Warnings Signs of Mate Poaching



Jessica: Have you heard of mate poaching? Not cheating exactly, but instigating a situation that might not be completely above board. Don’t get me wrong, it could look like friendship for a while, but the person doing the poaching has less than cleans intentions. There’s a lot to it. That’s what we’re talking about today in this episode of the Divorce etc… podcast. We’re the exEXPERTS, Jessica and T.H. We focus on helping you navigate your divorce and successfully moving on with your life. Please follow us on all social media at exEXPERTS, and check out for tons of free divorce related resources. Let’s bring in today’s guest.

T.H.: Our go to girl for dating and doing relationships right is Jen Hurvitz the author, date coach, TV personality—I mean, I don’t even know, a whole bunch of accolades. Anyway, her brand is Doing Relationships Right. She also has her own podcast. We are talking about this—I don’t know if it’s a new trend or it’s a trend that now has a name to it—mate poaching. What the hell is this?

Jen: It’s not good.

T.H.: It doesn’t sound good.

Jessica: Use an example so that people understand exactly what it is.

Jen: Okay, so mate poaching, there’s a dark triad. That’s what it’s called, the “dark triad” of people. There’s a poacher, there’s a poachee—or a person that’s being poached—and then there’s the partner of the person being poached. Okay, so let’s go into it.

Jessica: So it’s a couple and a third person.

Jen: Yes.

Jessica: And the third person is trying to poach one of the people in the couple.

Jen: Yes, exactly. This is the trick. It’s a monogamous couple that is “happy” from the outside, right? This person comes in, and it could be your friend, it could be someone you know, and it typically happens on Facebook or on some kind of social media.

Jessica: On Facebook, like they’re reconnecting with someone? Or it’s someone who you’ve known for—

Jen: Yes. It could be. It could be someone at the club. It could be someone that you’re playing tennis with. It could be your tennis partners. We’re not talking about swinging or polyamory. This has nothing to do with sex yet. This has to do with kind of like Jessie’s Girl. I just read an article and Jessie has a friend… and now that guy wants to be her—I want that girl, right? I’m going to use a guy for the example. A guy comes into the situation, and he reaches out to his friend’s wife and says, “Oh my gosh, you know what? Your husband, he’s not really so great to you. I saw him when you guys were at the football game. He was kind of nasty. And you know what? I just think he treats you like shitty.” Then she says, “Oh my god, I don’t understand. How did you see us?” He says, “Well, my son plays in the same football team as you, and I just wanted to tell you that.” Do you see what I’m saying?

Jessica: Yeah, so he’s preying on maybe private vulnerabilities of the person being poached.

Jen: Yes, or he’s saying like, “Oh, god, it—”

Jessica: It’s almost like he’s grooming her.

Jen: He is grooming her. Then he says to her, “You know what, though? I got to tell you, you look really hot. I don’t know if your husband’s nice to you or whatever. But you’re looking good.” You could be friends from high school right? “In ninth grade, you were cute. But oh my god, you had a glow up.” He’s feeding your ego. He’s maybe heard from a friend that your marriage isn’t doing so great. He starts in and he starts whatever. Do you see what I’m saying?

Jessica: Yes.

Jen: So then she starts getting pissed at the husband. But she doesn’t say that she’s talking to this guy.

Jessica: So it’s a little bit of gaslighting.

Jen: Oh, it is gaslighting. It’s gaslighting, it’s love bombing, it’s coercing, it’s nasty, and it’s not good.

T.H.: How do you not see that someone’s doing this to you?

Jen: Well, because you probably are in a—your marriage is—

T.H.: You don’t want to.

Jen: Right. You don’t want to, and it feels good.  

Jessica: This grooming stage could conceivably go on for quite some time. Do you think from very beginning he’s like, “Someday, I’m going to get her”?

Jen: Yep.

Jessica: Yes. Wow.  

T.H.: So are poachers generally single, or—

Jen: They don’t have to be single. Okay, yes, typically, I would say 99% of time they are single. This is a single man or woman, guy or girl, who is like, “I like this woman. I’ve watched her. I think she’s cool. She’s in a marriage. I’ve heard it’s shitty. Or she looks like she’s not in a good place. Or I just want her. I just want this woman. I’m going to get her.” It’s an ego thing. This guy has an ego the size of Kentucky. He’s like, “I want this girl, and I’m going to get her. I don’t care what I have to do.” He maybe heard from friends that she’s in a vulnerable situation, or the marriage isn’t so hot.

Jessica: Okay.

Jen: Or whatever, right?

Jessica: Now she starts getting pissed at the husband.

Jen: Yeah, she gets pissed to the husband. She goes, “Well, you know what? You never say anything nice to me anymore.” 

T.H.: So she starts sabotaging her own relationship.

Jen: Exactly.

T.H.: Even if it was okay.

Jen: Exactly. It was okay. Maybe it wasn’t as great as it should be because marriage is tough.

T.H.: Everybody has ups and downs.

Jen: For god’s sake, right? Relationships are hard. But now she’s getting fed in her ear from this person that she barely even knows, but maybe knew in high school, or maybe she met at the club one day, that this guy thinks she’s hot. Why doesn’t her husband think she’s hot?

Jessica: Right.

T.H.: And I don’t feel appreciated.

Jen: I don’t feel appreciated. And you know, “He was kind of nasty to me at the football game. I wonder why whoever saw it. You know, you’ve been really shitty to me lately.” Do you see what I’m saying?

T.H.: And it’s not only men who are poachers. Women can be poachers too.

Jen: Yes, they can.

T.H.: Okay, so then what happened?

Jen: Also, here’s another thing too. The poacher, usually, this is very strange, and I don’t know why, but statistically, the poacher is usually more attractive than the husband or wife, makes more money. For whatever, they have like a higher value than the—

T.H.: Higher perceived value.

Jen: Higher perceived value. It’s something that this person isn’t getting in their marriage. It’s so fucked up. It really is.

T.H.: Is this like a mental—

Jen: Yes.

T.H.: —disorder?

Jen: No, it’s not even a disorder. Here’s the thing, I’m not sure—

T.H.: I feel like it’s a special person who’s a poacher. Because I was married to a narcissist, and I know for sure that his agenda every day wasn’t consciously thinking of how he was going to make me feel like shit today. He just had a natural knack.

Jessica: It was a gift.

Jen: It was a gift. I had one of those too.

T.H.: It was the gift that keeps on giving. But all I’m saying is, it wasn’t with intention and purpose every day, just the way he is. And so some people are like that, and some people aren’t. So are these poachers people who are just like this?

Jen: Yes.

T.H.: —they’re intentionally thinking “I’m going to break Jessica up with this guy. I’m going to get her.” Or just like, “Oh my god, Jessica’s really cool, and I think she deserves better.” Do they believe their own schtick?

Jen: Oh, yeah. No, these people, I truly believe that poachers are targeting this person, and their goal is to get them. It’s intended. There’s an intention here. Also, it’s very manipulative.

Jessica: Yes, it is.

Jen: It’s very meticulous. I’ll give you an example. I’m just going to use my own experience. I happen to have a poacher. I had a person that was poaching me. I thought we were really good friends. We were. We were really good friends. I really did trust our friendship. I liked our friendship. It felt good. He could offer me things that my relationship couldn’t friendship-wise. But he also had connections in places that I needed, that I—

T.H.: Opportunities for you professionally.

Jen: Opportunities for me professionally. I even shared it with my partner: “Oh my god, you won’t believe this. So and so is going to help me with blah, blah, blah.” Or “I can get my book in this store.” And so I made him, this person, a friend to my partner, because now it immediately takes away the relationship part of it. Do you see what I’m saying?

T.H.: You’re bringing him into your relationship.

Jessica: Yeah.

T.H.: You’re not cheating.

Jen: No, I’m not cheating. Here’s the thing, I didn’t think I was cheating, because I wasn’t cheating. But this person, he knew what he was doing. He was grooming me. He was setting me up for four, five years, so that when eventually I did break up with my partner, he was there.

T.H.: Do you know of any other women he was also doing this to?

Jen: I didn’t know.

Jessica: Was he ever dating anyone during those four or five years?

Jen: Here’s the weirdest thing about this, I didn’t know. I didn’t ask.

T.H.: Because he’s not right where you are.

Jen: Because he’s out of town. He has his own life. We don’t text all the time. We only text enough.

Jessica: Okay. For everyone listening, that’s actually a thing. Because I was under the impression this is someone who lives locally, who you’re seeing pretty often. So you’re saying this is someone who lived completely in a different, faraway, long distance place, and not even in super regular contact, but just enough to keep you always like, “Hey, that’s so great.”

Jen: “Oh my gosh, thank you so much!”

Jessica: Every time.

Jen: Every time. And it was never sexual. 

T.H.: Right, but once you build an emotional connection

Jen: I was emotionally connected to him—

T.H.: —it’s a big deal. But we’re going to pause for a quick moment here. Because we know it’s hard to get honest and reliable information about your divorce and how to move on from it, so we’ve done the work for you. As the exEXPERTS, we get questions every day from people looking for a trustworthy resource to support them through this difficult time. From legal, money, kids, self-care, dating, and all of the other stuff, we’ve got it covered at and on the Divorce etc… podcast. Be sure to subscribe to our weekly newsletter to hear directly from us, because we educate you on how to navigate your way through divorce and get what you need and have what you want. Just visit We’ve lived it, so we get it.

Jen: I just want to say one thing really quickly too.

T.H.: Okay.

Jen: The person, the mate of the person being poached, it’s really hard on them—

T.H.: I bet.

Jen: —when it comes out because it’s socially, emotionally, and physiological effects on them. Because they think—

Jessica: They got totally betrayed.

Jen: They feel betrayed—

T.H.: Like, where did this even come from?

Jen: Like, I thought he was your friend—

Jessica: And was something going on all this time?

Jen: The whole time.

Jessica: Right.

Jen: The whole time. Then you’re trying to defend yourself saying, “I swear to god, I did not have anything. We were friends.” And especially if the person has more money, is better—do you know what I’m saying? Has more power. It’s absolutely soul destroying.

Jessica: So how can a person see the signs?

T.H.: What are the warning signs?

Jessica: And be able to protect themselves from it. Because I want to just preface this by saying one thing, I don’t know that it’s like you hit a certain age range or something, I know people that are like, “It’s not appropriate to have friends of the opposite sex, because there’s always some kind of underlying suspicious whatever.” I will tell you, as someone who—forget the fact that I got back together with someone I’m dating—I really do have platonic friends of the opposite sex who I value, and who I can hang out with, and who it’s totally fun and nothing is going on and nothing has ever gone on.  

T.H.: But if they had the opportunity…

Jen: They would absolutely. 

T.H.: Something could go on.

Jessica: No, no, no, but I’m talking about people that I’ve known for years and years.

T.H.: Not your ex husband. 

Jen: But not you. But here’s the thing, I’m going to tell you and be honest with you, you’re not going to do with them, but 100% they want to fuck you.

Jessica: No, I disagree.

Jen: Absolutely.

Jessica: Here’s why. I’ll tell you why.

Jen: Why? Are they gay?

Jessica: No—

Jen: Look at you.

Jessica: Hold on a minute. Thank you.

T.H.: They’ve been told no many times.

Jessica: In my single stage, there was someone who I’ve known since college, who nothing ever happened. We’ve been friends. That like for a short period of time, I actually was like, I could maybe go there. When I put out what I thought was like, dipping my toe in the water, there was like nothing back. We are still friends. So nothing ever happened, and I never said anything more direct than that. It really was like we were both dating, like looking on apps, doing all the dating things. I said something like, “Don’t you know anyone to set me up with? Why can’t I find someone like you: handsome, funny, great job, family orientated, like all of these?” and he totally didn’t take the hint.

T.H.: He didn’t have the nerve to ask.

Jessica: I don’t know. No, no, no. No, I don’t think so. This guy is not lacking in self-confidence. So, my only point is, I’m not someone who believes that the opposite sex can’t be friends platonically and not have some kind of ulterior motive. And so all that coming back to how do you look out for the signs? And where is the line?

T.H.: Right, how do you protect yourself from this? What are the clear things to look for?

Jen: Okay, well, first of all, if someone is poaching you, I mean, if someone is coming in hard, fast, strong, I try to think to myself, as I look back, like, I accepted this. I felt really guilty. I felt really taken advantage of. I felt stupid. I felt like, how could I trust this person or anyone else for that matter? But I also felt it was also a way out of or a soft landing when we broke up, okay?

Jessica: Yes.

Jen: So you have to really check yourself hard, and you have to be secure in your relationship. It takes both sides, a poacher and—I don’t think a poacher is going after someone who’s in a really great relationship. I really do feel that psychologically, this person is coming after someone vulnerable.

T.H.: Well, yes. And also, I think if you’re in a happy relationship anyway, a poacher doesn’t have a chance.

Jen: Doesn’t have a chance.

T.H.: Because I would never even look twice—

Jen: I wouldn’t either.

T.H.: No matter what you say to me, I would never—it wouldn’t work on me.

Jessica: But Jen’s point is you’re not looking twice. Listen—

Jen: I wasn’t looking twice.

T.H.: He could not possibly lure me.

Jessica: That’s not what I’m saying. What I’m saying is he’s someone that you have a friendship with. If he was like, “Hey, I have this connection for you that’s going to help you out with exEXPERTS,” or whatever it is, that would be amazing. And if he was in town and was like, “Hey, I’d love to meet Frank,” you would totally do it. This is a friend of yours that there’s nothing romantic going on. It’s a platonic friendship, someone you’ve known for a really long time.

T.H.: I think it’s interesting. I think that ultimately, if you have come out of a marriage, whether you think you’re vulnerable or not, you are. Whether you think you have work to do on yourself, you do. And so you can tell yourself whatever you want. “This is the man of my dreams. He’s going to save me.” Sometimes if it’s too good to be true with the timing of where you are in your life, it might be. It might be. It might not be. But the odds are it might be. So dot all your I’s, cross all your T’s, do a gut check with yourself like, “Wow, this is unbelievable.” I was honestly, and it’s not a poaching situation, but I got caught up in a relationship with someone. Are you ready for this? This guy set me up with someone. This is like the first official—after Michigan man—set me up with someone. I said, “I do not want to be involved in somebody else’s shit,” because my story was still going around town, and I had enough of my own garbage and situation to clean up. He goes, “No, no, no. He’s such a good guy, a great dad. He lives in the next town.” I was like, “Alright, fine.” So he sets me up with the guy, and he sets me up with the guy because he’s fucking his wife, okay? So that got him out of the way. Okay, so Jen’s mouth is wide open.

Jessica: They were already separated. They weren’t happily married and this guy was—

T.H.: They were separated. Right, they were separated.

Jessica: They were separated. But the guy was like, if the soon-to-be ex husband is also dating someone, it’ll just make his life easier while he’s dating the wife.

T.H.: Right. But then I got caught up. I was like, oh my god, this is the greatest ever. It can’t be better than this. All of that, like super crazy excitement, by the way, is not what I felt with my forever man upfront.


Jen: No, me neither.


T.H.: It wasn’t love at first sight. I wasn’t swept off my feet. We built slowly together. But there was something about him. But it wasn’t like, “Oh my god, all my dreams have just come true from this one man.” By the way, when I looked back, the best thing I got out of him was an English muffin. So he’s called the English muffin man. That’s the best he ever did for me. In the end, he did try and get back together with his wife without telling me, and I looked like a schmuck. I hope you’re all following this story, it could be a little complicated. She called me and yelled at me for cheating with her husband. They lived in separate houses. They were separated. And I know that she was screwing the other guy. The point of this with the mate poaching is I got caught up. It sounds like people who are victims of this mate poaching get caught up. So get caught up so that you learn your lesson.

Jen: Oh, please, yes.

T.H.: But make sure you check in with yourself. “This will be so great. But it feels a little funky.” Like, “He said this, and he’s promising a lot of things.”

Jen: But here’s the bottom line too. Here’s the bottom line. I’m just going to say this, if you are having conversations that you can’t share with your spouse or your partner on text, on app, on Whatsapp, on social media, that if your partner said, “Who are you talking to? Let me see,” which I’m not saying that—but if you can’t share it, you are cheating.

Jessica: Agreed.

Jen: Okay?

T.H.: 100%.

Jessica: But it sounds like what you’re saying—

T.H.: But you’re saying they’re being your friend.

Jessica: —they’re not doing that.  

Jen: But it gets to the point with poaching, that you are. That’s my point.

Jessica: Okay, where does it—

Jen: With poaching, it starts off with, because here’s the thing, when the guy says to you—I’m talking about further down the line. I’m talking about when you show up at the football game and you get a little extra dressed—

Jessica: And he said, “You look hot,” right.

Jen: And he stands next to you and says, “The conversation we had last night kind of turned me on.”

Jessica: And you’re happy to hear it.

Jen: And you’re like [gasping]. Or you lose 10 lb for him, not for your husband.

T.H.: Or for yourself.

Jen: Or for yourself. Now you’re getting caught up.

Jessica: Right. Now you’re starting to cross the line.

Jen: Now you’re starting to be a real dick to your husband because you want to talk on the phone to this guy.

T.H.: Oh, you’re already sunk by then.  

Jen: You’re sunk. But this could take years. Or it could take 15 minutes. Or you drive down—like, this is someone in your hometown and you drive down the street to pass his house.

Jessica: To pass his house.

Jen: Even though you know you’re never leaving your husband. You’re never leaving your husband.

T.H.: You’re doing things—

Jen: You’re doing things.  

T.H.: —that if your spouse was doing that to you, you would lose your shit.

Jen: You would lose your shit. Yes.

Jessica: Yes.

T.H.: Right. That’s the ultimate fact.

Jen: That’s what this is about. Psychologically, it’s so fucking horrible.

Jessica: Here’s my last question about it. When they succeed, when the poacher succeeds and has successfully poached the person that they’ve been after, does that actually last? What do the stats show? Is that now—

Jen: I mean, I don’t know. I don’t have stats on that.

Jessica: Because I feel on the one hand, the woman might be so flattered, like, “Oh, my god, you’ve been after me for five years. He invested all of this time.”

T.H.: Now I’m here.

Jessica: “That’s how much he cares about me.” Or is it like, now he got what he wanted, now he’s looking off on to where else—

T.H.: Totally. I would think that’s it. The thrill of the—

Jessica: The thrill of the hunt.

T.H.: Yeah, the thrill of the hunt is gone.

Jen: I don’t know that. All I know is that it feels really—

T.H.: But Jen, for you—

Jen: For me, it was different.

T.H.: Did you end it? Or did he lose interest because he got you?

Jen: I fucking ended it. For me, it was just like, ugh. It was just…

T.H.: There are no words.

Jen: There are no words.

Jessica: Yeah. Okay. Fair. Fair. But look, for everybody listening, this is really something to watch out for. Look, I was going to say, especially when you’re coming out of a marriage, but the whole point of this conversation is that you’re not quite out of the marriage.

Jen: No, you’re not out of the marriage.

Jessica: You may be in a situation, listening right now, feeling you’re not that happy in your relationship. You’re wondering what your next steps should be. You don’t want to get divorced, but part of you might wonder if you do want to get divorced. By the way, you might have a friend like this.

Jen: You do have a friend like this. I guarantee it.

Jessica: If you really think and dig deep, some of the things that your friend has been saying or doing over the past period of time, may be affecting how you’re feeling about your relationship. So, think to yourself, where are you? If you are deciding that you’re actually going to take the monumental, very painful step of losing your marriage, make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons and that you don’t in the back of your head think like, “Well, if I leave him, then maybe I can have this over here.”

T.H.: The grass isn’t always greener.  

Jen: It’s not. Also, it’s also a sign. If something looks shinier and brighter, I would quickly shut that shit down. I would go to my spouse and say, “We need to go to some therapy. Let’s start therapy. Let’s talk. Let’s communicate.”

Jessica: Really, yes. That’s a great—yes.

T.H.: Get ahead of it.

Jen: “Let’s get together.” Get ahead of it.

Jessica: Open communication is the most important thing.

Jen: Open communication. There’s nothing wrong with saying to your partner, “Look, for whatever reason, I’m chatting to this person on whatever. I feel like it’s out of line, and I don’t want to go there, but there must be reason I’m doing it.”

T.H.: Right. “There’s something missing here.”

Jen: “There’s something missing here. Let’s connect. Let’s have a conversation. Let’s every night have sex for a week, whatever we’re going to do. But let’s fix this now.”

Jessica: Yeah.

T.H.: Yeah.

Jen: Instead of going where it’s easy, because it’s really easy.

T.H.: But then it’s going to get really ugly. Then you’re going to be that person.

Jen: Please trust me. There’s nothing good about this. Nothing.

Jessica: No, but I think this is a really great warning sign for people out there. Because whether, like I said, you’re in that stage of your marriage now where you’re not feeling great about it and you’re not feeling appreciated, and you’re feeling that person over there seems like he would treat or he or she would be treating me right, or you’re dating, whatever relationship you’re in, if there is a person that you can identify on the outside, who’s doing some of the things that Jen is talking about, it’s time to really assess your own feelings and where you are and make sure that whatever your future holds, that you’re making the right decisions for the right reasons.

T.H.: Wait, let me just ask one last question. I mean, this could happen on a dating app, right? It doesn’t even have to really be somebody that you knew. There could be somebody on the dating apps that kind of just does this thing.

Jessica: Maybe. But her whole point is that the first person has to be in a relationship. Then the person that’s being poached, presumably, is already cheating because they’re already on a dating app.

Jen: I’ll tell you, I’ve been on both sides of it.

T.H.: Yeah.

Jen: When I was married, this happened. And it’s horrific. Horrific.

Jessica: Yeah. Look, it’s open your eyes, it’s a warning. All we can do is tell you what’s going on in the world and help you try to navigate your own relationship. Thank you Jen for bringing our attention to this issue that we never even knew existed.  

Jen: I think you knew it. It just had a different name.

Jessica: Yeah, yeah, probably. Alright, well, for everybody out there listening, if you enjoyed this episode of the Divorce etc… podcast with the exEXPERTS today, then can you please help a few girls out? When you subscribe, rate, and review the Divorce etc… podcast, you help us increase our reach so that we can help more people like you going through divorce and beyond. Check the show notes for more info on Jen, her books, her coaching packages, and her podcast, Doing Relationships Right. And of course, share this with anyone you know who can benefit from listening. Have a great day.

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