What Does It Mean To Be The Other Woman?
"The other woman" typically refers to someone who is romantically or sexually involved with someone else's partner. The phrase is commonly used to describe a woman who engages in an affair with a man who is already in a heterosexual, monogamous relationship with a woman, hence the term “the other woman.” This affair can occur with or without the other woman knowing about the partner.
There's a stigma attached to the label of "the other woman." People classically think of her as someone who is cold or uncaring, but 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 may have been involved in disrupting trust in another person’s relationship can be incredibly difficult.
What It's Like To Be The Other Woman
People may pursue affairs for many reasons, often participating in them because of their clandestine and seemingly exciting nature. Affairs differ from steady relationships. Some people in relationships seek out affairs because they're afraid of commitment or don't have the confidence to end things with their partner. It's important to remember that having an affair can hurt many people involved, not just the partner who has been cheated on.
Though there may be times when you feel like your relationship is in a bit of a rut, engaging in an affair isn’t a solution. For people who develop an intimate relationship with someone who is already committed, the situation can lead to a lot of pain and conflict. Regardless of whether they were aware of a person’s relationship, being involved in infidelity can cause the other woman to experience a wide range of emotions.
If you’re aware that you’re the other woman in your situation, it’s important to understand that continuing the relationship can cause damage to many people, including yourself. The person’s partner will likely feel as though that trust has been breached, which could have lasting effects. It’s also possible you will find yourself feeling as though your needs aren’t being met by the person that you’re sexually intimate with. This may be because, in order for the affair to continue, your presence in their life must remain a secret.
The Other Man
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. It’s estimated that around 15% of women and 25% of men have cheated during their marriage. The statistics vary by age and other demographic factors, but regardless, what we learn from this is that affairs are somewhat common for women in relationships as well.
Some people may seek a feeling of escape in an affair. In moments where life is difficult, it can be easy to look for distractions. Since many people experience strong feelings of infatuation and attraction at the beginning stages of a relationship, the idea of indulging these feelings may be intoxicating. This could be especially true for people who feel unhappy in their relationship or believe that their sexual needs aren’t being met.
It’s important to note that a breach of trust in any committed partnership can end the relationship. Doing so can lead to other harmful consequences, and it’s often smarter to communicate your feelings to your partner, seek out a couples therapist, or end the relationship entirely.
Power Dynamics And Affairs
Affairs aren't only about secrets or sexual indiscretions. There are sometimes other, more subtle elements involved. This includes power dynamics and the roles that they play in the affair. One person in the affair tends to have the upper hand. Typically, that person is the one who has a long-term partner and not the other woman. In fact, she is often being led on by the individual in the relationship. This can leave her feeling insecure, anxious, and lonely, especially at times when she doesn’t have access to the person in a committed relationship.
Power dynamics also come into play when the relationship takes place in specific settings. In the workplace, for instance, an affair that takes place between two people who have different job titles can add an additional layer of power dynamics. If one of the people involved in the affair is considered the other’s superior, this can be inappropriate and make it more difficult for a person to feel comfortable saying no. Consent is important in every intimate relationship, and having a working relationship with someone doesn’t change that.
Sexual harassment is never excusable or okay. Click here to learn more about sexual harassment, or contact the RAINN hotline at 1.800.656.HOPE (4673) for advice, support, information, and other resources. The hotline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Affairs aren't always cut and dry. Few things in life are simple. What can you do if you're working on healing after being the other woman?
Think About What You Want In Future Relationships
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. An affair is unlikely to fulfill all of your emotional needs, as there is usually a level of secrecy involved. In addition, it can be hard for people in this position to cope with the reality that the person they have feelings for spends time with someone else.
Another aspect of being the other woman that can be challenging for people is their own sense of morality. Most people don’t imagine that they will end up in a position where they are intimate with someone who is already in a relationship. Many people experience shame, guilt, and a feeling as though they are out of control of their own actions. Remember that it’s never too late to stop and begin recovering from this experience to move forward. It’s possible that this situation will teach you more about yourself once you remove yourself from it.
It's up to you what you do in your life, but remember that you have the right to be happy and feel fulfilled. It's unlikely, though, that an affair will bring you closer to these goals. Ask yourself what you want. What do you truly desire? What do you want in your future relationships? Make a list of what you want in a partner and some deal-breakers or things that you don't want. 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’ve experienced.
You may want someone honest and loyal. You may not want to be with someone who would have an affair. After all, if they've done it once, it’s possible they’ll do it again. Set your standards high and make sure your future relationships are built with people who want to foster a long-lasting healthy commitment.
Remind Yourself Who You are
Sometimes affairs make people ignore or forget about their values and who they are. You may find yourself saying and doing things you never imagined. It’s important to forgive yourself if you’ve done things you regret. Everyone makes mistakes, and it's okay to learn from them. If you find that you're engaging in regrettable 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 likely need to separate yourself from the situation if you haven't already. Consider cutting romantic ties — or all ties — with the person that you’re in this relationship with. Though you may be tempted to remain in contact with them, doing so may limit your ability to move on. 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? Reflecting on what happened can help you avoid this situation in the future.
When You Want To Stay In An Affair
When you're in an affair, one of the reasons you might stay is the hope that it will evolve into a long-term commitment. It’s important to note that this is rarely how the situation unfolds. There are exceptions to every rule — instances where the partner ends up breaking off their committed relationship and choosing the other woman instead. But that's not the majority of affairs, and most of these secretive connections end. Since affairs can be challenging to maintain, there is often a breaking point where one or both parties decide to end the relationship for good. Though it may be challenging to do, walking away from an affair is likely to offer you the best chance at a happy future.
Many people wonder: if it's not going to evolve into being in a committed relationship, why stay in it? There’s a secretive aspect about being the other woman that may be appealing or exciting, but as time goes on and things continue, this frequently turns into conflict and emotional turmoil.
How The Brain Is Affected During An Affair
The media often portrays infidelity and affairs inaccurately. In movies and TV, they make affairs look unrealistically enticing, as though they're akin to a fun adventure. But the truth is that they can be draining on the body and mind.
In reality, the brain is experiencing many things that can lead to the continuation of an affair. Dopamine is released, which can increase attraction and lead to further infatuation. And, particularly during intimacy, your brain produces oxytocin, also known as the “love hormone,” which can help you bond with the other person.
If you were the other woman, it's possible that you underwent 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 toward the person that you were seeing, or you might even feel resentful toward yourself
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. If you’re experiencing these emotions, it can be difficult to work through them.
You aren’t inherently a bad person for engaging in an affair, and you deserve to heal yourself. By opting to look for more transparent relationships in the future, it’s possible for you to find love that supports all of your needs. Though it may be challenging at first, living without the stress of a heavy secret weighing on you can give you a sense of freedom and independence.
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. By making amends with yourself, getting space from the relationship, and leaning on the support of loved ones, you can break out of a potentially unhealthy relationship dynamic. It may take patience, kindness with yourself, and time, but you can find happiness in your future relationships.
One of the ways that you can heal is through online therapy. You can talk to the professionals at ReGain about any complex emotions you feel surrounding an affair or anything else you're coping with now.
Even if it feels far away at the moment, you can start healing and get to a better place, where the affair teaches you about yourself and gives you an opportunity to grow. If you're in the middle of an affair and don't know what to do, you don’t have to go through this alone. Healing is a process, and online therapy is a great place to start.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What does “the other woman” mean?
The phrase “the other woman” typically refers to a woman who's involved with a man who is already in a heterosexual, monogamous relationship with a woman. Often, the other woman is manipulated to believe that the person’s partner isn't their real love, is a bad person, or even has consented to an outside relationship when they haven't. They might not have even known that there is a partner at all.
Especially when there’s deceit involved, the affair isn't entirely their responsibility. Though many would argue that engaging with someone who is already in a relationship is not ethical, the person who is already in a relationship is the one who made a commitment to their partner. There are many cases where an affair partner is lied to and may not know that they've contributed to infidelity.
Do relationships that start as affairs last?
Technically, relationships that start as affairs can last, though it's not common. A relationship that starts as an affair can come with a lot of challenges related to trust, instability, and jealousy. Though someone who is involved with a person in a relationship may crave the end result of being in a partnership, their knowledge of the affair can lead them to feel unsettled about moving forward. Even if you end up in a relationship, it may be hard to believe they won’t continue their behavior with someone else.
How long do extramarital affairs usually last?
Someone may engage in extramarital affairs with affair partners for one night or for many months. The length of an affair will vary, and there's no solid number to rely on. It can be abundantly difficult to find out that your spouse was involved in an affair for a long time, and it’s likely to cause difficulties with trusting them moving forward.
For a relationship to go through affair recovery, your partner is going to have to disengage from the emotional affair or physical affair they were involved in. The affair recovery process will look very different based on whether someone wants to stay in their marriage or leave. If you are the married spouse whose trust has been broken in this scenario, it's time to put yourself first and make the right choice for you and your healing process. Only you get to make the decision about how to move forward.
If you're struggling with recovering after an affair, a couples therapist can help. The type of therapy you seek will depend on your situation and whether you go alone or as a pair.
How do I get rid of the other woman in my partner’s life?
You and your partner need to make the choice as to whether you want to continue to stay in a relationship after a breach of trust occurs. For many people who decide to try to repair the relationship, cutting all ties with the other person that was involved in the affair is non-negotiable. Although it's easy and understandable to be angry with the other woman, it takes two for an affair to happen. It's true that if the other person knew that someone was in a relationship, getting involved wasn't the best idea. However, your partner is the one that made a commitment to you and broke the boundaries you set for your relationship.
Do emotional affairs turn into love?
An emotional affair can turn into love, though this is not always the case. When you're the other woman, it's hard to face the after-effects of an emotional affair. While it may be challenging, it's possible. Let yourself take the time that you need to feel your feelings and work through the challenges that this bond brought you.
You may feel guilt or worry that you'll never find true love. The truth is that you deserve true love, and healthy relationships are possible for you. If you're having difficulty with recovering after an affair, it's worth it to reach out to a mental health provider who you can talk to. You deserve a partnership where you know that you're appreciated, cared for, safe, and understood.
How do affairs start?
An affair might start online or in person. With the rise of social media, more people are meeting affair partners, or at least communicating with them, through online platforms. As time progresses, a person in a committed relationship may begin to engage in ways that violate the trust in their primary relationship.
Sometimes infidelity happens between people who were once friends. Other affairs may arise out of a workplace relationship that became romantic in nature. There are a number of scenarios that may lead to an affair, though the above are some of the most common.
How do emotional affairs start?
Emotional affairs can start in a variety of different ways. Someone may step out of their primary relationship when they meet a new person at work or online. You may notice that when an affair begins, your partner becomes emotionally unavailable or other relationship problems emerge. Perhaps other relationship problems were already present before the affair.
Affairs can cause pain whether you're the spouse or the one who fell in love with a married person. It is possible, though, to get through affair recovery either way. Therapy can help you work through a variety of concerns, from not feeling loved to healing broken trust.
What percentage of marriages survive affairs?
The number of relationships that survive affairs is surprising. Research indicates that more than half of relationships reconcile after an affair, which suggests that affair recovery is possible in relationships as well as individually. A wayward spouse should cut ties with affair partners and show commitment to the relationship; and both partners will have to work on building trust and love.
Whether you are the other woman or the spouse, you deserve healing. Talk to a couples therapist or individual therapist for support and skills that you can use throughout the affair recovery process. No matter what, you deserve to move forward.