How can you tell if a man you are talking to at an online dating site is married? A reader recently contacted me about an issue she was having with a guy she was dating. Our conversation reminded me that married men dating online isn’t a problem that all women are considering when looking at dating issues.
This is something I have talked about in the past when I wrote about watching out for online dating scams, but it felt like it would be good to discuss this once again.
Now let me say that I don’t see married men using online dating services as a huge, rampant problem…but it is something to be aware of. When this reader contacted me, she wasn’t even thinking along these lines. She was just thinking the man she was trying to date was difficult to communicate with. Here is some of her email:
So I met a guy using online dating and we have gone on several dates and we communicate with each other almost every day by text only few problems I am having with this is:
- We only talk through text
- He’s had a few disappearing acts already take place
We never talk on the phone. Only time we have is when he says he’s downstairs and that’s pretty much it. I’ve brought it up where he can call me more; I hoped he’d call more…nothing. When we have been together, we hug a lot and have held hands and kiss…but a lot of this has taken place in his car. I am so tired of playing the games of who should text first and blah blah.
His disappearing acts have gotten the best of me lately. After seeing him on a Wednesday night, we said our good byes and that was that. He never texted me after the date. I texted him Saturday to say hi and no response. I decided to send him one last text on Sunday and no reply. Monday comes along and he texts, “Hello how are you?” I replied, “I am good and you? He replies, “I’m better…sorry I didn’t text you but my phones been disconnected.” I decided that it was a lie. I mean really? I replied with “Don’t worry. All is fine here” He said “I thought you were mad at me.” Now…how could he think I am mad at him if his phone was disconnected for all these days and we hadn’t even spoken? Then, the thing he doesn’t know it that I visited his profile those days and he had logged on each day. So no money for phone but you can go online all weekend and couldn’t even send me a message through there?
Obviously, there’s a problem here and she’s already realizing it. His weak excuses don’t stand up and while she is suspicious, she wasn’t thinking this guy could be married (even though many of the signs are there).
Signs that He Might be Married
For men that want to date online while being married, they have a tightrope to walk. They need to be able to hide their marriage (both from the women they are meeting and their wife) while at the same time making themselves available to meet new women. Here are some signs to look for that suggest he could be married:
1. His Dating Profile is Vague
If he is vague in his dating profile, it could be a sign he has something to hide. However, a stronger way of detecting a problem is if he uses a photo of himself that has poor lighting or if he wears a hat and sun glasses or anything else that makes it hard to recognize him. If you look at his profile photo and feel you wouldn’t be able to pick him out in a crowd, that might be something he’s doing intentionally.
Vague profile text or bad profile photos on their own are not a big sign that a guy is married. There are lots of vague profiles with bad photos from single people out there! However, if you see this situation along-side other areas I describe below, I would be more concerned.
1. Lots and Lots of Rules about Communicating
If there is a list of rules around when you can communicate or how you can communicate, this can be a red flag that you’re dealing with a married guy. In the example from my reader, this was happening in several ways: first he only wanted to text and, second, when he could talk on the phone it was under very specific situations.
Now we might be dealing with a guy who just has bad cell phone reception or maybe he doesn’t like talking on the phone. Either of those could be the case. However, just keep in mind that a married man has to create rules like this if he’s going to communicate. If a guy can only talk late at night or during work hours, it’s something to take note of.
When dating a new man, ask yourself this: Does anything about his activity in how we communicate suggest that he’s being extremely careful? Are there a lot of rules on how we can communicate? Answering “yes” to either of these doesn’t mean you’re dealing with a married man, but it is a red flag.
2. Distant in Public, Close in Private
Married men need to be careful how much public affection they show because someone they know could see them. If they bump into a friend and the two of you are just walking near each other, he might be able to talk his way out of it. If, on the other hand, you’re holding hands…that’s much more difficult for him to explain away.
Again, in this reader’s case, the man was only showing affection in a private location (in this case, his car). Does the man you are dating only show affection when no one is around? Is he careful to appear like acquaintances in public?
3. His Personal Life is a Mystery
Another tactic a married man often has to take is to hide personal information about himself. He might talk to you all day about his work but if you bring up something specific about his personal life, he’ll likely change the topic. He might be open to talking about personal items that specifically relate to who he his (for example, his personality) but less open to talk about other personal things, like what he does in the evening after he gets home from work or why he wasn’t able to get together last Saturday.
This is driven by the need to keep separation between his “normal” life with his wife and the life he needs to portray to you. The more he talks or reveals (often through lies) about his personal life, the more he’ll have to keep track of.
For these men, the number one goal isn’t preventing you from finding out that he’s married. No, his number one goal is to prevent his wife from finding out he’s dating. If you find out he’s married, he can just move on to another woman. If his wife finds out he’s dating, he has a whole different problem to deal with. Because of this, he may set strict parameters around his personal life to make sure his wife could never find out (just like with strict parameters about communicating). This man would rather chase you off with strict rules than risk having his wife discover what he’s doing.
Some questions you could ask yourself in this area include: Have you ever seen where he lives, especially after dating for an extended time? Does he avoid talking about how he spends his personal time? Do certain facts he reveals about his life seem to be contradictory?
4. Disappearing Acts
With online dating, disappearances can happen to just about anyone. You’re talking one day, they’re gone the next. For that reason, on its own, this area is less an indicator of a man being married than some of the other areas listed. However, if you’re communication with a man who disappears and he has other red flags listed above, be cautious.
Marriage can be demanding on a person’s life, especially once you have kids. For this reason, a married man might be forced to disappear. Sometimes it’s easier to disappear than it is to come up with a lie. Sometimes it is easier come up with an excuse after the fact, like “My phone wasn’t working”, than it is to create a story ahead of time.
Some questions to ask are: Does he disappear without notice or become unavailable for days at a time? Does he have good reasons when this happens?
It’s Not Always Marriage
I see the above are areas as indicators of a man being married. However, that’s not to say a man with some (or even all) of these qualities is married. Some guys are simply aloof and hard to get ahold of or are just very cautious when they date. Still, just because men like this exist doesn’t mean you should ignore the situation.
In my readers case, I would be suspicious (and I told her as much). Perhaps he is just a man who was dating multiple women and felt he needed to hide the fact. Or maybe he’s just not sure if he’s really interested so he’s holding back. I honestly can’t say for sure. Still, something doesn’t add up and the examples she gave me suggest that, at the very least, she should be cautious.
If you are seeing some of the above signs, I’d recommend you try to get the man you’re dating to open his personal life up to you more. Especially if you feel the two of you are starting to build a relationship. Try communicating with him outside of the rigid schedule that he allows or recommend that you’d like to meet his friends. If you start putting pressure on to become more a part of his life and then he disappears never to return…well, I think it’s very likely you were dealing with a married man.
If you’ve ever found out that you were dating a married man, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Did I miss any signs that you saw while dating him?