Know Any Married People Who Act Single?

married people who act single

By Jackie Pilossoph, Editor-in-chief, Divorced Girl Smiling, Love Essentially columnist and author

Know any married people who act single? This week’s Love Essentially column, published in the Chicago Tribune Pioneer Press is about married people who frequently go out socially without their spouses.

I’m not saying they are cheaters, but for some reason, they are choosing to act like a single person, hanging out with single people in bars and at parties. Why do they do this and what issues arise from the behavior?

The Single Married Person-Unhappy Or Just Looking For Fun? by Jackie Pilossoph for Chicago Tribune Media Group

I know a guy who has been married for about 15 years. I don’t know him well enough to say if he is in an unhappy marriage, but I do know that the seven or eight times I have seen him out over the years – either at bars or at parties, the guy is alone, meaning his wife is not with him.

Known by his friends as the party guy, the fun, gregarious guy who always knows where the best parties are, this guy likes to have a few drinks and laughs and enjoys hanging out with his divorced bachelor buddies. I asked a friend of mine if she thought he ever cheated on his wife and my friend said “definitely not.”




So, what I am wondering is, if he isn’t looking to cheat, then why is this married guy socializing on a frequent basis with single people and without the woman who is supposed to be his life partner?

He is what I call “a single married person” – someone who lives their social life like someone who is single, when technically they are either married or in a long-term, committed relationship.


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One could argue that as men and women get older, our friends get divorced and that just because they are single, it doesn’t mean we aren’t allowed to remain friends with them. In fact, maybe those friends who are divorced need us more now than ever. That said, there is a part of me that thinks being a single married person runs deeper than trying to be there in support of your newly single buddies.

To discuss the single married person, (because let’s be honest, we all know one) I reached out to Anita Chlipala, a licensed marital and family therapist whose Chicago-based practice offers individual and couples coaching and counseling.


Chlipala, who explained that she has seen many couples that face this issue said there are many possible reasons for it, including the below examples:

1. The single married person’s needs aren’t being met and he or she is searching outside the relationship for fulfillment.

2. The person is avoiding their relationship. In other words, they don’t want to go home and face the problems present. They aren’t in the mood to argue or fight, so being apart is the easier solution.

3. The single married person doesn’t want to break up because the finality of the relationship seems too sad and/or scary, so they stay in it.

4. The person might be insecure and need the ego boost of going to a bar and getting hit on.

5. The person is planning on ending the relationship, so they want to test the waters and behave like a single person to reassure themselves they are doing the right thing.

6. The person wants freedom and independence. He or she might feel trapped or controlled by their spouse, so they want to show the other person (and themselves) that they have the right to do whatever they choose.


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I can think of other single married people I know. One includes a friend of mine who for years would attend girls nights out and parties solo. I never met her husband. They recently got divorced.


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I also behaved like a single married person at one time. In a former relationship, I would go to social events and parties either with my girlfriends or by myself, and no one even knew I was in a monogamous relationship. Technically, I never cheated but I won’t lie and say I didn’t flirt.

Looking back, I think there was something ethically wrong with my single married person lifestyle. It didn’t even cause tension in the relationship, but I now realize I was semi-committing, using one foot up against the door to keep it propped open.

I asked Chlipala how someone should handle the situation should his or her spouse start behaving like a single married person.

“Gentle communication is the best way,” said Chlipala, whose self-help book, “First Comes Us: The Busy Couple’s Guide To Lasting Love,” was just released.

“You want to try to get to why the person is behaving that way. If the answer seems sincere – that they just want time with friends, then at least it is on the table and you can work together to compromise and get both your needs met.”

Chlipala said that being vulnerable and admitting that the behavior makes you uncomfortable and anxious is healthy.


“Women need to speak up for what they need,” she said. “But many women won’t because they are afraid to come across as too desperate or needy or crazy. Maybe the guy will say, ‘I didn’t know you felt this way. What can I do to make this better for you?’ That would be ideal.”

My opinion is that the single married person is almost always unhappy or unfulfilled in their relationship; otherwise he or she would be home more, or doing fun things with the spouse. Don’t get me wrong…(click here to read the rest of the article, published in the Chicago Tribune Pioneer Press.)

Like this article? Check out my article, “The Hot And Cold Guy.”


Sell your jewelry and/or wedding rings online.


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Jackie Pilossoph

Editor-in-chief: Jackie Pilossoph

Divorce is a journey. Live it with grace, courage and gratitude. Peace and joy are on the way! Jackie Pilossoph is the creator and Editor-In-Chief of Divorced Girl Smiling. The author of the novels, Divorced Girl Smiling and Free Gift With Purchase, Pilossoph also writes the weekly dating and relationships advice column, “Love Essentially”, published in the Chicago Tribune Pioneer Press and the Chicago Tribune online. Additionally, she is a Huffington Post contributor. Pilossoph holds a Masters degree in journalism from Boston University.

3 Responses to “Know Any Married People Who Act Single?”

  1. QuirkyBlackGirl

    I will say that this is me. I didn’t always do this but my soon to be ex-husband does not like going out, and if he went with me he always sat quiet and didn’t talk to anyone. Once I started going out by myself I found that I was having a lot more fun without him. I wasn’t there to flirt, I hung out with my girlfriends or family. It was something that I needed.

  2. Katie

    I do this, but not because I feel insecure or unfulfilled, but because we respect each other’s agency and identity. I’m a natural introvert, but I have always had issues sitting still. He feels most comfortable at home. We are not prepared to sacrifice 90% of a perfect marriage for the 10% in which our preferences differ. I will not forego crossing the Sahara on camelback any more than he’d forfeit his dream job.

    Expecting a partner to cross beyond the midpoint of their core values seems like a mighty hot recipe for divorce… But hey, echo chamber for echo chamber. I’m here because I tried Google-searching “live like divorce woman meryl BuzzFeed” and thought this article would link me to the video I’ve been looking for all morning.

  3. Ryan

    my wife has started to do this.Now though she has gotten to the dont touch me stage and act as if i dont exist….She flirts and messages other guys and as soon as she is out off comes the wedding rings.She has added a lock on her phone and tries to fight every chance she can so she can go out with friends.There are other things but too many to list


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