My 25-Year Affair With A Married Man

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Older couple kissing
Infidelity exposed: the other woman, the cheating husband and their 25-year affair.

Being The Other Woman
My married friends, Arthur and Lynne, criticized me for settling for the role of The Other Woman. But the other woman was the role I knew best.

My father had remarried when I was 15, five years after my mother died. His new wife took an almost instant dislike to me, complaining that my dad loved me more than her. Dad thought if I moved out of the house for a while, she would "cool down" and change her mind. So in my senior year at Mumford High School in Detroit, Michigan, when other kids went home after school, I drove downtown to a hotel.

Some nights he stayed in the hotel with me; the rest of the time he slept at home with his wife and my older brother. I never did return to my family.

My affair with Sam was like a chance to relive my childhood and try to make it turn out differently.

I had been a successful advertising copywriter but the stress of divorce and single parenthood made it hard for me to devote the time and energy my job demanded. When I wasn't working, Sam always made sure my daughter and I were financially OK. He once told me, "I'll never let you drown."

Family was paramount to him and in 1987, his daughters started getting married and having children of their own. His family obligations grew greater. There were more and more of them in line ahead of me. He had less and less time for me. How To Be The Other Woman

By 1994 we'd been "together" for 13 years. During the week, Sam still made time to see me every day. We saw each other after work, having dinner and then back to my apartment. My daughter was a teenager at that point so I made sure he came over only on nights when she was out with friends.

Seeing him always took my breath away. I had never felt such passion or chemistry or such a profound connection with anyone. At the same time I knew that for both of us, our time together was a "time out" from real life. I didn't have to deal with his laundry or his snoring. He didn't have to live with my cat Monty sleeping on his head or leaving orange fur on his English suits.

The Way A Child Loves A Parent
My therapist told me not to be so quick to trust my feelings. She told me that just because I felt something deeply didn't mean it was good for me. But I loved him so much. Totally and helplessly, the way a child loves a parent.

The cliché would have him be as a father substitute, but the cliché was wrong. I loved him the way I had loved my mother. He made me feel safe and cared for in a way I hadn't felt since her death.

One afternoon in 2009, sitting at our favorite corner table at the Regency, I asked him what would happen if he were to die suddenly. I wanted some acknowledgement that I was important to him. Instead, I got this: "I'll do what I can for you as long as I'm alive. I don't want to discuss this ever again."

I felt like I'd been punched. But more than feeling hurt, I felt stupid. Why hadn't I done a better job of taking care of myself for all those years? Why hadn't I taken any job that came along to ensure that I wasn't so dependent on him? But still, I didn't leave him.

It finally happened during a particularly crappy lunch at the Regency again. As I listened to his constraints and limitations again (no overnights, no dinner at Le Cirque because he had been there with his family), something in me clicked.

The hole in my heart couldn’t be filled by anyone but me. I had to love myself more than I loved anyone else. Even him. Finally, I understood.

We walked out of the hotel onto Park Avenue, and without another word to him, I turned and walked away. The Truth About Life After Infidelity