The ethics of trying to attract someone with a SO

I was talking to a few friends and this topic came up - what if you become interested in someone who is already in a relationship? (Not marriage or being engaged, but dating someone else.) Is it wrong to try to get this person interested in you? (Ultimately, to get them to leave their SO for you, I suppose - but not necessarily have them cheat on their SO with you.) Anyone with any relevant experiences?

I would say yes, it is wrong.

It would be worse if you tried to get someone who was married, engaged, in a long-term relationship, or living with an SO to leave the SO for you, but I think it’s still wrong even if they’re just dating.

Don’t ever do something you wouldn’t want someone to do for you. How would you feel if someone at your SO’s office was trying to steal him away? Even if you weren’t worried about your SO cheating on you, you probably wouldn’t like it.

Cheating or “dumping for a newer model” doesn’t happen just because of temptation. There’s got to be a fundamental flaw which allows one of the parties to even consider it in the first place. Either it’s a flaw in the relationship or a flaw in one of the people themselves.

Secondly, think about this: would you really WANT a man who can be lured away from the person he’s currently with? What makes you think you’d have a special protective magic which would keep him from walking away if something better came along?

I don’t think I’d call someone I was just dating an SO. There’s a line there, somewhere.

Dating is fair game; an SO isn’t.

I would. Or, rather, I wouldn’t date anyone who I didn’t consider an SO. I hated dating, and only did it to find a long-term relationship.

I agree with Frank. Anne, are you really saying that, after one date with a guy, it’s unethical for second woman to express interest?

Would it change things if the parties were all 22?
(I have this vague idea that most, if not all of the replies so far have been from people over 30, but that the OP is younger. Apologies if I got that wrong.)

If you are trying to lure someone who has been out with someone else once or twice that is one thing, but if they have been together for a while or have even been out 5 or 6 times they are obviously interested in the other person you should keep your mitts to yourself until they end their relationship with the other person. Don’t screw with other people’s relationships if you don’t want people screwing with yours, that is my motto! :slight_smile:

When I was dating a guy seriously (as in more than a couple of weeks), I’d have been very put off if anyone tried to lure me away. It happens all the time, people break up and date other people, but my rule of thumb is that the person already in a relationship has to make the first move. Otherwise, you’re taking a gamble in assuming that the relationship isn’t serious.

Oh, and I’m only 25, and married. So this applies to young people too. It’s a question of ethics, and, IMHO, an ethical person won’t try to attract someone already in an exclusive relationship.

I think it’s fine, although I’m rather biased: I asked Mrs. Giraffe out when she was dating someone else (long distance). We’d met at a party through mutual friends and gotten to know each other while taking the same ballroom dance class. I realized I had the hots for her and thought the feeling might be mutual, so I told her I thought she should break up with her boyfriend and go out with me. It would have been wrong to try to hook up with her while she was dating someone else, but I don’t see anything wrong with telling someone you’d be interested in dating them. The final decision is still up to the person in the relationship.

But, as I said, I’m biased. :slight_smile:

I think **Millit ** has a good perspective on it. It’s unethical if the relationship is exclusive. Back in the day, I used to believe it was up to the guy to determine if his relationship was exclusive or not. I eventually learned that a lot of guys were really bad at that, though.

Well, I never…!

It is so WRONG for you to try to attract someone with your SO! The only moral thing to do is to try to attract people yourself, you, personally. Don’t use your SO to attract them! Let your SO attract his or her own lovers!

The very idea!

I think its fine to let someone know that theyre interested, as you dont really know how commited they are to their current relationship. Of course, as others have mentioned, if you do manage to steal someone away out of a 6 month relationship or something, you have to think that its likely that they’ll end up leaving you the same way.

I suppose I should have said “express an interest in” rather than “attract.” We agreed it was wrong to actually hook up with someone who was already dating someone else (obviously, since it’s cheating!); it was more a question of whether it was okay to try and get that person to notice/like/choose you of their own free will.

This was an abstract discussion, by the way - the “you” was a generic you.

I’m of limited experience, but I would say that if the two are “going steady,” to speak Archie, then it’s not kosher in the least to try to steal someone away.

Because it’ll be different with you. You’ll give him what he needs and he will never stray, because your loving will be so much yummier than hers. It’s true!

Last spring, I got in touch with a man, we e mailed, he expressed an interest in seeing me. I asked if he was seeing anyone. He said he had been but it was no strings.
I ignored all warning signs; he claimed me to be his one and only love (even though he’d been married twice before) 2 days after we met for an hour.
Finally I asked him if i could meet her, since he’d told me enough about her, and he said no way. I dumped him right away.

This has happened to me several times.

Over the years (I’m 33), I’ve been friends with many women who were in committed relationships at the time. I did nothing to try and “lure them away”. I was merely their friend. A few times they ended up breaking up with their boyfriends wanting to date me.

I can’t tell how strong someone’s relationship is from the outside. Does this mean I shouldn’t befriend any woman in a committed relationship? Every time it has happened it came as a complete surprise that they were even interested in me on that level.

In reference to the OP, I never tried to do anything to pry them away from their boyfriends. Can you give some examples of what this behavior would be? Short of blatant expressions of interest or, worse yet, making a pass at someone who is taken, are there some behaviors that are less blatant but are just as verboten?

And for the record, I think Johnny Rocky Horror would have had NO BUSINESS giving Mrs. Wallace a foot massage.

If a person can’t be bothered to respect someone else’s relationship, then how can they expect anyone elese to respect their relationship?

Acquiring an SO in this manner is akin to the old legal problem of Poison Fruits, or some such nonsense: fruit from a poisoned tree is useless.

To me it’s wrong. “taken” is “taken”, even if (like the OP says) it’s a “taken with intent to try out”.

I used to like a lot this guy who was unable to confront his gf’s; so, whenever Current One managed to scare him shitless by talking about curtains*, he’d go and ask Next One out and then Current One would break up with him. When he asked me to be Next One, I said “break up first, ask me second”.**

  • I have no idea why a 15yo would want to be planning how to decorate a house she wouldn’t be searching for in 3 years at least, but it was always the same… curtains, and him sitting there saying “honey? uh, honey?” with this deer-in-the-headlights loo.

** Years later a girl broke up with him without the usual circus. He was “single” for six years and the next girl he dated is the one he married: by then, he was interested in settling down.