6 Ways Dating a Married Man Hurts: The Reality of Being the Other Woman

If you’re dating a married man, you know how difficult it is to be with someone who’s already in another relationship—and for so many reasons. In fact, the reality of your relationship with a married man is probably far from what an outsider might think. It’s not all stolen moments and long-awaited embraces. Amidst the highs that love naturally brings, loving a married man can be utterly heartbreaking. 

In this post, we explore the ways dating a married man hurts, diving into the unique situations you’re likely to encounter in this kind of relationship. You’ll also learn where you can find support if you’re involved with a married man and aren’t sure what to do next.

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The Heartbreaks of Dating a Married Man

The reality of dating a married man is often quite different than what society, the media, or the movies make it seem. If you’re currently in a relationship with a married man, you know all too well how miserable it can be. 

As the other woman, you have encountered situations that have emotionally dragged you to the depths. Yet there are always good times too: moments filled with intimacy, excitement, and hope. It’s these encounters that keep you holding onto hope for your future, even when the relationship with your married partner has its hurdles.

Let’s explore some of the painful experiences most women go through when dating a married man.

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1. When your calls or texts get ignored.

When your married boyfriend calls or texts you, it lights you up because you’ve gotten his attention. But the street doesn’t go both ways: Often you are left hanging when you’re trying to get in touch with him. Maybe he’s busy with his wife, his kids, or simply tied up with another priority. No matter the reason, you feel like your contact always tends to happen on his terms. 

This dynamic can feel like a power struggle in your relationship—one you can’t win—because you don’t want to miss the chance to talk to him when he makes himself available. You feel like you’re giving your power away, always having to be on his timeline and over time this begins to impact your confidence and sense of self-worth negatively.

2. Spending holidays and other special occasions alone.

Holidays and special occasions should be filled with happiness and joy—but when you’re in a relationship with a man who is married, it doesn’t always turn out that way. It’s common for your married partner to be unable to show up for holidays and events. This might be due to the risk of outing your relationship—or it might be because he’s with his wife or family instead. 

If you’ve experienced this, you may feel emotionally abandoned by him. While everyone else is enjoying each milestone as it passes with their partner, you’re alone… picturing him with his family, wishing things could be different.

What’s more, here’s what can happen on the flipside: On the chance he is available to spend a holiday or birthday with you, a deep sense of guilt can stand in your way of fully embracing it. Instead of enjoying the moment, your thoughts could be with his wife or his kids, wondering how this time with you is impacting them. Either way, it’s like you can’t win.

3. Keeping your relationship secret from loved ones. 

When something great happens in your relationship, it’s only normal to want to share those highlights with close family and friends. Even when you’re going through a rough time in your relationship—whether it’s with a married man or not—you want to have support from those closest to you too. 

Keeping your relationship—the good and the bad—a secret from your loved ones isn’t easy. When you can’t confide in anyone, you can’t share or express some of the most significant things happening in your life. As a result, you end up ruminating on the experiences of your relationship all alone. 

Keeping this secret can also make you feel like you’re holding back a part of yourself from your loved ones—like there’s this whole other side of you that your family and friends don’t get to see.

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But “my boyfriend is married” isn’t easy to say, especially when you feel overwhelmed by the fear of being labeled as a “homewrecker”, “selfish” or poorly judged by the people you care about the most.

4. Feeling alone at the end of the day, even though you technically “have someone”. 

You want to be grateful for the relationship you have—even under the circumstances of being with a married man who can’t commit. But most nights, you don’t feel grateful—you feel depressed, ashamed, miserable, and broken.

The truth is that it hurts to be the other woman. Talking to a married man every day isn’t the same as having someone to come home to, or someone who’s truly committed to you. Someone who wants to hear about your day—and only your day.

Society might tell you that this is “what you signed up for”, but that’s simply untrue. You signed up for intimacy, closeness, and a deep bond. But every night, or most nights, you go to sleep alone. If this is taking its toll on you, you’re not the only one. Many women who are with married men struggle emotionally during their relationship, and it’s completely valid.

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5. When your plans get cancelled at the last minute.

As the other woman, you may be tired of having plans cancelled or coming in last. Married men tend to get pulled away by their other priorities, including their wife. This is incredibly difficult to grapple with. Not feeling chosen by him makes you feel lonely—and like you’re not good enough. 

In this kind of relationship, he tends to hold the power. If he cancels on you, there’s nothing you can do about it—except be ready and willing to meet when he’s available again. Of course, wherever or whenever you meet always tends to happen on his terms.

A graphic outlining the six ways dating a married man hurts which is explored in this blog

6. Daydreaming of a future that’s steeped in uncertainty.

Loving a married man is hard, especially when it comes to planning for your future. You once had a sense of power and agency over the direction of your life, but now you’re waiting for him to lead the way. Will you ever be able to make your relationship public? Will you take steps towards integrating your lives and building a true, tangible commitment? 

Your heart is on the line—with no clear path forward in sight. You want a committed and public relationship, and even though he’s told you that your time will come, you’re still waiting. So should you hang onto hope, or should you let the relationship go? 

There is no “right answer” to this question, only the best solution for you. But remember that even though you can’t control his actions or his decisions, you do have the power to choose what happens next in your life.

It’s Time to Step into the Relationship You Really Want

Dating a married man comes with its fair share of emotional hurdles, and for most women it comes with a lot of heartbreak. While you might feel lost, lonely, and unsure what to do next, know that your situation can get better—even if it doesn’t feel like it right now.

If you’re the other woman in a relationship with a married man, you might be wondering what to do next. While there is no guidebook on how to deal with the pain of loving a married man, there are resources and support.

Our private community is an amazing place to connect with women who’ve been where you’ve been. Your experiences will deeply resonate with them, and vice-versa. It’s a great place to find confidential support among women who share these unique experiences with you.

If you’re ready to dig deep and take an empowering step forward, my 1-1 coaching program is for you. This coaching isn’t designed to talk you out of your relationship or push you in any particular direction. It’s designed to help you get in tune with what you really want so you can start taking action, feel in control of your life again, and restore a sense of peace.

Let’s hop on a discovery call and talk about your options. The call is commitment-free and it doesn’t cost anything—it’s just an opportunity to talk about your options. 

You can find more insights on the experiences of other women here:

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