It’s not always easy to see the signs a married man is using you – in fact, it can be challenging.
Relationships are complicated. By a certain age, most of us have had at least one long-term relationship or marriage fall apart.
The starry-eyed optimism of forever love may have dulled a bit into the understanding that sometimes relationships don’t work out even with the best of intentions.
At this point, we’ve experienced enough heartbreak and betrayal to realize that things happen, and we’re all just doing the best that we can.
When you meet a married man who shows interest, you might believe that he, too, has good intentions. Perhaps he said he’s separated or that he’s going through a divorce. He says a lot of things.
You know relationships are complicated, and you want to believe him. But how can you tell if a married man is just using you?
13 Signs a Married Man is Using You, According to a Former Therapist
Here are the most important clues a married man is probably using you.
Why listen to me? I’m Crystal Jackson and I was a master’s level licensed therapist. I worked with couples and individuals and specialized in trauma recovery and empowerment. I now write content about relationships, self-improvement, and psychology. My work has been featured in large publications such as Elite Daily, Your Tango, Positively Positive, and Mamamia.
His wife doesn’t know you exist
If he’s in an open relationship, his wife should know about you. You should even be able to confirm the nature of their relationship with no problem. Nothing should have to be hidden.
If he’s separated or going through a divorce, does his social media clearly show his relationship status, or does it still say he’s married?
While he may not want to be public about a new relationship before the old one has ended, it’s not uncommon for separated people to be openly dating.
If everything is aboveboard, why would you be a secret? This could be a key sign a married man is using you.
You meet at his convenience
Is the entire relationship built around his needs and convenience? Can you call him up when you’re having a tough day and know he’ll show up for you?
Yes, he has work and other obligations. You get that. You’re likely just as busy. However, if all the meetings are around his schedule and not yours, he just might be using you.
Relationships take compromise. They shouldn’t be tilted toward one person’s convenience while disregarding the others.
If he texts you last minute to meet and rarely makes plans, this relationship could be a one-way street.
You haven’t met his friends or family
If you haven’t met any of his friends or family, he could be using you. Do they even know about you? If you’re a deep, dark secret, it could be time to ask yourself if that’s how you want to live.
Don’t you deserve to be with someone who is proud to be with you?
If he says he’s going through a separation or divorce, the important people in his life should know about it. Otherwise, it’s possible he’s lying about his marriage.
He controls the contact
A person who is using you might have clear parameters about when you can text or call. You can’t just pick up the phone and get in touch.
Controlling the contact could mean that he has carefully slotted you into a very particular role in his life, and it’s not a leading one.
It’s understandable to have clear boundaries around work hours or time with children.
Yet, if the relationship is so restricted that you’re not allowed to initiate contact at certain times, this could be a sign of a real problem.
He doesn’t take you on dates
If you want to know if a married man is using you, consider the relationship. Does he take you out on dates, or do you just meet for sex?
Did he only take you out on dates in the beginning and now no longer sees the point?
There is no courtship beyond seduction when a married man is using you. If he can’t be openly seen in public with you, it’s a problem.
If the relationship includes sex but never romance, that could be a problem, too.
Maybe you don’t consider yourself a romantic person, or perhaps it’s just not a priority for you, but someone who’s interested in a serious relationship with you is going to prioritize planning dates to spend time with you.
He isn’t planning a future with you
So, he’s going through a divorce, is separated, or in an open relationship. Whatever excuse he gives you for still being married, you believe it.
But is he planning a future with you, or does he kind of skim over what that will look like?
If he never mentions the future or mentions it only in the vaguest terms, he might see you as a temporary part of his life.
You could be a rebound or his transition person, not the love of his life. It’s important for you to understand the role he has cast you in so you can decide if that’s who you want to be. It’s not up to him, it’s up to you.
If he’s got you in a supporting role and you want to play the lead, it may be time to bow out of this relationship.
He compartmentalizes his real life
If he’s not sharing the intimate details of his everyday life, he might just be using you.
He doesn’t have to participate in a feelings circle to open up about his life. If he keeps his “real” life separate from his relationship with you, he’s telling you something about how he sees your interaction.
Are you left out of major holidays or events? Did your invitation to the neighborhood block party mysteriously go missing?
His real life and his relationship shouldn’t be too separate things — unless he’s just using you for his own purposes.
He doesn’t take or post pictures with you
Check his social media. You’re a friend already, aren’t you? If not, there’s your answer. If you are a friend or follower, look at what he posts. Can anyone else tell that he knows you?
Does he take and/or post pictures with you?
Yes, some people are private. However, if you can see that he once regularly posted pictures of past girlfriends or his wife but keeps you hidden, he might not be taking your relationship seriously.
It could just be a temporary fling for him. Is that okay with you?
He doesn’t make an effort
Not only do you not have dates anymore, but he’s not consistently making an effort. You get together when it works for him, not you.
He texts when he wants to and ignores you when he doesn’t. He’s putting no effort at all into maintaining the relationship.
In fact, you wonder if he would just let it drop off entirely if you just stopped reaching out.
Even his effort in the bedroom has become routine and lackluster.
His effort there seems to be centered around his own pleasure, not yours. If you don’t want to have sex, he may not want to come around.
He doesn’t make you a priority
If he’s using you, you’re certainly not a priority. Do you always come in second to his wife? Are you somehow on the backburner, a last resort when there’s nothing else going on in his life?
It doesn’t feel good when the person you’re with pushes you to the side. You want to feel like a priority even if other parts of his life, like children, have to come first. You’re not being unreasonable.
If he gaslights you into thinking that wanting to be a priority is asking too much, he’s the problem — not you.
Recommended read: 9 Signs He’s Keeping You as an Option, And What You Can Do
He tries to bribe you to keep quiet
Every time you try to take the relationship forward, he buys you something.
Maybe he lavishes you with gifts or takes you on a special trip.
It seems like there’s always an expensive distraction or special effort right around the time you insist on meeting his friends, letting his wife know about your existence, or just taking things to the next level.
He may not use the words to indicate he’s bribing you for your silence, but his effort, gifts, and compliments just happen to fall around the times you push for more from him or from the relationship.
He doesn’t ask you about your life
One of the main signs a married man is probably using you is he never really wants to know about your life outside the relationship.
See, a man who’s invested in you will want to know all about you. A man who’s using you won’t care.
Sure, he’ll listen if you bring it up. He may even seem interested. But he never asks. He seems to see your lives outside of the relationship as separate from what you do together.
It may even seem like he has two faces — the one he shows you and who he is to everyone else. Yes, this should concern you.
He treats you like a side piece
Do you feel like a side piece? That’s the real question. In fact, it’s the only one matters. If he makes you feel like his side chick instead of a VIP, you likely are.
You might not even be the only one.
The gaps in communication, his long silences, and the inconsistency in what he tells you that make you think he’s lying could mean you’re just one of many side chicks in his life.
Your intuition is likely right — but what will you do now that you know?
What To Do If He’s Using You
No one but you can decide what to do when you come to the realization that your relationship is not what you thought. But once you know, you can’t un-know it.
If you knew he had a wife, you likely suspected this day could eventually come. Now, you have to decide how you’re going to handle it.
Don’t lie to yourself
If you’re going to continue the relationship, don’t lie to yourself. Don’t tell yourself that the spouse is terrible or that you’re just meant to be together.
If you’re going to go forward as his side piece and only his side piece, are you willing to commit to this role with your eyes open?
Are you willing to take a good look at the damage you could be causing with your participation in an affair? Are you willing to settle for the crumbs he’s willing to throw your way?
You may not have known he had a wife. You may have believed his separation or divorce story. He lied, and you might have a lot of guilt and shame around the relationship.
Forgive yourself. You didn’t — couldn’t — know.
What you do about it next is on you. But forgive yourself for not knowing the truth until it was revealed to you. Maybe you saw some red flags and even suspected them.
No one wants to believe that a person they love would lie. Have compassion for the version of yourself that loved and trusted.
You deserve to be loved, not used.
Love yourself enough to choose yourself. Even if it means being lonely. Even if it means grieving the relationship.
Love yourself enough to know what you deserve — and don’t settle for less.
You are not responsible for his actions. You are responsible for your own. Choose to be self-loving as you move through this process, treating yourself with the kindness you would extend to your best friend.
Choose your move
What will you do now? Will you confront him with the truth? Will you tell the spouse? What’s your plan, and are you ready to deal with the fallout?
You’re the only one who can make this decision. Maybe it’s a good time to source help from trusted friends and from professionals.
Therapy could help you work through the myriad emotions you might be experiencing.
In fact, if you’ve ended up in this sort of relationship before, it could be time to explore why you choose unavailable partners and how you can heal so that you no longer do.
We want to believe the best of other people. We don’t want to believe that we’re just the rebound or the temporary fling on the way to something more serious. No one likes to feel used.
Take gender out of the equation. Becoming the side piece of a married person can happen to anyone. Research in The Journal of Sex Research has found that men report cheating more often than women with an average age of 48.89 years.
A surprising fact revealed in this research is that new partner usually did not motivate infidelity. Here are some reasons they chose to cheat:
- Partner dissatisfaction and comfort with casual sex were higher motivators for married people to choose to have an affair, particularly with participants who identified as Christian.
- Younger and Christian-identifying participants reported cheating to get back at their partner.
- Women reported that neglect was a key factor in their decision.
The truth is that the married person likely is using you. They’re using you for comfort, validation, an ego boost, sex, and even to transition to single life.
They haven’t closed out the relationship they’re in before moving on to the next.
Or they haven’t spent any time alone, grieved the relationship’s end, and worked through their baggage.
They may not even have any intention of leaving the relationship.
Even if their intentions are good, is this the best possible relationship for you? Only you can decide.
Research in The Family Journal reported that key factors in maintaining relationships included ongoing and consistent efforts in the areas of secure attachment, sex, boundaries, congruence, shared values that support monogamous relationships, and coping both individually and as a couple.
If his intentions are good, ask yourself how much effort he’s putting into these aspects of his relationship with you.
If any of the 13 signs he’s using you are present, it may be time to take an honest look at what it is you’re doing and if that’s really what you want.
Photo by Jake Noren on Unsplash