‘Dating’ A Married Man

The Nashville Tennessean‘s story about the apparent murder-suicide involving 36-year-old NFL legend Steve McNair and 20-year-old waitress Sahel Kazemi repeatedly uses variations of “dating” to describe their relationship.   Somehow, that doesn’t seem like the right word choice.

FILED UNDER: General, , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Great. Another story for wives to use to remind us what a bad idea it would be to have a hot young mistress.

  2. G.A.Phillips says:

    Great. Another story for wives to use to remind us what a bad idea it would be to have a hot young mistress.

    Or a young hot mister……..

  3. kth says:

    ‘Dating’ is widely understood in this day to be inclusive of knocking boots. Not everyone that is dating is having sex, but a usage like “they were just dating, but lately she’s been sleeping over” would be bewildering to most people.

    I’m not sure what other verb would work, assuming that “shacking up” or “carrying on” aren’t in the stylebook of the Tennessean. “Conducting an affair” would be better, citing McNair’s marital commitment without editorializing. But it’s not as concise as ‘dating’, and brevity is a plus when dead trees are involved.

  4. Drew says:

    For those of you who haven’t had the opportunity to rub shoulders from time to time with the sports elite, let me tell you, the condo on the side for extra-curriculars is as common as rain in Seattle.

    As is popular right now: “I’m not sayin’ its right, I’m just sayin'”

    And, kth, here’s the deal: he was porkin’ her big time.

  5. kth says:

    yes, Drew, so I gathered; my point was that that’s what ‘dating’ means.

  6. ac halle says:

    Cut the pc crapola.
    six letter word.
    One to many letters for ‘the media’.

  7. Herb says:

    James, the right word choice would inevitably involve the Tennesean in making a judgment about the appropriateness of the relationship and it’s riskiness. Dating is a nice neutral, non judgmental word. We couldn’t have even an implicit moral judgment from the media, could we?

  8. Rick Almeida says:

    For the sake of conversation, suppose one is legally married, but estranged from the spouse. What’s the nature of that person romantically involved with a 3rd party?

    How about when one is legally separated?

    What about when divorce has been filed but not finalized?

    I just ask this because it’s something I’ve been thinking about…at what point, if any, is a person who is still legally married morally eligible to date?

  9. floyd says:

    In most cases the commitment is “’til death do us part”.

  10. Rick Almeida says:

    Yeah, but given the reality of the ease of divorce and the fact that the process of getting a divorce can take a pretty substantial amount of time, there can be a pretty large chunk of tie where 2 people have decided to be married no longer and are actively in the process of making that happen…so I think my question still stands.

    I have no stake in McNair’s situation at all, but this scenario got me and some friends talking bout exactly this.

  11. floyd says:

    Reality, with a bit of rationalization….
    Marriage is a sacrament, performed to make public what has already happened in the lives of the participants.

    That being said, it is logical to assume that the marriage ends in the same way, and it is over before it is made public with the paper work.
    The divorce being something already manifest in the hearts of the participants.

    To be honest, monogamy, even serial Monogamy, serves society in several ways, but true marriage is an institution ordained, supported, made a sacrament by God.

    All other marriages are legitimate only in the eyes of the state, while still important to society, they regretfully only amount to fornication with a license.

    This leaves the conclusion that dating becomes as legitimate at the point where both parties acknowledge the end of the marriage as it is when the lawyers conclude the paperwork.

    Think about the couple who has been together without a license for years, even having children, when would dating be legitimate for them?
    Perhaps they should ask the children?

  12. floyd says:

    To clarify one point…
    When I said “legitimate only in the eyes of the state,” I meant to implicitly include…

    “and the community in which it is recognized”

  13. Rick Almeida says:

    In my opinion, 2 people who are not legally married – whether or not they have kids – are free to declare themselves “broken up” and start seeing other people at their convenience.

    I guess I think pretty legalistically.

  14. floyd says:

    I guess you have now answered your own question.
    It’s the license that determines moral eligibility to date then??
    This does of course equate morality with legality, which is a common concept.

  15. Jack Harry says:

    its a very simple as well typical question.
    as a thought it may be yes or no……..
    but in practical approach its to hard to decide…………

    jack harry