Thursday 4 February 2010

The Other Woman

If you have the misfortune to be heterosexual, as many of us do, you have enough on your plate just trying to bridge the divide on how differently men and women go about all things sexual. Women don't need the extra headache of watching their backs with their own gender. But when it comes to affairs, the focus often shifts from The Marriage to The Other Woman.

We all have an image of the other woman in our heads: the calculating predator who moves in on happily coupled men. The cloistered, diamond-draped mistress. The office sexpot who's always just a little too close to your guy at his holiday party. She's a staple of novels, movies, tabloids, even history books.
Last week I was reading Adam Frayles' blog post called A bit on the side about extra marital affair statistics which I found really interesting.

Then I happened to read a comment on a blog which said "I hate any woman that steals another woman's husband". I had to read it twice. Yes, that is what it said.

Hello, this is 2010. I am really shocked people think this way. Am I alone?

You never hear people say The Other Man stole someone's wife, and you never hear men being referred to as home wreckers.

No woman can steal another woman's man, and no woman has the power to break up a marriage. That's a cop out to say that. It's always a decision the husband makes, a choice to step deeper into his marriage, or to step further outside it. Women aren't omnipotent sirens who lure poor helpless men, and this is true even of women who might have predatory leanings.

None of us has control over anybody -- as anyone who's ever tried to change someone knows.

Obviously whoever participates in an affair is accountable for their actions, but that's not the same thing as being accountable for the end of a marriage.

If a husband is having an affair, it's the husband who threatens the break up of the marriage. If a wife is having an affair, it's the wife.

The only threat comes from those inside the relationship not those outside it.

Well at least that's what I think.

Rant over. Go back to what you were doing. And have a great weekend!


  1. Brilliant post and thanks for the link.

    I agee entirely that "outsiders" are not at all to blame - no man has to say "OK" even if he's quite plainly offered it on a plate - just as no woman has to.

    I'm not sure that men aren't accused of being homewreckers in these circumstances - have you read any UK comics, sorry - newspapers - recetly? Still, I take your point.

    If two people promise fidelity to each other, then, married or not, they're putting their relationship in jeopardy if they stray. What I DO think is that a serious relationship should be about a huge number of so much more important things than sex that I think it's about time we started getting a bit of perspective here and the odd "dalliance" on either side ought to be a whole lot easier to forgive than it seems it is.

    Just my opinion, you understand, but then I would say that - G

  2. OK: Joe is married to Sue. He loves her and is committed to her. Joe understands her positive and negative qualities. He forgives her for those things and loves them too, even though those qualities may never change.

    But Joe also has an emotional hole in him that Sue just cannot fathom: To her, Joe's need is invisible or meaningless. Joe realized this long ago, and has given up on ever hoping for satisfaction in that.

    Sandra intuits Joe's need and feels drawn to his emptiness, and his strengths.

    OK. Now go and listen to Joan Armatrading's The Weakness in Me and contemplate the dilemma.

    I make no recommendations about which choice is better or worse. But it is a real life scenario for billions of people on this planet.

    One size does not fit all.

  3. Interesting post Lilly-- The way I see it is, if a couple commits to one another, they are committed until one of the people in that couple (not a 3rd party) has the guts to steps up and says he/she has a problem with the relationship. That conversation should be had well before any cheating begins.

    In other words-- Getting caught with your pants down and cheating on a committed partner makes the cheater a liar and a coward. Not terribly flattering qualities in a partner.

    As for the "3rd party" getting involved with a person in a relationship and "stealing" someone away or reeling them into doing the wild thing-- It takes two to tango and if the 3rd party knowingly does, they are a liar too and that leads to a whole lot of bad karma in my book.

    If a person has the guts to cheat on their partner, they should have the guts to look their partner in the eye and discuss the relationship's problem before people get hurt. Blaming the cheating on a "siren" or the male equivalent is a joke.

    And then there's Tiger Woods



  4. I hold them both responsible. My husband had an affair (thus the reason he is my ex-husband now) and while yes, he is the one who broke our marriage vows, SHE was also aware that he was married and that she was breaking up our home. And she went ahead and had an affair with him anyway. In fact she was married as well, and after she got us divorced she dumped my husband and stayed with hers.

    So yes I hold her responsible as well. When I first figured out there was a little too much contact going on between them, I called her myself and told her to stay away from my husband, and she assured me that they were just friends who worked together and that she was happily married and had no interest in my husband.

    Little did I know they were already sleeping together at that point and planning to divorce their spouses.

    I blame them both. She could have respected my marriage and kept her hands off my husband. He could have respected our marriage and if he was unhappy enough to cheat, he should have asked for a divorce before it came to that.

    It takes two to cheat. One person doesn't do it alone.

  5. Julie: How would your situation have been handled better? Was there nothing you could have done to keep your husband from straying?

    Why does he need to step up and tell you what is missing in his life? It is possible that he had done that many times before, and you may just have not heard him. I know that is possible from direct experience, and I hear that from my contacts constantly.

    Did you think that you might have stepped up and asked your now ex-husband what you needed to do to address the gap in your lives? You were obviously motivated at the time to talk to "her" -- And if handled gently and with compassion, you might have talked to him.

    I realize that very likely you did all the right things. Many women in your position do not. And vice-versa.

  6. I married a man who never wanted to have children, and I had a 12 year old son. He wanted to turn our home into military boot camp, and you don't do that to a single mom who's raised a child alone for his entire life.

    I also married a man who cheated on his first two wives, so I should not have been surprised that a year and a half after our marriage, he took the cowards way out by cheating on me. I had stayed through all his bullshit and still tried to work it out but he knew that cheating would end our marriage for me. So that's what he did.

    Trust me, nobody worked harder in a marriage to save it than I did. I didn't wait until I was 42 to get married for the first time to have it end 2 years and 8 days later in divorce court.

  7. And Jim? I appreciate your comment however be careful how you word things when you are talking about somebody else's personal life that you have zero first hand knowledge of.

    I *did* speak to my husband hundreds of times about our marriage problems. This is a man who refused to open my child's Father's Day card to him. How much damage do you think that did to my son? Trust me, we talked about his unreasonable expectations of raising children (there is never a reason to have to tell them to clean their rooms more than once in their entire LIVES. There is never a reason for them to use more than a bottle of shampoo a YEAR. They should do all household chores leaving the adults to sit on their asses while the children are indentured servants).

    Believe me, he did not cheat on me because I wasn't a good wife. I am a lot of things, Jim, but a bad spouse isn't one of them.

  8. You speak with clarity and a basis in facts. No offense intended or spoken: "I realize that very likely you did all the right things."

    But when you put the whole picture together, it was not his cheating which was the deal killer in the marriage you talk about. That may have been the final insult, but It seems like it was a bad marriage for everyone in your family: You, your son, and him. Would you have wanted it ended sooner? Possibly. Especially for your son.

    I hope your son, and you, are healing from that situation and able to view life without the burden of that baggage.

  9. Found it interesting to learn Gov. Mark Sanford insisted the words 'faithful forsaking all others' be removed from his marriage vows. And interesting that his wife-to-be paid no heed. Sad, sorry mess.

  10. Great rant Lilly.
    We always want someone else to blame and the other woman is the perfect contender.

  11. Your rant is about stereotypes in relationships. Real life has many characters who don't fit the stereotype.
    My first wife cheated on me. I didn't and don't blame the guy, but I consider him a total ass. I think she has now come that conclusion too. But the whole mess had more underlining problems than some third person and an affair.
    IMHO - the affair stuff is more exciting to write and talk about than the deeper relationship and psychology issues so it gets the attention, maybe a book, or a movie.

    It's interesting that Jenny Sanford’s new memoir, 'Staying True', goes on sale tomorrow.

  12. I should have added that yes, the other man or woman has responsibility for getting involved with a married person BUT I do not think they can be blamed for stealing someone's partner away.

    I was once the Other Woman and was not even aware that this person was still married. Nor do I think that women or men should have to do background checks on everyone they meet. I dont know what happened to good old fashioned honesty and integrity. Yeah and I believe in Santa Claus too.

    Thanks for your opinions they are thought provoking. Interesting about Gov. Sands too. I think the red flags are always there but it is true what they say, love is blind sometimes.

  13. You're right Lilly. Any husband who decides to have an affair is prepared to leave the marriage on some sub-conscious level.

  14. "No woman can steal another woman's man, and no woman has the power to break up a marriage. That's a cop out to say that." Absolutely. I've always felt this way; though I will say, Lilly, I have met women who do set out to get a man come hell or high water: they're accomplished, seductive, have no morals, and will do anything. I feel sorry for a man who has been set as the target in that situation, despite how strong his own situation is. Despite the fact that some people--men or women--are indestructible in terms of their marriage or vows or loyalty, still it's a fact that some will weaken. Others might not, but they have other weaknesses, don't they? It's all a symptom of the material world....

  15. @ Braja - its true but I think we are overestimating women and underestimating men in this whole scenario. Its almost like we accept that men 'can't help themselves' therefore it must be the brazen hussies fault. Why we always give our power away is beyond me. Guess denail is easier to deal with when all is said and done.

  16. You know something it's very discouraging all around. I am not sure why any of us get married at all. I just think deception is the most evil thing there is.Yeah and as for Tiger Woods.Even the Other Women are blaming each other he he. You have to laugh...

  17. Lilly thanks for pointing this out, I'm guilty as charged and you are so right, how can we blame the woman all the time? Julia Roberts immediately came to mind when I thought of 'the other woman' but wait a minute, the man is just as much to blame if not more in some cases.

  18. This is just one scenario that DOES (and I know) all too frequently exist (and I also know it will upset some, but I feel a need to say it).

    IF someone - ok some guy, if the ladies want to see it that way - has been silly enough to marry a virgin because of religious or other beliefs and IF he loves her and adores her as a person, but she's no bloody good at all in bed, doesn't want to be and never will be because that's the way she was brought up... what is the guy to do twenty years down the line when he just wants a decent bit of fun in bed now and again for a change?

    Should he just carry on enjoying his own company in the bathroom and accept the fact that it is a side of his life that has been a total non starter and he'll never know what it's like to have real good sex? Or should he destroy the only really important thing in his life and hurt someone terribly that he loves dearly in the process?

    Difficult choice, particulary when a hottie starts to glow even hotter than normal at work and lays it on the line for him!

    Nothing in life is EVER as simple as we'd like to kid ourselves it is.

  19. Call me an old fashioned old duffer(you're old fashioned duffer!) but a vow of marriage should be just that. A vow to remain faithful to the person you pledge your life to.
    Some powerful comments here but I have to say, Jim, I just don't get where you're coming from.

  20. Lilly,
    EXACTLY. Whoever is breaking the vows is most repsonsible.

    The 'other' woman -- or 'other' man depending on the case, may have little to no ethics or morals, but that isn't the central issue. THEY didn't have the power to disrupt a relationship without the full consent and willigness of the person within the relationship.

    It's such weak b.s. to blame it on someone outside the relationship, and means the other partner in the marriage is in denial about how little respect their spouse really has for them, let alone their vows.

    You cannot 'steal' anyone, not 'lead them astray'.

    Society has some false values when they call the 'other' woman a homewrecker.
    She may indeed by a selfish, thoughtless, insensitive person.
    And that doesn't mean his zipper came down all by itself, and his p***s went inside of her by accident.

  21. "The Other Woman" is a human being. A woman who has fallen in love. And fallen for a married man. I'd say that it's the man's fault worse than the "other woman" because the man is the one who made the vow. He is the one who is breaking it. I don't care what the marriage is all about, how bad it is, you get a divorce or go seek marriage counseling before you break the vow. So, dissing the other woman doesn't do any good. It's putting the focus on the wrong person. That's my opinion. I've known too many friends who fell hard for a guy only to LATER find out that he was married.

  22. I remember once doing an assignment at uni about how women get the blame in society for the high divorce rate etc etc. I think it still holds true.

    Jim do you really think a woman has to keep the man from straying from the relationship. WTF? Are men incapable of keeping a contract, or communicating with their partners and expressing they have issues? And vice verse. The term relationship means mutual dealings after all. It's hard but not impossible.

    And AF1 call me old fashioned but if you make a commitment to someone then that is what it is. If part of your marriage contract is that you have an open marriage then so be it but you need to be up front about it. If down the track you want to renegotiate the contract, because relationships and people change, then you do. And if one partner doesnt like the terms proposed then they have a choice to negotiate or walk away.

    The issue is that people are gutless to tell their partners how they truly feel or what they truly need and take the cowards way out. Lies and deceit will always come back to bite you. Hurting other people knowingly and deliberately is not cool in my book. It creates long lasting damage. I will never get why honesty is so under rated. Its like pulling off a bandaid. Do it quick and the pain is minimal. Take it off slowly and the pain lasts a long time. Anyone lacking that kind of empathy you are better off without anyway. If men or women need to have affairs on the sly just to satisfy an itch then I dont think much of them and nor would I trust them. I really want and need diamonds too (its a physical need) but it wouldnt make me break into a store and take them just because I cannot control myself.

    In fact when I think about it, it pisses me off that men use the 'we need sex like we need oxygen' line which then seems to excuse their bad behaviour and let them off the hook. Men are not alone, women are sexual creatures too. However, there is no excuse for breaking a contract because to me if you do, I am sure you would do the same in other aspects of your life too. And as for the excuses of I didnt want to hurt you, the kids etc etc. It's crap and the easy way out.

    After learning this the very hard way, to me, integrity is way better than great sex. And if only men realised the secret to a great sex life is to talk and be open and honest about what they want and to be aware their partner has as many needs as well.

  23. @ Aleta and Aurora - well said ladies!!

  24. @ Mike Smith - old fashioned duffers are very "in" as it happens! Regards To Mrs Smith!

  25. I had a client who lived halfway between two women and was involved with both. He couldn't choose between them and carried on the relationships until they found out about each other and both finished it with him.

    But even when he was with them he was completely tormented by the situation. People might start out thinking it might be fun but it's not. They do it for the adrenalin rush. It is a sport to some and thats all very well as long as there is no deception involved. That is what we cannot lose sight of - deception and betryal is just plain cruel.

  26. @ Julie - forgot to tell you. Sometimes no matter what we do for some people they will never be happy, ever. They will always be looking for someone else to fill the gap they have where their heart should be. We live and learn. And karma is a bitch!

  27. Forget the other woman or other man because if your partner can lie to you they can lie about you as well. No-one can make anyone do anything they do not want to do. I guess when you love someone still you want to believe they are innocent and some other party is at fault but eventually I think we all see that for whatever reason there are cracks in the relationship where one party has chosen to ignore and not deal with. Oh, relationships of any kind require a great deal of work! Perhaps if people took the marriage vows more seriously than they do the actual wedding there would be less divorce and broken hearts around the place.

  28. Good manners are the key to being a good partner, and lying to anyone is not treating anyone with respect least of all yourself. The only right or wrong is what a couple believes. Therein lies the problem. Marriage vows clearly do not mean the same to both parties.

  29. I heard someone say once..."Mo woman steals another woman's husband unless he is out there to be stolen"....And in a way, I think that is what you are saying....Also---it is so true that MEN are never blamed for breaking up a marriage, just women, as if men can be led around the nose by any predarory woman...NOT!
    I do believe that in a very general way men are more ready and willing to "break the marriage vows", and it isn't always with a married woman---it could be any woman...! Men do seem to think with their lower parts, more than women. It takes two to tango, and when a man steps out of his marriage there is a woman involved....
    I don't know, it was ever thus, wasn't it? Going back to God knows when....One thing I do know is this: When trust is broken it is almost impossible to get it back. And that is the sad fallout from this behavior, whether it is a wife or a husband, etc....

  30. Old Lady in the Hills, you are so right this has been happening forever. Nothing true.

  31. Thought provoking, Lily. Agreed, you cannot entirely blame the 'other' woman or the 'other' man. Home-wrecker is an archaic reference and as cringe-worthy as your average television soap opera is. I second what Joanna Jenkins said.

  32. Thank you my dear, for your wonderful comments....I LOVE your visits because you make me feel so good....
    And BTW: I forgot to say to you---What a WONDERFUL Post this is, and quite timely, too, with all the Public Break-ups and/or Confessions by all these Politico's----John Edwards---To me, The Worst of the lot! And a post like this creates a lot of great dialogue!

  33. Hi there, l'm not sure how you find me but l'm glad you did.l love your attitide and this post makes me think how l used to be more judgemental when l was younger, less tolerant and how now l realise sometimes things happen ...I am wiser with age..though l do know women who seek out married men for the fun and they are fine with themselves..

    its good to rant..

    saz x aka FFF

  34. I recommend reading Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert. There's a section where she talks about how a marriage can be snuck up on when you start sharing things with a friend or co-worker that used to only be shared with your spouse and that opens the door for physical intimacy. It's a great section and another take on this beyond sex. I've looked at love from both sides now - to quote Joan Mitchell. It's not easy. Fidelity requires discipline and its easy for some not to be disciplined. We break up our own marriages and lives by not being careful, dedicated, honest, etc. Affairs can often be symptoms for other things. Great post and great comments.

  35. @ Can-Can - thanks for the book - sounds great. I agree affairs are symptoms of other things. And relationships are hard work.

  36. Hi Lilly
    The context is all. This is an area where it's impossible to generalise, I believe.
    June in Oz

  37. It takes two to tango. In my situation, I blame them both. Perhaps it was meant to be. It is what it is. So be it.

  38. @ June - maybe its my experience but I dont think you can generalise about being honest. Affairs wouldnt matter if it was an agreement between both parties. there is nothign more painful then matters of the heart.

    @ Joyce - Sorry for your pain. I think it is true it is meant to be. People come into our lives for a reason and they also leave our lives for a reason. Its hard getting to that point but it sounds like you are there. Thanks for visiting.

  39. Hello Lilly, it is so nice to see you.

    Marriage is a contract between the husband and the wife. No one else can break that but the couple themselves.

  40. lily;

    Love having your blog to read again, On your subject, I also always wondered whay women always blame the other women. There is blame on each side for sure, but if the man didn't unsip in another womens bed then there would'nt be an affair! Why is it always the womens responsibility on sex. It takes two baby! If it was my husband,I would blame him.
    PS I also get mad when I hear the excuse if you had sex more often then your man wouldn't cheat. Come on !!!!

  41. Grrrreat site, very upbeat and VERY different to my murder blog...oh well, not everyone can be upbeat, right? (wink, wink)

    If you're ever inclined for Murder, Manson-style (TLB2)or for a virtual cocktail at my Social Commentary blog (B3), stop by my blogs any old time. I can't promise upbeat but I might serve as the Ying to your Yang!!!

    Cordially, (If Not Entirely Sober!)

    High Chief Mucky-Muck of

    Burb's Buck & Buntline Inn (B3)

    2nd Official Tate-LaBianca Murders Blog (TLB2)

  42. See? This is why I adore you. You're just like me! lol!!!

    Well written! I agree completely!

  43. Lilly, I believe you asked for more info on the Peru trip I mentioned a post or two ago. I justed posted more pics and info on it.
    thanks for asking.

  44. I agree entirely about the question of honesty and yes, as you say, down the line, we should perhaps have the courage to try to "renegotiate our contracts" if one or both partners have changed part of his or her outlook on things - and face the consequences of course. But how few people are that tough - even that hard hearted?

    Sex is undoubtedly not truly vital to anyone - male or female - but it's still one hell of a big and important part of life to discover that you've given up without realising it.

    Circumstances vary enormously, but I can think of few situations where the "other" man or woman has anything much to do with it. It is the partners themselves who are at fault, or maybe just the relationship itself, but certainly not any third party.

  45. I'm glad that I'm gay. ;) It’s not that women can’t cheat, but most my age seem to be faithful. Thank God!


Thanks for your comments.