“I Was The Other Woman”

Sure, everyone knows it’s wrong to go for a guy who’s already taken. But hey, it happens—and here’s the truth about the experience.

By Maggie Kim

grew up watching those sleazy, made-for-TV movies whose storylines usually involved a home-wrecking hussy (usually bottle-blond) who unleashed havoc on a happy marriage with her cheap charms and gold-digging ways. As a Catholic-school-bred teenager, I couldn’t imagine what would drive someone to steal another woman’s man. So imagine my surprise when a scant decade later, I became one of those hot-to-trot hussies, involved in a scandalous love drama with no happy end in sight.

The Other Woman holds a unique, nearly invisible place in society and when it comes to affairs, the blame, shame and scarlet letter are squarely placed on her shoulders. I don’t have much defense for my actions other than the naïveté — some would say, stupidity — of being a young woman who believed herself madly in love with the man of her dreams, who just happened to be married.

In those TV movies, the wanton woman usually gets what’s coming to her, whether it’s a jail sentence or an overwrought gunfight in which she’s the loser. In real life, I can tell you that the end is possibly even more painful than most breakups. Unlike a rift with an actual boyfriend, you won’t get much sympathy for your shattered heart because if anyone knew of the relationship, he or she most likely disapproved, and there’s not even the solace of knowing that your ex is as miserable and alone as you are. Because you know he’s gone back to his home and his wife. Here are some other hard lessons you’ll learn if you date a man who’s spoken for.

Lesson #1: It’s about sex, not love
As romantic as a head-over-heels love affair can first seem, it ultimately devolves into tawdry and quick assignations during his lunch hour or as his post-work workout. He already has a relationship and simply doesn’t have the time to cultivate another one.
As enticing as an illicit affair can first seem, it ultimately devolves into quickies during his lunch hour.
“When you’re so rushed for time because he has to get home for dinner, there’s not much you can do together but have sex,” explains Sue C., 31, from New Jersey. “So he comes over, you have sex, talk for a bit and then he showers and goes back to his wife. Cuddling? As if.” And isn’t luxuriating in the post-sex afterglow one of the best parts about intimacy? Granted, affair sex is almost inherently hot because of its forbidden element, but once that wears off, you’re feeling alone and empty.

Lesson #2: Don’t call him, he’ll call you
“What I hated most about having an affair was that I couldn’t reach my lover when I wanted to,” gripes Katya G., 29, from New York City. “I couldn’t call his office because he didn’t want anyone there to know about me or have any suspicions and, of course, I didn’t even have his home number. And if he didn’t want to talk to me, all he had to do was turn off his cell phone. It drove me crazy that I’d have to wait for him to call me back when it was convenient for him.” I can sympathize with her problem since I went through the same thing. Even though I could reach my married man via cell, I didn’t call too frequently in case his wife was around. He’d usually ring me up for a brief chat when he stepped outside his apartment for a smoke. And those brief chats just don’t satisfy your need for emotional reassurance after yet another sex (and nothing but sex) encounter.

Lesson #3: Saturday night? Try Wednesday afternoon
Get used to staying in. It’s not a cliché that you’re “sneaking around” when you’re having an affair. There’s no such thing as a romantic dinner out or strolling hand-in-hand in the park together. You may be in love, but you certainly won’t be shouting it from the rooftops or even from any neighborhood bar. “We could never go out, especially on the weekends,” says Sue. “Obviously, Saturday night was date night for him and his wife, so there was no way that was happening. Mainly, he’d come over to my place sometime during the week and we’d maybe get a few hours to hang out together. Those were our dates.” For me, too, the only time we’d get to go out in public would be when his wife was out of town—and it was usually at a dive bar or hole-in-the-wall restaurant where there was no chance of us running into anyone we knew. The food was never that great, either.

Lesson #4: You’ll get plenty of alone time
Affairs are bad and everyone knows it, so when you start one, you become pretty selective when it comes to telling
I knew he’d never leave her. And in hindsight, I don’t think I wanted
him to.
anyone about “your new boyfriend.” I remember telling a few close friends, and as hard as they tried to be supportive, I knew that they didn’t understand, were disappointed, or completely disapproved. So I went into secret mode and didn’t tell anyone where I’d be or what I was doing, in case I was with “him” or in case he was calling me to let me know he could come see me for a bit. It was very isolating to not be able to share something so huge, and emotionally painful, that was going on in my life with my friends. At the same time, I was so obsessed with when I’d be able to see him again that I freed up my schedule entirely, forgoing time with friends, so I could be available when he was. And that’s just sad.

Lesson #5: Get ready for gut-wrenching guilt
If you have any sort of conscience, the guilt of what you’re doing will gnaw away at you. As much as I tried to justify my affair as the price of true love, the presence of his wife soon became very concrete and unbearable. He’d have to call her sometimes from my place to explain away his lateness, and I’d go into the other room and feel seedy. I also spent an inordinate amount of time on Google, looking for pictures, history, anything about this woman who was my rival as well as the blameless victim in this whole mess. I think that’s what eventually led me to breaking off the affair. I couldn’t deal with the guilt of it and the harm I was causing another women, whether she knew about it or not. I also knew he’d never leave her. And in hindsight, I don’t think I wanted him to—and that’s really the only positive thing I can say about the whole mess.

Maggie Kim is a reformed Other Woman. She’s also a rock musician ( who got a lot of song material from her sordid past.
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