Wife with other woman

I’m a bastard. No question. The facts speak for themselves. On a Monday night in May, two years ago, I told my wife of the affair I’d been having for six months. By Thursday of the same week I was gone. I had left my 13-year-old marriage, my nine-year-old son and my eight-year-old daughter for a woman five years my junior. What a bastard.

Since leaving I have, inevitably, found myself in conversation with many other bastards. In fact we’re quite a club. We seem to have unerring radar which picks each other out at work, at parties, or in idle chat with strangers. We all tell our tale with an oddly matter-of-fact air. It’s the same kind of tone with which soldiers relate war stories. To those who’ve never been in battle, the matter-of-factness of military men is incomprehensible; it’s as if soldiers have been to a place so incomprehensibly traumatic they have entered another plane – one of stunned serenity. And so it is when listening to the leaver bastards.

But what’s striking, as they unfold their tales, is that they’re not bastards at all. This should hardly come as a surprise since truly terrible people are few and far between. Yet why is it we’re so eager to stigmatise the leaver, and to damn them without a thought? Even though marital break-up is common, and even though “two sides to every story” is as well-worn as any cliche, we still seem to want to promote the idea that relationships fail because one person is to blame.

In the case of my own marital break-up, my wife managed to carve a whole new career out of the seemingly indisputable truth that my departure made me a bastard. Although not a journalist by trade, she began a weekly column in the Independent entitled “Beloved and Bonk”. Under the pen name Stevie Morgan, she told the tragicomic, Posy Simmondsesque tale of how her once-decent hubby became a reckless cad – leaving her standing in her wellies in the lanes of Devon for a younger, more beautiful metropolitan mistress.

After the column came the book. There was clearly an appetite for the claim of a woman, not known to any reader, that her husband left her just because he had been turned soft in the head by the sensual blend of bright lights and sweeter skin.

Needless to say (though of course the whole point of being a bastard leaver is that you don’t get to say it) the reality was a little different. During our marriage my wife had been repeatedly unfaithful, and permanently unhappy. Often she would conjecture that we’d be much happier apart. When I began working in London, she insisted we move from our home in Bristol to Devon. When I protested that I would see less of her and the children, she replied simply: “So?” She refused to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary on the grounds that “there was nothing to celebrate”. Later, we both confessed to having fantasised about the other dying so that we could be with the children, but be rid of the marriage.

When I sat down to tell her of my infidelity on that fateful Monday evening, I was meaning to tell her the affair was over, and that I was sorry. But even as I tried to do so, I realised something had happened – something fatal to our marriage. In my new relationship with someone else, I had experienced emotions and seen possibilities I never knew existed. Never mind whether my relationship with this new person continued or not, I knew I would never feel the same again about what a marriage could be.

At that moment I knew I had, as a matter of decency and honesty, to leave. I knew I couldn’t repair my unhappy marriage because, through my new relationship, I had met myself – and I wasn’t the person who should be with my wife. And so it was that, even if my new lover had refused to take me, I would still that week have left my wife.

I knew this would take some explaining to other people. And I was prepared for strangers, or even acquaintances, to chorus: “What a bastard!” What I wasn’t prepared for were the responses of some of my friends. I thought the shock of my departure would prompt concern to find out what had really been going on. And when, within four months of me going, and even as she began her weekly column, my wife had a new live-in partner, I thought everyone would accept the change as best for both of us. But no – I had left, and to take that action is the unpardonable sin. People I had been close to for years shut me out.

Since talking to other leavers, I realise this experience of rejection is typical. Yet what’s most striking about almost any break-up, when you really go beyond the basic facts of the matter, is that there are no villains. Break-ups almost invariably involve two good people who find themselves in a muddle. Lost in that muddle they may do cruel things; but the really nice man or woman who you were great friends with last week doesn’t become an utter bastard overnight.

Tony Parsons argues that the person (and more particularly the man) who leaves is to a small degree brave, but to the greatest extent a coward. I would claim the reverse. Leaving is cowardly because it is likely to be the precipitous termination of something that should have ended more amicably, mutually and gracefully some time before. By leaving, one person blows a whistle on all the unresolved issues of a relationship, and says: “I’m off.” It is also conspicuously the case that few men simply leave – they almost always leave for someone else.

But leaving also takes enormous courage. Anyone who leaves a long-term relationship has had to ask some pretty profound questions about themselves and what they want from life. They’ve had to make equations out of present misery and potential future happiness, and back their hunch that they have the right answer. They have to know what they want in a way few would ever choose to confront.

When I found myself in the kitchen telling my darling, innocent children, who trust me and love me, that I was going to leave, it was like watching myself draw a sharp blade across their skin. To think of that moment makes me cry to this day. It’s not something nice people do because they suddenly don’t care. It’s what nice people can find themselves doing because they feel they have no choice. At that moment, they may be making calculations about the future happiness of everyone in the room. Who are they to play God like that? But equally, how can they not, when they know the central relationship is dead?

I think in their hearts even those who shout “bastard” know the reality is very different – and that’s precisely why they shout so loud. There’s nothing quite so intimidating as a person who knows their mind. We fear their self-knowledge might be contagious. And we fear that, infected by self-knowledge, we or those we love might also feel the need to change course dramatically. Since almost all of us fear change, it’s no wonder so many reject the one who leaves – the personification of change.

The other evening I was talking about all this with a friend – a fellow bastard. I was saying how, the more divorce stories I hear, the more convinced I am that few who leave their marriages are truly villains. “If you’re looking for the villains,” he said, “look at the ones who don’t leave.” To some degree I think he’s right. We can all think of couples who are still together but who are locked in a mutual dance of unhappiness, bullying or blankness. Their marriages have become self-imprisonment in which both are suffering but neither has the honesty to confront their own misery and try to improve their life by leaving.

When we marry someone we really, really do want it to be for life. Ask the leaver bastards – almost all of them would say they would much rather their marriage had worked out. They didn’t want it to fail. Its failure will have cost them dear; when they leave, they leave behind a home, memories, old friends and routines. They’re likely to find themselves feeling naked, dispossessed and exposed, short of money, friends and a past. It’s like pressing the delete key on a whole chunk of life. To a large extent we are our past, and when we walk away from our past we walk away from a part of ourselves. It’s a little suicide.

That was the choice I made: to commit a little suicide in order to be free of a relationship in which I was dying. It was the most frightening thing I’ve ever done. But I’m glad I did it. What a bastard.

Beloved Bonk

The first instalment of the divorce diary of ‘Stevie Morgan’, as published in the Independent

My husband has just left me, so the dog has begun to chase the chickens again. She has caught the sparks from the thunderbolt that has struck us all. This has meant that at moments of highest drama – such as,
Me: “Don’t you remember making love in the shower when we had a flat full of guests?”
Him: “I never liked that green paint in the bathroom” – we have to break off so I can scream myself hoarse at the bottom of the garden amid squawking fowls and a boxer with neon eyes.

It is the sort of thing we would have laughed ourselves silly over a few weeks ago, but there seems to have been a bit of a sense-of-humour failure since Beloved came home and announced his imminent departure to be with Bonk in a Notting Hill love-nest.

It’s all in a perfectly noble cause, mind you: Personal Growth – his – and as he so very generously says, mine too. Sweet, really. I spent my first night of personal growth lying face down on our lawn chewing grass and keening into the worm casts. I have been doing lots of similar enhanced development work every night since.

Sadly, Beloved finds my reactions a little embarrassing. Having been brave enough to break free from the constraining shackles of marriage, he is standing in a shiny new world washed clean of all the cloying shards of years of wasted past. So when I finally lost it yesterday, and smashed our entire dinner service (very neatly in a skip) and sliced up my arms for good measure, he was tight-lipped. He told me tersely to change my trousers because the children would be upset if they saw the blood. Later he asked if there was anything that “sparked it off”.

At moments like this, headlines flash before my eyes – such as “Aliens stole my husband”. Is this the same man who used to balance peanuts on his nose for my entertainment and do walrus impersonations? Of course, those were the days when M&S boxers were acceptable and he was happy to cycle to work looking a total nerd in one of those back-to-front helmets. Nothing much short of Paul Smith and Calvin Klein on his botty these days, and precious little peanut balancing since he became a weekly boarder in London and could officially say he was a film director. Not a great deal of smiling, either. Do you ever see a film director smiling? I blame it on the nasty corrupting world of freelancedom where they drink testosterone with egomania chasers.

London media freelanceness did for Beloved, poor lamb. He rediscovered the joys of single life, this time not as a poor student but as a grown-up with serious dosh, glam job and a Clerkenwell flat. Coming home to a wife who knows her chickens by name and worries if the wind will snap her rudbeckias must have begun to seem a pretty unattractive option. I mean, compared with giving Bonk a once-over against the glittering backdrop of the City skyline…

So I’m coming to terms with it all by thinking of it as a style decision. A country wife and kids just didn’t fit with Beloved’s Criterion dinners and Armani trews. Like wearing wellies to the Baftas.

So what man would fit my new style? What exactly does match a divorcee with two kids and a rudbeckia fixation? Well, let’s put it this way – ain’t no point ringing Alan Rickman and telling him I’m finally free. Something more countrified might be suitable and more accessible. I’ve never really fancied anything in tweeds but after 20 years of regular delightful bonking and now two weeks without, I may have to lower my standards.

Or would it be simpler to have a sex clause in the divorce settlement agreement? You know, the cost of the mortgage, the Aga service and two sessions every month. I’ll have to ask the lawyer. Watch this space.

• Delphinium Blues, a fictional account of the collapse of a marriage by ‘Stevie Morgan’, is published by Hodder and Stoughton (£6.99).

‘I left my wife for another woman and now my eldest children won’t talk to me’

Question: A few years ago I left my wife for another woman. At the time I didn’t tell my ex why I left, although she did suspect there was another woman. She now knows I am in another relationship and I think she is using this to turn my children against me.

There was no conflict in our marriage, we just grew apart and were sleeping in separate bedrooms. We were like brother and sister and not husband and wife. It was a difficult decision to leave as I adore my children, but to be honest I thought I could have it all when I left. I love my new partner, but now my eldest children (teenagers) won’t talk to me and the youngest seem to just tolerate me.

Sometimes, I resent my current partner because she left her marriage for me, but her children still live with her. I try to stay in touch with my children by messaging them and trying to meet up, but I get stonewalled most of the time. I think my ex should be doing more to encourage them to spend time with me.

I’m still their dad and I want to be part of their lives. Is there anything I can do to make this happen?

Answer: Separation comes at all kinds of costs and you are in receipt of one of the main ones: the children do not simply adjust to the new arrangements and carry on. For children, the parent who leaves has changed their lives forever and they may feel just as abandoned as the spouse.

Send your query anonymously to Trish Murphy

It is likely that the teenagers are trying to give you a sense of what it is like to be them – so they are keeping you out of their loop of care and communication so that you understand the enormity of what has happened to them. It is clear that you love your children but at the moment this love needs to be expressed as patience, understanding and apology. Your children may need to see you suffer somewhat before they feel you have earned the right to their affection.

Children generally thrive when they have an unconscious (or conscious) knowing that they are number one in their parents’ lives. They perhaps feel that this is no longer the case with you and it may take a long time for them to trust that you will put them first again.

Can you talk to your ex-wife about your concerns?

As you have lied to her in the past, it is likely she will be wary of your motives but she will also want what is best for the children. Perhaps some mediation sessions around parenting would be helpful and it would then not be one person’s opinion against another’s. Your best option, to gain your ex’s support in terms of seeing your children, is to be completely honest (as you have been in this letter) as she might feel more obliging towards you if you are upfront and vulnerable. You will need to be consistent and enduring in your determination to be available for your children and thus you will need to take setbacks and rejections as par for the course. If your ex-wife and children see that you are not to be dissuaded from your parenting role, they may soften with time.


Teenagers have very strong opinions about loyalty and so they may need an opportunity to tell you about how they feel. They may struggle with this as they cannot risk you choosing to block them even further (should you be offended) so they may conceal their hurt and abandonment in favour of silence. They need you to listen to them and understand where they are coming from and this will have to be your goal for some time to come.

Being resentful of your new partner is only going to make things more difficult in your new relationship but you may be able to enquire how she, and her ex-partner, manage to share parenting and so you might find some guidance there. All relationships require some sacrifice and usually this is well worth it, eg we have to give up being single to be in a committed relationship. You now exist in a complex set of relationships that will require many things from you including sacrificing your own needs in order to ensure that those close to you thrive and grow.

While this is demanding, love ensures that we have the capacity and potential for the required stretching of our selves. The situation you are in now requires that you reach for your best characteristics: take responsibility for your actions, be honest and apologetic where appropriate and stand solidly over your determination to be the best parent you can be to your children.

It seems that wherever you look these days, men are walking out on faithful wives, cheating on loyal girlfriends, deserting beautiful sons and daughters. And it’s becoming more common.

Some of these men – the adulterous husbands, cheating boyfriends, absent fathers – are irredeemable scum, overgrown adolescents incapable of placing anything above their own satisfaction. But – whisper it – not all of them. Some are merely looking for something they have yet to find. And it is becoming increasingly difficult to tell the bad guys from the regular ones.

There is a cruel and simple truth about the misery modern man so frequently leaves in his wake. There is a reason – it might not be a good reason, but it is a reason nonetheless – for all those broken homes, broken hearts and broken lives. The reason is men expect more from relationships than they ever did in the past.

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Over the past 10 years or so, one of the great philosophical questions has been whether women can have it all. The possibility of achieving that complex balancing act of good career/ happy home has concerned women greatly – not in a dry, theoretical sense, but in the day-to-day slog of real life.

Countless women have attempted to do the job, build the loving relationship, have the children – and maintain it all, simultaneously. And I would hazard a guess that every one has concluded that “having it all” knackers you out. Women have worked out that having it all is more likely to induce a state of permanent fatigue than happiness. But the male of the species has not evolved at quite the same speed, which is why, these days, it is far more likely to be men who dream of the grand passion. And the happy home. The work. The play. The stability. The sex.

If anything, men have a greater sense of entitlement than women. There was a time, back in my father’s day, when a man would have been happy to spend a lifetime providing for his family, when bringing home the bacon would have been reward enough for giving up the perks of singledom. No longer. Today, many men bring home the bacon and wonder why it doesn’t taste like lobster. The routine of family life and all it entails no longer seems enough.

Now a man wants children, but he also wants – and expects – a passionate affair with the mother of those children. Television ads, whether for cereal or a family car, tell him that every husband and wife in this country are shagging each other senseless in between mowing the lawn and reading Where The Wild Things Are to their kids. Why should he be left out? That’s why, if the passion goes, it’s more than likely he will, too.

He might physically go – to another woman whom he will eventually disappoint in the same way, because no honeymoon lasts forever. Or it might just be his emotional luggage he moves out. He might cheat. Or he might simply dream of cheating. But if a man wakes up in the middle of the night panicking that “It’s going to be like this for the next 40 years”, one way or another, he will surely go.

There is an unspoken belief among men these days that fulfilment is their destiny. Their fathers and grandfathers existed on a meagre diet of gruelling work, routine sex, distant children and limited expectations. And that’s just not good enough for the greedy guy of the Nineties.

What do men want these days, then? Too much, probably. But after years of hearing women talking about fulfilment, who’s to say a man doesn’t have the right to dream, too? Men have changed. The men of today are as different from their fathers and grandfathers as women are from their mothers and grandmothers, and the reason so many relationships end in tears is because there is pathetically little attempt to understand exactly how men have changed. It makes me laugh when I hear about a “crisis in masculinity”. There is no crisis in masculinity. There is a crisis in understanding men.

We hear a lot of wishful thinking about the diminishing role of men in society. There is a new concept of the modern male as big baby – lacking self-esteem and incapable of facing the responsibilities of the grown-up world. He retreats into beer, birds and football, cultivating his beer belly as if it were a prize marrow.

But beer, birds and football are no more popular now than they’ve always been. And despite all the acres of print wasted on the banalities of lads behaving badly, men are without question more well-rounded human beings than they’ve ever been. More than ever before, men are involved in raising their children – some of us even do it alone for a few years. More than ever, men are capable of having a true partnership with the woman they share their life with. We cook, we clean, we bath the kids. My generation of men and those that came after us have had it comparatively easy. Our fathers and grandfathers were sent off to fight in wars. All we have to do is learn how to get to grips with a few domestic appliances.

And has our changing role, the softening of our manly virtues, made us happy? In some ways, yes. I look at my son at the age of 18 – the son I found myself bringing up alone when he was four years old – and I know that nothing I do professionally will ever give me anything like the pride I feel when I look at him.

As a single man who has brought up a child – an experience that could only have happened at the tail end of the 20th century – I know I could never walk out on a son or daughter of mine. But although I can’t condone men like Mick Jagger or Will Carling – who left before his son was one year old – I can, God help me, understand it. Because they are just selfish saps who have infinitely more than their fathers ever had and are still not satisfied. This is not a plea for understanding for my poor misunderstood gender. But it is surely in every heterosexual woman’s interest to know what a man wants from a relationship – what it will take to make him stay and what will make him head for the door. None of us are in this world alone. A man and a woman in a relationship are like two mountaineers yoked together – for better or for worse, in sickness and in health. Women have nothing to gain if men continue to retreat into the “me-me-me” attitude of the moment. It is no triumph for women if husbands continue to leave their wives, if boyfriends continue to cheat on their girlfriends and if fathers continue to abandon their children.

Women, you might not like what follows but read it. What I have to say might make you angry; it might make you despair. But I promise you that I know what I’m talking about because I am a man. The thing is, most women have no idea what men want from a relationship, which is why so many partnerships are doomed as soon as they begin. So, what do the men of today really want? They want the lot. Like women, they want to keep the excitement of the early days. The man who bought his girlfriend flowers and danced the night away can transform pretty quickly into a lager-bellied slob. But it works both ways. A woman will behave one way when she wants a man and quite another when she has him. Don’t brutally switch from being naked in bed one night to wearing a ragged old T-shirt the next.

Put as much energy into being his best friend as you do into being his dream lover. The great inadequacy of male friendships is that men do not see their male friends to chew over their problems but to escape them, and if he can’t talk to his wife or girlfriend, his life becomes a form of solitary confinement. A man will always stay with a woman he considers to be his best friend.

There was a time when there was no such thing as good sex – only existent sex or non-existent sex. A starving man in need of food doesn’t complain if the vegetables have been boiled too long. But now we are all gourmets. Once sex becomes routine, most relationships are usually dead in the water. Not that every sexual act needs to feel like an event at the Winter Olympics, but passion should never feel like habit.

Don’t try to change him. A relationship is not like buying a second-hand car and being able to change the colour and get new brake pads. Accept him for what he is. Don’t treat him like a used Cortina.

Women seem to believe that commitment means choosing someone to pick out curtains with in Habitat. To men, commitment means staying faithful – even when every instinct in their dog-like nature is telling them to spread their seed. When it comes to casual sex, men are far more casual than women. But always go ballistic if he strays. Never forgive. Never forget. Make the louse come crawling back to you – and he will.

Women understand intuitively that love is what is left when being in love has gone. Unfortunately, it is something that men have yet to learn. Men these days can seem like spoilt brats who are never satisfied with the clear yet limited horizons of their life. But don’t think too harshly of these men who want it all. Because they got the idea from women.

A longer version of this piece was published in the February issue of ‘Red’ magazine.

I’m happy my husband married ‘the other woman’

(iStock) By Stacey Freeman June 21, 2016

A little more than four years ago, my husband left me for another woman. This isn’t an uncommon occurrence. That he went on to marry her, however, is.

When I first learned about her existence after seeing suspicious texts on his phone, I was determined to find out whatever I could — who she was, how long she knew my husband and, most important, what she wanted from him.

So I picked up the phone, and I called her.

In a handful of conversations, I ordered her to leave my husband alone. She wouldn’t. Instead she grew more steadfast in her position; she said he was hers now and there was nothing I could do to change that.

A relative advised me to get on a plane, fly to Hong Kong — where my husband was spending months at a time for work — and fight for my marriage.

I decided against it. Instead, I begged. During what would be his last visit home, he announced he was leaving me and I dropped to my knees and urged my cheating husband to stay. I was scared for the future and what life would be like without him. But more than that, deep down I knew that getting on a plane to try to save our marriage would do no good. My husband had already left the relationship. In fact, so had I. I just hadn’t realized it yet.

By that point our marriage had been deteriorating for years. While we had once been unable to get enough of each other, by this point we could barely tolerate each other’s company and walked through our lives as business partners more than anything else.

Unmoved by my heartfelt pleas for him to stay, including a handwritten letter that I later retrieved from his briefcase long after it went unanswered, my husband continued his relationship with his mistress. I, on the other hand, prepared to divorce him, which I did about a year later. That was nearly three years ago.

Last year, my now ex-husband married this woman, the “other woman,” and a few months ago they had a child.

My situation isn’t like that of most divorcées since my husband continues to live overseas and does not share physical custody with me. He visits our three children every one to two months and takes them on vacations a few times per year, most of the time without his significant other. As a result I have not had to see or deal with this woman except to listen as my children have described her comings and goings after those few times they have been in her presence. I admit we have had our share of laughs, some deservedly, at her expense.

But because she isn’t around, I rarely think about her. Nor do I ask questions about her, Google her or stalk her Facebook page. There was a time when I did. And on the off-chance my kids regale me with a story about her, unless it concerns their health and well-being, I tell them I am not interested in hearing it because, to put it simply, I am not. Years ago, I learned all I needed to know. What she does now has no relevance to or impact on my life.

Next month, for the first time in more than four years since my husband and I separated, I am sending my oldest child, who is almost 16, to visit her father and his new family overseas. Apart from my desire that my ex-husband’s wife, now my children’s stepmother, will treat my daughter well in my absence, I remain ambivalent to her involvement in my children’s lives. Better there be peace than acrimony between them, and I have reminded my daughter to be both friendly and respectful to her. Although the home she is visiting belongs to her father, it belongs to his wife as well.

It’s hard to say whether our marriage would have survived had this woman left us alone to repair it. I am inclined to say possibly in the short-term but likely not much longer than that. Even if the two of them had never met, I believe the lack of love and mutual respect my husband and I showed each other, especially in the later years of our marriage, would have eventually brought us to the same result. We would have divorced even if neither one of us had cheated.

During those early months when my marriage was unraveling, the very thought of this woman disgusted me. I saw her as an interloper, a trespasser and the catalyst that brought an already troubled marriage to its abrupt end. She was all of those things.

But she was also the impetus for me building a new life for myself, including a career I love. I hope now that I may one day spend my life with a man I love.

Yes, this other woman fought for my husband and won. But today, I consider myself the victor.

How a dad shapes his daughter’s lifelong relationship with love

My dad cheated on my mom. Then he told my teenage boyfriend all about it.

Why I might marry for friendship and money — not love

The Other Woman

By Dena Landon | Mar 5th, 2019

Online support groups for divorced women, like Worthy’s facebook group, abound with acronyms that apply to our situations. SBX, soon-to-be-ex, DH, dear husband, OW, other woman. The OW makes a frequent appearance, unfortunately. If you’ve tried online dating, you’ve probably discovered, to your horror, that there are a fair amount of men out there cheating. And cheating might be what led to your divorce.

My dad cheated on my mom when I was just five years old. Their marriage lasted another thirteen plus years, but from what she told me it was never the same again. When you rebuild from ruins, the new building won’t look the same. It will have some cracks. Eventually, they divorced.

As I grew older and watched my mom dating, I recognized her hurt – the struggles with feeling inadequate. Or needing male attention so she could tell herself that she was attractive, to help rebuild her self-esteem after the hurt of infidelity. But, as she worked through the damage his actions had caused, she rarely if ever said anything bad about him or the other woman.

I completely understand the urge to call the other woman nasty names, to respond with shock that she’d knowingly date a married man, or laugh at their belief that it will last. These are all normal emotional reactions to pain.

Betrayal cuts deeply. It undermines everything you believed to be true about your marriage. It leads you to question every good memory and can send you into a spiral of self-doubt and questions if you let it. How long was he cheating? How did I miss it? When were they together? You can drive yourself up a proverbial wall.

At some point, you will have to release all that or risk spending the rest of your life buried under anger and bitterness. Name-calling doesn’t promote the healing process.

If your husband cheated on you, he demonstrated deep disrespect. That’s not debatable, in my opinion. Your children may not know what happened at the time, but they’ll eventually find out how Daddy’s new girlfriend came into his life. But when we engage in name-calling and petty behavior towards the OW, we are demonstrating the same disrespect.

But she slept with a married man. She doesn’t deserve respect! I can hear you say.

Doesn’t matter. To repay disrespect with disrespect sends a dangerous message to your watching children. It’s not your job to tell them what happened or instill bitterness in them towards her and your ex. She is a human being, and how you treat and speak about her will inform how your children might someday act towards someone they don’t like.

I was sixteen when I found out, completely by accident, that my dad had cheated. It shook my very foundation. My dad wasn’t still with the woman he’d cheated with, but I remember realizing that my mom had never said a bad word about her. She’d been polite, cool and distant, but not rude. And I hugely admired her for her behavior, and for sparing me the nastiness that could have taken place.

Taking the high road isn’t easy. And maybe you do need to vent in an online forum to keep it from your kids. But, in a society filled with disrespect towards women, why add to it? I have seen some horrible words thrown around when describing the OW, and I always cringe. I don’t like seeing women described that way – period, no matter what they’ve done.

Yes, her actions hurt you. But it’s your ex who is truly responsible for the pain. No one forced him to cheat. And how do you want your kids to treat people who’ve hurt them?

It’s not easy to be the parent who demonstrates grace and civility when the other parent is skipping through the daisies, ignoring the consequences of everything they’ve done. Your ex acted despicably, but someday you’ll be able to sleep easier than him, knowing your conscience is clear. It may not be easy to bite your tongue, but it’s definitely worth it And, someday, your children will thank you for it.


Dear Anonymous,

There are several ways to look at this situation, and I want to help you consider a couple of them so that you can see these events differently.

When I see couples for therapy, I’m always interested in their origin story—how they met, what those early months were like, and what meaning each person gave (and still gives) to the events as they played out.

One way to tell your origin story is to say that your boyfriend wasn’t trustworthy and that you have evidence to support this: He didn’t initially tell you that he was separated rather than divorced; he kept in contact with his wife while you were dating; and he didn’t take the steps you asked him to take to move the divorce forward even though he said he would.

This version of the story could play out in various ways, but most likely it will keep you locked in place. Even if you find your boyfriend to be completely trustworthy going forward, you might carry the pain of this early time into your future, along with the belief that his not pursuing his divorce in the way you wanted reflected some deficiency in his love for you and/or deficiency in his moral compass. And viewed through the lens of this pain, you might never truly trust him. Needless to say, this isn’t a solid foundation for a relationship.

Another way to tell your origin story, however, goes something like this: Your boyfriend’s marriage was ending, but like many marital endings, it wasn’t clean and it was painful for both people involved. One or both of them might have been ambivalent. One might have wanted the divorce and the other didn’t. Or the decision to divorce might have been mutual but both still had to grieve the loss.

It might sound counterintuitive that exiting a bad situation would result in grief, but few relationships are all good or all bad. Most people choose each other because they genuinely enjoy many of the same things—they often have similar interests, ways of seeing the world, senses of humor, and sets of values. They might not match up exactly on all of these, but generally there’s enough emotional glue for them to choose to marry, for them to commit to a future and think, We’ll be happy going through life together.

But when a marriage ends, so does everything that came with it—not just the parts that weren’t working, but also the parts that were, all the comforts that the marriage provided: time invested in getting to know each other intimately, the built-in company and daily routines, all the private jokes and references, the shared memories and experiences. We can still miss aspects of people and the relationship we had even if we don’t want to be with them.

I don’t know how deeply you got to know your boyfriend as he went through his divorce, but my guess is that your anxiety about where he was in the process didn’t leave much room for your curiosity about his inner life, nor was he left feeling safe enough to share it with you. You met him at a major crossroads in his life, when he was trying to navigate the end of his marriage and the beginning of his relationship with you, and while he tried to accommodate your needs, I don’t know how aware you were of his.

How the “Other Woman” (or Man) Fares After an Affair

Source: Elnur/

Adultery is a love triangle in which a third party is willing to have a surreptitious affair with someone in a sexually exclusive relationship. Evolutionary psychologists call the affair partner a “mate poacher,” because the aim might be to steal someone else’s lover for oneself. Sometimes affair partners are just looking for casual sex with someone who seems to be emotionally unavailable. Other times, affair partners are looking for a long-term relationship. Sometimes that mating strategy is successful, as the unfaithful partner and the affair partner may go on to have a thriving, lifelong relationship. But frequently that mating strategy is unsuccessful and may end with considerable heartbreak for the affair partner.

Extramarital affairs are often seen as symptoms of a troubled marriage. Recovery from infidelity therefore requires eradicating the symptom (i.e., terminating the relationship with the affair partner) and addressing the underlying marital problems of which the affair was symptomatic. As a consequence, affair partners are sometimes “dumped” unceremoniously, as unfaithful partners try to reconcile with their betrayed spouses. Affair partners may be heartbroken if they had viewed their unfaithful partners as their eventual life partners, once their unfaithful partners left their betrayed spouses for them. How do such individuals recover from their heartbreak?

Jackie (a composite portrait), a single woman, came to see me, because she had been having an affair with a married man for the last five years. Her affair partner, Gerald, was the love of her life. Gerald was married with two young children. He claimed he was unhappily married, but was just waiting for the right time to end the marriage. Jackie came for therapy, because all her girlfriends thought she was foolish to continue the affair and had grown tired of sympathizing with her plight. Jackie found weekends and holidays to be both lonely and humiliating, as she followed Gerald’s family on Facebook, where they posted pictures of one big, happy family always having a great time. Jackie only saw Gerald weekdays after work, when they had a few drinks together and went back to her apartment to have sex.

In listening to Jackie’s story, I thought what all her girlfriends thought. Gerald seemed to just be using her for casual sex with no intention of ever leaving his wife for her. He seemed to be an alcoholic as well as a liar, so it was not entirely clear what his appeal was as a life partner. Yet Jackie felt that if only others knew him in the more intimate way that she did, they would appreciate his finer qualities. I wondered if that were wishful thinking, and if Jackie was in deep denial. I worried that Jackie would just get angry at me if I tried to burst her bubble. Eventually, Gerald’s wife, Linda, discovered the affair when she found credit card bills for jewelry that Gerald had bought as gifts for Jackie. Linda demanded that Gerald immediately end the affair and go for marital therapy, which he did without giving it a second thought. Jackie got a call from Gerald explaining the situation. To prevent further discussion, he added that he owed it to the mother of his children to give the marriage a second chance, so it was for the best if they completely cut off all contact with each other moving forward. Jackie was stunned and disbelieving. Like a bolt out of the blue, her life had fallen apart, and all her future dreams were now shattered. How could she go on in life? Jackie told me she was feeling suicidal, but reassured me she wouldn’t do anything.

Listening to all of this, I privately thought “good riddance,” as I didn’t think Gerald was such a great catch, and I thought Jackie could do much better. But I knew it might be construed as unsympathetic at this point to disclose what I really thought, because Jackie felt she had just lost the love of her life. Recovery in such a situation is biphasic: First, it means overcoming a serious loss, just like any other serious loss of a loved one. You have to take the time to grieve and then move on. Secondly, it means coming to terms with the reality of the situation that your judgment was impaired by wishful thinking. That requires facing the fact that you had been living in a fool’s paradise in a very self-defeating way. Years of your life have been wasted in a doomed relationship, when you could have done much better if you had been better able to face the unpleasant reality. So what are the next steps?

1. Know that you’re entitled to grieve. Yes, affairs with married individuals are forbidden, but you were in love, and your heart was broken. Your grief is real, even if others aren’t sympathetic. Take your time to mourn.

2. Admit to wishful thinking. Yes, some unhappily married individuals leave their spouses to live happily ever after with their affair partners. But unfaithful partners that lie to their spouses might also be lying to their affair partners about their true intentions. Don’t let yourself be fooled again.

3. Become an advocate for honesty. You were a partner in crime. The unfaithful partner was living a lie, and you participated in that. You’ll feel better about yourself in the future if you forgo secret relationships with individuals in sexually exclusive relationships. In the future, be on the side of honesty rather than deceit. If a married person wants a relationship with you, let them separate from their partner first, so that everything can be out in the open.

Ironically, a year later, Gerald separated from his wife and wanted to resume his relationship with Jackie on the assumption that it would lead to marriage and family. Yet by this time Jackie had lost interest. She had become disillusioned with Gerald and now saw him as a self-centered person who felt entitled to having everything on his own terms and on his own timetable, regardless of her needs and desires. Gerald was no longer the sort of person she wanted as a life partner. Jackie was confident she could do better.

When Marriages Begin As Affairs

Nine defects flaw a second marriage that begins as an affair, according to Dr. Frank Pittman, who is the author of Private Lies: Infidelity and the Betrayal of Intimacy. And a second marriage that begins with infidelity probably will be heading for the rocks within two years, according to Elizabeth Landers, who writes about marriage and family.

The very elements that come together to make an affair exciting and intoxicating are the fuel that consumes the relationship when it becomes a marriage. Such marriages begin on weak foundations that collapse under the strain of everyday life. When the affair is running hot, the partners are blinded to inevitability that the romance consumes itself, and they nearly always imagine that they are the exceptions to an established pattern of human affairs.

Some affairs end in successful relationships endure as healthy long-term marriages that last, but according to experts, these are the exceptions that prove the rule.

First of all, the probability of affairs ending in marriages is not very high — between three and five percent, and many join the 75 percent of second marriages that fail, a rate half again as high as first marriages. While fewer than 25 percent of cheaters leave a marriage for an affair partner, according to one source, most of those relationships are statistically extremely unlikely to endure.

Dr. Frank Pittman, the noted psychiatrist and author, and many others have conjectured about why almost all affairs falter and fail to produce lasting and healthy relationships. Most experts point to several reasons why affairs perish.

Affairs consume energy because they are taboo and must be kept secret. They survive more on what each partner gets than what each invests in the relationship.

Because of the dynamics of a forbidden relationship, one or both partners comes to realize he or she lost much more than he or she now shares. “As relates to sacrifice, often one will discover (or feel) that his or her sacrifice was much greater than what the other person had to sacrifice, and this can lead to resentment and disillusionment.” Paradoxically, sacrifice sometime feeds the relationship until there is nothing left to feed the relationship.

And the most obvious element is that marriage begun on a foundation of betrayal and lies, as is an affair, cannot easily become one of trust and loyalty, as is marriage.

Dr. Pittman’s nine defects in the dynamics of affairs that become marriages chart the trajectory of love as it arcs from a forbidden romance to an established marriage to a marital breakup.

These nine defects include:

  1. While still married to others, the affair partners become immersed in “stimulating unreality,” but the second marriage illuminates reality. “Only after their marriage did the divorce become real enough to see that it was a horrible mistake. They were so caught up in the infatuation that they never got around to figuring out if what they were doing was sane.”
  2. The cheaters who wrecked a family (or two) and inflicted much pain on innocent people may feel no or little guilt during the affair but become overwhelmed with guilt after they marry.
  3. Divorces drain both financially and emotionally. After affair partners marry, the new couple may feel a disparity in what had to be sacrificed to bring them together.
  4. Unfaithful couples who marry may believe that the life after the marriage will be as good as life during the affair, and that “he greater the sacrifices, the greater the expectations for the new marriage.” In short, “he more people enjoy the battles involved in wrecking and escaping marriages, the less they are likely to enjoy the business as usual of the new marriage.”
  5. The affair partners, who were unfaithful, develop a distrust of marriage and for the affair partner who is now a spouse. A marriage that begins on an untruth cannot have a trusting foundation.
  6. During the affair and the divorce, the unfaithful couple isolates and insulate themselves, and they retreat to a private little world “protected from the devastation that they have created, safe from anyone who tries to pull them apart.” In this regime, memories or even mention of the betrayed spouse can be difficult. Later, the now married couple may long to reconnect with these people; however, “veryone involved is hurt by the betrayal and not as forgiving as they have expected. They often find that they only have each other and that can be very lonely.”
  7. When the romance fades, as it does in most marriages, romantics do not understand that this is part of the growth of the marriage, and they do not know how to nurture “a deeper more meaningful relationship”; rather, “they believe that they have just fallen out of love.”
  8. During the affair and the divorce the affair couple convinces each other that the defective marriage is the fault of the betrayed spouse. To acknowledge otherwise, now that the remarriage has taken place, seems a betrayal of “the rescue fantasies that fed the affair in the first place.”
  9. The absence of a shared history that nurtures a comforting familiarity to relationships that begin earlier in life makes talking about the past difficult. An affair that wrecked a first marriage makes it painful and embarrassing for both spouses to discuss the past because it may promote jealousy and insecurity. Affair partners who marry do not want to hear the good qualities of the previous marriage and spouses, nor about any good times the former partners had. Trying to start over can be lonely and disheartening.

By Leandie Buys

Can an affair lead to a successful marriage? Is it possible for a couple who got together through an affair to build a long-lasting relationship?

Many of the clients that I see in my practice are couples who have been devastated by an affair. I help them to work through the fallout from the affair, and either repair their marriage and rebuild trust and stability, or work towards a ‘peaceful’ divorce.

Although there is really no such thing as a ‘peaceful’ divorce, I do believe in ensuring that each person in the relationship leaves the marriage with a greater understanding of themselves, what led to the divorce, and how they can rebuild their self-esteem and confidence in the future. I try to ensure that as little baggage as possible is taken with them into their future relationships.

Divorce is not always wrong

I believe that divorce can sometimes be the best option for a couple. If it means that they can be whole, healthy, self-confident individuals rather than a bitter, angry, frustrated married couple, then divorce is definitely the answer.

I believe that divorce can sometimes be the best option for a couple.

This is particularly true if there are children involved. Children should have healthy, happy parents as role-models and it is never good for children to witness their parents destroying each other.

Statistics are not very positive

Sometimes, I counsel couples who got together through an affair, and are struggling to build a successful relationship, despite their initial passionate feelings towards each other.

For couples who began a relationship through an affair, and later marry, the statistics aren’t positive. According to the studies that have been done, over 75% of those marriages will end in divorce after five years.

I have counseled such couples, that have gone on to have very happy, successful marriages. But it does take a lot of hard work, trust-building and understanding.

The beginning of the ‘affair’ relationship

This always begins with much passion, excitement and a taste of something ‘new’. Individuals might meet someone, and realise that they have been very unhappy in their marriage for many years. They will tell their affair partner that their marriage was already ‘over’ when they got together.

They will air all of their dirty marriage laundry – about how awful their spouse was, and how they never felt whole, or appreciated, or able to grow in their marriage.

They will believe that they are moral people, with high values, and would never have considered an affair, until they met ‘The One’. The one person who is so special and different and unique that they are willing to compromise all of their values to be with them.

However, frustration and disappointment quickly begins to creep into the relationship.

However, frustration and disappointment quickly begin to creep into the relationship. They may still share a bed with their spouse while the divorce is going through. They may place family commitments above commitments to their affair partner. For example, family functions with the soon-to-be ‘ex’ may take precedence over ‘date night’, or romantic getaways.

So, can such a relationship ever work out?

Although I always try to help couples heal their marriages first, sometimes a divorce is inevitable. And sometimes, affair partners do get married. My job as a relationship therapist is to help all couples build strong, functional relationships.

Here are some of the factors that will affect the marriage of couples who get together through an affair:

1. Trust

Ever heard that term ‘once a cheater, always a cheater’?

‘Once a cheater, always a cheater’

Building trust is one of the biggest priorities in this kind of relationship. If it started out in an affair, what’s to say it will not end that way too?

One of the biggest fears that I hear in my practice, is that individuals will return to their ex-spouse. If someone has made a huge sacrifice by giving up their family for the affair, their partner will carry around a lot of guilt and fear that they may change their mind, and return to their family.

Building loyalty and trust is one of the biggest challenges of this type of relationship, and seeking the advice of a professional relationship therapist is highly recommended.

2. Respect

I often hear people speaking very badly about their ex-spouses. Affair partners will assume that if their partner can speak so disrespectfully about their ex, then they may resort to that same behaviour when the new relationship hits a rocky place.

There will always be feelings of anger, hurt and betrayal when a relationship ends in an affair.

There will always be feelings of anger, hurt and betrayal when a relationship ends in an affair. These feelings come from both sides, as each partner tries to blame the other for the ultimate break-up of the relationship.

When I counsel couples like this, I ask them to refer to their exes by their first names. If you talk about your ‘ex-husband’ or ‘ex-wife’, it still makes them very much a part of you. However, you are no longer married to that person, so refer to them by their first name.

Respect for the ‘mother’ or ‘father’ of your children should be paramount. Whatever feelings you may have towards them should not take priority over the welfare of your kids, and that is where respect comes in.

3. Communication

During an affair, most of the communication between affair partners is around the problems with their spouses. When a divorce finally goes through, they may end up not having anything to talk about anymore!

Because the relationship started off amidst chaos, one of the partners may (intentionally or unintentionally) create chaos and drama, because that is the only way they know how to connect with their affair partner.

Learning how to talk to each other without the chaos will require the facilitation of a therapist.

Learning how to talk to each other without the chaos will require the facilitation of a therapist. Talking and listening are skills, and men and women both communicate differently. I have found in my practice that although couples think they know how to communicate, the reality is that they actually don’t.

4. Being a stepparent and having an extended family

This is often the most difficult part of an affair relationship. Children can cause a lot of conflict in this relationship because of ex-partners who were hurt by the affair.

I am always saddened when adults end up using the children as pawns. Children are naturally loyal to their parents, but they can be emotionally manipulated, and forced to choose between the two. This is completely unfair on the child, and creates emotional turmoil.

This is why, when a third party appears on the scene, children can often become very disrespectful or rebellious towards the affair partner. They fear losing their parent to the affair partner, just as they lost their family unit.

I always highlight how important it is that children should never feel like they are in competition with the affair partner for attention. Parents still need to have ‘alone’ time with their children without their new partners.

Parents still need to have ‘alone’ time with their children without their new partners.

On the other hand, it is also very important that children are able to build a relationship with the affair partner, particularly if they are going to end up being a step-parent. Often, step-parents also have children, so it is vital that the children feel part of the new family, and all the children are treated equally.

Another matter to consider is a new set of in-laws. Not only do affair partners have to deal with ex-in-laws, but they also need to include new in-laws in their new relationship.

5. Having healthy boundaries

It is very important that everyone respects each other’s boundaries. I often hear affair partners complain that ex-spouses phone at all hours of the day, over weekends, and constantly check up on the children.

It is important to set boundaries from the beginning. Individuals need to agree with their exes that they will only make contact over urgent matters, and to communicate about the kids (not about arbitrary things).

There are other boundary issues that can be worked out with a professional therapist to ensure mutual respect for everyone involved.

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As I walked across the field towards David and my group of friends I was suddenly overcome by an immensely strong feeling. It was totally unexpected. It wasn’t a blatant sexual sensation, such as that sometimes felt on glimpsing an attractive man. It was more of a velvety responsiveness that seeped through my body.

And that was how it all began. A gradual but mutual confession of what had unconsciously grown between us.

But there could never be a fairy tale love affair. For there was a huge obstacle – David was married.

I withdrew from that evening hoping that my feelings would fade. I intentionally kept away from the group of friends and from David, yet I couldn’t stop thinking about him.

I had been single for a number of years but didn’t yearn to be part of a couple. I loved my independence. I had a job, friends and a close family. I enjoyed running my home and relished the day-to-day care of my two boys.

I enjoyed the dating game and had grown accustomed to the strange ways of single and divorced fortysomething men. The necessity that many of these men had of only ever allowing a certain amount of closeness didn’t bother me. I enjoyed their impressive attempts at wining and dining so obviously intended to ensure the evening ended in their bed.

But what I felt when I thought of David shocked me. I had never encountered anything like it before and knew from the way he had looked at me that he felt it too. I argued with myself that something so intense could never be wrong. I naively dreamed that people would understand when they saw us together and witnessed for themselves the strength of what we shared.

At this time I hadn’t discussed anything in terms of the future with David. I was confident of his feelings but what if he didn’t want to leave his wife? He had children. Together they had built their dream home. He had so much to lose – would he really gamble all that he had on me?

I had never understood why women got involved with married men but now I found myself wondering what I would do if an affair was the only thing on offer. Could I handle stolen moments followed by painfully watching him return to his family? Would I just be risking a slow emotional death, painfully starving on the morsels of his marriage?

As it happened, I didn’t have to make a decision. A few weeks later, I received a phone call.

“I’ve left her,” said David. “I’ve asked for a divorce.”

I reeled from the impact of his words. As we talked it became apparent that neither of us doubted our relationship. We both knew that it would happen but we had to bide our time. We had to allow others to adapt. Emotionally, David had left his marriage years ago but now his family had to cope with his physical removal and the pain of the reality.

It was a few months later, when David and I were in a relationship, that the guilt hit me. It launched itself at me quite unexpectedly as the reality of everyone’s pain registered. “Don’t blame yourself,” reassured David. “I didn’t leave because of you – I left because my marriage was over. I would never have fallen in love with you if my marriage had been strong.”

As divorce proceedings began and the painful arguments as they negotiated assets, finances and the children worsened, my guilt deepened. Neither of us believed in staying in an unhappy marriage for the children but their reproachful eyes staring at me as they realised that Daddy had a girlfriend began to haunt me.

I heard Yoko Ono say during an interview with BBC’s Woman’s Hour that when she and John Lennon first started their relationship they were totally shocked by the disapproval of others. I can relate to that. Telling my parents was hard but they were amazing in their response.

“You wouldn’t be doing this if you weren’t sure that it was right,” trusted my father, and at that moment I loved him more than ever for understanding that none of what we had done was to intentionally cause pain.

Unfortunately, few other people were quite so accepting. I didn’t meet David’s parents for years. Their loyalties were understandably torn. Mutual friends ignored us and acquaintances stopped smiling. But what I really didn’t expect and what I haven’t ever come to terms with was the blame directed at me.

It felt as if people presumed that I had lured David away with a trap. I think they believed that if it wasn’t for me he would have returned to his wife, blaming some sort of midlife crisis.

Sometimes, out walking, some of David’s friends would stop and speak to him. Never once would their eyes acknowledge me at his side. All this caused stress within our relationship. There were times when I considered walking away. Maybe I had been wrong to become involved so soon. Maybe other people were right and without me, David might go back to his family and all the hurt that we had caused would slowly dissolve. But I knew that I couldn’t end our relationship to please others. If I gave up now then everything so far would have been for nothing.

David had lost his home, his family and his friends. He was going through the most difficult time of his life. I, conversely, was going through the best time of my life, having finally met someone I truly wanted to be with.

I’d get angry that what I perceived as a very special time was marred by other people’s disdain. And David would get angry that I wasn’t being a little more understanding. He wanted to avoid people – I wanted to face them head on and show them that we were happy.

Looking back, I was selfish but I was convinced that the only reason people were not being nice to us was because they didn’t understand how right we were for each other. David had a slightly more realistic outlook and knew that certain people would never accept our relationship. I have come to understand that now.

The people who are important to us have adapted with the passage of time. I have a good relationship with David’s parents now and when the children visit we all get along really well. Having said that, there are still “friends” who don’t speak to us and there are others who openly admit that they have been asked not to by David’s ex-wife.

Without doubt, our relationship remains strong but that doesn’t mean that it is problem free. Even all these years later, I still feel responsible. When I catch sight of his ex-wife or the children pass comment about “old times”, the guilt remains overwhelming.

I have no regrets, though. I firmly believe that we did the right thing. We could have lied, buried our feelings. But I believe that I was entitled to take happiness when I found it. People naturally look out for themselves and that is what I did in the end. Where would I have been if I had looked the other way? My principles might have been intact but I would likely have been holding on to them alone. I would have watched my children flourish and waved them off as they spread their wings, always wondering what I had allowed to pass me by.

I look around me now and I see a happy family unit: David, myself and our four children.

Despite everything, I know that I did right to put me first for a change.

Names have been changed

Cheating on a partner – whether that’s a physical or emotional affair, or whatever counts as cheating to you – is generally considered to be an unforgivable act of selfishness. And those who leave their partners for people they have affairs with are often considered to be The Devil. Of course, there may be many reasons people are unfaithful, and it isn’t always black and white… there isn’t always a right and wrong. Here, women who cheated on their husbands and left them for the person they had an affair with, explain what happened afterwards. Was it happy ever after? Or did karma come back to bite them in the ass?

1. “My SO and I left our marriages for each other. It’s definitely had it’s rocky moments but we are still together six years later. I absolutely don’t recommend it (so much guilt and heartbreak involved) but even if we don’t work out I really needed to be out of that marriage. So I’m glad I left, at the very least.”

2. “At that time it was a great choice. My partner and I are no longer together though. We split ways after five years. My ex-husband and I were together for 12 years. I’m still friends with both men.”


3. “We’re still together. While handled poorly, my meeting someone and falling in love was the kick that my ex and I needed to make us admit we weren’t getting what we needed out of our relationship anymore. We got together young, married out of momentum, had a child and then grew apart. I married the affair partner and we have kids too. I do not advise anyone to do what I did. Most situations like mine don’t work out, and I’m well aware of that.”

4. “Extreme brutal karma. We were together for four years, had a child together, owned property together, got engaged. Everything seemed perfect, until I found out that he’d been cheating for the entire duration of the relationship. Ouch. I learned so much from that experience and came out as a better person. And now, we are not together but we co-parent fantastically and have a civil relationship. So it worked out in the end and made me better.”

“I wouldn’t do it again”

5. “I left my spouse for a man I met through work who was in the country on a Visa. We stayed together until his Visa expired and then parted on good terms. My ex-husband had gotten engaged and I’m already remarried. We’re both much happier. I basically used the affair as a lifeboat out of an unhappy (on my end, apparently he was happy) relationship. I wouldn’t do it again though. I should have been brave and left without hurting anyone in the process.”

6. “I left my ex of 13 years (married for seven) for someone else. My ex and I weren’t compatible but we pretended we were for years. We met at church at 14 and desperately wanted to show the world what an amazing couple we were. We weren’t. He was addicted to porn and got angry if I said no to sex which he wanted daily. He called me fat when I wasn’t, he never let me wear the clothes I wanted, he hated my friends, he hated my life choices, he wouldn’t let me choose the career path I wanted.


“I met an amazing man in 2013, became very close friends and suddenly fell in love. Almost seven years later we have two beautiful daughters, are married and recently bought a home. We’re so happy with each other still and we have a very deep connection. It’s so refreshing to never have to lie to your significant other.”

7. “My husband wanted me to sleep with other people so he could ‘export’ my needs out and not have to worry about meeting them. We did polyamory with me as the hinge partner. I got divorced about four months after meeting my now-husband (which likely saved my life) and, after four years together, we got married two months ago. He makes me effervescently happy. It’s a much healthier relationship compared to my last marriage, and anyone who knows me (and knew me back them) can’t stop commenting on the vast difference in my demeanour and happiness.”

8. “I left my spouse for an emotional affair I was having. I felt like, if I was in love with another man, I couldn’t keep up the facade of being with my husband at the time. It was a dysfunctional relationship. My emotional affair partner was also married and we were going to leave our spouses for each other. I left mine. He didn’t leave his. It was fine. I didn’t want to be home-wrecker so I’m glad it didn’t work out. I wish him the best and he really was a window to what I could have, and deserved to have. A few years later I found a partner who respects me and loves me for me. It’s wonderful.”

Related Story

3 Reasons Why A Married Guy Will Never Leave His Wife For You

If you think he’s yours, think again.

At least three times a week I get an email from women asking me for “relationship advice” about the married man they’re dating (i.e., having an affair with). These “other women” are all frustrated because the guy they’re cheating with hasn’t left his wife, and they want some form of commitment from him.

If you’re a woman who’s currently having sex with a married man, this going to be a virtual slap in the face — and it’s one you need.

He’s never going to leave his wife for you, his mistress.

And when you take a closer look at the reasons why men cheat and the benefits they gain through infidelity, you’ll quickly see that I’m right.

Here are three reasons you’re wasting your life waiting for a married man to end his marriage, because no, he’ll never leave his wife for you.

1. He has everything he needs

Why would he leave his wife and kids?

He gets to have amazing sex with you with no commitment at all, and then he gets to go home and play with his kids. It’s the ideal situation for a guy.

He has the wife who feeds him, cleans up after him, and looks after his children, and then he has his lover taking care of him in other ways he needs.

He has two girlfriends and everything done for him. He’s enjoying it!

2. Divorce is too painful

Think about the repercussions of divorce. There’s the hassle of lawyers, the fighting, the upset of the children, the financial burden, and a host of other problems divorce throws up.

Why would he put himself and his family through that if he doesn’t have to? You seem happy to see him when he can fit you in, so why would he leave his wife?

3. He’d have left her already

If this guy loved you more than anything, then even with the pain of divorce and the upset of leaving his family, he’d have left her by now. If he wanted to be with you, and if he loved you like you think he does, he’d have already left his family.;

Think about it. He hasn’t left his wife because he doesn’t want to. It’s as simple as that.

Now that you know he’ll never leave his wife, what should you do about it?

Very simply, you can give him an ultimatum.

What he’s doing isn’t fair to you, his wife, or his children, and he needs to make up his mind.

Gather as much strength as you can, look him in the face, and tell him this:

“I love you. I want to be with you. But I’m not going to do this anymore. I’m not going to see you again until you move out of your home. I want to come to your new apartment. I don’t want to keep meeting at my place or in hotels. The only way you’ll see me again is if you text me or call me with the address of your new apartment. I want proof you’ve left your wife.”

Give him this ultimatum and you’ll know where you stand. Are you going to be his partner, or will you only ever be “the other woman”?

You see, the “other woman” is never going to succeed. She is never going to get the man.

All she’s going to do is waste her life waiting for a man who will never be hers while missing the chance to find a man who’s devoted only to her. I know women who have done this for four, five, or even six years.

Look at your own emotional needs, wants, and desires.

Are you dating a married man because you like to live on the edge? Is it because you don’t want commitment yourself? Maybe you’re scared of men hurting you?

A lot of women date married men because they’re so afraid of getting out there and meeting men. They have relationships with married guys because deep down, they know it’s never going to go anywhere. They don’t need to leave themselves 100 percent vulnerable.

Other women just love the chase. They love the drama of trying to win a man who isn’t theirs.

You need to figure out who you are.

My advice is to stop being the other woman. It’s not fair anyone involved, and you deserve a man of your own!

David Wygant is a dating coach who spent the past 20 years helping men and women transform their love lives. As a lead writer for Ask Men and Huffington Post, his advice has been offered across television, newspapers and magazines, including MTV, The New York Times, MSNBC, Fox News, Cosmopolitan, Men’s Health, E! Entertainment Television, and more.

I often get e-mails disputing my advice and opinion. But I got no such mail about my column “Will My Lover Ever Leave His Wife,” where I said it is virtually certain he would not. I received no notes saying “I am thrilled to be the other woman, the situation worked out wonderfully, and everyone is so happy about it.”

Instead, my responses were from people who learned firsthand the painful lesson that married men do not leave their wives for their mistresses. Because there are doubtless many women still in this situation wondering what to do, I decided to share some of these letters here:

From Arizona:
A few years ago I was in the same position. I was 22 and took up with an older married co-worker. We were deeply in love and the sex was fantastic. He made me feel appreciated and worthwhile, something nobody I dated had ever done.

The only problem was he wouldn’t leave his wife. He didn’t have kids but still found plenty of reasons to avoid making a commitment to me (he disliked his wife but didn’t want to destroy her, the division of property would be a pain, etc.). This went on for a year and a half.

People found out. He and I became a laughingstock at work. I left my job because the taunting drove me away. I thought that if I were a better person then maybe he would leave his wife, and I spent time beating myself up over what I could do to make him leave.

Let Young Lover know that she’s wasting her time and ruining her life. He’s never going to leave, because he has everything he needs right now — her for sex and emotional attachment, and his wife for security. Why should he leave? He has the best of both worlds!

It took me years of therapy to get away from my idiotic mistake. It also took a lot of observation of other couples to realize how horribly dysfunctional the relationship I thought was perfect really was.

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Does his wife really deserve all the pain you are giving her? You may think she does, but put yourself in her shoes, or imagine if it was YOUR husband having an affair. Leave while you still have some of your self-esteem. Otherwise, it’s a long and slippery slope, and it only leads down.

From Kentucky:
I’ve been in an on-off relationship with a married man for five years. When we met, he and his wife were separated, but about three weeks into the relationship some unforeseen things took place. We were in a car accident together. Because he shared insurance with his wife, he moved back home because of the money situation — or so I was told.

Five years later, he is still there and I am still the mistress. We’ve both tried to end the relationship over the years, but somehow our attraction for each other has made it hard to let go. I’ve even dated someone else who knows about this married man — they used to be good friends. They are not friends any more because of me.

I know this relationship has hurt many people, but I can’t seem to get past the attraction I have for this man. We have so many things in common that he and his wife don’t. I used to let his unkept promises get to me and it used to cause me much pain.

But now I’ve accepted the fact he is never going to leave his wife and it’s really not a problem for me any longer. And I know he loves her. But why does he keep pursuing me? The passion we share when we make love is unbelievable. No one has ever made me feel so good.

I’m not sure I even want him to leave her, because if he is cheating on his wife he would cheat on me, too. Do I love this man? I can say that a part of me always will, but not the way I once did. I just really wish I could get past this situation and have a normal relationship that would last.

From Ohio:
Thank you for your advice about being with a married man. I, too, am in that situation. I am 25 and put aside everything in my life, including my goals after college, in hopes that he would make the decision to be with me. It has now been two years and nothing has changed.

For me, it has never been about the excitement of being the “other woman.” In fact, it makes me sick to think I am. I know that I am worth so much more than that. It has been a very dark place for me over the past two years because everything is kept secret. I am heartbroken and devastated that I let myself be lured into an imaginary world where I thought this situation could be changed. At times I feel so angry and tempted to tell his wife what he has done to both her and me.

I know there are countless other women who have the same feelings of loneliness and lack of self worth. I just hope I can gain courage in the future to put my words into actions and say goodbye to this unrealistic dream I have.

From Tennessee:
I wasted five years on a man who kept telling me that “when the time was right” he would leave his wife. His wife found out about us and moved out. But in the end he wanted the stable life he had. I was just something new.

He talked his wife into moving back in with him. And then he had the nerve to tell me things could go back to normal with us! Men don’t leave. They just want it all. Quit wasting your time and life on someone who can’t be the man you want.
From a man in Michigan:
Please keep in mind that life is very complicated. My current wife and I started out in an affair while I was married. I was with a very controlling spouse for a very long time. The affair woke me up to how miserable I really was. After lots of counseling, personal as well as marital, I gave up on the miserable marriage.

My current wife and I then went into couples counseling, to deal with the feelings left over from the affair and to start on solid ground. Neither of us is overcome with guilt. It would have been nice if the affair never happened and if I gave up on the marriage on my own. But life does not always work out quite so neatly.

left/msnbc/Components/Photos/060406/060406_anatomy_vmed_2p.jpg2658100000left#000000http://msnbcmedia.msn.com1PfalsefalseDr. Gail Saltz is a psychiatrist with New York Presbyterian Hospital and a regular contributor to “Today.” Her latest book is “Anatomy of a Secret Life: The Psychology of Living a Lie,” by Dr. Gail Saltz. She is also the author of “Amazing You! Getting Smart About Your Private Parts,” which helps parents deal with preschoolers’ questions about sex and reproduction. Her first book, “Becoming Real: Overcoming the Stories We Tell Ourselves That Hold Us Back,” was published in 2004 by Riverhead Books. It is now available in a paperback version. For more information, you can visit her Web site, www.drgailsaltz.com.

What are the chances that a husband will ever leave his wife for the other woman he truly loves? Are kids only an excuse?

I don’t know that there are any reliable readable stats that one could analyze, but relationship experts suggest it’s around 5% where it actually gets to the point of the other woman being in the second marriage and second marriages don’t have the best track record.
If he doesn’t give a date and mean it, then it’s unlikely that he’ll leave anytime soon.
The thing is, this is a person who lies to people. He lies to the woman he’s most close to, and he lies to family and friends to get away with what he does. Even if he treats you with respect, it doesn’t mean that he can create anything for you that’s sustainable and that won’t become what he currently has because he’s developed some bad modes of behavior that he’s likely to repeat.
I don’t think kids are an excuse but a REASON. Many people as their marriages fail or have momentary problems shift their priority from their spouse to their kids. They might seek other possibilities just to know they have a choice, but often caring for the children is a lifestyle with a social group, with friends, family and possibly even bosses tied into that family’s success. Then there’s a financial system around it too that they’ve built together over time. So usually, this system has to be VERY broken before anyone is likely to leave it.
I wish I could tell you who are the best prospects as I don’t know. I don’t know what stage of singlehood is best to draw from or which “relationship guys” function in a way that gives an ideal moment to step in. Women tend to take time to recover from relationships that men don’t. And sometimes it seems as if men connect almost like Tarzan swinging from tree to tree. That makes it hard to know when is a good time to be there. Having honor might make you feel better and others too, but it also may not help to connect with someone who functions well within relationships.