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Being the Other Woman.

September 14, 2011

To: Vicky
From: Me
Sent: Thursday, 1 September 2011
Subject: …excuse me?

Can I just vent to you for a half second?

Excuse me, but if you’re that dude who is all UP in my business in public, flirting your lil fanny off, bein’ all in my personal space – and I’m responding and keep coming back for more?

Don’t let me find out via FB (when you add me that night) that you HAVE A GIRLFRIEND.

Look. It’s not that I consider flirting to be cheating (although it makes me mildly uncomfortable to think back on it, because 1) don’t think your lil blonde GF would like your hand on my lower back like that OR the fact that you gave me your card and 2) *ahem* we’re in public, where I am acting in a somewhat leadership role around our peers – and I DON’T KNOW you’re partnered so… now *I* kinda look like an ass) but… Man! You were good at the flirting and now I’m all bummed out because there will clearly be no follow-through. And I thought for sure there’d be some humping in my near future.


——–  ♦◊ ♦  ——–

Oh, Mr. B. B.

A girlfriend? Really?

You know, I’ve always wondered why women in particular go all ape-shit crazy on the Other Woman – when all that anger should be directed at the Chick/Dude Who Cheated. Actually, no, I get why – but that isn’t really the point of this post.

One thing I think we rarely think about is what it might be like to be the Other Woman.

I mean, maybe you do appropriately direct your anger at The Cheater, but we also have a pretty clear image of what the Other Woman looks like (and, it’s always the Other Woman… we don’t do that nearly as often or as viciously to the Other Man… interesting, isn’t it… a whole other post in that somewhere, too…)

She’s probably Slutty, has Low Self Esteem and questionable Moral Character. Not someone we’d think about being friends with, really.

Whether or not we outwardly blame her, we inwardly personify her with every bad slut-shaming stereotype we own – probably as some defense mechanism to avoid thinking about why we were cheated on in the first place… and, I suspect, to shift some blame away from our [ex]-partner.

But… I have to wonder… how different is she from us, really?

Think about it: You meet someone. Although the other person is partnered – sparks fly. It’s not intentional. Sure, part of it could be because the other person is bored, or because this is illicit, or because you’re new blood. Or maybe, it’s simply because The One doesn’t exist, we don’t have that perfect partner, and it’s entirely possible for chemistry to just. happen. Even when one of you is already partnered.

Ah, chemistry. We all know how it feels. Fucking great. And having to walk away from it? Well. No matter the reason, it is always going to blow.

But. Add to it this enticing little thought: What if this chemistry, this connection, is so strong, it puts cracks in someone else’s commitment?

What if this person wants me so badly, or we have so much in common, or we have such an amazing connection, that they would leave their partner to be with me? That they would renege on their monogamous commitment, not because they’re a douchesicle or because they don’t value commitment, but because a commitment to me would be  so much better that what they have now?

Before ya get all uppity about that statement, just think about how that sounds. Think about how that feeds into the fundamental message of every chick flick you’ve ever seen, into every bullshit mantra you’ve been told about True Love and The One. How that might connect into self-esteem, self-worth… in this crazy, competitive, self-promoting yet self-doubting culture that we live in. Think about what that kind of statement could mean… the kind of hope it might bring.

Just for half a second. Consider the shoes of The Other Woman.

They may not be the stiletto-ed fuck-me pumps you thought they were. And, walking that mile in them, the one while you’re figuring out how to walk away? It’s probably more difficult, and more complicated, than we ever consider it to be.

——–  ♦◊ ♦  ——–

I’m sorry (for both of us), Mr. B. B.  I think this might have gone past the my my are those my panties on the floor? I think there might have been more here than just the humping, to tell you the truth. Sometimes, you just know.

And, no, I don’t think it makes Mr. B. B. a dick, nor do I assume he would cheat on his GF if given the chance. Sometimes… chemistry just. happens. Even when one of you is already partnered – and it doesn’t make them any less committed.

It is against my moral code to become involved with someone who’s committed to someone else. I may have my own thoughts on monogamy, but they don’t include destroying someone else’s. It’s also against my moral code to cause pain to a fellow human being, if I can help it. Furthermore, it’s against everything I champion to start a relationship all dramatic-like, and without a clean slate.

So, no, there will be no more, Mr. B. B. I’ve seen this thing that could be between us, even if neither of us ever acts on it, and I’m not going to wait around to see if you will.

Like Kayak, it’s time to let this one go. And, as I am sure y’all know, letting go of something that looks good, pretty much sucks.

And yeah, I get that the difference between me and real Other Women is that I am letting go, that I am walking away. But, you know what? Just because I am being rational about it doesn’t mean I don’t understand why they don’t walk. Why they wait around to see. Doesn’t mean I don’t hear the little voices that say “Well, maybe they’ve just been together so long, but she’s just not that great for him… maybe I’d be better for X, Y, and Z reason… Maybe he’s just with her because it’s convenient… I mean, it is long distance and why aren’t they engaged yet?…  Maybe there is something here he can’t ignore… Maybe he’ll get in touch with me… Maybe if we just hang out more, he’ll realize…

….Maybe they have an open relationship and she’d be ok if we humped a little…

Doesn’t mean I don’t get why Other Women stick around and, you know, hope.

And the thing of it is? Those Other Women probably want a relationship, want the Love at First Sight and The One and Happily Ever After… when me? Right now, I just want to bang… and if something good transpires past that? Sure, why not. I’ll take that too. But I don’t need it to be happy or fulfilled.

However, Other Women might really need that. I think most human beings need it more than I do.

So. Even though I do not condone being the Other Woman… I have to admit that I get it.

It’s hard enough walking away from that spark in fuck-me pumps.

31 Comments leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    September 14, 2011 6:31 pm

    Once again, spymasters, and soul mates. Now everyone has to have game, in and out of a relationship. BUT, LET’S GET REAL.. CHEATING SUCKS.

    Like you Nikki I am open for business, but not when I’m involved.

    Sure I flirt, horribly. It’s part of I keeping them skills sharp. But there are some lines.

    • September 15, 2011 10:37 am

      Hi BOB!

      There are always lines, and cheating isn’t crossing one of them. Nor do I have any indication that Mr. B. B. would actually cheat, if given the chance. That’s the thing about chemistry. I think it can happen whether or not your partnered, but just because it does with someone who isn’t your partner, doesn’t make you less committed. You still have lines you don’t cross – both in and out of relationships.

      Am I making sense? Or is it the pain meds talking?

  2. Esme permalink
    September 15, 2011 12:59 am

    I understand that some women are fiercely protective of their men, and when their men cheat they go all Maury on the other woman. I don’t agree with it, but I understand it.
    I’ve been cheated on twice, by two different men. The first was 13 years ago…and she quickly became on of my best friends. We kicked the guy to the curb. 2 years ago, I found out a guy I was dating had another girlfriend. Once again, we kicked the guy to the curb and became good friends. Hell, if a guy is smart enough to date me, the other chick is probably just as cool 😉 Call me crazy, but it works for me. And it really is a great revenge!

    • September 15, 2011 10:40 am

      Ha ha ha! I am so with you Esme!

      I *get* why people do the whole hatin’ on the Other Woman thing, but doesn’t mean it’s the right way to vent your anger or relieve your insecurities!

      And yes, more often than not, you can probably understand her OR she was as in the dark as you were! Hence, she doesn’t deserve your anger – the cheater does.

      Plus – leaving him confused and alone? Awesome.

  3. Lee permalink
    September 15, 2011 11:56 am

    I’m a guy and I can understand and relate to being the other woman. I am the Other Man you mentioned.

  4. September 15, 2011 2:39 pm

    I’ve never understood the hate towards the other woman either. There are TWO people involved in cheating, and they both of their own brain.

    Unless we’re talking about some type of magical spell. Because I’ve heard that can totally happen. =)

    • September 15, 2011 2:39 pm

      *Have their own brain.

      • September 15, 2011 8:34 pm

        … could also have been “they both *are* of their own brain”… right?

        It’s a fill-in-the-blank type questions. You’re all about reader involvement.

    • September 15, 2011 8:35 pm

      Magic spells aside… exactly. And, to be fair, the Other Person isn’t committed. So, really, they aren’t at fault. (…aside from the whole someone-else’s-monogamy… hurting-other-people bit…)

  5. Movedup permalink
    September 15, 2011 4:24 pm

    hmmm… I think my problem lies with the other woman when she knows I exist in an agreed upon monogamous relationship – stated clearly from the beginning or its a no go. I can’t respect a woman that would go stomping around in someone else’s life like they have no accountability and blame it on “chemistry”. At least get real about it and tell the truth – for whatever reason – you want to fuck the guy! Own it and take responsibility for it – don’t try to justify your reasons but know YOU WILL DO HARM and KARMA’S A BITCH. There is a reason there is the old saying – don’t open one door before you close the other. In my case – it is a well known fact – the curb is where you will be going in short order – cheating is not tolerated. If someone lights up my life with “chemistry” that a signal to me that I need to re-evaluate my current situation and see whats going on – inside. But to act on it – never! Common sense people – when you cheat someone is going to get hurt – possibly you.

    • September 16, 2011 8:00 am

      Hey lady!

      I agree – I don’t condone nor would I ever invade another person’s relationships. I believe in do no harm, and I believe in respecting my fellow human beings – and that includes their relationships.

      And, yes, some women (and men too!) use excuses as reasons they stick around, when really they just want to hump someone who should be off-limits. However, I do believe sometimes people really think, or want to believe, they’re “better” than the current partner. They stick around because they’re not strong enough to walk away from something *they* think is bigger than lust. They really believe it will become a “better” relationship – a “better” commitment. I’m not saying this is right, but I think a lot of people are in that space when they become the Other Person – and I can at least imagine how hard it would be to walk away from that.

      Of course, I think all that is delusional. I fully agree with you can’t start something in the middle like that, and opening a new door is a terrible idea. I wholeheartedly believe this, and I would only want clean, clear beginnings in my life. If I happen to meet someone who is partnered? It’s up to them to clean their shit up and only then show back up in my life, unattached, clean slate, old doors closed.

  6. September 15, 2011 5:10 pm

    I can understand when you get angry with “the other woman” if they know that the guy they are messing with is in a relationship or even worse if they would know you. However, the real outrage should be directed towards the person in the relationship that is cheating.

    Cheating is a line I have never crossed. Not only can you end up in a stupid situation but you also end up seriously hurting others. In regards to being the other woman… I can see why some do end up in a mess like that but it is always better to stay clear of it. Most times, nothing good comes out of it, ever.

    So yeah… it sucks.

    • September 16, 2011 8:04 am

      And that too – the fact that we focus A LOT of our attention on what the Other Person is doing wrong, how they should know better, and much less where it belongs: on the person who actually cheated (newsflash – no matter how we feel about it, the Other Person didn’t actually cheat on anyone. So.).

      I was the Other Woman once – in high school, when I can use the excuse of being young and stupid. Among others. I’ve also cheated – once, and broke up with the person I was with the very next day. I will regret having done that for pretty much ever, even though my ex-BF has forgiven me. But, yeah – that instance? The fact that the person I cheated with gave not a damn about my relationship? Should have been a red fucking flag – and was a clear indicator of what was to come. I got what I deserved.

  7. Movedup permalink
    September 15, 2011 5:42 pm

    This may sound strange and it took some time to get there but I actually (after the rage) felt sorry for the other woman. It was an affair for a couple of months – she was much younger (30 years younger – that is another story). She knew about me – I knew nothing of her until after the breakup. She got dumped too. We both did – by the same ass. So my dreams of building a life with this man were crushed – so where hers. You would have to think that her ego must have taken a beating as well – you’re young pretty but not enough to make him leave his older girlfriend for you… you were just a toy he got tired of playing with. Bottom line is nobody wins. Its a lose lose situation. So at the moment I wanted to pull her hair out – now we have something in common – both burned by the same guy. So young to get hurt like that – sloppy seconds – I hope she learned something from the experience and she’ll know better next time – have more faith in herself and not get involved with asses like that. Its weird but I wish her well and consider us both lucky – we were the ones that got away. Remember above all else – DO NO HARM.

    • September 16, 2011 8:07 am

      I think this is the way we should feel about some Other People: they get burned often, too. They pull the wool over their own eyes, pretend something is what it most certainly is not.

      We should also consider both of us lucky, when we get out of it. And I don’t think it’s weird that you wish her well. There should be some kind of camaraderie in these situations – you’ve both been dealing with a dickhead, and you both will survive. You both dodged a bullet.

      And yes, do no harm.

  8. September 15, 2011 10:36 pm

    I with you, Nik. I get it. I’m not saying it’s right. In fact, I’m saying it’s wrong. But I get it.

    And I agree, the cheater, i.e., the one who is in the committed relationship, is often not as chastised as The Other Woman. However, SHE didn’t make a promise to you, did she? The cheater did. I don’t think it’s fair to forgive the cheater but hate The Other Woman. But I kinda get that, too. It’s territorial. They feel threatened. And again, not that it’s right. But I get it.

    • September 16, 2011 8:09 am

      Yeah… I get it. I understand why we focus on the Other Person over the Person Who Cheated. It’s safer and easier than having to deal with 1) kicking someone we potentially love to the curb, along with 2) the fact that someone we potentially love did this to us and 3) what we might *decide* it says about us (e.g. what am I doing wrong that he went outside our relationship?? when really the answer is probably nothing and has more to do with him than with you).

      So, yeah. I get it. Not right, but I get it.

  9. September 16, 2011 12:44 am

    The trouble with the “she would leave her partner to be with me” school of thought is that the girl could leave you next, too. She’s already done it before. Cheating is so not cool.

    • September 16, 2011 8:11 am

      Oh hells to the yes that’s another ish that most Other People don’t think about. And they should. If this person is like the dog on “Up!” (e.g. “squirrel!”) every time someone new comes along… how long do you think they’ll stay committed to you?

  10. Anon permalink
    September 16, 2011 4:07 pm

    All I’m saying is don’t judge until you’ve walked a mile in the other person’s shoes. Been there, bought the t-shirt. Over a dozen years later we are still happy together. Sometimes there is a reason chemistry fucks up your head (and your hormones).

    • September 19, 2011 10:24 pm

      Point very well taken.

      My thoughts? If that chemistry is real, then there is no reason not to end the relationship you’re in before you start the new one. There’s still no excuse for being the Cheater, or the Other Person. You end things first, because 1) you owe it to your current partner, and 2) you owe it to the next to start fresh. Amiright?

      I kinda wanna hear your love story. 🙂

  11. September 16, 2011 6:50 pm

    is a rushed, awkward handjob to a neon trees song in a poorly lit racine restroom hallway cheating?

    yeah, didn’t think so.

    • September 19, 2011 10:28 pm

      Is the Neon Trees song asking you what you’re waiting for? Well, then. How can you say no to that? You’re just sick like animals anyway (since animals are always pretty sick).

  12. September 17, 2011 11:27 am

    Well I think that in many cases there is something fundamental at work about the situation of the other woman and the man that needs to considered. We become exclusive and committed to another person for all kinds of reasons but one of the big one’s whether we acknowledge it or not is compromise and the social context that “commitment” takes place. Joe wants Sally but Ann likes him and Sally doesn’t so Joe hitches himself with Ann and not Sally. They hang out together and have great sex and because they hang out so much together for a long enough time that it becomes a practical de facto reality that they are “exclusive” and when they are “exclusive” it becomes a de facto relationship rule that they are “committed.” Neither Joe nor Ann are truly in love with each other. But now Sally is seeing Joe in a different light. Joe has every reason to continue to be with Ann because they enjoy each others company and they have great sex. Now if Joe sees Sally then he would be technically cheating on Ann and because Ann doesn’t want to miss out on Joe’s attention she can always invoke the implicit idea of their “commitment” to each other even when in reality that commitment is just a socially coercive way of saying “fuck me not her.”

    It seems to me that cheating is basically built into a system and is inevitable in those circumstances where social dictates essentially coerce people into being in a”committed” relationship.

    So one reason we can’t blame the Other woman is that the Other woman doesn’t know what’s really going on in that relationship. Sometimes so called “cheating” is legitimate and is part of the complicated game called life.

    • September 19, 2011 11:07 pm

      That’s where open lines of communication comes into play. Too many people are afraid to have ‘the talk’. I feel in that case, they have no one to blame but themselves.

    • September 20, 2011 10:07 am

      Yeah. What Esme said.

      Actually, this love triangle between Joe, Sally, and Anne is complicated for no reason. All players should just be honest about what they want. If Joe only wants to have sex with Anne, but isn’t interested in a monogamous relationship with her, he should say so. Then, it’s her choice whether or not she’s ok with that. If she is, great – Joe can enjoy relations with Sally (as long as she is also ok with this situation) and Anne, and both Sally and Anne can do whomever they’d like as well (hello, Joe isn’t the center of the universe, here).

      If Anne isn’t ok with it, she should move on and not hope to rope Joe into monogamy by calling it “commitment”. Also, Joe shouldn’t be having sex with Anne if he wants a monogamous and committed relationship with Sally. And vice versa all ’round.

      I mean, I get what you’re saying. Sometimes “commitment” is more about “you need to like only me” than it is about really wanting to be in a monogamous relationship with someone. It’s more about insecurities than anything else. Fine, whatev – but I’d argue that’s not an appropriate way to have relationships. Period. It’s about open communication, as Esme pointed out. I don’t think commitment is a way of coercing people not to cheat – well, it shouldn’t be. It should be about talking things through, and being honest about what you want.

      It’s never legit to be the Other Person simply because those in the relationship haven’t had “the talk”. You know you’re just treading on thin ice with that. Further, for me personally? I’d want to KNOW that conversation was had before I’d enter into something like that. I would want to know there was clear understanding. Period. I don’t personally like drama.

      • September 24, 2011 2:08 am

        Okay, never mind, you are all correct and I am mostly totally wrong. Part of what I was trying to say is the fact is that a lot of people don’t really understand the nature of their situation and that inevitably leads to poor communication or simply allowing things to go with whatever happens to be the accepted cultural default-then bad things happen.

      • September 27, 2011 7:26 pm

        I wouldn’t say you’re wrong… I just really hope that *most* relationships don’t have the lack of communication that you point to – that most people have the talk about where things are going and what they want.

        I do know this isn’t always the case… and it leads to significant problems. People don’t want to have The Talk in fear the other person will leave, or say something they don’t want to hear – and that’s not cool, nor helpful for your relationship. At all. It leads to the bad things you mention.

  13. Black Iris permalink
    October 7, 2011 8:57 pm

    I can understand why someone would want to be the other woman/man, but I can’t respect actually doing it. If someone crosses that line, I end up thinking there’s probably something wrong with them. They could be desperately lonely or just selfish. They might be stupid enough to believe lies or they might not really understand how love and relationships work. They may be judging the couple as not really having a good relationship. I assume the other woman/man doesn’t have a lot of other options for a good relationship of their own.

    Something people seem to be missing here – I can totally understand being the cheating partner. I don’t think it’s right, but I get why someone would do it more than why someone would cheat with a married/taken person. Everyone in a relationship wants to cheat sometimes for all kinds of reasons. But why would a person who is single and can have sex with many different people go for someone who’s taken and mess up other people’s lives?

    And I can understand why a person who has been cheated on would be mad at the co-cheater. It’s not very logical, but I think it’s how most people feel. Certainly the other woman/man deserves the anger, even if the cheater deserves it more.

    Anyhow, I want to put in a word for understanding the feelings of cheaters and cheated upons at least as much as the other woman/man.

    • October 10, 2011 9:15 am

      Hmm… interesting points.

      First, in terms of the Other Person – I do have to argue that it’s not as easy as saying “well, if this single person can have sex with anyone, why are they choosing someone already partnered?” I don’t personally think it’s that simple, and the point I was attempting to make with this post is that it’s not always about simply having sex with someone. I was addressing the affairs that result when the Other Person feels a significant “connection” with the person already partnered. And, as we all know, those sparks don’t just come along every day. If you are like me, I DON’T find that chemistry around every corner, and I DO understand if someone feels SUCH a strong pull to someone already with someone else.

      My point was how hard it is to walk away from that which you do NOT find on a regular basis… that which can be misconstrued as something very special…e.g. “the One” blah blah blah.

      That said – my follow-up is that, for me, you still walk away. What I didn’t get into is the fact that things that feel all sparkly like that usually aren’t sustainable anyway, but I did touch on my opinion that things that start quickly can end just as fast, and that good relationships *usually* start with things that are all clean-slate, not dramatic and clandestine.

      Second, agreed that there are many reasons why people cheat. Absolutely. But I DON’T condone a single one as valid. If you make a commitment to someone, with clear guidelines and boundaries, it’s up to you to respect and honor that. If you want something to change, you have a conversation first – you don’t cheat.

      Finally, I still fully believe that, if you are cheated on, you should stay focused on your Cheating Partner, not the Other Person. The Other Person isn’t in your relationship, and their behavior and reasons for it are not your concern, nor are they, really, your business. I know that sounds weird, but I really believe we should stay focused on the Cheating Partner, period.

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