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Dear married men: Keep your distance

By Audrey Irvine, CNN
Even if they wear wedding rings, married men shouldn't  hang out too often with single women, Audrey Irvine says.
Even if they wear wedding rings, married men shouldn't hang out too often with single women, Audrey Irvine says.
  • Audrey Irvine reports Facebook storm over too-friendly married men
  • She says when they phone up or hang out with single women, it looks suspicious
  • Wearing a wedding ring doesn't make it OK to party with other women
  • Critic: If I'm not friends with his wife, too much of his attention is disrespectful
  • Relationships
  • Marriage

Editor's note: Audrey Irvine is a senior assignment manager for CNN. Her experiences in the dating world inspire her "Relationship Rant" column. Check back every week for her take on dating and relationships.

Atlanta, Georgia (CNN) -- My friend posted this message as her Facebook status update: Maybe it's just me, but I am extremely uncomfortable with any married man calling me "just to say hi." Not good! Respect your wife!

My initial response was this has to be a joke ... right? Then the comments started flying with woman after woman not only liking the status update but also telling their own tales of married men trying to befriend single women.

The biggest complaint from most women was that lately some married men have been living double lives. In social settings, these married men partied all night long, had lingering conversations and exchanges with single women all under the guise of business for their charity or event.

These married men are the "undercover agents" of the single scene. They purposely put themselves in situations where they can infiltrate the single female scene all the while wearing their wedding bands to make these women feel safe.

One woman said it best on my friend's Facebook comment thread: "If a married man is trying to cultivate a friendship with me and I don't know his wife, he's out of line and I want nothing to do with him. The last thing I need is a woman looking at me sideways thinking I'm interested in her man. I'm too grown for that kind of drama."

Drama is exactly what you get when a married man tries to befriend a single woman without mentioning his wife, much less an introduction. With that said, I'm declaring it is almost impossible for a married man to be friends with a single women if she doesn't know the wife.

I recall attending a number of events organized by a well-known fundraiser in Atlanta.

He is incredibly charming, intelligent and always the life of the party. His circle of influence is extensive, including media professionals, politicians and some of the city's "movers and shakers." At every event I attended, his wife was never present.

Oddly enough, the majority of the women that he knew in attendance were single.

Granted, there was a slightly even mix of men and women, but I found it odd that so many of the women were single. Needless to say, the men in attendance were mostly married and had THEIR wives with them.

Each time I interacted with this person, I made it a point to ask about his wife. There was always some "good" reason that she was not at the event; mostly it was that she was home with the kids. I find it hard to believe that with his amazing ability to fundraiser and organize, he never had a babysitter available on at least one of those nights.

A couple of my friends discussed these events at length and wondered could he be an "undercover agent"? We debated back and forth considering all the possibilities. Maybe his wife did not like attending social events, preferring to stay at home? Is it possible that these events were his outlet, and she trusted him enough to do these events solo?

But each time we considered the possibilities, there was the lingering question: Why did he never bring her up in conversation? There was something about his demeanor with the women with that glance at your outfit that lasted just a second too long. It always seemed as if HE were the eligible bachelor in the crowd.

So, to avoid these questions, my advice to married men is simple: You are married and cannot enjoy some of the same luxuries as single people. That includes befriending single women under the guise of business ventures without introducing your wife.

To single women: If it feels icky, then it more than likely isn't meant to be a business discussion. No one says that married people and single folks can't be friends. But show some respect for your partner -- the one to whom you're married!