While most people openly share if they are married or not, the reality is that some people, for a variety of reasons, choose to keep this information a secret.
Because learning someone you are dating or interested in is already taken would be a major heartbreaker, here’s how to take steps to try and learn if someone is married.
Reasons to find out if someone is married
Besides general curiosity, here are a few reasons why you might want to find out if someone is married:
You’re interested in someone but too shy to ask if they’re available. Maybe there’s a coworker you have your eye on or someone you see on a regular basis you’d love to ask out. Asking them on a date only to find out they’re married could be embarrassing. You can save yourself the awkwardness by finding out on your own.
You’re dating someone and want to make sure it’s for real. If you’re dating someone and worry it might be too good to be true, investigating if they’re already married could be worthwhile. Finding out on your own can save you from a painful revelation at a later date.
You’re planning to propose. In the U.S. (and many other countries), you can only be married to one person at a time, even if that person is separated from their spouse–they’re not yet available to legally wed. If you’re planning to get married, it’s in your best interest to try to make sure you’ll actually be able to do so.
You’re starting a business or buying property. Those who survive a deceased partner often automatically inherit part or all of their spouse’s estate, which can include property, bank accounts, vehicles, etc. This sometimes even applies to stakes in a business. If you’re planning to enter such a venture with someone, finding out if they’re married could be useful because it could change the nature of the contract and allow you to take the necessary steps to protect yourself.
How to find out if someone is married
There are a number of different ways you can investigate this, some easy and some not so easy.
Here’s how to find out if someone is married.
The most direct way to find out if someone is married is to just ask them. Most people who are married aren’t embarrassed by this and will be pretty open if you approach them.
If you don’t want to just straight up ask, here are a few different ways to ask if someone is married:
- Do you have a family?
- Do you have anyone special?
- Are you seeing anyone?
Another option is to ask someone close to the person in question. This might be preferred if you are interested in someone and aren’t sure if they’re single. Going this route will help you avoid the potential rejection that might come from asking them directly.
Of course, there is always the possibility that the person will lie when you ask them, especially if they are open to stepping out of their marriage. If you suspect this is the case, there are other ways you can try to find out if someone is married without having to ask them directly.
Look for signs
Married people can live their lives differently than single people. If you pay attention, you can often pick up on signs that they are married, even if they don’t admit it.
Here are some things to look at/questions to ask yourself that may help you find out if someone is married:
Look at their fingers. In the United States, it’s customary for married people to wear a ring on their left ring finger. Men typically wear a single band, while women may wear either a band or both a band and an engagement ring. If you see a ring of any kind on their left ring finger, that’s a strong sign they may be married—that finger is typically reserved for wedding and engagement rings.
Of course, if they’re trying to hide their marital status, they may not wear their ring in public. Some openly married people may opt to not wear rings as well. And given that the U.S. is a culturally diverse country, you should be cognizant of the fact that some cultures may not use wedding rings at all.
Do they have children? Of course, neither a spouse nor even a romantic partner are prerequisites for having children. However, about two-thirds of all children live with two married parents. That means that if the person has children, there’s a strong chance a spouse is also in the picture.
They avoid certain areas or establishments. A married person doesn’t want to run into their spouse or children while they are out (assuming they’re pretending they aren’t married). If they always want to “stay in” at your place or won’t go to certain parts of town, this might be a sign they are hiding something.
These signs can help give you an indication as to whether or not someone is married, but they aren’t hard rules. Even if they do exhibit some of these signs, you’ll want to dig a little deeper before drawing conclusions.
Check their social media
Again, most people who are married don’t really work that hard to hide it. In fact, they tend to show it off. Therefore, a good place to start when trying to figure out if someone is married is social media.
Look at recent photos and posts to see if they have anyone in their life, but also go back in time to look for engagement or wedding photos. There’s a pretty good chance they posted something, and this should be enough to answer whether or not they’re married.
Use a search engine
Another fairly simple way to try and find out if someone is married is to search on Google or some other search engine.
Type in their name and “wedding,” “marriage announcement” or “engagement.” Many people send out formal announcements to friends and family when they get married. Today these are often digital, meaning they can be easy to find.
Use a people search service
If none of these methods return any results and/or you’re still not satisfied you have the answer, use a people search service. These tools will scan a number of different databases that are publicly available and may bring you to the relevant documents much more quickly than if you tried to do this on your own.
Are marriage licenses public records?
While people search services are really useful tools to help you find out if someone is married, they aren’t perfect, mainly because each state has its own database. There is no federal database that includes everyone in the country.
Marriage records are generally public information. All you need is enough information to do the search, which is usually just a name but might also include an address or birthdate.
However, some states restrict how much information you can see on these records, especially if you’re not authorized by someone who is actually on the marriage license. You may only be able to see their names.
Go to the courthouse
If your online search doesn’t turn up any results but you’re still not convinced, you can always search records on your own. To do this, though, you need to know where the person in question lived when they got married. Marriage licenses are often kept by the town or city clerk and can be searched by going to their office. There is usually a fee for obtaining copies, which can range from $10-$30 depending on the state or city.
In some cases, you can do a statewide search by writing to a state’s vital records department. Here’s a helpful resource from the CDC that tells you exactly where to write for each state. For this to work you need to know in which state the person you’re investigating might have gotten married. Otherwise your search won’t turn up much.
Hire a private investigator
One last option, if you really can’t find out if someone is married and you really want to know, is hiring a private investigator. The first thing they are going to do is search public records, which you can do on your own but they may be able to do so more easily.
They can also perform surveillance on someone to see if they have a spouse. You could do this on your own, but PIs are much better at it.
However, no matter what they do, this option can be expensive. Most PIs charge at least $80 per hour for their services, though this can go up to as much as $500 per hour in bigger cities where the cost of doing business is higher.
A good PI should be able to find out definitively if the person you’re interested in is married, but given how expensive this is, it should be seen as a last resort option.