Don’t Mind Being “The Other Woman”? Think Again

If you pay too much attention to movies and TV, being the other woman seems almost glamorous. The idea that you can have some exciting, illicit affair that leads to true love and a happy ending might sound inviting, but let’s get real: it’s a disaster in every way. Forget the rush you feel as you sneak off for a secret rendez-vous and start facing the facts. So what’s being the “other woman” really like?

  1. You build something on false hope. While Angelina may have gotten Brad, in most cases, the other woman doesn’t get such a happy ending. Even if the man you’re seeing tells you he’s going to leave his wife or girlfriend for you, it very rarely happens, and pinning your hopes on that is no way to live.
  2. Promises are constantly broken. He’s going to pick you up at 9pm? Oops. Looks like there’s drama on the home front so he has to cancel. Again.
  3. Your trust in him will always be shaky. You have to ask yourself: If he’s cheating on his wife with you, what would stop him from cheating on both of you with someone else? Nothing.
  4. You delude yourself constantly. Every single breath you take and every instance of your life will be a series of lies you tell yourself just so you can function on a daily basis: “He’s totally leaving her this weekend. I know he’s said it 53 times before, but this is it. I can feel it.”
  5. You end up missing out on things. If you’re living some super secret life as the other woman, just think about all the things you and The Cheater can’t attend or do in public. You know, all the stuff he gets to do with his wife or girlfriend.
  6. You forgive things you shouldn’t. You’ll find that the stuff you wouldn’t forgive others for, you’ll forgive in him when you’re the other woman. You realize that your relationship isn’t totally legit, so you just naturally cave faster.
  7. The feeling of guilt never goes away. Even if you think that you’re somehow in the right, the guilt will never quite cease. That’s even more true if he has kids. After all, who would really want to wreck a family?
  8. You’ll get daily lectures from your friends. The most supportive friends in the world won’t put up with the drama and BS that comes with someone they love being the other woman. So hell yeah, they’re going to try to set you straight over and over again.
  9. You’re limiting your chances for something real. Tied down to someone who’s already tied down to someone else, and you’re not even open to the idea of dating someone new who just might actually be available? You’re just setting yourself up for misery.
  10. You spend more money on therapy than you should. Being the other woman will put you in therapy, if you’re not already in it. You want to try to get some sort of permission that what you’re doing is okay and proof that there really is hope ― but any great therapist will give you neither, hence the reason you keep going back.
  11. You frequently question what’s wrong with you. Not just because your therapist suggests it, in a round about way, but because the reality is, no human being would actually want to be second to someone else. Is it because you don’t think you deserve something all your own? Are you afraid of real commitment? These are the types of things you ask yourself all the time.
  12. You feel dirty more often than not. While it’s fun to sneak around at first, eventually it becomes tiresome. You go from feeling like a sweet treat they sneak before dinner to feeling like a dirty pile of lies whose very existence is a burden. It’s fun to feel dirty, but not this type of dirty.
  13. You constantly being judged. Even if you no one in the room knows you’re homewrecker, your place in society as such just means “your kind” is constantly judged, if not loathed.
  14. You make compromises against your will. You really have no choice. You’re not number one in their life, you’re number two. Only number one is free from making compromises.
  15. You don’t get to talk about the future. While your friends are moving in with their partners and getting engaged, you get to just continue to live alone, sneak around, and be “forever a bridesmaid,” as they say. That’s going to be real fun when you’re 40.
  16. You’re incessantly struggling with how to end it. You’re not an idiot, so you know it can’t go on forever, but you also have no clue how to end it, because of feeeeelings. Damn feelings!
  17. You have to share him. If you’re the type of person who couldn’t share their toys as a kid, then you definitely can’t stomach sharing the person you love as an adult. More to the point, you’re sharing genitals with someone else. Unless you’re into polyamory, that’s not an easy thing to do. Honestly, it sucks.
  18. You really are settling. Being with someone who can’t fully commit, keeps you as a secret, and only sees you when their first priority isn’t around? That’s the very definition of settling.
  19. Karma is a bitch. Even if you don’t believe in karma, there’s a pretty good chance that you wouldn’t want another woman doing this to you. Since that’s the case, don’t do it to someone else. It’s bad form, and to quote the very wise Gretchen Wieners, “I mean, that’s just like the rules of feminism!” She’s right.
Amanda Chatel is a sexual health, mental health, and wellness journalist with more than a decade of experience. Her work has been featured in Shape, Glamour, SELF, Harper's Bazaar, The Atlantic, Forbes, Elle, Mic, Men's Health and Bustle, where she was a lifestyle writer for seven years. In 2019, The League included Amanda in their "15 Inspirational Feminists Every Single Person Should Follow on Twitter" list.

Amanda has a bachelor's degree in English and master's degree in Creative Writing from the University of New Hampshire. She divides her time between NYC, Paris, and Barcelona.

You can follow her on Instagram @la_chatel or on Twitter @angrychatel.