9 Signs your friendship with a married man is inappropriate

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Have you started a friendship with a married man (or with someone who’s in a committed relationship) and you’re wondering if that friendship is inappropriate? What’s the proper etiquette for being friends with a married man or woman, and can you even be friends with someone who’s married if you are single?

Let me start by saying that I’m not a therapist or marriage counselor.

I simply want to write about this as someone who’s been in a few relationships, with jealous men, secure men, clueless or indifferent men, men who’ve had best (female) friends, and as a woman who’s been friends with married men and men in relationships.

This is just me sharing my past experiences, thoughts, and opinions for the benefit of “future me”, or anyone else interested in reading this.

Also, I talk about friendship with a “married man” because I am a heterosexual woman but I guess the content of this post applies to men and people in committed, non-matrimonial relationships as well.

And I speak to both the friend and the committed person. ????

So here we go.

When is your friendship with a married person becoming inappropriate?

Is it inherently wrong if a married man hangs out with a single woman? Not necessarily. Can you be friends with a married man? Probably, but that’s what we’ll be discussing here.

There are no hard and fast rules for judging when married men and single women can hang out or be friends (or married women and single men). It always depends.

But here are some signs you might be entering dangerous territory.

1. When you search for ways to hang out alone or in each other’s homes

When you and a married person keep searching for opportunities to hang out alone with the other person or to be alone in your respective homes, then it might be a signal that something inappropriate is going on between you two.

It’s not that there’s something inherently wrong with hanging out with a married person alone in your home. It certainly can happen without necessarily meaning that you are thinking about each dancing the polka naked.

But there is something quite intimate about being alone with another person in your personal space (or theirs). The dynamic is not the same as hanging out in a park or a coffee shop for example.

Being alone with a married man in your respective homes gives room for more intimate conversations, conversations you might never have had if you had stayed in the office, in school, or a public place.

So, if in the context of your friendship with a married person you find yourselves looking for reasons to hang out alone or in each other’s homes versus a more neutral location, when one of you (or both) is married, then this could be a sign that something inappropriate is happening between you and this person.

2. When their spouse doesn’t know you hang out

If your married friend lies about seeing you or waits for the absence of his spouse to hang out with you, that’s probably a sign that something inappropriate is going on.

Of course, if you are the one who’s married or in a committed relationship and you lie about seing your single friend, then it’s the same.

Let’s say you are friends with a married man and you know that he’s hiding his whereabouts from his wife when he’s with you, or lies to his spouse about your interactions, then your friendship with that person is entering inappropriate territory.

It doesn’t matter if you are the married person or the single friend in this interaction. The important thing is that you are aware that it’s going on.

If you are married or in a committed relationship and you behave as such, then either you genuinely believe your spouse is too insecure about your friendships, in which case you need to confront them ASAP. Or you are the one crossing a line with that “friend” and you know deep down it’s not innocent.

Married people should have friends outside the couple

In the past, I always sacrificed my friendships in the name of “love” and my relationships. I always did what made my significant other comfortable, and as a result, I almost always found myself alone and with zero support in times of need.

After countless mistakes and heartaches, I’m now convinced that people are allowed to have friends (other than their spouse) even when they are in relationships. Hell, I think people should have friends especially if they are in relationships.

But lies are never good for a relationship. They create a separation between you and your partner. You are no longer a team; now it’s you (and your friend) versus your partner.

So, if you are married and you find yourself lying to your spouse about your friendship with a single woman or man, then you need to either re-evaluate your relationship with your spouse OR re-evaluate your friendship with your so-called “friend”.

3. When you constantly flirt with each other

You know, that harmless banter and teasing between you and that married man?

Well, it’s not so harmless.

If there is undeniable chemistry and attraction between you and the married person and you guys constantly flirt with each other, then your friendship might just be inappropriate.

And/or you might be lying to yourself about it.

Watch your body language when you are with that person, and theirs when they are with you.

Being friends with a married man (or woman) is one thing. Flirting is another.

Yes, flirting might seem innocent enough, but with the right person and done the right way, it can gradually transform a platonic relationship you had with that married man, and lead you both headfirst into a dangerous zone.

4. When you think about them sexually

If you are sexually attracted to a married person and, God forbid, you believe they might be sexually attracted to you and you still remain friends with that person as if nothing is going on, then this friendship is probably inappropriate.

Now the big question is: can you be just friends with someone you are sexually attracted to? As in, is it possible?

Honestly, I have no idea but I’d say… maybe not.

Speaking from personal experience, I’ll say that staying friends with someone you are sexually attracted to and who is unavailable is not the wisest thing to do.

Maybe you are capable of incredible self-restraint? Still, despite your best efforts to hide your feelings from the other person, your affection and attraction for them will show eventually.

Hiding your feelings while staying close to the person will be difficult for you emotionally and you will put yourself through a lot of pain.

Ok, so now if you are the one in the committed relationship and you are sexually attracted to your single friend, then maintaining that friendship while pretending that you guys are “just friends” is inappropriate behavior.

Come on, don’t play dumb. You’re playing with fire and you know it.

The thing is, constantly fantasizing about someone else in your head (a person who exists and who is available to you), creates distance between you and your spouse. And it weakens your relationship.

You will need to choose: your spouse, or your friend.

There is no way around it.

Bottom line is, if you are sexually attracted to a married man or someone who is in a committed relationship, then your friendship with them is probably inappropriate.

5. When you think they like you, or you like them

friendship with a married man
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If you think your married friend likes you or you like them (in a “more than friends” way), then it might be time to mark that friendship as inappropriate.

By this I mean, one of you (or both of you) has a crush on, or feelings for the other person

It doesn’t help your relationship if you keep seeing someone you are in love with or someone you know is in love with you.

If you constantly think about your married friend at night, think about being with them, them breaking up with their partner to be with you, … then perhaps your friendship with them is inappropriate and you should think about ending it.

And if you are the one in a committed relationship and you have feelings for someone who is not your spouse, or you think your friend might have feelings for you … then perhaps it’s time to put some distance between you and that “friend” for your relationship’s sake.

6. When they occupy your thoughts, your phone, your inbox, your heart… Humm, alarm bell??

This one goes hand-in-hand with the previous point.

If you are friends with a married person and you notice they have taken over your life: your thoughts, your heart, your call history, text messages, WhatsApp, pictures, videos, they are on your street, at your job, in your supermarket…  Then it’s a clear sign that you might need to end that friendship.

If your friendship with a married man has reached that point, then perhaps it’s inappropriate and it may be time to remove yourself from the situation.   

7. When you say things to each other that you wouldn’t want their spouse to hear

If you start saying things to the married person that you wouldn’t want their spouse to hear, then you may be doing something inappropriate.

In the same way, if the married person starts sharing intimate details about their marriage with you, then you guys have probably entered dangerous territory.  

This type of behavior weakens the sacredness of marriage (or the committed relationship). If the spouse were to find out, it would probably cause them a lot of hurt.

Being married (or in a serious relationship) is like being the ultimate team.

You have to have each other’s backs, especially in the face of adversity.

Trust (and loyalty) is your fuel.

If you start being “more” loyal to someone other than your spouse… then it’s no longer you and your partner against the world. Now it’s you and your “friend” against your spouse. The team is broken or severely weakened.

8. When there isn’t a “purpose” to your friendship

By “purpose” I mean a mentor/mentee, or teacher/student type of relationship.

This isn’t to say that married people or people in committed relationships should not have friends other than their partner.

That would be a sad world…

But if you enter a new friendship with a married person, where you guys spend more and more time together and there isn’t a purpose or a “good reason” why you spend so much time together other than the fact that you clearly can’t get enough of each other, then perhaps it’s an indication that there might be something inappropriate going on and you should be careful.

9. A note if you’ve been friends before the other person entered a committed relationship or if you started hanging out after they were married

  • I went out 5 years with a guy who had a best (girl) friend long before we even met. They had been best friends for a good decade before we started dating;
  • I also went out with a guy who manipulated me into cutting off all contact with all of my friends (both male and female), and I let him!;
  • And I’ve also been close friends with a guy who then got into a serious relationship, and eventually cut off all contact with me without any explanation.

After all these (+ other) experiences, mistakes, and lessons, here’s what I think.

If you’ve been (genuinely) friends with a married man you are not romantically attracted to, and you’ve been friends long before that person got married to someone else, I think you should remain friends.

But that’s just my opinion. And… at what cost?

The problem is, sometimes their spouse’s insecurities will come in the way of that friendship.

That’s unfortunate.

Should you stop being friends with someone because your spouse is jealous?

One “jealous” ex-boyfriend made me slowly lose contact with most people I cared about, even though they had been in my life long before he and I met. (I was dumb). When we later broke up, after an ugly and violent breakup, I had no one left.

To this day, this is one of the most painful and costly mistakes I’ve made in my entire life.

If you are in such a relationship, I understand you will probably want to reassure your partner.

But at the same time, if your spouse guilts you into breaking contact with friends you’ve had before ever meeting them (I’m talking about real friends, you know, people you genuinely care about and who really care about you), then I would be very cautious of that relationship.

It’s okay to cater to your loved one’s insecurities, but not at all costs.

Another ex-boyfriend was best friends with this girl for over a decade before he and I met. Even after we started going out, he and his friend would always talk on the phone, hang out… but I was okay with it.

He was open about their relationship, and I trusted that he would tell me if things started to get weird. Plus did they did it in a kind of respectful manner. And it didn’t happen ALL the time either. She kinda gave us breathing room too…

I had also told him what my limits were. As long as they both respected that, I was fine with it.

They remained friends and their friendship has never been a source of argument between me and him.

Should you stop being friends with people of the other sex just because you’re getting married?

I both agree and disagree.

I agree because sometimes when you are single you stay in contact with a bunch of people who just don’t matter. Once you enter a committed relationship or marriage, these people should go. You just won’t have the time or energy to maintain tens of meaningless “friendships” anymore.

But the few friendships you have that do matter, you should keep. And you should pick a partner who respects your right to have friends, no matter their gender. Assuming of course you behave appropriately.

Related posts:

What does it really mean to trust someone?

How do you build more meaningful friendships?

How do you make new friends as a grown-up?

Final thoughts

Is it ok to be friends with a married man or do you wonder if your friendship with a married man might be inappropriate?

If you recognize yourself in more than one of the situations above, then sorry boo, it probably is inappropriate and it’s probably not okay to maintain that friendship with this married man.

Once you’ve decided that your friendship is dangerous, keep this in mind: the best time to end your inappropriate friendship with a married man is now. Not once you’ve actually crossed the line.

The longer you wait to end things, the harder/more painful it will be FOR YOU, to walk away from this ‘friendship’. So don’t wait until it’s too late.

But if you are going to remain friends with a married person, always make sure you keep a certain distance (or some type of “professionalism”) when interacting with them.

Remember, we are humans, with instincts and urges, and things can take an unexpected (or dare I say expected?) turn faster than you think.

Now your turn… Why are you here? Are you wondering if your friendship with someone is crossing a line? Please do send me a message if you feel like it, or leave me a comment ????

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About Steph

I am a personal growth/self-management enthusiast. I was able to completely transform my life using everything I share here. I hope this blog helps you transform yours as well.
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