How to move on from being the other woman
Are you the other woman (or man) caught in the web of infidelity?
Picture this: Two friends walk into an all-you-can-eat buffet. One woman immediately joins the line and starts filling her plate with everything she wants. The second woman doesn’t join the line. Instead, she waits until the other woman returns to the table to begin pilfering the leftovers from her friend’s plate.
What’s wrong with this picture?
If you’re at an all-you-can-eat buffet, why would you want leftovers from another’s plate?
That’s the million dollar question we’re attempting to answer. Think about it. When someone gets involved with a married person, part of the choice they make is to eat the crumbs, rather than the whole cake. Before you read on… here’s a fair warning:
What follows constitutes my opinions, tips and advice for those who find themselves playing the part of the “other person” in the unfortunate triangle of infidelity.
You’ll find no judgment here.
It’s my opinion that infidelity and extramarital affairs call for insight into the cause, rather than punishment or blame.
However, I also believe that minimizing, denial and dishonesty do no one any favor. It’s important to face the reality of where we stand… especially if we’re standing in quicksand.
My desire for you is simple:
To be the voice that reminds you why
YOU DESERVE MORE.
About the Part You're Playing
Welcome to the fractured version of the happily-ever-after fairy tale
In this version, instead of marrying the prince, Cinderella settles for being the “mistress” of the king. Rather than have her own home, attend her own balls, and be the darling of her kingdom… she’s the king’s “dirty little secret”.
Of course, the king tells Cinderella to be patient. Someday (when the timing is right), he will leave the queen for her and she will be his queen. He locks her away in a tower in the far end of the kingdom and visits her occasionally.
Years go by with no sign that the king will ever leave his wife. He always has a good excuse. The parliament won’t allow it. The people of the country would be too disappointed. He would have to give up his crown. The time is just not right.
Fast forward to the end of the story. We see Cinderella … old and worn down, head in her hands, sad, lost, bitter and alone. Obviously, this is the version of the fairy tale nobody wants to hear.
When you play the role of the “other person” in an extramarital affair, you officially become a member of a club no one ever dreams of joining. No matter what decisions got you where you are… you can make a new, better decision for yourself.
The fact is, VERY few people deliberately or intentionally start out in life wanting to be the “third” wheel. Sadly, there’s no denying it happens all the time.
The right person at the wrong time?
This story always begins the same. You meet someone you’re attracted to, except they’re not available. But (for whatever reason), you either decide to dip your toe in the water or you may even throw caution to the wind and jump in head first.
At first, you think you can handle it.
But as time goes by, your attachment to this person continues to grow. They begin to matter to you more and more. You begin to believe that she/he really is right for you. You’ve never met anyone like them. The way they make you feel when you’re together is intoxicating. Before you know it, you think and dream about them. You can totally picture them in your life permanently.
Never mind that he has a wife (who doesn’t love him, understands him, or treats him right) OR that she has a husband (who neglects her, puts her down and doesn’t love her).
You tell yourself… “THIS is the person for me. I love him/her. Our ‘timing’ is just off, but we’re so great together that it’s worth sticking around until we can work out the particulars of being together.”
Choosing Fantasy over Reality
The trouble is… the world you have created together is NOT real. It’s based on deception, lies, secrecy and escape.
Here’s what I mean:
Before he or she met you, this person made a lifetime commitment to another. They promised to be exclusive and faithful, for better or for worse. Then along comes “worse”. Maybe he or she really is in a poor relationship. Maybe he or she really does have a sexless marriage. Maybe he or she really isn’t getting enough love, affection or attention at home.
This should all be a big RED FLAG for YOU!
Whenever someone tells you they want to have an affair with you because of problems at home, BEWARE!!! No matter how GOOD you think they are… it’s evidence of weakness.
Think about it. Instead of dealing with their real issues, they look for escape. Unfortunately, they will use you (like a drug) as their escape.
The bottom line? Until the fog of deceit, lies and secrecy clears, there’s no way for either of you to tell if what you feel is real.
If you allow yourself to get sold a bill of goods, you choose fantasy over reality. It hardly ever ends in happily ever after.
Love, Intimacy and Emotional Unavailability
There’s no reward in pretense. The only true rewards come with facing reality. The reality is someone who’s committed elsewhere is emotionally unavailable to you on many levels.
As much as they might “want” to give you everything, a person with a divided mind is never free. When they’re playing both sides of the fence, they have to divide their emotions.
There is no such thing as “real intimacy” when one person is leading a double life. It’s all a facade.
Just like a broke person can’t give you a hundred dollars, this person CAN’T give you the intimacy, openness, honesty and vulnerability that you deserve and that’s necessary to develop and sustain true love. Even if they don’t intend to, they’re bound to — and WILL — eventually hurt you.
The Attraction of the Forbidden
It’s human nature to want what we can’t have.
If you give a toddler several toys but tell him not to touch one particular toy, he’ll feel compelled to go after it as soon as you walk away.
This tendency is natural and exists within all of us.
Knowing this doesn’t necessarily lessen the lure. We’re all confronted with millions of choices everyday. It’s up to us to choose what’s best for ourselves.
The “wanting what you can’t have” fixation acts like a drug on your nervous system. It can be so intense that your whole world narrows down to that ONE thing (or person). You may find yourself craving them. You might even mistake these intense feelings for love.
What’s the secret to reversing this attraction?
Reverse your focus. Switch your attention from the “wanting” to the “having”. Remind yourself, wanting is not nearly as rewarding as having.
Whenever you find yourself thinking of a person who you know to be “forbidden” or emotionally unavailable, STOP! Think to yourself… I’m focusing on the “wanting” and not on the “having”.
Today We Come Out of Denial
Greed: the belief that we can gain from the loss of others.
If you’re thinking of ending an emotional affair you’re caught up in, I assume you already know this lifestyle will never make you happy.
What you may (or may not) be aware of is that the feelings, thoughts, rationales and excuses you accept aren’t unique. No matter how “special” or “different” your situation may feel to you, if it’s based on deception, you’re on a collision course with disappointment.
What follows are a collection of conversations that have taken place between me and my clients who were looking for ways to end an emotional affair. You’ll see some of the most common excuses most people in this situation use and my best advice to help those caught in an affair to come out of denial.
FACING THE EXCUSES
CLIENT: I would love to end it, but I just can’t bring myself to do it.
My Advice: There’s a part of you that knows you deserve more — the part that says “I would love to end it.” Put a stop to that sentence. Focus on the part that would love to end it. The voice that’s telling you “you can’t” is the voice of weakness and small thinking. You’re stronger than you know. End it, and build your self-esteem.
CLIENT: The few hours we spend together will be enough.
My Advice: Compromise will only bring you humiliation. It may seem okay now, but it’s hard being lonely on Valentine’s Day. It’s wise to remind yourself that no matter what, you’ll never be fulfilled in a relationship that doesn’t grow.
CLIENT: He/she says one day we’ll be together.
My Advice: This sword cuts both ways. Even if he/she gets divorced, your life together started on a shaky foundation. If their primary relationship breaks up because of your affair, think of the guilt he/she will carry from destroying a marriage and disrupting the home environment for their children.
And here’s more bad news: For the same reason you can’t borrow your way out of debt, you can’t solve your relationship problems by getting into another relationship.
So even if he did leave and come to you, he will NOT treat you the same as he did when he saw you during his marriage. With the stage lighting, excitement of the forbidden, and lure of escapism gone, you become just two ordinary people again. Every relationship has its share of problems. This one will be compounded by lack of trust and your low self-esteem for allowing it to happen this way. Be very careful what you wish for.
CLIENT: I can’t seem to let him/her go.
My Advice: Shift the focus from the other person to you. Be willing to face the truth head on: What is it about him/her that is SO addictive that you can’t let them go? I think if you get honest with yourself, you’ll notice that person triggers certain feelings within you. You see, the fact is, it’s not the person in particular that you want. It’s the feeling.
Shift the focus from the other person to YOU. The fact is, it’s not really the other person you crave. It’s the feeling.
Ask yourself: do you believe in abundance, or do you believe in scarcity?
If you believe in abundance, it should be pretty easy to let go, and know there are other available people on the planet with whom you can experience those same wonderful feelings. If you believe in scarcity, you’ll wind up clinging desperately to meager scraps. Both of these are choices.
Why not choose the one that serves YOU the best?
CLIENT: I felt like a fool when I found out he was married, but like an idiot, I still stay with him.
My Advice: The “fool” has always played an important role in history. In medieval times, the fool provided the entertainment, the laughs and the jokes. All at the expense of their own pride. That’s a heavy price to pay for attention.
So ask yourself: why are you playing the part of the “fool”?
Obviously, you’re a wise and intelligent person (or you wouldn’t be seeking help). Yet there’s still a place inside of you saying yes to playing the fool.
My Advice: Yes, you are. What’s the outcome of believing in yourself? Why are you ready to believe you are weak?
Falling in love with a married man (or woman) isn’t a “weak” choice… it’s just not a smart one. You have to remind yourself that strength comes from doing.
Remember, it’s easier to act yourself into good thinking than it is to think yourself into good action.
NOW would be a good time to take action, let go, and see what happens. Once you do so, you’ll be shocked at how strong you really are.
CLIENT: I know what the right thing to do is, but I just can’t seem to get myself to do it.
My Advice: Knowing and “doing” are two separate things.
One is thinking; the other is acting. What you’re saying is, you’re afraid to let go. That “fear” blocks you. It’s time to face this fear. Realize that fear has nothing to do with anyone outside of yourself.
F.E.A.R. (False Evidence Appearing Real)
Fear is just another emotion. It’s triggered by poor thoughts that aren’t real. The time to reclaim your power is NOW. You won’t do so by thinking about it. You have to reclaim your power by doing what’s best for you. If you want to feel good about yourself and your life, you must make the most impeccable choice. Anything else leads to self-loathing.
CLIENT: I haven’t met anyone who makes me feel like this.
My Advice: Don’t confuse “drama” for “love”. If you get high when you’re with him/her and feel down when you’re not, you’re living out a soap opera. Give yourself a chance at finding a real relationship — one based on trust, honesty and solid commitment. When you do so, it will be easy for you to see that this is by far more powerful and real.
10 Best Reasons to End an Emotional Affair
The person who’s more willing to walk away has all the power.
The hurt of ending it will be less than the hurt of knowing you caused pain and suffering to others.
It will give the other person time and energy to focus on their primary relationship and make honest choices.
You will save your gift of love for one who’s available to receive it and fully return it to you with the openness, honesty and intensity you deserve.
You will hold your head up high because staying will lead you deeper and deeper into feelings of shame.
You deserve top billing as the lead character (versus playing the supporting role in someone else’s drama).
You want to be loved and cherished for who you are.
You refuse to allow someone to use you to deceive another.
You understand that what goes around, comes around. As you sow, you shall reap. To every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. You will avoid consequences for your part in the affair.
You give yourself the opportunity to enjoy the whole pie instead of just the crumbs.
How to End the Affair and Move on With Your Life
If you’re looking for information on how to end an affair, you probably have had several people say to you or behind your back…
How could you?
It’s the silent judgment you get from those around you.
Without much pause to understand your situation, most people usually rush to blame and shame you. They slip into stereotypes about infidelity and offer pat advice: leave the no-good two-timer, or they use labels: home-wrecker! Jezebel!
Ultimately, you know you should walk away. You can’t play the victim. You can’t truly blame them. As a matter of fact, you may even feel compelled to blame yourself.
Shame and blame never serve.
Everything can be used for our improvement… if we’re open to learning. There’s no part of life that doesn’t contain lessons. As long as you’re alive, there are lessons to be learned.
Rather than resort to feelings of blame, guilt and shame, treat this like another of life’s lessons. Know that once you learn the appropriate lesson, you’ll never need to repeat this chapter of your life again.
Facing the Heartbreak
“I’ve allowed myself to get put in a really messed up situation with a married woman. I feel like an idiot for letting myself get so involved. My life would be simpler if I had never met her.” — Scott R.
What can I do to help myself?
By three methods, we may learn wisdom: first, by reflection, which is noblest; second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third, by experience, which is the most bitter.” — Confucius
This is the scariest part for most people — the letting go of someone they still value and love, the fear of loneliness, withdrawals, the pain of saying goodbye.
- Yes, it hurts.
- Yes, you’re going to go through withdrawal.
- Yes, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.
- Yes, it will be difficult for a long time.
- Yet, there will be dawn at the end of the dark night.
How to End an Affair with Someone You Still Care About
Admit the problem
- Admit you want what you can’t have.
- Admit you made an unwise decision.
- Admit whatever role you played didn’t serve your best interests.
- Admit you may have been manipulated by fantasies.
- Admit you’re ready to return to a place of freedom and innocence.
- Admit that a mistake only calls for correction, NOT punishment.
- Admit you’re ready to have ALL that’s rightfully yours and put away what isn’t yours.
Growth is a process of trial, error and experimenting. Failed experiments are as important to the process as those that ultimately work. Forgiving yourself is part of the growth process.
Own your power
The answers to life’s questions lie inside you. All you have to do is look, listen and trust. It’s so much healthier to access your own strength and joy than to have a “poor me” attitude. Let your decisions support you as the loving, beautiful person you are.
Be your own advocate
A poor relationship with yourself allows you to be controlled, manipulated, disrespected and emotionally abused. The time to stand up for yourself is now.
Get high on change
The worst part is the decision. Many of us struggle with this. We put so much thought and emotional energy into things because we don’t do anything. Once you allow yourself to make a decision, everything is so much easier. The key is to change your mind and KEEP it changed.
What ELSE Can I Do to Help Myself?
Sever ALL ties. This is a vital part of the healing process.
Discover your hidden motives
This is like opening Pandora’s Box. Why are you doing this? What purpose does this behavior serve for you? Be willing to look at the underlying issues that made you believe you didn’t deserve more for yourself. (For example: people often accept less because they feel guilt about something they did in the past and feel they must be punished.)
Use alternative coping skills
People don’t break bad habits… they replace them with new ones. Now that you have let go, you must find new ways to entertain yourself. You might want to consider joining a gym, taking a trip, starting an exciting new hobby, visiting your friends more, or even making new friends.
Make lifestyle changes
You’ve gotten used to this person being part of your inner world. Now, with them out of the picture, something seems to be missing. To help fill the void, make meaningful lifestyle changes. Be willing to even relocate if that’s what it takes.
Be accountable to someone
Being accountable to someone means that person will not only support you, but will give you the “kick in the rear” you need to get out of the funk or that horrible feeling of “neediness”. When you feel yourself getting weak, admit it and call your support person.
If you have a supportive family, a caring minister or good friends, get them involved. Right now, you need honesty. You need people who are willing to “call you on your stuff” and not indulge you.
Get a good life coach, a gentle therapist or book an appointment to work with me. The secret is to have an effective accountability system that will help you get through the tough times.
Date someone who is truly available
You have proven you’re a person with strong feelings who can become very attached to another human being. Now, redirect that energy to someone who’s legitimately open and available to you.
Be gentle with yourself
Every guilty thought is just another wasted moment. Don’t waste your life. Overcoming infidelity can be very difficult, but people do it all the time. Don’t pressure yourself or rush through the process. Take baby steps at first, and allow yourself to feel more and more motivated to move in the right direction. Give yourself credit. Reward yourself for every step you make.
Create a support system
There’s something so liberating about being honest about something you’re ashamed of. Talk to people who will listen without judging. There are several bulletin boards and forums on the web. I invite you to join one of our many support groups and/or talk to one of our coaches. We’re here for you and want to help you get through this difficult time.
I know that by allowing yourself to use this article as your wake-up call, you’re on the path to healing and recovery. Even if only one thing struck a chord inside you, that one thing can lead you to future “aha!” moments which will become your best opportunities for positive change.
And for more information, read my article on How to Break Free from the Affair
Until we speak again…
Remember… Love Wins!