Being ‘The Other Woman’

To find yourself in a relationship with an unavailable man is tough on the emotions. When the affair ends, you can be left feeling particularly alone. With a normal break-up, friends and family rally around with hugs and ice cream but often the same support isn’t there.

Thousands of women a year find themselves in a situation where they fall in love with someone who is unavailable. Often, they had hope for a future with the man in question and when it ends, are left feeling hurt and betrayed with few people to turn to.

The likelihood is that 99.9% of these women never wanted this for their future or intended to turn lives upside down. But sometimes when emotions are involved, judgement can become clouded.

The Other Woman’s account

‘As someone who has been involved with a married man and been told time and time again that he ‘married the wrong person’ that he ‘wants you’ that he’s going to ‘sort it out’ only to be ditched the moment the wife found out – I can say whole-heartedly, I have never experienced anything more soul destroying.

‘You feel so stupid for believing him, you feel betrayed by the person you love, you feel worthless and cheap and like nothing will ever be the same again. There are the feelings of guilt about the upset you have caused others. But most of all you miss him – so desperately. Because whether he should have been or not, he was the most important person in your life and all of a sudden he wants nothing more to do with you.

‘Life feels like such a cliché – to have had an affair with a married man who promised you the world and then cut you out completely. You feel that anyone else but you could have seen it would end badly. And yet it didn’t feel that way at the time. It felt important and special, because it was, wasn’t it? It can’t all have been in your head, can it?

‘It’s hard to not keep hoping that he will change his mind or it won’t work out between them but you must try not to. Time really is a great healer and the sooner you can start to see him for the cheat that he really is, the better.’

Rebuilding self-esteem

If you’ve been The Other Woman in a relationship, re-building your self-esteem is one of the hardest things to do. It’s likely that the relationship was filled with incredible highs and unbelievable lows, sometimes feeling like the most important person to him and at others, feeling alone and second best.

Relationship expert Dr. Pam Spurr, author of Sex Academy says:

‘Rebuilding your self-esteem after being dropped by a married (or otherwise taken) man is tricky. You feel as if you offered him everything plus a way out of his supposedly ‘unhappy’ relationship. Then you find that your best isn’t good enough.

‘Because of the nature of the relationship – secrecy, snatching exciting moments, and hot sex – you shared something extremely passionate. Such passion fuels an incredible desire for it to become permanent. The crash back to earth feels unbearable and is crushing to self-esteem.

‘Unfortunately it’s too easy to turn the end of such relationship into a personal rejection – of course it feels that way! But the first step to rebuilding your self-esteem is to ‘reframe’ your perspective on the situation. This means you have to be ready to be harsh about him and his motives. Anyone who hasn’t been in this situation would think that’s easy – but when you have given him 110% it’s hard to face the reality that actually he was a user and a loser… but that’s a starting point.

‘Reframing him in an honest light will do you a world of good. Take time to reflect on all his broken promises – what does that say about him? It says he’s a liar. Obviously reflect on how he was lying to his other partner too. How can you reframe that? It’s easy, this is a man who wanted his cake and to eat it too.’

The road ahead: moving on from the affair

Whether you or he decided to end the relationship, take some strength in the fact that those days of uncertainty are behind you now. No longer will you have to fret about when you can next see him, when he will leave her, what she knows or doesn’t know. Now is the time to focus on yourself and be grateful for all that you still have.

Dr Pam says: ‘It’s crucial that you let trusted friends or family in on what’s been going on and how you’ve been dropped. You may well have kept this relationship secret – probably because inside you knew people would tell you to get out of it. Don’t let pride stop you from leaning on friends and family now. They’re unlikely to give you a hard time because they’ll see what a hard time you’re already going through.

‘Now’s the time to reconnect with people you were probably spending less time with as you waited around for him to find a free moment for you. It’s amazing how women who’ve been the ‘other woman’ tell me how much time they actually wasted just waiting for his call. This meant putting off friends, family and even getting to know colleagues better while you wasted that time. It’s not a waste now if you learn from it. Get out there and do the things that you turned down.

‘Obviously focus on your good qualities and stop beating yourself up for having made a mistake with him. We’re all entitled to one big mistake (and many many little ones!) but the key thing is to never repeat it. Each day walk out the door with your head held high focusing on what a good friend you are, your good sense of humour, etc.

‘When you’re feeling a bit better about things definitely get out and date but make sure you put yourself first. Don’t accept second-hand treatment even from single men. If you take one thing from this unhappy experience make sure it’s about making wise decisions in future about relationships.’

Have you ever been The Other Woman? Share your story and words of advice in our comments section below.