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Is He Seeing Someone Else? Expert Tips For Spotting A Taken Man.

I hate that I’m an expert, but at least my romantic failures can be used for good.

By Ellen "Jelly" McRaePublished 2 years ago 7 min read
Image created on Canva

One of the suckiest moments of my romantic life was discovering I was the other woman.

People have broken up with me. I was mercilessly dumped on the two-year anniversary with my then-boyfriend. Men have cheated on and my close friend had to be the ones to deliver the news. Strangers have told me I was the “wing woman” friend. Great to help other people date but horrible to date.

Each moment tore pieces of my heart out. But nothing quite like finding out I was the other woman. No, that really did a number on me.

Back when this happened to me, there wasn’t Facebook yet, and MySpace wasn’t considered a way of vetting (ok, sure, stalking) potential lovers.

With his tongue down my throat every chance he could get, his aching desire to spend every night with me, I assumed he was single.

Wiser me knows how to spot a taken man from a mile away, thanks to my experience. I have a radar for them, because, like a cliche, a taken man’s behavior is easy to spot.

Here’s what they do.

Signs of an unavailable man #1: Read their friend’s body language

The man of the hour, Mr. Dupe himself, Matt, was a man of many friends. They all seemed nice, normal, inoffensive people, which lead me to believe he was too. The company you keep and all that.

But every single friend kept their distance from me. And, for a group of nice and normal people, it was strange. Unjustifiably strange given how happy Matt was with me.

I learned their behavior wasn’t because they didn’t like me, which was my immediate assumption. It was their reaction to watching their friend cheat right in front of their eyes.

Here are the friend’s behaviors that are giveaways you’re with a cheating man:

  • Side eyes to each other — It was like visual morse code. Guy code activated. “Let’s all pretend we’re not seeing this. No one repeat what they’re seeing.”
  • No contact with you — They don’t look at you, nor do they make eye contact with you. It’s easier this way. They can’t see you’re a real person, an innocent one at that. They’re rightly keeping their distance from you. But it’s not your fault.
  • They’re always talking — At some point, the friends will start talking. You will always feel like they’re talking about you. Don’t ignore this paranoia, because they are. It’s either, ‘How does she not know?’, or it’s ‘What the f- is he doing?’.

Signs of an unavailable man #2: Study their phone behaviour versus yours

Here’s something wonderful about technology. How a person uses their phone indicates a lot about who they are. It’s so immediate, too. Thanks to the convenience of phones, we can read them straight away.

This is the rule we need to remember. A cheating person rarely wants to use the phone in front of you.

Why? Because:

  • Their phone has evidence of their relationship — photos, texts, emails, etc
  • Their phone could provide evidence, even if they’ve hidden it
  • Their phone is most likely connected to the internet and social apps — Most people have a footprint somewhere online. It’s a quick link to catching them out.

If you suspect the person is in a relationship, use your phone in front of them. Use Instagram, send a message, look through your photos and show them something.

People often mirror the people they like, and if they have nothing to hide, they will mirror your phone behaviour. If they have something to hide, you won’t see their phone.

I never saw Matt’s phone, by the way. Upon reflection, I only knew he had a phone because we swapped numbers and he used it to message me.

But never did I see it in his hands. A rare feat for a modern man.

Signs of an unavailable man #3: They don’t introduce you to the people around them

Matt was a holiday romance, but I didn’t know that then.

You could say our brief affair wasn’t a reasonable situation.

  • We were out of our familiar location.
  • We didn’t have our usual routine.
  • We didn’t have any work or family responsibilities.
  • We didn’t have any authority to dictate our behavior.
  • With such a strange situation, it’s easy to make excuses for why Matt didn’t introduce me to his friends. Despite the fact I never saw him without all his friends in toe, he never entered once exchanged introductions with me and them.

    It’s easy to find reasons for his lack of introductions, by the way. You could say:

    • Matt didn’t have good social skills.
    • Matt thought his friends would embarrass him around me.
    • Matt wanted to spend all his time with me and not “share me” with other people.
    • Matt wanted to create a romantic atmosphere, which doesn’t happen with socialization.

    Sure, they are reasons, but they are also excuses to cover one simple fact.

    If I got to know his friends, it increased the likelihood of me finding out that he wasn’t single.

    Signs of an unavailable man #4: They isolate you from other people

    You can’t get to know their friends if they keep you away from them. That’s obvious.

    Zero proximity = zero interaction.

    But when you start dating someone, it doesn’t feel unusual to focus on the person you like rather their friends. The friends come second. You need to figure out if you like the person enough to meet the friends first.

    Cheaters take advantage of this. They keep you away from friends, family, acquaintances, and anyone who can clarify and expose their situation. A cheater does this with zero subtlety.

    Here’s what they do:

    • Corner you in the room — You’re trapped but not in a predatory way. They act like they’re trying to be private with you in a public situation. In reality, they act as a barrier between you and other people.
    • Take you to another location — They want it to be you and them, no one else. It doesn’t matter where — hotel rooms, a quiet park, a private home. Anywhere to avoid being caught.
    • Separate cabs — It’s just you and them in the rideshare — No one else allowed. No friends, even if it’s reasonable to share with their friends or yours. This intimate space provides the ideal space for them to get caught if you talk a little too long to someone they know. This same rule applies to every situation. They don’t let you spend too long with any of their friends.
    • Obscure dates — Forget restaurants, bars, the movies. These are classic date locations, but also highly populated areas where someone will recognize them.

    Signs of an unavailable man #5: They don’t use specifics

    If you can’t trace them, you won’t find the truth.

    I’ve hit this point in my advice where it seems like I’m talking about a criminal. They aren’t crimes, not in the way we know them. But they are relationship criminals and use many of the same tactics to get away with their crimes against emotions.

    They become good at covering their tracks. Matt was the master at it. He mentioned nothing I could verify. Here were some of the parts of his life he never specified about:

  • His job was vague; ‘I work in retail.’
  • His education was vague; ‘I’m halfway into my degree.’
  • Where he lived wasn’t easy to go find; “I live south of the city.”
  • It’s not that he was lying. That’s key here. He was being intentionally deceiving with his information, to put me off the scent. But he never lied. He did work in retail, study at university and live in the south. No lies, yet zero specifics.

    To put me off, he was insanely specific about things that didn’t matter. You can’t accuse someone of being evasive if they’re detailed about other parts of their life. He told me:

    • The music he loves.
    • His favorite tv show.
    • Where he bought his new jeans.
    • The drink he likes to order when he’s out.

    Signs of an unavailable man #6: They do everything a single guy does

    Here’s what messes us up. Guys who are off the market and partnered up with someone else, act like all other single guys. They all know how to put on the act, pretend they don’t have a significant other, and flirt with people they’re interested in.

    And, in the most screwed-up realization, they can act upon those feelings as a single man would. They:

    • Ask for your number.
    • Ask you out on a date.
    • Cross the line by treating you like a desired partner.
    • They kiss you and more — I mean, come on, it’s cheating.

    It’s important to realize what we know about single behavior isn’t always an accurate representation of who is single. It’s a performance, pretending, and it’s very easy for them to put on the show for you.

    Matt, like all cheaters, confused me more than I ever admitted. I would have put my life savings, based on his affection for me, on the assurance he was single.

    What an actor.

    Separating the cheaters from the singles

    Every cheater behaves differently. Some become very good at it, enough to fool the most knowledgeable dater. Others become sloppy and can’t hide their pre-existing relationship for the life of them.

    People are so wonderfully human. They do things we don’t expect. They never follow the rules.

    So why don’t you just ask them?

    I’m sure many of you are thinking; why don’t you ask? Forget the signs, forget reading between the lines.

    Why didn’t I think of that?!

    Well, here’s a reality. People lie. Shock horror, I know.

    After I eventually found out Matt was a taken man, I asked him about it. It wasn’t confrontational or even asked with any emotion, and he still lied to me.

    You can’t change the fact that people do bad things to you. But you can control how you react, feel about it, and how you choose to move on.

    Focus on you. It’s worth it.


    About the Creator

    Ellen "Jelly" McRae

    I’m here to use my wins and losses in #relationships as your cautionary tale | Writes 1LD; Cautionary tale #romance fiction |

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      Ellen "Jelly" McRaeWritten by Ellen "Jelly" McRae

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