This is going to be a controversial post. I know lots of you out there aren’t going to like it. Maybe I’ll even be wiped from your address book, or as we say today, contact list. But I bet you’ll keep on reading.
No one sets out wanting to be the other woman. We all want to be the woman. But then life happens.
First of all, let me say that the term, “the other woman,” is sexist. It implies that a woman, (yes, even you, dear reader) whether single or married, is a temptress, an “evil seductress” ready to pounce on any male in the room. Men don’t have this nomenclature. A man is not, “the other man.” He is just a man.
Lately, as une femme d’un certain age, I’ve been looking back at my sentimental life — sentimental being the more literary term for love and eros. I’m thinking of my boyfriends, love affairs, friendships with men, my marriage. To take stock, to chart my future as much as one can in sentimental terms.
I’m not an obvious candidate for being the other woman. For starters, I don’t know how to flirt, it’s never been my style. I’m more of a blunderer. I’m not a femme fatale, a bombshell, a siren, a goddess, a sex pot. I’m not a girly girl. I’m not insecure or covetous. I don’t go looking for trouble. I’m not a vulnerable, insecure type and I stick to my business.
“Do no harm,” is the creed for the relationships in my life. I appeared in these men’s lives after a marriage was long broken. And my report from the frontline is this: It is often the other woman who saves a marriage. Either I have helped the man save his marriage, or, and a bit of humor here, I’ve sent him running back to his wife.
And another thing: being the other woman doesn’t require a sexual component. You can be the other woman without sex too.
I have been the other woman three times in my life. Each time, it was benevolent. We accompanied each other for awhile. There were no theatrics, no expectations. No future plans about anything. Life put us in each other’s path at a precipitous, delicate moment.
This type of detachment requires emotional intelligence and not a lot of people can do it.
I didn’t leave my husband. He didn’t leave his wife. Two ships, two souls, drifting together then apart. No words of acrimony or tears. Just two people sorting things out.
No bracelet for me, no vacation in the Bahamas. But I did receive a lovely Italian fountain pen to write letters and pensées in my journal. My life and the lives of those I’ve touched have been enriched by our encounters.
I admire and envy couples who have good marriages. I am in awe of big marriages, of people who get it right. Which is not a lot of you, not a lot of us. I once asked a friend in a “big” marriage how it was that they succeeded as a couple, what was the secret to their good marriage. “Luck,” she said. “Luck in meeting the right person. That’s 90% of it. After that, it’s what you do with it.”
That’s both a great answer and a scary one. It shows how random it is to set yourself up “happily ever after.”
Please, don’t you get on your high horse and think I’m a home wrecker or not to be trusted. I do not want your husband. In fact, he is the last person I want.
You never know what will happen in your life. It’s why we read novels and rush to the movies to see the dynamic explosion of pheromones and human blundering.
And of course, another obvious thing: you never know the truth. About people, about things, about yourself. We are all riddled with secrets. And surprises.
Hello my lovelies. Have you ever been the other woman? I doubt I’ll get many replies, but I understand. Alternatively, can you share any thoughts and insights about this post? Always something to think about at Camp Liza, that’s for sure! So do enter your email in the box above so you won’t miss a thing!