Back in June, I wrote about Coping With Being the Other Woman which gave tips for any woman who had found herself relegated to second place due to being with someone else’s man. Ultimately my advice was and is not to cope, but I was surprised at the stories and emails that have come through from women who have found themselves in this situation.

First of all, there is a reason why all of these people have been searching for content about the subject: on some level, they know that their ‘relationship’ is completely jacked up. Very few claimed to be happy with the situation, most were being driven demented. A few months on, I feel it necessary to readdress this issue with a dose of straight talking.

The relationship is built on dishonesty. 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 people claim that their partner doesn’t understand them. Lot’s claim that they are no longer sleeping with them. Lot’s claim they stay with their partner for the kids. Some claim that their jobs frown upon divorce. Others say that she (or he) wouldn’t be able to cope. Many claim that they are just waiting for the right time, the right moment, the right second/minute/hour/day/year to break the news.

For the bulk of people who are ‘The Other Woman’, the odds are stacked against them and it very rarely works out. Let’s break it down. The foundations of the relationship are dishonest. Most of the time he never leaves. If he does leave, it often doesn’t work out, either because he can’t keep his dick in his pants and keeps cheating (except for this time, it’s on the woman that used to be The Other Woman) or because the used to be Other Woman never does quite trust him so it erodes into the relationship.

People who cheat don’t see themselves as cheats per se. I’m not claiming that they don’t realise that they are sticking it to someone else, but for most cheaters, it gets rationalised so that they don’t get to feel too bad about themselves. Trust me, if they faced the reality of what they were doing to the person that they’re cheating on, and what they’re doing to The Other Woman, they’d bail out far quicker. It’s the ability to delude themselves and romantisize the situation that keep things ticking over for so long.

Waiting is a mugs game. Unless you have ‘mug’ or ‘fool’ written on your forehead, don’t wait. Waiting is the saviour of the cheat. As long as they are safe in the knowledge that someone is waiting on ice for them, why change the status quo?

Even when The Other Woman moves on, a lot of the time, they haven’t really moved on. In fact, they’re just play-acting at life, hoping that their facade makes him bolt and come to her or that one day, he will actually leave and then they can be together, against the odds and bla, bla, bla. Moving on means cutting the ties, gaining closure and recognising that as long as he has someone else, he’s not worthy of all of the energy expended by The Other Woman.

When people say that he won’t leave his wife/girlfriend they are normally right. Obviously you have to be skilful enough to weed out the plain ‘ole haters, but if everyone from the cat to his great, great Aunty Betty says that he won’t leave, I’d listen to the evidence. I know there is no legislating for love but when everyone knows that you’re the other woman and they see the real him, you’d be surprised at the truth of their words. “He won’t leave him” should translate to “Abort mission. Take a parachute and jump!”

The sex is great when you’re The Other Woman because it’s dysfunctional sex. Of course when there is illicit sex with a man who belongs to someone else, plus all of the emotion (all of it negative even though most don’t see it that way), of course you going to be clinging to him and orgasming like the sun’s not going to come up. (If the sex isn’t even good, I’d consider saying adios and exchanging him for a penpal….) The more orgasms that you have, the more of an emotional and physical connection you feel is the more that you think that he’s leaving his wife. How many times can I say it!? An orgasm…is just an orgasm. How many of us have had orgasms and great sex with men that were about as good for us as an outbreak of a sexually transmitted disease?

This is about The Other Woman, not him. In this situation, it’s all too easy to focus on his problems, his ‘situation’. The reality is that it’s not about him, it’s about YOU. We have no control over the actions of other people, but we do have control over our own. We shouldn’t be so willing to sell ourselves short and we should be asking ourselves a whole lot of questions if we ever find ourselves either in a relationship where we play the third wheel or where we’re contemplating it. The moment we stop investing all of our brain power in them is the quicker that we start getting real.

Don’t forget to read Coping With Being the Other Woman

NML is the editor of Baggage Reclaim and The Mr Unavailable Guide. She also has a personal blog.

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