Get expert help coping with the effects of being the other woman. Click here to chat online to someone right now.
It’s not like you planned for it to happen, but you find yourself in the role of “the other woman.”
The man you’re with is either married or in a committed relationship with someone else, but the two of you got romantically involved.
So what now?
Whether you’ve already ended the relationship or you’re still thinking about it, the affair has left its mark on you, including potential psychological problems such as trust issues and lack of self-worth.
So, you must learn how to heal from the hurt and get your life back together.
After all, no one wants to be the other woman, even if they think that they’re okay with it.
It’s not the future you had planned for yourself, and you deserve so much more! Being the other woman, the mistress, the side chick, or whatever you wish to call it is a lot less than you can achieve in your love life.
Remind yourself that this is not who you are; this is just the situation you’re in and your situation can change.
However, you can’t let this man lie to you, believe in his lies, and tell yourself lies to keep dating him. For instance, most men who cheat on their partners promise their mistresses that they’re eventually going to leave their partners. Do they really though? In most cases, no, and even in those rare situations when that actually happens, it doesn’t guarantee a happily ever after.
You must address the issues caused by being the “other” woman so that you can go on to form healthy relationships and finally get what you deserve.
1. Don’t trust the person you’re cheating with.
First and foremost, you should be aware that “I’m going to leave her to be with you” is rarely a truth you can believe. And even when the man follows through on that promise, who’s to say that someone else won’t take your place as the other woman?
How can you trust someone who cheats with you not to cheat on you? Well, you can’t. Clearly, someone who can have an affair and go unnoticed is good at lying, manipulating, and keeping things a secret. They aren’t just lying, manipulating, and hiding things from their partner though; they’re doing the same thing to you.
When you are having an affair with someone, you’re being cheated on too, aren’t you? Well, doesn’t he go back to his loving wife’s or girlfriend’s embrace after a night with you? The same way he is lying to her about you, he could be lying to you about her and anything else.
Men who cheat on their wives or girlfriends often portray them as bad for them when they talk to their mistresses. His wife/girlfriend doesn’t give him what he needs, he’s not happy with her…
Then why doesn’t he leave her? The truth is, those might be pure lies. You don’t know this woman and the relationship he has with her other than by what he has told you, and he could tell you anything he wants.
Don’t believe a word he says unless there’s something to back it up!
2. Think about all the people you’re hurting, including yourself.
You don’t want to do this, but take a second to think about the people you’re hurting. Yes, it’s not your fault that someone’s partner is cheating on them because they could be doing it with someone else just the same. But you are the person in question now, so take a second to think about both women in this man’s life: his wife or girlfriend and you.
Neither of you is getting what you deserve, and he is, in a way, playing with both of you to get what he wants.
What’s so special about this man that two women’s lives need to revolve around him and serve the purpose of making him happy? What are you getting in return? Are your needs being met?
Your needs are never a priority since you just get him for a few stolen moments, and the woman he’s cheating on is clearly not a priority to him either. Yes, he’s human. Yes, he makes mistakes. Perhaps he didn’t set out to have an affair. He probably doesn’t want to hurt anyone. But he is.
What’s more, the two of you might not be the only women in his life. Are you sure that you’re the only side chick? Aren’t you hurting yourself by letting him treat you like an option either way?
How often does he make you cry versus make you laugh? How have you been feeling during this affair in general? Does this man really deserve the hearts of two or more women, or is he breaking every one of them because he’s making his own pleasure a priority?
3. Want more for yourself.
Most importantly, what are you getting from this man, and what kind of future could you possibly have with him?
He sees you only when he hides from his partner, he doesn’t want to be seen with you in public or let anyone know about the two of you, and his double life is causing him to lie to multiple people all the time.
Is this the man you’ve imagined for yourself? Are you happy with a few stolen moments with him when it’s convenient for him? You always have to be available when he needs you, yet he’s never available when you need him. No, at those times, his partner needs him, and he still puts her needs ahead of yours, doesn’t he?
Well, that’s a clear sign that he’s not truly considering leaving her for you. He simply thinks that he can have his cake and eat it too, and you’re letting him think that.
Why? Don’t you want more for yourself? Someone else would show up when you call, not run and hide so no one would hear him tell you that he wishes he could be there. An available man would make you a priority and proudly introduce you to the world as his girlfriend.
Why do you settle for being the other woman instead? Do you really have anything in common with this man, or is your relationship purely physical? Do you even get along outside of the sack, or is your life a soap opera ever since you’ve started seeing him?
Sex can be great, danger can be exciting, and drama can be thrilling, but is this really all you want in life? You can still have sex, danger, and drama in your love life if you choose someone who could give you much more than just that.
4. Don’t give yourself false hope.
When women don’t end the affair, it’s often because they’re giving themselves false hope. He’ll change, he’ll leave her, I’m in it for sex too anyway… are these things you’re telling yourself really true?
For one thing, if you only want a physical relationship with not a lot of feelings and potential future involved, there’s bound to be loads of men hoping that they could meet someone like you. So why choose the one that will keep sleeping next to someone else?
If, instead, you’re hoping that he’ll change or leave his partner, don’t. Even if there’s a small chance that he will end his relationship, it doesn’t mean you’ll find happiness with him. And let’s face it, he’s unlikely to turn into a different man when he’s with you.
While this doesn’t necessarily make him a bad person, it makes him a bad partner because he’s clearly capable of creating a web of lies to satisfy his own needs. If you think that what you have is love, try to look at your situation from a different perspective. Try to see things as objectively as you can, and you might realize that your situation is not as special as you might think.
In fact, you’ve seen how the story goes in so many movies and TV shows. But this is not a Warner’s Bro’s production, it’s your life, and you’re wasting it for someone who is not worth it.
5. End the affair.
The best thing you can do when you’re the other woman is to end the affair as soon as possible. Just think about what you have to offer and what you’re giving to this man without really getting much in return.
Now imagine what an available man would give you for what you have to offer. Whether you’re looking for something serious or casual, he could give you that without all the hiding and sneaking around.
So, end the affair and let yourself experience true love. What you have with a man who is taken is not love, and if you’re unsure about that, just know that love is supposed to make you happy. Are you happy being the other woman?
Don’t put all your hope on the possibility that things could change one day because it will still be the same man. Don’t settle for the crumbs he can give you when someone else would give you the world.
6. Cut off all contact.
Once you let him know that you’re no longer going to be his side chick, cut off all contact. Don’t answer his calls, don’t respond to his messages, and block him on social media.
This is a good way to make sure that you stick to your decision. Clearly, the man who cheats is good at storytelling, so you don’t want to give him a chance to tell you stories and make promises that he can’t keep. Just ignore him no matter how hard it gets.
7. Don’t take him back.
Rest assured that he will try to get you back after you end the affair, but don’t let this fool you into thinking that he loves you. Of course he wants you back, the arrangement where he gets to have both you and his partner worked perfectly for him. It just doesn’t work for the two of you.
So, don’t think that just because he wants you back, you can make it work with him. He’ll probably make promises that he can’t keep and lie to you to get you to take him back. Don’t buy any of it.
Even if he tells you that things are going to be different, rest assured that they won’t be, and you’ll be right back where you were with him. Unless he actually breaks up with his partner to be with you when you end the affair, don’t let him convince you that it will be different.
On the other hand, if he actually breaks up with his partner, he might be serious about you, but can you really trust him anyway? Don’t forget that there are plenty of fish in the sea, and none of them have lied to you as he did.
8. Treat it as any other breakup.
After you end this relationship, you can do what you would normally do when you break up with someone. Change your hair, refresh your wardrobe, throw away any keepsakes, go out with your friends, find the support in your family, and find a new hobby to keep your mind busy.
After focusing on this man for too long, it’s time that you focus on yourself for a change. And it definitely has been too long, regardless of how long you were involved with him.
Remind yourself of all the doors that are opening to you now that you’re no longer with him. While you were involved with him, you weren’t really taken, but you weren’t available either.
Maybe there are already men who are interested in you, but you didn’t notice them because this guy was blocking your view.
9. Put your needs first.
Your needs never came first when you were with this man. He would put his partner’s needs ahead of yours and his own ahead of everyone else’s. So, now it’s time that you think of your own needs and put them first.
Have you been neglecting to do the things that used to make you happy? Have you done anything you love doing recently? How have you been feeling? Think only about yourself for a change, and try to make yourself happy.
Once you’re ready to go out there and meet an available man, make sure that your needs are met this time. Don’t settle for anyone who wouldn’t show up for you when you need them the most, and find a person who’ll make you feel loved and appreciated. That’s what you really need, not a man who has to run away from his partner to spend a few hours with you.
10. Forgive yourself.
Whether you are aware of it or not, you’re probably feeling guilty about the affair. You might even think that you deserve less than you really do because you subconsciously feel guilty.
So, you should forgive yourself for the affair and try to move on. Some people can’t really forgive themselves unless they get some sort of “punishment,” even if it means that they’ll sabotage themselves.
If it’s hard for you to forgive yourself, it might not be a bad idea to talk to a close friend or a family member who you can trust and who already knows about the affair. Let them call you out on your behavior and tell you that what you did was wrong.
It might sound crazy, but hearing that might help you deal with the guilt, especially since it would come from someone who cares about you and wants only the best for you. Let it be your only punishment if you need one, and don’t be too hard on yourself.
11. Think about the kind of relationship you want.
You have every right to feel fulfilled, be happy, valued, respected, and loved, and you aren’t going to achieve this in a secret relationship with someone else’s partner.
Don’t you want a loyal and honest partner that you can actually hold hands with when you take a walk? Know that you deserve a real relationship, so set your standards higher and think about the kind of relationship you want.
You can even write down the things you’d like to have in your love life and the deal-breakers that you’re not going to tolerate. Don’t be afraid to aim for more than you think you deserve because your standards are probably too low now. For some time, you’ve been settling for crumbs when you should have gotten so much more, so become perfectly aware of what that more is, and the fact that it’s out there and you can have it.
12. Be honest with yourself about your current relationship.
Once you’re clear on the relationship you want to have, think about the relationship that you have with this man. It’s probably nowhere close to what you had planned for yourself, so take a minute to focus on that.
This is important because our feelings often don’t let us see our relationships realistically, and it makes us settle for less and stay in toxic ones.
Become perfectly aware of the kind of relationship that you have with this man with all its downsides. Surely there are some good parts otherwise you wouldn’t be with him in the first place, but focus on all the bad parts now.
Once you do, you can think about the good parts, too, but don’t forget to ask yourself: are the few good parts really worth all those bad parts? Think about this man too and focus on the things that you don’t like about him. Try to be as honest with yourself as you can, and don’t try to justify his behavior or give yourself false hope.
13. Look at things objectively.
We often idealize our partners, regardless of the type of relationship we’re in. So, try to see this man as objectively as you can. Most importantly, think about your possible future together. Is there any? If not, why are you wasting your time with him when you can be with someone you could actually have a future with?
Looking at things objectively means not lying to yourself about the current state of your relationship and the way things could develop later on. Don’t forget that there’s also the possibility that you’ll get caught, and you will not only have to face the wrath of his partner but the judgment of everyone who’ll find out about this.
You might get a bad reputation that could harm your potential future relationships. After all, you don’t want to be the subject of gossip, so it’s best that your secret relationship stays a secret. And the only way to make sure that that happens is to end it before it’s too late.
14. Think about the way your partner has been treating you.
Were you even happy with this man? Did he treat you with kindness and respect? Or have you been crying yourself to sleep almost every other night since you got involved with him?
He probably doesn’t treat you the way you deserve, but even if he treats you well, he still treats you like a mistress, not a partner. This is not the man you can introduce to your friends and family, and it’s not possible to even express your feelings for him when you’re not alone.
Your relationship might even be purely physical. Maybe you’re feeling a lot of passion and desire, but is it really anything more than that? Does he try to make your days special or to buy you off with gifts? If he is trying to keep you by spending cash on you, don’t settle for his money when someone else could give you so much more.
15. Don’t romanticize affairs.
One of the most important things to remember is to stop romanticizing affairs. They get glorified in the media, and something about the risk of getting caught makes it exciting. Even just the fact that you can’t be together makes you think that you’ve found love that you’ve only seen in movies.
Life is not a movie, though, so don’t romanticize what you’re doing just because you know that you shouldn’t be doing it. Actually, there’s nothing glorious about being an affair partner, and it ends badly almost every time. People get hurt, and this doesn’t apply only to the person who’s getting cheated on.
There’s nothing romantic about sneaking around and coming up with lies to be able to see each other. It’s just what you have to do when you’re doing something that you know is wrong.
If this man truly cared about you, he would leave his partner and get into an official relationship with you, not try to keep both you and his partner and put you into the role of the other woman.
16. Think about what you’ve been getting from this.
The man you’re with is clearly getting something from this when he keeps coming back, but what about you? What benefits do you get from having an affair? There are many downsides and things you’re not getting in this type of relationship, so are you really getting anything that you couldn’t get in a normal relationship?
It seems like you’re just denying yourself a lot and settling for only a few things that you could have anyway. How does this affair benefit you? It’s important to really think about this because you might realize that, other than the thrill of keeping it a secret, you’re not getting much from this.
17. Think about what you deserve.
Don’t you deserve someone who will be always available when you need them, make you a priority, and plan the future with you? They would tell the world you’re their girlfriend and maybe even make you their wife one day.
Become clear about everything that you could be getting but aren’t because you’re involved with an already taken man. He might be sacrificing a lot for a few moments of pleasure, but so are you. You’re sacrificing your potential future with someone else who would be able to give you that.
18. Make plans for your future.
Speaking of the future, the reason you’re settling for being the other woman might be because you don’t see the future ahead of you. So think about what you want in life and make plans for your future.
Once you’re clear on the future that you want for yourself, you’ll be able to search for someone with whom you could have that future.
Are you hoping to eventually have a family of your own? Would you like to work toward something like that with someone who wants that too? Your plans don’t have to be just about your love life though. Think about all aspects of your life and how you can improve them to have the life you want for yourself.
19. Don’t settle.
You already learned that you’re settling by agreeing to be someone’s mistress, but you should not forget this lesson even after you end the affair. You might still want to settle for less than what you deserve out of guilt, even if it’s not with an already taken man.
So, work on your standards and search for the relationship that you deserve to have. It might take time to find the right person, but it’s worse to waste time on the wrong person than to focus on yourself until the right one comes along.
20. Work through your guilt.
If you are experiencing a lot of guilt because of the affair, you might have to work on it with a counselor.
Don’t think about confronting your affair partner or their partner in public and making a scene to get over your guilt. Work through it instead, and with time you’ll feel better.
After all, they could have cheated with anyone else, so it’s not like you’ve made them do it. If you ended the affair, you did the right thing eventually, so forgive yourself and don’t let your guilt influence your decisions.
21. Try to figure out why you’re attracted to the forbidden fruit.
Maybe this is not the first unavailable man that you’ve dated. Perhaps others weren’t married or in a relationship with someone else, but they were emotionally unavailable too.
The reason you’re attracted to this type of person might have roots in your past, so it’s best to talk about it with a counselor. A professional can help you identify toxic patterns and change them.
22. Work on the consequences of the affair.
A counselor can help you deal with the consequences of the affair, too, whether it’s guilt, fear of being judged, hurt feelings, or low self-esteem.
Rest assured that the affair has left its mark on you, whether you’re aware of it or not. You might also want to try working on the other consequences, such as damage to your reputation.
23. Think about your ideal partner.
To have higher standards, you need to be perfectly aware of what you’re looking for. Write down the characteristics of your ideal partner to help you stay focused on the type of person you want to date in the future.
Maybe he is charming, witty, kind, and handsome. Feel free to use any adjectives that you want but focus more on what kind of person they are rather than how they look.
24. Look for an emotionally and otherwise available partner.
Once you have a pretty good idea about who you’re looking for, it’s time to get out there and look for him! Give yourself time to grieve and move on from the affair, but once you’re ready, look for an emotionally and otherwise available partner.
Eventually, when you get involved with them, you’ll see what you’ve been missing out on when you were settling for an affair, and you certainly won’t regret ending it.
25. Don’t allow the affair to taint future relationships.
If you’re not careful, being the other woman can affect how you approach future relationships and how you think about future partners.
Don’t, for example, paint all men with the same brush and assume that a future partner is likely to cheat on you because ‘all men are cheaters’ as you now see it. They aren’t. So try not to view a new partner’s actions with suspicion when they are otherwise innocent.
Another thing to bear in mind is that a healthy relationship will have a lot more normality about it. Don’t confuse this normality with boredom. Just because the affair kept you on the edge of your seat, doesn’t make it more enjoyable in the long run, as you no doubt found out. Normal is good.
Yes, look for some excitement – be the one to create that excitement – but try not to feel disappointed by the routines and everyday responsibilities that are a part of a healthy relationship.
Then there’s the issue of your attachment style post-affair. When you are the other woman, you long for the time you get to spend with the man in question. You crave his attention. This leads to an unhealthy attachment which can then seep into your future relationships.
Try to avoid becoming too attached to this new man. Yes, spend time with him, enjoy is attention and affection, but be sure to maintain a balanced life where you don’t place all your happiness in his hands.
Still not sure how to move on from being the other woman? The mental stresses of the situation will have had an effect on you, there’s no doubt about it. Speaking to someone is an absolute must if you are to get over these and have healthy relationships in the future. So why not chat online to one of the experts from Relationship Hero who can help you figure things out. Simply click here to chat.
You may also like:
- In Love With A Married Man? 13 Truths You Need To Hear
- How To End An Affair: The Only 4 Steps You Need To Take
- 14 Signs Of An Emotional Affair (+ 11 Reasons People Have Them)
- 14 Effective Ways To Deal With The Guilt Of Cheating
- 14 Reasons Why Men And Women Cheat On Those They Love
- How To Tell If He/She Will Cheat Again: 10 Clues To Look For
- 11 Things That May Be Considered Cheating In A Relationship
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What does it feel like to be the other woman?
While it can feel exciting to be the other woman, it can also be mentally draining and stressful. After the euphoria of the affair wears off, you’re left with a bundle of conflicting emotions.
No matter how emotionally or physically connected you feel to someone who is already in a relationship, you know it’s coming at a huge cost to someone else. Someone else who probably doesn’t deserve to be treated like that.
You struggle to gauge your place in his life because deep down you know you’re not the priority. So, if he doesn’t call, can’t see you, or cancels at the last minute because of some excuse with his wife/girlfriend, you really can’t complain. You settle for whatever he can give you.
The fear of the affair being exposed consumes you. What if his wife/girlfriend finds out and comes to your office to cause a scene? Perhaps you’re having dinner together at one of your favorite restaurants and she bursts in to confront both of you. What if she posts evidence of the affair on social media for your friends, family, and work connections to see?
Affairs are tense, stressful situations that can negatively impact your mental well-being and potentially impact how you interact with future partners.
What are the psychological effects of being the other woman?
Even though it may seem exciting and passionate at the time, the psychological effects of being the other woman are quite damaging to your mental health and any future relationships you hope to have.
Some of the psychological effects include:
- Trust issues: In order to maintain the affair, he must constantly lie, either to you or to his girlfriend/wife. So, you struggle to trust anything the affair partner says or does even if by chance he “promotes” you from side chick to the main girlfriend. In the back of your mind, if he’s done it once, he can do it again.
- Enormous amounts of guilt: Despite how good or invigorating the affair feels, you know that you’re causing another person or even a family a great deal of pain. The affair may be destroying a family unit. The weight of your actions comes with a great deal of guilt.
- Worry plagues you: There will always be that niggling worry in the back of your mind that his girlfriend or wife will find out. If she finds out, there’s the possibility that she’ll cause a scene or expose the affair to your friends and family, who will, in turn, judge you negatively and harshly.
- Low Self-Esteem: You’re not a priority, no matter what he tells you. His actions show that his priorities lie with his girlfriend/wife, so you settle with the crumbs that are remaining. You can’t rely on him to be there for you when you’re in need, so you deny your needs or ignore them. You settle for less because less is all he can give you.
- You question your judgment: You wonder how you got yourself into such a situation. No one wishes to be the other woman. Society has such a negative view about women engaged in infidelity that is often not shared by the male partners. There is a lot at stake for you. But regardless, here you are. You’re in an impossible situation, wondering how this all happened.
- You feel isolated: No one can know about the affair. Not your friends or family. You’re not free to go out with your partner. There’s a limit to the times and places you can meet up. You even have to be careful about the messages you text/chat.
- Constant pressure: Your mind is plagued with questions like will he pick you? Does he really love you? Why is he still with her? What are you doing? The pressure from never-ending questions is enormous.
There are many other psychological effects of being the other woman in a relationship. Many of these far outlast the affair itself. Being the other woman is one situation in life where the risks far outweigh any potential benefits.
What should you do when finding out you’re the other woman?
The best thing you can do when you find out you’re the other woman is to end the affair as soon as possible.
You may love him and he might even truly love you. But he is not being fair to you or his wife/girlfriend by being with both of you at the same time. Until he decides who he wants to be with, remove yourself from the equation.
If, when you break things off with him, he decides that you’re the person he wants to be with, still give him time and space to work through the end of his relationship. This will help both of you step into a new relationship together with no baggage from the past.
If he doesn’t choose you and you end the affair for good, go no contact with him. Don’t answer his calls, don’t respond to his messages, and block him on social media. Ignore his pleas to explain. You already know that he’s good at lying and covering up his tracks. Don’t let him use his storytelling skills to reel you back into the affair.
Instead, focus on yourself. Work through your guilt of falling prey to his “game” and web of lies. Forgive yourself for ignoring the red flags that now seem obvious. Forgive yourself for the part you played in hurting his girlfriend/wife. Forgive yourself for ending up in this situation.
Mourn the “relationship” and move on. Figure out what you want in an ideal partner. What things did you have to compromise on when you were with your affair partner? How would you like your future partner to treat you? Focus on what you want from the next person you date.
Lastly, identify the signals you missed with your affair partner. What did he do that you overlooked? Did he say things to you that may have made you easy prey? How did he make you feel that made you susceptible to his advances?
Put together a plan to avoid those triggers in the future. So, if you meet someone else who exhibits such behavior, you’ll know to immediately turn and run from the situation.
Would you like some expert help coping with the effects of being the other woman, or simply deciding what to do? Click here to chat to one of the experts from Relationship Hero.