Healing From Being The Other Woman

Updated November 18, 2021
Medically Reviewed By: Karen Devlin, LPC
"We all end up in situations that we never thought we would be in. If you are feeling a sense of loss, guilt, or shame after being the other woman, you should first assess what happened to put you in that position. May it have been a lack of personal boundaries? Was it a deep desire for connection? How do you keep yourself from feeling this way again? Sometimes we can also benefit from the support of a counselor or therapist to help us navigate these complicated feelings." - Aaron Horn LMFT

What Does It Mean To Be The Other Woman?

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"The other woman" is defined as someone who is romantically or sexually involved with someone else's husband or partner. Sometimes, the person is called a "side piece" or a "side chick," which can be used as derogatory terms. Typically, the other woman is someone who is having an affair with a married man or a man in an otherwise committed relationship. There's a stigma attached to the label of "the other woman." People classically think of her as someone cold when this isn't the case. Sometimes, when you're the other woman, you don't know that the person you're involved with is seeing someone else. Finding out that you're the other woman, and you're being deceived, is incredibly painful. You might be wondering how this happened. It's not something you brought upon yourself, and it could happen to anyone. Being the other woman isn't your identity, and you can figure out what to do in this situation.

What It's Like To Be The Other Woman

People pursue affairs because they're unpredictable and clandestine by nature. Affairs differ from a steady relationship. Some people seek out affairs because they're afraid of commitment, or don't have the confidence to break up with their partner to pursue someone else, or because they're drawn to the element of stealthiness that they come with. There's something somewhat exciting or seductive about them because they take you out of your ordinary life. It's important to remember that having an affair can hurt many people involved, not just you and the other party in the affair, but the person being cheated on. It's common to want to step outside of your routine, but for most people, the desire to go outside of your everyday routine hopefully doesn't mean having an affair. Being the other woman is painful, especially if you don't know it's your role. There are instances when a person cheats on their partner and convinces you that you're their true love. In reality, it's not the case. They're lying to you, and their partner.

Nevertheless, you believe them and fall head over heels. Instead, you get blamed if the affair is exposed. The other woman faces mind games, emotional manipulation, and deceit.

If you're in a situation where you know that you're the other woman and choose to continue the relationship, ask yourself why. Is it because the person you're having an affair with is leading you on? Is it due to something that you've experienced outside of this relationship? You deserve to be with someone who fully respects you, and cheating isn't a sign of respect. It's integral to explore the truth of the matter and put a stop to the affair. You may be enjoying time and intimacy with your partner in the dynamic, but the fallout is way worse than that of these pleasurable experiences. Hearts could be broken, and lives destroyed.

The Other Woman Vs. The Man On The Side

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People of all genders have affairs. Although we typically hear about the other woman, a man can indeed be the one in this position as well. According to statistics from the Institute for Family Studies (IFS), 13% of women and 20% of men have had sex with another person during their marriage. The statistics vary by age and other demographic factors, but regardless, what we learn from this is that affairs are strikingly common. Thinking that this could happen to you is shocking and heartbreaking. One thing that's for sure is that no matter what gender you are, you could be the one on either end of this; you could be the one getting cheated on, or you could be the one that someone is having an affair with.

Power Dynamics And Affairs

Affairs aren't only about secrets or sexual indiscretions. There are other, more subtle elements involved - for example, one of the things that are involved in power dynamics. One person in the affair tends to have the upper hand in the relationship. Typically, that person is the one who has a long-term partner. It's not the other woman who tends to have the power, but instead the other partner, who is leading that woman on by whatever means necessary. One of the most famous examples of affairs or the other woman happened during the Clinton administration. Bill Clinton, the former president, was involved with a white house intern named Monica Lewinski. There was a political sex scandal. Monica Lewinski and Bill Clinton were involved in 1995 and 1996 while Bill Clinton was married to Hillary Clinton. Lewinski was involved knowing that he was married, so why did she enter into this dynamic? What had been noted was that Bill Clinton was appealing to Lewinski because of his power, but it's hard to know what happened behind closed doors. Power dynamics can sometimes play into the occurrence of affairs, and it doesn't just happen in the cases of famous affairs. You often hear about higher-ups at companies having affairs with employees that are younger in their careers. Affairs aren't always cut and dry. Few things in life are simple. What can you do if you're working on healing from being the other woman?

Think About What You Want In Future Relationships

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Remember that the affair you're experiencing right now isn't the only relationship you could ever have in your life. You deserve to be in a relationship where you are loved, respected, and valued. You don't need to settle from crumbs when you deserve a meal. An affair is only a taste of what you deserve emotionally. It's up to you what you do in your life, but remember that you have the right to be happy and feel fulfilled, and it's unlikely that an affair will bring you closer toward these goals. Ask yourself what you want. What do you truly desire? What do you want in your future relationships? What would make a partnership feel ideal for you? Make a list of what you want in a partner, and some deal-breakers or things that you don't want in a partner. It might sound silly, but once you put it down on paper, you might be surprised by what you find. The traits that you want in a partner might differ significantly from what you had in this fling. You likely want someone honest and loyal. You probably don't want to be with someone who would have an affair. If they've done it once, they'll likely do it again. Set your standards higher from now on. Make sure that your future relationships are built with people who have the integrity to foster a long-lasting healthy commitment.

Remind Yourself Who You are

Sometimes affairs make us forget who we are. You get lost in these secretive moments. You may find yourself saying and doing things you never imagined. Forgive yourself for things you regret. Everyone makes mistakes, and it's okay to learn from them. If you find that you're engaging in toxic behaviors, you can make a change. It's not too late to start making healthy choices. Many people have been in your situation, so it's important to remember that you're not alone and that there's nothing fundamentally wrong with you. First, you need to separate yourself from the situation if you haven't already. Cut ties with the person that you were in this relationship with. Think about how and why this happened in the first place. Were you lied to? Coerced? Manipulated? Did you know about what was going on but felt deeply drawn to the person and felt as though you couldn't resist? Reflecting on what happened can help you to avoid this situation in the future. Every individual situation is unique, so one of the best things that you can do is go to therapy where you can talk to someone one-on-one about the specifics of your situation. Start building yourself up. Focus on taking care of yourself, learning about yourself, and increasing your confidence during this time.

If It's Not Going To Be A Relationship, Why Stay In It?

When you're in an affair, one of the reasons you might stay in the hope that it will evolve into a long-term commitment when this concept is unlikely. There are exceptions to every rule, and there are instances where a person has an affair, and their partner ends up breaking off their committed relationship and choosing them instead. But that's not the majority of affairs, and most of these secretive connections end. Many people wonder - if it's not going to evolve into being with a person in a committed relationship, why stay in it? There's something secretive or candescent about being the other woman that can be appealing or exciting, but as time goes on and things continue, it becomes not-so-fun. Here is some information about what happens in the mind when you're involved in an affair:

Your Brain Is Affected During An Affair

In the media, affairs are glamorized and made to seem appealing. It's unfortunate,

Because the media portrays infidelity and affairs inaccurately. In movies and TV, they make affairs look unrealistically enticing as though they're akin to delightful forbidden fruit, but the truth is that it can be draining on the body and mind. In reality, the brain goes through a change during an affair. First, there's infatuation, where your neurotransmitters are firing, and you're feeling dopamine and the pleasure principle. Then, your brain causes you to constantly think about the person that you're in an affair with. After that, there's bonding. You produce the love hormone, which can feel addictive.


If you were the other woman, it's possible that you underwent serious manipulation during the affair. Being manipulated can come with long-term psychological effects. You might experience sadness, isolation, trouble trusting people, issues with intimacy, and difficulty feeling securely attached to others. You might feel resentful towards the person that you were seeing, or you might even feel resentful toward yourself. This is why therapy can be so life-changing for those who have been the other woman.

Keeping It A Secret

One of the things that you need to heal from after being the other woman is the fact that, if you knew that you were the other woman, you had to keep the affair a secret. Secrecy can leave a person with a lot of guilt and shame. It's important to work through this guilt so that you can mend your relationship with the past and pursue a better future where you don't need to keep heavy secrets like those of an affair.

Start Healing

So, how can you heal from being the other woman? The first thing is to remember who you are. You're not just a part of an affair; you're a whole person who deserves love. One of the ways that you can heal is through online counseling. Talk to the professionals at ReGain today so that you can discuss what you went through during this affair as well as the aftereffects that you're coping with now. Even if it feels far away right now, you can start healing and get to a better place where you aren't even thinking about the affair. You don't have to suffer alone if you're in the depths of an affair and don't know what to do. Being the other woman isn't easy, and if you're reading this, you're likely searching for a way out. Healing is a process, and online therapy is a great place to start.


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