Is It Really Cheating If There’s No Sex?

Ask Demetria: There's no gray area when you date a married person -- you're having an emotional affair.


I’m guessing you probably don’t care, and it’s not as if you have to. As I told the woman who wrote in last week, wondering whether she should have a heart-to-heart with the woman she thought her man might be involved with, the third party — that would be you — didn’t make any sort of commitment or take any vows to honor a relationship.

What I didn’t say — only because the subject then didn’t call for it — is that it’s still all manner of grimy to get physically or emotionally involved with someone you know is in a committed relationship. It sends the message not only that you don’t respect relationships but also that you don’t have much respect for yourself, either.

It’s quite curious to me why anyone would willingly want to play second fiddle. Women are told so many horror stories about how hard it is to find a good man, or how their worth is diminished when they don’t have one around, that I can somewhat understand the rationale for being girlfriend No. 2, even if I don’t condone the action.

But men are fed the idea that there’s a surplus of available women. Even if having the numbers on your side still means that a good woman might be hard to find, are you telling me that the best you can do to get your physical and emotional needs met is playing No. 2 to another man? If it’s a connection you seek, you would be better served by finding an unattached woman who is actually available to indulge you instead of emotional tricking with off-limits women.

I know that part of the guy theory of why married women make great jump-offs is that they don’t require a lot of time because they don’t have much of it. They’re also easy on the pockets because the husband should take care of the wining and dining. And all they really require is good sex. But in at least two of your relationships, you’re not getting that. So what are you getting out of these arrangements?

Maybe your ego gets a boost from the knowledge that you can pull another man’s lady. Maybe you don’t really feel that you have enough to contribute in a relationship, and you’re going for women who don’t or can’t require much. Or maybe you don’t feel that you deserve to be someone’s No. 1.

Whatever your reason is for consistently dating married women, whether you have sex with them or not, you definitely need to see a therapist. The right one will help you discover the root cause of why you seek relationships in which you can be destructive and also help empower you to be a better, more self-respecting man.

Good luck!

Demetria L. Lucas is a contributing editor to The Root, a life coach and the author of A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life. She answers your dating and relationship questions on The Root each week. Feel free to ask anything at

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