shadows of 3 people on a wallI was watching Oprah today (a luxury of being on maternity leave…) and it was a brilliant episode on the touchy subject of being the Other Woman (OW), the often exciting but even more excruciating understudy role that so many women take up. I must admit that I was surprised when Oprah revealed that she had been an OW in her twenties and that as well as being this, she then had to be the OW to another OW that he was involved with!

“It is such a powerless powerless position to be in…. And you know I don’t have a whole lot of regrets in my life but I regret it not only because of how pathetic it made me as a woman and I regret not only because I was pathetic but because of what I did to his wife.”

Regular readers of this blog will know that I was an OW for about eighteen months and it was the most soul destroying, self-esteem knocking, frustrating, powerless thing I have ever done.

I wrote about my experience last year and everything I write about being the other woman and also about emotional unavailability is what I have learned through too many experiences of acting on my sh*t taste in men! The fact of the matter is, no matter what you think about your situation, the overwhelming majority of OW’s will not be getting the Camilla Parker Bowles ending. Yes she got her man in the end, but she waited a hell of a long time, had to do a hell of a lot of home wrecking along the way, and will still always play second fiddle to the original wife (Diana) even though she passed away over ten years ago.

So what did I learn?

When you’re the other woman, you’re an escape from reality. Trust me, he’d never want the type of reality that he has with his wife or girlfriend with you because that would mean that it would get boring. It took me a while to realise it but if he had actually done the one in a million action and left her, we wouldn’t have been sexing it up all the time, real life would have slipped in and I would have had to listen to him talking about himself all the time instead of say, 20% of the time.

They are all liars. I don’t care what hokey cokey stuff he’s said to win you around, they have to lie in order to maintain the situation. I rationalised the situation by telling myself that he was only lying to her for her protection but not a general liar. Looking back I realise what an idiotic thing that was for me to think. Lying is lying and the only way that he could juggle both of us was by lying to both of us.

Your situation with him is not unique. In my forthcoming book (yes it is almost done) on emotionally unavailable men I write “Most OWs feel that their situation is unique, but you would be surprised how the excuses for having an affair all boil down to only a few basic excuses that are trotted out the world over. It doesn’t matter if you’re in a mud hut in the middle of Africa, or in what you think is your plush life in the city; LOT’S of men claim that their partner doesn’t understand them. MANY claim that they are no longer sleeping with them. PLENTY claim that they stay with their partner for the kids. SOME claim that their jobs frown upon divorce. OTHERS say that she wouldn’t be able to cope. MOST of them claim that they are just waiting for the right time, the right moment, the right second/minute/hour/day/year to break the news. I don’t deny that every situation will feel unique to you but the great thing about the key relationship issues that befall us, is that they are shared the world over and the problems are as old as time itself.” I only have to talk to friends who have been OW’s or read the forum or the many comments about it to know that there is nothing unique about it all because it all boils down to him being a cheat. How and why he does it isn’t really that important because it all boils down to dishonesty and a lack of integrity.

Men that cheat are manipulators. Whilst you might not want to see his behaviour in this light, he has to manipulate you in order to manage the situation. The manipulation whilst he might not perceive it as such, is all of the stuff that he says to get you on side, to get him off his back, and to keep you on ice so that you don’t break away looking for a new guy. All of sudden I looked too good for other guys, every guy was trying to shag me, and if we were out he’d claim that I hadn’t given him enough attention. All of these things added to the belief that if I just tried a little harder and was a little less strong and independent, he would leave her.

Cheats very rarely leave their wives or girlfriends. Thank God I am not still waiting because of course he’s still with her. If I met him today and asked him why he was still there, he’d say it was because I left him. That’s total BS. The mistake I made with him is not walking away when I realised that he had a girlfriend. Instead I fought hard for ‘my’ man.

Women treat being with married or attached men like a competitive sport. We are nurturers, most women have self-esteem issues of some sort, and we like to dig our heels in for the long haul and prove our worthiness. My whole relationship with him became focused on me getting him to leave her. My self-esteem gradually took a battering and the reality is that even though I believed that getting him would lift me to prime status, I was an emotional wreck. Men love doing the Poor Pathetic Me Whine – “She doesn’t understand me. She won’t give me a blowjob. She’s needy. She doesn’t sex me the way I’d like to be sexed. She’s demanding.” This translates in our mind to “I will understand you. I will give you blowjobs till you’re coming out of your ears. I won’t need you too much. I will sex you just right. I won’t be demanding and ask too much of you” and it becomes like a marathon that never ends. Our self-esteem is tied into our success at gaining his attention but most importantly, gaining him, so of course the longer that he stays with her, the longer that his actions don’t match his words, is the lower and lower your self-esteem sinks. I know some women who don’t feel that a man has been validated unless he ‘belongs’ to someone else. The sad thing is that by being involved with my guy, I invalidated many of the good things I believed about myself and relationships and I really had to piece myself back together again and get a sense of who the hell I was.

These men take part time lover to a whole new level. When I look back at my ‘relationship’ with him, I realise that I was with him for less than 10% of an entire week. If someone else told me that they were going to give me ten percent of their time, I’d tell them to f*ck off! Instead my life was snatched moments, texts, emails, lonely birthdays, Christmases and pretending to my family that I was single when I was emotionally invested in a cheat.

This is a 3-parter, so look out for part 2 tomorrow.

Recommended reading

How to cope with being the other woman

Breaking Up With and Getting Over a Married/Attached Man

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20 Responses to Being The Other Woman The Lessons I Learned Part 1

  1. Izzy says:

    Spot on, NML. And let me tell you, it’s the same whether the other woman is a wife/girlfriend, a wine bottle or the Catholic Church.

    Every last one of them is emotionally unavailable, even if he’s technically single. [Mind you, at least in the last two options, if he says ‘She won’t give me a blowjob’, he’s telling the truth. In the latter case, it’s usually, “HE will, but I’m hanging out for the Virgin Mary. Meanwhile, you’ll do.”]

    You can NOT have a relationship with a man who is in a relationship with another woman, alcohol, gambling, the Pope (aka the Emperor from ‘Star Wars’). They’re lying to themselves, to everyone around them, and to you.

    They have no integrity. Don’t wait for them to love you – love yourself and walk away. It’s tough, but you can do it – we’re all cheering for you.

    Iz xx

  2. otterwoman says:

    Yeah– When I started with MM December ’06, I really didn’t see what I had to lose. I thought it would be fun, kinda racy to be the OW. And MM is a legend and he’s someone my XH looked up to, so it was a double-duet for me becuase not only was I trumping my XH by being with his hero, but MM was so much more kind and generous and everything my XH wasn’t to me.
    I was literally floating on cloud 9, if you can imagine that!
    I thought “no matter what happens, this is SOOOOO worth it. This feeling right now. He’s perfect, and i’m perfect, and if John could see me now….” *imagine me with a devilish grin*

    I used MM to get over my XH, and it worked!
    I can’t feel too badly about that aspect of it.

    What I feel shabby about is that “I have nothing to lose” thought. I didn’t realize my self esteem would go down the toilet. I didn’t realize I’d want more, and that need for more would send me to check my email over 100 times a day, and invest in 2 cel phones. I mean, COME ON.

    I drew the line when I realized I thought it would be OK to get run over by a semi. beleive me, I am a person who for years now has said “I’m going to die on an adventure, probably in the mountains. Maybe eaten by a bear.” When people have mentioned car accidents, I have felt that that death does not fit me– if I am to have an untimely death at all, taht is…. anyway, my POINT isn’t that I want to die, not actively at least, but that when death by semi was good enough for me—> wow. Something wasn’t right, you know?

    Kudos for the website.
    Thank you for all!
    Otterwoman, the former Otherwoman

  3. koikana says:

    Good article, but I hope you touch on the detriments to those OW who actually are NOT emotionally involved with the MM… There are some, and you still get hurt, but keep convincing yourself that you won’t be because it’s just about sex (or power… or whatever)

  4. […] RSS ← Being The Other Woman – The Lessons I Learnt – Part 1 […]

  5. Been There says:

    This article was forth right and dead on. When I write my thoughts and input about once being the OW, I feel like im nag or bitchy when im actually writing the truth. It gets very tuff to see the girls come on here very happy one moment because they spent some time with MM then read that they are breaking up with MM because no call, no show or whatever. Then read how happy they are once again because of a call and they talked it out he apologized and the girls write a lame excuse for their MM actions and truly believe its amazing true love. I see the same girls in the same cycle. I once believed the MM too so im not knocking it. Its just sad to see how much we belittle ourselves for a selfish manipulator. Thank you for such an awesome article.

  6. cheekie says:

    Well put, as usual my dear…seems to be a bit of a revolution happening in this dept. OW’s worldwide are now looking at their situations and wondering, “hmmmm, why AM I in this?”
    I have also spoken to many men recently, who do cheat, about the why’s and whatfor’s…same tune, different piano every time.
    Basically it is an ego boost. For them.
    You are right about us women though, we do have a tendency to rose coloured glass every bad relationship, bad situation, bad everything…if you can look at your OW status and truly be okay with it. well you are a rarity…it is a tough gig!

    off to read part 2 now…

  7. […] week in part one, I talked about how you’re an escape from reality, that all the cheating guys are liars, that […]

  8. debby says:

    Hey all

    Is this where I can give an update (if anyone is interested)? I was using the ‘how to be a mistress’ to post, but the page is no longer there. Help!

  9. NML says:

    Hi Debby, an email went to all of the old forum users stating that the forum was closing and a new one being set up at
    The closure was due to vast amounts of spam and integrating it into the site. I hope that this helps

  10. NML says:

    Hi Debby, an email went to all of the old forum users stating that the forum was closing and a new one being set up at
    The closure was due to vast amounts of spam and integrating it into the site. I hope that this helps

  11. suzy says:

    Iv been the OW for 8 years now. I knew he was married but still fell for him. Then after a year or two I got married. But i never gave up on him. We stole time together whenever we could. Once or twice a year sometimes. Once we met after 2 years. he used to mail me, call em keep in touch. Then i came to know his wife was going to have her second kid – his second kid. I wanted to break up at that moment. But no, I didn’t have the guts and we cntd.

    The years went by. I kept waiting for when he would say he would leave her and we wld be together. i would have left my husband for him. But then during my bday this day, he flew down to be with me. He told me our lives are parallel lines that meet sometimes but seperate and run on. They are like train tracks.

    What BS. It kind of opened my eyes – these words. Now I don’t mail or call him anymore. He doesn’t understand what’s happening but I know in my mind that im over him. He told me his wife cheated on him once and that she doesn’t love him – thats how I fell for him in th first place – but she’s on Facebook and seems like she’s a wonderful woman. I can now see their holiday photos, their bdays and celebrations, their kids pics. What am I doing with him?

    So anyway now Im almost out of contact with him. Iv decided to play with him – make him suffer a bit before dumping him. And I’m gonna make up all this foolishness to my poor ignorant husband who’s a wonderful guy. I won’t confess. But i will now live my life the way it was meant to be – with a guy who love sme and gives me all of himself.

    Please do let me know what you think of my story.

  12. wendy says:


    waw i am so glad to have found this site.
    I recently met a man on the plane, we met after and there was a certain interest/chemistry but he is married with a young child.
    he has been very honest (are maybe not from what i read here) about his life.
    funny how main things keep coming back: no connection with the wife anymore, left his first wife to be with this woman, now this marriage isn’t working, no sex for a year?!!, a 2 year old child.
    You fall into this role so easily and i haven’t had the best experiences with men so i know that this one isn’t also good for me cause anyway it will end in a bad way.
    I believe I deserve better then to wait for a men to be with me!
    I saw a show on dr Phil about it and it clearly said first finish the business in your marriage, either you work on it or you end it. end then, only then start a new relationship!
    but its easy for the men right, it (seems) to be so bad with their wives that any other cute, funny girl seems much better then the boring wife but for how long….?
    any comments/advice is welcome.

  13. tdcsmistress says:

    I read the article and I loved it…right now I’m the ow to a man whose gettin married in a wk…i thought I was happy with my situation but I’m really not…everyday he tries to reassure me that everything is ok…that he loves me and that things will be the same…i wanna believe him but I can’t…i love him so much tho and it was never suppose to get this far…my family and friends kno about him and everyone knows my situation and they seem to be ok with mom thinks that wat he’s doing is wrong but she didn’t tell me to leave him…I moved away to try to rid myself of him and things went from good to great…we talk on the phone all day everyday…we send each other pics and he’s also convinced me to move back to be with him…stupid I kno rite…honestly I wish I never met him becuz I’ve been on a emotional rollcoaster since I’ve met him and I thought as easy as I walked into his life I thought it would be easy to get out and boi was I wrong…my friends say u can’t help who u love but I think I’m a fool for a guy that doesn’t belong to me…i don’t kno how I will get myself out of this situation…

  14. babydoll says:

    Thank god for the internet, for women becoming stronger, for sanity and solice in knowing that your not alone in what you are going through. What I also find interesting is that we all feel the need to share our stories of “why” we are doing this….of course it ends up being free therapy to do so, but we somehow feel the need to “explain” or justify or who knows….?? but here I go with my excursion

    I met my MM 3 years ago, I am also married and met him through a girlfriend of mine who needed to use me as her excuse and in first meeting him I was unimpressed, ( yes he is 18 years older and looks every bit of it, I would never pick him out of a crowd and chase him) but throughout the course of the next few months the gifts, phone calls, text, trips to see me where incredible. He taught me things both emotionally, professionally, and sexually, he took a much younger woman in need of someone to listen to her…and got me hook, line and sinker. I not only gave up part of me, I also took time away from friends, family, my job, and worst of all my children…the guilt of baseball games missed, nights at home reading to my children is almost enough to destroy me. And worst of all…once he had me, he started his selfish behavior and wouldn’t re-arrange his schedule to see me…he would say…I am going to be here on Wednesday afternoon if you would like to see me and the sap that i am…I’d jump & once he had grown so used to me doing so he just used that to the nth degree….of course his wife found out more than once…and the final straw the third time she found out she called my husband and told him. Now most people with half a brain and/or enough strength would have gotten out then…nope not me. I continued it for a rocky nine months following…a terrible critical motorcylce accident on his end after one of our heated fights lead to him in my mind almost taking his life, and so i felt like I needed to let him know that I still loved him but just couldn’t be with him anymore, that was 7 months ago. I have now gone a week without speaking to him but feel stronger than I ever have, we had our three year anniversary and I brought him gifts, sent him a card in mail, paid for the hotel room and as we were in the moment “she called” and he finished and hit the road…no card for me, no gifts, nothing but the feeling of “what the …..” am i doing….

    reading the stories of everyone is incredible…..some want revenge, some want peace, some want them back, but what is true in all of this is the fact that we gave up so much of ourselves to try to make them love us…I know the hardest thing will be not sharing my accomplishments with him ( another thing we do to try to make them love us more than their wives) we want to make them proud, make ourselves more pretty for them, do things sexually that I’m not proud of to try and keep their interest, want to “just one more time” show them who we really are. I thought through the revenge, the call to his wife and tell her that even after the “last time of getting caught” we were still seeing each other…..but why? She loses in the end, she gets him. I was the latest in many affairs on his end….he shared this with me the first time together….and old classmate, his secretary, his neighbor….and along came me…his babydoll (the only woman he ever made up a pet name for) for christs sake…I am laughing writing this….can you believe I fell for that bullshit line?

    I have found so much strength in this site, so much strength that my feelings of “maybe” just ‘maybe” what he is saying was true maybe he really does love me…but then the actions and how terrible I felt so many days wasn’t just me going nuts….he drove me to it…his claims of ” I never told you I was leaving my wife, we are each others ..escape from reality…we need to keep this in perspective….what I do with my wife I do for us…so that i can get away with you next week….you are too good for me…too cute…I could never make you happy…you deserve better than me”

    he made me lavish him with compliments, with attention…with my undying love……”SUGARLAND” the song STAY says it all…..

    I’ve given you my best…why does she get the best of you. But the next time you want to leave her bed for mine…why don’t you stay….I’m up off my knees I’m so tired of being can’t give me what I need…why don’t you stay.

    If I have learned anything from reading all of your stories it is that we need to walk away and never look back, cold turkey is the only way…no more one last phone call…no more one last time telling him how much he hurt more one last kiss goodbye…they are a drug to us…and the only way to recover is to seek help and quit cold turkey…he can no longer exist in my world…..I am at such peace knowing I have the strength.

    Good luck to all of you struggling to find the strength…if you’ve typing in this website you already know what you need to do, you just need to find the strength.

  15. scarred67 says:

    i feel my situation is different…his wife lives a few hours away..he came to the town im living in to make more money because there were more opportunities here. He has a condo and has been living seperately but not separated from his wife for almost 2 years now.I met him a year ago at his job through mutual friends and was instantly attracted even before knowing the situation.
    We started casually but now we practically live together…if he goes to see her its every 6 weeks for a few days for the child and back to me every day every night….he will lie to her to not come visit so he can just be with me…but he is too scared to change his content life and start anew with me ( and of course he says he WANTS to)…im leaving the state in 6 months and he wants to go with me…but the up and down of him and his wifes relationship (she knows he isnt an angel, yet stays which i thinks is even MORE PATHETIC than myself) is making my stomach churn and i dont know if i can wait any more to have him figure it out…i feel so PATHETIC..and even worse STUPID…what do i do

  16. Deanna says:

    Wow! I am getting over him, it has been almost a week and I’m hurting, hurting from hurting, wow He is a bit of a local celebrity and it makes me so mad to see how everyone thinks he’s so great, and I know what I know.

    I miss him and I will keep going forward away from him. I can’t keep thinking did I mean nothing to him. Nothing at all?

    It is such a lonely place right now,

  17. Candela says:

    Hi everyone, I’m new to this site and I must say, after reading the posts…I am so enlightened!!!

    I recently acted on the NC thingy….I erased, deleted and rid myself of anything and everything that contained any info of the person I am having NC with.

    It is empowering!!!!….and after feeling a bit embarrassed with myself for my display of lunacy for lack of a better word, I decided that I have nothing to feel embarrassed about! I too found myself doing and speaking and behaving the same as many here…but now it just makes me laugh….I look back and say what the hell was I thinking???

    I’ve come to realize that men are really quite simple, what they say without words is their biggest and truest communicator!!! I am learning to listen to the unspoken words (action) instead of all the empty words…..I am learning to really listen to my woman intuition and see the flags for what they are and am stopping all the analyzing….it’s too exhausting!!!!

    Being with an EUM has actually taught me what I def DO NOT WANT!!! So for this I am grateful……These type of men are so lost in themselves they cannot possibly GET IT!!!! They will change if and when it is suitable for them…it’s that simple!

    I have vowed to love myself enough that if someone else does not value me, I will move on rather quickly…there is no more talking, asking or analyzing a situation….it really is what it is!!!

    Within minutes, my self esteem skyrocketed!!! I am too cheerful a person to spend another minute thinking why?….no more…and it feels great!!!

    I don’t care if the next woman is apparently being treated better…it would probably be good for him and means that maybe he learned something too!!! If they try to come back into my life, I will make it clear I don’t take seconds, sorry!!! I have forgiven and wish you no ill or harm, but I no longer will make room in my life for someone so negative who caused so much confusion and/or pain or indifference, period.

    I am grateful that for me I got to the place of “Being sick and tired OF Being sick and tired” and am done!!!!

    Life is Good!!!

    Good Luck and tell yourself, to yourself everyday that you are worth it!!!!

  18. Sally says:

    Yes, I had gotten invoved with a guy with a girlfriend, been doin so for two years, about the same time he got involved with her….Yeah, I miss him and I don’t regret anything. Yes, I fell in love with him. I’m a fool and you think to yourself how could you let this happen to you….You can’t change how you feel but you can look at this this way, you were dumb and you wont make the same mistake, he was the loser, not you! This is the ow who could have gotten her man, but she choose not to because she looked deep within herself and said I deserve better! Amen

  19. Revashnee says:

    Hey cud sum1 pleaz help me wid MY prb.been wid a guy 4 da past 2 n a half years.prblm he my boss.n my ex frens a bitch cos sh tk me as a sister.she hs 4rth nt stupid.i knw he nt gna chnge hs ways bt ges wat?i bloody luv da has her suspicions abt us.i want 2 leave hm so mch and it tears my heart apart 4 wat im doin 2 hr n da baby.he so convincin.alwaz sayn he luv me bt d,nt evr hv enuf tym.please sum1 tel me wat 2 do

  20. USnoozeUlose says:

    Right now I am the OW.I don’t like it.About a year ago he contacted me. We were once engaged but he jilted me married someone else. He said he was guilty about what he did,apologized,wanted to see me.It took a couple months of phone calls for me to give in and see him.

    He was so sincere, impossible not to love but he’s still married to the woman he jilted me for.From all our talks he married her for the lifestyle no kids. I had a child. He didn’t love her. Doesn’t love her now. We lived together after he got married. He beat us both up at will so I left him. she’s still with him. He thought he could do better with her. They prospered thru the years Actually, I think he made the right choice at the time. I’m a widow I was looking for love and companionship with him. He gave me that at first but he’s never kept his promises. I didn’t want him to leave her I just wanted more time with him so he made promisess he didn’t keep. i felt she stole him from me in the first place so I don’t feel guilt that he’s cheating on her now but I realize he’s not going to do anything for us. He can’t. they have financial ties. I’m his booty call is how I feel and he’s having his cake and eating ti too just like before.I can’t do this anymore. II guess he contacted me because we shared a past even though it was a bad past. He didn’t have to “do the dance” with me . He works a lot doesn’t have the time.I guess he was fed up at home. He hasn’t talked about it.


Start any of my courses within the next 48 hours and take advantage of the low prices in my summer sale. Current courses include Build Your Self Esteem, The Pattern Breaker and The People Pleasing Diet.


Start any of my courses within the next 48 hours and take advantage of the low prices in my summer sale. Current courses include Build Your Self Esteem, The Pattern Breaker and The People Pleasing Diet.