My Reality: Being the “Other Woman”

by | March 14, 2013
filed under My Reality

ringsby Phoebe Vaccaro

I had sex with a married man and I don’t feel at all badly about it. Now before you get all judge-y, as I’m sure you’ll be wont to do, let me explain myself a little.

There was a time when sleeping with someone who was attached – married, in a relationship, whatever it was – was entirely outside of my realm of comfort. It was an absolute no-go for me, especially after what I went through with my last relationship (quick recap: my ex had been cheating on me, in my house, in my bed with his boss for months, before finally telling me – and only finally doing that, via frigging Facebook, nonetheless, because he’d knocked her up). So I was hypersensitive to such circumstances for a while.

But then, somewhere along the way, I somehow became less dogmatic about my reticence to sleep with attached men…and then suddenly, I found myself in bed with a married man and not feeling at all badly about it. How’d I get to this point?

Firstly, the marital troubles of two people aren’t on me. Sure, I’m probably not helping by getting involved, even if only peripherally, but to be honest I don’t really feel like I ought to have to check every man for a marriage license before jumping into bed with him.

This man was incredibly sexy. I met him at a bar, we got to talking, and we left the bar together. It wasn’t until we were on our way to his friend’s house that it came out that he was married. I was  looking forward to the casual rendezvous, but when I discovered he was married I started to have second thoughts. After a short conflict within myself, I decided I was going to do it anyway. I didn’t know how often this man sleeps around on his wife. I didn’t know anything about their relationship. What I did know is that I am not the cause for whatever had him out seeking sexual relations with other women.

Part of the reason, aside from moral misgivings, that I had been so hesitant to sleep with an attached man is because as someone who identifies as polyamorous, I advocate for open and honest communication of one’s desires and inclinations in a relationship. I do not advocate cheating. Cheating really does hurt; I know that hurt all too well. So it makes me feel hypocritical to believe so wholeheartedly in open, honest communication yet to participate in an activity as dishonest as cheating.

But I also know how hard it is to communicate those needs and desires within a committed relationship or marriage in a culture that tells us that monogamy is the only moral, healthy way to relate. Sometimes people feel that cheating is the only option. And I get that. I understand feeling trapped. I understand the desperation that can lead to dishonest relations.

These  men are not bad men. I am not a bad woman. These are men who find themselves in a position where they have been coerced into compulsory monogamy and are finding that they need something more or something else. But to articulate that, in this culture, is not only terrifying but sometimes downright impossible. So they stray. And I somehow think that because I understand these inclinations, these desires, that I am equipped to understand where these men are coming from.

That doesn’t make cheating okay. It doesn’t justify or excuse this man stepping out on his wife (or my involvement in it). My involvement was purely a selfish one – he was so damned sexy and I wanted to have casual sex with him. It was that simple. But I argued with myself the whole way to his friend’s house. I justified, I wavered, I almost backed out. But if not me, it would be someone. So why not me?

This is not the first attached man to have an interest in me. He is, however, the first I actually ended up sleeping with. There was also a guy who contacted me through an online dating website who has a girlfriend whom he loves. He just wants to have some extramarital fun. I chatted with him for a while, came up with a number of excuses not to get involved with him,but he too, was highly. I eventually agreed to carry on a purely sexual relationship with him.

Again, I felt like if he was going to do it anyway (which he obviously is), so why not get what I want, let him get what he wants, and leave his relationship intact? I know this justification will sound horrible to so many people. I still shake my head when I hear myself saying it aloud. But I really felt like I was best equipped to engage in this relationship – no emotions on my part, just purely sexual satisfaction. So many others might become emotionally entangled to the point where they interfere with the relationship, want the man to leave his partner for them, start a new life. That’s not me.

At the same time, I wonder: is it helpful to this man and the woman he loves to allow him to carry on a secret affair? He says he loves her, and I believe he does. But is she better off carrying on, oblivious to his infidelity? Would I have been happier if that’s all it had been with my ex and his now-fiance? I don’t know. I can’t say.

I know how badly it hurts to be cheated on. I know how badly it feels to have one’s family torn asunder. But I also know that my relationship fell apart not only because my ex cheated on me but because there were other things fundamentally wrong with our relationship. It was hurtful, it was horrible, and I spiraled into a state of depression for a short time. But I’m happier now. I don’t lament that he did it. I am thankful that he did.

The difference between me and my ex’s mistress is that she inserted herself into the midst of a relationship; she wanted to walk away with the “prize” (honey, you can have him; he’s not that much a prize – he was a cheater, misogynist, chauvinistic, and emotionally abusive). Me, I’m purely after the physical connection. Sure, there’s still potential of someone getting hurt, but I have no inclination to intentionally destroy someone’s relationship; in fact, quite the opposite, I hope that the philanderer will be able to get what they need without hurting their significant other.

I know people will read this and think: “That is wrong. Sleeping with an attached man is wrong.” I don’t disagree. But I also don’t agree. The world is just so much more complicated than that. It isn’t black and white. There are all of these shades of grey.

(photo of wedding rings via Wikimedia Commons)


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  • Anon

    “He says he loves her, and I believe he does” I’m not sure what the author’s definition of the word love is, but mine sure does not include the things this man is doing to his wife without her knowing.
    Disrespect, cheating, and lying do not describe the things I would do to someone I love.
    I believe he stays in his marriage for selfish reasons, definitely not for love.

  • http://anniegirl1138.com annie

    That’s a lot of rationalizing to not admit that you are no better than the woman who “inserted herself into” your relationship.

    You haven’t clue one about this married guy or his wife or their relationship. It was a hook up.

    Forced into monogamy was he? I am sure he is glad you buy into that pop culture fallacy that is so vogue right now.

    If you are really ok with having sex with men in relationships of any kind, do yourself a favor and make sure that all is on the up and up before you hit the sheets. Did you ask him if his wife knows? Or if they have an open relationship? Did you discuss polyamory at all? Or did you just project all your excuses for why this was okay onto him sans discussion?

    You got cheated on, so you turned around and took the first opportunity that was handed to you to inflict the same kind of hurt and humiliation on some woman you don’t even know. That’s not liberation. It’s the same old woman shitting on other woman crap that’s been going on forever.

    And I agree with Anon. This guy has no respect for his wife – unless he is totally open and honest about what he is doing and she is completely ok with it and not simply stuck with him. I think you got played.

    • Jasmine

      How did she ‘get played’ if she got what she wanted out of the situation? It doesn’t sound like she got played, to me. It sounds like she was in charge of her sexuality and made an autonomous choice about who she was going to have sex with. She *knew* he was in a relationship. She *knew* what she was getting herself into. I’m not sure what part of that constitutes getting played?

      I think the reason we see such strong reactions to Phoebe’s experiences is because we are uncomfortable with sexuality, and female sexuality in particular. But we are also uncomfortable talking about monogamy and infidelity because I think many of us fear that our spouses or significant others could possibly do that to us. I don’t think cheating is inherently bad (not to say that it is good, either, but that it is complex). Infidelity is far more nuanced than that.

      • Black Iris

        This has nothing to do with how we feel about sex or women. I love my (female) orgasms.

        This is about basic human decency – do you lie, break promises, and hurt other people? Those things are always wrong.

        I think our society is having more and more trouble acknowledging the connection between love and sex and the naturalness of jealousy. Sexual betrayal hurts people and the wife does not deserve to be badly treated.

  • Chris

    Right off the bat, this article pisses me off.

    I’m going to agree with everything Annie and Anon said.
    You’re no better than the man who cheated on you. Yes, being cheated on hurts, but turning around and committing similar acts that will lead to the married man’s wife to feel the way you did shows you have ZERO respect for others. If you’re still hurt from being cheated on, take it out on single people.

    “But I also know how hard it is to communicate those needs and desires within a committed relationship or marriage in a culture that tells us that monogamy is the only moral, healthy way to relate.” So because it is “hard” to “communicate those needs and desires” you shouldn’t talk about them and instead just go do as you please? Isn’t that what your ex did to you and yet you still find that appropriate?

    Don’t justify yourself and others that cheat by saying “They aren’t bad men. I’m not a bad woman.” They are, and you are. Saying that it isn’t so doesn’t make it that way. Coerced into a relationship? Please, individuals have the capacity to make a choice, whether to stay or go.

    Really, your article boiled down to this: “I found a guy sexy, and he wanted me. I must have sex with him. OH? He is in a committed relationship but still willing to sleep with me? That’s okay by me. I do and don’t approve of cheating, but tonight, I guess I do! Did I mention he was sexy.”

    • Black Iris

      Very good points.

  • Roxanna Bennett

    Phoebe, thanks for sharing this. I agree with you, I don’t believe the onus is on you, you aren’t cheating on anyone. Whatever decision that man made was his own. He made a choice to cheat on his wife. If it wasn’t with you, eventually it would probably be with someone else. You’re not married to her, or to him. It’s not your responsibility. Sometimes there are worse things in a relationship than cheating. Relationships are so complex and what happens between two people might as well occur in a secret world. I don’t think people who cheat are bad people, sometimes they might not make great choices but that doesn’t make them bad. So, good for you for being brave enough to tell your story.

  • Laura Borner

    Agree that the burden is not on you, but what would make you want to have sex with someone who is willing to cheat for whatever reason. Personally I would never want to be intimate, albeit even casually, with someone who is willing to lie to their partner on that level. I mean if he’d lie to her, what’s to say he’s not lying to you about having an STD or how he’ll treat you when you’re alone and naked together etc, or when you say that this is only casual and you don’t want him to contact you anymore. Just seems like a lot of risk to put on someone who has already proven to be untrustworthy.

  • Phoebe

    annie, my sleeping with a married man has little to do with my own breakup. It isn’t some sort of revenge or attempt to inflict pain upon another woman. In fact, if you’ve read what I’ve written here, my goal is for nobody to get hurt. If a man is going to cheat, he’s going to cheat. If it weren’t with me, it would be with somebody else. I am not happily in a relationship, myself, and I am faithful to my partner.

    And Chris, I am not still hurt at being cheated on. If you read what I wrote, I am thankful for having been cheated on. It was really the catalyst that allowed me to extricate myself from an unhealthy relationship, one that was unhealthy well before the cheating began. I am not taking out my hurt on others. In fact, quite the opposite, I am hoping for others not to be hurt.

    Roxanna, thank you so much! It’s difficult to verbalize these sorts of things because people tend to demonize the other woman. When my ex revealed his infidelity, I took a different approach. I spoke to and became friends with the ‘other’ woman. Because while she knew what she was doing, the onus was on my ex, really. He was the one who had a commitment to me, not her. And in the end, his cheating turned out to be the best thing for both of us. It just isn’t so simple as cheaters are bad, infidelity is bad.

    Laura, he may or may not be honest with me. People tend to be pretty open with me because I’m not judgmental and I am open myself. I’m easy to talk to, so people tend to be honest with me. And even if not, I always use condoms and ensure my physical and emotional safety in a number of ways.

    • Black Iris

      Re if a man is going to cheat, he will, this has nothing to do with me.

      That is a huge rationslization and denial of your responsibility to other human beings. It is like going along with a lynch mob or turning Jews over to the Nazis because somebody else will.

      The one thing you can control in life is you – if you say yes, you are the one doing wrong. His responsibility is his – and yours still exists.

  • michnele

    While I agree that his commitments are not your commitments, I would take seriously the concern someone raised about untrustworthiness/selfishness on his part: condoms don’t necessarily take care of this problem.

    I agree that cheating doesn’t make someone “bad,” or that sleeping with someone you know is involved doesn’t make you bad. Things are complicated. But I think there’s a difference between recognizing that things are complicated, and totally justifying it without qualification.

    In the end, we should try to help ourselves be empathizing people. It’s not my place to say what is right for you, but I know that, for me, I would not be doing myself any favours by ingraining ways of thinking that completely erased any empathy I might feel for other people’s partners or spouses. It kind of feels like you are a very caring person who, for whatever complex reasons, is getting swept up in arguments that are, beneath it all, advocating callousness.

    If you hadn’t started a conversation by writing about your personal feelings and beliefs I wouldn’t ask this but: Is it possible that you are trying to pave over any anger, resentment, or other feelings you might still have over your ex’s inability to be straight-forward with you by making these very individualist arguments? I don’t think anyone — the “other woman,” the spouse, or even the guy — should be completely empathetically ignored.

    Anyway, I could very well be wrong. I hope all works out well for you in the end. Keep it casual with this man: his patterns of behaviour spells trouble. And if you do keep it on, I’d seriously consider asking him if he’s gotten tested.

    • Phoebe

      Thanks for your well-articulated and considerate comment, michnele. I like to think that I have approached this situation from a place of compassion. Friends, and strangers, think that what I am doing is justifying my actions. but I don’t feel the need to justify them. I sincerely wished to approach the situation in such a manner that would protect this woman from the emotional hurt I endured when my ex fell in love with his mistress. There is no risk of that with me. I am emotionally detached from the situation. It’s why, I think, a lot of married men will hire escorts – because they crave connection outside of their marriage but sincerely love their wives and don’t want to destroy that relationship. But in a culture in which monogamy is ingrained in us since birth, essentially, it really is difficult to express needs or desires that go against that. So I am coming from a place of compassion, even if it’s hard to see that.

      I have no anger or resentment toward my ex or his mistress (now fiance). At the time it was hurtful and painful, but once I sorted through the tremendous change that it put into motion, I realized that I was thankful, because it really was the best thing for both of us, in the end. We’re both far happier now.

      • Black Iris

        I think you are forgetting that his wife is not you. She does not want a sexually unfaithful relationship. If she did, he would not lie to her about it.

        From her point of view, when he sleeps with someone else, it hurts her.

  • http://www.rebeccahalton.com Rebecca

    Phoebe, I was also the “other woman” in an adulterous relationship — lasted for about six months, even leading to him saying he was going to divorce his wife, which wasn’t the “happy ending” I thought it would be….

    …I know I was deceiving myself about a lot, and I think you are, too. No matter what you say about your confidence in what you wrote above, there are clear mixed messages and confusion. You’re kidding yourself, if you think the goal of this kind of behavior is really for no one to get hurt.

    You also say you know the risks, yet you’re willing to take them and be involved in the risks this man’s taking (with who knows how many other women, with or without protection). It’s super hypocritical to say you’re not an advocate of cheating, but yet.

    At the end of the day, your story makes me sad. I’m sad for you, and I think defining yourself as “polyamorous” is a wall, a guard against not being vulnerable again. And that makes me sad, too, for what’s missing in your life, or hurting in your heart. I’ve been there…. http://www.rebeccahalton.com

  • Karl

    Hooking up with a guy who isn’t available for a relationship, is a pretty good indicator that guys who ==are== available don’t value you highly. You have low value in the relationship marketplace. You are damaged goods. You fetch a lower price. Enjoy your life.

    • Phoebe

      Interesting take, Karl. Funnily, I had a number of men who wanted to become my significant other. Your response reflects an antiquated, highly sexist, and mysoginist view of a woman’s value – I am not merely sexual capital. Men want to date me for a number of reasons – I’m smart, ambitious, fun, outgoing, funny, and confident. I found it more difficult to find men who wanted to be merely casual partners than those who wanted to be in a committed relationship with me. Oh, and I’m very happily involved with a man who values me for all of my wonderful qualities and not who I may or may not have had sex with in the past. But thanks for your concern.

  • sherilyn

    I love this and agree with 90% of it. I’ll sleep with whoever I want, regardless if they are taken or not. Likewise, they are making their own decision to cheat, so they’ve already decided their significant other isn’t worth it…

    If they don’t respect her, so why should I?

    • Black Iris

      Why? Because she is a human being and deserves to be well treated.

  • Poly

    Thanks Phoebe for your story. From some of the reactions you got here, I guess polyamory is still not really accepted or understood, which is a great shame.
    I used to have the same feelings as you about going out with someone who was “taken” – I didn’t want anyone to do this to me so would not inflict it on anyone else. And I have also changed my mind about this. Partly from now being in a relationship with a wonderful person, in which we are both completely honnest and open about everything. We have both agreed that we let each other be free to see or date others and always communicate about this openly. I think it shows you trust and love another person if you can give them the freedom to come and go and leave if they want to. If they choose to hang around it is because they want to, not because some moral tyranny makes them.
    As for dating a married or already-attached person, I now think this: he or she is a grown-up, able to make his or her own choices and moral or immoral decisions. Letting their partner know is of course better. But ultimately, their “cheating” on their partner is in no way my responsability: I am not part of their decision, only its consequence. Why should I be a moral policeman in a relationship I know nothing about, there are enough constraints in our societies on anybody who steps out of line. We should all be given the freedom to act as we wish and take the consequences, which also means realising if we are hurting someone else, or not.

    • Natanael

      Well for Phoebe and other posters I’ve seen Im going to try and explain what I see wrong with their reasoning…

      An argument proposed that intends to justify being in a relationship with someone “taken” goes like this “a cheater is going to cheat regardless… I want him, therefore there’s nothing wrong in having sex with him(he’ll do it anyways)”… which is an argument I see flawed because a)You don’t know he’s gonna cheat regardless… some do, some don’t… there are cheaters who only cheat once. b) It’s still not a justification for it… it’s like becoming a drug lord before it was a billionaire business arguing “well someone is going to do it… I like money, so why not me?” replace drug lord with cheating or being “the other woman”

      Another argument is “he’s a grown adult, his choices aren’t my responsibility” I agree… they aren’t… but yours are… and hooking up with a married guy is your choice and seems like a justification. Picture this… a guy goes around to houses and raping girls but his tire went flat… so he asks you to give him a ride… would you do it on the basis of ‘he is a grown man… his choices and not my responsibility? I think nobody would… I know it seems an extreme case but in essence it’s the same… you could say I wouldn’t aid in a crime because it’s illegal and cheating isn’t but Im talking of a moral point of view not legal… or you could say raping is bad, cheating isn’t which I’ll also discuss here…

      “They have decided not to respect her so why should I?” Because they’re most likely wrong in deeming her unworthy of respect.. everybody should be respected to a minimum degree at least as a fellow human being and member of the same society… you cant go around disrespecting people on the basis they haven’t earned your respect or that someone else decided to cheat on them.

      “A relationship is complicated” Of course, we as humans are complicated… that doesn’t justifies cheating… when you’re in a point where things are too complicated for you, instead of cheating you should communicate and discuss things… either way cheating is wrong(and I say cheating… not ‘having sex with someone else’ because that’s not necessarily cheating)…

      “He’s on a society that forces monogamy…etc” People don’t force other people into marriage… it’s a choice they both make… and the society Im in does promote monogamy but doesn’t forces it… and what’s more… it does look down on cheating so… “he was pressured by society into a monogamous relationship” is wrong… and if so why isn’t he pressured against cheating? The fact is… at least on marriage it was a voluntary personal choice to make an oath with someone… if afterwards they see it too hard, it doesn’t justifies their breaking of it.

      Now, about why cheating is wrong… cheating implies deceit and lies which are wrong… in most marriages it also breaks the pact/oath/promise of respect, love and exclusivity(or faithfulness)… now, I don’t see nothing wrong in a polyamorous relationship as long as they’re both ok with it(and nobody pressures no one into it)… and they’re both open about it… I mean the husband and wife of course… if the wife is ok with his husband/bf having sex with other girls, that’s their choice and there is nothing wrong with it… but there’s no breaking of pact there and no deceitfulness…

      • Black Iris

        Thank you! Wise and compassionate words nataneal.

  • SueEllen

    I am having an affair with a 31 year old. I am 49. We are coworkers and met about a year ago. We sort of ended it for about 3 months. I contacted him and it started again. I told him before we met to make sure this is what he wants and he said yes he did want me. (friends with benifits)We had sex twice and he treated me great. Then the othere day we had amazing sex. And according to him, that night his wife was all over him and talking about going to church and doing more things with their child. He had cheated on her several years ago and they split. He said he never wanted to go through that again and is deciding as we speak weather to keep me or not. I told him that decision was up to him. He doesn’t want to hurt me either. I told him that he had to do what he had to do and yes I would be hurt but we could still be friends. I don’t want to marry him and I am not stupid, I am too old for him. But he is all of 6’5″ of georgous and looks like he is in his late 30′s. I can’t be mad at him for wanting to do the right thing. Yes it bothers me too but I don’t want to give this young man up. I have strong feelings for him but realize we don’t have a future outside of sex. But that is fine with me.

  • SueEllen

    Those of you that hate us (cheaters) and don’t understand: I was one of you. But you can’t fully understand until you’ve done it. It’s not right by any means. And in my situtation, we have a strong connection, one I have never, ever had with a man before. Yes, it’s flattering he wants me but it’s more than that. And it hurts the cheaters when it ends as much as the people we are married to if they find out. Nobody wins..

    • David

      SueEllen,

      For those of us who are against to cheating it’s not hard for us to understand your situation. Everyone knows about temptation and attraction and feeling a special connection with people other than our spouse.

      But as you said yourself, it’s not right to cheat. The whole basis of a committed relationship is trust – that you and your partner will avoid temptation and talk about any problems that in the marriage. And if you can’t work out your issues, you break up. You don’t destroy the trust and bring chaos and pain to your spouse and family.

      The cheater does not hurt as much as the betrayed person. Talk to any marital therapist. The pain of the betrayed is much much worse.

      • SueEllen

        David, You are correct but if no one finds out then they can’t be hurt. I believe if you confess you are just trying to justify your own guilt when actually you just hurt someone deeply. If my husband cheated on me I really don’t want to know.

  • Jessica

    Sorry – who actually promotes that cheating is wrong. The same people who say “no elbows on the table” “no baseball hats at dinner” I was raised in an affluent family. I know manners. But I also know rules and belief systems are often antiquated. Ladies – I will screw any of your husbands because you’re not. Because you nag. Because you insult them in public. Because you feel it’s only on “special occasions” they get laid (ie twice a year). If you’re cheated on – then you’ve created it and deserve it. I’ll pick up your pieces.

    • SueEllen

      Jessica, That is really cold. I have a good husband and have sex often. That isn’t why I cheated. I just couldn’t fight a tempation and it lasted longer than it should have. I also got married very young and my husband was my first and only until this man. So there are many different reasons people cheat. I never set out to find a married man to sleep with. It just happened.

    • Black Iris

      Wow, you’re judgemental.

      It sounds like you’ve never been in a long term relationship. Normal people nag and fight and have problems. Being a good person is about sticking together and working things out instead of sleeping with someone else.

  • Jesi

    The deeply held beliefs against adultery are held by those that believe the western stereotype that to love means you’ll never be attracted to anyone else. This is simply not true. Of course lying to someone you love is a terrible thing to do, but the basic attraction is normal. And as far as the other woman/man is concerned– your concern should be yourself. Do what makes you happy and all others be damned. If you don’t feel bad about what you did then cherish the memory and move on. Good for you.

    • Black Iris

      Actually I think the nearly universal beliefs against adultery are based on the fact that a) people want to do it and b) people get jealous and upset when their partners do it.

      And I think a life whet you just do what makes you feel good and forget about everyone else is some kind of libertarian nightmare.

  • SueEllen

    Society always blames the man or woman or both that are the cheaters and damn them to hell. Yep, I was one of them years ago too until it happened to me. We know it is wrong and in my case it was not done to hurt my family nor his. It was lust at first then went to not sure love but strong like. Then once it was over it hurt to the core. I am loosing weight and my hair is coming out like crazy. It feels no different than if my husband had left me when this man left me. I watched The Doctors and they told about the physical and mental pain you go thru during a break up. You can even die from a broken heart. I can relate. I know it will get better and I am sure some will say I deserve to feel bad. Maybe so but I am human and make mistakes like you have at some point in your life. And since I felt the same way a lot of you do then believe me it can happen to the best..

  • Wife

    If you were a good person you would tell his wife you intended to sleep with him and why. Anything less and yes you are cheating on her just as he is because it’s in your power to tell her the truth and you omit it for your own gain.

    I’ve no sympathy with him at all but you’re just as bad for condoning his cheating in this way, ie not outing him so you can continue.

    All marriages have issues, find one that doesn’t and I’ll give them a wedding day gift. So yes you are causing problems because whatever else they have is probably normal range but you’re putting a deal breaker in the mix. Good people don’t do that to the marriages of people they claim to love (ie you claim to love him) or to strangers who have done nothing to them (ie his wife).

    Whether he loves his wife or not is none of your business. You are abdicating the responsibility to be a good person saying its up to him. His evil is on him and yours is on you. The only person here who has done nothing wrong and doesn’t deserve this is the one being lied to.

    Hopefully she will find out and send you a gift, one lying cheating ex to ruin your life next.

    The fact you were betrayed makes this doubly disgusting. You know the pain and you choose to put any other woman through it, yeah he could cheat with someone else but then that wouldn’t be on your conscience. This is.

    • Black Iris

      Excellent!

  • Cholie

    I myself have been sleeping with a taken man for a month now. We are co-workers and have known each other for a while now. We started just talking and next thing you know it was more. He actually stayed with me for an entire week when we first started talking. I knew he had a girlfriend and a baby but he never brought her up. This man makes me smile and laugh and I have a connection with him that I have never had with anyone else not even my ex of 10 years. Recently his girlfriend found my # and tried contacting me via text and calling but I did not respond to her. I did tell him that he if wanted me to back off so that he could focus on his family that I would and he said no. I did not tell his girlfriend for the simple fact that he is the one that approached me and the problems that they have at home are between them not me.
    I am sure that a lot of people look at this as women like myself being a home wrecker but if he is willing to cheat he was going to cheat with either myself or someone else down the line.
    I do not want him to leave her or his child. Whatever decisions he is makes is totally up to him. Don’t get me wrong I miss him like crazy when he can’t be around but I also understand that he has obligations in his life to her and his daughter.

  • Mrs Wife

    Kinda simple folks. Cheating is wrong. Lots of excuses but none are good. “Well, I am not married so if he disrespects his wife, it is not my problem”. “I am polyamorous so I sleep with whomever I choose”. “I will sleep with anyone’s husband. If they don’t take care of him, I will”. Sherilyn, your pain was so evident it jumped thru the computer screen at me. I am going to spend some time in prayer JUST FOR YOU TONITE.

    Those rationalizations are small minded thinking. It takes maturity and self control to seek out a relationship that is healthy emotionally, spiritually and sexually.

    I am adding this comment to let people know that healing a marriage after an infidelity is possible. See Rejoice Marriage Ministries. It is a difficult road but strengthening marriages lasts for generations. May you all find the health and happiness you seek.

    • Hannah

      Oh, the painstaking irony here. You, my friend, are quite clearly religious. I’m going to assume, and correct me if I am wrong, that you are of the Christian faith.
      Now, I respect religion (I was raised within Christianity and chose to leave the church for lack of belief). But while the Bible states that adulterers “shall not inherit the kingdom of God,” right along with drunks and gays, the Bible also states that nobody is in a position to be judgemental of anyone else. Matthew 7:1 “Judge not, that you be not judged.” 7:2 “For with that judgement, you will be judged…”

      Just saying.

  • Jo

    Anyone, anyone who sleeps with a known married person is just as guilty as the married person. I find that type of person to be crass, an ass, a whore, and a bitch. There are plenty of unmarried people go pick one of them. The loathing I have for such people is large.

  • DingoBee

    I truly understand how it feels to be the other woman. There are certain things that people not in our shoes will never understand.

    • Black Iris

      I think if you felt what the betrayed spouse feels, you would stop.

  • SueEllen

    Jo and Mrs Wife, if you say you have never found another man attractive as in wonder how they are in bed or have never thought of another man while your husband was “making love to you” then you are the liers. You have cheated in your mind and that is almost as bad. We are human and it is wrong but you will never understand until it happens to you. I hope that it doesn’t.

    DingoBee, you are absolutely 100% correct. These so called “Perfect Women” have no idea. I was one of those “Perfect Women” for over 30 years. I fully understand both sides…

  • Serial Cheater

    I am a serial cheater. I have been around the block more than a few times. I used to justify my actions, too.

    The cold truth is: Cheating hurts everyone involved. The man, his wife, his children (if he has any) and you. You are taking his time and energy when he should spend it with his family. Okay, you don’t feel that is your problem. You are still stealing.

    What about STDs? Are you using condoms? Are you sure you are both safe? Are you positive you and his wife are the only women he is having sex with?

    A sexual affair for the other woman can be exciting for a little while. The danger, the attention. But, that only lasts for so long. If the affair carries on, bonds will form. It is inevitable. Then bits of sex will not be enough. You’ll want more. He’ll want things to stay the same because he is already committed to someone else.

    You are only the fun on the side. No man who cares for you would put you in that position.

    The other woman is not high on the married man’s list of priorities. She is not really his friend, she is an outlet. That’s it.

    The other woman hurts herself because she denies herself a real caring relationship.

    I made the same excuses too. Fun without attachments. I pretended I was liberated. Turns out, I was lonely. I had low self-esteem and would take any crumbs of affection married men offered. I also had commitment problems, thus sleeping with unattainable men.

    I didn’t feel guilty either. Again, only because I didn’t want to face the truth. I was being selfish. I got off on stealing another woman’s man. Made me feel powerful. That was a big lie. I was really weak.

    The married man who cheats, knows what type of woman to look for. Easy. He’ll say that you’re cool and erotic, but really, he knows you’re just good to go.

    Of course, if he’s a serial cheater too, he’ll leave you for another bit of excitement when he gets bored.

    Clearly you are going to do want YOU want, but, do not justify your actions. It is demeaning to everyone.

    I wish you well and I hope you realize that you deserve better.

  • SueEllen

    I am not trying to justify my actions. I know they are wrong. I know we are huring everyone involved if they found out. We are not taking time away from anyone and are doing this when they are not available or out of town. Yes we use protection. He did not see me as an easy target as you say. And I am not Easy. I’ve never had an affair before and I am well in my 40′s. Many men have tried but I wasn’t interested enough to cheat until this man. I know I am last in his life and don’t want him to leave his wife.. I DO NOT condone taking another woman’s husband for the pure pleasure or just for the heck of it because I can. It just happened and lasted and very hard to give up when the feelings develop.

  • Black Iris

    1. It does not make sense to say I am a good person who does bad things. I’ll buy I am a flawed person with good points, but at some point you have to take responsibility for the pain you cause others and stop doing bad things. Continuing to do what you want without caring about others is bad for your soul or personal development.

    2. Why not just let him have his sidepiece and stay married? Ask his wife. Clearly she does not want him to do this or he would tell her. Look at it from her point of view – she is making life decisions and staying faithful based on the idea that he loves her and is trustworthy. She is not being given the knowledge she needs to make the right decisions for her. She should be getting tested for STDs and not having unprotected sex with him. She needs to protect herself and any kids financially in case he makes a baby or decides to leave. She should know so she can decide if she wants to leave now and have many years with a better man. And she should have the chance to do what she needs to in order to get a good deal in the divorce.

  • Black Iris

    So I’m curious how can you square this kind of behavior with feminism? You help a man hurt a woman and justify it with a denial of any connection to or responsibility for other people.

    Also, perhaps the blog needs to get a my reality column from someone who has been cheated on and can talk about the pain.

  • Black Iris

    Final thoughts re: cheating – by cheating the husband gets to have sex outside his relationship and keep his wife faithful.

    This is perhaps what everyone would like to have but it is the ultimate in selfishness and lacking compassion.

    The husband here has the traditional male privilege – I get extra sex, but my wife is all mine. It is all about entitlement.

  • Hannah

    I think the people who don’t understand the situation from first hand experience need to chill out. I firmly believe that this is a topic that needs to be treated like religion, gay rights, or abortion. Thanks to the Constitution, freedom of speech is allowed and often promoted – so say your bit. But don’t preach on and on and on, because chances are you won’t change anyone’s mind, and you won’t make many friends, either.
    Monogamy is a societal standard in the Western world – that doesn’t mean that everyone does – or should have to – agree with it. What business is it of mine if a married man wants to hook up with me? If I feel an attraction to him, then hell yes, we’ll be burning up the sheets in no time. He clearly knows the potential repercussions. He’s a big boy now; he has a home, a job, a wife, he can drive a car all by himself… He can use his brain, too. If he feels that he can pull off the affair with no problem, fabulous. If he can’t do it, then he either needs to say no and buy some lotion and socks, or be prepared to face those consequences that he was aware of when the relationship started.

    Now, I have never been “the other woman,” and I certainly do not seek married men – but if it were to happen that a sexually attractive man, married or not, expressed a purely sexual interest in me that I reciprocated, right on.

    Lust is an animalistic thing – and just as a reminder, we are animals! We may be significantly more advanced than other creatures, but there are still certain traits that are hard wired into our brains for lasting survival of our kind; eat when your tummy grumbles, drink when you’re thirsty, don’t go play in fire, avoid predators, and procreate. There are things that each sex is designed to find attractive in the other, solely to keep the homosapien around for as long as possible. It’s an instinct.

    I truly do not understand why people can’t register the critical difference between love and lust; love is emotionally driven, whereas lust is completely physical. It’s a natural thing. Why get so fucking sensitive over it? Oh, right – the monogamous societal standards that we are raised to abide by.

  • Anon

    Please don’t usurp polyamory to justify infidelity. In a polyamorous relationship, all parties are fully informed and give their consent. The fact that these men’s wives are not informed and would not consent if they were means “polyamory” doesn’t apply.

  • Anonymous

    Your way of thinking and behavior is so immoral. You sound totally hurt and JADED from being cheated on. Classic case, getting emotionally betrayed and now dissociating emotionally and only wanting a physical relationship. You need to get help, I can see you going down to a dangerous path. I’ve heard of women like you who turned to exotic dancing, escorting then eventually street walking.

    • Phoebe

      I wrote this piece because I knew how judgmental people are about infidelity. I wrote this piece because I’ve experienced infidelity from every possible angle. I fully anticipated that reactions would be vitriolic. While things like marriage equality for the gay community, transphobia, racism, etc. are prominent issues that have a vocal community of support, resisting the hegemony of monogamy doesn’t have the same platform.

      I’m not jaded. Yes, I was hurt by the situation with my ex, but as I’ve iterated a number of times, it brought resolution to a toxic relationship. No, I didn’t sleep with a married man as some sort of revenge. Why would I take revenge on a person I don’t know? Reading through the comment thread here, what I see is that I’m not the only person who has been in this situation and is willing to talk about it. Cheating happens, but placing the onus on the other person – man or woman – is placing blame where it doesn’t belong. Did I make a conscious decision to engage in behaviour that others consider immoral? I did, and I own that. But I did so with empathy. In so many situations the other person wants more than what the committed person can give, and things often end poorly for everyone involved. I am not the person who is going to convince this married man to be with me. And yes, someone who cheats on their significant other with me is likely to do it regardless. I think many people have poly leanings but because we grow up with the notion that monogamy is the only legitimate way to be in a relationship, people cheat rather than being honest about how they feel.

      I wonder of part of the vitriol stems from personal fear. People thinking “that could be my spouse”. And I understand that as well.

      As I mentioned in a previous comment, I’m currently in a committed relationship. I’m not bitter nor jaded. I trust that my significant other is faithful because monogamy is important to him. Were he to cheat, we would deal with that; I don’t view it as unforgivable.

      And to anonymous – if a woman chooses to become an exotic dancer or escort or otherwise engage in the sex trade, as long as she’s making the decision from a place of agency and not economic necessity, then all the power to her. One can have casual sex for the enjoyment of it, and not because they’re jaded. As I did until I met someone I had a connection with.

      Finally, Anon – I specifically said that this did not constitute polyamory for those reasons. But for people with poly tendencies inculcated with the idea read monogamy is the only option, secrecy and cheating can be natural repercussions. It’s difficult to be honest when one has been taught that their inclinations are wrong or immoral.

  • Kari

    You are scum. End of.

    The fact that you’ve been cheated on and yet are so willing to play a part in the same pain caused to another woman says a lot about your (lack of) character. OK, the man in question would cheat anyway – do you really think it absolves you of any wrongdoing purely because you are doing nothing more than providing him with a means of doing so?

    Your pathetic attempt to justify your actions by equating polyamory with infidelity is laughable at best. Seriously – have a serious look at why you feel the need to shit on the sisterhood from such a great height.

    • Phoebe

      Kari, I’ve shit on noone. Nobody got hurt. She was entirely ignorant of the situation. As I’ve mentioned, I’m now in a relationship and no longer involved with this man. I don’t know whether he’s cheating with someone new or not. What I do know is that you’re deaf to what I’ve said. I’m not equating anything to polyamory. I’ve discussed the distinction between polyamory and infidelity. My involvement with him was never about intending to hurt another human being. Those who know me well know that I am a very kind and compassionate person. I would say that to namecall and deride someone for making a choice different from one you might have made is more in the line of ‘shitting on the sisterhood’. I’m under no pretence that everyone will understand where I’m coming from. However, what I was attempting to articulate here is the things like cheating, infidelity, monogamy, polyamory, and relationships in general have far more shades of grey than we tend to acknowledge. My opinion on the subject has evolved over time, as I mentioned. But the thing I’ve learned as I’ve grown into my feminism and my sexuality is that things are very subjective. Not everyone will think as I do. I certainly don’t agree with everyone about everything. But what I DO strive to do is to acknowledge their perspective, understand their position, and engage without judgment.

  • Sueellen

    Phoebe, I agree with you so much! Well said. My affair just ended and no one got hurt but he and I. Once he started to fall in love with me he broke it off. Said he could no longer handle it with feelings. WTF… I am in love with him. He has been my one and only affair and my one and only true love. I love my husband of 30 years but have never been IN love with him. This other man is very young and I am sure too immature to handle this well. He said his guilt was eating him alive and had to stop. What do I do? I let him go. And I am left crying for days and a broken heart. Yes cheating is not good but it happens to good people. We are humans. Drugs, etc are not good either but people do it.They just tend to ack like an affair is as bad as murder..

  • Elisa

    Phoebe,

    I want to start off by thanking you so much for being brave enough to explain your situation, and your honest feelings about the subject. I have also been in this situation from every angle. I was in a relationship for 4 years much like the one you described. It was emotionally abusive, and he cheated on my multiple times throughout the 4 years. I was very hurt and betrayed. I had told him when we first started seeing each other, that if he ever felt that he was tempted by another girl or wanted someone else, to come and talk to me and we would figure it out. He never did. Eventually, I couldn’t stand for him to touch me, and stopped sleeping with him because I had no idea what he was doing, who he was seeing, and I was grossed out. I began cheating as well. I had no guilt. I was lost, and didn’t know how to get out of my relationship (and had tried breaking up a few times). A part of me hoped that by cheating with people I liked, maybe I would find someone who would give me extra motivation to make the break for good. Eventually I stopped the cheating, but it also gave me the confidence and perspective to make the break. I thought nobody would ever find me attractive, and I was so broken and used, that I should just stay with him. Not the case. I have been apart from him for over a year now. I feel great, guys are interested in me, and I feel like new. I’ve made a lot of mental, physical, emotional, intellectual, and even spiritual progress. I am happy, peaceful, and renewed.

    All that being said, I have recently found myself on the other side. The other woman. I’ve become so inspired and empowered by my breakup and work to become healthy and happy. It’s also become harder to find any men who inspire me to keep becoming the great person I am; Someone who fascinates me, inspires me, and that I find attractive. Recently I found exactly that, completely unintentionally (He’s my kickboxing instructor). He is married, has kids, and seems to truly love and adore his wife. However, we started talking just as friends, and this man has quickly become a wonderful friend, has taught me so much about life/health, kickboxing, love, etc. I have taught him a lot too. We have a beautiful relationship based on true appreciation for what each other has to offer, intelligent conversation, honesty, and…serious sexual attraction. We both started talking with the best of intentions, but recently it’s been harder not to act on our attraction and thinking about experiencing it. We haven’t had sex, but we did get pretty intimate until I stopped him. It was a beautiful and intoxicating experience, but it wasn’t planned. We’ve both expressed our feelings about adoring our friendship, and not wanting to lose it. We both know how much he loves his family, and I truly feel that we can do this with both relationships intact. I have no misunderstanding of my role in the situation. I don’t want him to leave his family, and I don’t need him to love me. I’ve done some very serious thinking based on my experience of being cheated on, and cheating. I realized, it’s hard for me to feel bad about it. Like you said, I am in now way responsible for his choices. I didn’t try to get his attention, or even bring up the attraction first. And I don’t have any hidden agenda other than the pure enjoyment of surrendering to the natural attraction I have toward this man. I’ve never felt such a strong attraction toward anyone this way before. However, I sought out blogs and articles about cheating, because I know that it “is wrong” in our society. I needed to sort out my feelings. As of now, I don’t think I will do it. I know I would be fine, and not get hurt or cause problems. However, he really is a great guy, and very honest and inspiring. He’s never cheated on his wife before. I don’t know that he’s fully evaluated the situation the way I have. After this long story, I just want to say thank you. Both the negative and positive comments on this have really helped me sort things out. In my case, I believe the best course of action would be to continue the friendship, and just keep the sexual attraction in check.

  • Beryl

    For me, the most disturbing thing is that Pheobe knows the pain caused by infidelity. She understands what it feels like to be betrayed by someone you have committed yourself to. She knows what it feels like to know that a certain portion of her relationship was a lie. That’s his words where nothing more than just words. And now having felt that pain, how could you be ok with being a part of that same situation? Even if your ex had cheat with a stranger, would it have been any less painful? Yes, if he’s going to cheat he probably will but does that justify being part of such an act especially if you’ve been through it yourself? Its not about what society says is right or wrong but its about you knowing how it feels to be betrayed like that. Can you seriously be ok with being a part of someone elses pain? There is no justification for cheating or being the available means for someone to cheat. Its true that whether you’re in a relationship or not you’ll be attracted to someone but what defines us are the actions we take there after. There is nothing feminist about this, there is no strength in this. Which part of your sexuality where you exploring that couldn’t be done solo or with a single man? There is just a lack of empathy here and for someone who KNOWS only makes it cold.

  • C C

    I think the problem is you’re not seeing is you’re part of the pain that will be inflicted on the wife of this man and possibly part of a pattern created by it.

    Maybe you think “so what, he was going to fuck someone else anyways.”, you might be right about that but would it hurt more to have been cheated on once or more than once? You’re only adding to the count. Also, do you even know this man cheated before? maybe, you were his first experience. Either way, if I had to choose, I would prefer getting cheated on once, it’s less painful. You’re helping someone commit damage to another person and you’re rationalizing it as I don’t care because I don’t have a relationship with this person.

    You know the better choice because you were on the other side of this story at some point. Wouldn’t it have been great if that woman your ex cheated on you with decided that she didn’t want to be apart of the affair? This is fairly obvious, and the answer is YES. You wouldn’t have been hurt and probably would have changed your mind about this incident because you would have appreciated this woman.

    It’s a pattern of rationalizing a selfish action. Hopefully the wife of this guy doesn’t proceed with the same selfish pattern as yourself.

    I know this post is old but hope you’re alright, even though I disagree with your action, I think cheating is a very painful experience and can skew your perception quite a bit.

  • K

    Wow. I never realized how this old aged topic could spark so many heated feelings. First of all, I do commend Phoebe for sharing her feelings from such painful past experiences. I can relate to what she had wrote and I empathize the internal conflicts that she had to deal with. I similarity had been betrayed and lied to in the past and now I find myself in the opposite circumstance. Yes, I know it’s morally wrong and I do feel ashamed but this is my only regret that I will have to live with. I do feel bad for the wife but I also know that it is their business to deal with and not mine. I have nothing to do with what happens in their relationship. For the both of us, it is purely sexual. I have no deeply rooted feelings for him and vice versa. We both are consenting adults, aware of the consequences, but live our own separate lives. We don’t go out in public, talk on the phone, or have endless text messages. It’s very business like if anything and enjoy the sex when it suits us both. I honestly don’t see much wrong with that. The only thing I trust from this person is to be discreet and not careless. If you had to ask me what I benefit from this, I would say the easy convenience of sex with no commitment. Yes, I have had previous single FWB, but like every casual sexual relationship, it has an expiry date. This one is not so much different. As far as “sisterhood” goes…please. That is such a bunch of archaic bullshit! What about “manhood”? Would people be preaching “brotherhood” if it was a cheating wife with a man? Not so much. So those of you playing the moral card…get off your high horse and come have a real opinion when you have walked in others shoes, or at least try and understand other people’s point of view. You don’t need to agree, just listen. Like Phoebe had expressed, it’s not so black and white and there are many shades of grey. No, I don’t believe cheating is ok. It’s very deceitful and hurtful. And yes, I know I have a shared responsibility. But I don’t believe this makes anyone a bad evil person. We all make bad decisions in our life from time to time. The only thing we can do is learn from them.