The other woman.

PIN ITInfidelity. Some say it’s human nature, and I suppose they are right, in a way. Lust and hormones and all that goes with them are a large part of what makes us the living, breathing, mistake-making animals that we are.

If you’ve been reading Inked for a while you will know that in December my excitement at having my family together again was quickly turned to pain when I discovered that my husband had been having an affair. The minefield of emotional turmoil that followed was one of the most difficult things I have ever had to navigate myself through.

In the spirit of full disclosure I’m comfortable enough to come forward and say yes, I have cheated before (I am thankfully still friends with this old teenage boyfriend and have apologised profusely for the past ten years, he might have even forgiven me by now… maybe… either way I definitely still owe him a few rounds at the bar). I have been on both sides of this hurtful coin. I was very young and I was stupid and I did not treat myself or others with the respect that we all deserve, I was learning. I was on my own journey. But that’s another story.

I want to talk about our terrible attitude toward the other woman. Which may seem odd, seeing as so many of you would believe that it was an “other woman” who ended my marriage. But that’s not how I see it. I have talked to this “other woman,” in fact I had contact with her as soon as I discovered what had happened, it was the only way I could get access to the truth. I contacted her with respect and empathy and honesty. Because she is another human being, she is a person with her own morals and values and because she too, like me, has feelings. She had feelings for my husband. She had feelings that deserved respect.

I’m sick of seeing my Facebook news feed littered with woman-hate. Women hating on other women because of choices their partners made. Women hating on other women because of how the dress or the amount of make up they wear. Women calling other women awful, disrespectful, shameful names in public. Women they don’t even know. Women who they blame for the breakdown of their relationship.

But if we are playing the blame-game. I think we are getting it all wrong… and putting the fight for equality and women’s rights back a thousand steps whilst we are at it.

Infidelity is, in my opinion, the ultimate betrayal. The person having an affair knows that the relationship is ending, how could they not? They are the one who gets to make all the plays. They get to make all the decisions. The unknowing partner, is in most cases, completely in the dark. Like I was. When they discover the truth, the sky falls. In one minute, your life changes, irreparably. Every experience suddenly becomes rearranged. All of a sudden memories are tainted. Trust is destroyed. A persons self-worth takes a huge beating. Mine did. I’m still working on building it back up. Slowly. I know that it will take a lot for me to trust a partner again. It will take a long time to get there.

This complete upheaval is traumatic. So it’s no surprise that so many people find it easier to blame the person you are not in love with. Of course it is. It’s easier to blame the “other woman.”I know I was tempted. But I knew it wasn’t her fault. Sure, she shouldn’t have done what she did, and she knows that. But it wasn’t her responsibility to be faithful to me. It wasn’t her responsibility, it was his. So as much as her actions hurt me. I cannot blame her. I will never know the full extent of what was said to her, the stories that were told to her, the promises that were made to her, the private moments that they shared. I know more than enough as it is.

When I think about her, it hurts. Sure. It hurts. But do I blame her? No. Do I want to be her friend? No. But that’s OK. I don’t know her, I have never met her and although I know a lot about her, I wouldn’t recognise her if I walked past her in the street. Would I ever be cruel to her? No. I wouldn’t. I spent a few days talking to her via email after everything happened. Getting a lot of information that was very difficult for me to read, and I’m sure, given the information that I have given back, it wasn’t easy for her to write the words that she did either. She was grieving her own private grief too. We both lost something we though we had.

It took a week or so before I was ready to tell my friends what had happened. When I started sharing my own story, the women who I told immediately wanted to know about the “other woman”. They wanted to know what she looked like, where they had met, how old she was. They wanted to call her names and bash her and beat her down. They wanted to attack. To protect me from the hurt that had been caused.

Most women who sleep with married men, are women who have been pursued by married men. Most women who sleep with married men don’t know the truth about his relationship. Most women who sleep with married men are not temptresses out there to seduce and steal someone elses man.

In this case, the woman is not to blame. Regardless of what we are lead to believe, men actually do have complete control over their pants. They can choose to keep them on. Just like we can.

So let’s stop bashing each other. Let’s stop using names like slut and bitch and whore for each other. Let’s stop tearing each other apart. Let’s stop competing with each other and please let us stop feeding the woman hate. I’m not saying that we all have to be a part of some sort of fairy tale sisterhood where we all have to be best friends because we are packing the same genitalia. I couldn’t be more disgusted by the motto my male friends used to go by in highschool, ‘bro’s before hoes,’ (I seriously hope they have grown out of this one by now). Creating a female equivalent (chicks before dicks perhaps?) is just as repulsive. But we don’t have to hate on each other either.

If we hate on each other all the time, and drag each other down and blame each other instead of putting the responsibility on the person (regardless of gender) who is actually at fault. If we continue to verbally bash other women, in both the private and the public spheres what are we teaching our sons about respecting women? What are we teaching our daughters about respecting themselves?

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  • May 27, 2013 - 7:03 am

    Sarah Martin (@SuperGirlSarah) - I was recently on the other side of your situation, only he didn’t cheat. He had already ended it. She doesn’t think that nor believe it. What followed was over a year of hate. Even for awhile she turned his whole family against me (which is now my family as we’re married). It was awful. I hadn’t done anything wrong, but not in her mind. In her mind the relationship didn’t end because of what they had was over, but because I ended it for her. They couldn’t get back together, as if they ever were going to, because I was in the way. To this day all those names you said, she still thinks of me as. She’ll still say nasty things, be aggressive, post things to get me to say things back, got people I’ve never met to hate me, followed us places for quite awhile, told lies to so many strangers even in a town of nearly a million people some managed to get back to me and were hurtful, etc. We had to move, change the places we shop, and be careful of how much we even tell some of our own family, just so that she wont find out, because the hate is that intense.
    It’s ugly being on either side of that situation when one side can’t get passed the hurt and find closure.
    I’m glad you’re better than that and moving passed it, no matter how fast or slow, you’ve got one up on just about every other person I’ve met in your situation.ReplyCancel

    • May 27, 2013 - 8:55 pm

      Sash - Thanks Sarah. I’m sorry your situation was so messy. It’s hard being on both sides of it, particularly if you haven’t done anything “wrong” but are still copping the blame. Feelings of hurt and betrayal run pretty deep, and even if they aren’t justified they can be extraordinarily potent in the hands of some people. xx I hope things are getting brighter and easier for you both now. xxReplyCancel

    • May 28, 2013 - 1:37 am

      Mo - I tip my hat to you. Great words, great insight. Deffinately great food for my thoughts. Thank you for being so open and honest.ReplyCancel

  • May 27, 2013 - 7:29 am

    Prue Gilfillan - Brilliant post. You’ve hit the nail on the head with this one. I remember watching Jerry Springer and being mystified (and yes, highly amused) at the women attacking “the other woman” while their cheating husbands sat calmly by, blameless. I always wished that the two women would actually side with EACH OTHER over this guy who had happily duped them both. Never happened though.

    Thank you for sharing. I’m so sorry for what you’ve been through. I’ve been there as well (I guess most of us have) and it changed me forever.ReplyCancel

    • May 27, 2013 - 8:53 pm

      Sash - Thanks Prue. Jerry Springer is a great example of this craziness! xx I’m sorry for what you’ve been through too. I guess throughout life it happens to most of us. Doesn’t make it any easier… but it is nice to know that other people understand. xReplyCancel

  • May 27, 2013 - 8:21 am

    J - I very much agree with you. Men DO actually have complete control over their pants and choose to keep them on.
    All my past relationships were all full of infidelity on their part. Took me very long to trust my current spouse. Many fights… Many worries. We’re much better now and I trust him more than ever, even though flashbacks still happen and bothers me. This one’s a keeper.
    I very highly admire your strength and maturity.ReplyCancel

    • May 27, 2013 - 8:52 pm

      Sash - Thanks Jash. It’s good to have a keeper! 😉 xoxReplyCancel

  • May 27, 2013 - 8:47 am

    Lila Wolff - I agree with most of what you said, although I believe the blame rests on the person cheating within the relationship I do feel that if you are aware someone is a relationship you have an obligation to step back and hold off until it is truly over. Otherwise you’re showing yourself and everyone else in the situation no respect.
    I’ve been in the position of getting to know one of the “other women” from my first marriage, who was a lovely girl and who I really didn’t blame in the end because infidelity was a symptom of the problems in the relationship not the cause. But at the same time I think it shows weakness of self to be part of cheating. I have held back when there was temptation because that person was in a relationship and if they were unhappy or truly wanted me then they should leave first.
    Like Sarah I have been treated as if the other woman even though between me and this particular woman there had been a lengthy break and several other people. I didn’t find out for a long time what I had been accused of but it had poisoned friendships in the meantime. I can’t imagine how much worse it would have been were I truly playing the part of the other woman.ReplyCancel

    • May 27, 2013 - 8:51 pm

      Sash - I agree with you Lila. Absolutely. Whilst I don’t think “blame” lies with the “other woman” in this case, I do believe that she was in the wrong. Absolutely. Of course it’s not right to be with someone who is in a relationship, it’s pretty immoral. And whichever way it goes, if the relatioship or love is real, then a few weeks/months/whatever won’t make a difference… so keep it in your pants. I absolutely agree.

      My primary issue however is that we are so quick to blame the other woman, without knowing what she knows. When I spoke to this “other woman” the information that she had been given about me/my relationship etc. was so far from the truth it was shocking (to both of us). She knew she was doing the wrong thing, but given the circumstances that she had been told… thought it wasn’t all that bad, really.

      On the other hand if the “other woman” (or “other man”) knows the people in a relationship, knows of their relationship, knows the innocent party (as is so often the case with friends sleeping with each others husbands/wives/etc) then the “blame” falls on both parties. Both parties are in a relationship with the innocent party and both are betraying that trust. I know so many cases of this happening, it’s awful, and it’s awful how often women discard each other like rubbish just to hold onto a (disloyal) man.

      Women treat each other terribly. I’m so sorry that happened to you. I remember when I was just out of high school that happening to me to. To the extent a group of “mean girls” kicked in the lights on my car because I was dating a boy that they wish they were dating… they had never even been in a relationship with him. So crazy.ReplyCancel

  • May 27, 2013 - 2:23 pm

    Abeer - i applaud you for writing such a brave post. it takes alot of courage to get to this point of sanity where you are. you are very admirable and inspirational. what a mom Bo has! she would be so proud of you.ReplyCancel

    • May 27, 2013 - 8:45 pm

      Sash - Thanks Abeer 🙂ReplyCancel

  • May 27, 2013 - 4:14 pm

    bromba - You are very smart and very strong person to be writing this post, thank you for that. I really wish my mum would read it, as she is one of those women who put (most) of the blame on the other woman. I tried to tell her most of what you say in you post in the past – but without any success. Also I think is a bit degrading to men if we think them not capable to take responsibility for they own actions.ReplyCancel

    • May 27, 2013 - 8:42 pm

      Sash - Degrading, sure it is! It also just feeds our societal expectations that men don’t have control of their penises… the woman is always the whore, the man is always the hero/victim (depending on who you speak to).ReplyCancel

  • May 27, 2013 - 5:30 pm

    Panna - Your calm and mature approach to such visceral pain is admirable.
    I completely agree that name calling is useless and that he’s the one with commitments, not her.
    That being said I never ever tried to hit on a guy or accepted his advances if I knew he had a girlfriend or a wife. And just because of the simple fact that when I’m in a relationship I want to feel completely free and liberated and not have a guilty conscience that my actions somehow contributed to another person’s pain.
    You’re absolutely right, it’s not the other woman that ends the marriage, and what we should realize is by not hating her, we’re not doing her a favour, but ourselves and our children.
    If you take advice from a stranger: don’t let this hurtful experience affect your future relationships with men. They are not your (ex)husband. Don’t carry this baggage with you. You’re a fantastic young woman and I’m sure you’ll find great love soon.ReplyCancel

    • May 27, 2013 - 8:40 pm

      Sash - Hey Panna, thanks for the advice. I’m sure one day I’ll find a great love, but I’m not ready yet. When I am, I’m sure I’ll be able to keep my head screwed on enough to know (logically at least) that the indiscretions of the past do not for-tell any indiscretions in the future… I hope.ReplyCancel

  • May 27, 2013 - 7:18 pm

    Hannah - Beautifully Written 🙂 Brilliantly Put 🙂 Love you alwaysReplyCancel

    • May 27, 2013 - 8:38 pm

      Sash - Love you right back my friend. xReplyCancel

  • May 28, 2013 - 10:50 am

    andrea - much respect to you Sash.
    as i was reading this i was thinking about what happened to me and as much as i tried to think i shouldn’t blame the “other woman” i just couldnt do it. i blame them both. and still hate them. yes hate is a strong word, but the two destroyed the dreams i had of my family. and it happened the whole time i was pregnant and continued after my little one was born. how do i not blame the woman who would come to my own home with my newborn there and have sex with my babys father while i was working? its disgusting to just think about it.ReplyCancel

    • May 28, 2013 - 11:20 am

      Sash - Oh Andrea. My heart aches. My husband brought his other woman into our home too, into our bed, surrounded by a cot and all of our things. It’s sickening isn’t it? Bo and I had already left though. I can’t imagine the feeling, knowing you had then slept in that bed, in a bed of lies. It’s awful. The woman should have known better, no matter the lies she was (or wasn’t) being told. She should have known better. You’re right, it’s disgusting.

      I’m so sorry that happened to you. So sorry. xReplyCancel

      • May 29, 2013 - 5:26 am

        andrea - it is sickening and disgusting.i don’t understand how some women and men can do this. especially knowing they are breaking up a FAMILY. why did this woman not think about my baby boy? why did she not put herself in my shoes? i even moved out of those apartments because my neighbors knew and everytime i went outside and they seen me i kept thinking how dumb they probably thought i was. sorry, it just feels awful. almost like it was just yesterday i found out:/ReplyCancel

  • May 28, 2013 - 8:46 pm

    Layla - Thank you for sharing this. I think about the idea of women hating women so much and wonder how we have gotten to this place. Of course the other woman should have known better, but how brave and empowering for you to make it less about her and more about you and your partner in the relationship.

    I taught high school for a while and had continuous battle with the young women in my classes who constantly called each other bitch, ho, slut, dumb and ugly – in a light-hearted way. How can we respect one another let alone ask for a partner’s respect when all we do is bash each other for the sake of our own self-esteem? We have been conditioned and trained to search for validation in the words and actions of others, while we have the power to do it on our own… not in a sisterhood of traveling pants, but with honest and thoughtful words and actions towards those in our lives. With honest respect for all other humans.ReplyCancel

  • May 28, 2013 - 10:28 pm

    sassandspice - I’m so sorry to hear what happened. Your ex ultimately held all the cards in the end. He was the one lying and betraying this own family. And even though this woman isn’t to blame, she did have a choice too especially if she knew he had a family.

    My friend was married (been with the guy for 10 years) and during their world wide trip, he left her in Thailand. She found out he had been cheating on her but he was too much of a coward to tell her back home. We convinced them to come to Perth (they lived in London) and we found out all these web of lies that he spun not only to her but to all of his friends in order to cover his tracks. The other woman tried to add us on Facebook to tell her side of the story but we weren’t interested. We were dealing with so much already and felt betrayed by our friend.

    So I always blame the person who held all the cards in the end…the ‘other person’ doesn’t end the marriage…ReplyCancel

  • May 28, 2013 - 10:54 pm

    Art of Guesture: I am not a Bitch - […] I read this post about a woman who recently found out about her husband’s infidelity. She is heartbroken and […]ReplyCancel

  • July 18, 2013 - 1:14 pm

    Inked in Colour: What we already know but still don’t believe… - […] notes in our heads about looks and we (as a society) make snap judgements about them. We have so little respect for each other and it’s so unbelievably sad because it is a direct reflection of how much respect we have […]ReplyCancel

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