Despite valiant human rights work on behalf of Angelina Jolie to make “the other woman” not look like a big ol’ skank, the truth is most people still think “the other woman” is … well, a big ol’ skank.
And guess what, ladies?! There’s this awesome double standard where people shrug their shoulders at Mr. Married But Couldn’t Keep His Pants Zipped and say, “Boys will be boys,” while they give you the stink-eye, you home-wreckin’ ho! So you have your work cut out for you!
Take me, for instance: I’d been flirting with and developing strong feelings for a male friend for about eight months, during which he kept saying he was steadily growing more unhappy with his long-term girlfriend. I finally got frustrated by his dilly-dallying and told him to either be with me or scram; he chose to leave me alone.
But three weeks passed and the day after Valentine’s Day I got a text message from him saying he realized he wanted to break up with her and be with me. Each day passed and I grew more anxious that he hadn’t dumped her yet. Finally, he lied to me about how they were “on a break,” which I discovered was untrue after a little sniffing around.
I flipped out big time. I sent his girlfriend a long email about her two-timing, lying bastard of a boyfriend. Of course, he told me that was “crazy” and that if I thought he’d break up with his girlfriend for me, I must have just misunderstood.
Wait, what? Uh-huh. Right. Misunderstood.
Looking back on that dramz, the only thing I misunderstood was how to handle being “the other woman”:
1. First of all, look at yourself in the mirror and say this as many times as you need to: “I am not a bad person.”
If you tell people about your affair, you’ll get called every name in the book by your guy’s wife or girlfriend, her friends, and possibly by him. The hardest part of this whole situation is the judgment that others cast upon you, not the heartbreak. Nasty labels like “slut,” “skank,” and “whore” really sting, especially since I’m guessing you, like me, sincerely believed the only new label you’d be picking up would be “girlfriend.”
It’s vital to your self-esteem that you realize you made some stupid mistakes when you had the oxytocin hormone pumping through your body, but you’re not a bad person overall. Words like “slut” are only as painful as you let them be.
Also, nobody’s probably calling him a slut, so don’t sweat your less-than-ladylike behavior too badly.
2. Stop thinking in black and white.
Everything from here on out is in a morally gray area. You hear that? Gray! Banish all-or-nothing thinking from your brain, such as, “But he can’t do that!” Sure he can, honey, and he just did.
I know that everything feels black and white right now, like his wife or girlfriend just has to see all these text messages he sent you saying he’s falling more in love every day. But when cooler heads prevail, you’ll stop thinking in absolutes, which, in my opinion, only leads to more drama.
3. Prepare yourself for him telling you that “you believed what you wanted to believe.”
And that’s fine with him—whatever he tells himself you believe on your own helps him sleep better at night! When you say, “But you told me you’d break up with her for me!” he’ll tell you that’s just what you wanted to think. And in a tone of voice which indicates you must have been an idiot to believe that.