In Semi-Defense of “The Other Woman” [Sexy Time]

After reading about this woman who’s only had affairs with married men, I’ve been obsessed with reading stories about women who have been the other woman. What always strikes me about these articles in many of the women who write about their experiences don’t really see their behavior as problematic.  The typical rationalizations are that they’re not the ones who made a commitment to be faithful, or that because the men were the ones who initiated it, they’re absolved of all responsibility. Seeing as how I was staunchly Team Angelina, I definitely have a history of sympathy towards alleged “homewreckers”, but I can’t say I’m totally comfortable with the idea that women who are accomplices to cheaters have done nothing wrong.

What women who go for attached men tend to cite as the benefits of their arrangement are the fact that they know exactly what they’re getting into. They know the guy isn’t exclusive, so there are no trust concerns. They get all of the benefits of a relationship – the sex and no-strings-attached companionship – minus the day-to-day conflicts and banalities. It’s essentially a friends-with-benefits situation, with the added thrill of taboo betrayal. Some women find the sneaking around and the secretive nature of affairs to be exciting and fun. While that’s certainly not my cup of tea, I can see how someone could find that kind of relationship appealing.

I also understand why some women sincerely don’t believe they’re not doing anything wrong. I don’t buy that homewrecking actually exist. I hate the idea that women are evil temptresses who cast their evil spells on unsuspecting men. If a guy strays, that is 100 percent his fault.  Adults have agency. No matter how alluring someone is, you always have the option to decline, or to pursue the opportunity after breaking up with your significant other. Without a doubt, the person in the relationship bears the vast majority of the responsibility in maintaining it.  It seems the main reason the concept of homewrecking continues to thrive is because it’s easier to consider an outsider as a moral failure than it is to reach the conclusion that the person you fell for didn’t respect you/your relationship enough to honor it. That’s a brutal reality to face, and, understandably, some people would rather not do so.

That being said, I personally could never knowingly play the role of the other woman. I value integrity. While the onus certainly isn’t on me to maintain anyone else’s relationship, it’s basic courtesy to stay away from people who are taken. I mean, it would be like if I saw a cupcake that was labeled with someone’s name, and I decided to subtly nibble on it behind their back (except at least the cupcake doesn’t have a brain, while the cheating partner does). I was accidentally the other woman once and I was completely disgusted with both myself and the guy. I didn’t consent to be someone else’s side project, and I can’t see myself ever being comfortable in that role. And, as someone who’s in a long-term monogamous relationship, I would be livid/incredibly hurt if I found out my boyfriend had taken it upon himself to pursue someone else while we were together. I can’t imagine putting someone in the position of stumbling across incriminating texts/receipts/etc because I couldn’t say no to someone who was already taken.  Ultimately, however, the role of other woman only exists because shady people who can’t be monogamous exist, so I can only judge the other woman so much.  This is definitely a moral gray area where both sides have valid perspectives.

[Lead image via conrado/Shutterstock]



    1. Lindsey says:

      You obviously have never been in this situation. I think you're wrong: the "other woman" carries just as much responsibility as the cheating man. She could have declined, as you say, to enable the crumbling of the relationship, to assist in the breakdown of love and trust. "Other women" are no less to blame.

      1. Chris says:

        Sometimes the "other woman" truly doesn't know about the relationship because of lies/deception by the man. In those cases the man is to blame.

      2. Songstress says:

        That is true. But if she doesn't get out the minute she discovers the truth then she is from that point on, also to blame.

    2. Nicole Devereaux says:

      Lindsey, I have been in this position and I think you're wrong. I think the idea is that if 2 partners are fully devoted to each other then there is no room for the other woman anywhere in that equation. It never even becomes anything unless the initial relationship is weakened.

      1. Songstress says:

        Regardless, girls should have more respect for themselves than to even want to be the other woman. If a relationship is weak, do you really want to be no more than the atalyst that breaks it up ultimately? Even if then the guy and you do start a relationship, will there never be doubt in your mind that one of you will do the same thing in the future? It's just not worth it on so many levels. I know when people are in rationalization mode they probably won't hear this but if it gets through to even one person, it's worth it to say it.

      2. Songstress says:


    3. Elrig says:

      Unfortunately, I happen to be one of those women who often seems to be "the other woman." It can happen several ways… I've never sought out to be a homewrecker (nor have I ever really wrecked a home) but there is no way to sum up all the situations with one basic statement of who is to blame.

      My longest relationship was with a man who was living with his girlfriend of 10 years. He told me it was all but over with her, and that he was leaving her, but that it was difficult since they were "practically married." I loved him, and I let him string me along for months, until I finally realized I was being an idiot.

      Another instance was when a guy I was seeing was in an open long-distance relationship… or so he said. I'm sure he wasn't outright lying, but eventually we stopped seeing each other. Though not after I got too attached and started hoping they would break up.

      In the most recent instance, my friend has cheated on 2 of his girlfriends with one night stands with me. It's a difficult situation… we see each other every few weeks, and when we do, there's undeniable chemistry. The first time we hooked up was a week after meeting each other. He deliberately hid the fact that he had a girlfriend from me. The second time around, I had learned about more about his womanizing ways, so when he told me about the new girlfriend (halfway through hooking up), in my mind, all I could think was "well obviously she's another one who doesn't mean anything to him if he's here with me." I learned later that, though he had regularly cheated on all his girlfriends before this one, I was the first and last time he ever cheated on her.

      I do feel guilty. People can roll their eyes and say I don't… whatever they want, but I do feel bad. So why don't I own up and just stop doing it? Again, I wish I could just simplify it, but in the moment, there are always a thousand reasons to do it, while there's only the one reason–the girlfriend– not to.

      It started early for me, and I have no doubts that it came from a terrible dating past. My first few relationships as a teen (including the one with the guy I lost my virginity to) all ended with them cheating on me. Yeah, I was devastated. Then my best friend, and the guy I considered to be the love of my life, entered into a relationship. We spent a lot of time together, and eventually, he initiated hookup. It only happened once while he was in a relationship, but many years later, I had to ask him… why was I only ever good enough to be the other woman? His response? He loved me too much to ruin our friendship with a relationship. Right. We still talk, years later, having recently reconnected, and we have a pseudo-romantic pen-pal relationship. But we live on opposite ends of the earth, so for now we leave it at that.

      For a while, every time I got cheated on or used for cheating, I would get more and more angry with myself for letting it happen to me. So eventually, I decided to own it. This article is great in that it hits the nail on the head on one very important point… I know exactly what I'm getting into when I'm the other woman. Guys don't feel the need to promise me anything if I don't make them, and when they're not in bed next to me, I usually know exactly where they are. As the other woman, if you're not letting your partner string you along, YOU have all the power in the relationship.

      I don't actively seek out unavailable men. I recently got out of a 7 month long relationship with someone who had eyes for me and only me. Due to our situations, I definitely kept it as casual as possible, however. Unfortunately, his job forced him to move, and I was not ready to continue something long distance…

      Ultimately, could talk for hours about each case and how it didn't seem so bad at the time and whatnot… but I really just came to say that I disagree with Lindsey. Only the man (or woman, if roles are reversed) who is cheating is the one to blame. I'm not saying that the other woman isn't doing something wrong, but I don't believe they are to blame for any issues in a relationship that they are not a part of. What people don't see is that it's very rare for "the other woman" to form any part of a situation within the original couple. What the other woman has is completely outside of what the cheater and his SO have. And, continuing off of that, the only one who truly knows anything about the relationship between a cheater and his SO is the cheater. And the SO.

      Relationships are too intricate and varied to be able to categorize any behavior as being inherently good or bad, but the only one who can give the effects of cheating any true context is the person doing it. They are the only ones who are making a truly informed decision to cheat, and therefore they are the only ones who can be blamed for the fallout, or, if there is none, the simple morality of the situation.

      1. Karen says:

        Absolutely perfectly said. I want to be friends with you, I think you hit the nail on the head, 100%.

    4. Danielle says:

      I think the other woman is still to blame. If she knows that the man is in a relationship and she goes along with it, she is still going behind another woman's back and I strongly believe that's wrong. Of course the guy holds most of the blame but the woman is by no means off the hook.

      1. Boys_R_Stupid says:

        The thing is if the guy loves that girl as much as the girl thinks, no amount of booty-shaking, cat calling, or temptation will sway him. I'm sorry if a guy is cheating, it isn't the other woman's fault. If anything the girl in the relationship might not be giving him something emotionally so he is finding it in someone else. Or the guy is just a douchebag. He's going the wrong way about it and being a total tool in the process.

        I think in these cases both girls need to move on because there is something seriously wrong with the guy.

        Plus you have to consider that in most of these cases the other woman is convinced that she is better than his girl, since he obviously is not in a committed relationship.

        But I digress, I believe that other woman scenarios are not morally wrong provided that no one is actually married. Relationships are just that, and they don't always last. And if a gal rolls on by and a guy wants her, there is no reason why he has to be in a relationship with the girl he started with.

        But if he doesn't dump his girlfriend, then he's a ass and you have to move on. And the gal can keep her shitty boyfriend.

    5. Rose says:

      Just a quick question: How is this defending "The Other Woman" at all? I don't see it here.

      I am not saying that the other woman is totally blameless unless she actually thinks the guy is single and he has told her so. I am just saying you haven't defended anyone here. You haven't said you are on the Other Woman's side at all. You basically just said she was doing something wrong and she knows it.

      You might want to re-title this article.

    6. Liony says:

      I think it's important to separate the idea of wrongness and the idea of fault.

      I was knowingly the Other Woman once, and while I'm really sorry about having been involved with it and I was wrong for being part of something that hurt his girlfriend, I don't accept that it was my fault, and wouldn't have been even if I had full-on seduced him. The blame lies on the one who is unfaithful, even if both are wrong.

    7. Layla says:

      Both are to blame. Why do you have to owe something to the person who has an unfaithful partner to say no? If you are participating in an affair with someone who is taken, you are selfishly disregarding the feelings of another innocent party – and you shouldn't have to know that innocent party, or care about them, for that to be wrong.

    8. Kris says:

      Elrig you nailed it.
      Lindsey…don't judge if you don't understand or never been in the situation…its not always as easy as yes or no, black or white. Walk a mile in her shoes before you dismiss her. Do you blame an abused woman for being battered because she should know better and just walk away once it happens once?

      Emotions and relationships are too multi-dimensional for right n wrong.

      I've been on both sides and while yes being cheated on hurt immensely it made me a stronger person. You don't ever know who "the other woman" is…she could be the receptionist at your dentist office or even the dentist.

      And if you want the truth I think monogamy is an archaic concept. People grow and change, things that once were important aren't anymore, new things are…its not wrong its just life. If two people DO stay together and are gloriously happy…you found a unicorn let me tell you.

      and hey…why isn't the other MAN as chastised? hmmm?

    9. Songstress says:

      wow. It actually is black and white and I know it is because I've lived the in the gray area in my younger years and now completely regret ever flirting with a married man. Though I never went so far as to have an affair, I still was in an emotional affair in the sense that both he and I went way too far with flirting, hand holding etc. Now when I look back it's so clear to me how wrong my actions were. If someone is married or in a committed relationship, you make a conscious effort not to flirt with them and if there is an attraction you do notr pursue it. That isn't a hard thing to do if the intention is there. The other woman and the man she's cheating with share the blame equally it doesn't matter whp ursued who first it's the fact that an affira is going on that shouldn't be. The one exception is the author's case where she had no idea the man was attached.

      Also, for your own self-esteem, self-worth and mental health, just don't get yourself into this situation in the first place. You deserve better than to be someone's "Other woman". Find an unattached guy who wants to be only with you and you only with him. No matter how thrilling the chase might seem or how hot "forbidden fruit" might seem think about the people's lives you're affecting and the fact that you are the other woman because someone still chooses to be with the person they're with. You deserve better than that. So please for the sake of everyone involved just stay away from the entire situation.

      I've never been cheated on personally I just have this perspective from life experience.

      1. Songstress says:

        To what Nicole above said, I agree that affairs are a rarity where a healthy relationship exists, however, either way, just stay out of the situation. It isn't worth being the person that breaks that relationship up and you deserve better than to be someone's catalyst for a break up which is essentially what you're being as The other Woman.

    10. Songstress says:

      wow. It actually is black and white and I know it is because I've lived in the gray area in my younger years and now completely regret ever flirting with a married man. Though I never went so far as to have an affair, I still was in an emotional affair in the sense that both he and I went way too far with flirting, hand holding etc. Now when I look back it's so clear to me how wrong my actions were. If someone is married or in a committed relationship, you make a conscious effort not to flirt with them and if there is an attraction you do not pursue it. That isn't a hard thing to do if the intention is there. The other woman and the man she's cheating with share the blame equally it doesn't matter who pursued who first it's the fact that an affair is going on that shouldn't be. The one exception is the author's case where she had no idea the man was attached.

      As for Elrig above, you're rationalizing your actions and you're headed on a path that is only going to lead to you being treated badly. Whether or not a guy is happy in his relationship, if there's a relationship there, do not flirt with him. It really is that simple. I used to htink it wasn't too, but it is. Just don't see your friend anymore who keeps cheating on his girlfriends with you. Also, he isn't your friend once you've slept with him.
      Actions speak louder than words, no matter what these guys say, how sweet it might be, how many gifts they give you, if they're not leaving the girl, you are not who they ultimately choose. Just don't get into the situation in the first place where you're waiting to be chosen by a taken guy. Guys tend to be very hypocritical with this stuff. They might tell you all sorts of things but if you're willing to be the girl they cheat with, right or wrong they usually will not respect you because to them it means you don't respect yourself and your body. Please, date guys who aren't in a relationships, supposedly "open" or not. If you're constantly drawn to being the other woman you need to ask yourself why and what underlying issues you have that make you want to do that. A good psychologist can help a lot with this. I wish you the best!

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