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]