Being The Other Woman Changed My Life For The Better

Photo: Denys Kurbatov / Shutterstock
woman looking at self in mirror

I knew something was up the second he walked into my house. His shoulders were slightly slumped and he seemed hesitant like he had something terrible to say. I asked him what was wrong.

"I'm going to Ireland..."

Wait, what? That didn't seem too bad. In fact, that seemed kind of awesome. But he wasn't finished.

"...with my wife."

There it was — the punch in the stomach I was waiting for.

"She's going for work. It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, all expenses paid. She'll be working most of the time anyway."

I tried to rationalize it. All expenses paid was pretty incredible, and if it was a work trip ... well, we've all been on those, and there's not much time for fun. Could I really be that upset about it? Not exactly, my rationalized brain told me. So I smiled and tried to make light of it.

"That's OK. It's not like you're going for my birthday or anything."

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The look on his face confirmed the exact opposite. I started to cry. He tried to hold me but I pushed him away.

"I think you'd better leave," I told him.

He protested, but I opened the door. I watched him walk through it, slammed it shut, and collapsed in tears.

That was the beginning of the end for us.

I didn't realize it at the time but that moment of despair actually empowered me. I'd always loved to travel but never thought about going without a significant other or a friend. As a direct result of his Ireland stunt, I decided to go to Alaska. On my own. To reconnect with me and get away from him.

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It worked and I've been traveling solo ever since, drinking in the delight of being alone.

Looking back on that relationship now, I realize that wasn't the only time I got a personal boost from what I considered an overall private tragedy. The way he ravished me when we were together made me feel undeniably sexy, and that confidence is still with me today.

The way he listened to me and considered everything I said made me feel important and helped me realize that my eventual partner needed to treat me with that same consideration. The way he spoke to me for hours on end, about everything, made me feel intelligent and needed. I can ride on the high of that unintentional compliment for the rest of my life.

In the end, perhaps the biggest change in me, and the one most for the best, came from the relationship taken as a whole. I helped him cheat on his wife. I stayed overnight while she was away on business. I snuck into his house some nights while she was upstairs asleep, and he snuck out to sit with me in his driveway other nights.

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I listened to his endless complaints about her and heard stories of the string of women he'd been with before me, while married the whole time. I watched him delete all his texts and create a fake email so she wouldn't catch on to his antics.

I met his friends, who covered for him when we wanted to go out on dates. And constantly, I watched him go home to her, buy her flowers after a fight, and comfort her in times of suspicion.

Through all this, I realized I never want to be in a relationship with someone who cheats. I don't want to be the person who does the cheating. I don't want to toy with another's emotions in any way, ever.

I could see firsthand the torture it put everyone involved through (except for maybe him; it seemed like he got everything he wanted) and I didn't want anything to do with it. And that lesson, more than anything, sticks with me.

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Alex Alexander is a pseudonym. The author of this article is known to YourTango, but is choosing to remain anonymous.