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cheating

Dear Miss A,

I think I can guess your answer if I was asking about the wisdom of being a homewrecker, or of voluntarily being a “kept woman”, but how much outrage do you think should be directed at a self-sufficient Washington woman who just concluded her first, discreet, relationship with a married man?

I’m 26, juggling work and grad school, no current boyfriend, attractive but for the most part just too busy to devote a huge amount of time to the turkey dance of dating. I met a fantastic, intelligent, well-traveled gentleman of 40–at a seminar, not a bar–who shared a lot of my professional interests. He made no effort to hide that he was married, spoke respectfully of his wife, but I found myself nonetheless asking and enjoying meeting him for coffee every few days.

After a couple weeks of this, my asking him to coffee became his asking me on dates (a concert, a play and a county fair), which I accepted, and two months ago I took the plunge and spent two days with him up in Quebec.

Beforehand he had made it clear that he would not be leaving his marriage, nor could I expect to become his mistress. Both of these I had no problem with.

My confusion stems from my lack of feeling guilt, which is odd given my background and upbringing. The sexual relationship has perhaps run its course and mellowed into a great friendship–if anything, I think *he* felt a bit more uncomfortable. My two closest friends here in DC tell me not to worry–the number of educated twenty- or thirty-something single women in this area who have NOT had at least one relationship with a married man are way outnumbered by the ones who have.

Am I becoming morally calloused here? It was satisfying, fun, and ultimately harmless. And it was the best “dating” experience I’ve had in years, surpassing a lot of single guys. How common is my experience compared to ones that end in broken homes or broken hearts?

Student in Scarlet

Dear Student in Scarlet,

I have no idea how common it is for Washington women in their 20’s or 30’s to have affairs with married men. I suspect that most aren’t told upfront that the man is married, isn’t leaving his wife, and that the guy doesn’t even think enough of them to have them as their mistress or girlfriend. I was once in a relationship with a man who had separated from his wife and was told that he was getting a divorce. That later proved to be untrue. I don’t think you can help who you fall in love with, but I’m not sure why you would bother getting involved if you were told all these details upfront, and there was no real love between you and the married man.

I’m curious as to why you consider this to be one of the best dating relationships you’ve had. Those having affairs typically have hotter than average sex, as the forbidden nature of the affair adds fuel to an already strong initial attraction. You started your affair two months ago, and the sexual thing has already “run its course”. That doesn’t sound like a good relationship to me, especially since the only aspect to the relationship was the sex — no commitment.

In my opinion you should have established boundaries, and kept your relationship to coffee and a professional mentoring type relationship. You may want to check your self-esteem in addition to your morals, and raise the bar for what makes a great dating relationship.

I’m going to throw your question out to my readers. Ladies in Washington, please comment below, and let us know if you or your friends have had affairs with married men — knowingly. I’d love to see the responses to gauge how common this really is.

– Miss A

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In 2008, I launched AskMissA.com which grew from my personal blog into a site with 700 writers, covering the intersection of charity & lifestyle in 20 U.S. cities. With Charity + Life, I am going back to a personal blog where I can share my favorite things, and continue to shine a light on nonprofits, and cause marketing campaigns to inspire others to give as they live.

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