There are no positive reasons for dating a married man. Even the good reasons don't stand the test of time and turn out to be bad ideas in good ideas' clothing. If you find yourself on the brink of temptation, look at these 10 truths before you leap:
1. He won't commit to a future with you. A man who is in a very unhappy or unsatisfying marriage can feel swept away by how wonderful you make him feel. He may even blurt out, "I've never felt this way before and I can see spending the rest of my life with you." This may sound like a commitment to a future with you. It's not. Don't confuse his loving the way you make him feel with his loving you and making a commitment to you.
2. Cheating on his wife tells you how he deals with any situation he doesn't like. You are evidence of his avoiding dealing with unpleasant situations head on. This means that he's likely to resort to some devious behavior with you if the two of you encounter relationship problems.
3. Hiding is exhausting. Having to keep your relationship a secret can attack your self-esteem and cause you to miss out on one of the wonderful aspects of a relationship. Walking together freely and radiantly through the world can fill you with the glow of being with someone who is proud to be with you.
4. He's got his cake and is eating it, too. He has a legitimate married relationship that helps his public persona and he has an illegitimate one with you to make up for what heâs missing in his marriage. As appreciative as he sounds, many women who are involved with married men come to resent his having the best of both worlds, when she has the least.
5. Can you love someone who is so disrespectful of his wife? The existence of your relationship with a married man tells you how little he respects his wife by lying to her instead of being a man and telling her he wants out.
6. Lose his respect and it's over. Even though he's the one who pursued you. Even though he's the one that made it difficult to say "No." And even though he tells you how wonderful you are. At some level, he's going to have trouble respecting you for settling for such a flawed relationship. Like the Groucho Marx joke, "He may not want to be of a relationship that would have him as a partner."
7. You're not a home wrecker, just an accomplice. Like it or not, you are a willing participant in a man violating his vows and betraying the trust of his wife -- not to mention grossly disappointing his children and making it difficult for them to see him as a role model.
8. You're kidding yourself. Despite his reassuring you how much you mean to him, his not ending his relationship with his wife in an above-board and respectful way -- and not beginning a legitimate relationship with you -- are actions that speak louder than words.
9. Beware the guilt boomerang. Many men (and women) have difficulty accepting full responsibility for their deceitful actions. Human nature finds it easier to blame than to accept shame. If he is caught by his wife or conscience, don't be surprised if he tries to blame you and get you to take the fall.
10. Time is too precious to waste. Ever notice how quickly the years go as you get older? Because it's convenient and comfortable, a relationship with a married man can go on for a long time -- and before you know it, eat up the precious time you might have had in a healthy relationship with a chance of flourishing. When people who have been involved with married men finally move on, they often regret having wasted the time in a dead-end affair.
(c) Mark Goulston
Mark Goulston, M.D., is the author of the new bestselling book Just Listen: Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone.