How to tell a married man “no”

We sometimes include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate disclosure.

He’s married and that makes him out of bounds.

You might find yourself on the receiving end of completely unwanted attention from a married man. And he won’t seem to quit his flirtatious ways or pursuit of you.

Or maybe you admittedly feel a little flattered and do find him attractive, but you are still not prepared to go there.

This article will tell you how to tell a married man “no” — and make sure he truly gets the message.

How do you let a married man know you’re not interested?

1) Brush it off

Maybe it’s avoidant of me, but sometimes you can dodge drama by just ignoring him.

Although to be clear, this doesn’t mean you need to put up with unwelcome advances and let him get away with that.

This is more of an appropriate tactic when it’s not gone very far. Maybe it has only happened once and could be circumstantial rather than turn into a persistent problem.

For example, if he makes a mild drunken pass that you suspect was fuelled by alcohol, you might choose to chalk it down to the booze and brush it off.

Rather than answer his questions about whether you’re attracted to him, you could decide to change the conversation. Or if he sends you a flirty message you could simply reply saying “don’t be silly, you’re a married man” and leave it at that.

If he tries to flirt with you and you give him zilch back, the chances are he will quit without you needing to even acknowledge it.

Even if he is the womanizing type, when he sees he isn’t getting the green light, he will probably move on and direct his attention elsewhere.

2) Make it crystal clear where he stands

I think it’s always best to be 100% transparent and make it as clear as possible where people stand with you.

Of course, that can be difficult. Particularly when others misread our intentions.

But making it clear where someone stands comes down to our actions just as much as our words.

Make sure yours are on the same page.

If he has been misreading your friendliness for something more, then set him straight.

Let him know what it is that you want from him, whether that’s nothing at all or a strictly platonic friendship. Be as upfront as you can about your intentions.

3) Be consistent

I’m not suggesting that you are giving him any reason to pursue you.

But if there is any chance you could be giving off some mixed signals, you need to be consistent with your message.

So don’t suddenly feel bad about turning him down and then be extra nice to him. As we’ll discuss next, you don’t need to let him down gently.

If he is a friend of yours and you have enjoyed a bit of harmless flirting in the past, but that seems to be getting out of hand now — that needs to stop.

Keep your interactions as above board as possible, and do so consistently.

4) Don’t worry about trying to be nice

I totally understand that being assertive can feel very uncomfortable for many of us.

Particularly amongst women, there is more of a pressure to always be amiable.

That can lead to people-pleasing tendencies, even when we find ourselves caught in an inappropriate situation.

Please remember that his feelings do not need to be your primary concern. You deserve respect and to put your own well-being first.

How do you politely reject a married man?

You can try to be polite in how you express yourself. But don’t do so at the expense of being direct and clear about it all.

Too much of an attempt to be “nice” could just lead to more confusion.

5) Don’t feel the need to overly explain yourself

As well as not concerning yourself too much about coming off as nice, neither do you need to explain yourself.

No means no. It’s a complete answer.

You don’t need to make up a fake partner or say you’re flattered when really you feel grossed out.

You don’t actually have to explain why you’re not interested in having anything more with him.

Quite frankly, as a married man, it’s not really any of his business.

Simply saying “I don’t want to get involved” or “I just want to be friends and nothing more” is enough.

6) Cut off inappropriate behavior straight away

This one is all about getting clear on your own boundaries and then holding him to them.

You’ve got to shut down his advances in no uncertain terms.

It can be helpful to think about the things that are a big ‘no, no’ to you — whether it’s something he says or something he does.

You might simply want to let your feelings guide you. But be sure to flag it with him when he says or does something that makes you feel uncomfortable.

Tell him outright: “I don’t think this is appropriate and it makes me feel uncomfortable”.

If he overstepped your boundaries, there need to be consequences.

7) Get someone else to tell him

You don’t always have to be the person to tell a married man “no”.

You can even get someone to do it on your behalf. If the situation is super uncomfortable for you, get a friend’s backup.

Being direct is often easier for someone who doesn’t feel personally involved.

For example, it’s often easier for us to say on our friend’s behalf at a bar “hey, buddy she isn’t interested”.

Sometimes, it’s also not something you should have to deal with yourself. In certain contexts, it can be more appropriate to have someone else step in on your behalf.

For example, if a colleague is overstepping the line or making you uncomfortable.

In that scenario, you should be able to go to someone in HR or to your boss and report any inappropriate behavior.

8) Remove yourself from the situation

Maybe you do feel like you’ve already, at least inadvertently, told this married man “no”.

But the problem is that he isn’t really hearing you. You always have the right to remove yourself from situations that make you feel uncomfortable.

You don’t have to sit there and force a smile as a married guy smiles all over you on a night out. You don’t have to try to let a married man down gently because you don’t want to hurt his feelings.

You can always stop the interaction or conversation at any time you choose. And if you don’t think other approaches are going to work (or have worked), then maybe this married guy simply doesn’t get to be around you.

Can a relationship coach help you too?

If you want specific advice on your situation, it can be very helpful to speak to a relationship coach.

I know this from personal experience…

A few months ago, I reached out to Relationship Hero when I was going through a tough patch in my relationship. After being lost in my thoughts for so long, they gave me a unique insight into the dynamics of my relationship and how to get it back on track.

If you haven’t heard of Relationship Hero before, it’s a site where highly trained relationship coaches help people through complicated and difficult love situations.

In just a few minutes you can connect with a certified relationship coach and get tailor-made advice for your situation.

I was blown away by how kind, empathetic, and genuinely helpful my coach was.

Click here to get $50 off your first session (exclusive offer for Hack Spirit readers).

Pearl Nash

Pearl Nash has years of experience writing relationship articles for single females looking for love. After being single for years with no hope of meeting Mr. Right, she finally managed to get married to the love of her life. Now that she’s settled down and happier than she’s ever been in her life, she's passionate about sharing all the wisdom she's learned over the journey. Pearl is also an accredited astrologer and publishes Hack Spirit's daily horoscope.

What being emotionally unavailable means + tips to connect with them

10 things a quality woman would never do (so you shouldn’t either)