What Is Franchising — And Why It's The Most Terrible Type Of Cheating

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man taking off wedding ring cheating on wife

Recently, I started to read up on a very strange phenomenon: men who have multiple families that are totally unaware of each other. 

At first, I only believed that this happened with soap operas; however, there are a lot of real-life examples of this.

I’ve even started to call it by a specific name: franchising. When you find out you’re with someone like this, it’s hard to imagine what to do or think.

What is franchising?

I came up with this term because it’s a lot like the way a food franchise works. Here’s what it’s like:

  • Man marries a woman, and has kids. He looks like the photo-perfect, Kodak dad. He’s dedicated, he is romantic, all the works.
  • Man takes a job that forces him to travel or work long hours. Sometimes, the wife will notice something isn’t quite right here. Other times, she’ll chalk it up to providing.
  • Man starts to disappear for large swaths of time. This usually has a traveling salesman vibe. At times, the husband never comes back and just ghosts his wife, sending divorce papers.
  • Woman discovers that he had a second family, complete with another fiancee and kids. What’s wild is that the kids often have the same or similar names.
  • Man may or may not bail on the first wife and kids completely, leaving them poor and alone. Then, he’ll live with the other family. Some men will be so callous as to tell their wives to "just deal with it."
  • Man now has families in multiple locations. So yeah. It’s like a new Pizza Hut opening up.

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Why is franchising the worst type of cheating?

Generally speaking, it’s the worst type because it’s not just the betrayal of having sex with someone else. Sex is just sex. There’s no investment or emotions in many cases. No, this is worse than that.

It’s also worse than a typical emotional affair. The betrayer is actively going out and putting a future together with someone else — often after having kids and financially tying themselves to their main squeeze.

This doesn’t just devastate and blindside the betrayed spouse. It also generally involves financially (and often emotionally) abandoning innocent kids that the betrayer helped make.

Financially, both families often have little recourse. The type of man who does this generally bails on both families when it comes to money. They may skip states, fake their own deaths or just screw them in court.

It’s not just that. The betrayed family often ends up being the talk of the town, too — especially if they live in the suburbs.

We all know how gossip travels in those circles, right? A story about a secret family spreads like wildfire.

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How did the woman not know that he was cheating on her?

Most of the time, this is the question that I ask.

We all tend to assume that we’d be better at noticing the signs than others around us. When you’re in the thick of it, it’s hard to believe it.

But then again, I am not one to talk.

I had an ex who "collected" women and didn’t notice because I had a high-powered job at a major blogging platform. I didn’t have time to notice.

If you’re a mom of two kids, I’m willing to bet you’re busier than me.

How do women who’ve been franchised find out that their man has a second family?

So, full disclosure, I’m getting everything from secondhand stories, threads online, and Reddit posts. Here are some of the ways I’ve seen women find out:

  • They meet the other wife or girl. This happens a lot more than you’d think. In some cases, it’s because the other woman finds out that he’s had a secret family.
  • They find evidence on the guy’s phone or through other media. Another common way people find out that their partner is cheating.
  • The other family sues the guy for child support. Yes, this happens. It’s usually when the guy will take the time to admit that he has another.

Why would a man choose to have multiple wives and families?

Honestly? I don’t know. One family is enough work as-is, in my opinion.

But, if I had to wager a guess, I’m willing to bet that it has something to do with insecurity and narcissism. It takes a special type of ego to destroy so many lives and think it’s okay.

It might be that they don’t know how to break it off with wife #1. Or, maybe it’s because they think that having as many kids as possible will be a legacy of some sort. (That’s something that I heard before.)

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I want to point out that franchising doesn’t always go this far.

A friend of mine recently dated someone named Jeremy.* Jeremy was all about family life. He wanted to be a dad to her daughter and was even gung-ho about supporting them. He’d pay for dates and more.

Jeremy kept telling her he wanted her to have kids with him. He was talking about rings, went out to parties with her, and also made a point of telling her how much he wanted commitment.

He just, uh, never called her during the week. Because of "work." 

Eventually, she said enough was enough. Later on, we all kind of agreed that he probably had another family at home.

It’s still really messed up. If it wasn’t for the fact that she refused to let him meet her kid (despite him adamantly asking to do so), her daughter would have had a "dad" come in and out of her life in an extremely cruel manner.

So far, I’ve only heard about a handful of situations that were really franchising.

It’s hard to say how often this happens. Among my friends, I’ve heard about it twice.

Once, it was a friend of my coworker’s who found out that her immigrant husband had a family back home. Another time, it was with my friend and her date.

So, maybe it is just the fact that franchising is pretty salacious. Maybe it’s something else.

Regardless, I often have to wonder what is going to happen to guys who do this in the long term. No one ever seems to know.

RELATED: 6 Different Types Of Affairs You Might Be Having Without Knowing It

Ossiana Tepfenhart is a writer whose work has been featured in Yahoo, BRIDES, Your Daily Dish, Newtheory Magazine, and others. 

This article was originally published at Medium. Reprinted with permission from the author.