If you knew something would cause someone sadness, grief, and pain, would you do it?
Would you punch a stranger in the jaw because you have a crush on their partner?
Would you yell insults at them until they break down in tears because you have a crush on their partner?
Would you kick a stranger’s cat because you have a crush on their partner?
Would you burn down a stranger’s house because you have a crush on their partner?
Would you ruin a stranger financially because you have a crush on their partner?
I’m guessing for 99% of you (non-sociopaths) all of this sounds ridiculous. Of course you would never do any of that crazy stuff just because you like someone. You wouldn’t hurt a stranger who had done nothing to you – that’s not normal, healthy behaviour. You just don’t go around hurting people whose only crime was getting there first and loving the person you lust after.
So why the fuck would you be “the other woman” or “the other man?”.
Think about it: When you hook up with someone who is in a relationship you are acting in a way that causes immense harm to someone else. You are causing extreme heartache with your actions. If you wouldn’t punch a stranger in the face because you like their partner, why would you do something equally as hurtful to them in hooking up with their partner?
It’s not okay to hurt others. Even if they are strangers. Even if they make you mad or jealous. Even if you think they are stupid. Even if the guy you want tells you a million negative things about them:
“She’s controlling… she’s downbuzz… she’s crazy… she’s psycho… she’s a bitch… she stops me seeing my friends… she’s clingy… she’s horrible to me… she’s not as wonderful and nice and perfect and sexy and awesome as you.”
You just can’t go through life doing whatever you want no matter who gets hurt. That’s not normal. It’s not healthy. It will get in the way of your future happiness, whether you can see it now or not.
Is that really how you want to live your life? Being callous? Being cruel? Putting your desires first at the expense of someone else’s pain? Is that the kind of person you want to be?
Maybe you genuinely don’t care what people think. But boy, if you heard what people thought and said about you, I guarantee it wouldn’t feel great to hear it. It would not be easy to brush off. To be called a slut, a whore, an asshole, a terrible, cruel, selfish, hurtful, awful person. Do you want to live your life knowing people look at you that way? That they see you the same way they see other people who hurt others? That they are incredibly angry with you and full of hate when they see you? That you are an incredibly negative part of their world?
Is this the reputation you want to have to those around you? Is this how you want to be seen? And what about your parents; you’re showing the world that this is how they raised you to behave (which I’m sure isn’t true, but I’m also sure they won’t be proud of your behaviour). What about the reputation of the place where you met the taken person? If it were at a workplace or club, are they now going to be known as the kind of place where infidelity is accepted? What if what happened ended up on social media and everyone was talking about your affair online – would that bother you? Does it bother you that people are probably talking about you behind your back constantly, online and in person too? Is it okay that people probably don’t trust you around their partners now?
All of this is the kind of stuff your actions lead to. It’s not pleasant. It’s not going to be fun for you. I highly doubt it’s worth it. I’m sure this isn’t how you want to be seen, talked about and treated.
Do you want to be a negative force in this world, or a positive one?
Do you want to grow and mature as a person, or keep making stupid fucking decisions that hurt others?
If you have been “the other”, it’s not too late to stop. You can redeem yourself from this.
The first step is to: Stop justifying your actions to yourself. Stop making excuses!
I know what it’s like because I have been you.
I have been The Other Woman. It wasn’t with a married man or anything like that, and we didn’t sleep together. He broke up with her not long after. She never found out so I never had to deal with the nasty consequences. But I am so ashamed of myself now. I wish I could take it back.
But at the time, I made every excuse in the book: “Oh but I was really drunk. And I really, really, really like him. And he flirted with me first. And he made the first move, not me. And he told me he’s going to break up with her really soon. And he told me he really likes me and doesn’t like her any more. And I really don’t like his girlfriend, she’s just awful. She will never find out. This is all okay.”
Except it wasn’t okay.
And what I wasn’t acknowledging at the time was that underneath my false confidence, I really, really, wanted a boyfriend. If my self esteem and confidence was higher, I would have walked away knowing there would be plenty of others out there – single people – who would like me.
Don’t get me wrong: I didn’t intentionally seek someone out because they were taken. I just developed this huge crush and it was reciprocated. It felt natural. It felt fine.
But it was not. Because had she found out, she would have been absolutely crushed. I would have really, really hurt someone. And that’s so not okay.
Some of my friends who knew tried to talk sense into me. They told me I was being hurtful and that they’d been cheated on and it felt awful. I too had been cheated on and had felt awful about it, but in that moment I didn’t want the hard truth – I wanted to justify my own actions to myself and feel okay about it. I wanted my friends to support me. I was in denial. So while I feel like it may be perceived as hypocritical to condemn being the other woman in this blog, when I have been her myself, I am doing so to give you the tough love I needed then. I am giving out the harsh truths I needed to hear then, and everyone needs to hear when they are tempted to be immoral.
I’m talking to you – whoever you are out there reading this who has been the other woman or man and not cared. Who will probably do it again. Who feels like it’s not their own problem if someone cheats with them. Who justifies it to themselves with excuses.
Of course, the cheating person is doing something just as bad as you. In fact, it’s worse since they’re the one who made commitments and promises of fidelity and monogamy to someone then broke them. I don’t believe that the other person is “a homewrecker” – the person who chose to cheat is the one wrecking their home. But don’t use this as an excuse to get yourself off the hook. Don’t think that all the fault lies on them and you’re not doing anything wrong.
Here is your tough love: Stop doing hurtful, selfish shit! Don’t be that person! You’re better than this – or you should want to be!
Anyway, even though he did break up with his girlfriend, he didn’t want to jump from one relationship into another. I didn’t get what I wanted in the end.
Let’s be honest with ourselves here – you’re probably not going to end up with that taken person. The majority of the time, the taken person will stay with their partner. Or if they cheat with you, they will cheat on you. How could you ever trust them anyway?
Why do you think that you’re such a special snowflake that you are the taken person’s first priority and they’d never do to you what they did to their partner?
Just walk away. If someone is flirting with you in a bar, ask if they have a partner – if they do, tell them you are not interested even if you are super fucking interested and walk away. You’ll be surprised how good it feels.
If you are alone in a room with a taken someone and sparks are flying, choose to not be alone with that person again. Don’t be drunk around taken people you find tempting.
If you fall for a married person and they fall for you – tell them to come back when they’re single. If they are really unhappy in their marriage they will end it. You don’t want to start your relationship in that way. You deserve a healthy, happy, relationship. If you want someone to grow old happily with, give yourself the best chance. If you can’t bring yourself to feel sympathy for this faceless stranger who you are hurting, then at least do it for yourself and your future well-being.
If you don’t feel sympathy for their partner whatsoever – fine, feel no sympathy then walk away anyway. If you can’t imagine their pain, if you can’t put yourself in their shoes – who cares! Do the right thing anyway. Yes, in an ideal world you’d feel so terrible at the thought of hurting someone that you would walk away, but if you don’t feel that way, walk away anyway just because it is the right thing to do.
Do the right thing. Don’t let actions like this taint your image and identity.
No this is not 100% of who you are. You may be a loving, wonderful friend. You may be intelligent and interesting and think you’re pretty awesome overall. You may give to charity and volunteer and pray every night, but at the end of the day, you have to face up to the fact that if you want to consider yourself a good person, then you have to act like a good person in this aspect of your life too.
It is okay to have feelings for taken people. Strong feelings. Huge, giant, overwhelming crushes even. Feelings don’t make you a bad person, but you can’t act on them. If you want to be a good, moral, person, you simply can’t do stuff like this. You can’t act on selfish feelings when the outcome is so much hurt for another person. It’s not fair. Is it really the kind of thing you want to be doing?
You can put this behaviour behind you and try your absolute best to move on.
You may slip up again one day. Bad habits are hard to break. But I hope at least you feel awful. I hope you feel guilt. I hope you will see it as a mistake, and work hard on avoiding situations where this can happen again.
Work on yourself. Work on your self-worth. Work on being more empathetic and sympathetic and kind. Work on being less selfish. Work on knowing not all strong feelings are worth considering, even if it seems impossible. Know that in the future, you won’t feel this way any more, and your future self will be full of regret if you do act.
If you find yourself continually fucking up in this way, get help. You are not only hurting the partner, you are sabotaging your own happiness by getting into affairs that are unlikely to end the way you want them. Get counselling or therapy and work on yourself.
Stop making excuses, realise it was wrong, and do your best to make it right.