The Thinking Other Woman

What you should know BEFORE your affair.

About My Hate Mail …

This website must be getting around out there now, because I have to announce that I have received my first hate mail.

The missive (anonymous) reads as follows: 

"So, you are blaming the wife of a adulterous man (or woman) for him/her cheating? Of course she might have done things wrong, of course she might have a part of the blame, of course she may not have listened, but this have nothing to do with adultery. An trustworthy and empathetic person stops one relationship BEFORE starting another, and a smart and empathetic person do NOT start a relationship with a married person or somebody that is in a relationship. Very simple, but it might require some strength at times. If you understand the point, though, it is not difficult to find that strength."

I have given this some thought. (I give everything some thought.) And the result of that thought is:

Five Stupid Things People Say About Cheating And Affairs

1.) “The third party wrecked my marriage and my home!”

    Here’s the truth: An affair is the last symptom of problems in a marriage, not the first symptom. When an affair happens, the fact is that the two people in the marriage have been hurting one another for a long time. The problem is that neither of them discussed it. Or, when someone tried, repair attempts on the part of one person went unnoticed and unheeded by the other. Finally, all communication broke down, and one desperate party went outside the marriage to complain to someone else (me).

    There’s also the scenario where one party is a malignant narcissist or has a sex addiction, and has just been acting out the entire time, and the other party didn’t see the signs.

    Either way, problems have been brewing for a long, long time. The affair is not when the problems start. The affair is when the problems become visible in a way that neither marriage partner can ignore the problems any longer.

    2.) “I wish women were kinder to each other. Women shouldn’t steal each other’s husbands/boyfriends.”

      In my case, this was how it went: 

      I understood, when I became attracted to my married man, that I was in a position of grave responsibility and that what I did could hurt other people very, very badly. (And this knowledge once sent me to the ER with an hour-long panic attack.)


      In this situation, however, I saw that the person I cared about had been abused in his childhood home, and also in his current home.

      If I see you emotionally and/or physically abusing your husband, I don’t have to have sympathy for that. I can and will step in and say, “Look, something’s wrong with this person’s behavior. It isn’t you, you’re an adorable person, and you’re wrong to think this behavior is your fault.” And I will do that with a clear conscience. I can also recommend that your husband go to therapy, and I will do that with a clear conscience.

      If your husband indicates to me that he doesn’t want to save his marriage, he’s ready to leave, and he wants to be with me, I will accept that with a clear conscience as well.

      What I cannot do with a clear conscience is: 

      a.) Observe a situation in which one party is asking to go to marriage counseling, and choose to remain involved in the marriage.

      b.) Observe a situation which I know could probably improve if the parties went to counseling, and stay and manipulate the husband out of the marriage instead of recommending that counseling.

      c.) Observe a situation in which counseling broke down or hasn’t happened yet, and a person is afraid to leave the marriage, but, because he’s still unhappy, he’s trying to get any of his needs met with me which should properly be met by the marriage partner, and stay involved and encourage dishonesty on the part of this person.

      I have observed all of these tenets, so in my view my behavior toward the wronged wife in this instance has been ethical. So far, following these rules makes: one time I informed Husband counseling might be helpful and sent him back to Wife and he didn’t want to go and instead moved out; one time he voluntarily went back to Wife and I let him go; and one time he came back to me and I sent him back to Wife because I deemed his behavior unhealthy and saw adverse consequences ahead.

      Most third parties wouldn’t treat the wife this well, but I have. And, unless and until I see that Husband is tough enough to actually leave Wife and go through with a divorce, if he shows up again, I will follow these tenets yet again. 

      Even if I love the guy. Even if it breaks my heart.

      What you need to do, if you’re the wronged wife, is get yourself into therapy and work as hard as I have. The wife in my situation has flunked out of therapy once, and that particular ball is in her court. What was she doing to make this marriage founder? I could tell her, but her husband already did … in marriage counseling.

      In this case, she’s the person not listening. And the whole thing’s a tragedy.

      3.) “Cheating is selfish.”

        I firmly believe that cheating is the result of attachment issues that began years ago when we were babies and very young children. 

        Something happened in the home that disrupted our ability to connect fully and freely to another human being and to anticipate and trust that our needs would be met. Something impeded our ability to know and share our emotions. Something made us feel like inferior, unlovable human beings. Something happened that gave two of us (the females) a control-freak streak about a mile wide. 

        In Husband’s case, mom was an alcoholic and dad was a dishrag codependent. In my case, mom had borderline personality disorder, and dad and stepdad were both dishrag codependents. In Wife’s case, as far as I am led to understand, she was a very sensitive little girl squelched by a domineering mother.

        We may not remember it. We may think our childhood was normal, or even wonderful. But it happened, and the scars show up every time we can’t connect in our marriages, every time we can’t work out problems or even talk about them, and every time we bring our pain to a third party instead.

        Look at the three of us. I have an abbreviated family history for all three people in our triangle, I have Diane Heller and Pia Mellody (if you don’t know those names, look them up!), and I have our horoscope charts. And all of these sources agree:

        The two women in the triangle both have a strong need to control, and we’ve picked out a weak male who asks to be controlled, believes he has no choice, and then resents it. The husband and I are textbook examples of anxious attachment; the wife is a textbook example of avoidant attachment (and the control needs of each female are a little bit of disorganized attachment thrown in). All three of us are codependent. All three of us had serious problems with a parent at home growing up. Both the wife and I lost our fathers at an early age.

        The cure for what ails us is spelled, hard work in therapy on our pain and brokenness from childhood. (So far, I’m the only one applying herself.)

        People don’t cheat because they are selfish. People cheat because they’ve been in serious emotional pain from earliest childhood, and they don’t know how else to handle it.

        4.) “You should be ashamed of staying with someone who cheated.”


        My married man has been married almost thirty-seven years. They’ve had beautiful children and grandchildren and have a lovely family. Neither is a bad person.

        If a marriage and family can survive unbroken, then they should, no matter what ending I myself would prefer. The best outcome for this family is for the wounds to be healed and the marriage to become real. (The last I heard, it looked real to everyone else, when in reality, it was an emotional divorce between two people passing like ghosts in the same house. And one person was really, really hurting about this. For twenty-six years and counting.)

        The trick here is that this healing process requires work. And work is a four-letter word.

        In order to save a marriage, you need to work, not on “fixing up that other person and getting them straightened out so they show up as the person they always used to show up as,” but on fixing yourself.

        And that’s tough.

        Nobody wants to do that.

        When one person in the marriage is ready to do that and the other person isn’t, that’s when the marriage should end. And for the person ready to work and change, it’s going to be a matter of self-preservation.

        5.) “I have the right to pass judgement on what you did.”

          I’ve done an exhaustive amount of work on understanding all three people and all the issues involved. I haven’t just gone on the fact that I’ve seen so-and-so socially for thirty years, therefore I think I know all the issues involved.

          I’ve done tons of work on this for four years, and that’s because the whole situation upset me greatly. It was important to me that, when it was all over, I could live with what I chose to do. And, despite all the work I’ve done, I’m prepared to admit that I could be wrong about it all, if I’m presented with new evidence that shows me that.

          All onlookers to an affair, involved peripherally in any of the relationships or not, need to be prepared to do the same thing. 

          If you’re not … SHUT UP.

          P.S., No, taking sides does not help anyone. Even when it looks like it does.