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The Flirting Married Man

by Dear Jon
September 16, 2008

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Sort 353
Dear Jon,

I think a guy is may be hitting on me. You'd think us ladies would know it, but you have NO idea how confusing we find men! This man is younger than me, but not by any amount that matters anymore. I've been married, now I'm single, and this guy is definitely married. I'm kind of interested in playing the field right now but NOT with married guys.

How can I tell if he is really flirting with me, which makes him a huge jerk, or if he's just a nice funny guy and I'm imagining everything? If he is flirting with me, how do I set him straight?

Looking for Someone SINGLE, Please

Dear Someone,

This is a great question, if I may say so myself, since I made it up.

You can tell I made it up because there is no "Actual Letter" heading. Last spring I was sending myself letters through the Partial Observer form, so that they appeared as "Actual Letters" to see if anyone would catch on. No one did. I ratted myself out as a publicity stunt. That worked really well, as you can see by the empty mailbox.

The real problem I have is that my readers are all so well-adjusted they don't have any problems they want Dear Jon to solve. But the question above is one I WISH someone would send to me, so I am going to take a shot at answering it.

Ten Signs that a Married Man is Hitting On You
1. Does he talk about his wife and kids with you, or does he appear embarrassed and uncomfortable when you ask him about them in conversation? If, when he is around you, he brags about stuff going on in his home life, chances are he is not really hitting on you. But if the conversation goes like this.
Him: Hey there, gorgeous.
Her: Yah, hi. So, how is your wife doing? Does she like her new job?
Him: Well You know. Say, the stars are out tonight. I can see them in your eyes...
He's flirting with you. His tongue should be cut out and stuffed up his nose.

2. Does he try to plan ways to get alone with you? If he is a co-worker, is he always in your pool or on your project team? If this is a guy at church or a club, does he get himself on the same committees with you?

3. Does he call you during the week when he should be doing other things, like being emotionally available to  his own wife?

4. Are his "business" reasons for calling usually lame?

5. Do you often have to nudge him off the phone, or out of your face?

6. Was he ever embarrassed or uncomfortable about introducing you to his wife?

7. Is he still that way whenever you and his wife are at the same event, like a Christmas party? Does he manage to spend more time with you than his wife at events like that?

8. Does he get jealous if other men are occupying your attention, especially single men who might conceivably have an angle they are working with you? (Signs of jealousy would be asking a lot of questions about those men, and trying to insinuate doubts in your mind about their motives and character.)

9. Has he ever been confronted by anyone else about flirtatious behavior?

10. Does he confide in you things that are personal: for example, about his marital frustrations?

One or two of these signs, if they are only occasional and unpatterned, don't mean much. As these signs begin to group together you have really good reasons to be suspicious.

If you are bold and well-adjusted, the next time this married slime ball begins to ooze his way next to you, try saying something like this:

"I'm not sure what your game is, fellah, but honestly I don't think you are setting a healthy boundary for yourself. Maybe you don't know how you're coming off, but I feel like you are paying me the wrong kind of attention for a married man and it makes me uncomfortable."

Of course, the vast majority of people, including women, are hopelessly insecure neurotics. A healthy confrontation of that behavior could lead to defensiveness, laughter in your face, and weirdness. Women do not like weirdness in their relationships, which is why they are quick to blame themselves and to let things pass when men are being jerks. Even neurotic women need to remember that there is today no climate where you are forced to tolerate unwelcome advances. Whether at work, leisure, clubs, church, or school, you can shut a man down. Being neurotic and insecure, you just need a different set of strategies.

Any man who is in a relationship but is roving his eye, is suffering from the "neighbor's lawn" syndrome. The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. This axiom happens to be literally true as it comes to my neighbors on either side of us, who have wonderful healthy grass while we are overrun by dandelion and clover. But I digress. The expression is intended to convey the wisdom that many people are poisoned by a spiritual disease called Envy, which forms the basis of the Tenth Commandment, "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's fence, or his grass, or anything else on his side of the fence." I may have paraphrased it slightly but the point is the same.

Spouses see each other in sickness and in health, for better or worse. This can pile on stress to a man who wants to idealize himself and another women in a romantic situation. So out of envy the married man with the roving eye begins to idealize other women in his life. These are women whom he only sees after they have fixed themselves up, because he sees them at the office or at church or other public places. So the picture that he has is not realistic, it is idealistic.  He may have a "crush" on you. The thing to do is chill him out.

Next time he slinks to your side, complain about your bunions. Ask him his favorite flavor of Gas-X tablets because you are "tired of grape." Thump your chest and let out a good loud belch. Express your joy that with October around the corner you won't be needing to shave your legs for at least five months.

Of course all of these are normal human processes in life. Since these do not fit the immature picture of the romantic ideal, they will cool off any guy with shallow interests, married or single.

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