Lovehacker: Is it Okay To Have Dinner With A Married Man?

Lovehacker: Is it Okay To Have Dinner With A Married Man?
Image: iStock

Dear Lovehacker, I moved cities late last year and my old boss is going to be in town for a visit soon. He suggested that we catch up but my only availability was during the evening. I didn’t even think that it could be a problem until after we arranged to have dinner. He has a wife and I’m not sure if I should be worried about what she would think, especially because I’m single. Am I just being paranoid or is there something a bit off about having dinner alone with a married man? Thanks, B.

This post was originally published in July 2017.

Hi B,

I don’t see a problem with this at all. Contextually, it makes sense for the two of you to catch up over dinner/ He’s working with a limited time frame and that’s what your availability is. I highly doubt that his wife would have a problem with this. If she does, that’s really not your responsibility. It’s for the two of them to work out.

However, if you do feel uncomfortable due to the implication of romance that dinner can imply, suggest a casual dining option like a pub or burgers.

I can understand how this can be a tricky subject though. Earlier this year an article in the Washington Post reported on Mike Pence saying in 2002 that he never eats alone with a woman other than his wife, and he won’t attend alcohol-fueled events without her either.

This post sparked public debate on whether this was a sign of respect to his wife or straight up sexist. After all, it does breed an idea that women can’t be trusted. Or that men can’t control themselves around them. Either scenario is damaging and underestimates both sexes.

Plenty of people out there wouldn’t be comfortable with their partners going out alone with someone whose gender they’re attracted to. Is this a sign of deeper trust issues? Possibly. But then it’s not always fair to comment on the particulars of someone’s relationship when you’re not one of the people in it. For them, it’s about communicating with their partners and being aware of what each other are comfortable with.

By the same token, I think its important to normalise platonic relationships between men and women. It’s time to challenge the idea that men and women can’t have a relationship without there being a sexual attraction on one or both sides.

There have been mixed reports and studies into platonic relationships between men and women, particularly in regards to friendship.

A 2000 study in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships showed that these relationships were changing and that men and women who were friends were increasingly seeing each other as confidants or mates rather than potential sexual partners.

However, a 2012 study in the same journal showed that there was some form of attraction in the majority of opposite-sex friendships. It revealed that men were more likely to feel this attraction, and overestimate how attracted their female friend was to them.

From an anecdotal perspective, I have plenty of male friends who I don’t feel any sexual attraction to, but who I am definitely close with. That being said, my own experiences aren’t definitive or scientific.

In your case and perhaps even that of Mike Pence, we’re talking about work relationships, as opposed to friendship. The idea of a man and a woman feeling restricted in this context due to their opposite genders is potentially detrimental to working efficiently and networking effectively.

Your former boss is still a contact and you should be able to feel as comfortable grabbing an evening meal without being concerned. The fact that you were considerate enough to worry about this is admirable. I just hope that we’re moving towards a future where you won’t have to.


  • Dear Lovehacker,

    Pub burgers are my maximum date mode. Is this why I have trouble finding partners, or is because of who I am as a person?

    Write back soon.

    xoxo Gossip Girl

  • You can always ring his wife to check if it is okay with her.
    Or ask him, have you cleared this with your wife?
    I’m male and one of these two scenarios occur when I ask a woman other than my wife to dinner.

    • If those are the first two questions you are getting from women, then you really need to reassess how and who you’re asking.
      The first option is downright insulting, and the second is just patronising. Both of the responses scream that the women don’t trust you, and are not comfortable being in your presence alone.
      Obviously they don’t respect you as a man, and feel that you need answer to your wife, rather than being in a comfortable and secure relationship with your wife, where you are both sensible adults.

      That is, if you actually are a man.
      Your comment actually sounds much more like a woman masquerading as a man.

      • Or you know.

        These people respect the relationship you have and what really needs looking at is how you appear to the person when you ask them to dinner. Because if they are getting the vibes of you treating it as a date you are the one doing it wrong. Not them.

        If women don’t trust you and don’t feel comfortable around you that’s your fault. Not their buddy.

        You bringing up points about them respecting you as a man says a lot more about you than them.

        • I don’t think they do respect the relationship. If you respect it you assume the best rather than the worst.

          As for women (or men for that matter) not feeling comfortable around him, its a bit unfair to assume that it’s his fault. Some people are judgmental and it’s getting worse in the #metoo era. It seems like people want to assume the worst in any situation these days.

          As for the dinner mentioned in the article. If you were friendly enough to socialise with your boss in your old job then it’s not a problem. If on the other hand there was some sort of sexual tension there, then don’t go. Pretty simple.

          And I certainly wouldn’t be calling the wife *before*. Assuming it’s a solid relationship the wife will tell the husband you called. How is that going to make him feel? You’ve basically told him that you don’t trust him. However, if you have dinner and he makes a move on you then definitely tell his wife.

  • To defend Mike Pence’s position about not being alone with a woman other than his wife, the unfortunate reality of todays society is that a woman only has to make an accusation, and the man is automatically assumed to be guilty regardless of the truth. Brett Kavanaugh is just one example of an increasingly long list of innocent people who have been destroyed or nearly destroyed by gold digging selfish liars. Yes of course there are also alot of genuine assault cases, but it just so happens that not all men are rapists and child molesters and are now forced to take extreme measures to ensure they aren’t falsely accused in a society that no longer values justice and truth.

  • I really like the suggestion of ‘dumbing’ down the choice of venue, it makes it a more fun like occasion, and not associated with anything romantic.
    Another suggestion, from a mans point of view, is to let the woman choose the venue.
    She’s probably going to do enough over processing for the both of you, and will most likely be less anxious about the tone of the occasion, and usually will be in familiar surroundings.

    Of course, if she chooses a place that she’s wanted to visit, it provides ample conversation fodder, regardless of if its good or bad.
    In fact, if it’s terrible, you’ll have a hilarious night out with your mate, and get to laugh about it for years.

Show more comments

Log in to comment on this story!