I interviewed a number of "other women" to get a better sense of their perspectives.
The Cheating Husband's "Other Woman"
One of the most interesting aspects of an illicit affair is the perspective of the "other woman." Most of us have a hard time feeling pity for the woman who plays the role as the "other woman" in an affair. Many wives choose to blame her for the affair, rather than the unfaithful husband.
For example, in a recent interview Elizabeth Edwards spoke of the mistress of her husband, John Edwards, waiting in the wings to take what was hers. While it was obvious that Mrs. Edwards felt betrayed by her husband, she subtly attacked Ms. Hunter for being available. Of course, all of us as women want to put the blame on the other woman rather than the man we love, even if all trust has been broken and our hearts and lives have been betrayed.
What I have heard women say a few days after discovering that their husbands have been unfaithful reminds me much of siblings who fight among themselves, but will defend one another against everyone else.
We seldom hear the story from the point of view of the "other woman." Why did she become involved with a married man? What did she expect? What were the benefits of being his play partner?
What Most Attracted the Other Woman?
What attracts the other woman to a married man is as varied as the people who become involved in affairs. Some of the responses may surprise you.
- He's married—no attachments.
- He has money.
- He has power.
- I love older men (even if they are married?).
- He flirted with me and he's hot.
- I did not intend to get involved. It was supposed to be a one-time thing.
- I wanted to have sex with him.
- For the hell of it, I don't know his wife.
- It was love at first sight (or so she thought).
There are other reasons or excuses, including "I didn't know he was married." But, even when the unknowing discovered that her new flame was married, most continued the affair.
What Was the Bait?
According to most of the "other women" I have interviewed, the men treated them "special." One insisted that the married man treated her better than the average single man she would have dated. According to these women, a married man is more likely to treat them "like a princess".
In retrospect, many of the women stated that the man would take her to better restaurants, buy her gifts—often very expensive if the men were older or financially sound—and almost always try to fulfill her wishes, regardless of what she asked. During the courting stage, according to these "other women" life could not have been better.
Most married men, by the time they decide to engage in a relationship outside the marriage, have become familiar with their wives at their best and at their worst. They have seen their wives with and without makeup. They have seen the bad and the good. Yet, with the "other women" the man has only seen the good. He has not been around her long enough to see the down side. And, there is always a down side.
The men have a tendency to consider the "other woman" as his fantasy woman. One of the women reported that her "keeper" (her word) had insisted on breast enhancements and collagen for her lips. He demanded that she wear 5" heels with her jeans as well as her dresses. And, she had to have her hair (drapes and carpet) dyed auburn.
When they were going out, he would select what she would wear and occasionally suggest that she apply more makeup. If she protested about too much makeup, he would remind her that her job was to concentrate on making him happy. Of course, she had no distractions, such as kids or cooking dinner, when she was with the man. Her total effort was to keep him attracted to her and to make him happy.
Of course, over time the glamour fades. To quote Shakespeare, "Familiarity breeds contempt."
"The shared kiss is the driving force behind the emotional attachment the husband has formed with his new lover."
The Kiss Is the Pitfall
Many prostitutes will tell you that they never kiss their "marks" or "johns" on the lips. The kiss is the most intimate of emotional experiences.
Many prostitutes will engage in almost any sexual act with a man without any feeling of attachment. However, a kiss is too personal and can lead to emotional attraction as well as physical attraction.
Unlike a prostitute who can keep the man at a distance by refusing to kiss him, the "other woman" is all too ready to share kisses. This is the pitfall to the emotional detachment that most expect from a one night stand.
While most wives will ask their husbands, once the affair is discovered, about the sexual acts the husband and other woman shared, few will ask about kisses. Yet, the shared kiss is the driving force behind the emotional attachment the husband has formed with his new lover.
What Makes the "Other Woman" Tick?
Of note, many of the women I interviewed had either been sexually abused as children or had low self-esteem for one reason or another.
It must be noted that many girls who are sexually abused early in life become extremely promiscuous during their teenage years and as they mature. There is little value put on relationships with men and these women often show little respect for established family units. Sex is a tool of manipulation for these women to gain what they want or to fill a need that cannot be filled.
Men on the prowl are prime targets for these women as the women do not go into the affair asking for or expecting (in many cases) an ongoing relationship.
The Life of the Mistress
I have been lucky enough to interview three women who were actually mistresses or kept women for at least five years, some longer. And, I have had the opportunity to talk openly with and question women who were involved with married men for short, yet destructive affairs. Of the three who were involved in "kept" relationships with married men, the men were all rather wealthy and older.
Each of these women told stories that were very similar. The affair started as a dinner with an older man. Other dinners followed. The older man often took the younger woman to museums or to other places as a way of introducing her to culture. In this role, the man was a father figure and a teacher.
The man would purchase expensive gifts, eventually offering to "keep" the woman, renting an apartment or in one case buying a house for the woman.
The excitement of the forbidden fruit lasted between three and six months following setting up house. Sooner or later, the women were seen at less than their best. The men began to be too comfortable with the women, showing signs of taking them for granted.
One woman stated that she realized six months into the relationship that she had sold herself into slavery. She was "on-call" 24 hours a day. According to this particular woman, all her friendships and other relationships suffered once she became a kept woman. On more than one occasion when she would have a night planned with friends, "he would show up and what could I do? He paid the bills."
Holidays, particularly Christmases and birthdays, became almost unbearable according to two of the women. One would spend days and weeks decorating for Christmas, only to spend it alone.
The other said she would dress for dinner on her birthday, expecting and having been promised a big night out, only to spend the evening alone looking at the clock on the wall. "If he arrived at all, it would be close to midnight. I would want dinner. He would want sex. Since he was paying the bills, it was sex."
After seeing and interviewing these women for almost a year each, I can only say that the early benefits—the gifts, the flirtations, the trips and even the apartment or house—lost their appeal within a year. These women were lonely, depressed, possessed no self-esteem, and as one stated, "I have no savings. He dies and what happens to me?"
"After seeing and interviewing these women for almost a year each, I can only say that the early benefits—the gifts, the flirtations, the trips and even the apartment or house—lost their appeal within a year. These women were lonely, depressed, possessed no self-esteem, and as one stated, 'I have no savings. He dies and what happens to me?'"
How Did It End for the "Other Woman"?
Of all the "other women" I interviewed, only one had married the man she lured away from his wife. The marriage lasted less than two years. She caught him cheating on her and kicked him out.
Some of the others were still "waiting for him to leave his wife." One was waiting for "his kids to graduate college." Of course, she had waited for them to graduate high school. I bet she is hoping they do not go to graduate school!
One "other woman" had been dumped by her lover after six years of being his mistress. He had forced her to move out of the house he had bought for her to live in. When I first met her she was a recovering alcoholic. She said she never drank before they met. He introduced her to wine. On nights when he would not show up, she would drink the entire bottle by herself. Eventually she began drinking with breakfast. It became a problem the man could not handle in addition to lying to his wife and paying two mortgages. He ended the relationship and gave her enough money to return to her hometown.
Not one story had a happy ending. Some were not quite willing to throw in the towel and give up. And, a few stories had not only unhappy endings but tragic endings. The saddest part of all the stories is that all the women were intellectually smart and emotionally scarred.
When asked, "What would you tell someone thinking about going out with a married man?" each of the women I interviewed would tell any other woman to not take the first step, to never go out with a married man.
One suggested that "we all want to do what we want to do. We just do not realize the consequences for ourselves, the men, and the worst part is for their kids. If I were his wife, I would have killed me."
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.