How much blame does the "Other Woman" get?

In HazelNutCoffee’s thread, the discussion is primarily about whether or not the friend of the adulterer should tell the adulterer’s girlfriend about the affair. There has been a bit of back and forthing regarding how much blame the Other Woman should take for the situation.

Of course, “Other Woman” simply refers to the outside partner in an adulterous affair and could be a man, a woman, or an ocelot (though I’d let the ocelot off, as it can’t give informed consent to the activities going on). Let’s make it fair and just say “The Other”, instead of implying that it’s always a woman.

I speak as someone who has been The Other on two occasions. Both involved deception on the part of my lover, but that is no excuse. I knew, in each case, that he was living with and/or married to another person, and that person had the reasonable expectation of an exclusive relationship. Both times I became involved, I was already at an emotional nadir - desperately needy, impulsive, naive, gullible, blind, and self-destructive. Both times I was wracked with guilt for what I was doing and the harm I committed to the person on the other side of the equation.

I believe The Other bears just as much blame for infidelity as the partner - so long as they are aware of their partner’s marital or relationship status. A married man or woman may be inclined to commit adultery, but if there is no willing person, then the act cannot be committed, and the unwitting wife or husband is done no harm.

I think laying all the blame on the partner is an easy way to assuage guilt. It does not excuse The Other’s behavior in the slightest. I don’t believe the Other should be vilified, because I don’t believe that does anyone any good.

Now, I exclude polyamorous relationships, because there is an implicit or explicit agreement between the partners that sexual exclusivity is not required. Therefore, if one of the partners begins an extramarital affair, it is with the consent of their partner, and no harm is done.

Those are my thoughts. What are yours?

This is how I’ve always felt on the subject.

The moral culpability of the Adulterer and The Other are two separate issues.

What I mean is, it’s one thing to cheat on the person you love, and quite another thing to date a married person. Both actions, from my POV, are morally wrong, but they still can’t be viewed as the same thing.

From the point of view of the Adulteree (the victim), it doesn’t make sense to vilify The Other (though it may be a perfectly human response, I don’t know–never cheated/been cheated on myself.) The Other really has nothing to do with the relationship. The person who violated your trust is the Adulterer, not The Other, because presumably there was never any intimacy between you and The Other in the first place, therefore no specific moral obligation with regards to the relationship. While many Adulterees no doubt blame The Other, it is most likely because they would like to believe the Adulterer was some kind of victim to lesson the hurt feelings of betrayal. But alas, it is not the case. The Adulterer is to blame. They were the one who made the promises and violated them, not The Other.

Objectively, however, The Other still has committed a moral wrong, and they/their friends might have feelings about it. I just don’t think it really has anything directly to do with the relationship between the Adulterer and the Adulteree, that’s all.

Sorry if that was confusing. I’ve just always seen it that way.

“The Other” gets the full shared blame with the adulterous one. You do your 50% and have an affair with someone knowing they are married or with someone else. That is enough in my book to make you “the other” share in the full blame. There is credence in the phrase, “it takes two to tango”.

I’ve got no sympathy for “the other” who decides it’s ok to have an affair with a married person. If you knowingly engage in an affair with someone who is married you’ve definitley lost ability points in my book. Go find yourself someone who is single. Not a married person who is seeking to fulfill an extramarital sex/emotional drive.

As Olives said, if there is deception and “the other” does not know the adulterer is married or in a relationship, all bets are off and the full blame goes on the adulterer.

Geez, I could have written that paragraph myself. Except for the guilt part. I felt and feel none. I probably should, but I don’t. Both times are long past anyway.

But yeah, The Other is somewhat culpable, but in no way to the degree as the adulterer.

Yeah, I’ve been the Other, and it was definitely wrong. I don’t think it’s 50-50 blame sharing, but you do bear some portion of guilt.

I basically can sign the OP.

Now, depending on specific circumstances, the % shifts. I’m sure we can all agree that it’s not the same to find out he’s taken once you’ve become the Other or before; I’d also like to mention those “ring breakers” (Dad’s term, there were several in a factory where he was head of HR) who specifically go after the taken guys as some kind of hunting game.

But in no case is one person 100% guilty and another 100% guilt-free.

My comments are analogous, Phouka, they are not directed at you…I’m no judge on someone who has made past wrongs. I’ve had my share of dishonest moments, but this situation hits a personal chord. My wife and I hold our communication skills with one another hgih on the list of keeping our marriage honest and true. We have watched siblings and others get their marriages torn and ripped to shreds by what you describe. It’s never easy and one always thinks they are above the other.

It depends on the relationship of the Other with the couple in question. An ex of mine cheated on me with whom I thought was a close friend (turns out, she wasn’t such a close friend eh?). She knew both of us, and I suspect she did it because she didn’t want my ex and I comparing notes on her so tried to find a way to break us up. I ended up staying with him for another year (another mistake!) but from the moment I found out, she was no longer my friend. I placed most blame on her, not because of her role of “the Other woman” but because her betrayal was much worse than my ex’s betrayal. All that jazz about chicks before dicks was lost on her, and that betrayal of friendship was much worse than an unstable relationship.

For other situations…

If the person knows the cheater has an SO, I’d say there is some blame, but they are not responsible for the actions and deceptions of other people; sure, the victim of the affair may feel like this person has a part, but morality is a sliding scale. I’ve known a few girls that will actively pursue an already involved man. Interesting to me is their motivation. It was not so much because they were so attracted to the man they couldn’t keep their hands off him, but because the man was getting bored with his current relationship and was starting to flirt with other women a whole lot more, and then it became a game of who the man would turn to for emotional support. It was more of a game based on insecurity, because if the man chose this Other Woman over the woman he has at home, it means she’s so much better. It’s a sad game, really. No woman should feel insecure enough to share a man with another woman.

If the other woman has no idea the man is attached, whether through ignorance or was actively lied to, then she’s free and clear. No need to feel the slightest bit of guilt because she is also a victim there.

My feelings are if you are the Other and involved with a married person that is not right. However if its just a GF/BF or whatever, and you don’t know said GF/BF you don’t owe that person jack. As a single person you have the right to sleep with whomever you please, it is your body do with it as you will. This doesn’t make it right, but it doesn’t make it wrong either. The person who is wrong is the person who is cheating. Marriage is different, you have a lot messier disentanglement procedure.

You are still playing with people deepest emotions ring or no ring.

If The Other knows the person is involved in a monogamous relationship, they bear responsibility for not dumping the person the second they find out.

If they have no clue and the Adulterer is lying to them, then I can’t really blame them.

I think The Other has guilt, but does not share equal blame. The Other is did not make promises to the individual being hurt and is not the one breaking established trust. They are breaking societial promises and trusts, but somehow to me that seems like a lesser transgression.

I think the reality is that The Other often gets the majority of the blame - people are quicker to forgive their spouse, but the homewreaker will always be a Bimbo (swap in slimeball for a male Other). And that doesn’t seem fair to me. But its easier to blame the stranger, and easier to forgive if you allow yourself to believe your significant other was “entrapped.”

I think this is key. Blame and guilt can vary widely depending on the situation. In an open marriage, for example, blame doesn’t really apply at all. And I’m sure we can imagine scenarios where full blame can shift to anyone, including the cheated-on spouse.

The first time I was The Other, I was young, dumb, horny, and virginal. And then She walked into my life. Honestly, look at her. Can you blame me? :smiley:

Her BF was not a person to me, just some abstract “him”, while the girl was this drop-dead gorgeous babe who would come to my house and get naked. Even so, when I left town to go to school, I decided not to write her. I didn’t want “him” to intercept my letter. I knew he’d be devastated.

Most ‘Others’ I’ve known weren’t aware the adulterer was in another relationship form Day 1. They found out on the second or third ‘date’ or encounter, and even then it was always with ‘But I’m so unhappy, I’m going to leave him/her anyway.’ That, coupled with the fact that they don’t know the adulterer’s partner (if they do that’s a whole other ball game, and both cheaters deserve equal game), makes them less to blame, in my opinion.

I agree that there’s a bit of a varying percentage of guilt, depending on the situation (not knowing the adulterer’s status is a pass as long as you don’t know about it). But if you knowingly have an affair with someone’s SO (and there’s no open relationship or non-exclusivity agreement), you’re guilty as sin. I don’t give a flying fuck if you’re vulnerable, needy, horny, in wuv, or whatever.

I agree almost completely with what Olives said, but would like to add that The Other, who decides to enter into a relationship with someone who they know has an SO (and The Other knows that the SO is unaware), well, The Other does harm the Adultee, because they know that an action they are participating in will hurt the Adultee, and yet do not stop. By not stopping, they make the conscious decision to keep going in an affair that will cause pain. Yes, they are hurting the Adultee. Yes, they are directly affecting the relationship between the Adulterer and Adultee. Yes, they are one of the guilty in this circumstance.

I agree that the Other doesn’t escape blame, but I don’t think they are equally to blame as the Cheater. The Cheater is breaking a promise to their SO - the Other has made no promises and is being disloyal to no one. Of course, the Other is wronging the SO of the Cheater, but just how ethically reprehensible that is really depends on the situation. If the Other and the SO have no connections whatsoever, then it’s more about the Golden Rule and karma than anything else - on the other hand, if the Other and the SO are friends, the Other is definitely betraying their trust, which makes it worse, in my view.

Being the Other is not something to be proud of, but it just seems unreasonable to hold them up to the same blame as the Cheater. The Cheater is supposed to care about the person they are wronging, while the Other is wronging a stranger they have no obligations to.

Who cares about percent? The adulterer and the other are both guilty, period. What, 67% for one and 33% for the other one? “Well, I add together all my various guilts, I’m only at around 47% – I’m doin’ OK! Go for a beer?”

Suppose that the cheater is on the outs with his wife, and feeling vulnerable, and perhaps a bit… wasted. The Other is a femme fatale whose “hobby” is stealing husbands (for kicks), and is quite good at it. How would the blame compare then?

Okay, if we’re going to start going into individual cases… I mean, obviously, it’s going to differ. It could easily be a situation where the Cheater is growing bored with their relationship and just wants some fun, and the Other truly believes themselves in love with the Cheater. Or maybe the Cheater is someone who’s never even considered cheating before but somehow finds themselves extremely attracted to the Other, and lacks the guts to end their first relationship because their SO thinks everything is fine and is obviously still in love with the Cheater. Or maybe the Other is absolutely convinced that the Cheater is THE ONE, and does everything in their power to make the Cheater break up with their current SO - not because they want to wreck a relationship, but because they sincerely believe it’s their one shot at happiness. Or maybe they’re both drunk and horny.

There are a myriad of situations, but I still stand by what I said. The Cheater is still breaking a promise, while the Other isn’t. What motivates their actions is an entirely different story. It would change the level of sympathy/disgust I have for either party, but the fact remains that one has committed themselves to something while the other hasn’t. YMMV, of course.