The other woman is the butt of hurtful jokes. Shes shunned and treated with scorn. Still, women attach themselves to married men, forming relationships that are doomed to fail.
Women fall for married men for a variety of reasons. They may have low self-esteem and feel theyre not attractive to more suitable partners. Some fear commitment; if they select someone whos out of reach, they wont have to face rejection should the relationship end.
Married men are inherently less demanding. Because they already have wives and families to contend with, they exact less time from their mistresses.
Married men also may be viewed as more mature and experienced, able to offer more emotional and financial support.
Other women may defend their actions by saying they didnt intend to fall in love with a married man.
I didnt know he was married when we first met, one explained. Said a second: He complained that he was so unhappy with his wife. I tried to listen and offer encouragement. The next thing I knew, I was in way too deep. It was impossible to back out.
Whatever the cause, the outcome is the same. The other woman is mixed up in a relationship shes not proud of. Shes forced to lead a double life as she sneaks around her lovers family and schedules trysts when hes supposedly away on business. She spends holidays by herself. Shes excluded from social events.
The other womans behavior can have a disas trous impact on his kids.
If he divorces his wife, the children will be living in two households, losing stability and friends. The mistress may console herself by saying the marriage had already soured. Yet she made the decision easier. Her presence helped lure him away.
The relationship itself is based on falsehood. No matter what he says about his spouse, hes only portraying one side. Yes, she may be difficult, cold or demanding. He surely has his flaws, too. Besides, hes the one doing the cheating. That speaks volumes about his moral compass.
Meanwhile, the outlook for the affair isnt pretty. Married men seldom leave their wives, regardless of what they tell their mistresses. They have too much at stake, too many personal and financial irons in the fire. If they do leave, the ensuing relationships are tenuous at best. Some survive. Most implode under the guilt and deception theyve created.
HOW NOT TO BECOME THE OTHER WOMAN
Never date a married man. His wedding ring clearly says, Im out of bounds. Honor that limit and search elsewhere.
If you discover hes married, leave ASAP. Hes already got two strikes against him: Hes a liar and a cheat. Run for the door and dont look back.
If youre involved with a married man, get out now. Its not too late to amend your ways. Tell yourself that what youre doing is wrong, wrong, wrong. Then tell him its over and leave. It may be rough in the beginning. Youll be much happier in the long run.
Keep your distance from a man in an unhappy marriage. He wants to share his sad story. You want to rescue him from his miserable wife. That draws you too close together and lights the spark for the kindling to ignite. Wish him well. Advise he get into therapy. Youve done what you needed to do.
If a man is in the process of divorcing, steer clear for at least a year. Even if hes on his way to being single, hes still not an appropriate date. He has loads of emotional baggage to sort through. He may have a family to settle in new digs. He has a year of anniversaries to survive. Give him space to grow and heal. If youre still interested in 12 months, make your move.
Take control of your relationships. You are not a helpless victim. You determine whom youre with. Dont delude yourself into thinking its fate. If youre in a bad relationship, change it. Youll reclaim a sense of personal power. Your relationships will improve.
Linda Lewis Griffith is a local marriage and family therapist. For information or to contact her visit http://lindalewisgriffith.com.