You don't understand him, but his mistress does.
Being unfaithful to your partner doesn't always involve the urgent need for sexual satisfaction. Someone may cheat because they crave the attention that they're not getting at home, or they may need to be reassured that they're still attractive even though they're no longer young and hot.
We all want to be desired and we want to feel special and unique. One of the reasons that women get involved with men who are married or in a long-term relationship is because of that feeling that they only can give to their lovers no one else can. This is why the old adage "My wife doesn't understand me" still resonates — his wife may not appreciate his struggles and his needs, but the other woman might.
"'There's one thing I've always wanted to do,' he said.
(And here were the five words...)
"'My fianceé won't allow it.'
'What is it?'
And then he unveiled his heart's desire: to suck a woman's toes before he resigned himself to a life without quirk," Miller writes.
To give someone the one thing they say they're missing from their life, whether it's a fetish or someone to listen to their troubles, feels powerful. It must be a feeling akin to granting a pardon or donating a kidney (in a small way).
You're powerful and capable of changing someone's life, and sometimes a woman needs that boost for her self-esteem. Yes, cheating may not be the best method for achieving that sense of power, but it can be difficult to resist when it presents.
Salon writer Rachel Kramer Bussel discusses Miller's essay, and how her experience of seeing a married man made her able to relate to that feeling of being put on a pedestal that she wasn't exactly entitled to be standing on.
Bussel writes about Miller's moment of indiscretion, commenting, "He successfully beckoned her into a seemingly 'us against them' vision of the world, or at least, of their stolen moment in the cab. She alone held the key to giving him what he most wanted in the world; who amongst us wouldn't feel a rush of pride and power at being presented with such an opportunity?"
While on the surface it may seem like the other woman is secretly competing with the wife, she's actually trying to fill the part of herself that feels empty and ordinary.
Bussel writes, "The fact that he could be with his wife — for companionship, for discussion, for dates, for sex — but chose to be with me brought out something I'm not proud of, but that I can't deny: it made me feel special."
The moments where we feel extraordinary and exceptional are rare; ones where we feel divine, even less so. When someone gives you the opportunity to fulfill their greatest wish or listen to their deepest secret, it can be very difficult to resist.