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I am happily married man and have no interest in engaging in a relationship outside of it. I have heard that wearing a wedding ring alerts women to the fact that I'm married and not looking for outside interactions, while not wearing a wedding ring tells women I am available. Meaning, they may think I'm not married and looking for a relationship, or think that I'm interested in a relationship despite my marriage.

I'm sure this is cultural--I'm looking for answers relating to the United States.

Are there any ways to avoid unwanted approaches short of wearing a ring, such as mentioning that I'm married every once in a while, etc.?

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    What do you consider "unwanted approaches"? Can you describe a particular case? – Pedro Lobito Apr 25 '18 at 14:51
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    Does marital status come into this at all, or is OP really just asking how to avoid unwanted advances, period? (with the caveat that wearing a ring is not an acceptable solution) – A C Apr 26 '18 at 2:42
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    In what situations do you find this is a problem? I suspect the answers might be quite different for e.g. a work setting compared to a late-night disco. If you regularly go to places people use to meet strangers without your spouse, I bet no amount of wedding rings is going to help you :P Do you actually have a problem, or are you just being cautious? Are you just trying to avoid saying "Sorry, I'm happily married."? Is your marriage really relevant to your problem, or do you just want to avoid advances, period? – Luaan Apr 26 '18 at 12:08
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    Does this problem crop up a lot? – Strawberry Apr 26 '18 at 13:05
  • It doesn't come up often, I'm just being cautious. The marriage is relevant because I know that my wife would feel bad if I developed any sort of relationship (even if it didn't go anywhere and wasn't intentional), which means I want to avoid it from the get-go, as opposed to becoming friends and then pulling out. – Jo.P Apr 27 '18 at 16:57
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Neither my husband nor myself wear a wedding ring, purely out of preference. We both strongly dislike wearing jewelry.

There is nothing magical about a wedding ring. It can be taken off. Some people will completely disregard the presence of a ring in the first place and still show interest.

It's a matter of attitude. Ring or no ring, I'm married and loyal to my partner and that means that my approach toward men is not the same as if I were single. I have boundaries that indicate as much. I don't entertain flirting, I don't lead people on, I turn people down if they express interest.

My husband is so integrated into my life that pretty much all of our acquaintance knows we are married and if I meet someone new, it naturally makes its way into the conversation. I don't need to force it. If I do notice someone is interested, I am a bit more careful to refer to my husband in conversation and sometimes just state "Sorry, I'm not interested. I'm married" if they ask me out.

Wearing a ring is no guarantee that people won't be interested in you or flirt with you. What indicates to them that you are not available is your attitude toward them and your response to their interest.

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    When someone takes off their wedding ring, that is extremely visible. If I took my wedding ring off, any woman would identify me immediately as "married man who wants to appear unmarried". – gnasher729 Jan 19 '19 at 0:39
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I suggest rebuffing unwanted responses in the same manner as you would when in a relationship and not married, or even as you would when single. Mention your SO, relationship, or simply state something along the lines of "I'm not looking for romantic interaction" if the topic comes up.

Wearing a ring is not guaranteed to stop unwanted advances. Not wearing a ring does not invite advances. The only way someone would reasonably think that you're interested is if you indicate as much.

From Initial Post:

I cannot imagine a situation where a woman sees a ringless hand and thinks "oh, that man is looking for a relationship!" Your behavior in an interaction with said woman would have to indicate that you were looking for a relationship. If you're not particularly flirty, I believe you can avoid that issue entirely.

I believe your concern with women interested in married men is more realistic, but only slightly so (as I imagine those interested purely in being mistresses are quite few in number, and otherwise a woman not so inclined would have to find you insanely attractive to throw away some moral fiber). This problem can be dealt with by explicitly stating your marital status and your interest in maintaining the status quo.

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" I have heard that wearing a wedding ring alerts women to the fact that I'm married and not looking for outside interactions, while not wearing a wedding ring tells women I am available."

Actually, some people think the opposite! A former work colleague who had been married less than a year once pointed to their wedding ring and boasted to me that the ring actually attracted more advances from women (I decided to spare you the expression he used because it was quite offensive). But I do believe there is probably some truth in this - some people (because I'm sure that this could apply either way and to either gender) may actually see chatting up a married person as a challenge. I have also heard it said that some single people seeking stability in their own lives actually pursue married people because they imagine that person is more likely to be committed. In cases like this a wedding ring could actually be a visible sign that you've got what they are looking for! Of course, this seems faulty reasoning to me - anybody willing to leave their partner for someone else is the exact opposite of "committed"!

Without moralising or getting into psychology, I think it is fair to say that people who seek extramarital affairs, and those who carefully safeguard against affairs think quite differently from one another. So chances are they view the wearing of a ring (or not wearing one) differently too.

To answer your question, the best way to avoid unwanted advances is by your words and actions. Whether or not you wear a ring in my opinion will make no difference. If someone is looking to have an affair then a ring will not put them off.

If someone does make a suggestion you do not like, say:

"I'm not interested."

There is no misinterpreting this. Some people believe that saying "I'm married!" can be interpreted as an excuse and not a rebuff.

If you feel you would like a visible, outward sign that you are happily married other than wearing a ring, why not keep a photo of your wife/family on your desk, or wherever you are facing these challenges?

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To expand on answers already given, you could also mention their wife in conversation more if the other party is not understanding your lack of interest, such as "Oh my wife also likes x" or "My wife and I did this recently". This way you're showing the interested party that your wife is on your mind, and you're constantly reminding them that you're also married without saying "I'm married" every 5 minutes.

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    Yes, and even a vague, "This weekend we did X" doesn't dwell on the identity of the spouse but may make the same point, if there's a reason not to reveal gender or marital status. ("Partner" might also work.) – cactus_pardner Apr 25 '18 at 16:14
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    @cactus_pardner I normally refer to my boyfriend as my partner when I speak about him, only reason I used Wife in my answer was because OP referred to his partner as his wife. I agree that "partner" is appropriate if you're wanting to hide certain aspects, or find it more natural. – Violet Flare Apr 26 '18 at 7:04
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The quick answer is, there is no easy way other than a ring to signal you are married, before you receive unwanted attention. That's just how it's done in the USA. When I did building construction I wasn't permitted to wear rings on the job site. During the day, when I went out to lunch, or if I forgot to put my ring back on, the flirting from women was merciless.

When I was wearing my ring, I received virtually no attention from other women. In my conversations with women, they find it quite frustrating that men will remove their wedding rings when they're looking for something on the side.

So, even a tan-line that shows where a ring is usually worn--and I've heard this in conversation--is ample indication for women to just stay away.

In my experience the wedding ring works so well to deter other women that right after I got married I had to get used to the change. I thought there was something wrong with me. But I quickly realized it was just the ring.

That's not to say there aren't other things that are tells that a man is married, especially to people in his social circle. The habits a man keeps usually demonstrate more than anything the devotion of a family man.

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In my experience, no there aren't.

I've been married for about 30 years now, and have been hit on twice (that I've noticed. I'm kinda dense about those things). Both times I happened to not be wearing the ring due having just exercised.

How big of a problem that is, that's up to you I guess. But the ring is society's accepted standard way of signaling that you are in a committed relationship. There's no other obvious way of finding out you aren't interested in a relationship without physically asking you. If you have to tell someone you are married, even in casual conversation, the approach has already occurred. A ring is the non-verbal signaling that is used.

What I'm seeing a lot of people do these days who don't like the drawbacks of wearing traditional wedding rings is use silicone wedding bands. They aren't nearly as dangerous to the wearer as a metal ring, come in a variety of colors, and are so cheap you can buy several for different occasions/outfits*. Some people even sell them in variety packs. Pictured below is a pack I found for sale online for only $11.

A picture of various plastic rings

I have a nice silver/gray one that I can wear working out now (so much for that problem!). I also wear it for everyday use. At my age my fingers and knuckles swell a bit after a full day's use, making a rigid metal ring uncomfortable to wear, and a huge pain to remove. My old gold wedding ring I now only wear when I dress up.

* - Black seems to be the hipster color du jour. Camo ones I see around in Oklahoma a lot too.

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    Hey, I just wanted to let you know that I don't think this is an interpersonal answer. Also, I don't think that this answer the question (since OP doesn't seem to want to wear any kind of ring). As a result, I flagged your answer. Feel free to edit if you want. – Ælis Jan 3 '19 at 14:05
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    The question was "Are there signaling alternatives for wearing a ring in the US?" and the answer is "No (2 paras), but here's a possible mitigation you might not be aware of (2 more paras)." It is both iterpersonal, and a direct answer to the question. It is certainly your right to not like the answer (judging from its relative position, you are far from alone there), but it is indisputably an answer. – T.E.D. Jan 3 '19 at 14:20
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I am married and do not wear a ring.

In the rare cases /sight/ where another woman was showing some interest in me, I was just bringing in the topic of my wife and children into the conversation. I made a point to make it natural to give that other person the ability to back off easily without spoiling the discussion.

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