The emotional risks of dating a married person

Amy Yew


I’m sure most of us have seen the statistics on cheating and it’s not good. Cheating on your spouse has all kinds of disastrous effects that can cause emotional trauma but what about those who chose to start a relationship with someone who is married? Should they shoulder some sort of responsibility?

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In the past few weeks, I’ve had several acquaintances and friends disclose to me that either they have entered into a sexual relationship with someone who is married or know someone who has done that. I’ve noticed several things when they’ve disclosed: they often feel uncomfortable admitting they’re sleeping with someone who is married and they often idealize the person. One person even admitted to a friend of mine that the affair has been going on for months and so emotionally tied to the person that they feel helpless in mustering the courage to end it.

To be clear, there are two types of affairs here: the one where their partner has no idea (cheating) or an open marriage where both partners are aware sexual exploration outside of the marriage is agreed upon. The estimation rate for open marriages is around 1.7% - 9%. Open marriages are often unsuccessful because the risk of falling in love with someone they’re sexually involved with outside of the marriage is high. It’s almost impossible to anticipate and control the kind of attachment develop with someone you’re sexually or emotionally involved with.

A friend of mine recently shared that she slept with someone who was married. The couple had somewhat of an open marriage but problems ensued when one partner became unsure of whether her husband has crossed an emotional line with someone they both brought into their marriage. The mix of friendship and their new found “arrangement” was now exploding and she was stuck between being a friend to his wife while developing a sexual attraction to her husband.

If you’re sexually or emotionally involved with someone who is married, there are a few things you should consider:

-If you’re looking for an exclusive relationship, is that person willing to leave their spouse or have made plans leading in that direction?

-How has this affair affected you and how you view your partner?

-Affairs usually involve the emotional management of three people involved. Are you ready for that? Is there a system of communication that will ensure the emotional safety of everyone involved?

-Set a deadline. Don’t wait in vain that the person you’re having an affair with will leave their partner.

-Evaluate yourself. Some people are attracted to affairs because you can’t ever truly have that person to yourself. This could signal towards a fear of commitment.

Amy Yew is a registered clinical counselor and relationship therapist. She is also the author of a fashion and lifestyle blog Style Du Jour. Tell us what you think and submit any questions you have to

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