay the inevitable? Why give him the power to pull the plug? Make the choice of letting go of an affair and focus on moving on with the help of these 15 tips:
1. Give yourself a reality check
How to stop loving someone who is married, you ask? It’s time to give yourself a reality check about cheating with a married man consequences. What does your life look like ever since you got into this relationship? We can make an educated guess:
- You feel lonely because he isn’t there for you when you need him
- You feel guilty about wrecking a marriage
- You find yourself saying, “I love a married man and it hurts”
- You suffer the heartbreak of being the other woman
All in all, your relationship makes you feel sad, anxious, and on edge, peppered with a few moments of joy and contentment. This is exactly why dating a married man is bad for you. You may tell yourself that these fleeting moments are worth all the agony you’re enduring. But there is a tiny voice in your head that keeps you up at night.
That’s the voice of reason. Listen to it. Think about what your life was and what it has become. Are you happy from within? Is this what true love feels like? Can you truly find your happily ever after with a man who is married to someone else? If the answer to these questions is no, you know what the right thing to do is. Letting go of an affair may not be easy but it is in the best interest of everyone involved. Acknowledge this fact. If need be, remind yourself of it over and over again until the acceptance comes in.
2. Believe in yourself
Many women get into relationships with married men thinking that it is what they deserve. They subconsciously think that they are not going to find someone else and try to settle for the breadcrumbs of attention and affection their affair partner has to offer. Walking away from a married man can become that much harder if this is why you got into this affair, in the first place.
Perhaps, you’ve been single too long and found it hard to resist the overtures of that charming married coworker. Maybe, the man you thought was the love of your life married someone else but you couldn’t snap the chord because you’re convinced you can’t fall in love again, not with the same intensity and passion. Or you’ve been stuck in an unfulfilling relationship and ended up having an emotional affair with a married man.
Whatever the case may be, the key to figuring out how to get over a married man is to take charge of your life again and believe in yourself. Tell yourself that the best is yet to come and you do not need to compromise. Your future will be brighter than you think – you just need to be ready for it.
Breaking up with a married man can become easier if you work on your own limiting beliefs and truly learn to believe that you deserve better. You deserve to be someone’s top priority and not an afterthought. So, don’t settle for whatever it is that a married man can offer you in the name of love and a relationship.
3. Put yourself first
To stop dating a married man, all you need is to prioritize yourself. Instead of building your life around him, think about your future and the kind of life you want for yourself. After all, why should you make him the focal point of your life when you exist somewhere on the periphery of his?
What does your vision look like? Do you want a family? Children? A partner you can call your own? Now, ask yourself, will the man you’re having an affair with ever be able to give you the life of your dreams? If not, it’s time to accept that this is a dead-end relationship. It doesn’t matter if he is the most perfect man you’ve ever met or how head over heels in love you’re.
If he cannot be a part of the life you want and deserve, the relationship will become riddled with resentment, sooner or later. The baggage of resentment is heavy enough to drown even the strongest of bonds. Remember, the future you envisage for yourself can unfold only if you let it. Being mindful of this fact can help you take the first steps toward figuring out how to stop loving a married man.
4. How to end an affair with a married man? Look for the void within
The key to ending a relationship with a married man may lie in figuring out what drew you into it in the first place. At times, people get into relationships to fill a void in their lives. To be able to move forward from this emotionally draining relationship, you first need to identify the void that is eating you up on the inside.
Besides, doing the inner work to create self-awareness will help you see that you are enough on your own and that you don’t have to endure the pain of being the other woman just for the fleeting validation you get every time your affair partner chooses you over their spouse.
5. Focus on what the relationship lacks
All of us have certain relationship expectations from our partners. Are yours being met? To stop dating a married man, you need to stop turning a blind eye to the evident red and start acknowledging the needs that your “partner” is unable to meet. Take a pen and paper and list out the sacrifices you have been making to keep this relationship afloat when you do not need to. Ask yourself,
- Is he there when you need him or when it is convenient for him?
- Does he make an effort to spend at least some of the holidays and weekends with you or are those reserved for this family?
- Are you “allowed” to contact your partner when he is with his wife?
- Are you left alone while he enjoys his social life with his wife?
- Can he take you out on dates or holidays or is your relationship confined to the walls of your place or a hotel room?
- Can you count on him to be by your side when you’re going through a rough patch?
- Is he there to celebrate your wins and successes?
Revisit the memories of all the sleepless nights you spent staining your pillow with tears while he was probably having a snug time with his wife. Would you be still making these sacrifices if you were dating a single man? These right there are the unpleasant cheating with a married man consequences and precisely why you need to take a step back.
6. Face it – You are a mistress to him
This is a hard pill to swallow but if you are indeed serious about getting over an affair with a married man, you need to wash this one down immediately. Here’s a reality check – you are his mistress. You are the third wheel in a married couple’s life. You are the other woman. Perhaps, that’s why they say never date a married man.
While he may have led you to believe that dating a married man who is unhappy in his marriage or that his marriage is loveless/dysfunctional/unhappy and you’re the love of his life, the unpleasant reality is that the chances of you taking the place of his wife are slim to none. He will never make a home with you. Or have kids with you. Heck, he won’t even publicly acknowledge your existence. If you ever run into him while he is out with his family, he will look right past you as if you were just another stranger face in the crowd.
The psychological effects of being the other woman can leave a permanent dent in your mental health, well-being, and sense of self. Think about whether your relationship with a married man is worth losing yourself over. No? Then, work toward accepting the fact that ending this relationship is in your best interest.
7. Seek professional help
If you have tried to sever ties with him in the past but you have such strong feelings for your affair partner that you find yourself gravitating back to him, seeking professional help can allow you to understand the underlying issues fueling this attachment and see why you’re unable to end the relationship. Perhaps, what you mistake to be love is some unhealthy attachment bond formed by psychological issues such as,
- Low self-esteem
- Insecure attachment style
- Childhood trauma
Seeking counseling or going into therapy can help you see these underlying patterns clearly and work on fixing them. Once you’ve removed the root cause fueling this relationship, getting over an affair with a married man will become easier. If you’re considering getting help, skilled and experienced counselors on Bonobology’s panel are here for you.
8. Talk about the future
Whether you want to end an affair with a married man at work or an old flame you reconnected with, knowing where you stand in his life can make that decision easier for you. Do not threaten to leave him. Chances are, he will talk you out of it, as he probably has in the past as well. If the thought, “This married man won’t let me go”, has started recurring often enough that you’re starting to feel trapped, it’s time to shake things up a little.
Tell him you want a future with him. That you’re tired of keeping the relationship on the down low, and the more you fall in love with him, the more you want to build a life with him. Ask him if he’s ready to walk out of his marriage to be with you. His reaction will tell you everything you need to know. Unless his reply is an unequivocal yes (which, in all likelihood, it won’t be), you need to pull the plug, lest this complicated mess of a relationship leaves you grappling with questions like, “He went back to his wife but still wants me. Does it mean he loves me?” or “A married man dumped me, will he come back?”
Related Reading: 7 Ways To Handle A Married Man Flirting With You
9. Stop distancing yourself from your loved ones for him
You know why they say never date a married man? Because this relationship will make you feel like his dirty little secret. Given that his marriage is at stake, he wouldn’t want you telling people you’re dating him. Forget him, you wouldn’t feel comfortable talking about your relationship to anyone, not even your close friends and people in your inner circle, because of the kind of judgment it’s likely to attract.
Since you can’t talk to your loved ones about one of the most important relationships of your life, you may end up withdrawing from them to avoid any questions about your love life. This can make you feel exceedingly isolated and lonely. Why are you putting so much at stake for a relationship that has no future? If you don’t want to end up being depressed over a married man, it’s time to come out of the cocoon you’ve created for yourself and rekindle the connection with the people closest to you.
10. Have the break-up talk
How to end an affair with a married man? Just like you’d end any other relationship – have the break-up talk with him. Given that you still have feelings for him and he for you, it probably won’t be easy to have that final conversation to end the affair. As long as you don’t lose sight of why you’re doing it, you will be able to get through it. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you tell your affair partner you want to move on:
- Preferably, do it in person; not over text or a phone call as it is easy for the message to get lost in translation. Especially if you’ve told him you want out in the past but didn’t go through with it, he may not take you seriously over a call or texts
- Firmly but gently, tell him that you’re done
- When telling him why you want to break up, use ‘I’ statements so that he doesn’t feel accused or blamed. Besides, if you make it about yourself, he won’t be able to get you to change your mind with lofty promises
- Give him a chance to say his piece but don’t let that sway you
- Do not prolong the breakup conversation, lest it lead to passionate making out and steamy breakup sex – you’d want to avoid that at all costs
- Once you’ve said what you need to and he has too, walk away before emotions take over
11. Go no contact with married man
Now that you ended the affair, you need to go no contact with the married man you’ve been dating and cut him off completely. No “You up?” text messages at 2 AM, no stalking his social media and writhing in pain looking at his happy pictures with his spouse, no “one last” phone calls. If you don’t close the window of contact, there is a good chance you will end up getting back together, only to find yourself wanting to break up, triggering an unhealthy cycle of on-again-off-again relationship.
12. Grieve your loss
Your relationship may not have had the social stamp of legitimacy but that doesn’t mean your feelings were any less real. You loved this man with all your heart. Perhaps, he loved you back as well. And ending this relationship may feel like someone has reached down your throat, twisted your gut, and pulled them out. Feel the full extent of your pain, no matter how hard it seems, and grieve your loss whatever way feels most cathartic to you.
Want to stay in bed for a week listening to heartbreak songs? Do it. Want to throw darts at a picture of your man with his wife? Do it. Want to burn everything that reminds you of him? Do it. Just don’t seek an escape from the pain in unhealthy ways such as finding solace at the bottom of a bottle or through rebound sex. Because unless you put yourself through this wringer, the repressed pain and emotions will find their way back, and in their throes, you will find yourself reaching out to him again.
13. How to end an affair with a married man? Tell your best friend
Best friends exist to help you bounce back when it feels like you’ve hit rock bottom. And do so without judgment or a holier-than-thou attitude. As Meredith says of Christina in Grey’s Anatomy, “She’s my person. If I murdered someone, she’s the person I’d call to help me drag the corpse across the living room floor.”
So, reach out to your best friend, call them over, and spill your guts to them. Confiding in your best friend and being open about your feelings will make you feel light. Share how committed you are to end things for good and ask them for help. Ask them to check on you every few days lest you give in to your temptations. Just like with any other breakup, you need emotional support to end a relationship with a married man. Your best friend is the only one who can offer it.
Related Reading: I Had An Affair With A Married Man And I Hoped For An Ever After…
14. Get back to your old life
Now that you’ve successfully figured out how to stop dating a married man, it’s time to make sure you move forward in life and not stay hung up on him. To be able to do that, you need to reclaim your old self and life. Here are some ways you can do that:
- Reconnect with close friends and family. Spend time with them to remind yourself you’re loved and cherished
- Go out shopping with your girlfriends and buy a dress that makes you look sexy and feel good about yourself
- Revisit old hobbies that you may neglected to make time for your relationship
- Prioritize self-care. Eat healthily, exercise, journal, take care of yourself
Leading a full life and realizing that you’re enough will pave the way for you to accept that you deserve a partner who will make you a priority and not a footnote.
15. Reclaim your love life
Once it has been some time since you ended things with the married man, it’s time to reclaim your love life. If you’re married, use this opportunity to revive your relationship with your spouse and really put an effort into nurturing that bond. If you’re single, it’s time to start dating again. Sign up on a dating app, meet men the old-fashioned way – approach it the way you like but put yourself out there.
When you do find someone who makes your heart skip a beat, give it your all to build a connection with them. And before you know it, the pain, guilt and shame of dating a married man will be so far behind in the rear-view of life that you can look at it as a lesson without shuddering or beating yourself up about it.
- Dating a married man can be an emotionally draining experience loaded with guilt, self-loathing and a sense of unfulfillment
- First off, stop beating yourself up about it because attraction toward married men is more common than you think. Ridding yourself of guilt is important to be able to walk away from this affair
- A reality check on your place in his life and hollowness of the relationship can strengthen your resolve to move on
- Once you’ve the conviction to end the affair, treat it like any other breakup: have the talk, go no-contact, grieve, work on healing from the heartbreak, and ultimately, reclaim your love life
At first, it can seem impossible to get over your feelings and end things with a man you love so deeply but who, unfortunately, happens to be married. But once you learn to shift focus from him to yourself, the road to setting yourself free will begin to unwind before you. Mull the courage to take the first step and you will find the way, we promise.
This article has been updated in May 2023.
An affair with a married man is considered illicit. If you are a girlfriend of a married man, you are most likely to be called his mistress. Dating a married man could make others address you with many condemnable titles such as ‘home-wrecker’ or ‘other woman’, and it could be a painful experience.
Apart from society stigmatizing you for being the ‘other woman’, dating a married man could deeply harm your self-esteem and pride. Such a relationship entails a lot of secrecy and that could take a toll on your mental well-being as well. You also run the risk of leading a dissatisfied life because you are always a second priority. And if his wife finds out, you could be in a very undignified position.
If you start developing feelings for a married man, you need to take control of things there and then. Know that dating a married man will only bring about hurt, cheating guilt, and dissatisfaction, so fighting off your feelings early on is the best way. Keep meeting new people, avoid talking to him or spending time with him, do not pay heed to his advances, and perhaps confess to a friend who can keep you from going down this rabbit hole.
First of all, don’t blame yourself for what has happened. It is not ideal, but it happens. Next, it is a good thing if you are questioning your actions and want to do something about them. It is time that you try to break free from this relationship which is only going to weigh you down. Perhaps, you should break up with him at the earliest.