You ran into him on the street after a few years—an old childhood friend resurfaced! Or maybe he’s a new acquaintance whose flirtatious comments made you think he liked you.
A few hours after meeting, he messages you: “Hey, it was great seeing you today. I’d love to hang out sometime!”
In most situations, there would be nothing wrong with this message! Your excitement would build as you look forward to a fun date night getting to know the guy.
Then you find out he has a girlfriend.
There’s no good way around that conversation. No “out” for him, no negotiating for you. But a conversation has to happen. What do you do?
Respect yourself—and his girlfriend
While it’s not wrong to have a friendly conversation with an old friend or a guy who’s in a relationship, don’t be a guy’s sounding board or emotional crutch. This is not respectful to you OR to his girlfriend! There are certain types of guys who don’t view flirtation as an issue—even when in a relationship. Don’t waste your time with men who play games. Respect yourself and the women around you by creating boundaries.
A few boundaries I personally held:
- No messaging (via text, Facebook, Instagram or anything private) on a continual and personal basis unless his girlfriend was aware of it. Even if she was, I limited how often I would respond or stopped entirely if the questions were flirtatious or too personal.
- No hanging out one-on-one.
- Always asking about his girlfriend and respecting her presence in his life.
These are not hard-and-fast rules, but they worked as my personal guidelines with men who were in relationships.
Second, be direct with him. Don’t try to be super nice or careful. If he has a girlfriend and is frequently keeping in contact with you, particularly in a flirtatious way, it’s not respectful to you or to her. Don’t worry about offending him. The offender here is him! You can be kind and firm in what you say.
When I dealt with this situation, I’d say something like: “Hey, I don’t feel comfortable messaging personally and privately. I want to respect your girlfriend and your relationship—it’s something I’d want another girl to do for me. I’m glad to know you’re well!”
Keep it simple, don’t elaborate and don’t engage if he gets defensive.
Be above reproach
Last, but not least, it’s easy to get sucked into the drama or fun of talking to a cute guy—even if you know he’s in a relationship. Sometimes that can make it more dangerous because you feel “safe” talking to him at first, like he’s off-limits. This makes you more relaxed, which can give way to feelings of affection if you let it go too far. That’s why boundaries and respect are so important!
Hold yourself to a standard that you’d wish your boyfriend would uphold. How would you want to be treated? What does honor look like to you?