*The following piece was inspired by several recent articles that I've read by women who have proudly had affairs with married men. Although I am lucky enough to have a faithful husband, I've been cheated on in the past (wrote a whole book about it) and infidelity has touched the lives of several women very dear to me. I wrote this to give those women, the ones who did nothing wrong, a voice.*
I’m not slut-shaming you. We women should revel in our sexuality. We should love sex and live passionately, sensually. We should celebrate our bodies and all the miraculous things they can do and feel and we should be proud, but what you did isn’t a celebration of your sexual freedom and it’s nothing to be proud of. You aren’t liberated. You are degraded. I say this not of the wild abandon with which you enjoyed my husband, doing all the things I’m sure he told you I refused to, but because of the selfishness with which you did them.
I know that you suffer. If you were healthy and happy, you wouldn’t pursue relationships with unavailable men. This comes from a place of pain. I have compassion for that sorrow and I know your emptiness and longing. How do you think I felt when he wasn’t home and when I knew he was lying to me about where he was going?
Look, sleeping with a married man isn’t going to fix you. Your time with him, his compliments, those things are a temporary balm to make you forget how badly you feel about yourself. You think you are special because he chose you over me and over his family, and this gives you proof for a little while that you are lovable and worthy, but what about when he leaves and you’re waiting for him to call or text you again? How do you feel then waiting for your next fix?
What you’re feeling with him is an illusion. It’s a trick. It’s a high. His affections are a drug and you’re a junkie mainlining male attention. Lust is a powerful liar. And it’s a hell of a lot of fun while it lasts. Trust me, I know. I remember how it felt when I first met him too.
Real love though? That’s a whole different story. It’s not based on deceit. It can’t be because love can’t thrive where negativity festers so a relationship built on lies and hiding can never blossom. When you act like that, you’re living in darkness. Love needs light. Love is honest, it’s vulnerable, it’s out in the open.
Building a life with someone over time, overcoming hardship, reaching goals together – that’s what real love is. You just can’t come in and steal what you think is my ready-made perfect life. It doesn’t work that way. You have to build your own and put in all the same hard work and effort that I did.
You think you want my life? You say you want what I have? Oh really? You want a man who cheats? Because that’s what you’d be getting.
But you’re special, you think. He wouldn’t do that to you. Possibly, but unlikely and even so, what you’d be getting with him is a man who lacks character. I’m sure you like to imagine that you are so irresistible that he was powerless to keep his hands off of you and that your charms, your beauty, your wit or whatever is what led him astray. No. He led himself astray. This had nothing to do with your otherworldly sexiness. It happened because he has no integrity, no self-control, no regard for the consequences of his actions and it happened because he is selfish. We, yes, both of us, deserve better than that.
You might say, “If it wasn’t me, he would’ve done it with someone else,” and you know, you’re right, but that doesn’t excuse you from your actions and your choices. You are better than that. We women need to stand up for our sisters and when he hits on you, don’t give in. Refuse and say “I’m not going to do that to another woman.” What if we all did that? If we all had the courage and the strength to say no and to wait for the kind of man who’d truly respect us and love us faithfully, like, really love us? It would be so hard to do. I understand that because it feels so good in that moment when he wants you, but the high is fleeting and then you’ll inevitably crash. Doing the right thing is always more difficult and so is delaying the immediate rush of gratification that comes with your clandestine encounters, but I swear to you, it’s worth it, and once you do it, you will understand what real, lasting empowerment truly is. And that’s a million times better than some guy telling you how hot you make him.
Crying about how much you love him doesn’t mean you really did. You didn’t really love him. True love means wanting the other person to live their greatest life and to fulfill their greatest potential whether or not you get to be with them. If you loved him, you wouldn’t want him to live a life of lies. You’d want him to be healthy and your dysfunctional relationship is anything but.
Maybe you didn’t think of this and maybe you didn’t want to, but the times you were with him were times stolen from his family. The money he spent on you was money robbed from his children. Men don’t just cheat on their wives. They betray their entire families. So once again, when you say you love him, if you really did, you’d love his children as if they were your own. So why then would you want to hurt them?
I bet he told you he was unhappy with me. Perhaps he listed all my faults and transgressions, made himself a martyr saying he couldn’t leave me because of the children or because of finances. First of all, all cheaters say that. Don’t fall for it. And second? There are two sides to every story. How about you live with him as long as I have and then maybe you’ll understand why I’m such a bitch. In fact, I bet you have a lot more in common with me than you do with him.
What you did is like a disease. It’s a sickness and your symptoms are contagious. The worthlessness, the blaming, the feelings of being unloved and ugly, the loneliness? You’ve passed it on to me now, but I know how to heal and I can help you, so that together, as women, we can rise above this. The cure is standing tall, succeeding, ripping back those curtains of pain and negativity and letting the light flood in to our lives. It’s living with confidence and integrity, making choices for ourselves that are in the best interest of others too. It’s doing the right thing when faced with temptation.
It’s everything that he isn’t.