Lure of the Married Man

Quick: What do dating a married man and devouring a hot fudge sundae loaded with almonds, whipped cream and lots of sauce have in common? Both taste devilishly good, and both are sinfully bad for you.

Sure, it's human nature to want what you shouldn't have. But while the ice cream concoction might expand your hips, loving someone else's man can contort your heart in ways that are infinitely more disturbing than a little weight gain -- and much harder to bounce back from.

Drama Mama
So what's the draw? If it's fear of commitment that compels you to seek out men with wedding rings on their fingers, I suggest that you prepare for some major bumps on your thrill ride. If you're simply blinded by love, I predict you'll be seeing clearly when you're spending the majority of your Saturday nights alone waiting to see if he can sneak out and see you.

When you date a married man, you're forever stuck in the "newbie" stage of a relationship -- that roller-coaster, tummy-turning period composed of equal parts excitement, fear, fury and bone-deep misery. You've got high highs (think happy drunk) and low lows (think apres-buzz). More soap opera appeal: There's the excitement of the chase, the mystery of not knowing (can he see me tonight? Am I better in bed than his wife?), and loads of free time to pursue your own thing. The catch-22 on the last "plus": You've got loads of free time to obsess about this frustrating love affair.

Queen of Denial
Many women who succumb to the lure of the married man say, "Oh, I can handle it. I won't fall in love." Uh, huh. And rain isn't wet. When you sleep with someone you care about, he doesn't just enter your body; he enters you. And you inevitably want more. Only the more you want, the less he gives. (Gotta spend some time with the wife so she doesn't get suspicious. Junior has a soccer match, and Dad's his biggest fan.) And let's not forget the "once a cheater, always a cheater" factor. I don't think I need to expand on this point, because we've all heard it before. Just think about it.

Next: Can you count on him? Find out.

Another thing to consider: Even if he changes his cheating ways for you, do you really want to be that woman -- the one who wreaked havoc on his marriage in the first place? Speaking of his marriage, even if you're convinced that he's going to leave her, don't delude yourself into thinking that this is a simple process. Breaking up is hard to do. Think of the end of your last relationship, add several years or a lifetime, throw in a couple of "'till death do us parts," multiply by a couple of kids and prepare to divide all of your material possessions. That's what's on your guy's plate.

Still Lonely ... After All These Years
What you have when you love a married man is fleeting, a wave that crashes over you (perhaps knocking you down) then vanishes into the ocean. That's it. You can never put his name down on an application form under "Who to call in an emergency". You can never count on him for weekends or holidays. You can never "work on the relationship" or expect him to make compromises or even show up on your arm at an office party.

Your married man might never bore you or irritate you with his weird little habits. He's never around long enough to make you feel comfortable enough in his presence to find him wanting. But he can never really make you feel good about yourself. If you did, you'd want a man who considers you his partner, not his paramour.

The Real World
Real relationships aren't about diamonds and caviar, tempestuous sex, illicit thrills. They're cotton, not silk. They're morning breath and arguing about whose turn it is to clean the toilet. They're also about having someone curl into your body the whole night long and to listen yet again to your diatribe against your unfeeling boss.

The seeming "magic" offered by the married man is style, not substance; trick mirrors. He's a master of the art of illusion. When darkness turns to dawn, he's gone and you've got footprints on your heart.

Resist his lure.

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