"Why don't you write about married men who
Flirting with Married Men.
lead girls to love them?" asked the young
woman. "Many girls need a word of warning in
"I hardly think," I said, "that the girl who needs
it would heed it. There is something wrong with
her if she does not stop the man's first advance
beyond the circumspect line. It may be only van-
ity, but it is a dangerous sort of vanity which allows
a single woman to enjoy a married man's amorous
"You are thinking of society girls," was the
answer, "and I am thinking of working girls, who
are often thrown in with a man in a business way,
and who do not know that he is married until he
has won their hearts. More such cases occur than
you imagine. Girls in large dry-goods establish-
ments, stenographers in our big downtown busi-
ness houses, bookkeepers and clerks all over the city
are in constant association with men of whose pri-
vate life they are wholly ignorant. Frequently
these men invite the girls to go out with them to
the theatre or to lunch, send them flowers and pay
them scores of little attentions which win the recip-
ient's gratitude and affections. Later when they
learn that these men have wives and families
uptown or in the suburbs, it causes severe heart-
It seems to me, however, that whatever is written
on this subject needs to be addressed to the men.
A little old-fashioned advice to working girls to be
careful about receiving attention or presents from
any man whom they do not know thoroughly, would
be all that one could offer, and when a man sets his
head towards promiscuous conquest, irrespective of
his legal and moral ties, it is as useless to preach to
him as it would be to attempt to lasso a wild bull
with spool thread.
He will have to go through another incarnation
before he can be expected to see the folly of his
There is a type of girl, however, to be found in
society and out of it, who thinks it rather "smart"
to carry on a mild flirtation with married men. She
means no harm, she says, but she likes the excite-
ment of the thing! Likes to see just how much of
a fool a man is willing to be made by a teasing girl.
This is the same sort of a girl who, when she is
child, likes to see how far she can lean over the roof
of the house without falling off. If she is not car-
ried away on a stretcher before she grows up to
womanhood, she is usually led into the courts as
co-respondent before she is twenty-five.
When a girl starts in to make a fool of a married
man, she usually ends in making a criminal of
Most married men flirts begin their advances by
appealing to the sympathies of some attractive girl.
(They seldom seek sympathy from a plain woman.)
They talk of an unsympathetic home life, and a wife
who does not appreciate them, and sigh over the
blighting disappointments of such a lot. They
assure their listener that they have never in the
world spoken in this manner to anyone else, and
that a peculiar sympathetic attraction can alone
explain why she should cause them to lay bare their
hearts to her gaze.
The maternal instinct latent in every woman's
breast often leads the girl to respond to confidences
of this nature. But every girl ought to know that
only the weakest kind of a man ever complains of
his wife to another woman. The moment a hus-
band utters a criticism upon his absent wife in the
ears of any woman, he proves himself cowardly and
The wife who criticizes her husband for the edi-
fication of other men is just as unworthy, but a
whining man is always a more pitiful object than a
Any self-respecting girl ought to silence a man
who speaks disparagingly of his wife in her
A good, stinging rebuke from her lips would do
him more good than her "sympathy." Beside, it
would nip in the bud many a serious entanglement.
Every-day thoughts in prose and verse. by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Chicago: W. B. Conkey Company, 1901.