A lot of men are of the belief that a lot of women are attracted to married guys. An episode of Seinfeld I ran across recently had George wearing a wedding ring for the sole purpose of pucking up ladies and he had greater-than-usual success.

There are doubtless some women out there that are attracted to married men. Maybe they’re also married and are looking for something on the side. Maybe they’re attracted to what they can’t have. Maybe they want to get married and can’t find a guy that wants to get married and the ring represents someone that was ready to commit. By and large, though, I think the perception that married men attract women is off-base.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the wedding ring actually sent a message of safety. If a guy is wearing a wedding ring, he’s less likely to ask her out. Her being nice to him is less likely to be construed as an invitation for him to ask her out.

So let’s say that an ordinarily looking man approaches an attractive woman to strike up a conversation. She’s probably used to being hit on and her first thought about the guy might be that he is going to do just that. She’s not particularly attracted to him, so she may feel that she needs to be careful not to give him anything he can use later to say “she was totally flirting with me”. She needs a degree of space. It’d be a bad idea to be at all flirtatious with him even in what she would consider a harmless way. You never know how a man is going to react.

Take the same scenario and put a wedding ring on the guy and it’s a vastly different picture. Yes, he may be looking for an extramarital affair. He could be a sleazebucket. Maybe he’s separated or in an unhappy marriage. If she gets wind of any of these things she is likely to put up some space. Absent these things, however, she is probably free to talk to him in the friendly manner with which she might talk to a female coworker. She can talk to him as a person without worrying about him as a potential suitor. I could see how that would be a load off her mind.

Meanwhile, he is probably thinking that he would have a chance if he were single and wondering why he couldn’t get these kinds of conversations when he was. That, I think, feeds into the perception that women are attracted to married men.

On the other side of that coin, being a married man with a wedding ring, I can more easily talk to women out of the blue. I do not have to worry about whether she thinks I am hitting on her or not. I don’t have to worry as much about saying that one little wrong thing that would make a relationship impossible. When I was single I would hold back even with women I wasn’t interested in simply because I didn’t know if I might become interested at some future point. None of this is a concern to me a married man. So I talk to more women. A woman out there or two might even be thinking that it’s too bad that guys like me are taken… but were I not married I would be a lot more self-conscious about talking to her in the first place.

The third factor that comes to mind also has more to do with what the man is thinking than the woman. When I was single, I would spend an inordinate amount of time trying to decode feminine signals. If I was interested and looking for a relationship, I would do a thorough analysis of signs that she was interested and signs that she was not. I would do this because I felt that I had to in order to avoid making a fool out of myself or missing an opportunity. I’d miss an opportunity if I didn’t realize that a woman was interested in me when she was. Likewise, though, if I thought she was interested and she wasn’t there would be a price to pay there as well.

Being married, though, means that I am absolutely free to assume interest whenever and wherever I like. I don’t have to worry about any false positives because I would never act on it anyway. If I talk to the nice young lady in front of me in the food line, I can go away thinking to myself “She totally wanted me” without having to actually examine whether there was any truth to that perception. I can assume all the women in the world would be interested in me and there would be no price to pay due to my fidelity.

I think all three of these things play into the perception that a wedding ring attracts women. A lot moreso than the idea that a wedding ring does, in fact, attract women.


Category: Coffeehouse

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11 Responses to The Ring of Invincibility

  1. Spungen says:

    My perception is that many single men have no interest in talking to married women. Guys who resemble the guys who found me very entertaining as a single woman (or pretended to, more likely) are unintrigued by the married version of me.

    And this tends to be a lot more true of guys my age than older guys, I’ve noticed. So perhaps it’s just an age thing — maybe they don’t like women their age, period.

    With married guys, I haven’t noticed a difference in their response. If they’re the type of guys who talk to single women other than their wives, they talk to married women as well. Even if they seem flirtatious.

  2. Spungen says:

    P.S. I think you are right about men’s mistaken perceptions based on women’s increased comfort with them. I’ve never known a woman who seemed to be drawn to married guys. I’ve known women over 30 who had trouble meeting single men, but I think that’s different.

  3. trumwill says:

    Corsi Tsiokos had a post that I’m too lazy to look up at the moment about his reluctance to waste his social energy on married women. I can understand the idea behind it, at least for more introverted guys: you only have so much social energy (interacting with the opposite sex is usually more taxing than your own) to spend before you’re tapped out, so you should save it for people that might yield romantic returns. Or perhaps the more crude version might be that if there’s no potential for sex out of the deal, why bother? I think this is a bit misguided as a lot of people meet single people through married people. Clancy and I were two of the only unmarried people at the party we met, for instance. Of course, I’m thinking purely of introverted guys here. I don’t claim to know what’s in the mind of weird extroverted people.

    Have you noticed a difference in the level of flirtatiousness in married men when talking to single women or married women? I’m not really the flirting type, but as a married man I would probably be more comfortable flirting with a married woman since the boundaries are clearly set.

    I don’t know of any women attracted to married guys, either. I have known some that are attracted to impossible relationships, and that might include guys in other relationships, but that’s sort of a different bird.

  4. David Alexander says:

    So perhaps it’s just an age thing — maybe they don’t like women their age, period.

    Spungen, is there a significant age gap with your husband?

    The problem with dealing married women is that you’re not guarenteed anything long-term, and in some cases, there’s the fear that her husband can beat the crap out of you. I lost my virginity to a woman who was in a “committed relationship”, and in retrospect, I realized that I took a big risk since her boyfriend could have beaten me to a pulp very easily. For an introverted guy with few chances, unless having any immediate sex is the primary goal, a cheating wife is not attractive. Plus, it’s safe to presume that she may cheat on you too…

  5. Peter says:

    I don’t know of any women attracted to married guys, either.

    Neither do I. Yet they certainly must be out there, as marital infidelity is far from uncommon, and most cases involve married men and single women. Cases involving men and women both married to other people are substantially less common, and MILF fantasies aside single man/married women relationships are rare.

  6. trumwill says:

    Yet they certainly must be out there, as marital infidelity is far from uncommon, and most cases involve married men and single women.

    I doubt it’s “most cases”. It’s more common than a single man and a married woman, but you also have to factor in cases where both parties are married. If you exclude prostitution, I don’t even think it’s a plurality. I think the main reason for the single/married gender disparity is that a married man looking for extracurricular activities is more likely to actively seek out a partner than a woman considering the same. When I was young, single, and stupid I might accept a come-on from a married woman I was attracted to… but I definitely wouldn’t make the move myself. I think that’s very often the case and so it favors men that want to be unfaithful. I bet an aggressive married woman would be able to do pretty well for herself if she were reasonably attractive and I bet that single men are generally more amenable to going-nowhere-sex-with-a-married-person than are single women.

    In any case, the point that I am getting at is that women are not drawn to married men. There are naturally cases where it happens that a woman gets together with a married guy, but the point is that she did so despite rather than due in part to the fact that he’s married. Very often she thinks that he’ll leave his wife or she may not even know that he’s married until she’s fallen for him.

    I’ve known this to happen and one of the things I see is a lack of options on the part of the woman. I just don’t see the “de facto polygamy” wherein a woman overlooks good prospects in perpetuity to share a great prospect. When I’ve known women to get involved with a man that is involved with another woman (or is playing the field), she generally doesn’t have other options or simply needs time to emotionally unwrap from the point that she realizes that she’s not going to get him to herself.

  7. Peter says:

    There are naturally cases where it happens that a woman gets together with a married guy, but the point is that she did so despite rather than due in part to the fact that he’s married. Very often she thinks that he’ll leave his wife or she may not even know that he’s married until she’s fallen for him. I’ve known this to happen and one of the things I see is a lack of options on the part of the woman. I just don’t see the “de facto polygamy” wherein a woman overlooks good prospects in perpetuity to share a great prospect.

    You’re probably right. Most women who get involved with married or otherwise taken men don’t stay in that position for long. Soon enough, even the most self-deluded woman will catch on that no, he is not going to leave that horrible wife of his.

    What I strongly suspect to be the case is that de facto polygamy usually is of a more passive nature, involving women who turn down the ordinary men who express interest in them because they’re hoping (reasonably or otherwise) that Alphas will come along and sweep them off their feet. This is certainly more common than two women dating an Alpha at the same time.

  8. trumwill says:

    Soon enough, even the most self-deluded woman will catch on that no, he is not going to leave that horrible wife of his.

    Then again, sometimes the guy does just that.

    As always, I disagree with the characterization that women are exclusively (or in larger numbers) holding out for people above their station. Or I should say that I disagree with the idea that the number of women that do this are causing a great inequality. There are a lot of men that will take sex with a wide variety of women but will reserve exclusivity for the unrealistic and a whole lot of men that don’t even notice women that don’t look like the hotties that they see on TV (and who a guy does or does not notice is crucial since he is generally expected to make the first move).

  9. Becky says:

    When I was married, there’s no question that more men talked to me in public places than when I was single before marriage or now after my divorced. I always thought it was the “safety” thing in that by seeing my wedding ring, they could just have a conversation with someone without worrying that I might read too much into it.

  10. Barry says:

    Interesting, I’ve never had to worry about this because I can’t imagine any woman I talk to – married or single – would believe I was flirting with them or trying to pick them up. And I’m married, and have a ring. I’ve never noticed single/married women I’ve spoken with flirting with me, either – maybe I’m just not perceptive. More likely just not flirtworthy (to “sponge” off another Seinfeld reference). So it’s no big deal to me to strike up a conversation with any female. I no there are no strings attached, and wouldn’t be any strings attached even if I was single – there wouldn’t be any flirting anyway.

  11. Spungen says:

    As always, I disagree with the characterization that women are exclusively (or in larger numbers) holding out for people above their station. Or I should say that I disagree with the idea that the number of women that do this are causing a great inequality. There are a lot of men that will take sex with a wide variety of women but will reserve exclusivity for the unrealistic and a whole lot of men that don’t even notice women that don’t look like the hotties that they see on TV (and who a guy does or does not notice is crucial since he is generally expected to make the first move).

    Thanks, Will. You shouldn’t have to keep repeating this given the number of times it’s been discussed on this and other blogs. But you provide a valuable counterpoint to the very small minority of hostile, nasty men who obessively, repetitively try to use blogs in our blogring to promote falsehoods and abusive attitudes regarding women’s desires and needs in relationships, and regarding the reasons that attractive young women don’t want to be around them or provide them with sex.

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