Subscribe to Bitch on Sale and help us reach our goal by Sept 30! Subscribe Renew Become a member Image Map

The Dating Game: The Other Woman, And Why She Isn't Your Enemy

The person with whom you have decided to have a monogamous relationship owes you fidelity, as you owe that person the fidelity you also promised. If that person breaks that promise, I can guarantee one thing: he or she made the choice to do so.

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that a one-off mention that a women who has committed the supposedly cardinal sin of sleeping with another woman's partner isn't a horrible slut unworthy of love sparked a discussing about the appropriate amount of blame she should share for breaking up a relationship. But, to recap: when you and a partner choose to make a commitment of monogamy to one another, it is incumbent upon the two of you to keep that promise. It is not, however, incumbent on the supposed slut next door to keep her claws out of your man—unless she is your friend or relative, in which case she owes you the respect of a friend or relative.

Every single man and every single woman is perfectly capable of not cheating on their significant others, of having a conversation about their emotional and sexual needs and—as is one of my three rules of dating—having a conversation with their significant other when those things change. Is it easy? No. Does it, perhaps, seem easier at times to fuck first and talk later? Certainly. If, however, one chooses to fuck first and deal with one's life later, then it is not the fault of the person one fucked.

I have been hit on by a lot—and I stress this point—a lot of married men. By virtue of the career I used to have and the work I used to do, my work environments were extremely male dominated (though, to point out, married men started hitting on me before I could drive). I can't say for committed women, but when it comes to men, they weren't particularly creative. They basically tried to get me into bed one of four ways.

  1. My wife is cool with it.
  2. My wife doesn't fuck me anymore/hates her body/hates sex.
  3. We're totally separated/lead separate lives.
  4. I love you.

I've actually asked around recently, and there's a general consensus: it's inevitably the same script. Every story of every woman I know who has ever been hit on—or yes, gotten with—an otherwise attached man describes a story that has one of these starting points

Interestingly, people that cheat have a similarly clichéd script by which they explain their behavior when caught (or, more likely, half-caught by a partner that doesn't want to believe it).

  1. It didn't go as far as all that.
  2. I was drunk/high.
  3. S/he seduced me.
  4. You're paranoid/insecure.
  5. If you had just done x, I wouldn't have.

As with the excuses the cheater tells the other person, the excuses a cheater tells his or her lover revolves around the same basic point: it's not really my fault. And who's fault is it? Either the cuckolded person, or the person with whom the cheater cheated. It is, of course, not the fault of the person who cheated when he or she is confronted—because he or she is trying to minimize her/his own culpability, and because the cuckolded partner wants to think that there's something else going on.

And, look, I get it: It's a lot easier to accept that the person you love wouldn't hurt you like that of his or her own free will. It's a lot easier to believe that there's something amazingly special about you that would make a partnered person risk their partnership in order to be with you than to think that person who wants you is just an amoral pusbag. The truth is kind of an ugly thing.

Cheating comes down to one thing. The person breaking their commitment fucked up. Period. Maybe it's about insecurity, maybe it's about libido, maybe it's about not caring about a partner's feelings, maybe it's just intended to be a catalyst to force a shitty relationship into a break-up. Nonetheless, it doesn't matter: If the cheater was a better partner, he or she wouldn't cheat.

And, quite frankly, arguing about women's responsibility not to fuck partnered people is like arguing about the war on drugs: decreasing the supply of available pussy by appealing to sisterly solidarity isn't going to end infidelity any more than advertisements about pot funding the War on Terror stopped people from toking up. I don't cheat on my partner because I can't fuck other people; and he doesn't refrain from sticking his dick in other women just because there's no one else who would fuck him. We've chosen monogamy because it makes sense for us, and it's a commitment we live every day despite other opportunities. Monogamy isn't a default, it's a decision. And if one partner decides not to abide by that decision, it might be a crappy thing for the "other woman" to do for dozens of reasons but, at the end of the day, it's not the responsibility of someone in the supposed sisterhood to keep their legs closed for your monogamous partner—it's the responsibility of your partner to keep from intimate engagement with anyone else's genitals. 

[Image via Photocapy on Flickr, Creative Commons licensed]

Guess what? Subscriptions to Bitch—our award-winning, 80+ page print quarterly—are 20% off to help us reach our $25,000 funding goal by September 30. Pitch in to support feminist media: Subscribe today

Subscribe to Bitch


Comments

76 comments have been made. Commenting is set to read-only for this post.

excellent post

such a great post. I often wonder about this, especially from watching people I know or even movies and television. The wife always blames the woman, and I'm thinking 'wait, but what about your husband!? isn't it his job to keep his dick to himself?! how is it MORE the other womans fault??'

thanks for putting it in coherent sentences for me.

Yes!!! Thank you so much

Yes!!!

Thank you so much for the post. Every since I was a little kid, I've wondered about this phenomenon, and nicknamed it the "Hera complex." (needs a better, less pathologizing name, I know, but hey I was little!) I get that in this situation, disempowered individuals are hating on other disempowered individuals, which is a dissertation in and of itself...but I feel like we're not going to get anywhere if we keep calling our sisters "home-wreckers" and "sluts," and place next to no blame on our cheating partners!

Thank you!

I've been exasperated trying to make this point to a friend or two who had become angry at the woman who cheated with instead of the man who cheated on them. He's the one who owes you fidelity!

I wish women would respect each other when it came to relationships. I really do. If your friend or relative owes you the respect of a friend or relative, shouldn't any other woman respect you as a woman? People say respect is earned--but it isn't. Respect is given, until that person does something disrespectful to lose that respect. Like innocent until proven guilty. That is, after all, why we initially take people seriously and value their opinions as people, until they screw it up.

But it may be true, as you wrote, that to argue about women's responsibility not to cheat with someone would be useless. The world doesn't work that way.

Why is my comment in bold?

Why is my comment in bold? o.O Am I the only one seeing this?

Might be my fault, as your

Might be my fault, as your comment began right after where my comment ended, and the last word was bolded. Maybe the formatting just wanted to share the love? ;p

Hahaha yeah I thought of

Hahaha yeah I thought of that. Nothing wrong with some formatting love. xD

I think you forgot to close

Yay! All fixed!

If one opts to trade in

If one opts to trade in blame at all, why not blame both parties? Personally, I'd rather avoid from blame, but in the absence of that, I'm usually one to get annoyed with both parties. That said, I'm mostly annoyed about any sexual health implications (were folks safe?) rather than merely being pissed about catching my cookie jar offering its goodies to someone else's hand.

It is so difficult to navigate all of this, but what you wrote here lays out so perfectly why it's important for folks to do so.
___________
Snarky's Machine, your friendly comment moderator
Did someone say Comments Policy?

"In real life as in Grand Opera, Arias only make hopeless situations worse." - Vonnegut.

more this

Putting the blame on one sole party never seems right especailly depending on the circumstance. Sometimes the other party is blameless in that they really didn't know that their recent flame was otherwise committed; they shouldn't be punished for also being deceived. But some people do have affairs with folks they know aren't single and aiding a person in the breaking of their vows is abetting the crime. It's not quite the moral failing of lying and promise breaking but it's really tacky.

Another attempt at a fix


Suppose if the fix is on the same level as the original comment?

Bold fixed!

No worries, there was just a bold tag that needed closing. Let the commenting continue!

____________
Kelsey Wallace, web editor

Ask me about our Comments Policy!

____________
Kelsey Wallace, contributor

Ask me about our Comments Policy!

It may not be the other

It may not be the other person's fault, but let's at least admit it's an asshole thing to do.

For example, it's perfectly legal for my neighbors to park their cars on the outside curb in front of my house. The fact that this blocks me from parking on the inside of that curb (my property) doesn't make it any less legal for them to park there, but it does make them seem like jerks for doing it when they know they're preventing me from parking at my own house, right? Ditto for knowingly sleeping with someone in a committed, monogamous relationship. You didn't make any promises, but you're still willfully hurting someone.

I don't know. Maybe it's just my personal revulsion, since I find even the abstract concept of fucking a married man physically nauseating.

Oops, I messed up somehow.

Oops, I messed up somehow. This was meant to be a reply to the post in general, not this comment in particular. My apologies.

Whoa.

Your example literally equates partners with property. Unless your curb asks other people to park on it, I don't see the comparison.

...but she is right, in the

...but she is right, in the sense that people who have affairs with married people participate in a deceiving, hurtful act, most the time knowing so. I think most people know if the person is married or not, if they don't, of course they are not to blame.
Yes, if a person, man or woman, cares so little to be causing trouble and suffering to other people...and if a person doesn't care that they are getting in bed with a cheater...
In the end, both parties are the enemy.

Well sometimes the other

Well sometimes the other woman has no idea he's married. Many married men lead "single" lives and are experts at lying.

However, the other women in the Tiger Woods case.... there's no a shadow of a doubt they didn't know he's married. or was. I think your comment definitely applies to other women who know he's married.

I'm trying to figure out why

I'm trying to figure out why my roommate whose man cheated on her multiple times with this chick, just invited her over to hang out? They we not friends before, and all of a sudden the "other woman" is calling and texting her being like oohh i love you! we should hang out!!

????

Thank goodness.

I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw your title. Many of the views presented in the linked discussion angered me with their other-(wo)man blame, especially regarding heterosexual partnerships in which the man strays. The mythology of the evil other woman out to hurt her fellow ladies and the man who is an object to be stolen is ridiculously offensive to women and men. As I've said, I think being the other-person is probably not a great move, but it's because the strayer likely has problems with respect or communication. Saying "no" to a committed person does no great favor to their partner, because the strayer is still willing and looking to cheat.

This, though, gives me pause:

And if one partner decides not to abide by that decision, it might be a crappy thing for the "other woman" to do for dozens of reasons [...]

While I'm sure it wasn't your intention, I'm afraid that, especially considering it's in the final line/thought, it reads like "Don't worry: you can still shame the other woman even though your partner screwed up more." It also does not seem in line with this (very articulate) earlier line:

It is not, however, incumbent on the supposed slut next door to keep her claws out of your man—unless she is your friend or relative, in which case she owes you the respect of a friend or relative.

I have (more than once) come

I have (more than once) come down firmly on the side of not slut-shaming -- and there's a biiiiig difference between admitting something might be a crappy choice for someone and saying she should be blamed by the person who thought s/he was in a monogamous relationship, or called a slut. It doesn't have to be a one-or-the other, and it isn't. Like everything else, it's complicated.

For instance, you seem to agree that, if you are involved with the significant other of a friend or relative, then it's a crappy thing to do. And there are plenty of other good reasons not to get involved with someone already involved in an monogamous relationship -- you mentioned problems with respect and communication, for instance -- which could lead one to call it a crappy choice, but that's a whole 'nother column.

right on the motto

this is so in line with what my mom has always said - "if she can get him, she can have him." autonomy within a relationship is crucial to its health, and that means that you are both responsible as independent people for the choices you make. being getable is your own damn fault. blaming the person who happened to succeed in the getting? kind of missing the point. i don't not cheat on my partner because of him; i don't cheat because of me - there are things that i value and require of myself. and hopefully, he feels the same way about his own behaviour.

thanks for the post!

Nodding my head the whole time

I really enjoyed reading this as I have had to explain this very same concept to friend after friend, year after year. I especially enjoyed the comparison to the war on drugs. Great job!

I disagree. As a women we

I disagree. As a women we must respect each other. Period. It doesn't matter if your family or friends, we need to stick together. I most certainly would place a higher amount of blame on my husband but she is just as wrong. You never touch another womans man. EVER.

I don't have a problem with

I don't have a problem with the other woman being blamed as much as the man NOT being blamed because of the other woman taking all the blame, which often occurs. The other woman should take no blame away from the man. Also, sometimes he lies about his relationship status, and even then the woman on whom he's cheated is angrier at the other woman than at the man who cheated. The other woman in that case is entirely innocent.

Your Comment Makes No Sense

I wholeheartedly disagree with your assertion that women have to "stick together" in some weird unspoken pact just because we all happen to have vaginas.

And your comment that you "would place a higher amount of blame on [your] husband but she is just as wrong" makes no sense.

You would place more (a larger amount of) blame on your husband but the 'other woman' is equally (an equal amount) to blame? Whaaa? (Head explodes).

Exactly

Another problem with the frequent "women have to stick together" response is that infidelity does not have set gender roles. The partner/strayer/third party is not inherently an f/m/f scenario, and it's weird and telling that these conversations treat it as such. What about women who cheat on monogamous male partners with women? If "women have to stick together" because men are just so darn untrustworthy, that would always be the right thing to do. If the same hypothetical woman cheated with a man, would people say it was the other man's fault? Just imagine how strange (and threatening-seeming, perhaps) it would be to hear "Men have to stick together."

"Arguing about women's

"Arguing about women's responsibility not to fuck partnered people is like arguing about the war on drugs: decreasing the supply of available pussy by appealing to sisterly solidarity isn't going to end infidelity any more than advertisements about pot funding the War on Terror stopped people from toking up."

Hehe, that brings up fond memories of Lysistrata. Also an excellent post, and I agree with you 100%.

Agree to a point

I completely get where you're coming from. The person cheating on their partner is the primary offender, without a doubt, and slut-shaming is horrible. But to say that the "other woman" doesn't deserve to be called out, and even shamed, for her actions is a bit much. If she was lied to, (as is very likely, because we're dealing with a lying, cheating, disrespectful person here) that's a different story. But to say that because the cheater "would just find someone else, so I may as well get mine and that makes me not guilty," is akin to an accessory to murder saying that because they didn't plan it, and it was going to happen anyway, that they shouldn't be punished. (No, I'm not saying that murder and being the other woman are equal.) There are some moral lines that you just don't get a free pass on, and that's not the rest of the world trying to scapegoat you.

Thank you!

I was just about to say this! "He wants to cheat, so if I hadn't slept with him, he would have done it anyway!"

Maybe, maybe not. That's a bad justification for going ahead and sleeping with said person.

It takes two to tango and BOTH parties are equally responsible. But if you knowingly sleep with a married man, how can you justify that because he wanted it, it was alright? I know some commenters feel that this isn't a "sisterhood" but shouldn't we consider the partner of the cheater? How we would feel if the same had/were to happen to us? "It's not my fault, I didn't pledge to be monogamous with you" but what about feeling for your fellow human and refusing? Just as the other woman can claim not to have an obligation to the one who was cheated on, the one who was cheated on has no obligation to forgive you or not place blame on you because they don't love you as they do their (cheating) partner.

I'm glad you get where I'm coming from.

To me, it's not about female solidarity, and the scenario could just as easily apply to the "other man." It's about humanity and generally being a good person. I don't believe you can claim to be a good person if you consistently make decisions that benefit yourself at the expense of other people. And to further say that you don't have blame because you don't have an explicit contract with the person harmed is just a further jerk move.

Seriously, thanks for this.

Seriously, thanks for this. No excuse for being an asshole, even if someone else is being a bigger asshole.

The funny thing is...

I really enjoyed reading this post, I'm glad someone took the time to write out this argument in such a pointed way. I personally have never understood the whole "blame the woman thing." No, I did not mis-type, I did not mean "blame the OTHER woman," I mean blame the woman. What I mean by that is so in a monogamous heterosexual relationship, the man cheats on his current partner with a woman - whose fault is it? The other woman's of course! In that same relationship, the woman cheats on her current partner with another man - whose fault is it? The woman's of course!

I am sickened by this and especially since I know this whole argument of blame harks back to the idea that men are mindless fucking machines that will put their dick pretty much anywhere and are completely powerless over their own bodies when a woman seduces them, you know, but showing her bra strap or something. The idea behind that not only pisses me off because it makes it seem like all women are just sirens waiting to be released, but it makes all men seem like they've had a serious lobotomy and we should ban them from being a part of any facet of our lives except breeding because, after all, they have single track minds.

This whole thing just bugs me because no matter what, it's the woman's fault. Not only is that wrong for the obvious reasons but that is also an insult to men (good thing they're too dumb to realize it) because it says that they are not responsible for their actions, ever, especially when a "hot" girl is around. In essence they are children who can not be trusted to make any responsible decisions and as such, we as their girlfriends/wives/fiances have to act as their mother's, monitor who they hang out with, who they talk to, and how much of a bad influence these people are so that our wonderful significant others are never presented with a hard decision because we just know they'll fuck it up.

The whole business of adopting a boyfriend/husband/fiance just seems way too exhausting.

Disabled

Thank you, Kasey, for bringing this to light. I could not agree more.

I would like to offer my experience, that feminism is not about me banding together with other women to help each other out at the expense of men (therefore, rendering men not responsible because of their morality-crippling testosterone). It is a cornerstone of feminist equality--that men and women are equal in our rights AND our responsibilities. That women are somehow more responsible for infidelity is, indeed, a disturbing idea.

I completely agree that the person who is responsible for an infidelity is the person who is in a monogamous relationship, and goes outside of it for a sexually intimate encounter. But one other thought comes to mind. How many people who are in monogamous relationships had a discussion with their partners about the exact terms of that relationship? There are a lot of assumptions about a partner's behavior because monogamy is the cultural standard. In my own case, it wasn't until last year that I began to negotiate the exact terms of my relationships (I have been on both sides of infidelity). I'm not saying there needs to be a contractual agreement. I AM saying that clarity and explicit expression of how I want my relationship to look are positive experiences for me.

Excellent...

.... I totally agree. I'd been thinking about this while reading the post and comments, especially this: "In that same relationship, the woman cheats on her current partner with another man - whose fault is it? The woman's of course!"

A lot of people even want to put a bit of blame on the cheating man's wife, as in "well, if she did X or didn't do Y, he wouldn't have had to found someone else..."

It's ALWAYS the woman's fault, and it pisses me the hell off too.

So I am going to go out on a limb..

...as someone who had sexual contact with a married man one time (making out with heavy petting). This was on a trip I took to Portugal a few years back. He said it wasn't a problem and I chose to believe him. Especially since I know that in their culture a good deal of people have open relationships and going outside of them is viewed a different way. The reason I bring this up is that I wonder how a discussion thread like this would play out in another country that has entirely different views on this matter.

Hell, people in America have open relationships and so it might in fact be true if someone says their wife is cool with it. However, I would never do something like that in America because that doesn't seem to be the norm here.

Actually it's the only time I've ever done anything like that, period. Does that make me a bad person? I guess that's up for grabs. But personally, and in all honesty, I don't really feel bad about it. This was just a random encounter and I never saw the guy again. Whether or not he does this as a habit is purely speculation.

Excellent.

Excellent post! I appreciate that you took the time to mention that monogamy ISN'T the only option, as shocking as that may be for some. (Often, when I suggest that kind of ~radical idea~, you'd think I just offed someone's best friend judging from their expression!) Communication is a relationship's BFF.

My mother is the innocent

My mother is the innocent bystander of a man who decided to cheat not once but twice (to my knowledge). Her methods of dealing with it has been to 1) hide her head in the sand and 2) blame the other women. It has been over a year since the last affair has ended, but to this day her anger and self-blame run to the core of her being. It was very nice to read an article that points the blame where it belongs: the individual breaking the promise. I am going to email this article to her, I hope that she reads it. Thanks for posting it!

Thanks for this post! It's

Thanks for this post! It's always bothered me so much when people blame the other woman. It's not her fault the man in the relationship cheated, most of the time she has no idea he's married or in a relationship. Why aren't more people mad at him (or her) for cheating? Makes no sense to me. Whoever cheats, it's THEIR fault.

I agree with you that in

I agree with you that in cases where the "other" partner is completely unaware that the cheating party is in a relationship, they should not be the focus of our malice. I do not, however, agree that the same standards should be held for the "other" partner who is fully aware of the relationship status (obviously, unless they've been lied to about the level of openess the relationship has).

I think of it in terms of humanity and being a good person. I disagree fully with the assertion that this woman who is being cheated on is not your friend or family and therefore does not deserve the same amount of respect (as in the article, not necessarily your comment). I don't live my life avoiding hurting the people close to me and willfully hurting the people who I do not owe some sort of loyalty to. I try not to hurt anyone ever. I don't see why that's such a hard way to live your life. When you know there is a girlfriend or a wife or a boyfriend, you are willingly causing this person pain, and I think that's a freaking terrible thing to do, whether you are friends/family with them or not.

So while I don't think the "other" partner should bear the brunt of our anger and frustration in a cheating situation, I do not believe the "other" who knowingly stepped into the middle of my relationship is free from blame because they did not promise me infedelity.

I am a human being who deserves to be treated fairly and kindly, whether you know me or not. That includes not sleeping with my partner.

Amen to that! Furthermore,

Amen to that! Furthermore, in cases of long-term double-timing (in which both women are led to believe they are the primary/only girlfriend), I have long wondered why, instead of respectively antagonizing eachother and trying to claim "ownership" of the guy, they don't band together in mutual indignation at the man who knowingly played them both for a fool.

However, lest we oversimplify, the other woman is, of course, you enemy if she did, in fact, conspire to usurp your partner from you and/or antagonize you behind your back. This happened to me last year, and I would definitely say that a deliberate plot at your expense makes an enemy of this woman. But all the same, this does not make her THE bad guy in the situation- rather, both the other woman AND your partner are at fault. The moral of the story: My ex and his girlfriend both snuck around behind my back and consciously, mutually decided engage in infidelity. And they deserve each other. The end! :)

I think it's fair to be

I think it's fair to be angry with the "other woman" (or "other man" if the roles were reversed) if they were fully aware of the fact that the person they are sleeping with is in what their partner believes to be a monogamous relationship. That's willfully contributing to the partner's betrayal, which I consider morally objectionable.

When the assumption of

When the assumption of ill-will on the part of the other woman is greater than for that on the part of the man, it irritates me no end.

It's a lot worse when these married guys come on to you and you're not even interested, yet their wives and girlfriends automatically see you as the "enemy". wtf??? Keep him!!!!

Twice as bad: when, in the middle of all this, the man *blames* you for "flirting" with him, when you had no bloody idea. Then they turn around and convince the wife this is what "actually" happened. That makes me go *ballistic*. Happened more than once to me.

I think married guys who come on to single women are sleazy and make me throw up.

So, just looking at this

So, just looking at this from an equality viewpoint...this goes for women in a monogamous relationship who cheat with someone outside the relationship too...right??? For example, a married woman who has an affair with a single man? So she has the choice not to have an affair...right? And if she does have the affair, it is her fault...right?

Just wondering...

Yes.

Yes.

Spineless men are just not all that attractive

The fact is, it doesn't really matter if the other woman knew or not, or if she made it her mission to steal "your" man away from you. If he decided to cheat, if he let her seduce him,or even if he fell into her slutty little man stealing claws, he is responsible for his decision to break his commitment to you.
Quite frankly, I prefer men who have a backbone.

I don't subscribe to any

I don't subscribe to any 'sisterhood' and don't feel the need to. all 'grey' scenarios aside, if you knowingly sleep with a married person (male or female - doesn't matter) you are a selfish, self-centered asshat. Same goes for the cheating spouse.

yes, the committed partner is the more accountable person in the situation, but so is the fully-aware ugly bumper. I'm hating on them both.

When my long-time love

When my long-time love cheated on me, to say that I was devastated doesn't even begin to cover it. And I'm a fairly progressive, open-minded person. For me, it wasn't so much that my partner had opted to have sex with someone else, it was most certainly who he had chosen to do it with. Had it been anyone but the person it ultimately was, much of the ensuing emotional trauma would have been considerably muted. I would have been pissed that the same guy who held monogamy above all things had shown himself to be a hypocrite, but the sense of rejection that could only accompany whom he chose to be unfaithful with, that wouldn't have been there.

One of the things I found empowering in the wake of the betrayal was doing a thorough inventory of the relationship, my partner and myself. Obviously, I didn't force him to stray, but I was able to see where things had been difficult enough that she was capable of offering him, for a few minutes, what he did not feel like I had bothered to notice he needed. While the other woman and I had never been big fans of each other (and, indeed, still have to interact on a regular basis) I let my partner know that although the situation guaranteed she and I would never be friends, he was ultimately the person who betrayed me. Still, I have never engaged in any slut-shaming; even when I see her now, despite the fact that she has never apologized and I have good reason to believe hurting me was a partial motivator in her actions, I must likewise acknowledge she had no obligation to uphold the fidelity between my partner and I. And as much as I hate her (and did before this ever happened) I will never lower myself to calling her any number of stigmatizing labels we give to women to shame them.

Wow

This is an incredibly well-written and admirable comment. You are clearly extremely mature and I applaud your ability to look beyond your emotions and examine your situation logially -- there are not many people who can do this.

It is refreshing to see how

It is refreshing to see how peaceable and understanding you were in this situation. I agree that saying mean things to the "other woman" or behind her back is unkind and usually pointless. Moreover, I agree that the partner who was in the committed relationship, who chose to cheat, should bare the brunt of the blame.

Nevertheless, I think your point of view is too "understanding". This "other woman", who knew your partner was in a committed relationship, also made the choice to sleep with your partner - fully conscious of the fact that her choice to join in on the cheating would most likely devastate you and end your relationship. When someone makes a conscious choice to hurt another - they do deserve blame and you should not feel guilty about fostering feelings of loathing and detestation for them, but that is probably all they should be - just feelings, not actions.

When people choose to have sex with others' partners, aware that they are in a relationship, they should be held accountable for their decision to engage in infidelity. It is never morally sound to do such a thing because you are intentionally hurting another person.

Sorry, but the other woman IS my enemy

At least, the one who seduced my former husband under my roof, while I was asleep in another room, and then sent me harassing notes and made hang-up calls when he and I were talking about reconciliation, most certainly is. She's been badmouthing me for most of the last ten years, and flat out lied to me on several occasions.

So yes, it's definitely his fault when he decided to cheat, but he had a lot of help. And her behavior afterwards has made what started out as a relatively amicable divorce into a horror show.

It's disappointing that so

It's disappointing that so many people focus on acts of infidelity rather than what's wrong with our definition of relationships.

I take issue with the word "cheating". Not because I endorse infidelity, but because the word implies that relationships are games.

Long lasting partnerships are successful because of a bond that transcends stupid behavior like having sex with people outside of consenting monogamous relationships. And that bond is cemented with how well they tolerate each other and work together.

Of course the other woman isn't your enemy. And maybe your partner isn't either. If it happens, and your faith doesn't determine what you should do, take some time to evaluate who you're with and why you got involved.

And don't think anyone who loves you should be exclusive "just because". That's a child's way of thinking...or someone who's religious. Give your partner reasons to monogamous through actions and expect the same from them.

I'm sorry, but this approach

I'm sorry, but this approach to the issue completely neglects the consideration of the idea of the relationship as a trusting and committed partnership, and the feelings that accompany that. It's not an issue of "ownership", it's an issue of LOYALTY. And while all couples are entitled to make their own rules, infidelity is a form of dishonesty, which is the enemy of trust in ANY relationship, regardless of ideological leanings or personal sexual preferences.

Wow...

I read the article and thought it pretty much summed up the way I feel about these particular situations, but then read the comments and they seem to reassert the exact opposite of what the article talks about and go back to blaming the dreaded other woman. And the reason for this is how easy it is to do that. If your partner cheats on you, there is so much anger you have inside you that it seems like it's not enough to direct it towards one person only, so I guess it's natural to hate your partner's partner in crime.
But the point of this article is quite simply, don't. She is not your friend, she is not your sister, this woman owes you nothing and most importantly, she was not going out to hurt you. It might not be what you want to hear right after you've found out about a cheating partner, but you are not special, and what that woman was doing had absolutely nothing to do with you. Unless this person is someone you know, in which case it's a whole different story, you were not even a real person in this woman's eyes - a faceless, nameless notion that exists elsewhere. What you can be at best to her is the other woman. You might need to read this again: Yes, you the wife/girlfriend/fiance sitting at home, waiting for your partner, are the 'other woman'. And you're quite an inconvenience too, because if I am woman sleeping with your partner, I have to put you in the equation, and all I really want to do is have some fun. And this fun is not at your expense. This is another important point. It is your cheating partner who is selling you short for a night of fun, not the 'other woman'. She is not your enemy, she is not a slut and she is not a home-wrecker. It is your cheating partner who is all those things and you have to repeat this as a chant until you believe it to be true, because all that displaced anger is not helping you out if you had the misfortune of being cheated on.

My partner has slept with other women while we've been together. In our relationship, we don't call it cheating - I find out about it the next day, as does he when I was the one who slept with someone else. We lived too far apart for a very long time and we decided that this was the best way to go and it worked perfectly. An interesting thing happened to me when I went to visit him once. He had slept with a waitress working at his local coffee shop, so it was very difficult to avoid seeing her. I went in there once to get some work done while I was waiting for him to come back home and he came to pick me up after, so she had realized that I was the girlfriend. Interestingly enough, she was mad. And she wrote him a pretty harsh e-mail the next day, asking how dare we both come to the place where she works. He of course showed it to me, we had a bit of a laugh about it, and decided to respect her request that we don't go there any more and that was the end of the conversation. But it got me thinking: SHE was mad at ME! I couldn't wrap my head around it. I remember thinking that this girl had practically stabbed me in the back and then demanded an apology from me. Being self-centered, as most people are, it took me a bit to realize my analogy was all wrong. This girl had done absolutely nothing to me. Her actions were not intended to cause me any pain. Whatever she was doing, she was doing it to please herself. And when a complete stranger chooses her happiness over my pain, I don't get to be mad. Equally, when my happiness causes a stranger pain, as was the case in the coffee shop situation, she doesn't get to be mad at me.
I think that this is as simple an explanation about why you can't get mad at the 'other woman' as you can get. Her immediate pleasure vs. your possible pain (not all of the women that get cheated on find out) is a no-brainer for her. This is why that garage door analogy that someone used in previous comments doesn't work. Your neighbor has to look you in the eye the next morning and face a very pissed off you. If anything, the garage door analogy applies to your husband, where he is the neighbor who blocked your entrance. Because while your garage door is something you most probably own, your partner is not. You don't own the person you share your life with and once you get that in your head, you'll find it easier not to blame the other woman. Focusing on her is just getting it all wrong.

Thanks for that comment.

Thanks for that comment. Ok, admittedly - I'm somewhat of a mess lately. But yes, I am the vilified woman in all these comments. After a few years of a dry spell - which might be fine for some people but really wasn't for me - I decided I'm having sex again. With anyone whom I feel like having it with. Sorry. But the opportunities don't arise that often and neither does someone that I'm attracted to enough to let it happen with and all I really need to take care of is myself and meeting my needs. I do feel kind of bad about thinking about someone else who could potentially be hurt but I'm not forcing anyone and I try to be very discreet.

This - "Yes, you the wife/girlfriend/fiance sitting at home, waiting for your partner, are the 'other woman'. And you're quite an inconvenience too, because if I am woman sleeping with your partner, I have to put you in the equation, and all I really want to do is have some fun. And this fun is not at your expense."

Anyway, sorry life sucks. I would never willingly go after a married man but if he comes up to me and he's good looking, charming, etc... he's fair game as far as I'm concerned. I'm not worried about if he's a stand up kind of guy because I'm not looking to get married again (been there done that). I feel a twinge of remorse about someone potentially getting hurt but I'm not picking up stay at home dads on the playground - it's more married or coupled men who are out at the bars on Fri/Sat. nights at 2 in the morning. wth are they doing there?

Thank you

for this; I've also been discouraged by a lot of the comments. I feel like there's this floating notion that "if not for hir, it wouldn't have happened," and it's just not accurate. I feel like this contributes to Other (Wo)man Guilt, too, eg. "If not for me, s/he would have been faithful." Honestly, as someone who has viewed these situations from a number of angles, the other (wo)man is not that special! If a monogamous partner cheats, something is wrong and s/he is not willing to communicate with hir partner to the necessary extent about it. The other person would likely have been someone else, and, if not (which probably meant the opportunity was lacking,) the desire to be unfaithful, and all that it implies, still would have been present and needing to be addressed.

...and a polyamorous person weighs in

I'm replying to this comment in particular because it segues quite well into my perspective as a person in a committed, non-monogamous relationship.
In responsible non-monogamous/open/polyamorous relationships you spend a lot more time hashing out ground rules and discussing expectations than in the typical monogamous relationship. Monogamy has a script set out by society: you only have sex with each other, any sex outside the relationship is cheating. Where this breaks down is when each partner defines 'sex' differently, or worse, when their definition changes to suit their situation ("Oh it wasn't cheating, we just made out!" "Jeez, we're just friends, I didn't think you'd mind if we shared a bed! Nothing happened!") I'm not saying my situation is better, I'm just saying that we have avoided a lot of this kind of drama by setting up rules ahead of time and never making assumptions.

Before I was in this relationship (or relationships, as I'm seeing someone outside my marriage, too) I was not the most ethical slut. I slept with whomever I wanted and often avoided getting to close to some people by hiding behind "Well, I'm polyamorous, so you can't tie me down (at least not figuratively)!" That is to say, I was not perfect. However, one of my personal rules was to never get involved with a married or committed man (or woman). There were a few times I stretched this rule, but my main reason was to avoid being used as someone's escape. I also didn't want to have to sneak around. I also very highly valued honesty; it's disrespectful to someone's autonomy to lie to them, and I didn't want to be a party to that. If someone wasn't able to be honest, that wasn't someone I wanted to screw around with. Or even just screw. But that's just me. And like I said, I was far from perfect and at least once, a guy lied to me about his girlfriend to circumvent my rule ("We just broke up, " turned out, he'd actually just proposed to her, not to mention the fact that he slept with me to win a bet).

Polyamory doesn't make life or relationships any simpler - anyone who tries to argue otherwise is either naive or lying - but at least everyone's aware of what's going on (at least ideally). Adding more people to the mix makes everything exponentially more complicated, but add to that having to keep stories straight or avoid confrontations with vengeful significant others? That's one clusterfuck I choose to avoid.

I definitely see where you

I definitely see where you are coming from. However, I don't believe that we all should always put our own individual happiness before others'. You can definitely find happiness without always putting yourself before others. When the thought crosses your mind: "man, having sex with this guy, who has a girlfriend, might be fun," you should also consider how your actions will affect that person and his partner. Just blindly, always doing what makes you happy, without regard for how your actions affect other people is very selfish and, in my opinion, unethical.

We are human, sometimes we will choose to do something that makes us happy but hurts others - but hopefully we will catch ourselves before we do it, most of the time. When its something small like, "I'm going to refuse to see this movie because I don't think I will like it, even though everyone else wants to see it", life goes on. However, when its: "man, my guy-friend is looking extra hot tonight. Yes, he has a girlfriend - I know her, we all went to school together, but I'm horny so I think I'm going to try to seduce him", life is majorly disrupted! People are hurt and relationships are severely damaged, perhaps beyond repair (I know its not always this way, oftentimes its the guy seducing the "other woman", and they only just met that night, but that is not what I'm familiar with).

One last thing: you're making it sound like these people who participate in the cheating are incapable of reason and empathy. You are never so horny or so drunk (unless you're blacked-out) that you can't consider how your actions might affect others. Its not like you go through life asking this question "how will my actions affect others" with every tiny decision you are faced with - but - when you are faced with bigger decisions, like "should I have sex with this guy even though I personally know his girlfriend and we hang in the same social circle", you should weigh the consequences of your actions and, hopefully, conclude: "no, I shouldn't because that would really hurt her and, ultimately, him" (assuming he really wants his relationship to persist - sometimes the cheater really does care about his/her relationship but something is amiss and he/she goes about dealing with it in the wrong way).

What I'm trying to say is this: sometimes it is okay to put your happiness before others' but sometimes it really isn't and we should be able to recognize when it is not okay! Just because you're horny and you think having sex with another girl's boyfriend will make you happy, doesn't mean you should do it. Most people are capable of considering how their actions will affect others - the blind pursuit of happiness and being horny and drunk are feeble excuses!

i would also add "the other

i would also add "the other man" is not your problem, for those of us who date unfaithful bi guys. it feels the same, no matter what the gender the person is cheating with.

not to say, of course, that

not to say, of course, that bi guys are any more prone to being unfaithful, or anything.

Finally, someone speaking

Finally, someone speaking logically about cheating. I have long held this view, and it seems like common sense to me but apparently it does need to be said!

I believe that both people

I believe that both people are at fault, the man and the other woman if she is aware that he is attached. Ironically, if the other woman breaks up that relationship, get's the guy and he ultimately cheats on her or returns to his ex, she is just as hurt and just as angry as the woman she origanally hurt. I've seen it happen. So the issue is not necessarily about solidarity amongst women it's about-why would you do something to someone else when you know damn well how you would feel if it was done to you?This goes for the "other man" too, it's not gender specific. Also when a man cheats it does not always mean that he does not love his significant other but there is a lack of communication and respect on the man's part and for that he should be faulted. The difference is the other woman has NO love or empathy for the woman she's assisting the man in hurting and usually ultimately wants the man for herself , while the man is still doing something horribly selfish he may at least feel bad or guilty. Thus the reason why many men try to keep affairs a secret from their main woman. The bottom line is both parties are shady and you do not do to something to some one else, when you know darn well you would'nt like it done to you.

One more thing-if the "other

One more thing-if the "other woman" cannot have empathy or compassion for the person she is hurting or assisting in hurting- a person who really has not done anything to her except for being in the way, what makes you any different then a sociopath? Sociopaths have been shown to be lacking in empathy, conscience and put their needs always before anyone else, no matter who it hurts . As human beings who supposedly have empathy for other's should we just say the hell with the other person because I don't know her? Then why don't we just do the same thing with the kids who are starving in 3rd world countries, the families who were affected by Hurricane Katrina, the women who get raped and abused everyday, or that poor woman in the middle east who is in danger of getting stoned to death due to trumped up allegations against her, or our troops who have died(wether you agree with the cause or not) to our freedoms. kids who are molested...the list goes on and on. Unless you know these people personally-who cares, right? That kind of thinking id F@#$ed up and I do believe any rational thinking person, with a decent caring heart can see what I mean. Still not absolving the guy. He is not necessarily sociopathic because he does usually feel bad for hurting his significant other, that type of guy is usually selfish and narcissistic and BOTH people are accountable. No matter how anyone tries to rationalize it, no one gets a free pass in this situation

I don't know if there's any

I don't know if there's any use in debating with you, but I have to say I find what you've written disturbing. I can't imagine why anyone would assume that a heterosexual man who cheats will "usually feel bad" but that the typical "'other woman' cannot have empathy" and is thus a sociopath. Same with your equation of dating an attached person with supporting poverty in "3rd world countries." I guess if nothing else your comment proves why this column is necessary.

I did not say the other

I did not say the other woman was a sociopath, but I did compare the lack of empathy that the other woman usually has to the lack of empathy a sociopath has.It applies to the "other man" as well. It was an analogy and the character traits are similar. Whether that makes her a sociopath, that's up to a psychologist, psychiatrist to decide. Also the other issues I mentioned were a metaphor which I find disturbing that a person would take literally and not use some introspection to look at the deeper meaning of what I was saying. Just so you know I'm not some Christian, conservative etc. ( not that there is anything wrong with that) and I'm very attractive and could have been the other woman many times. In fact one of my closest friends who is wealthy and married has propositioned me more than once. I'm introspective enough to know I would not like it done to me, so why be a willing participant in bringing misery to someone else? I find it disturbing that many people do not have these same reflections, but when something backfires on them they are the first to be up in arms about it. Again I said the man is just as wrong but if you or other's want to twist my words to support your lifestyle, than so be it.

"Support your lifestyle?"

"Support your lifestyle?" What on EARTH does that mean? It makes no difference to my argument, but since you seem to think we're accusing eachother of things ("I'm very attractive and could have been the other woman many times!") I guess I need to clarify that my "lifestyle" involves a committed relationship of many years. If my partner cheated I wouldn't assume she "feels bad" and the other person must "lack empathy" and have the traits of an undiagnosed sociopath. I'd know it was my partner's fault, just as if I cheated it'd be 100% mine. In fact I think the idea that anyone can judge another person, let alone a giant and vague category, as "lacking empathy" is outrageous, especially while also claiming to know that cheaters "at least usually feel bad."

I don't think she phrased it

I don't think she phrased it quite right. I think what she meant to say, or what should be said is: people should treat each other as they would like to be treated themselves. Therefore, the "other woman/man" is not innocent. Often times the "other woman/man" participates in infidelity, knowing that their sexual parter was in a committed relationship at the time. The comparison to a sociopath probably confused her point. I think she meant to express that the "other woman/man" was lacking empathy when they chose to participate in infidelity. That doesn't mean they are sociopaths and it doesn't even have to mean that they are generally mean people. Decent people are capable of making selfish decisions that hurt others. Nevertheless, on that particular day, they chose to participate in an act that would ultimately hurt someone else, and, therefore, they are not innocent. Ultimately, though, the partner who was in the committed relationship should bear the brunt of the blame because they had the power to resist the temptation and by not resisting, broke the bonds of a committed romantic relationship.

It's a shame that my last

It's a shame that my last comment was deleted I thought this site was all inclusive of different opinions. Yes people stray for different reasons. People choose to be the other woman. or man for different. reasons. No, not everyone is a text book case in these situations. I will end with this story. An ex friend of mine had an affair with a guy who she though was handsome etc. She found out his wife was pregnant. She wanted the guy for herself because he was "gorgeous, fun" and so forth. she found out who the wife was, went up to the pregnant woman and told her I'm boinking your husband. The woman could have had a miscarriage for all I know and she was laughing when she told me the story. Now, I don't care what anyone says, me ex girlfriend had psychological issues. She AND the woman's husband put that woman and her babies life in jeopardy. Both are accountable.This story is not that uncommon, another woman I know almost miscarried when this happened to her. Psychologists had a forum not too long ago speaking about the the Sandra Bullock. Tiger Wood's incidences and stated...in order for the cheater and the person they are cheating with to continue to lie, be consistently secretive and come up with scenarios where you don't get caught... on some level you have to disassociate yourself from reality. They went on to state there is an element of sociopathy in that behavior. Was my ex-friend a sociopath? I don't know, but I sure know that when I heard her laughing at that pregnant woman who did nothing to her, I did not want to be friends with her anymore. I was almost in tears for the woman and she was laughing at her. Interviews of the other woman has generally shown a lack of remorse or sympathy for the woman they are hurting, even when there are children involved. Also when the spouse tries to return to their families or significant other oftentimes she will confront the wife or girlfriend about something she was not aware was going on, in the hopes of destroying that womans relationship, so she can have the man for herself. Now of course you have to make room for individual cases and circumstances. People are entitled to make mistakes, no one is perfect. The type of brazen, remorseless woman I mentioned above is my enemy and I am sure there are plenty of women who feel the way I do.

I´m the other woman. I have

I´m the other woman.

I have just woke up after 9 months of being paralyzed, in shock admitting our feelings, in constant pain and feeling of guilt, unable to work, not leaving the phone for 5 minutes just in case, organizing my life so that there was always a chance to clear some space, being discovered twice, afraid of going to shops and walking in the streets afterwards, loosing 8 kilos and all appetite, not smiling, not laughing, not planning...

I was in love, paralized of feelings never felt before, we had no physical relation before after 7 months, we took time to figure out the relation, he was leaving his wife, he had been "dead" for years, he was preparing his grown-up kids, he wanted a family with me... So I stood by the pain, the insecurity, the low self esteem building up inside little by little, suppressing the need to ask for commitment, accepting less and less concrete promises, threats of suicide from wife, a man who always took a step back...

I woke up. Yes, she was a close friend, I lost her, all the friends around, and him. Do I deserve it? I tell myself yes. Am I proud? No. Do I feel guilt? Yes. Did I believe his words? Yes. Am I responsible? I don´t know... Do "they" know my side of the story? His words, promises and actions towards me? No. Probably only half, or less... I have crushed dreams and hopes as well, I was unable to act, I was unable to ask for something better for myself, and I believed his words.

I have a double sorrow to carry, the loss of someone I felt great love for, and everybody around, that the feelings made me accept loosing. I felt how it is possible to "die" for love.

Am I to blame? I believed his words and his actions.

I was hurt by the other

I was hurt by the other woman, but believe it or not I do feel empathy for you. In my case my significant other left her( we are not married) after realizing he loved me more. He realized running from our issues and escaping was not the answer. She did not take it well at all and really tried to hurt me, which ultimately blew up in her face...badly At this point I think the issues go deeper than these men. I think the issue is within oneself and why so many women are choosing these self destructive behaviors. I think it really is a matter of low self-esteem, desperation,untrue beliefs about scarcity(not enough good men) etc. Some of us are willing to throw someone else under a bus to get what we want. That approach never works and in the end there's always payback time, for what we do to others. The real issue is we have to stop looking at men to fill this void within us. Get to the bottom of what is it within you that would be attracted to a man that is already attached(much less to a good friend). If he can lie to her, he can lie to you-the key is for women to stop letting these guys manipulate us into thinking we're so much more special than the next woman and "I would never lie to you " etc. You do have to take responsibility for your part in hurting his wife and hurting yourself. He bears the brunt of it but I'm sorry to tell you but you are not an innocent in this case either. You made a conscious decision to throw your friendship away for a man that had already proven himself to be a liar by lying to the woman he had a main commitment to.Therefore, why would'nt he tell you what you wanted to hear if it suited him at the time- what makes you better than her? See what I'm getting at? You sound like a decent person(at least you feel guilt) that made an extremely poor choice. Know that you cannnot turn back time but can make better choices for the future. Get to the bottom of what your real issues are and what would compel you to make such choices. Good luck.

If it ended well and you are

If it ended well and you are both happy together, I´m also truly happy for you! It´s one of the few comments I have read about this theme written in a mature and calm way.

But - there are relations where going back to a wife because of obligation, sense of responsibility, threats, does not solve anything for anyone. It´s a slow death and tragic for everyone involved, even if it seams like a victory for the wife and family in the beginning. Making oneself so dependent on someone else to make you happy, that you make them stay no matter what, I would say is not an innocent action. The feelings have without any doubts been true, but the despaire and pain you create makes you give up your own life. It happens that people do break out of relations which are not healthy and find a happier life. It could have been...

Thank you for the well

Thank you for the well wishes. I agree if a relationship has become really unhealthy a person should not have to stay out of obligation...but your own relationship should start from a place of health as well. That means not having to lie, hide, make up scenarios to cover one's tracks and so forth. In order for a relationship to have longevity and to work, it generally has to come from a place of honesty and integrity for everyone involved. That means if the man's love is true, and he's not just bored, stressed and looking for some new excitement( because let's be honest-men can be fickle) that love will be there AFTER he does the right thing. Which means telling the wife or girlfriend it's not working out,moving out and then pursuing the new relationship. He should not pursue one relationship, sexually- while he's still in another. Men always lie and will say they're not having sex with the wife or girlfriend which is nonsense too. When my boyfriend and I were having problems we were having sex, hot sex... even when he was with the other woman-the problems are usually never about sex. It's about lack of communication, insecurity,different expectations, even financial issues-not necessarily sex. Let him break up with the wife/girlfriend 1st and if he's not willing to than a woman has to question herself and ask is it just my ego that wants to believe I'm his true love? Because believe it or not that man may still love that other woman but might be very angry with her and lashing out, or he may just be plain old bored and wants to try something new.You deserve a man you can call your own and no one elses. When you get that man, you are not going to want him to cheat on you. You do deserve better and I hope that happens for you.

I hope as well that one day I

I hope as well that one day I will find a love I deserve. My experience has opened my eyes. I am much more humble towards what turns feelings might take in life. I respect and admire love that has found the power to go through difficult times both saving, and breaking out of relationships. I know my feelings were 100% true. I had to reflect and make choices along the way, which we made _together_ , and the sorrow I feel is as true, heartbreaking and self-destructing as anybody else´s. The difference is I have to deal with it alone, because my actions and feelings will mostly be judged.

The world is not black and white, and no story is the same. Probably neither part will know the full truth about what happened, what promises were made, what argumentation was used, only the man in the middle. Somebody once said; there is not one true love in life, one has to be the one true love. In the end it comes down to the relation between two committed people. I´m humble enough to accept the turns life takes, and not jumping to neither answers or conclusions without knowing. I´m not sure though, that the guilt and strong judgment I´m placing on myself is totally justifiable.

I think it's good that you

I think it's good that you feel guilt and are reflecting on your actions. You hurt someone and feel true remorse about it. That I feel makes you leaps and bounds better as a person than a lot of the self-centered women on this forum. Trust me, their day will come too, because every action in life has an equal or greater reaction. One more thing I want to say is ask your male friends to honestly tell you what they think and feel about women who sleep with other women's husbands or boyfriends. My best male friend who is married told me that many men will fool around but at the back of their minds they do not fully respect a woman who would attach herself to a taken guy and would play second fiddle. He might even care for her but does not fully respect her and in most cases is definitely not going to leave his main woman for her. It may be an unfair double standard but men really do judge you based on how they picked you up...a nice job, or nice body, or how good you are to him is not going to change that. Most of my friends are male and most say the same thing and they definitely don't want a woman they see as having questionable values and insecurity issues raising their future kids. Ultimately they want the "good girl" even if she's a vixen in the bedroom-that they can bring home to Mom. May sound hypocritical but ask most guy's for an honest no holds barred answer and many that I've spoken to feel this way. Of course life is not black and white but the extramarital affair that turns into a full blown committed relationship is so rare. What's so difficult about waiting until after the guy does the right thing? I've heard of couples that said they met their true love while they were both involved in relationships.They did not act on it at the time out of respect for who they were with and a year or so later when they were free, they got together and are STILL together. I believe those couples definitely have a better chance than the ones who started out by hurting someone else and were dishonest. You can't build your happiness on someone else's misery-life does not work that way and unfortunately you had to learn that the hard way. So many women are doing themselves and the others around them such a disservice. It's heartbreaking, to say the least. You sound like you are on a better path though and thank God you did not waste years of your life on a going nowhere relationship. Consider yourself one of the lucky one's. It may not feel like that now and not to sound cheesy but I think you have a guardian angel. You're really lucky.

A big maybe.... Even if I

A big maybe.... Even if I feel a certain respect from you, and it is good to read your calm and intelligent comments, you are still very convinced, and generalizing from your point of view. I also don´t know the criterias behind these mens comments about women, how honest they actually can answer (for the man to survive among his own people, the easiest is to make the other woman look dirty), their culture, nor their character. I don´t know if they would be a reference for myself. I choose not to try to have THE answer to why these things happen. And I am, from my point of view, talking about when "affairs" happen and might lead to a new direction in life. These stories are too serious to judge, and you can not assume that intelligence, responsibility, and a lot of consideration has not been involved in the story.

Feelings can strike like lightening, when you had just accepted that life had shown all it had to offer. Remember, affairs can happen in all ages. You can not assume that it is something going on only between young, unresponsible people. Would you judge the same if we talk about two grown up people close to the 60s? Or a couple of mixed ages, where, for different reasons, the values of life really needed to be considered and you came to a before and after in your life? Then a whole lot of other values and considerations come into the picture. It still starts as an affair. Even "just" the fact that you feel again can create an enormous sense of guilt, because it´s not your wife who makes you feel. Sometimes it is necessary to take some time to figure out if there are enough feelings to act on, if they are not just hormones or the need of a short affair. Do you do that _after_ leaving your family? Maybe in a healthy environment, were everybody are capable of understanding and respecting each other they would accept a time of separation. Breaking up a family for "no" reason is not easy and creates a lot of pain. Why did the man, or the woman, if it happens the other way around, stay then if there are no feelings involved? Maybe they stay because they know the harm they will do by leaving is too big? I´m not the one to answer for all. You have as a human being a responsibility to leave your family under safe conditions, let them understand what is going on, and if possible, leaving with acceptance from the family of the change of direction your life is taking.

There are responsible people who stay, and stay for their husband/wife and children. If they choose to leave their family or not, does not always depend on whom they feel most love for. That conclusion is too easy. It might be a sacrifice, it might be a feeling of responsibility, and it might be such a serious reason as a wife threatening with suicide. Nobody wants to brake up a relation under such circumstances. The responsibility is too big. The wife´s reaction is for sure perfectly honest, but sadly, the fact that the man stays in this case is not the revelation of finding back to the love of his wife. It is rather a sign of deep sorrow, a woman without independence, a feeling of ownership towards the man, denial of reality, and lack of reason. I have to say that therapy has also been involved, and the big questions in life have been discussed also with psychiatrists. If you then have any conscious and are sensitive as a human being, it might lead to you putting your own life aside. This _is_ said for everyone, and if the wife one day wake up to reason, she will feel very alone in the relation. It is not a victory.

It is impossible to generalize affairs. I understand some of them, others I think are respectless and should have been solved between the couple. My kind of affair is very complicated and involves many factors which are impossible to judge if you were not involved. Maybe it does not belong to the "standard" affairs. But leaving a part the "one night stands" etc., I wonder if there are not some more people out there who struggle. I think they should be left in peace, we should accept that each case is individual, and maybe concentrate more on educating people in how to talk together, deal with problems, accept that the human being is in constant development through our whole life, learn how important it is to give as much as one (demands to) receive and create independence both for women and men, so the world doesn´t collapse if someone else does not fulfill your life. Only two complete people can expect to grow truly happy and old together.

And of course, when I one day find my love, I would not want him to cheat on me. But that is not the question. If so happens, I would need to do a serious self reflection to figure out why it happened, and from the beginning work hard on the relation to prevent it from happen.

I don't have any intense

I don't have any intense feelings(good or bad) towards you one way or the other because we don't know each other on a personal level.Just listening to another point of view, just giving my opinion. At the end of the day you can come up with all of the rationalizations you want but in the end look how it turned out. Your story is not particularly unique, in most cases it's the other woman that gets left, even when the guy is not married and is not financially tied to his significant other. My feeling is that calls for some self reflection on the other woman's part. Why do most men married or not typically choose not to settle down with the other woman? I've read books on the subject, and that has been statistically proven. It's food for thought.Even the woman who writes these blogs stated most likely he's not going to leave his significant other for the" other woman"and would most likely throw her under a bus if caught...Smart lady. Men cheat for many reasons and it's not necessarily because they do not love their spouse. That goes for women too. I perhaps could find a reason today to justify cheating on my mate, he likes to argue, hes spoiled, struggling with issues etc. It still would not erase the deep love I feel for him. There was counseling involved here too and he never stopped loving me. He stated he would be devastated if I l left him and in the end begged me to return. He was also angry with me on many levels, one of the reasons he acted out Yet, he never blamed me for his shortcomings which is one of the reasons why I love him and took him back. I do not know your situation because I don't know you, but it definitely sounds like a part of you is questioning if your actions were the right thing. From the way it sounds like it ended it does not sound good and you betrayed and lost a close friend too. All I'm saying is excuses are excuses but look at the end result. It sounds like it's time for some healthy introspection. "The path to madness is doing the same thing and expecting a different result".Good luck to you

Thanks for posting...this is

Thanks for posting...this is some real and true shit and really helps me focus on HIM being the cheater...

Glad you appreciate real

Glad you appreciate real talk. We've got to teach these men to be better men and to respect us, and respect ourselves most of all. Good luck to you babe ...; )