Ask the "Other Woman"

I thought about starting this thread when the Tiger Woods scandal broke, and so many people (not just here) trashed the women involved. I thought about it again with the announcement of John & Elizabeth Edwards’ separation, and the accompanying re-trashing of Rielle Hunter.

I have been the “other woman”, and to be fair, I have also been the “wronged wife” (but not at the same time).

I’m not asking for judgments of my moral or ethical character (believe me, I have done that myself already). But I’m open to discuss the “hows” and “whys” of the situation, possible motivations for the men and women involved, the practical problems that develop from such a situation, and also, hopefully, to dispell the myth that all “other women” are bleached-blonde golddigging airheaded bimbos instead of, often, educated, intelligent, normal women who are in such situations for many reasons.

Which came first? You as the wronged wife, or you as the other woman?

Did one lead to the other?

Were you in love with the man you were having the affair with? Did he say he was going to leave his wife for you?

As the other woman, I do not believe you were the one cheating (since you made no commitment to his spouse/girlfriend) but how did you justify it to yourself that you were assisting (for lack of a better term) in his cheating?

It occurs to me that might sound judgmental, and I don’t mean it to be but I am curious as to the thought process/internal justifications that go into continuing such a relationship.

I dated a married man once, and quit the second I found out he was married (I think it was date number 2 or 3 and the relationship was never consummated) because I just couldn’t justify the “aiding and abetting” aspect of what I would have been doing.

They were not connected. My first husband and I were having problems; he decided to have an affair. He believed that he and this woman were “soulmates” after he had known her for four weeks. They were together for a year before she left him.

I was the OW later, I was single at that point.

Were you married at the time of being the other woman? What about logistics - when, where, what kind of limitations were there on how you met?

Were you aware this guy was married when you met him or did you discover this after the relationship had begun?

Faithfool, I had known this man while I was married; I was terrifically attracted to him at the time, and we flirted; this may sound odd, but it was “safe” to flirt with him because he was married, so there was no risk on my part. Like having a “work husband”.

The affair started years later when I was single. We had not seen each other for about 10 years. The attraction was still there, and I was surprised to find out that he had been attracted to me as well.

He told me from the beginning that he was not going to leave his wife, and I believed him. He enjoyed the life that they had built, and didn’t want to give that up; but there was something missing in his life, and I think I filled that. I loved him, he was probably the love of my life, and I believe he loved me, in his way. But frankly, I would not want him to leave his wife. If he would lie to his wife on a daily basis after two kids and all those years, he would do the same to me.

[quote=“MitzeKatze, post:4, topic:526831”]

As the other woman, I do not believe you were the one cheating (since you made no commitment to his spouse/girlfriend) but how did you justify it to yourself that you were assisting (for lack of a better term) in his cheating?
Good point. I cant’ say that I justified it, he was cheating and that was a failing on his part. If he was unhappy in his marriage, there are many ways to fix that, and to me it is rather cowardly to avoid the problem and go outside the marriage. That being said, I was enormously attracted to him, and if he was going to cheat with someone, it might as well be with me. I am not going to go “Fatal Attraction” on him, I was/am clean and healthy, and as a single woman, there were not (and still are not) many attractive, sexy, 40-something single men beating down my door. He filled a need for me as well. That is selfish on my part, I admit.

I will answer both you and Little Nemo here, since it’s the same question. Yes, I knew he was married from the beginning. I had been attracted to him years before, and he was still very handsome 10 years later. He sought me out, he made the first move towards me, I did not initiate things. But I did nothing to discourage him, and I went into it with my eyes open.

Meetings are tough. We both had kids/family obligations, so the weekends were off-limits for both of us. We spoke on the phone every day during the week, and we would meet as often as possible on weekdays/weeknights, for a few hours. Lunches, dinners, sometimes afternoons in bed. He was self-employed so he could “disappear” for a few hours, and I had a flexible schedule. We would see each other, in person, maybe once every other week.

It is tough, though, to be “out of touch” from family, friends and co-workers for blocks of time. Think about it; you can take phone calls or texts while you’re working, but if you suddenly disappeared all afternoon, and someone is looking for you, it’s hard to explain where you were. I had no husband to report to, but I am not sure if sometimes he had some ‘splainin’ to do if someone was looking for him.

When you were out for lunch or dinner, did you ever run into anyone who knew you, or him, or his wife? How would you handle that?

Feel any shame?

No, strangely enough, we never did see anyone we knew. Generally if we, say, met for a drink after work, it would be at a place halfway between his office and mine (we worked about 50 minutes apart). So, we were not really “close” enough to his neighborhood or mine to really have that be a concern.

But that being said, no, you can’t go to the restaurant down the road from his house; I could never stop by his office to say hello, or give him any gift that would be “obvious” (no clothing, nothing personal that would scream “mistress gift”).

(And, yes, it wasn’t all “meeting at sordid hotels that rent by the hour”. We did sometimes just have lunch, or go for a walk, normal “date” things.)

Although the sex was wonderful, this was also an emotional affair, in some respects it was a great friendship and relationship. I think that sort of thing was more damaging to his relationship with his wife than just sex. He was turning to me for emotional support and reassurance that he should have been getting from his wife (I don’t mean she was not giving it to him, it was not her fault; but he was investing emotional energy into me that should have gone to her, and I’m sure that was a loss to her as well as to their relationship.

I am not ashamed of it, but I am not proud of it.

Sometimes I think back to how I felt when I found out my husband was having an affair. I would not wish that on anyone, it was incredibly painful; I felt inadequate, blamed myself, blamed him, blamed her. But my husband was unhappy, and he decided it was easier to find someone else than it was to deal with the very serious problems we had. It was easier for him to avoid the problems. He was an alcoholic, that was another way he avoided dealing with things, by getting drunk. She was a symptom, not the cause.

So, I realize that, if it wasn’t me he (the married man, not my ex-husband) was sleeping with, it would be someone else. I’m not that special. I’m not smarter than her, or younger (well, four years younger, that’s not much), or prettier, or better in bed. I don’t delude myself to think that I am special. I can be sweet and fun, because I don’t have to balance a checkbook with him, or pick up his underwear off the floor, or wash his dishes. I don’t have to be a “wife” or make him face real life.

Did you know his wife well? Did she know what was going on? Did you ever run into her during the timeframe of the affair, and how did you handle that?

I used to harshly judge the “other women” I heard about, until two women that I love and respect were in relationships with married men.

One was married herself, and the guy offered to leave his wife for her, the other was single and the man told her his marriage was on the rocks.

Since then, I see it differently.

Try not to judge yourself too harshly. I think you see it for what it was and the damage it did to you both.

Kittenblue, I knew him many years ago, we worked at the same place. I had met her on occasion at that time, but I didn’t really know her or socialize with her. Later, when we were having the affair, neither of us still worked there. We did not live near each other, so there was really no “opportunity” to see her.

I don’t think his wife knew about the affair outright, as I think she would have called him on it. He had told me from the beginning that, if his wife found out, he would not get a divorce and the affair would be over. Nothing like being told outright that you’re second choice :frowning: Of course, I told him that perhaps if she found out, she would throw him out and not LET him stay; I don’t think that occurred to him before I mentioned it.

He mentioned a few comments that she had made about him being distant, etc. so I think she was aware that he was…distracted, shall we say…but I believe she would not have kept quiet about it.

But, as an aside, a man I know (divorced) is having an affair with his next-door neighbor, and he seems to take a little bit of glee in the times when they are at a neighborhood barbecue, trick or treats, etc. when the husband is there and doesn’t know.

Oddly, it always makes me feel better about people I know in an affair to know that it is not just sexual. I don’t want to say that makes it right, but it makes it a bit more palatable. But you mentioned a few posts ago that you would not have wanted him to leave his wife for you:

That sounds to me like there might have been a lack of trust, at least in that area. Did that lack of trust affect the friendship and emotional aspect of the affair?

Also, you said “all those years”, I may have just missed it, but how long did this go on? Did you feel bitter or resentful that you couldn’t have the “normal” parts of a friendship or relationship? I mean like spending holidays together, or being able to drop everything and run off for a weekend together, or even just pick up the phone when you were feeling down and needing to talk…

I think it would be the mundane, day-to-day things that would bother me (or that I would miss) the most. If you had a bad day and wanted to talk, you couldn’t because he was with his wife…if you got tickets to a show, you’d have to go with someone else, etc. Did you have another boyfriend or significant other to “take his place” when he couldn’t be there or did you rely heavily on your other friends? Or did you just deal with it?


Yes. I was not so blinded by love that I didn’t realize that he was not trustworthy. I was realistic about it; if he would lie to her, he could be lying to me. I am an open book, but I knew first-hand that he was not, and it colored my view of everything he said to me.

By the way, yes, he was still sleeping with his wife. Not as frequently as he would have liked, but they were still having sex. Drove me nuts to think about it, so I tried not to think about it.

When I said “all those years”, I meant all the years he was/is married to his wife…after two kids and all those years [of marriage], he could still lie to her. Sorry if I was not clear.

It lasted four years.

Yes, very much so. It was like having “factory seconds” or “irregulars”. There were times when I was upset or scared or happy when he was unavailable; that hurts. I learned to find comfort from my friends and family instead, but I still felt the loss.

You are exactly right. We could never do any of those things that serious couples do, all the things he did with his wife.

I did date quite a bit during the affair (I still do), but I didn’t meet anyone I wanted to get serious with (and still haven’t). He was aware that I was dating, and he was okay with it; he said that he knew I would want someone to have a whole relationship with, and he wanted me to be happy. I admit I made it a point to let him know when I was dating someone, and I wished he had minded a bit more.

But honestly, I would go on dates with perfectly nice men, and have a pleasant enough time, and then go home and ACHE to talk to him. Even though I knew he was not the man who would make me happy, even if he was available. I knew enough about his personality to know that, even though he was a great friend and lover, he would be a lousy husband for me. It was hard to date these nice men and not feel that head-over-heels, starry-eyed feeling I felt with him, but I knew that feeling would end if I ever actually was with him permanently and I had to pick up his socks every day.

If a friend (who didn’t know about your affair) suspected her own husband of cheating and asked you for advice, what would you tell her? Would you have “signs” to look out for? Would you tell her to just drop it and not investigate?

How did the relationship end?