Falling in Love with a Married Man

tender anguish and exciting unfulfillmentThis was originally written long ago with Monica Lewinsky on the mind, but perhaps it will continue to guide other young people as they make decisions about who they spend their time with.

1956: Falling in Love with a Married Man

Very little has ever been written about falling in love with a married man. It is supposed not to happen. Yet it is not at all uncommon, especially among teen-age girls, and even among older women, too. The reasons are understandable.

Married Men are Older. For the teen-age girl, the married man is usually older and therefore, in her eyes, more experienced and mature. We have already seen that girls mature earlier than boys of their own age. So it often happens that a girl who is growing up much faster than the boys around her thinks that they are childish and silly and finds herself dreaming about the charms of older men. The married men she has contact with ~ the coach, a teacher, perhaps the principal, or a minister ~ seems so much more grown up and excitingly mature that her love interests turn to them rather than to the boys of her own age who are still just “children.”

Girls may do foolish things in their attachments to older men. They should guard themselves from becoming either too obvious in their infatuations or too deeply engrossed inside themselves. Fortunately, most girls outgrow this stage fairly soon and may look back upon these early crushes with amused wonder. But while emotionally entangled with the older man, it is not funny at all.

The Romance of Unfulfillment is Different. Not being able to do something about love makes the romance especially exciting. When one loves a boy of one’s own age and kind, who is a possible fiancé and husband, one can date and dream and plan for a common future. One’s friends can talk about the plans and one’s family may tease. One is free to tell the world about his love and its great promise. It pours out in a thousand ways.

But loving a married man gives no such outlets. It just isn’t done. Almost no one can be told about how wonderful he is. There can be no plans that give promise ~ nothing but dreams that go around and around, tenderly reliving his possible light touch, the way he looks, the way one feels about him, and the utter hopelessness of the affection. Love with no place to go tends to be absorbing, tensely frustrating, full of tender anguish and exciting unfulfillment. With all its excitement and romance, it still has no future, no place in our fullest lives.

Society Scorns the Other Woman. In almost all triangles involving married persons, it is the unmarried outsider who is blamed for the affair. Marriage is such a sacred institution that any girl or woman who alienates the affection of the married man is apt to be held in contempt by most people. The girl who wants to punish herself will find that getting involved with a married man is a sure way of doing it. Girls who are going through difficult days in breaking away from their parents may unconsciously get themselves into disgrace as a way to hurt their families. They find that social disapproval falls fast and hard upon the heads of the silly school girls who do it.

Source: Duvall, Evelyn Millis. Facts of Life and Love for Teen-Agers. New York: Association Press, 1956.
~ pp. 316-17, 320-21 ~