Here are 5 brutal truths about being the 'other woman' in affairs with married men:
1. Sometimes, people lie to get what they want.
Before being 'the Other Woman' know that no matter how sincere your married lover seems, you must double-check what you are being told. Don’t discount this distinct and ugly possibility.
Find out as much as you can about their marital situation, because that will help you make wise decisions. You can’t always consider a cheating spouse your best source of information, so make sure whatever he tells you passes the smell test.
2. Before being 'the other woman find out as much as you can about both of their childhoods.
This information greatly clarifies your role in the situation.
For instance, when I first got involved with my guy, I knew I could trust what he told me about his wife for two reasons.
One, I’d known him for seventeen years and I knew he was no liar and he’d been unhappily married for as long as I’d known him.
Two, what he told me was so bizarre there was no way he could have made it up. We spent half our conversations trying to puzzle out something his wife had said or done.
But I'd been raised by a mother with borderline personality disorder, and I'd done enough reading about relationships and damage from family-of-origin issues. So the instant I heard, "My mother was an alcoholic", I knew a lot more about the situation.
If you hear about a childhood in which well-known emotional issues, such as alcoholism, were present, check out some books and start reading.
3. Nothing about an affair is what it looks like on the surface.
Everyone in the situation has their own unresolved childhood issues, their own perspective, and their own story.
There's a reason you are attracted to this particular man that probably began at home when you were young. His attraction to both you and to his wife is rooted in his own childhood, and her contribution to their problems, whatever it actually is, originated long ago, too.
I started out feeling as mystified by his wife’s behavior as my affair partner was.
I thought she must not really love him and was using him. I couldn't see any other explanation, and thinking about this fueled my anger toward her. Definitely, I believed, he was being abused in his marriage and felt horrible about himself. And believing that made me feel justified in stepping in.
Then I stumbled on a book by Pia Mellody called Facing Love Addiction. My guy and I met only some of the criteria Mellody sets out in that book, but when it came to the criteria for being a "love avoider", his wife seemed to meet every single one.
Mellody says people who fit this relationship pattern typically had a demanding, smothering parent in their childhood home.
Some of what my guy was telling me now made sense to me in a whole new way.
When he told me one more thing she said, it clicked, and I realized all three people in this triangle had been damaged in childhood: me, this man, and his wife.
It wasn't that she didn't love him or that she was willfully abusing or hurting him.
4. All three people are wounded and deserving of compassion.
Once I could see his wife this way, I didn't feel as entitled to have things go the way I wanted. If they could address their problems and heal as husband and wife, that was the way it should go, no matter how badly I felt about losing him.
They had decades together, as well as children and grandchildren.
On the other hand, if she couldn't confront her problems and kept treating him callously and disrespectfully in the marriage, I could see it wouldn't only be right, but crucial that he get himself out of there.
But it was his prerogative to decide what was best for him, not mine.
5. You damage the other person’s marriage just by being there.
You might think once your married guy bolts back to his wife, you'll never hear from him again and he'll forget all about you, as though you never existed.
According to relationship expert Jerry Wise, this often isn't the case.
Yes, you may never hear from the guy again, but if you had a good relationship and he gave you up to return to his troubled marriage, he's likely to continue to have strong feelings for you.
And combined with the emotional fallout from the affair between him and his spouse, those feelings will get in the way of fixing their marriage, even if you never see him again.
Basically, when you get involved in an affair with a married man, you're entering a frayed relationship between two damaged people, breaking all three of your hearts, and making reconciliation between the two of them harder than it would have been already.
If you truly love this man, why choose to hurt him more than he already is?
Being the other woman may start out looking like a one-way ticket to your dream life (once you’ve managed to elbow that meanie of a wife out of the way, that is).
But it isn't.
Being the other woman is a wake-up call.