Have you ever been “the other woman?”

blue pen
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.

xo Liza

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!

3 thoughts on “Have you ever been “the other woman?”

  1. Yes…although I was unaware of that (and his 4 children) going in. He soon told me about his wife…didn’t want to deceive me. The kids were revealed to me practically one by one at intervals spanning years (although they were all around when we first met), and it wasn’t until we were well into our relationship – and by that I mean the birth of our son, him leaving his wife and the birth of our daughter, in that order – that he admitted to having a son, too. We’ve been together for 27 years now and I still haven’t fathomed the logic behind all that. And he still remains on good terms with his first wife.
    Do I consider myself a home-wrecker? I’m still struggling with that one. But if it hadn’t been me it would have been someone else. He was already on that path.
    Do I think it was benevolent? It’s complicated!

  2. Thank you for sharing Patricia. Life is…complicated. Compassion, not judgement is what’s necessary. We never know what we are capable of or what will happen in our lives. xo

  3. I have been the other woman on numerous accounts. Not by choice, however – simply because a vast array of different men out there found themselves in a relationship-pickle, came across me, and fell in love. Probably not with me – it takes a very special person to appreciate a blonde midget who throws up every time she consumes alcohol, hates to shower, and leaves lipstick marks and nail polish on virtually everything when she finally tries to not look like a homeless person that one time a year – but with the values that are long gone in their own homes. I don’t complain about the laundry on the floor or about them playing soccer two nights a week. I don’t nag or snarl. But I also don’t offer reality. And reality, the part with the mortgage, two kids, and mandatory family dinners, I assume is what they are running from. Which is utter lunacy in the long run since reality will ultimately catch up with you – and the harder you cling on to your fantasies, the harder Real Life will hit you!

    I have made my share of men cry when I have told them to quit fantasizing and get back in the game in stead. Some because the game, aka. Life, has become somewhat unbearable or at least unfathomably far away from what they initially imagined it to be. Some because they wholeheartedly believed that we could have built something beautiful together. And therein lies my point: with being the other woman also comes one of two rather depressing outcomes: either you become the fix, the only thrill for a man whose primary pleasure in life is your (casual?) encounters, and that will eventually become a horrible burden to bear (speaking from experience here!), or you will find yourself so enthralled by all of his fantasies that you will forget to hold your horses when he offers to fulfill his imaginations about Life with you. And then what will happen ten years down the line when the novelty has worn off, he becomes bored with reality again, and goes out to chase a new fix?

    I am so happy for you, Patricia Johnston, for somehow having discovered that narrow path between the two outcomes mentioned above! It is not my experience that being – or chosing – the other woman is ever ideal. Perhaps you are an exception to that rule. All I can add is that the last guy who picked me as his other woman is now in serious debt with an attitude that would make Kanye West go: “jeez, calm down!”, and a somewhat consistently broken heart. We almost reached an every day life together until he realized that he was too much of a genius to worry about groceries, laundry, and childrearing. I proceded to opt out of the constellation and presumably he has been running from himself and Life ever since. Men work in mysterious ways!

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