≡ Menu

“I’m Always the Other Woman”

For whatever reason, I seem to draw the attention of men who are either married or in serious relationships. The problem is that it doesn’t bother me that much. I have been the other woman to a married man (VERY short term — I ended things as soon as I found out he had children … I guess I found my personal limit?), an engaged man (this was longer, and I was very much in love with him — needless to say he broke my heart) right up until he got married, and currently a guy who is in a long distance relationship.

I feel as though with the admittedly MAJOR exception of them clearly cheating on their significant other, they have all been otherwise great guys. The current situation I’m in is with this really fun guy who works for a different branch of my company in a far away state. We travel a lot together for work and one night after some drinking he kissed me and we ended up sleeping together. Now, I would never come on to him or make the first move, but I was very willing to succumb to his — he’s hot, and we’d be having a great time together. After the first time, we basically continued our affair for the duration of our trip — it was a three-week long business trip. We still talk fairly frequently now that we’re both back to our real lives, but we have another month-long trip together coming up shortly.

I guess my question is two-fold: How do I talk myself out of continuing this sort-of relationship with the current guy, and what could possibly be the underlying reason that I keep letting this happen? I promise that I have been in other normal, healthy relationships in my life. This is just something I need to figure out. — No Will Power


Here’s a little tidbit you might not know about me: I really don’t like cooking. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I hate it, but I’m definitely not a big fan. It’s time-consuming, and the hours I spend chopping vegetables and perfecting recipes — not to mention cleaning up afterward (cooking is messy!) — is time I’d rather spend gazing at my navel or doing a host of other fascinating things. And since I didn’t marry a cook, Drew and I end up ordering out a lot, an action that is surprisingly affordable here in NYC. And while it may not break out wallet to order out on an occasional basis, doing so every day does add up, and take-out food isn’t nearly as healthy as home-cooked food. So, I have a conundrum, don’t I? I can continue feeding myself fairly unhealthy food on a daily basis and throwing my money out the window, or I can suck it up and do what doesn’t come to me so naturally and actually cook a damn meal every once in a while.

What does all this have to do with you being the other woman? Well, relationships are a lot of work. And they’re time-consuming. And you have to make compromises and stuff. And they can be messy. And you don’t always get it right the first time, and unfortunately, when that happens, it’s not as easy as throwing out some burned meatloaf and heating up a frozen pizza for dinner instead. In relationships, not getting it right can make for a lot of heartache, and heartache sucks.

So, I can understand the temptation to stick with men who are unavailable for a real relationship. They seem easy, like a fast, no-hassle microwave meal or some greasy-but-delicious take-out. But when that’s all your surviving on, you lack the necessary nutrients to really thrive. And not only that, when you sleep with men who are committed to someone else, you are actively contributing to someone else’s eventual pain. That can’t feel good.

You’re better than that, aren’t you? Your body and soul deserve better, don’t they? So, brush off your cooking utensils, go searching for a few good recipes, buy some fresh, seasonal ingredients, and put away your take-out menus where you won’t be easily tempted. You may make some mistakes on your way to creating the perfect dish, but you’ll be better for it. And when you do finally make that perfect meal? All the mess and hassle that came before will be worth it. I promise.

*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

{ 263 comments… add one }

avatar Callifax April 27, 2011, 8:07 am

WTF? You are the kind of women who give faithful girls bad names. I’m not saying the guys here aren’t at fault, but clearly you are targeting taken men. Get your own (single) guy and lay off the ones who have someone waiting at home.

As the former victim of infidelity, this letter made me so mad.

avatar Callifax April 27, 2011, 8:10 am

Sorry for the rash remark. It was a little harsh. I just was so instantly disgusted.

avatar honeybeenicki April 27, 2011, 8:35 am

My initial response was very much the same, but with far more profanity so I just opted to not say anything.

avatar Hana April 27, 2011, 12:57 pm

I agree with you completely. I know it is harsh, but I think this is a LW who needs harsh. In fact, I am surprised that Wendy did not give a harsher response, as this is someone who could truly use that kick in the butt. I’m 100% disgusted by her actions. I know it takes two to tango, but lets face it. If she had any self respect or control it wouldn’t happen. And based off her pattern of only having relationships with committed men I think she may be subconsciously trying to sabotage herself in relationships or trying to prove something about herself (i.e I am hot enough/sexy enough to steal a man. When last one didn’t leave his girl for me I’ll show him by doing it again…)

That being said, I think cheating is one of the worst things person can do, whether they are in a relationship or dating someone in a relationship. It makes you look desperate and sleazy, and makes the innocent hurt beyond belief. She needs to just stop. It really that simple. If she doesn’t, or even if she does, she probably has some bad karma coming her way for all this past behavior.

caitie_didnt caitie_didn't April 27, 2011, 8:46 pm

Wow, this thread seems to have gotten pretty heated!

LW: STOP. JUST STOP. It really is that easy- the next time a married/engaged dude approaches you….friggen LEAVE! Don’t put yourself in that position!

Get in the corner, put your balls on, and show yourself (and the women you’re helping betray) a little bit of respect by not giving in to temptation.

avatar Kat March 4, 2014, 2:13 pm

I feel just like the writer of this letter – I am always the other woman. The worst thing is that even after being in a real relationship and getting my heart broken by being cheated on, I can’t stop. If anything, it’s worse, because I have seen how (very) easily men cheat and I have lost hope that faithful relationships can be possible. I have never cheated on anyone myself. What is wrong with me?

avatar Beckaleigh April 27, 2011, 8:09 am

It doesn’t matter what Wendy said in her response. This woman will sleep with this man while she’s on the business trip with him. She’ll sleep with him until the guy ends the affair and she’ll find a new and taken man next.

avatar Rachelgrace53 April 27, 2011, 2:31 pm

Don’t you think that’s sort of harsh considering she is writing in to get advice on how to change?

avatar Beckaleigh April 27, 2011, 3:29 pm

But is that her purpose in writing? It looked to me that she wanted to get out of THIS situation. There was no indication that she wanted to change or that she felt sorry for what she’s done.

avatar fallonthecity April 27, 2011, 5:42 pm

“I guess my question is two-fold: How do I talk myself out of continuing this sort-of relationship with the current guy, and what could possibly be the underlying reason that I keep letting this happen?”

I’m pretty sure she’s asking for feedback on getting out of this situation AND asking what could be the reason she keeps doing this, implying that she does want to change.

avatar HM April 27, 2011, 7:13 pm

I have to disagree that the quote from the letter is her saying she wants to change. Instead I see it as her wanting people to feel bad for her because she keeps “letting this happen” as if she is the unwitting victim as opposed to the willful participant.

I have a friend who is like this. In her case it seems to be a desire to be the victor and have a man finally leave his significant other for her, and a way to keep herself at a distance from men who would actually treat her well and respect her because she has poor self-esteem and doesn’t actually feel deserving of a quality guy.

LW, despite my disgust at your behavior, I feel bad for you because you obviously don’t feel deserving of a legitimate relationship. You need to do some work on yourself and possibly see a counselor, because your other quote also concerns me: “I ended things as soon as I found out he had children … I guess I found my personal limit?”.
This flippant remark indicates that you either don’t like yourself much or that you actually enjoy the possibility of causing others pain.

Life is short and my belief is that we should love and take care of eachother. And that we shouldn’t intentionally destroy relationships that people build because we are too self-centered to control ourselves.
I truly hope you find what you are looking for and that you take a long look in the mirror and ask yourself if this is the level of respect you want from the men (and co-workers) in your life.

avatar fallonthecity April 28, 2011, 12:33 pm

Well, maybe you’re right, but I hope we can just agree to disagree. Without knowing the LW personally, I don’t think we’ll know her true motives or feelings… as it is, each of us are just projecting our personal experiences onto this letter.

avatar HM April 28, 2011, 7:00 pm

I love to agree to disagree!!! :)

If everyone thought the same as I do, I would never grow as a person beyond this moment. fallonthecity, I appreciate your opinions. :)

avatar fallonthecity April 28, 2011, 7:05 pm

Same to you! I enjoy civil discussion. :)

avatar anonymous April 27, 2011, 8:33 am

i think you two are being unfair. yes, it is wrong to sleep with men who are in relationships. but obviously, as she wrote to wendy about this, she is trying to change something. secondly, it is the men’s responsibility to be faithful to their partner (and vice versa). it is not right to blame the LW for their actions.
who are you to judge that she can’t change something about herself? sometimes all you need is to hear those words from someone else to be able to follow the advice. again, i can only say that it is the men’s fault for cheating on their long-term partners, not the LW. it may not be the nicest thing to do, but its not like she knows/is friends with the women.

avatar NolaGirl April 27, 2011, 8:47 am

I actually slightly agree with you, but I recognize that my opinion on this is unpopular (i’ve had this discussion with other women before). Yes the LW is in the wrong in willingly sleeping with married/taken men. But then again, it takes two to erm…you know. The LW clearly knows that what she’s doing is wrong, even if it doesn’t bother her – she recognizes she probably shouldn’t be doing this. So I think that’s a good positive step. Honestly I think the LW probably has some deeper issues when it comes to men and relationships and may need counseling to find out what is at the root of it.

In the end you can’t make a man carry on an affair if he isn’t willing to do so. FYI, I don’t know if a lot of you have the same experiences I do, but a wedding ring on a man seems to be a serious aphrodisiac for women. My husband gets hit on so often, sometimes when I’m even with him. Does he go after these women? Of course not! But somehow I think that married men are a turn on for some women (and esp. college aged girls, god knows why). I mean sure, my hubby is a cutie pie, but he’s also in his 40s!

avatar GingerLaine April 27, 2011, 8:58 am

LOL! I just said something about how the married/committed folk seem to be magnets! I’m glad I’m not the only one who seems to have had this experience!

avatar honeybeenicki April 27, 2011, 9:37 am

My husband and I both have that problem, but he is so oblivious (always has been) that I have to tell him when women hit on him. He was a drummer in a fairly popular local band and I found it amusing to watch girls swoon over him at the gigs and he was completely oblivious to the advances. When he and I started dating I had to be very very upfront and clear. It does seem married men (and women even – I have had a lot more advances since having a ring on my finger) are magnets!

avatar TheGirl April 27, 2011, 11:13 am

I think it has to do with confidence – people in a relationship aren’t looking, so they aren’t always thinking about the possibilities with every person they meet. It’s easier to relax and be yourself, which most people find sexy.

avatar SpyGlassez April 27, 2011, 9:50 pm

They’ve also proven that they are someone “worth having” – because they have the ring/are in a relationship – and so therefore their value is increased, and others recognize that subconsciously.

avatar kali April 27, 2011, 1:45 pm

“The LW clearly knows that what she’s doing is wrong, even if it doesn’t bother her – she recognizes she probably shouldn’t be doing this.”

If LW really wants to stop, step one would be not putting herself in the position to succumb to her co-worker’s overtures. Have dinner in your room, don’t have a few drinks with him, head off to the hotel gym and work off some of that pent-up energy there, go for a jog, anything to keep you away from married Casanova.

As everyone here has said, it tales two, but just because he offers, doesn’t mean you have to take him up on his offer! It gets easier to turn down those cute boys. It really does. Think about the people you might be hurting BEFORE you tumble into bed, not after. That will help firm your resolve.

And good luck! Because heaven forbid you end up with one of those guys. If they’ll cheat WITH you, they’ll cheat ON you.

avatar fallonthecity April 27, 2011, 8:49 am

I agree with you. The LW wrote an honest letter to Wendy asking for advice (and Wendy gave very good and very NICE advice), but she is going to be ripped a new one in the comments. Sad.

avatar Beckaleigh April 27, 2011, 1:20 pm

The LW asked for advice on how to stop seeing this current man and for suggestions on what the underlying problem was. She didn’t say she was sick to her stomach over her behavior or that she vowed to stop seeing married/taken men. If she had, my response would have been different.

And I’m not blaming only her, but like others have said it takes 2 to tango. Not just the married man.

avatar fallonthecity April 27, 2011, 8:16 pm

What does being sick to her stomach over it have to do with it, though? I’m not trying to be argumentative, but I really don’t understand where the animosity is coming from. I got the impression from her letter that she wanted to change the behavior… so I don’t understand why everybody needs her to be sick about it, or why it’s productive to make sure blame is assigned.

avatar Kat April 27, 2011, 1:44 pm

The men are obviously more culpable, but this is also a pattern for the LW. Moreover, let’s face it, she’s HURTING people. It’s not like this is a victimless act. It’s totally foreseeable that the LW will be contributing to the pain and suffering of these mens’ SOs. The men she gets involved with are MORE culpable, but she’s still culpable. Taking personal responsibility for your actions is part of being a Grown Up and a Decent Human Being. The LW isn’t obligated to be either of those things, but I’m guessing on some level she wants to or else she wouldn’t have bothered writing to Wendy in the first place.

avatar GingerLaine April 27, 2011, 8:55 am

Here’s the thing, LW. A lot of women draw the attention of married/engaged men. My girlfriends & I have noticed that it seems like since we got married, we’ve found ourselves the objects of a lot of attention from single and married men. But we all recognize that we have vows to keep. Not only to keep, but to truly honor, so when we find ourselves in those situations that could be trouble, we learn to cool the jets immediately because we don’t want temptation to get the best of us.

You’ve got to learn to do that, LW. Although the onus is on him to be faithful, you know that these relationships are not good for you, not good for the man, and not good for the unsuspecting wife/fiancee. So stop. Take control & accept responsibility for yourself. You know when some mutual flirting is getting a little too hot & heavy. You know when you’re kissing him that you shouldn’t be doing it. So when it happens, take a deep breath, and remove yourself from the situation. If you feel too much pressure to say, “you’re married, this is cheating,” tell him you forgot that you had to call your mom to check in on her. Take a fake phone call. Tell him you’re on your period or feeling sick. Whatever it takes to GET OUT OF THERE.

I genuinely believe that once you’ve broken the cycle, it will be so much easier to simply nip these things in the bud before they cross into extra-flirty territory. Oh, and if you find that you’re missing the companionship or the intimacy, get a friend with benefits or something. If you’re getting your jollies somewhere else, it’ll be a lot easier not to succumb to the wiles of these taken men. Taking some time off from relationships altogether to get your bearings back is probably also not a bad idea.

You can do it, LW. Just say that you’re going to make a change, and do it. Because if you don’t, maybe it won’t be today, maybe not tomorrow either, but one day, you WILL get caught and it may be totally devastating.

avatar NolaGirl April 27, 2011, 8:59 am

I love this answer.

avatar MissDre April 27, 2011, 9:12 am

Me too!

avatar GingerLaine April 27, 2011, 9:21 am

Awww! Thanks, ladies! I just think it’s great that the LW recognized a problem, and wants to correct it. She knows it’s not a good thing. Let’s help her make a change and do better for herself. :)

avatar LennyBee April 27, 2011, 11:31 am

Great, non-judgmental advice! It’s hard to change bad habits, but it’ll be better in the end.

avatar mf April 27, 2011, 11:38 am

Well said! I particularly like that you said “take control and accept responsibility for yourself.”

avatar Rachelgrace53 April 27, 2011, 2:36 pm

This is easily the best comment. People are definitely in judgment mode with this article, but that’s not helpful. If I was in this situation, I think your comment is exactly what I would need to hear.

avatar Bellz April 27, 2011, 5:17 pm

Excellent advice! Practical, nonjudgmental. If I could add one thing, I’d remind the LW that these guys (guys who cheat) will never end the affair on their own. If they’re okay starting an affair, they’re in no rush to end it. It’s solely up to you to end things. So be strong and stay out of his way when you see him!

avatar Kate April 27, 2011, 9:03 am

How about just date a guy who is not in a relationship? Is it THAT difficult?

And the underlying reason sounds like you have no self esteem. You are ensuring that every “relationship” you have will never go anywhere other than a hotel room.

avatar AnitaBath April 27, 2011, 4:37 pm

All of these comments are probably doing boatloads for her self esteem, huh?

“Hey! You obviously don’t have a very high opinion of yourself if you’re being such a whore. I know you’re asking for advice to better your situation, but I’m going to completely ignore that aspect and just tell you what a HORRIBLE HUMAN BEING YOU ARE. How’s your self esteem feel now?”

This reply isn’t entirely directed at the above comment, it just makes me sad that so many comments on this letter follow that pattern. Since Wendy let the girl off easy and just gave her the civil advice she was looking for, does the entire DW community feel like they have to do their part to belittle her and break her down?

avatar fallonthecity April 27, 2011, 8:25 pm

Thank you. I feel the same way about some of these comments. :(

avatar NolaGirl April 28, 2011, 7:57 am

me too!

avatar princesspetticoat April 27, 2011, 4:51 pm

I agree that the underlying reason is likely low self esteem. Maybe she succumbs to unhealthy relationships because that’s all that she feels she’s worth.

avatar Amana April 27, 2011, 9:07 am

Yes, the men in the situation are wrong but that doesn’t make her actions any less horrifying. She is still in the wrong for willingly sleeping with attached men which is what the other posters are pointing out and because the letter was written by her and not the men she is bearing the brunt of the harsh comments.

avatar NolaGirl April 27, 2011, 9:20 am

But I think that if she were proud of her actions or didn’t want to change, she wouldn’t write into DearWendy at all. She’d just continue on in the same pattern. After all, who would write into an advice column to gloat?

avatar honeybeenicki April 27, 2011, 9:34 am

While I agree, it is good she wrote in and is trying to change, that doesn’t make her actions any less wrong. I agree that the men who are in committed relationships are certainly the ones responsible for maintaining faithfulness in their relationship and are therefore more at fault, I don’t think that absolves the “other woman” who knows the man is in a relationship.

avatar NolaGirl April 27, 2011, 9:42 am

Of course it doesn’t, but it doesn’t mean that she needs to be “slut shamed” either. I think there are deeper issues than she digs married men. It could come from her past. Whatever it is, she clearly wants help in fixing this. If it were just as easy as “stopping” then clearly she would. I think it’s probably a psychological thing. How many of us can say that we carry no scars or damage from the past, and that the past does not affect our future behavior? I know I can’t say that.

avatar honeybeenicki April 27, 2011, 10:09 am

I mentioned in my comment below that I thought maybe there was something deeper going on (maybe self esteem or abandonment issues). I do think it is great that she is trying to be honest with herself and change things. I tried pretty hard not to “slut shame” her, but I think maybe some of the really tough comments are likely people who have been hurt by situations like this. But I definitely agree there is likely a psychological problem involved in this, which is why I encouraged LW to see professional counseling to help her deal with it and learn some coping tools.

avatar NolaGirl April 27, 2011, 10:17 am

I didn’t particularly mean you in slut shaming, I meant some of the other comments. I mean really, some of the responses are pretty harsh. Yes, she’s clearly doing something that’s wrong – but if she didn’t want to change things she wouldn’t have written in in the first place. Of course I don’t condone her behavior, but I also don’t think calling her out and castigating her while she’s seeking help is going to help her change her ways. If anything it might make her feel more isolated and drive her away from seeking help in the future.

avatar Black Iris May 9, 2011, 5:56 pm

I think she wrote into the advice column because she never gets the guy. She’s not worried about the damage she’s causing, she’s worried that if she keeps doing this, she’ll end up single. This attitude may be part of her problem.

avatar ltc309 April 27, 2011, 9:46 am

I would understand if she didn’t know these men were taken until way into their “relationship” but she knew from the get go.
Idk call me “old fashion” but I would not be able to have a relationship with a man that was taken.
1) What future would I be fostering for myself knowing the man I am in love with is a dirty cheater that has not respect for commitment.
2) Him being a liar bastard is HIS cross to bear & I could NOT contribute to that.

I have no sympathy for the LW. One time is forgivable, but repeatedly? No, no, NO.

avatar ltc309 April 27, 2011, 9:46 am

bare****

avatar LTC039 April 27, 2011, 1:21 pm

lol really? people disagree with my grammar correction… that’s hilarious.

avatar justpeachy April 27, 2011, 3:18 pm

I think it’s because unless it changes the meaning of what you meant, we knew what you were talking about. It’s not like you’re being graded on your comment and it’s just one more comment to scroll through when the comments on these posts add up really fast on a lunch hour.

avatar LTC039 April 27, 2011, 3:48 pm

Sorry. I tried to “modify” my comment but the link wasn’t working. I’m super anal about grammar, that’s why. I didn’t think about that.

Dear Wendy Wendy April 27, 2011, 1:27 pm

You were right the first time. ;)

avatar LTC039 April 27, 2011, 1:55 pm

Oh. haha…I could’ve sworn it was the other way around. :)

avatar LTC039 April 28, 2011, 11:15 am

Some people on here are ridiculous. Thumbs down happy, much?

avatar Maracuya April 27, 2011, 1:29 pm

Only because you were right the first time :)

avatar Kate April 27, 2011, 9:49 am

I agree! Once, I can see. But multiple times? Sorry, but her letter makes her sound like an idiot.

I wouldn’t want to work with her, either. It sounds like it could get uncomfortable for co-workers.

avatar ltc309 April 27, 2011, 9:52 am

Definitely! Especially since one of the guys was ENGAGED!
I think that’s worse than being married. How can you be in love with someone that is already cheating on someone he’s just starting to “build a life” with.
That’s just sad…

avatar Black Iris May 9, 2011, 4:58 pm

Maybe it’s because I’m married, but I do think it’s worse to cheat when you’re married. Marriage is a bigger promise and level of commitment. It’s bad to break an engagement, but the reason you’re engaged is so you can still change your mind.

avatar MissDre April 27, 2011, 9:10 am

I agree with anonymous. Let’s give this woman a chance! She wrote in asking for help to change something she doesn’t like in herself. We should all be encouraging her to step up and better herself! We as women need to support each other, not trash talk one another when someone is reaching out for help.

No, I don’t agree with the things she’s done, but out of all of us, who hasn’t done something they regret morally? Girl, listen to Wendy and put in the work it takes to be better. You’ll love yourself for it.

Wendy, thanks for being positive and not putting this LW down. I know from experience, sometimes people do not-so-nice things because they are hurting inside and they are lost, NOT because they are a bad person.

avatar jena April 27, 2011, 9:54 am

How do you change something that you dont like yourself doing? YOU STOP DOING IT. end of story.

avatar silver_dragon_girl April 27, 2011, 10:15 am

This website wouldn’t exist if everyone could do that. It’s not always that simple.

avatar eelizg23 April 27, 2011, 11:43 am

Except that’s pretty much exactly the advice Wendy gave her.

avatar silver_dragon_girl April 27, 2011, 12:28 pm

Touche…!

But I stand by my statement. It’s almost never as simple as just deciding to “say no” to something.

avatar Theenemyofmyenemyisagrilledcheesesandwich April 27, 2011, 12:50 pm

I think one of the important things that Wendy also points out is that there is a certain “value” for the LW, who may not want to allow herself to be emotionally invested in available men for whatever reason (fear of intimacy….there are more but I can’t think of any off the top of my head, in going after men who are already attached elsewhere. That’s an important qualifier to advice that is basically, “stop it.”

avatar jena April 28, 2011, 10:41 am

Sleeping with people who are already attached is as easy as saying “NO THANK YOU.”

avatar Bethany April 27, 2011, 9:25 am

I think that when you’re mature enough to see a pattern in your behavior, you’re mature enough to change it. All LW needs to do is say no. It’s as simple as that. When the opprotunity presents itself on this trip, all she has to do is say, “No, I’m going to go back to my room. ALONE” and it’s done. She can choose to not answer his calls, and to not fall into flirty emails with him.
And when she meets another guy who ends up being married/engaged/whatever, she can choose to say no to them too.

She really needs to do some soul searching to figure out why she’s attracted to these men, and really fix the problem inside. But until she’s really worked it out mentally, she really needs to actively choose not to do the things she’s doing.

avatar Kate April 27, 2011, 9:33 am

Agreed! Just say NO. Very simple.

I also noticed she is making the point of telling us she won’t make the first move, but is willing to succumb to a guy. Well, LW if you are not making the first move, then just walk away!

avatar ltc309 April 27, 2011, 9:50 am

Exactly!! As if there aren’t enough single men in this world.
It’s like women who go after a**holes & then complain that their men treat them like shit.
Get over it & change your behavior!

avatar kerrycontrary April 27, 2011, 9:28 am

tsk tsk tsk…LW, I think Wendy is right that you are afraid to be in an actual relationship that might go somewhere rather then a relationship with a man you know will never leave his significant other (whether it be a wife, fiance, or girlfriend). You are the only one who can know the answer to why you are doing this. Commitment phobe? Low self-esteem? Who knows. The point is that you are actively contributing to hurting another woman. I honestly think you need therapy to get over this problem because no one should enjoy hurting other people over and over again. Or maybe you just need to be in a relationship and have a man cheat on you to know how it feels. Perhaps this is where the pattern started???

To quote Nene Leakes…Close your legs to married men!

avatar ArtsyGirl April 27, 2011, 9:36 am

I have had to rewrite this response multiple times because there is just so so much wrong with this letter. LW – please seek some professional help. You obviously have a really low sense of worth if you are willing to be with men who are not willing to be with you, because according to your letter none of these men have told you they are willing to leave their SOs for you. For the love of God, one got MARRIED instead of committing to you.

Also you cannot label what is going on with you and your co-worker a relationship because that would require you to spend time together outside of the bedroom. You are these men’s sex toy, their booty call, their little something on the side – you are not their girlfriend (they already have one).

If the emotional pain (both for you and for the girlfriends and wives) are not enough to convince you then at least think of your career. You are sleeping with a co-worker and many companies require all relationships to be disclosed to your boss and some companies outright ban interoffice romances. Even if there is no punitive actions against relationships, you probably will still be labeled the office harlot for sleeping with a guy in a committed relationship. The way people view you will be damaged and that could be reflected throughout your career progress.

Please LW, stop this destructive pattern. Look for someone who will love you, not someone who is willing to sleep with you when he can spare some time away from his SO.

avatar spaceboy761 April 27, 2011, 10:10 am

I condone any usage of the word ‘harlot’.

avatar spaceboy761 April 27, 2011, 10:24 am

It would almost be worth me getting a sex change just so that I could be a roller derby chick named Harlot O’Scara. Rock.

avatar TheOtherMe April 27, 2011, 10:48 am

I LOOOOVE roller-derby names !! Can I please use yours ?

avatar spaceboy761 April 27, 2011, 11:00 am

No, I already called the surgeon and I’m getting the surgery on Friday. It’s mine. I don’t know how to skate, but I’m assuming that it’s not that hard.

avatar TheOtherMe April 27, 2011, 11:04 am

Well, seeing how far you are willing to go in order to be able to use the name, you truly deserve it. I’ll back off.

avatar honeybeenicki April 27, 2011, 12:01 pm

That is true dedication right there.

avatar Theenemyofmyenemyisagrilledcheesesandwich April 27, 2011, 12:53 pm

OH MAN, AWESOME.

avatar spaceboy761 April 27, 2011, 1:15 pm

Skating in the big hoop skirt would probably be infeasible, but you could at least rock the hair and makeup pretty hard. Seriously, I should license this out to Gotham Girls or something.

avatar Theenemyofmyenemyisagrilledcheesesandwich April 27, 2011, 1:38 pm

Dude, skating in a mini-hoop skirt would totally be feasible.

avatar justpeachy April 27, 2011, 3:22 pm

It might even help break some of the falls. Like a built-in roller derby bumper.

avatar Rachelgrace53 April 27, 2011, 2:55 pm

I finally watched Whip It yesterday and ever since I’ve been trying to think of a killer roller derby name for myself!

avatar Theenemyofmyenemyisagrilledcheesesandwich April 27, 2011, 3:25 pm

I’ve always wanted one too. The best one I’ve come up with is for my sister: “The Dewey-Decimator”. She’s a librarian.

avatar moonflowers April 27, 2011, 5:30 pm

LOL! :)

avatar TheOtherMe April 27, 2011, 6:04 pm

I had actually listed “Whip it” as one of my “pop guilty pleasures” in my TF reveal :)

avatar cdobbs April 27, 2011, 9:36 am

“when you sleep with men who are committed to someone else, you are actively contributing to someone else’s eventual pain”
I agree with Wendy on this 100%. God, how would you feel if you were totally in love with someone and found out he had been cheating on you! Karma is a bitch, thats all I gotta say to this LW.

avatar ltc309 April 27, 2011, 9:38 am

It’s very simple:
STOP DATING MEN THAT ARE TAKEN!!

end.

avatar ltc309 April 27, 2011, 9:42 am

This is my favorite part:

“I feel as though with the admittedly MAJOR exception of them clearly cheating on their significant other, they have all been otherwise great guys”

Really, LW…REALLY?!

avatar Kate April 27, 2011, 9:44 am

Yes…Can you say “grasping at straws”?

avatar SpaceySteph April 27, 2011, 11:17 am

Aside from the fact that he kills puppies and eats them raw, he’s really an animal lover.
Whatever. He is torturing a woman he claims to love. He is not a nice guy with a character flaw, he’s a jackass who is good at deceiving people.

avatar spaceboy761 April 27, 2011, 12:49 pm

Well done, sis!

avatar LTC039 April 27, 2011, 1:18 pm

Love the analogy, all though it made me cringe a little lol

avatar SpaceySteph April 27, 2011, 1:42 pm

Sorry. The thought of a cheating SO makes me cringe. So does killing puppies. So I figured it was applicable. Maybe the eating them was going a bit far.

avatar LTC039 April 27, 2011, 1:56 pm

Oh absolutely! Same here. No worries, I just love puppies haha :)

avatar nameless April 27, 2011, 1:58 pm

poor puppies…

avatar oldie April 27, 2011, 12:50 pm

Her point is that he always treats her well. Of course he does. He is like the non-custodial parent who tells little Johnny ‘of course your can spend all your college savings on a Harley and ride whenever you like and you certainly don’t need to wear a helmet’. Mom will say no and be the bad guy.

LW will never get into an argument about spending the holiday visiting her out of state parents, taking her to the opera, not going out boozing until 2:00 A.M. with the guys, picking up his things, moving for her career. There is just the hotel room, sex, and while the affair lasts, an ally at work. Why would he ever be anything but totally nice to her when they get together. She has no expectations. She is the perfect mistress, with no expectations of anything but the present and totally self supporting and happy with this limited ‘relationship’. It is easy for a guy to be a great guy when he is not asked to compromise on anything and no real-life decisions or responsibilities are involved. She is a pleasant escape from the responsibilities of his real life. He may be a total rat bastard in his real life, but in their hotel room, he can effortlessly be the perfect companion. It is an easier relationship for him than single dating was, with expectations as low as they could possibly be.

I don’t think LW really wants to change all that much. She even says she’s found her limit with married guys with children.

If I interpret her letter correctly, the co-worker she is currently in a relationship with is not engaged or married, but in a long-distance dating relationship with someone else. If that is the case, I can’t view her current actions too harshly. Dating is not a ‘taken’ state like engaged or married. Dating is exploratory. It is up to the guy to tell his long-distance girlfriend that he has found someone else.

avatar LTC039 April 27, 2011, 1:17 pm

Dating is still a commitment. My boyfriend & I are not engaged but I would take it just as bad if he were cheating on me.
& I so agree with your middle paragraph. From a naive sense, I can understand why she make think “he’s a great guy.” She just needs to pull her head out of the clouds & grow up!
Be a REAL woman!

avatar Maracuya April 27, 2011, 1:23 pm

I agreed with you up until the last paragraph. Dating is not marriage, yes, but damn if it makes it alright to step out on somebody. I’m sure they’re exclusive, and who knows how long they’ve been dating. Is it okay if they’ve been exclusive for six months? Five years? No, it’s not.

avatar Theenemyofmyenemyisagrilledcheesesandwich April 27, 2011, 1:40 pm

I was thinking the same thing. I’m in a committed, 2+ year LDR and we are definitely beyond the exploratory phase where dating other people is OK.

avatar LTC039 April 27, 2011, 2:05 pm

Yeah. That kind of hit me. I’ve been in an exclusive relationship for 2.5 years & if he was seeing another woman as well, it would be just as bad. A commitment is a commitment, no matter what. If the couple is mutually understanding that they are exclusive, it doesn’t matter how they made that commitment, it’s cheating!!
If the LW’s co-worker is in an LDR, there’s a good chance his gf doesn’t know he’s cheating…

avatar SpaceySteph April 27, 2011, 1:56 pm

Completely agree.
I was in a 2 year LDR and we were talking marriage once he finished school in a different state. Though we hadn’t “put a ring on it” we were still very much exclusive and cheating would have been a violation of a promise he made to me. It might not be the same as a marriage certificate or vows in a church but it WAS a promise and violating that would also be a betrayal.

Also some couples stay together for years… their whole lives even… and never get married. And there’s gay couples who cannot legally marry. Its ridiculous to assume that everything up to the point of marriage is exploratory and therefore you don’t need to honor your word. If you agree to be exclusive, you are cheating when you step out. Thats it.

avatar Sarah April 27, 2011, 2:03 pm

The level of terrible with cheating goes up with marriage and committed relationships (like living together or just as good as, LDR) for me. I guess its because if you have a regular boyfriend that cheats on you, it really makes you feels awful about your relationship (been there), but if your husband or life partner cheats on you, he’s not just f*cking up your relationship, he’s f*cking up your life.

Its like there’s stealing from somebody, which is wrong, and then stealing from somebody who’s poor. Causes way more damage.

avatar HM April 27, 2011, 7:25 pm

Why do you have so many thumbs down!? I get that she is supposedly asking for help (although I think it might actually be asking for excuses). I don’t think patting her head and telling her it will be ok is the way to go. She is adult enough to go on weeks-long business trips so she is old enough to accept responsibility for her choices and make positive changes.

avatar honeybeenicki April 27, 2011, 9:40 am

I definitely agree with Wendy that it seems like she’s trying to avoid a true relationship (though LW did say she has had real relationships that weren’t with taken men). I would advise seeking some kind of counseling because it seems like there is some kind of deeper issue here with self-esteem or abandonment or whatever. When I was younger, I was big on the “don’t let people get to close and don’t get too serious because then you can’t get hurt” idea. But that also means you will truly never have a meaningful relationship. You have to risk the pain, messiness, and heartbreak. Please, LW, seek professional counseling and try to get to the bottom of it. And in the meantime, just say NO. And stay out of situations that tend to lead to this behavior whenever possible.

avatar Flake April 27, 2011, 9:47 am

I agree with people saying that in this case, the men are responsible for their relationships. If they choose to cheat, that decision has nothing to do with the LW. She just happens to be there at that particular moment. That being said, by now, she should be able to recognize the signs and avoid the situations that in the past have led her to make choices that she regrets. I mean if an attached guy is hitting on you and you find him attractive, and you tend to make bad decisions when you drink, then you probably should not drink in the company of that particular guy.
I believe that, generally, you attract people you want. You choose people you have relationships with. In my opinion, the LW is one choice conscious choice away from stopping this pattern of behavior.

avatar silver_dragon_girl April 27, 2011, 10:12 am

Yes. Don’t put yourself in situations where you know you are likely to do something you’ll regret.

avatar SweetChild April 27, 2011, 11:53 am

Agreed. I’ve done the whole ‘he just told me he has a girlfriend but I don’t care right now because I have had a lot to drink and this seems like fun’. I would never have made the same decisions when sober, but good sense goes out the window when you drink.

avatar Joanna April 27, 2011, 3:05 pm

been there, done that.

avatar jena April 27, 2011, 9:52 am

Trash. Break it off with him and show some respect to the women you are screwing over. Yes, they make the decision to step out on their relationships, but you can make the decision to have some self respect and some compassion for their girlfriends, fiances, wives, and kids. Grow up.

avatar Rachelgrace53 April 27, 2011, 3:05 pm

I think maybe you wouldn’t be getting thumbed down like crazy if you hadn’t felt the need to call her “Trash.” Why would you need to include that, while talking about that respect she’s supposed to be showing other women?

avatar jena April 28, 2011, 10:44 am

Because, how audacious is it to write to an advice column talking about how sad you are that YOU are sleeping with someone else’s boyfriend, fiance, HUSBAND? How about thinking of the people she’s hurting, rather than HERSELF.

Maybe “trash” wasn’t what I was looking for. SELFISH would be better.

avatar Black Iris May 9, 2011, 5:06 pm

Sleeping with someone else’s lover huts them much worse than calling them a name. You can’t complain about being insulted when you’re willing to hurt people.

avatar fallonthecity May 9, 2011, 9:31 pm

…Is it a contest? As long as whatever we say/do to someone who is “The Other Woman” isn’t as bad as sleeping with someone who’s married, it’s fair game? Makes no sense.

avatar fallonthecity April 27, 2011, 8:51 pm

“Trash.”

Sounds like you need to do some growing up yourself.

avatar jena April 28, 2011, 10:44 am

Right, I’m the one whining about how sad I am that I can only sleep with attached men. That’s MY immaturity showing, sure.

avatar Hana April 28, 2011, 11:34 am

I will get a lot of heat for this, but I agree with you Jena. She needs to grow up. What she is doing is trashy and I dont know why because she wrote in to DW everyone thinks its ok. And I’m sorry, but alcohol shouldn’t change your moral code that much, especially not multiple times with multiple men. That is an excuse to get away with what you know is wrong.

avatar Kate April 28, 2011, 11:43 am

Agreed!

avatar fallonthecity April 28, 2011, 12:27 pm

Well, yeah. A mature person would be able to disagree with a person’s actions, without calling them derogatory names.

avatar Sarah April 28, 2011, 12:34 pm

Its name-calling like this that divides women and makes some feel justified in hurting each other, ie: cheating with their boyfriends, husbands. I think if there were more respect for each other than you are willing to give, there would be much less girl on girl crime in this world.

avatar Elle April 28, 2011, 12:13 pm

I agree with jena too. However, I don’t think jena needs to be so rude. Other people got their point across without being mean to the LW.

Does anybody realize that the LW actually reads our comments? Think about it – who writes to Wendy? We do! People who know about this website and check it everyday. There’s no reason to be rude to each other. At least, I don’t see one.

I didn’t thumb jena either way, but I might stop reading her comments…

avatar TheGirl April 28, 2011, 12:17 pm

Agreed! No one here thinks its o.k. for her to sleep with married/taken men. We just recognize that name calling is not going to help. If she really wants to change, she should be able to ask for advice without feeling persecuted.

avatar fallonthecity April 28, 2011, 12:28 pm

Exactly. I think everyone agrees that the LW is in the wrong — but WE are also in the wrong for being mean to her.

avatar silver_dragon_girl April 27, 2011, 10:10 am

Oh, girl. The fact that you wrote in for help with this gives me a lot of hope for you. My ex cheated on me and it about killed me, but I never really blamed the “other woman” (now, granted, I wouldn’t want to go have coffee with her or anything either) as much as I did him. Obviously it’s wrong and obviously you know that. And while you might have some underlying “issues” that are contributing to the fact that you’ve done this three times now, I think it’s more likely that it’s just a run of bad luck.

It’s really easy, when you’re dating around casually, to assume a sort of “I can do whatever I want” attitude about it. I know I have in the past. It’s easy to forget the big picture when you’re happy with someone…after all, you’re not cheating on anybody.

Only you are cheating yourself. Because every time that guy goes home and sleeps with his wife? Cheating on you. Every time that guy goes to his fiancee and tells her he loves her and can’t wait to marry her? Cheating on you. Every time the current guy flies out to visit his long-distance girlfriend, hugs and kisses her, has torrid, “I haven’t seen you in 2 months” sex with her? HE IS CHEATING ON YOU.

Going into a relationship knowing that he’s with someone else is wrong, by all accounts, but you already know that. So the next time you’re tempted, ask yourself why you would settle for half of a relationship? Why is he allowed to sleep with, live with, make love to other people when you’re not? You are worth so much more than that.

avatar plasticepoxy April 27, 2011, 11:09 am

I really loved this answer. LOVED it. Compassionate, but bluntly truthful at the same time.

avatar SweetChild April 27, 2011, 11:48 am

I agree too! So many comments pouring so much scorn on the LW but it’s the GUY who is cheating! He’s the only one in two relationships. She wants to change which is great!

avatar mf April 27, 2011, 12:09 pm

I would give you a hundred thumbs-up if I could!

avatar haggith April 27, 2011, 2:06 pm

beautiful response! i wish i could give you 100 likes

avatar Kare April 27, 2011, 10:12 am

I would definitely try to get out of a month long business trip with someone you are having an affair with. It sounds like the LW can’t resist the temptation (neither can the guy), and if someone from her job finds out she could be fired depending on company policy.

avatar honeybeenicki April 27, 2011, 10:24 am

I was trying to think of a way she could get out of going on the trip or making it easier. Even just staying in a different hotel might be a little bit better.

avatar Maracuya April 27, 2011, 10:55 am

I think it would depend on how large her company is. Also, try explaining why they’re in a different hotel on an expense report (which would mean carpooling?) is kind of difficult. Just say, “No, sorry. I met someone,” when he puts the moves on her.

avatar honeybeenicki April 27, 2011, 12:03 pm

I prefer the just say no approach too, but she doesn’t seem like that has been all that easy for her in the past. Requesting a room far far away in the same hotel maybe? So she won’t have to explain to them why she needs to move.

avatar Maracuya April 27, 2011, 10:14 am

Wendy, sometimes you amaze me with how nice you are.

avatar ReginaRey April 27, 2011, 10:15 am

Instead of talking about how this pattern is morally wrong, which I’m certain you already know, let’s talk about how this is going to affect your life.

Every time you begin a “relationship” with a married or taken man, you are going to do yourself irreperable harm over and over and over again. Every time he leaves you to go back to his wife, his fiance, his girlfriend, it’s only going to be another crushing blow to your self-worth. This blow makes you believe that you AREN’T worthy of a real relationship, and you seek the next taken man all over again. It’s a very self-fulfilling situation you’ve landed yourself in.

Get thee to a therapist. Now. You really need to talk this out with someone who is qualified to help you figure out WHY this pattern started, and why you feel you aren’t worthy of a normal, HEALTHY relationship with a single man.

And honestly, I don’t think trying to date a single man is where you need to start. I think you need to start by being completely single for quite some time. I get the feeling that you don’t like yourself very much. If you want to actually do some real changing, you’re going to have to spend some uncomfortable time with yourself. I think you need to learn to be responsible for your own happiness and your own worth…people who leave that in the hands of others never, ever end up fulfilled. I think you’ve been leaning on taken men to fill this void, and it’s time you did the hard work to fill it yourself.

avatar silver_dragon_girl April 27, 2011, 10:21 am

Totally agree. Take some time off from dating. Don’t even get a FWB, get a vibrator. Get a hobby or two. Get a dog. Make some new girlfriends. “Do you” for a while.

avatar TheGirl April 27, 2011, 10:21 am

Yes! This! This girl clearly needs to be single for a while if she wants to break this pattern.

avatar phoenix287 April 27, 2011, 11:11 am

“I think you need to learn to be responsible for your own happiness and your own worth…people who leave that in the hands of others never, ever end up fulfilled.”

I vote for this as comment of the week!

avatar MissDre April 27, 2011, 11:29 am

Agreed!

avatar camille905 April 27, 2011, 10:32 am

Great answer Wendy!If just saying no was as easy as all these commenters seem to think, then I would have a sweet savings account (because I would just be saying no to shopping and eating out), I would never do anything I didn’t want to (because I would be able to just say no to people), and I would probably be much thinner (because I would be saying no to delicious and fattening food).
Changing habits is HARD! Especially when there are emotional and psychological issues that fuel them. LW needs support- hopefully she will be able to get it from someone who will get down off their high horse to assist her, instead of judging her from afar.

avatar Bethany April 27, 2011, 10:44 am

Just because changing a habit is hard doesn’t mean it can’t be done. She’s getting lazy and making excuses as to why what she’s doing is ok, and it’s not.

avatar Kate April 27, 2011, 11:01 am

I see your point, but I don’t think sleeping with married/engaged men is the same as eating out/junk food.

avatar camille905 April 27, 2011, 11:14 am

She’s also asking for help and being shot down…..not exactly a great motivator.

avatar Theenemyofmyenemyisagrilledcheesesandwich April 27, 2011, 1:09 pm

Yes! I don’t think it’s unreasonable to venture that she’s selling herself short in these “relationships” because on some level she doesn’t feel she deserves better. It only takes two points to define a line, and she has three, at which time you can not only define a trend but perform a statistical analysis. (/dork) To be able to perpetuate a pattern for herself like this, which must be very un-fulfilling at the end of the day, suggests that the pattern has more to do with her self-worth than with her morals. As much as I don’t AT ALL condone what she is doing/has done, if the heart of the issue is self-esteem, and not laziness, berating her and telling her what a terrible human being she is would only seem to FEED that lack of self-love necessary to change the behavior.

avatar SweetChild April 27, 2011, 11:43 am

Totally agree. So much harshness here! Wendy was very patient and reasonable. The LW wanted help, not judgement!

avatar LolaBeans April 27, 2011, 10:46 am

You have a responsibility too… Treat yourself better than this. Know that this is wrong and that you are fucking breaking someone’s heart and you don’t even feel guilty about it.
I’m sorry, but this really bothers me.

If you’re scared of a true relationship, then stop messing someone elses up.. I would think you’re only creating a pattern where this will come back to you, years down the road.. and you’ll wonder if your loving man is scewing someone else.

Also, seek help. I don’t understand how someone could not feel pain over this situation you’re in.

avatar SweetChild April 27, 2011, 11:26 am

It’s not HER that’s messing up a relationship, it’s HIM. She’s just the way he chose to do it. It’s the guy that should feel guilty about breaking someone’s heart since it was in his power to break, not the LW. I’m not saying it’s okay to be the other woman, but she deserves pity, not spite. The douchebag who cheated on his significant other with her deserves all the scorn in the world.

avatar LolaBeans April 27, 2011, 11:35 am

no, she should KNOW better than to do that.
It is his fault, i’m not claiming it’s not. But she knows he’s attached.

avatar SweetChild April 27, 2011, 11:41 am

Of course she should know that it’s wrong and not do it. Just as criminals know what they’re doing is wrong but do it anyway. Like I said, it’s not the right thing to do, but the responsibility for the relationship is the guy’s since of the two of them, him and the LW, he’s the only one in it.

avatar LolaBeans April 27, 2011, 11:48 am

that’s a horrible comparison.

The LW has no empathy for these women, their relationship, their children, their situation etc.
Empathy is all it takes.
It is not just the guy’s responsibility. it takes two.

avatar SweetChild April 27, 2011, 12:05 pm

Look, it IS just his responsibility to maintain his relationship with his wife, family etc. The other woman is NOT part of that relationship so therefore it is NOT hers to ruin. It’s HIS. He has simply used her to do it.

You’re confusing it with the fact that it is BOTH their responsibility to not jump in bed together when he is taken. It’s not a huge difference so I can see why you’re lumping them in together. But by doing so you’re letting him off the hook somewhat, and that is what is not right in my books.

avatar Maracuya April 27, 2011, 12:17 pm

I’m not letting him off the hook, but in my book it’s wrong to hurt another person. It might be easier to compartmentalize for some people than for others, but I would not be guilt-free. You can rationalize it by saying, “If not me, then someone else,” but that doesn’t mean that you’d be in the right.

avatar LolaBeans April 27, 2011, 1:28 pm

I’m not letting him off the hook. I just said that it’s his fault too and i am not discounting that at all.
I am saying that she ALSO has a responsibility to not hurt others. She’s doing this consciously.

Heather Heather April 27, 2011, 10:53 am

The LW recognizes her pattern of behavior as wrong, that much I admire.

But that doesn’t change how angry the letter made me. She knows its bad, but knowing it’s bad and CONTINUING to do it is not ok. It’s good she wants to change. But her letter wasn’t really that apologetic.

This is absolutely truly just my opinion, and I anticipate the purple thumbs, but LW doesn’t come across to me that she’s sorry for the possible hurt she’s caused other women. She seems more upset that she’s gotten the short end of the stick, so to speak. And that’s what upsets me about this letter. Not simply her actions, but the attitude she seems to have about them.

Having said that, I really hope that she makes a change and finds happiness with a guy who can be available to her, and Wendy’s advice was really great and non-judgmental.

avatar Kate April 27, 2011, 10:59 am

I got the same impression as Heather. She feels slighted somehow! Poor baby! Really people! She is choosing to SLEEP WITH UNAVAILABLE MEN! Yes, they are absolute idiots, scum, whathaveyou.

But they didn’t write in; she did. And I think her attitude screams “Feel sorry for me!”

I don’t feel sorry for her, or the guys. I DO feel sorry for their SO’s.

The LW needs therapy.

avatar SweetChild April 27, 2011, 11:37 am

But this is a place where people go for advice, not a confessional where they go to absolve themselves of things done wrong. She doesn’t need to apologise to Wendy or the internet for her actions, and chances are that there’s no possibility of apologising to the people who may have been hurt in all this, if they even knew about it or wanted to speak to her. So what’s left is to ask for advice on how to avoid situations that she has ended up in previously for whatever reason and then act on the suggestions. This is what she is trying to do and it’s wrong that she should be judged so harshly for that.

Heather Heather April 27, 2011, 12:05 pm

No, she doesn’t need to apologize to Wendy, us, and might not even have the chance or desire to apologize to any of the other women. The tone of her letter just frustrates me, because she SHOULD be sorry for what she did, and she just comes off (to me) as feeling like she’s so unfortunate because she continuously CHOOSES to pursue unavailable men.

No, I’m not saying that the men aren’t responsible. Obviously they are. But they weren’t the ones that wrote in. Just my opinion.

avatar Black Iris May 9, 2011, 6:05 pm

I agree with Heather. And I think we need to remember that LW says part of her problem is that she doesn’t see anything wrong with it. Maybe if she felt guilty, she wouldn’t do it and then she would be better off herself.

avatar TECH April 27, 2011, 10:56 am

Wendy, your response was far too kind. The letter writer asks why she continues to stay in this pattern. It’s because she says YES to men in relationships. All you have to do is start saying NO. Have some self-respect and will power. And put yourself in the shoes of the woman who’s being cheated on. Where is your morality?

avatar spaceboy761 April 27, 2011, 10:57 am

I normally don’t love the ‘go to a therapist’ response, but it might be in order here only because we have an established pattern of behavior and it might be hard to break without some help.

Until then, we have the fairly immediate issue of the upcoming business trip. This is a problem since your previous trip turned into a Bangfest and you’ve remained on friendly terms with the guy, which means that (right or wrong) he will pretty much be expecting Bangfest II. We need an action plan:

1. Don’t drink at all. Just don’t. You have enough self-control issues without alcohol nudging you along.

2. No intimate contact at all. There is no ‘just kissing is OK’, or ‘so long as we don’t do THAT’, or ‘boobsex doesn’t really count’. Also be prepared for him to get completely pissed bordering on confrontational. You’re basically slapping his hand away from a previously open cookie jar and he’s going to get upset. Be prepared to shut this guy down right away.

3. Be prepared to come clean. If the guy forces the issues or at least tries to be really, really charming, remember that you hold the trump card here since he has a relationship on the line and you don’t. Threathen to report him to HR if you need to. I know it’s playing dirty, but you need some sense of control over the situation if you’re ever going to regain any kind of self-discipline. This is kind of a last resort. Like don’t go to step 3 if your pants are still on.

avatar mf April 27, 2011, 12:04 pm

Good, practical tips. I would add to no. 2: if humanly possible, avoid ALL physical contact. Don’t let him put his arm around you, touch you on the shoulder, put his hand on your lower back, etc. You need to put as much distance, physical and emotional, between the two of you as possible. Small physical touches, like a hand on your arm, can turn a conversation to flirtation very quickly.

If she’s really serious about ending this affair, I’d also advise the LW to avoid spending any alone time with him. A dinner with him and other colleagues/clients? Sure, that’s okay. Drinks at the bar when it’s just the two of you? Not okay. If he suggests that you two do something alone, even if it’s just dinner, find something else to do!

avatar Thyme April 27, 2011, 3:25 pm

This is my favorite response, because it provides actual, concrete ADVICE to the LW, not just an unsolicitted judgement on her bad behavior, which she already knows is bad.

Some people have a much harder time with self control than others. You might be able to easily “just stop doing it,” but obviously that’s not working for the LW. The mind can rationalize all kinds of things into exceptions to the rules in the heat of the moment.

LW, make an action plan. A really, really detailed action plan. Before going on your trip, imagine all the many tempting situations you could possibly find yourself in there, and write them all down. Think hard; include EVERYTHING that could possibly happen, even if the possibility seems remote. Then, decide what you will do to handle each situation, and write down your plan, step by step, in explicit detail. Write down everything he might say to you, and then write down exactly how you will respond to each one. Read your plan repeatedly in the days leading up to your trip until you’ve memorized it, and add any new possibilities that come to you.

It’s easier to follow resolutions that are extremely specific than those that are very general, because the general ones can be rationalized away for “special cases” that are “different” or “don’t count.”

Then, after the trip, apply and expand your action plan to include the rest of your life. If you slip up at some point, don’t beat yourself up over it and throw away your goal in dispair. Learn from it. Write down what happened, what you did, and the very specific changes you will make to your behavior in order handle that situation better in the future.

And as others said, therapy is a wise idea too, if you aren’t already in therapy.

avatar TheGirl April 27, 2011, 3:27 pm

I always look to Designing Women’s advice on how to not sleep with someone – if you want to make absolutely sure you won’t go too far with him, don’t shave your legs. Although, if you never shave your legs, I guess that wouldn’t work…

avatar TheOtherMe April 28, 2011, 10:21 am

Absolutely agreed. Don’t shave ANYTHING.

avatar callmehobo April 27, 2011, 3:50 pm

Spaceboy, I just want to point out that this is your second comment on the site to refer to boobsex, and congratulate you on working this into two different letters. Bravo! :D

avatar spaceboy761 April 28, 2011, 10:11 am

I take continuity very seriously.

avatar TheOtherMe April 28, 2011, 10:19 am

I’m still laughing at ” BangFest II ” !!!

avatar Black Iris May 9, 2011, 6:08 pm

I think you have to go a little further than this – make that a lot further. Cut off contact now, except about business. If at all possible, don’t go on the business trip with him. Ask to not have to work with him.

Let him know that you are sorry about what happened and want all contact in the future to be strictly business. Then follow through.

Meanwhile, distract yourself with friends, activities, and dating somebody with more character than this guy.

avatar Lexington April 27, 2011, 11:03 am

One thing I think you may be doing is not ‘closing yourself off’ to these men. When I was single, the second I found out a guy was in a relationship, he was off limits to me. Did not exist in my mind as a sexual being. (Now only my boyfriend is a sexual being). If you were giving off the vibes of being open, these guys picked up on it. We are all in control of what we send off as far as availability goes, and you need to figure out what is appropriate and what isn’t. Even entertaining the idea of kissing someone in a relationship: definitely inappropriate!

avatar Lexington April 27, 2011, 11:06 am

I’m really not even going to go into how reprehensible I think cheating is and how you are just as responsible as the men because pretty much everyone else has covered that. Except for where I just did.

avatar Elle April 27, 2011, 11:07 am

This is obviously a relationship pattern that the LW needs to break. It seems to me that she is getting in relationships with these guys hoping they would chose her over their SO’s. I’m talking about the engaged guy that broke her heart.

Why do you set yourself up for disappointment? None of these guys chose you in the end. Why are you content with what they’re willing to give you – crumbs of a relationship? You should want more, and you deserve more. And stop thinking that if they prefer you NOW, they will end up preferring you forever.

This is something I noticed about myself (as in, it happened, and I realized it did a long time after) – whenever I meet a guy and I find out he’s in a relationship, my mind instantly considers him asexual. As in, I’m not attracted to him, ever (even after the end of his relationship). So try to imagine that all guys in relationships are dickless (sorry for that mental image, Spaceboy).

Also think about consequences on your future relationships. Will you be able to trust a guy when he’s away from you for 2-3 weeks? Given your own behavior, you probably wouldn’t care that much anyway… And if you don’t care, how meaningful is that relationship?

I agree with everyone else here, you need to figure out the root of your problem.

avatar Laurel April 27, 2011, 12:55 pm

“So try to imagine that all guys in relationships are dickless (sorry for that mental image, Spaceboy).”

LOL you put is so eloquently. Thumbs up for that alone.

avatar HM April 27, 2011, 7:39 pm

Laurel is a beautiful name. Not relevant, but I keep thinking about it.

avatar SpaceySteph April 27, 2011, 2:12 pm

“whenever I meet a guy and I find out he’s in a relationship, my mind instantly considers him asexual. As in, I’m not attracted to him, ever.”

My boyfriend’s roommate will pretty much screw any female (I think even the pulse is optional). But when he found out my boyfriend and I were together he said to me “From here on out, you are a dude.” Basically meaning that he would no longer think of me as someone he would ever date, sleep with, think about naked, etc. By being in a relationship with his friend, I am now off limits.

I advise you to do the same. That guy is a woman, or a man without a penis, or a lizard, or whatever it is that you need to think of him as to be turned off by him. He has a girlfriend, so he’s off limits.

avatar SweetChild April 27, 2011, 11:15 am

Women are really harsh on each other sometimes. I have an overly developed conscience about most things but in this case I think that while the LW actions were not ideal, the onus is on the man to maintain a faithful relationship with his partner. He is the one who is cheating and has every reason not to do so but proves himself to be not worthy of his partner/wife/girlfriend. I’m not saying that sleeping with a married man is okay, but it’s more that I feel sorry for her that she has been used by those guys. She’s let herself be used and that’s really sad. Every woman should know that they deserve someone of their very own, who will be with them all of the time, not only the time when he’s not with his real partner. If you’re with a guy who’s already taken then you know already he has a pretty big moral flaw which should be a deal-breaker if you have enough self-respect. Despite the general consensus I don’t think the guilt for these relationships is hers to carry round, but she needs to know she can do better if she gives herself a chance.

It’s like although I WANT to drive my car really really fast because it’s a huge buzz for a short while, I resist the temptation since I’ll run out of gas sooner, I know it’s really irresponsible and people (including me) are likely to get hurt. Take responsibility to do what you know is the right thing.

avatar Fairhaired Child April 28, 2011, 2:49 am

“Women are really harsh on each other sometimes.”

Just wanted to throw out there how true that is. And actually if Wendy sees this comment (though she’s already left) I’d love for her to put on the book list scroll thing on the side “The Twisted Sisterhood” which is a great book that talks about females interactions with each other and how sometimes we can be so cruel without realizing how our actions impact others. (I havent finished it yet though – but it made me do alot of soul searching and apologizing so far )

avatar Black Iris May 9, 2011, 6:15 pm

I’m married, so I tend to think that if you knowingly get involved with someone who’s married or taken, you don’t have the right to complain when you get hurt. You’ve already chosen to hurt someone else and you don’t care about them.

Cheating is one of those things where both people involved are responsible for the damage they cause. The person in the relationship may be more guilty because they’re breaking a promise, but it doesn’t let the outsider off.

It’s like drunk driving. The person who drinks and drives is responsible for what they do. They deserve to lose their license and maybe go to jail. However, if you sell them a drink and hand them their keys and then they kill someone, you’re also to blame.

avatar kdog April 27, 2011, 11:22 am

First off, I really like Wendy and GingerLaine’s advice to the LW. I just think I might have some food for thought/a little different perspective. When I was a teenager I used to have a similar tendency to go out with guys that had girlfriends. Yes, I had a lot of self-esteem issues, etc. (and for the record haven’t done anything like it in years). However, all the bitterness and slut-shaming and gossiping that I got from women (who I had NEVER done anything to) gave me very little reason to want to be better to them. It allowed me to build an idea in my head that the other, other woman, whatever you want to call her, really was some kind of terrible shrew. I am NOT saying that means anyone deserves to have their commitments flagrantly ignored, but maybe lets try not to be such bitches to each other in the process.

avatar Theenemyofmyenemyisagrilledcheesesandwich April 27, 2011, 1:27 pm

Yes! I don’t approve of her behavior. But being strongly judged and excluded by a predominantly female community isn’t going to help her change. One thing that comes to mind with the LW is that she doesn’t mention any friends, male OR female. What’s her emotional support system like? How caring are her friends? Does she have strong bonds with other women with whom she can empathize? Does she have good female role models?

The women I know who have good, healthy, loving friendships with other women tend not to seek attention and approval through men. My ex cheated on me with a girl I had just become friends with. Before they had met, she had told me she didn’t have many female friends because they always accused her of going after their man. Since then, I take it as a red flag- if a woman doesn’t have strong bonds with one or more women, that’s not a good sign.

avatar Joanna April 27, 2011, 4:34 pm

I think the same holds true for men. If they don’t have good male friendships, that should be a red flag.

avatar Theenemyofmyenemyisagrilledcheesesandwich April 27, 2011, 8:04 pm

Yup, agreed.

avatar Sarah April 27, 2011, 11:33 am

I work in an area of Los Angeles that is almost entirely young married men with nice cars and nice suits. There was a time that I was flattered by the elevator flirtations and hints that they wish they were single again, and I didn’t understand why women got so mad at married men that hit on them. Besides, if they aren’t getting any at home, so what if they like to have some harmless fun? It was just general flirtation, but today thinking about it, I realized that I took it as far as THEY wanted to, and had they been more active than suggestive I don’t know what a foolish girl with low self esteem like myself would have done. Luckily, before I got to find out, two of my good friends who were married decided to get divorced. The husband had been cheating on her for years and was leaving her for the latest in a long string of mistresses when the wife discovered the affair. Seeing her, watching her heart break and that catastrophe wreck everything that she had been working for in life made me angry in a way I never experienced before. What’s more was that this male friend constantly complained how unhappy they were to me and his other friends and our constant urges to get counseling or even a divorce fell on deaf ears, he wanted to cheat, he didn’t want to do the kind thing. Now, I understand the anger women have when married men hit on them. I understand how much married men are willing to destroy with their partner just so they can feel turned on and attractive.

LW, my advice to you is this: Fake it. Fake the anger when married men come on to you. Every time you reject them, you will understand more and more that they were only using you to fix what was wrong in their life, not as an actual person they’re interested in. What if you are sick or injured, and have to go to the hospital, will this man be able to come and support you? What if a relative dies, will this man be able to come to the funeral and be with you while you grieve? No. And what’s more, he’s glad. You’re not a partner to him, and he’s glad to have the break from having to care about another person. You like being the thing they wished they had, I get it, but once you remove yourself from this pattern you will understand that you are only the girl that they know they can bullsh*t for sex.

avatar Ms.Irish April 27, 2011, 11:33 am

I used to feel that the “other woman” took too much heat. I couldn’t understand why the cheated seem to lash out at a perfect stranger as much or more than the person with whom they had been intimate. After all, the other women wasn’t the one who broke promises and lied directly to a loved one’s face. She was certainly wrong to ride in the get-away- car but she was not the one committing the murder.

Now that I’ve been married for awhile my perspective has changed. I still believe that partners are completely responsible for keeping their vows through good times and bad. But now that my husband and I have lived through some tumultuous times (the deaths of family members, buying a house, changing careers, having kids) I can fully appreciate how vulnerable a marriage (or relationship) can become. Sometimes two people are trying the best they can to share a life. Sometimes needs aren’t aways being met, and people aren’t always happy and connected to each other. It can take time for a relationship to bend, adapt, and accommodate as people grow. Such times can last weeks or months or even longer. They can be filled with anxiety, depression, resentment, and terrible gut-wrenching loneliness. Thankfully, I have seen how a marriage can come out of these times stronger and more resilient than ever before. But people in relationships can be really vulnerable during the growing pains over the course of their life.

Although I have never cheated on anyone, my reasons are far more substantial and ingrained now than they used to be. I don’t think the LW is getting in these situations because she wants something easy. This may be the case with the last guy, but surely not the guy she was in love with. I think LW simply does not see it as that wrong. She says these guys have “great character” with one exception. Clearly she does not value commitment, honesty, or emotional integrity within personal relationships as necessary prerequisites to character. Maybe she does not believe monogamy is realistic. She could think she isn’t hurting anything that isn’t already broken. Maybe she feels it isn’t her responsibility to care about another women. Maybe her self esteem is low and she thinks she better take love and affection where she can get it. Whatever the reasons are on some level she knows that her belief system is dysfunctional and destructive or she would not be writing to Wendy.

IMHO if the LW wants to change her pattern she is going to have to do some serious introspection. If she can’t figure out the reasons herself, counseling would probably help. If she wants to avoid getting involved again on this next trip she needs to find some other satisfying distraction during the times when she with this guy. She needs to have other things to do and think about besides engaging him.

Sorry this was so long, I guess I got carried away.

avatar Sarah April 27, 2011, 11:55 am

How is it that you were able to summarize everything I ever wanted to know in life about relationships in four paragraphs? You have made me a better partner to my boyfriend, thank you.

avatar Ms.Irish April 27, 2011, 12:22 pm

Thanks for kind feedback.

avatar LolaBeans April 27, 2011, 1:33 pm

seriously, that was really well written. i’ve read it a few times now and really connected with it.

thank you.

avatar Ms.Irish April 27, 2011, 4:30 pm

thanks

avatar Maracuya April 27, 2011, 11:40 am

The way to break your cycle is empathy. It stops you from contributing to others’ pain. It prevents you from being taken advantage of.

You’re planning a wedding and your fiance is so excited to share the rest of his life with you. He proudly shows off your ring to all his friends and talks to you about buying your first house together, although you guys don’t have enough for a down payment yet. But you can dream.

You’re so tired from working long hours and taking care of your two kids, but seeing them with their father makes you smile. Sometimes he gets up early to make you pancakes on Saturdays so you can have a break. Sometimes he arranges for the ‘rents to take care of the kids so you can have a date night.

You wake up early to call your boyfriend every day and sometimes you cry because you miss him so much. You scrape money up for a cross-country flight because all you want is to hold him. He sends you love letters in the mail because he’s a romantic.

I don’t care if he seems so nice–there’s someone out there who loves them and has no idea he doesn’t. That makes someone more unattractive than anything else I could possibly imagine.

The scary thing, and maybe why you’ve fallen into a habit of unavailable men, is that once you’re in a committed relationship, you ARE them. These guys that are, by your words, so great aren’t great enough to love and honor their own. That is scary. But it’s not the truth. There are wonderful men out there who are honest. I hope with a bit of soul-searching you can realize that and get the best that you deserve as well.

avatar moonflowers April 27, 2011, 5:44 pm

I agree that empathy – for both yourself, and for the wives and girlfriends of the men you have cheated with – is the way to solve your problem.

Do you have any dear friends, sisters, cousins, etc. who have husbands or fiances whom they love very much? Visualize what would happen if your married/engaged sister or BFF just found out she had been cheated on. Imagine her hurt, her tears, and her anguish.

Maybe you’ve tried to rationalize that the men you’re cheating with are probably married/engaged to horrible shrews, but it’s equally likely that their wives/fiancees are like your sister, or your friend – women you like and care about. If you could never bring yourself to do this to your BFF, then generalize this rule – you can’t do it to anyone.

avatar cmarie April 27, 2011, 11:44 am

I’m trying very hard to have sympathy for this LW, but she just has such a bad attitude. I feel bad that she thinks so little of herself she believes that these men are what she deserves but knowingly sleeping with a married/taken man is just wrong. I’ve always defended the other woman: it’s the taken person’s responsibility to be faithful, maybe she didn’t know, maybe the man took advantage of her, etc. In this case it just seems like the fact that they’re taken is a minor issue when in fact it should be the biggest, and only issue. You don’t sleep with a taken man, it’s wrong, you hurt people, and you’ll never get what you want from the relationship (unless all you want is empty, immoral sex). My father cheated on my mother with our babysitter multiple times before she finally left him. The other woman obviously knew he was taken but didn’t care and he was a worthless jerk that he didn’t care either. It caused a huge rift in our family so that I haven’t seen or talked to him and his side of the family in over 20 years. Do you really want to be the cause of that? It’s his responsiblity to remain faithful but that doesn’t mean you don’t have the responsibility to not sleep with him. There are definitely some underlying issues at play and I hope you find the courage to get to a good therapist who can help you. Not only does the innocent spouse deserve better YOU deserve better. You are not this man’s sex toy, you are a human being with real feelings who deserves a real relationship with a man that isn’t going to screw you then go home and cuddle with the wife. You deserve a man who comes home to you. You have to actively work to change this. Stop making excuses and take the steps. Avoid this coworker as much as possible and if he tries to come on to you remind him that he’s taken and walk away. It’s not going to be easy, breaking a habit that is tied up in our psychological issues is hard but if you truly want to change you can.

avatar mf April 27, 2011, 11:54 am

Very wise words. I hope the LW reads your comment.

avatar HmC April 27, 2011, 11:50 am

What the LW is doing is clearly wrong. And despite this sentence: “The problem is that it doesn’t bother me that much” (*chills*), her further explanation plus the fact that she is writing to Wendy convince me that she wants to change.

This is always an unpopular opinion when I express it in real life, but I personally think that the people who are actively committed to someone else deserve more, but not all, of the blame in affairs like these. They’re the ones who committed to someone else, who have made promises, and who are making decisions to break those promises. Don’t get me wrong, going for taken people is wrong and I’d never do that. But, it always makes me uncomfortable when people focus *all* of their energy on the whorey other woman (or man), and not the whorey person who couldn’t keep their genitals in check even knowing they were hurting someone who loved them, and who they supposedly love. To me, that takes just a bit more selfishness than jumping someone’s bones that you know has a theoretical significant other that you’ve never met. And, I think as Wendy hinted at, there’s usually some sort of issue they are wrestling with if they are doing that kind of thing regularly. She’s asking for help to change and that should be supported.

LW, take responsibility for the extreme hurt you are potentially causing to many people by your actions. If you can imagine some woman at home sobbing and heartbroken, and not be bothered “that much”, something is seriously wrong in your thought process.

avatar convexexed April 27, 2011, 12:00 pm

I really agree with Lexington about making these guys off-limits to you and yourself off-limits to them. You may have to play a few mind games with yourself: Like, every time I would feel a little too flirty with a taken guy friend, I would imagine the dumb, blissful, bovine look on his face as his girlfriend gave him a BJ or something. I would imagine his bad posture and the hairs around his nipples. It might sound mean-spirited, but it helps remove the allure and make this mysterious, unavailable man just another guy. You know how dirty talk taken out of context isn’t sexy, just stupid and silly? You have to kind of make the guy less sexy to you—you can do that by imagining him sleeping with his GF, which could sting you a little, thus killing your arousal as the emphasis is off your body and onto your emotions and the risk you would be taking if you got with him. You can picture his daily private habits that are silly or gross, like picking his nose or cleaning his ears or asking his wife to pop the pimples on his back.

The point is, the above comments are right to say that, ultimately, you have to stop, you have to say no, and you have to resist the urge to pity yourself—don’t get hung up on how hard it is to stop—think strategically and creatively and maybe you’ll outsmart yourself.

avatar convexexed April 27, 2011, 12:02 pm

I really agree with Lexington about making these guys off-limits to you and yourself off-limits to them. You may have to play a few mind games with yourself: Like, every time I would feel a little too flirty with a taken guy friend, I would imagine the dumb, blissful, bovine look on his face as his girlfriend gave him a BJ or something. I would imagine his bad posture and the hairs around his nipples. It might sound mean-spirited, but it helps remove the allure and make this mysterious, unavailable man just another guy. You know how dirty talk taken out of context isn’t sexy, just stupid and silly? You have to kind of make the guy less sexy to you—you can do that by imagining him sleeping with his GF, which could sting you a little, thus killing your arousal as the emphasis is off your body and onto your emotions and the risk you would be taking if you got with him. You can picture his daily private habits that are silly or gross, like picking his nose or cleaning his ears or asking his wife to pop the pimples on his back.
The point is, the above comments are right to say that, ultimately, you have to stop, you have to say no, and you have to resist the urge to pity yourself—don’t get hung up on how hard it is to stop—think strategically and creatively and maybe you’ll outsmart yourself.

avatar cporoski April 27, 2011, 12:10 pm

I think alot of the readers are missing the point. It isn’t who is to blame when someone cheats because each relationship is different. Everyone I know who is the other woman more than once is doing it to prove something. You are proving that you a better than the woman at home or that you can get the forbidden fruit. The fact is, you shouldn’t engage these guys in the beginning. It is hard to say know when sparks have been flying all night. Why were you at that bar in the first place? These things just don’t happen. You are making decisions to put yourself in these situations time and again. It isn’t that you are attracting these guys, you are pursuing them.

It is like they say, if you are driving on the road and get rear-ended that it is the other driver’s fault. But if that same accident happens to you multiple times, the blame on some part lies with you.

avatar mf April 27, 2011, 12:29 pm

“You are making decisions to put yourself in these situations time and again.”

Exactly! I do have compassion for her, but she has CHOSEN to be a part of these affairs. She is an active participant, not a victim.

Almost everybody is tempted at some point by an attractive person who’s off limits. I’m madly in love with my husband-to-be, but I’m also a woman who’s exceptionally visual. (I like checking out hot men. Always have and always will.) Out of respect for my fiance, I keep my eyes to myself. I don’t flirt with other men. If a man approaches me and seems flirtatious, I will shut him down. It’s a choice I make every single time an “opportunity” like this arises.

The LW may not be able to (at least immediately) change the fact that she’s attracted to these men or doesn’t feel bad for their wives at home. But if she wants to change, she can start making choices that will not put her in these situations. She can choose to avoid temptation, to avoid these men and situations where she’s alone with them, etc.

mandalee amandalee April 27, 2011, 12:25 pm

While it’s hard to find for a lot of people, myself included, to feeling sympathy for the LW, I truly pity her. I had a friend exactly like the LW. She would throw herself at guys with girlfriends, fiances, wives, etc- and seemed to always ponder out loud how unavailable, attached guys ALWAYS found their way to her. There is a reason LW, why these men are the only type you attract, you broadcast (even unconsciously) that you are the type of woman who would be okay with such trysts (as you state it “doesn’t bother you much). If you did it once, these things to happen, but there’s a pattern here and the only common thread is you.

I highly suggest seeking therapy. This is clearly a cry for help of some deep insecurity or issue you have with others. And my friend that was so much like you? Well that story doesn’t have a happy ending so far. She got involved with multiple friends boyfriends, alienated her friends which was her only support group, got pregnant with a man who had a girlfriend, that man of course never left his girlfriend, got fired from a job because she hooked up with her boss (at a company his wife OWNED! Sheesh), and she’s alone and still miserable. Granted she’s an extreme case, but would you want to end up like that? Pull it together. This is not an alcohol problem we are taking about here, it’s a learning to love yourself and respect other people’s relationships issue. Look at yourself in the mirror EVERYDAY and tell yourself that you’re worth more and chasing these attached men is only putting bad karma into the world and refuse to be a part of it. Once you truly love yourself and respect others relationships, I highly doubt you will be this unknowing beacon for attached men.

sobriquet sobriquet April 27, 2011, 12:34 pm

I’m not going to bash you, because I truly believe you lack self-awareness on this issue, but I do think you’re reckless and insecure. And maybe you lack empathy or the foresight to understand the repercussions of your actions. I suggest therapy, because it won’t go away until you get to the root of the problem.

Listen, the men here are at fault, too, and I assume you validate your behavior by telling yourself that they’re unhappy in their relationships and that they would cheat no matter what. That it’s not your problem. But this would not happen three times if you weren’t actively doing something to push them into cheating. I’m guessing you instantly perk up when you discover a man is in a serious relationship, whereas I think most of us immediately back off.

Do you simply want what you can’t have? Is it a game? Or are you so insecure that you need to feel wanted by someone unattainable? Do you need to prove to yourself that no man can turn you down? Maybe you have some sort of romantic fantasy about a man falling in love and leaving his wife for you, or you are so scared of commitment that you put yourself in relationships that are destined for failure. I don’t know what it is, but the pattern is only going to continue because you don’t seem to take relationships and peoples feelings seriously.

Something needs to change, because as it stands you’re eating greasy burgers at McDonald’s every day and that is simply not sustainable.

avatar Steeze April 27, 2011, 12:36 pm

i think if it was easy to stop, she would do it as easily as some here have said she could… i think she may be addicited to the thrill of it. but in the end, it will only hurt her. kinda like a drug, like any addiction really. its fun in the moment but the consequences are damaging to you and your left with nothing in the end. its great she recognizes she has a problem. she needs to remove herself from temptation, keep busy with new activities/friends and believe she is worth more and all the while envision in her mind what she really wants in the future. if she sets these goals for herself and sticks to them she should be fine. good luck, you alone can put yourself first.

avatar spaceboy761 April 27, 2011, 12:53 pm

Totally OT, but I am completely turned on by Wendy’s choice of clip art. Oh yeah… BRAISE that pork shoulder you aproned little coquette. Braise it ALL NIGHT LONG.

avatar Painted_lady April 27, 2011, 1:10 pm

I’m not one to judge, kiddo. I’ve done some really stupid stuff with some men who really weren’t worth my time. For whatever reason, you don’t want to be in a relationship. Not a real one, anyway. Maybe you’re not ready, maybe you feel like you don’t deserve it, maybe you only want what you can’t have. I don’t know – only you know the answer. I had a pattern for years of falling for, and more importantly, staying with, emotionally unavailable men. I eventually figured out it was a defensive thing. Men who didn’t really love me were safer because if I knew the ending, I couldn’t get hurt. But then I realized I was hurting regardless, and all I was doing was ensuring I was coming up empty-handed every time. And that was a stupid thing to do for someone as smart as I am. So get to the bottom of why, and then you face your solution head-on.

And stop saying you don’t have a real problem with sleeping with unavailable men. If you don’t, why’d you write Wendy? Maybe you’re not racked with guilt, but if it’s a coping mechanism or a self-esteem issue, then what you’re doing – in your eyes – is just what you’re doing to yourself.

How do you not do it? Well, you make the decision not to do it. Your explaining your last tryst with this guy as if it were done to you or you were watching it, which speaks volumes. You were an active participant, so become an active non-participant. Tell him if he wants to wreck his relationship, that’s his thing, but you will not actively participate in it. Don’t see him outside work hours. If you must, don’t be alone with him. If you must be alone with him – as in, required for your job – then don’t enter a hotel room alone with him. You have to think about it ahead of time to prevent it from happening spontaneously. And if you don’t want to do that, it’s totally your decision, but then own up to the fact that you’re self-sabotaging and morally questionable.

avatar Painted_lady April 27, 2011, 1:14 pm

Hah, last paragraph, 3rd sentence – “you’re” not “your.”

In other words, did you trip and land on his dick, or what?

Skyblossom Skyblossom April 27, 2011, 1:52 pm

I like become an active non-participant. Perfect!

Skyblossom Skyblossom April 27, 2011, 1:12 pm

I think that Wendy’s got the reason down. It’s easy to go for guys who aren’t available and can’t make a commitment because then you can’t get hurt but even there you did get hurt.

To quit you quit. You draw a moral line and you never cross it. You hold yourself to a standard that you can respect and that others will respect. These men that you’ve had affairs with certainly don’t respect you. Most likely they’re using you for a good time and when you’re no longer providing enough fun or difference from their spouse they’ll move on to the next woman.

The other thing you have to realize is that these guys are not top choices when it comes to men. They obviously are lying to their spouses about what they are doing and if their spouse can’t trust them you obviously can’t either. A lying sneak is not a top quality guy. If you want happiness you choose quality and toss out the moldy, rotten stinky ones.

So, hold yourself accountable for your own actions and hold partners accountable for their actions.

avatar Caroline April 27, 2011, 1:14 pm

I’m not going to repeat what everybody else has already said (and so eloquently, too) but I will say this: LW, no matter what relationship you are in, be it normal or with an unavailable man, always, ALWAYS use birth control. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, at least protect yourself in that way!

Imagine that you’re sleeping with a married man and you get knocked up. That child will destroy a marriage if the wife and family finds out. I don’t know about you, but if I was married, and my husband got another woman pregnant, you’d better believe he’d be out of the house faster than I can say “asshole.”

Please think. Not only about this, but also about why you’re so willing to let married or unavailable men take advantage of you. About why you’re okay with contributing to the deterioration of another relationship. Because you are, even if the girlfriend or the wife finds out. When he’s done with you, the man will just go and find someone else. Once a cheater, always a cheater. Maybe it’s not always true, but there is a reason why people say it. Just sayin’.

avatar Caroline April 27, 2011, 10:22 pm

I meant to say, “even if the girlfriend or the wife never finds out…”

avatar spot April 27, 2011, 1:32 pm

Man…to me sleeping with taken men (as a pattern!) because you don’t want to invest in your own real relationship is quite a bit more reprehensible than ordering food because you don’t like to cook. There is nothing morally wrong with wasting money on ordering unhealthy takeout. Based on Wendy’s harsher reactions to other LWs, I was surprised by how easy she went on this one, who clearly needs to develop a personal conscience. The problem with this letter is that she is seeking advice for “talking herself out of” something that she should find disgust with herself for, but treats like a bad habit.

“The problem is that it doesn’t bother me that much.”–She lost my respect at sentence #2.

mandalee amandalee April 27, 2011, 1:58 pm

“The problem is that it doesn’t bother me that much.”–She lost my respect at sentence #2. – I’m with you on that one spot! I was like yikes-heartless much?

Heather Heather April 27, 2011, 1:42 pm

As much as I disagree with some opinions, I really enjoy letters like this because it really gives you a chance to see so many other perspectives on things.

The Dear Wendy Community rocks. (:

avatar HmC April 27, 2011, 2:22 pm

It’s true! People always bring up points I hadn’t thought of, and even if I disagree with those points, I frequently think they are part of an important dialogue that is good for the LW to read. An intelligent and respectful discussion by people of varying backgrounds and experiences is always such a better answer than a single subjective opinion (though of course I always respect Wendy’s opinions!) :)

avatar ReginaRey April 27, 2011, 2:24 pm

Even though this is getting incredibly long, I’d like to add one thing that is bothering me: “For whatever reason, I seem to draw the attention of men who are either married or in serious relationships.”

ALL women draw the attention of men who are married or in serious relationships. How many of us haven’t gotten stares, or flirted with, or full-on propositioned by someone in a committed relationship? The LW’s tone suggests that drawing the attention of men in relationships is something that is unique to her, and that mysteriously “simply can’t be helped.” By saying that, she absolves herself of taking responsibility for her actions, which isn’t right.

This happens to all of us, but not all of us act on it. There’s a big difference, and I hope the LW understands that.

avatar Nina April 27, 2011, 2:31 pm

All I can think about are those poor girfriends, fiance’s and wives. Its heartbreaking to hear that those men run around like that, and think nothing of it.

People really dissapoint me sometimes! :(

I would never be able to cheat on someone…even if you have no more feelings for them, you should realize that and have at least an ounce of decency as a human being to get out of the relationship, and let both of you move on.

avatar AKchic April 27, 2011, 3:54 pm

If they are going to cheat, they might as well cheat with you? Is that really what you think of yourself? A female who is easily used by horny, unfaithful males who only care about their own egos, lusts, desires, and to hell with the woman they are using as a human tissue and the woman they married (and may even have had children with)?

Seriously? Of course they act like they love you. They can afford to because you are impermenant. They have no motivation to be honest with you because YOU are helping them in their own personal deceptions. They have no thought of keeping you on long-term. They will get rid of you when your convenience (or looks, or whatever) is no longer of use to them.
Where will that leave you? A 40something with no permanent mate, a string of women scorned in your wake upset at you for helping their husbands deceive them, and, quite possibly, an STD or two. Would you be proud of your own (hypothetical) daughter for doing as you do? How would you feel to be a faithful wife of many years, having children for the man you love, whom you thought loved you, only to find out that he’s sleeping with the “pretty”, easy female co-worker while on company trips?

Women like you give single mothers bad names because they expect that sort of thing from US. They expect us single mothers to act in that careless, avante-gard way in regards to “real” married couples because of some deep-seated jealousy we have against their “happy” marriage.
Maybe that’s why you do it. You are too scared to commit because you are afraid it will happen to you. So, rather than own up to that fear, you continue to find “unavailable” males in order to sexually satisfy yourself and giving in to your sadistic jealousy streak that makes you want to ruin otherwise happy “appearing” couples.

Mean? Yes. Harsh? Extremely. Needed? Yes. Warranted? Yes. Get yourself to a FEMALE counselor to work out your own issues before you ruin more marriages. To the men who continue to use you – they should be ashamed of themselves. They are worse for willingly sabotaging and ruining their own marriages and personal relationships with their families (in-laws, relatives and children).

avatar SpyGlassez April 27, 2011, 10:11 pm

What I thought as I read your reply: The LW is like porn to these guys. She doesn’t require commitment, or expect phone calls, or need her feet rubbed. She’ll never ask him to take out the trash, put down the lid, and let in the dog. Like you said, she’s impermanent. He doesn’t have to deal with morning breath or morning sickness for her. She is, like you said, a “human tissue” – something the men use and can dispose of. I find cheating reprehensible on the part of the men in the relationship, but I confess that mostly I just have pity for the LW.

bittergaymark bitter gay mark April 27, 2011, 3:55 pm

At the risk of irking the ENTIRE board, I have to say that the old obvious cliche’ is all to often very true. Happy men don’t cheat. Unhappy men do. This is true of women, too. Happy women don’t cheat. Unhappy women do. What are you all doing out there to keep your partners happy?

avatar callmehobo April 27, 2011, 4:03 pm

BGM- I love this about you. You have a thought and you don’t care HOW many purple thumbs you might garner- you want responses!

avatar LTC039 April 27, 2011, 4:12 pm

I like that! It’s very true. We gotta keep our partners happy. & communication is probably THE most important element in a relationship.
However, I would like to state that if you are not happy, you should end the relationship…It’s more drama & pain if you cheat than if you’re just honest & say you want to end it.

avatar LTC039 April 27, 2011, 4:16 pm

PS. The point of this letter was regarding HER behavior. Even if the men she dated weren’t happy, it does not make it ok for HER to contribute to the infidelity. That’s what everyone is trying to point out.

avatar HmC April 27, 2011, 4:49 pm

Going off of this… I think that this concept is part of why women seem to often focus their ire on “the other woman, that whore!” rather than on the man. If it’s the man’s fault, then that opens the door to it being his partner’s fault, and nobody want to think that it could happen to them and *gasp*, could even partially be their own fault. Which is why the very phrase “the other woman” irks me so much. “The other man” isn’t even a phrase, that I’ve heard. It’s as if some people think that boys will be boys, can’t help themselves, and it’s all the strumpet’s fault! That idea doesn’t give men nearly enough credit, in my opinion.

avatar AKchic April 27, 2011, 5:15 pm

Mark – I can tell you from experience that some guys will cheat even when they are perfectly happy at home. My 2nd marriage ended that way. I had neck surgery and was in bed sleeping, our kids in the other bedroom sleeping when my 18 year old sister decided to start hitting on my husband (who had only had one beer). He couldn’t say that I had been sexually unavailable to him because even with my neck as bad as it was, there was still sex. He couldn’t say “the thrill” was gone because I had two girlfriends that I had offered to bring in on a threesome. We had another couple that we were “with” on a regular basis.
Instead, he felt that my easy, village bicycle sister was fine for the night. I didn’t find out for another two years, during our separation, when my sister told me that I needed to get checked for STDs because she was just diagnosed with two and didn’t know how long she’d had them. What a Christmas present, right? Then she told the entire family that he “peer pressure” raped her. The crux of the matter? THEY TAPED THE EVENT and he kept a copy. Sure proved her “rape” as a lie when she initiated everything, including the video.

We’re divorced (obviously). I don’t talk to my sister (her sleeping with my then-husband wasn’t the only reason, I hadn’t talked to her in a year prior to that). I am the secret laugh amongst my family. My ex’s mother insists that I’m to blame for our divorce (she doesn’t even know about the cheating, and her son did tell her that he initiated the divorce).

For some people, it’s not about how happy or unhappy they are. It’s the “thrill” of the chase. Getting away with doing something otherwise forbidden.

avatar Maracuya April 27, 2011, 5:26 pm

I don’t know. I think that’s true for some cases, but it can also be very often not true. Why are men unhappy? Is it just because of their wives? Or can they be dissatissfied with their job, their current place in life, scared that a new baby or new marriage is confining and yet unable to admit their own feelings to their significant other or themselves?

I think there’s a million and one reasons why a man would be unhappy enough to cheat, and not all are fixable by women (or vice versa) all the time. Those men have to look inside themselves just as the LW is being asked to but a lot of people think that things should just ‘work’ and introspection is not required. I do partially agree with you. What are BOTH parties doing to make their relationship good? That’s the question, I think.

avatar Quakergirl April 27, 2011, 7:38 pm

I think unhappiness is but one factor in the equation. As MsIrish pointed out above, some relationships go through awkward growing pains or phases during which one or both partners may be unhappy. But despite this, they accept responsibility for moving forward and working on the relationship– they don’t cheat. Others in that situation will cheat, thinking it’ll make them happy, or satisfy needs their relationship doesn’t, or make them feel like they still have options. And as AKchic noted, sometimes people will cheat no matter what because they like the chase, they’re insecure, or what have you.

I think the key to preventing cheating is for both parties to first agree on what constitutes cheating within the context of their relationship (even polyamorous, open or FWB relationships can have cheating, theoretically), then continue to communicate about their needs and feelings. But above all, both parties have to be committed to using other forms of communication and other coping mechanisms than cheating. Cheating doesn’t solve the problems you’re having in relationship or with yourself and won’t help further a healthy relationship or a healthy sense of self. Unless both parties realize that, it’s a possibility in any relationship, no matter how happy or unhappy it is.

avatar Theenemyofmyenemyisagrilledcheesesandwich April 27, 2011, 8:21 pm

I don’t know, BGM. I think some people want to conform to societal standards of monogamy, when not everyone is built for it. So I agree that most times unhappy people cheat. BUT! Some people haven’t yet realized that they are meant for a one person sex-life, even if their emotional attachment is monogamous, and sometimes those are happy people who cheat.

There would be a lot less cheating if people were honest with themselves and their partners about their capabilities when it comes to monogamy, but we (I can only really speak as an American) live and work in a society that is very hostile to the non-monogamous. I used to work in a bank, and I know that had an employee would have been looked at less favorably if they admitted to having an open relationship than I was for admitting that I was in a monogamous relationship. It’s not like you are admitting any more detail about your personal life if you say “I’m in an open relationship” versus “I’m in a monogamous relationship”, but there is a definite difference in the way the two revelations are received.

avatar Theenemyofmyenemyisagrilledcheesesandwich April 27, 2011, 8:26 pm

arg. *some people AREN’T meant for a one person sex-life… typos.

avatar AKchic April 28, 2011, 12:39 am

Yes, you bring up another good point. “Open relationships”. Of course, some men will claim they have one in order to justify an affair, or to get a woman to sleep with them after knowing that the male is already “taken”.

My first marriage was “closed”. It was also quite abusive. There is no way he would have allowed anyone in the relationship, unless he had an attraction to said person, and the person would have to be young (I’m talking 16-18).

My second marriage was semi-open. By that, I mean that I had a few rules. Rule 1 was no sleeping with my sisters. Both of them liked to try for my cast offs, sometimes before I’d let go of them. Just didn’t want to deal with the creepy drama of it. Rule 2: Threesomes and extra couples partners needed to be approved of by both of us prior to the “event”. I was pretty rigorous in my screenings. We had kids, I had a gov’t job, etc. Rule 3: If you find yourself in the position to have a casual fling with someone, prior notice is preferable, but, if you can’t, then honesty and notice after the fact is a must. *laugh* Because, hey, when you’re in a remote camp with no cell service, you can’t really call up your wife to say “hey, you should check this chick out!”. Granted, my second husband wasn’t like that. He woke me to apologize that he’d gotten a lap dance at a bachelor party. Rule #3 didn’t really apply and since he knew my sisters and their proclivities (and some of the male specimens they’d been with), I didn’t think I really had to worry about Rule #1. I was wrong.

My current guy and I have the same rules. Neither of us have been with anyone else since we started dating. We joke that we’re both too lazy to deal with the “chase” anymore. Neither of us are 30 yet. But, 4 kids does tend to slow folks down. Sure, if an attractive, intelligent woman were willing…

avatar Fairhaired Child April 28, 2011, 3:37 am

On the other side of this – even if people are in an open relationship and say so – and the “other person” added into the relationship is equally recognized by both parties, it doesnt hurt any less when the “1st half” is left for the “added other person.”

I dont know if that makes any sense. But I was the other woman in an open relationship that ended because of my “addition” to their relationship. The girlfriend knew about me, and we even talked and I got her permission first before I willingly participated in being the other woman (I didn’t believe him when he said he was in an open relationship). She was into both males and females, and she played with girls while her boyfriend was away so she felt it was fair for him to also have a “side piece”. And this worked out for them for 3 years, before I came into the picture. Instead of getting proposed to at Christmas like she was hoping – he broke up with her a month before (and about 2 months into my part in their open relationship). On my side I did not want him to break up with her and told him not to and that I’d step out of the relationship.

Needless to say I tried the monogomous dating thing with him(I was not open to threesomes or having side open relationships) for a while but he was so paranoid about me cheating on him that we ended it. That experience with being caught up in the drama of them breaking up after 4 years of being together and it being my fault (though I told him not to) I never wanted to be “the other woman” again, either secretly or as part of an open relationship. I still feel bad for her and regret my part in changing her future forever.

avatar Black Iris May 9, 2011, 4:56 pm

I think we are all capable of monogamy and even celibacy.

What we can’t help is that we feel lust for people other than our partners. We also feel jealousy of the people we love – feeling otherwise is unnatural for us.

In the end, you have to choose: are you going to give up the chance to sleep with everyone you want to or are you going to deal with the pain of sharing someone you love?

avatar TheOtherMe April 28, 2011, 1:19 pm

BGM: It’s not just up to the partner to keep their man/woman happy, I think sometimes the love is still there but the lust is gone and that makes people step out of the relationship.

Also, I’m not sure that everyone who has ever been cheated on is in some way responsible because they didn’t try hard enough to keep their partner happy.

We can write thousands of comments and it will never cover all the reasons why people cheat because there are just too many variables. It’s normal for people to try and rationalize WHY people cheat because then it make them feel more secure that it won’t happen to them.

avatar Black Iris May 9, 2011, 6:25 pm

Absolute nonsense.

People can love their partner and be totally happy and want to cheat. Sometimes wanting to cheat makes people change the way they think about their relationship, so they won’t feel guilty. Men more than women will say they cheated just for sex – and they may have been getting it at home. People cheat for different reasons.

Sadly, you can not guarantee that your partner will be good by keeping them happy. That’s just wishful thinking.

avatar Carol April 27, 2011, 4:28 pm

These men are using you, LW. Not just for sex. Each one has selected you to be the blunt object to bludgeon his SO’ s soul to death. Don’t you deserve NOT to be the Candlestick in the Library?

avatar callmehobo April 27, 2011, 4:44 pm

Or the Lead Pipe in the Conservatory

bittergaymark bitter gay mark April 27, 2011, 4:58 pm

Oh, good grief. That is a bit over the top. I guess I share Dan Savage’s view on monogamy. It rarely works and far too many people put WAYYYYYYY to much emphasis on it. Especially women. Sex isn’t the end all be all thing in any relationship, yet it seems everybody on here views it as such. This constantly creates a sky is falling mentality that only brings out the worst in drama queens…

avatar HmC April 27, 2011, 5:48 pm

I think saying that monogamy “rarely works” is a bit over the top.

avatar callmehobo April 27, 2011, 5:58 pm

Agreed. I also don’t think that if two people agree to enter an exclusive relationship, it is justifiable to be upset and hurt when one of the parties fails to live up to that promise.

bittergaymark bitter gay mark April 27, 2011, 6:01 pm

Maybe. But it seems EVERYDAY there is some big story in the news about some famous couple whose lives have fallen apart over infidelity. Okay, so what? One might say. The famous people are all messed up whack jobs. I would also like to point out that EVERYDAY on here there is somebody whining and crying about somebody cheating on somebody…. It’s endless…. Simply endless. Check back tomorrow and I bet you one of the letters will be all about it. If not here, try Dear Abby, or Annie’s Mailbox, or Dear Margo, Advice Goddess, or Dear Prudence… not to mention Savage Love.

avatar HmC April 27, 2011, 6:09 pm

That is all true. But I still think it does a disservice to couples quietly and happily making monogamy work to say that it’s “rare” and point to only those couples where it has not worked as the majority. I won’t go into my whole personal belief and explanation for how I think monogamy can work (and I don’t think it works for everybody), but for those it does work for, it can be an extremely rewarding experience. Not fulfilling every single animal desire that creeps into your brain is a worthy trade off for the connection that monogamy makes possible for many, many people.

avatar Painted_lady April 27, 2011, 10:01 pm

Just food for thought – yes, I totally agree that monogamy is unnatural and not recommended for a lot of people. I don’t know if it’s most people – maybe so, but there’s no way to tell at this point. However, using either Hollywood OR the writers to Dear Abby, Prudie, or Savage Love as an argument against monogamy isn’t exactly scientific either. Hollywood has a lot of marriages and relationships thrown together for publicity. Also, none of those marriages or relationships I can think of are openly, well, open. There are rumors about many couples being in open marriages (Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore being the first one to come to mind), and a lot of times even in normal-people marriages things will go bust not because one party was cheating but because one party got caught being sloppy and the other partner couldn’t deal with the scrutiny…which makes it look like the caught spouse cheated. That would probably be more true in Hollywood, where image is everything. So maybe open relationships are more common than people think.

Also, those advice columns are a bad measure because no one ever writes, “Dear Prudie, My husband and I are in a 10-year marriage and neither of us has strayed. We love each other so much, and things are wonderful. WHAT DO I DO?!?!?!”

As far as the cheating goes, I agree that people have every right to do whatever the hell they want and unless we are one of the three parties involved, we are never in a place to judge. Maybe the LWs exes are amazing guys with wives/gfs/fiancees who are completely cold and they feel they can’t leave for completely justifiable reasons. Or maybe they are, to use Savage vernacular, CPOSs with no empathy. But the LW is unhappy. She wrote Wendy for a reason, and if engaging in cheating activity is not working for her, she needs the tools to stop.

bittergaymark bitter gay mark April 27, 2011, 11:23 pm

Again, it seems like over half the people commenting on THIS page have all been cheated on… PS: I never claimed to be scientific. Just stating my observations…

avatar Painted_lady April 28, 2011, 1:08 am

Yeah…I’ve never been cheated on – or at least I wasn’t concerned with it enough to work really hard at figuring out (and the guys I dated were discreet if they were cheating). I get irrationally worked up enough about other shit I just can’t muster the energy for one more thing ;)

avatar Theenemyofmyenemyisagrilledcheesesandwich April 28, 2011, 1:28 am

It is also relevant that this page is dealing with cheating, therefore the people motivated to reply may be personally affected by it. Are the commentators on this page an accurate sample population to represent all couples? Probably not. I’ve been cheated on once, and I’ve NOT been cheated on in at least two relationships (and yes I’m pretty sure of that). Monogamy isn’t for everyone, but it is for some.

avatar demoiselle April 30, 2011, 1:46 pm

I’ve never been cheated on. I didn’t comment on this page earlier because, as someone who had neither cheated nor been cheated on, nor who had a family member cheated on, I didn’t think I had much to contribute. That may be the case with others as well.

avatar Black Iris May 10, 2011, 9:53 am

…”unless we are one of the three parties involved, we are never in a place to judge.”

When LW had an affair with the guys, she judged their relationships and the women they were involved with. She believed that she had a chance of getting the guys away from the women and that it would be okay to do that. No doubt the guys told her things that made her believe this, but there is no way she could really judge it from outside the relationship. Besides, it is extremely likely that the guys told her what she wanted to hear and/or she heard what she wanted to.

Nevertheless, I think we do have a good way to judge the situation. The guys were taken. They had promised someone to be faithful and were breaking that agreement. Getting involved with them was wrong unless they were extremely unlikely extenuating circumstances – like their girlfriend’s brother threatened to kill them if they broke up with her.

I think it’s precisely because we can’t know what’s going on in a relationship, that sometimes we have to go by general principles.

I would also add that there are many possibilities besides the women were cold (sad for the women and not a great reason to cheat anyhow) or the men were jerks. Things like the engaged guy was feeling anxious about making a commitment and wanted one last fling, the guy in an LDR was horny and lonely, or the married guy is in a great marriage but right now his wife is very busy with their children. Not huge problems or good reasons to cheat, just normal life situations where if you can avoid temptation, you can go on and have a great life with your partner. That’s one reason to stay out of being a cheating partner – you don’t know if you’re the one factor that messes up something good. Maybe if you say no, the cheater will be sorry and never try again.

avatar demoiselle April 30, 2011, 1:45 pm

It doesn’t make the news when relationships go well and no one’s heart is broken.

avatar Black Iris May 9, 2011, 6:28 pm

I think those stories are in the news because we find them interesting. Partly it’s just because sex is interesting and partly I suspect we like to feel superior.

It’s also true that celebrities have lives that are nothing like ours. They are under more pressure, spend a lot of time apart, and are tempted more often.

Skyblossom Skyblossom April 27, 2011, 7:05 pm

Sex produces bonding chemicals in couples so brings them closer together while sharing that sex with someone else does nothing to build the relationship and the lying that is involved can totally destroy the relationship.

I know plenty of monogamous couples who are living happily together. It’s a choice. It’s a matter of staying away from temptation.

If someone doesn’t want a monogamous relationship then they shouldn’t agree to one. It’s that simple. If you want an open relationship you look for an open relationship. Just don’t start lying and sneaking because you ruin your life and that of your family.

avatar Quakergirl April 27, 2011, 7:26 pm

“If someone doesn’t want a monogamous relationship then they shouldn’t agree to one.”

Completely agree. I hold nothing against people who aren’t looking for monogamy at the moment or don’t think it’s for them, period, but all they need to do is communicate that sentiment and look for partners with similar feelings. Don’t enter into a relationship with someone looking for monogamy, promise to stick to that model, and then willfully ignore that promise. If you and your partner want fundamentally different things from your relationship (and I mean relationship in the sense of social/romantic/sexual interaction), you shouldn’t be in that relationship. This isn’t a radical or difficult concept, so I’m not sure why some people have such trouble with it.

avatar Black Iris May 10, 2011, 9:35 am

I basically agree with you, but I think sometimes people change what they want. That can go either way – someone who agrees to polyamory might decide it’s too much for them. Even if you both like polyamory, you might find what exactly you’re okay with changes when you’re in the situation.

It’s easy to say, just don’t be in the relationship when you haven’t been together long. For a couple that’s gone ahead and married and had kids, what then?

Personally, I think the answer is that you may not both be able to get what you want. It isn’t really fair to make someone who expected monogamy to accept polyamory if that hurts them. I just think it may not always be as easy as either breaking up or not making the promise in the first place.

bittergaymark bitter gay mark April 27, 2011, 6:23 pm

I don’t know that I exactly believe that there IS a majority of couples out there that are making it work…. I mean for every cheater than gets caught, there must be at least two or three that get away with it. (Think about it.) This is a radical notion to be sure, but I think that the concept of monogamy and our society’s blindly slavish devotion to it creates far too much misery and unhappiness.

avatar HmC April 27, 2011, 6:39 pm

Sure, a blindly slavish devotion to anything, without regard to the individual predilections of humans who I believe tend to fall on a scale in terms of being capable of monogamy, would create misery and unhappiness. But monogamy creates a lot of happiness too, which I think can be overlooked because it isn’t sensational.

Also, I never said that it was a “majority” of monogamous couples making it work. I simply take issue with your calling happy monogamy “rare”.

Additionally, I think it’s unfair to call people “drama queens” because they desire monogamy for themselves and uphold partners to the commitments they have chosen.

avatar Maracuya April 27, 2011, 6:49 pm

I would guarantee that when polyamory or FWB-ing becomes as socially acceptable as monogamy, you’ll still see plenty of advice columns about cheating. I don’t think it’s monogamy at fault, I think it’s the desire of people to want to have their cake and eat it too. No matter what, there will be unhappy people who will not communicate their desire to their partner(s) and break whatever agreement they’ll have.

bittergaymark bitter gay mark April 27, 2011, 6:55 pm

You are probably very right.

avatar Theenemyofmyenemyisagrilledcheesesandwich April 27, 2011, 8:30 pm

yes x1000.

avatar SpyGlassez April 27, 2011, 10:18 pm

Like someone stated above, for some people, it is the thrill of the chase, either of being desired or being desirable. Poly relationships can involve cheating as well; a friend I knew in college was devastated a while back because while they were polyamorous, the guy who was her First had begun to develop feelings for his other lover that were stronger than the ones for my friend, and he was beginning to replace her with the other girl. This hurt my friend and felt like cheating to her because she felt he violated the “terms” of the relationship they established. And what if your FWB has another FWB….is he cheating or just double-dipping? I think you are absolutely right about people not communicating.

avatar AKchic April 28, 2011, 12:42 am

“Double-dipping”. Makes them sound like nachos.

avatar Black Iris May 9, 2011, 5:16 pm

I think that is one of the risks of poly relationships. Because you are having sex and relationships with someone else, you can develop stronger feelings for them. You can even deal with some of the same issues as a married person who is in an affair – the affair is more fun while the marriage involves working out arguments, cleaning the house, and taking each other for granted.

I think the idea that polyamory prevents cheating is a myth. It changes the lines about what you can do, but the impulse to go over the lines is still there.

avatar Black Iris May 9, 2011, 5:19 pm

I agree, although I don’t think the reason we’ll always have cheating is because people don’t communicate their desires. I think it’s because ultimately, people sometimes choose to do what they want over what their partner wants/they’ve agreed to. You can move the line of acceptable behavior, but in the end what makes someone follow an agreement is their commitment and willingness to sacrifice something they want.

avatar Black Iris May 9, 2011, 5:25 pm

The best surveys on this find that nearly 80% of men don’t cheat on their partners. Women do a little better.

There’s no particular reason to think that there must be people who are getting away with it – in all likelihood some of the same people cheat over and over again (this may be related to the fact that some people get divorced over and over again).

The desire for monogamy has been around for as long as there have been humans. We all want faithful partners. Yes, we also want lots of partners ourselves.

Society isn’t creating the misery and unhappiness. Breaking commitments and putting yourself before others is.

bittergaymark bitter gay mark April 27, 2011, 6:46 pm

Actually, the drama queens I was referring to would be damn near every other commenter in this thread — many of whom called the LW “slut”, “whore”, and my own personal favorite “trash.” Talk about bringing the worst out in people…

avatar Theenemyofmyenemyisagrilledcheesesandwich April 27, 2011, 8:33 pm

Hey, I’ve read some very balanced and thoughtful responses today. I must be reading all the other every other comments. :P Seriously though, BGM, I always love your comments.

avatar IdaTarbell April 27, 2011, 8:02 pm

It’s the dude’s fault for hitting on you, sleeping with you, dating you, etc. It is. But for five seconds, consider the wives and girlfriends. Maybe you told yourself they’re b*tches, or they’re cold, or they don’t please their men. Maybe you even tell yourself they “deserve” this, since the guy is obviously not happy. And maybe some of that is true, but no man or woman ever deserves to be betrayed.

You can’t stop these men from cheating on their SOs with other people, but you can stop them from cheating with you. Take a step back, consider why you’re attracted to these men and what you’re getting out of these relationships, and pinpoint it. Is it healthy? Probably not. So let it go–let THEM go–and don’t help to hurt another woman.

You can choose to be the better person in these situations.

avatar Ash April 28, 2011, 9:24 am

LW: Even though there are quite a few harsh (and even downright mean) comments on here I do hope you are able to sort through whatever problems you may have in these scenarios.
Unfortunately, not everyone can be in a monogomous relationship and some people tend to wander (such as these guys you fall for). BUT! that being said, it’s up to YOU to make a change. You said that it keeps happening to you and in one instance you continued to sleep with a man after discovering he was with someone else. That’s your own fault. Not his. Not anyone else’s. If you don’t want to be with these guys THEN DON’T. It really is that simple.
I’m sorry to say it but it sounds like you’re on your own here. You need to figure yourself out and stop being The Other Woman. No one can make you stop other than yourself.
P.S. It really isn’t fair to the other women in these relationships, which hopefully you consider. Nor is it fair to yourself if you truly do feel sorry.

Skyblossom Skyblossom April 28, 2011, 11:05 am

I saw a study a few months ago about people who cheat on their spouses. The study found that those who had greater empathy didn’t cheat and those who had lesser empathy were more willing to cheat. Even though it was a study of spouses who cheat I think the same idea probably applies to you. You have less empathy so you don’t feel the pain of the spouse being cheated on so you don’t care. Most of those replying to your letter feel that pain even though they know nothing about the cheated on spouse except that she exists and that is enough to make them feel her pain and thus respond to you in a negative manner. The very thought of fooling around with a married man turns my stomach. I could never cheat on my husband because I could never hurt him in that way. Since you don’t mind hurting people you’re probably low on empathy.

avatar Judy April 28, 2011, 12:08 pm

What is wrong with people? I know they “say” you cant help you fall in love with, but with all due respect I dont agree with that at all! You want to know all about him from the jump so you can make sure you’re not with some freakish person that kills people on the side just for kicks,and I know another thing you want to know is if he/ she is married. as soon as you find this info out and you realize they are married then that should be the second you call it off! With millions and billions of single people in the world why would you want to be the person that breaks up a marriage? Good or bad.
You wont get the best of that person until they can “find” themselves again,
I will never understand how a person can sleep at night knowing 100% that what they are doing to a family is totally wrong.
Call me old fashion but at least wait for the ink to dry on the papers!

avatar IdaTarbell April 30, 2011, 3:48 pm

It’s always the people who say you can’t help who you fall in love with that usually date someone off limits, like bosses, sibling’s exes, married spouses, etc.

avatar Elle April 28, 2011, 1:11 pm

“The problem is that it doesn’t bother me that much.”
Make it bother you so much, that the very thought of sleeping with someone in a relationship will make you throw up.

(I was once in a bar, and a guy started to hit on me. As soon as I saw the wedding ring on his finger, I asked him where his wife is. He said – at home. I wanted to punch him! He’s out at the bar, having fun, hitting on other women, and his wife is at home? What a jerk! I stopped talking to him afterwards, obviously.)

When I found out that my ex started dating someone else, even though we have been separated for about 6 months by that time (he wasn’t cheating), it felt like a kick in the stomach, and I lost my appetite for a couple of days. He was the only guy I slept with for the previous decade. Imagine what my physical reaction would have been before the separation… That’s what probably SO’s of the guys you slept with will feel if they ever find out about you. Do you like being the source of that pain? Does the pleasure you derive from sleeping with those guys is worth the mental anguish?

avatar Black Iris May 9, 2011, 4:19 pm

The underlying reason you keep doing this: You don’t really think it’s wrong. You are okay with the idea of breaking up a guy’s relationship and having him go with you instead, unless there are children involved. You don’t think a guy who would do this is bad.

I’m not sure why you think this way. You want the guys to go with you, so it’s not that you have liberal ideas about sex and open relationships. Perhaps you have very romantic ideas about love and think that if a guy wants sex/romance with you, he can’t really love his wife/girlfriend and their relationship can’t be that great. People can love two people. Sex is a very strong force that can make people think they love someone they don’t, especially compared to real life where you have to deal with things like conflicts over the toothpaste, the responsibilities of parenting, money problems, irritating in-laws, etc.

Will it help you to tell yourself that the guy in the long-term relationship is probably attracted to you partly because he isn’t getting enough sex? That if his girlfriend were around, he wouldn’t bother with you?

I’m not sure how to get yourself to stop, but I think you have to get past the idea that a guy only cheats because there’s something really wrong with his relationship. People cheat for many, complex reasons and it doesn’t mean they love you or will want to be with you.

I think you should also consider the possibility that while you think these guys are nice except for the cheating, they may think you are not a good future mate because you are willing to cheat with them.

avatar kayelle March 28, 2012, 12:52 am

Have ANY of you ever been the other woman? I am guessing not from your responses. You have no idea what being in that situation is like. Love is not always right it does not always make sense. And sometimes it’s just plain wrong. You get into the situation of being the other woman it is one of the hardest things to get out of. Believe me. Don’t judge a book by it’s cover you do not know her.

Leave a Comment


+ 8 = seventeen