If someone had suggested that I would ever be The Other Woman (OW), I would have laughed them out of town and told them to F off, but somehow I found myself taking up the role with gusto for 18 months. It was without a doubt the most foolish, damaging thing that I have ever done to myself. I started out as an independent, single twenty-something who had broken up with her ex and was looking for no strings fun, and somehow shelved that to become a snivelling, insecure, emotional yo-yo that harped on with my stock phrase of “So when are you leaving her?”

Looking back, I realise how ridiculous a lot of my logic was about my ‘situation’ (God I hate that word) but hindsight does give you 20:20 vision. I was the OW to a guy who wasn’t even married! He had a girlfriend who he’d only been together with for a few months and she needed him and bla, bla, bla. Despite starting out as fun, it was a matter of months before I had declared love and making him mine became my focus. It didn’t take long before I acknowledged that being a OW meant being perpetually disappointed, increasingly frustrated, miserable and very much second best. These men are very good at making you feel like they are giving you the earth, when in fact they’re giving you a spade full of dried up soil. I got sucked into the declarations of love, the rationalising of his situation and the assumption that he clearly wasn’t happy and that I was giving him what he needed.

The reality is that a man doesn’t need to be unhappy with his relationship to cheat. If he is cheating inclined, he’ll cheat whether the going is good or bad. It’s not about her, it’s about him. They’re selfish, self-involved twats. He didn’t even see himself as a cheat and like many of these men, he could very comfortably have lived his double life for as long as I would let him.

Rationalising what was happening, ignoring how the situation made me feel and leading a double life took its toll on my health. He ruined countless social occasions with his jealousy and possessiveness because despite being spineless and lacking in enough balls to make a choice, he couldn;t cope with the idea of a man talking to me. Every guy was trying to get into my pants, according to him. We would spend time together but I was always wondering whether things were ever going to change, and the temporary of high of being with him would quickly be replaced with the anxiety that accompanies the role of TOW.

It would take an age to tell every single story of every disappointment, but the turning point came when I had a panic attack. He’d been whining about men being interested in me and pressurising me about our situation and suddenly I couldn’t breathe and was sitting in a doorway in the middle of London trying to pull myself together. It was one of the most awful things to happen to me and his way to deal with it was to escort me to the tube, put me on it, and go home to his girlfriend as he was too afraid to make sure I got home in one piece!

It took 3 weeks to get feel my normal self again and several more before I finally managed to get through to him and dump him. It was agony but mostly because I’d become such an emotional wreck that I was battling with insecurities and doubts about what I had done. But beneath it all was a growing relief. Whilst I went out with more assclowns than I care to remember, I know that it a coincidence that I had bad taste in men, and that the heart of the problem was me. I had really unhealthy love habits and I very misguided notions about love which were able to take grip when combined with my low self-esteem.

It was so hard to let go of him but what kept me focused was putting myself first. He put himself first and then his girlfriend and if I couldn’t prioritise myself, who would? I started to take care of myself and found the self love that had been clearly lacking within myself. I spent more time on my own but also started to put my life back together. It became a relief not to have to wait for his calls, emails, texts and arrangements and I started to look back at the past more objectively and be truthful with myself about exactly how awful I had really felt. I hated the dishonesty. I hated the rollercoaster of the emotions and I hated how I felt about myself during that time when I was with him. I didn’t need to be questioning what was wrong with me or what was so great with her and I no longer needed or wanted his validation.

It was strange because once I started being more real with myself, I looked at him completely differently and saw him and his actions for what they were. The rose coloured glasses were removed and I realised that the more connected me had no interest in a man like him. He wasn’t some poor guy in an unfortunate situation – he was a spineless, manipulative excuse of a man that had rationalised what he was doing so that he got to think that he was the good guy. He felt no responsibility for anything and no matter what he said, he didn’t love me ENOUGH and never could. Love would have made him behave with honesty and integrity, not drag it out for 18 months whilst coasting in the comfort zone. His situation wasn’t different –  he was exactly the same as any man that cheats and has a story to justify their behaviour. They ALL sing the same tune, just with different tones.

After ending it, I went on to be involved with a couple of Mr Unavailables (emotionally unavailable men) but instead of putting myself through the torture, I found that the steadily gathering self love meant that I wasn’t prepared to put up with their antics and I ditched them. I just wasn’t that desperate to be in a relationship or to be loved. I realised that I had very destructive love habits through being real with myself and I confronted them head on so that I could move forward.

My health improved, life was great and I had a good relationship with myself. I recognised where I’d been and I vowed to be true to myself and stay clear of assclowns. I became very good at spotting them and three days after ditching the last assclown and thinking that I was in the dating saddle for the long haul, I met my boyfriend. It was a totally different experience to any relationship I’d ever had and the beauty was that I was personally happy when I met him, which meant that I embraced the potential of what we had. I carry some battle scars from the past, but my self-awareness is so heightened now that rather than the insecure, misguided voices that I used to hear, I have a more positive voice telling me to get a grip. I’m having our first child next month (touch wood) and I can truly say that I have never been happier. Not just because I met him, but because I met myself beforehand.

Life doesn’t start when a guy comes blazing in on his white horse and whisks you away to happy ever after. Life, I’ve learnt, is what you make it, and it’s as good as you want it to be. When I knew what I wanted from my life, there was no room for a guy that was lacking the balls to even make the decision to be with me. Fact is, the woman has bigger balls than the cheating man, she just needs to learn how to use them to get wise and walk away!

Also read How to Cope with Being The Other Woman and Breaking Up with and Getting Over a Married Man

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