5 Brutal Truths About Being The 'Other Woman' In Affairs With Married Men

A former mistress tells the truth about being his other woman.

Last updated on Sep 10, 2023

How affairs affect all parties and the mistress Devonyu, Vlada Karpovich, Karolina Grabowska, Inna Lesyk | Canva

Getting caught up as the "other woman" and having affairs with married men isn't something most women aspire to. Yet, single women find themselves falling in love with another woman's husband every single day.

I know because I've been there myself.

Four years ago, a guy I'd always liked appeared to be open to ending his marriage. When I realized this and became involved with him in his infidelity, I found myself watching two movies over and over again.


One was The Prince of Tides, in which Barbara Streisand plays a "healing" other woman who helps Nick Nolte get over his old childhood wounds. She gracefully steps aside once Nolte and his wife, who's also having an affair, recommit to their marriage.

The other was Young Adult, in which a divorced, depressed, and alcoholic Charlize Theron goes back to her hometown, convinced she can win back her high school boyfriend.

He’s a new dad who's madly in love with his wife, but Theron's character seizes on anything she can to convince herself her old flame isn't happy and wants her back. When she gets drunk at the baby’s christening party, she humiliates herself so badly she has no choice but to confront her alcoholism and her empty life.


It was interesting I ran across both films at that time, and I knew after watching them which of these two women I did not want to be like.

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Streisand’s character may have ended up crying and alone, but she didn't see herself in competition with a wife who still wanted her husband. She helped this man heal from painful childhood abuse, and when the time came, she accepted her lost relationship with him and took a seat.


She did what was best for everyone, rather than only what felt best for herself. She also became aware of the stagnation in her own life and the need for her to leave her own horrible marriage.

Obviously, the best way to go is neither scenario. You should find your own, unattached man and have a relationship with him.

But, if you’re reading this, you’re probably already in love with someone who’s attached, engaged, or married.

Once you’re in that kind of situation, what do you do?

Many times, once you realize you care about someone who returns those same feelings, you start painting beautiful pictures in your mind of the future you want and go stampeding in that direction like a wild mustang.


You think you know your situation and those other two people in this love triangle, and you convince yourself that you're the best choice he could make. You believe if this guy chooses you, things will work out beautifully for everyone.

But, there are some things you don't think about that you really do need to consider.

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Here are 5 brutal truths about being the 'other woman' in affairs with married men:

1. Sometimes, people lie to get what they want.

No matter how sincere your married lover seems, double-check what you are being told. Don’t discount this distinct and ugly possibility.


Find out as much as you can about their marital situation, because that will help you make wise decisions. You can’t always consider a cheating spouse your best source of information, so make sure whatever he tells you passes the smell test.

2. Find out as much as you can about both of their childhoods.

This information greatly clarifies your role in the situation.

For instance, when I first got involved with my guy, I knew I could trust what he told me about his wife for two reasons.

One, I’d known him for seventeen years and I knew he was no liar and he’d been unhappily married for as long as I’d known him.

Two, what he told me was so bizarre there was no way he could have made it up. We spent half our conversations trying to puzzle out something his wife had said or done.


But I'd been raised by a mother with borderline personality disorder, and I'd done enough reading about relationships and damage from family-of-origin issues. So the instant I heard, "My mother was an alcoholic", I knew a lot more about the situation.

If you hear about a childhood in which well-known emotional issues, such as alcoholism, were present, check out some books and start reading.

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3. Nothing about an affair is what it looks like on the surface.

Everyone in the situation has their own unresolved childhood issues, their own perspective, and their own story.

There's a reason you are attracted to this particular man that probably began at home when you were young. His attraction to both you and to his wife is rooted in his own childhood, and her contribution to their problems, whatever it actually is, originated long ago, too.


I started out feeling as mystified by his wife’s behavior as my affair partner was.

I thought she must not really love him and was using him. I couldn't see any other explanation, and thinking about this fueled my anger toward her. Definitely, I believed, he was being abused in his marriage and felt horrible about himself. And believing that made me feel justified in stepping in.

Then I stumbled on a book by Pia Mellody called Facing Love Addiction. My guy and I met only some of the criteria Mellody sets out in that book, but when it came to the criteria for being a "love avoider", his wife seemed to meet every single one.

Mellody says people who fit this relationship pattern typically had a demanding, smothering parent in their childhood home.


Some of what my guy was telling me now made sense to me in a whole new way.

Then I also found it in her horoscope.

When he told me one more thing she said, it clicked, and I realized all three people in this triangle had been damaged in childhood: me, this man, and his wife.

It wasn't that she didn't love him or that she was willfully abusing or hurting him.

4. All three people are wounded and deserving of compassion.

Once I could see his wife this way, I didn't feel as entitled to have things go the way I wanted. If they could address their problems and heal as husband and wife, that was the way it should go, no matter how badly I felt about losing him.


They had decades together, as well as children and grandchildren.

On the other hand, if she couldn't confront her problems and kept treating him callously and disrespectfully in the marriage, I could see it wouldn't only be right, but crucial that he get himself out of there.

But it was his prerogative to decide what was best for him, not mine.

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5. You damage the other person’s marriage just by being there.

You might think once your married guy bolts back to his wife, you'll never hear from him again and he'll forget all about you, as though you never existed.


According to relationship expert Jerry Wise, this often isn't the case.

Yes, you may never hear from the guy again, but if you had a good relationship and he gave you up to return to his troubled marriage, he's likely to continue to have strong feelings for you.

And combined with the emotional fallout from the affair between him and his spouse, those feelings will get in the way of fixing their marriage, even if you never see him again.

Basically, when you get involved in an affair with a married man, you're entering a frayed relationship between two damaged people, breaking all three of your hearts, and making reconciliation between the two of them harder than it would have been already.


In my case, astrology predicted I would hear from him one more time, and a year ago, I did.

If you truly love this man, why choose to hurt him more than he already is?

Being the other woman may start out looking like a one-way ticket to your dream life (once you’ve managed to elbow that meanie of a wife out of the way, that is).

But it isn't.

Being the other woman is a wake-up call.

You have to decide who you want to be: Streisand in The Prince Of Tides, or Theron in Young Adult.

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P.D. Reader is a level one student in the NCGR School of Astrology, but her work focuses on spirituality, lifestyle, and relationship topics. She runs Unfaithful: Perspectives on the Third-Party Relationship Medium.