Shortcuts: “I’m Falling for a Married Man”

It’s time again for Shortcuts. For every question, I’ll give my advice in just a few sentences because sometimes the answer to a person’s question is so obvious and the need to hear it so great that being as clear and frank as possible is simply the best way to go.

I met a man two years ago through work. He’s always had my best interests at heart and done whatever needs to be done no matter the cost. He never wants to let me down even if it means putting me before his family (he’s married, but his wife never comes to any work functions). I confessed my feelings for him and he said that he was glad that I told him and, if he wasn’t married, that he might have asked me for a chance, but he says he’s happily married. I told him that I would understand if he no longer wants to work with me, but he’s still with me. We have an outing this weekend and he offered to pick me up. He paid for the event. Does he love me? Is he truly happily married? — Falling for a Married Man

No, he doesn’t love you. He loves his wife, and you are fooling yourself if you have any fantasies of his ever leaving her for you. If anything, he might be attracted to you and flattered by your interest. If tempted enough, he might even sleep with you, but that doesn’t mean he loves you and it doesn’t mean he has any intention of being with you. Stop playing with fire and keep your relationship strictly professional, or you’ll put your heart AND your career at risk.

I’ve been dating my girlfriend for close to eight months now, and I love her dearly. She is now 17 weeks pregnant. My mom absolutely despised her from the get-go even though she’s never even personally met her. I am 25, and she is 32 and has a 10-year-old son. My mom hates that as well. Because she doesn’t want my mom and me to have a bad relationship, my girlfriend is thinking about letting me go to keep my mom happy with me. I don’t want that. We both love each other so very much, and we had planned on getting married eventually and raising a family. How do I reassure her of my love for her so she doesn’t give in and let my mother run her off? Any advice will be greatly appreciated! — Baby Daddy To Be

Well, for one thing, you could STOP telling her that your mom has a problem with her. (I’m assuming you must be telling her since she’s never actually met you mother and I’m not sure how else she would know about your mother’s feelings towards her). You might also consider that, if your mother, a woman your girlfriend has never met, runs her off, then maybe there were other cracks in your relationship that helped push her away. Consider what those cracks might be and address them ASAP. Also, man up and stop being such a Mama’s Boy. You’re about to become a father. Focus on preparing for a baby instead of worrying about your mother and her opinion of your relationship.

I recently met this guy who is a bit younger then I am. We’ve hung out a few times and ended up having sex. He has been going through some financial issues lately, so I offered to let him stay with me so he could save some money while also helping me with my bills as he would have to pay half the rent. He said yes but also said that he didn’t want to blur the lines of our friendship as he is not looking for anything serious. He sleeps in his own room, but lately he has been wanting me to go and do more things with him and he texts me every day to say hi when I’m at work. In all honesty, I have very strong feelings for him, and I have told him that I really like him a lot but know we could never be more then just friends. I think about him all the time and am feeling jealous when he leaves to go hang out with his other friends. I feel like I’m getting mixed signals from him. He’s never said he liked me other then just a friend. — More Than a Friend?

Um, you blurred the line of friendship when you had sex with him and invited him to move in with you without expressing your feelings for him. Tell him immediately how you’re feeling and ask him to move out so that you can either create stronger boundaries in your friendship or explore a potential relationship without the complication of living under the same roof.


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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at [email protected].


  1. How does one “man up and stop being such a Mama’s boy”? I’m serious–how does he do that? I have a friend who is a total Mama’s boy and it’s going to ruin his life. Wendy, do you have tips? Commentariat?

    1. Avatar photo mrmidtwenties says:

      Aside from possible surgical options, I believe it involves a shrinking of the part of the brain that listens to his mother, I am also unsure of how this is done :p

      1. honeybeenicki says:

        I believe a partial lobotomy would also do it 😉

      2. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

        I think these things help when you’ve got a “Mom Controls Son” problem.

        1. Son should stop sharing so much info. If Mom is going to judge and say mean things to poison Son, maybe until he’s more secure in his relationship Mom doesn’t need to know all the details about Girlfriend and Son/Girlfriend’s relationship.

        2. To the extent Mom Controls Son because she’s supporting him financially or providing a roof over his head, to the extent he can, Son should maybe get out and support himself.

        3. Son should threaten to never let Mom see future Grandkids if she doesn’t shut the fuck up. (I dunno.)

      3. I actually think this list is a good start.

    2. something random says:

      Emotional separation. Most people begin this process in adolescence by challenging their parents authority over everything. Then they move out and start applying their own ideas about life. Through trial and error they begin to have a solid world view and a strong sense of their own personhood. When they go back to their parents, its more for advice not permission. And that’s only if they respect their parent’s opinions. Adults are able to take opinions they don’t agree with in stride. Adults who get married understand their basic family unit includes their wife/husband and kids. That is the unit they consider to be their primary responsibility.

      Mama boy’s miss some of the steps and either still fight and rebel against their moms (like an adolescent would) Or elevate the mom’s opinion to the point where it is equal or even more important than the spouse or kids.

      At least that’s what I think.

      At least that’s what I think.

      1. Good to know I went about becoming an adult in the right way…..

        Actually, you 100% described the evolution of my relationship with my parents.

      2. Avatar photo something random says:

        Yes, if only everyone in the world would do exactly what I thought, this world would be such a great place 🙂 lol

  2. something random says:

    Women like the first lw always confuse me. What did she expect Wendy to say?

    “Yes, lw the fact that he didn’t report your ass to hr, start a bunch of rumors, or quit his jobs means he is surely secretly hot for you? ”

    “His wife misses celebrating office birthdays at olive garden? AND the thanksgiving potluck. Clearly she’s a cold, detached bitch and their marriage is over. Just forget that whole rebuking you with a happy marriage line, you’re in!!”

    Sounds like a bunny boiler in the making. In all seriousness lw, please stop trying to read more into his behavior and and de-crush.

    1. I know! I wonder i LW thought he was playing hard to get or something. He just sounds like a decent guy. BACK OFF LW

      1. Avatar photo something random says:

        yeah, he could have come down harder and started avoiding her but he’s clearly invested in his career and getting along. He may even be using her attraction to his advantage.

        I remember back in college there was a prof who did this every year. He did a lot of lab work and honer students could get credit for helping him with his experiments. There was always some doe-eyed thing following him around answering his every beck and call with the utmost flattered enthusiasm. Most people knew what he was doing and were rolling their eyes.

        I’m not trying to be nasty here, lw. But you don’t want to look back and cringe about this. And even if it did escalate to an affair, how would that kind of drama be good for you? You barely know this guy on a personal level, you haven’t even met his family. Just de-crush.

      2. He’s thinking about seeing her naked for sure, if he wanted to he could still maintain a good relationship with this girl without doing things like picking up to take her to places, and paying for them. He’s purposefully keeping her in the mindset that he may love her in case he does want to do something.

      3. Agreed – he’s definitely keeping her on his “hook”. Though if I were the LW I would not feel very good about myself if I had to convince someone who had already said no to me to go out with me. But I guess there’s no one else out there for her…

  3. In this particular case, LW2 should stand up for his girlfriend and tell his mother that her disparaging comments are not acceptable. If my mother did that, I would be telling her that I now have a family and she can either choose to accept all of us or none of us. If it was me, the mom would be at risk of leaving the picture, not the girlfriend.

    @Christy – Your friend has to choose to live his own life and not that of his mother’s. The challenge for your friend is recognizing that he has to choose that – or perhaps even more basically, that he actually has a choice and should want to choose that.

  4. LW 1, you’re either reading in to the ‘signals’ you’re getting way too much or he enjoys the attention you give him. Either way this isn’t going to end well for you. So instead of asking him if he still wants to work with you, maybe you should ask yourself if you can keep working with him. Which means you have to let this fantasy go. And maybe back off a bit. It’s not going to lead anywhere that’s good for you.
    Yeah LW2 WWS. Stop telling your gf what your mother said. I also have to wonder what made your mother despise her in the first place. Was it something you told her? Maybe stop over sharing information about your romantic relationship with your mother as well.

    1. Fair or not, I imagine mom’s dislike comes from the fact that the gf got pregnant after only dating her son for 4 months. Despite dear son being just as culpable in said pregnancy, mommy probably views gf as having “trapped” her poor little boy. (I know LW says mom hated gf from the “get go”, but I wonder if the pregnancy has more to do with it)

  5. Good Lord. LW 1, 2, & 3 – I can sum this all up in one word: BOUNDARIES.

    1. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

      nice. and now i have an idea: every week we should try to sum up the three shortcut letters with one word and i say this week you win! (does anyone else have a hard time spelling boundaries? i always want to spell it boundries.)

      1. I had to google it to double check. And it still looks wrong to me.

  6. LW1: seems a little cheaper, saying stuff like “he’s still with me” He’s not with you, he works with you, he is with his wife! Listen, he probably thinks about banging you all of the time, and it sees like that will eventually happen if you keep pushing for it, so might as well go ahead, and help him destroy his marriage, but in the end he still isn’t going to be with you.

    LW2: I really don’t know why people share some much info in such a short time, like Wendy said there is no reason for you to be sharing with your girlfriend what your mother thinks of her. Wendy is right, you need to stop being a momma’s boy, because a guy who isn’t a momma’s boy would tell his mom to back off.

    LW3: Why can’t you ever be with this fella? Are that much older you don’t think it would work? Just start sleeping in his bed every night without asking him, and everything will workout just fine, I promise.

    1. Haha I meant to say she seems a little creepy, but I wrote cheaper, because I was talking to my wife about finding a new kitchen sink!

  7. Skyblossom says:

    LW1 – your work situation is exactly how most affairs start these days. A friendship becomes more intense, the pair develop feelings that deepen until one professes their love for the other which is soon followed by sex. You are at the soon followed by sex point. If you are his true friend you will quickly establish boundaries that protect his marriage because that is what friends do. If you are his true friend you will help him maintain the integrity of his family. A good friend would back off if they realized he was putting the friend ahead of the marriage and family. It takes a level of self-absorption and narcissism to be happy about coming before someones family. If he treats his family that way you can be sure that at some point he will treat you in the same way. They are special to him and yet he’s putting himself into a position to have an affair with you. You are no more special to him than they are, you just aren’t. Maybe his wife doesn’t come to his work functions because she is at home taking care of the kids or maybe he doesn’t tell her about them so she doesn’t have an option to go. If you are his friend you will direct his emotional energy back to where it belongs, his family. You will not let him pick you up this weekend. You will insure that your relationship at work is strictly work and you won’t see him outside of work. Probably you’ll let him pick you up this weekend, the two of you will have sex within the next week or two, maybe even this weekend and you’ll be the mistress in an affair. These things rarely end well for the mistress and she at some point is shocked to find that his marriage was better than she knew because the man was lying to her as much as he was lying to his wife. When the wife finds out he will dump you and you’ll be heart broken but you’ll receive sympathy from no one because you’re the home wrecking, other woman. So save your dignity, save your emotions and save yourself from this pending affair. Remember, if he will lie to his nearest and dearest he will lie to you too. If he will cheat on his nearest and dearest he will cheat on you too.

    1. Skyblossom says:

      LW1 I work at a library and if you came in asking for help on this topic I would direct you to Not “Just Friends” by Shirley P. Glass and His Needs Her Needs by Willard F. Harley.

      I help people find materials all the time. It’s always husbands and wives trying to put their marriage back together again. Never is it a man trying to figure out how to put the affair back together again. When push comes to shove and a man has to choose between wife and affair he chooses the wife. Even when he chooses the affair and marries the woman from the affair the marriage seldom lasts because the second wife, the one from the affair, can’t trust the husband because she knows he cheated on his first wife. The second wife becomes paranoid.

      1. lets_be_honest says:

        My dad and stepmom both left spouses to be together. I’ve always wondered if they both spend the day worrying that the other is cheating again.

    2. Avatar photo iwannatalktosampson says:

      You helped LW1 see how this would play out in a much more compassionate way than I ever could. I’ll follow up by saying – how could you ever look yourself in the mirror knowing you ruined someone’s marriage? Is that really the type of person you are? Even if you “win” and this guy bangs you – is that really winning? Turning yourself into such a low life? I’m sad that you think so low of yourself and have such little respect for other women. You are the reason women have so much trouble trusting each other, and it’s sad. I’d like to tell you to back off and find a new crush, but you seem to be reveling in this destructive path you’re on. So carry on. And when it bites you in your ass, I’ll revel in your despair and heartbreak. Karma after all is a bitch.

      1. Skyblossom says:

        I think part of the way she sees things is because he portrays his marriage as worse than it really is because if he said he loved his wife and was happy in his marriage she would think he was a jerk. So he has to make his marriage look bad to save his own image in her eyes. I think that’s very common. She has to understand that he is lying to her every bit as much as he is lying to his wife.

      2. Avatar photo iwannatalktosampson says:

        Wait did I miss the part where he is making his marriage look worse than it is? I read it as he let her down easy and was like, I’m flattered, but I love my wife and am happy with my family.

      3. Skyblossom says:

        She is saying that his wife doesn’t go to any work functions as if that means the wife is less something than the lw. Maybe less supportive or less available. In general, this is an educated guess, telling the lw all about his wife whenever he is frustrated with his wife. So the lw knows of a skewed version of the wife and marriage. He almost certainly doesn’t share the good times he has with his wife, or that his wife looked hot in the outfit she wore yesterday or that they had hot sex last night. The lw will only see the bad and she will come to the conclusion that the marriage is much worse than it really is. That’s how these things tend to work. If he goes to work frustrated about something at home he can always find the lw and share everything with her and she is more than willing to listen to every word of it and to be completely on his side, to always be his sympathetic listener.

      4. lets_be_honest says:

        I’m not seeing the guy badmouthing the wife here, but you are correct in general, at least from what I’ve seen. They convince themselves the marriage sucked from day 1, they are the true love of this guy’s life and will swoop in and save him from the hell that his marriage is. Its pretty fucking amazing that people are able to extinguish any guilt they should have about the shitty things they do.

      5. Avatar photo iwannatalktosampson says:

        I find that level of delusion fascinating. I hope the LW remembers that this guy bangs her at least twice a week, on average. I hope she pictures that.

  8. LW!: Leave this man alone. He is not yours. This “outing” you’re going on, is it work related? Why are you going? Why is he paying? I strongly recommend that a) you don’t go; if you must go, then b) you don’t let him pick you up; and c) you pay your way. This relationship is bordering on inappropriate. You need to distance yourself. If he truly does put you ahead of his family, then he is not a good husband. The state of his marriage is none of your business and you need to stay away from it. Go find a man who’s not taken.

    1. If it’s work, he could be paying because he has an expense account…meaning the company is paying and she is twisting it into something more.

    2. Avatar photo fast eddie says:

      There’s no reason to deny yourself the attention of a married man that isn’t getting everything he wants at home AS A FRIEND. I correspond regularly with a woman that I care about and my wife knows all about her. Nothings hidden and it’s fine with me to pay for an outing. I assume your guy can easily afford it and that your underpaid like most women in this country. If his wife knows about this friendship then enjoy the experience but working together will cause huge problems if it becomes intimate. Set boundaries, limit your expectations and don’t keep secrets from anybody.

  9. Bittergaymark says:

    LW1) Stop living in fantasy land.

    LW2) Stop living in fantasy land. Look… Your mom probably thinks your gf will do something stupid like get knocked up by you after only a few months together… So long as that doesn’t happen — Oh. Wait. Whoops. Yeah, newsflash. Your mom was fucking right… This will be made CRYSTAL clear in the coming months and years… Just wait.

    LW3) Stop living in fantasy land.

    1. Avatar photo fast eddie says:

      Dear Mark, Two married couples that are close friends of mine are happy with the fact that the wives are 10+ years older then their husbands and have been very happy together for more then 30 years in each case. This LW and his lady are only 7 years apart. As the decades pass the age difference will matter less and less. Nobody would blink and eye if he were 7 years older then her so what’s the big deal? Very young women married very much older men not very long ago. When I was single and 30-35 I dated women 10-15 years old then myself. They were more level headed and better in bed then the 25-30 year old available women.

  10. Laura Hope says:

    I see some of you asked how to stop being a mama’s boy. The answer is you have to want to. You start by having the intention. This, by the way, is how any major change happens.

  11. Skyblossom says:

    LW, one other thing to keep in mind is that if you go through with this you will be the mistress of a man with a wife and family. That means that he is never available for holidays, his wife and kids get those. It means you have a boyfriend you can never tell anyone about. It means you have a boyfriend you can’t take home to meet your family. It means you have a boyfriend who will never take you home to meet his family. You will have to meet with him when and where it works for him but you can’t have a normal relationship. You can only have a clandestine relationship, one that is never publicly acknowledged.

    While you are busy having this hidden relationship you will be emotionally invested with an unavailable man and missing out on dating other men who are available. How long has it been since you’ve been on a date with anyone but your married friend? How much time have you spent developing a relationship with a man who can’t make you his girlfriend only his secret, hidden mistress? How many years are you willing to spend as the secret mistress? Are you willing to keep this up indefinitely? Have you already given him two years? How about another four, or six or ten years as the hidden, secret companion?

    Shirley P. Glass has a chapter in her book for the unmarried other woman in the affair triangle. You should read it before getting into this because if you give him a secret decade of your life and then get dumped when the wife finds him cheating you will have only yourself to blame. Her book tries to look at affairs from the point of view of the person cheated on, the person cheating and the affair partner of the person cheating. You should read it before giving up some of the best dating years of your life for someone who isn’t available.

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