What I Learned From Having an Affair With a Married Man. ~ Jennifer Garam

Via elephant journal
on Aug 16, 2012
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“Want to be in a book club? Just us?”

Tilting my head, I squinted at David’s* email. We were both in the literary industry and connected on social media, but I’d never met him in person. And based on what I could tell from his online persona, he was married.

“I’m bad at book clubs. I’ve caused the demise of many,” I wrote, declining his offer, and clicked Send.

But he kept writing. A few weeks later, he asked me to lunch.

Sitting in my therapist’s office, I told her about David’s invitation.

“The last thing you need is another literary married man,” she said, referring to my ex, a successful writer whom I hadn’t been able to get over for years. We weren’t in touch anymore, but a few months earlier I’d been devastated when I found out he’d recently gotten married.

“I know,” I said. Never having had an affair with a married man, I did have a history of dating guys with varying degrees of unavailability and knew how painful it was. I had no desire to put myself in that situation again.

But David was persistent and I was curious. Maybe lunch would be professional. Maybe he was going through a separation. I told myself I’d go just to get more information, but if it turned out that he was in fact married, I wasn’t interested.

Sitting in the upscale restaurant waiting for him to arrive, I stared at the same line in the book I was reading over and over again, but the words were swimming in front of my eyes, and I couldn’t focus. When he walked in, the first thing I noticed as he reached to hug me was his wedding ring.

Looking over the menu, we talked about writing as if this was a business lunch, but my heart was pounding.

“You know everything about me and I don’t know anything about you,” I said, because he’d read my writing, so he knew all about my childhood traumas, bad breakups, and struggles with depression, anxiety, and OCD.

“The balance is off,” I said, swirling a French fry in ketchup. “Tell me something personal about you.”

“I’m sober,” he said.

“Like, you used to not be?” I asked.


And that was it: instant intimacy. We’d only just met, but we could already tell each other everything about ourselves. Lunch lasted for three hours and turned into coffee at a café a few blocks away, and then a lingering walk through the Manhattan streets as the sun warmed us on that bright fall day.

After I left David I was in a daze, dizzy from our effortless afternoon together. That night he emailed me, “I don’t feel like pretending I didn’t feel something between us today.”

Reading his words, I couldn’t believe he was so straightforward, and I was relieved. I didn’t feel like pretending either; I could pretend for years, wanting something more but subsisting on the pretense of a friendship with a subtext of sexual attraction, living indefinitely in an unfulfilling fantasy. We agreed to meet for coffee to talk.

Sitting across from him, he pressed his leg into mine under the table. “You’re not going to move?” he asked.

“Nope,” I said, pressing back against him, my eyes locked on his.

“I should tell you,” I confessed, propping my elbows on the table and leaning forward, “I have this pattern with unavailable men.” I told him about the guy I had a fling with who lived with his girlfriend, and my ex I couldn’t get over, who was married when I met him. We’d had a flirtation for a couple of months before his marriage dissolved, and started dating as soon as he got separated.

David told me that he wasn’t happy in his marriage but had children and planned to stay married for his kids, until his youngest—who was eight months old—graduated from high school. Still pressing his leg against mine, he made it clear what I’d be signing on for.

“I don’t care,” I said. “This feels so good I don’t want to walk away. I just want to follow this feeling wherever it goes.” I have such an overactive conscience I couldn’t even take a paperclip from work without being swamped with guilt, but for some reason entering into an affair with a married man didn’t faze me.

“Just so you know,” he wrote to me that night, “I’m not going to be able to keep my hands off you for long.”

A few days later we met for seltzers on a rooftop bar, and I curled up into him.

“Let’s go somewhere,” he said. “The park? Or we could go to my office…”

We wound up kissing on the couch in his office that night, and later that week I found myself back there, but in the middle of the workday, lying naked on the floor with him in front of an open window, his coworkers on the other side of a thin wall. I could hear the shuffle of footsteps and the murmur of voices, desk drawers opening and closing and phones ringing as he slowly traced his fingertips across me and looked at me like he never wanted to stop.

It’s going to be hard to get over you, I thought, closing my eyes trying to freeze this moment at the very beginning that I already knew was catapulting towards an end. Then I leaned in and kissed him, pulling him towards me.

Only a week and a half after meeting him, I was having a full-blown affair with a married man and could no longer recognize my life. I’d been unemployed for almost a year and spent most of my time alone, on top of which I hadn’t dated or had sex in the four years I’d been hung up on my ex. Every day was drudgery as I sank further and further into painful isolation. Left to myself, my depression, anxiety, and OCD had been progressively getting worse, and I’d even started having debilitating panic attacks.

Before meeting David, I felt dead. But suddenly, I was alive, desired, and filled with passion and vitality. My depression, anxiety, and OCD slipped away. Overnight I went from years of celibacy to being naked on the floor of his office in the middle of the afternoon, constantly emailing and sexting, and having late-night dirty chats on Facebook. Consumed with thoughts of him, when we weren’t together I was either lost in memories, reliving every detail of every second with him, or longing for him, trying to figure out the next time we could see each other.

On a cold, gray November day, we spent the afternoon in bed together at my apartment. “I think I could get divorced,” he said, his hand resting on my hip. “Now, not in eighteen years. I think I could do it. Move out, get an apartment…”

black and white lovemakingIn that moment, lying next to him in the post-orgasmic glow of the most incredible, tender, sensual experience we’d ever had together, something shifted inside of me.

Up until that point, I was pretty much OK with the way things were. I’d long ago identified that the reason I was magnetically drawn to unavailable men was that I myself was emotionally unavailable. So having a married boyfriend was perfect for me—it was passionate and exciting, and there was built-in distance so I didn’t feel suffocated, trapped, and in danger of actual intimacy. I thought I’d hang in this extramarital limbo until it got too painful, and then I could just opt out.

But in the muted light of my apartment that day, I made a decision that I was in for the long haul. I decided that I’d stand by him through his separation and divorce, no matter how painful, emotionally trying, and financially draining it was. I’d be by his side regardless of how many friends’ couches he had to crash on, and through a shitty first apartment in a crappy neighborhood with no furniture and bare walls. Warmth spread out from my heart and across my chest and I knew; I was going to make this work, and we were going to be able to have a legitimate relationship.

I love you, I thought, running my hands over his back, but I didn’t say it.

The next week, he emailed me the night before he left to visit his parents with his wife and children for Thanksgiving, “The rest of my life pales in comparison to being with you.”

He was usually in touch every day, many times a day, but over Thanksgiving I didn’t hear from him at all. After dinner with my family on Thursday night, I rushed to my Mom’s computer and stared at the screen, refreshing and refreshing and refreshing as my stomach tightened more and more. I soothed myself by thinking that it was probably hard for him to get a minute alone to contact me when he was surrounded by his extended family, and convinced myself that he’d definitely be in touch when he got back into town on Saturday.

But Saturday night I sat at the table of the bridal shower I was throwing for my younger sister, sneaking glances at my phone the whole night. There was still no word for him, and as soon as I got home I collapsed into bed crying. Terrified, I knew that something was really wrong.

On Monday afternoon he finally messaged me on Facebook. After a few minutes of, “How was your Thanksgiving?” back-and-forth, he wrote, “I can’t do this anymore.”

I felt like I’d been punched in the stomach and I couldn’t breathe. “Can you call me?” I wrote. “Can we not do this on Facebook?”

“I was at home, staying in the room I grew up in,” he said, “and I realized, I don’t want to be that guy. I never thought I’d be that guy. That guy who cheats, the one who has an affair. I can’t do this anymore, Jen.”

Hanging up the phone, I was spinning from shock, and couldn’t understand how he’d gone from, I could get a divorce and The rest of my life pales in comparison to being with you, to I can’t do this anymore in only one week. I couldn’t believe I’d never see him again, never spend another afternoon lying in bed next to him.

Part of me, a small part, felt relieved, though. I’d never have to experience that sick, nauseous feeling waiting for David to write me back or call, petrified that he changed his mind and it was over. I’d never have to miss out on Thanksgiving dinner with my family or my sister’s wedding planning because I was too checked out worrying about when I’d hear from him to be present. I’d never have to lose days I should be writing or looking for a job to intoxicating fantasies of him. I could have myself and my life back.

Blasting Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream” on my iPod, I bounded out to my favorite neighborhood burger place and felt lighter already, free from my attachment to him.

“I just got dumped,” I told the manager as I ordered a cheeseburger and milkshake. “This is my consolation meal.”

“You’ll be fine,” she said, “I can already tell.”

I thought so, too, but the next day the shock wore off and it hit me. All I could do was lie in bed and wail in pain.

That week, my bathroom sink clogged, then my kitchen sink backed up, then the heating pipe in my bathroom burst, and then I broke my toe because I was thinking of David instead of paying attention to where I was going and slammed my foot into the bathroom door. My depression, anxiety, and OCD that had been eased when I was with him came back with a vengeance.

Now I was really terrified. I was unemployed and the little money I had left in savings was running out fast. I couldn’t eat or sleep and I could barely function, let alone try to find work. How was I going to take care of myself?

Once again, I couldn’t recognize my life, and I didn’t know what had happened to me. What I did know was that this was it—I’d hit rock bottom. Whatever it took, I had to build myself up and put my crumbling life back together. And on that cold, dark December day something else shifted in me. In my excruciating agony, I knew with complete certainty that my destructive pattern of having relationships with unavailable men was finally broken, and if I wanted to survive I could never, ever, do this again.
*Name has been changed



4 Stages of Cheating & When It’s Warranted.


Bonus video:

This article originally appeared in Huffington Post under the title Why I Had An Affair with A Married Man.

Jennifer Garam is a regular contributor to The Frisky and blogger for Psychology Today. Her writing has also appeared on The Huffington Post, Health.com,TheFix.com, YourTango, Crazy Sexy Life, DivineCaroline.com, and in InterviewMagazine. In 2006 Jennifer founded Writeous Chicks, where she writes about creativity and self-esteem on her blog One Writeous Chick, and teaches writing workshops for women with an emphasis on self-care, healing, and having fun. Having practiced yoga for the past 14 years, two years ago she launched the blog NotSoZen YogaJen, where she writes about being a Type A urbanite using yoga to help manage anxiety and depression. You can follow her on Twitter@writeouschick.
~Editor: Lori Lothian
~Last Photo: RJ Dollen

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108 Responses to “What I Learned From Having an Affair With a Married Man. ~ Jennifer Garam”

  1. Excellent writing, Jennifer. It's an honor to have you here.

    Bob W. Associate Publisher
    facebook, twitter, linkedIn
    Yoga Demystified, Gita in a Nutshell

  2. Dearbhla says:

    I admire you for putting this out there…

  3. Heather says:

    After the big lecture on hurting the writers feelings, I'm afraid to ask..but , what are you trying to say here? Did you learn anything? Are you still going to step on the lives of women and children with less regard than that of a paper clip?

  4. ellen says:

    I have to say, I read this earlier today and I really loved the message and the lessons to take from it – but the reason I am compelled to comment is because the article has lingered and lingered with me all day – so much so that I keep thinking it is a novel I have been reading. Your descriptions of the environments, the emotions, the seasons and the weather – the raw evocations of the ‘characters’ were so compelling and I could empathise so strongly – it was so incisive and poetic and well written, honestly I want to know more. Please write a novel!!!!!

  5. questioning says:

    What you apparently didn't learn was to think of anyone except yourself. My father was like your lover — married with children, unhappy in the marriage, serially unfaithful, determined to stick it out until we were grown. I wish his girlfriends had considered my moother, alone night after night, or dealing with an ever more distant and distracted husband. I wish they'd tried to see things from his childrens' point of view, our father gone all the time, ever more emotionally disconnected. By the time they did divorce, so much resentment and rage had built up between them, everything was worse. Their vicious divorce, which went on all through my college years, wreaked havoc on my young adulthood. My sister developed eating disorders, my brother became habitual drug and alcohol user. Both had children outb of wedlock, who are now also messed up. Yet my father's mistress, like you, apparently never thought of the long-term damage she was helping to do other — and completely innocent — people.
    This piece of yours is in no way laudable or admirable or brave. It is not interesting. It is this oldest story in the book, of callow selfish youth. You are an amoral young woman. That is all.

  6. Velora says:

    This was lovely to read… so candid and real. But it feels like it's missing a second part. Will you write more?

  7. catnipkiss says:

    I have a morbid curiosity about infidelity (unfortunately) – and I clicked this article to read "What I LEARNED", not to hear about the affair itself. What did you learn? You sort of skipped that part! Did you learn that to offer yourself up to someone who is admittedly cheating is selling yourself short? No judgment here about morality, but maybe you learned you should respect yourself and what you want in your life without giving some jerk a free and easy piece of a$$? Believe me, if you want unavailable men, you can find them easily without them being married. You can have the phone # of my last mistake :) I don't think I will ever date a man who cheated on his wife – even if he is now divorced – unless he can articulate why he would never do it again and how sorry he is for the hurt he caused. The adage goes "if he'll cheat WITH you, he'll cheat ON you." Value yourself, honey!! If no woman would cheat with those married men, they would have no one to cheat with and they would have to deal with their marriage like mature adults. Imagine how that would be! – Alexa

  8. ronna26 says:

    Thank you for your honesty and sharing your writing.


  9. severence says:

    There are good reasons why we seem to apply a double standard to the "other woman," and excuse the man or let him off the hook. Men who cheat rarely write confessional pieces and publish them. Therefore, you don't see commentators taking the said guy over the coals the same way. Make of that what you will. Beyond that, it is certainly true that when you have affairs with married people who have children, you are stealing precious resources from that family: the spouse's time, attention, probably money, protection. You are taking part in the potential destruction of an entire family and maybe entire lives. That is why "home wrecker" is the kindest phrase applicable to such people. Healthy shame and guilt are important aspects of integrity; they reminds us of our limitations, and our capacity to cause lasting harm to other people. Yet this woman seems shameless in a pathetic and degraded way.

  10. Edward Staskus says:

    This reads like a morality tale, but since the only tale is one of sex, at least that is all the writer describes as the attraction, it is a little on the slim side. I don't see what all the commotion is about. It reads like an older man younger woman story with a dollop of self – deception and a moment of self – realization on both parts. A roll in the hay is a roll in the hay, which is all this sounds like.

  11. Marsha Mellow says:

    Jennifer – listen to your therapist! seek further professional help. get the medication you need. you are part of the problem. look around us today, please witness all of the carnage the "insta-gratti" mindset has created. your actions are deplorable and self-indulgent, at best. if i were to take a guess, i would say that yours is a path of destruction with roots of a broken home / divorce. perhaps you will someday see the pain you have caused and contributed to. it's no wonder you're constantly trapped where you exist, it's the byproduct of operating by means of thoughtlessness. i get it, you are depressed and deep down there's some unresolved issue you must come to peace with. is it a daddy issue? whatever it is, meet it face to face. get the help you so desperately need and confront your issues with the spirit of resolving them, not toiling in them. you will be amazed at how wonderful and enjoyable life can be and you will realize that yes, you can have healthy and productive relationships which don't involve phucking up others families. unfortunately, it's not always about Jennifer. see, if you had the foresight prior to feeding your own selfish desires by meeting up with a married man for an "innocent lunch" you might've taken into consideration the others involved – only an assumption here; dedicated wife at home and innocent children who love and admire their hero / father. their world revolves around the dipchit who made you "feel special" by pursuing you. do you really want to be an accomplice in destroying this home? think about it. think about the lasting effects, the kids who go on to blame themselves for the breakup of their parents marriage (because they obviously don't know any better) and develop their own self-confidence and behavioral issues (similar or the same to yours). at some point their pain is overwhelming, the guilt is too much and they begin self-medicating by using drugs and alcohol to escape, to find relief to ease the nightmares of their broken dreams. inevitably, these kids who once viewed their father as a hero, will learn to hate and revile this man, whether they know the truth or not. the unfortunate byproduct to all of this; kids who grow up lacking the necessary tools to deal with "life". i know, not all children of divorced parents take the path i've described, but a vast majority of them do struggle on some level or another and the cause of struggle is the selfish parent who put their own needs first.
    broken homes create broken people. a child who sees parents choose themselves over him/her, struggles mightily. No need to expound upon the value of the role a mother and father plays in the healthy development of children (our future).
    take some ownership and deal with your issues. be present and mindful in your actions and behavior. once you've dealt with your issues, you should consider using your writing talent to encourage others to do good. repent.

  12. […] you committed to a toxic relationship, because you will eventually break-up and be […]

  13. […] shall I begin? The hot married guy who wants to play in back alleys? The sexy soft swap threesome option beachside? The tall fit puppy that enjoys […]

  14. Kathy says:

    There are wives who have no interest in a physical relationship and endorse this behavior, don't discount that reality when you are doling out judgement.

  15. mark88209 says:

    thank you so much…….it awakes mes

  16. Ana says:

    Thank you for writing this.

  17. Danielle says:

    This resonates so much!

    Thank you for your honesty and raw vulnerability ! I am with you brave sister!

  18. SireneB says:

    Great writing. Please, write more.

  19. Kristin says:

    You can think of others when you decide whether to get involved with a married man or not, but if you must think of only yourself, it is actually more than enough. You see when you get involved with a married man, there are two things that could happen. One, he may lead you on and never leave his family, and thus you waste time, unfortunately time you never get back. Or if he leaves his wife for you, he has proven that if he is willing to cheat with you, I guarantee you that he will cheat on you. You must ask yourself, what do YOU deserve? Life is difficult enough with all its ups and downs, let alone living a lie of a life. Write your own legacy and make it a great one!

  20. Jen says:

    Wow. This story was nearly identical to my own. Down to the Thanksgiving Day phone call/facebook messaging. Wow. Thank you so much for writing this. It was a year ago and I’m still struggling to move on.

  21. Kimberly Richards says:

    I was in awe as I read this.. With a knot in the pit of my belly, and unable to grasp the meaning of the article. While beautifully written, and obviously with a small moral, what exactly was the point if the article? Is it a fictiosous character? A sampling of your own personal stories? I sit here alone, at peace after a few long years of therapy and lots of yoga, as the woman whose life has forever been effected. With every pore if my being, trying to raise my innocent, beautiful children with the aftermath of infidelity. I never blamed the other woman, or my ex. They both obviously had deep emotional scars to heal. Thinking only of their own self gratification. At one point in my healing, I actually felt pity for this other woman. What kind of low self esteem one must have to knowingly engage in actions that will cause unbelievable pain towards another human life. Perhaps I will write a story from the point of view of myself, or my children, whom have had to leave their family home, who now have to spend time between two houses. The support system they had with a loving family unit has been shattered. So as I read this article, I ponder the point. To get the often untold story of the oter woman out? We all deserve to tell our stories. Isn’t elephant journal supposed to bring enlightenment? Perhaps this article will help, perhaps not. It elicited some response though. Perhaps that was the point

  22. Jennifer says:

    I appreciate your vulnerability and openness. This was a great piece. I came from a family where my mother stepped out on my dad, and I never blamed the "other man." It wasn't his responsibility to be concerned with the well being of me and the rest of my family. I was obviously upset with my mom for a while, but it strengthened me immensely. I no longer judge my mother for her indiscretions, I don't blame the other man for my parent's divorce. And I don't blame my dad for not showing my mother the attention she desired. It simply just Is. We are all humans and all on different paths. This piece was from your point of view and I appreciate hearing it so much.

  23. Emily says:

    I agree that this piece is written well, but also that there is no indication of what was learned, other than "I was hurt by this choice, I will never do this again". I was on the other side of the equation; my husband cheated on me with a woman he met at work; they are now married. At the time, my youngest child was 3. We all get on quite well now, but that experience has helped me in a recent situation in which I could have been the "other woman"; I didn't just consider how much it would suck being me–if the man didn't leave his wife, all the time he would need to spend with family and kids, etc…I was able to REALLY get what it would be like to be his wife–and I didn't remotely want to be a part of that mess. I think it is essential, especially if you are a self-described "yogi", to look at your situation more holistically–not just from your own limited perspective, but from the perspective of every individual involved and impacted by your behaviors.

  24. Moli says:

    He initiated the meeting, he came on to her, she was lonely…Were all human male-female, we all feel the same emotions we have needs, more than anything to be loved , touched , cherished , accepted. He was the one who was unfaithful to his wife whom she had not met. Why is is always the woman that is in the wrong here, the home wrecker , surely he was wrecking his own home? Sometimes when two people meet there are forces at play that cannot be ignored or easily explained. She was in search of happiness , he was obviously not happy and looking for something missing in his marriage…Should he have spoken to his wife, yes but maybe he did, there is only one side to this story not three…We should never judge another without first standing in their shoes..

  25. Foreverscarred says:

    You write about your pain..but you chose that pain. You chose to have an affair with a married man. Four years ago, my husband cheated on me with my best friend. After therapy, yoga, Xanax, etc our marriage is stronger than ever but my pain, and the scars, will never go away. I was clueless and innocent and a grenade was thrown into my life. I didn't choose that. THAT'S pain. Please, if you are going to write about this, don't write about how good you felt. Write about how affairs destroy lives. If you truly learned something, write about that.

  26. Doc Savage says:

    The unique aspect of human psychology is that two people can discover a point of profound intimacy that they can not ever share with another person, because they are unique. A bond is formed, hopefully a positive one and it remains locked in our brains until it is destroyed by death of disease. Unfortunately not all these bounds are positive ones.

    Such an intimate bound is between a mother and a child, even a foster-mother/foster-child is different from that initial bound we have with our birthmother. Fathers and dads are continuously forming new ones in this age of the revolving marriage, hopefully they are also positive ones.

    When two people form a tight close physically and intellectually intimate bound with each other, their obligations outside that relationship may preclude their being able to maintain cohabitation or create a contractual obligation as well, but it is none-the-less powerful and unique and should never be dismissed or berated.

    In this time of so many humans, a binding force that brings us together in a positive manner is essential for maintaining social cohesion, I think we need to take a lesson from the bonobo chimps, he happy, be physically happy, be blissful.

  27. Heather Crespi says:

    Thanks for sharing! Good for you!!

  28. tarsier says:

    I'm not surprised by all this moralizing but it does make me wonder about the elasticity of modern humans. There is no objective monogamy for humans. There simply isn't. It is a capability that we struggle to conform to where we entrench and entrap ourselves in legal and social constraints. Life is is so bloody short. Women, need to be financially independent. Men need to be better fathers. As such, so much of the insanity of entrapment and betrayal fades away. Children with gay parents, a large plurality of parents (by remarriage, open adoption and such) fair just as well as others. Sex and marriage are a reasonable coupling of functions to make a good attempt at successful children but not a guarantee, not a perfect pairing, not a necessary pairing. I have been in nearly every possible position in this kind of situation and there is nothing more painful than having had your worldview wrenched out from under you. But the lessons to be taken from that for me was not that 'men are pigs', that some 'women are home-wreckers' – but that I allowed myself to dissolve into an unsustainable dependent fairy tale, and having lost myself, lost everything. I learned that sometimes people fall out of love or fall into love with more than one person. Why on earth would you want to keep someone you cared about from being happy?

  29. Valerie says:

    Thank you for sharing. To all those who condemn such so righteously, it is lovely to know your connections have likely been kinder to you. But please understand that when human needs go unmet sometimes an extramarital connection provides great relief. In my case, I was dealing with emotional abuse, substance abuse, and physical and mental illness. Not a derelict by any means, a tenured university professor who was simply not nice to me. The lovely man with whom I strayed…I now understand that the difficulties of parenting two abrasive teenage girls was ruining his marriage and causing his wife to have some pretty major emotional difficulties. Our friendship, however, would have been best kept at that, I now feel, as the break was very painful. But at the same time, I was so hungry for intimacy as was he. For me, it had been a very, very long time and our online friendship, more than the few incidents of intimacy, gave me the energy to get out of a bad situation. Had I had any family nearby, I would not have needed it. For him – I think he is may be serially unfaithful and somehow rationalizes it, but he also had no family nearby and is not very social – quiet and nature loving. I guess we both got what we needed at that time. I now smile when I think of him getting through that parenting storm and now likely beginning to enjoy the fruits of a longtime relationship and family life. I have now remarried a wonderful man of great character who understands the my storm compassionately. The key to avoiding this undesirable method of helping oneself is to have strong social connections. Both of us enjoy solitude and are not highly social by nature.

  30. Dollen says:

    Any chance I can get a credit and link for the use if my image?

    Rj dollen

  31. Love this! Although I don't endorse the 'woe-is-me' medicalised naughty behaviours of 'depression' and 'OCD'… I do think it's fabulous when one identifies a destructive behaviour and sets forth on eliminating it.

  32. Truth says:

    People need to get real. Each situation is entirely unique; you simply cannot label all other women "homewrecker" or all cheating men "as*hole". You have to have a really open mind and the ability to think VERY broadly and see the entire picture. The people who are pointing fingers at the author are actually demonstrating the very behavior that they accuse her of; the inability to see it from other everyone's perspective. I doubt that any woman enters an affair with a married man with the intention of wrecking a family. Maybe some do, but it's hardly the case. May I ask why the actions of the wife who is being cheated on are hardly ever questioned? Did she do/not do something in her marriage to ensure that her husband is emotionally and physically fulfilled? If she knows about the affair, did she hold her husband accountable? Leave him? Suggest therapy? Did she evaluate her own actions? If she did absolutely nothing wrong, did she take the steps to leave him? How did she deal with the situation? There are ENDLESS questions to be asked about all three parties involved. You simply can't point fingers without knowing all the answers.

    I can't at people deeming the author as a "narcissist", and "incapable of thinking of others". Has it ever occurred to you that SHE did not take any wedding vows? She has absolutely no responsibility in looking out for this man's marriage. The marriage is between him and his wife, not her. You may think this is immoral or barbaric. And you may not like it. But it's the truth. Has it ever occurred to you that someone's first marriage may not be their final marriage that works out? Again, I will say that there are many varied situations and each situation is different. Sometimes people get married young, before they are ready, or are pressured by family into choosing a certain spouse. Affairs aren't always about sex, they are sometimes emotional. Who is to say that if a man divorces his wife and marries his mistress that they won't have a prosperous family with happy children? Should she have walked away from that to avoid hurting the man's family at home? Chances are if a man enters an affair, the damage in the marriage has already been done and avoiding the affair isn't what will bring happiness back into the marriage. Affairs are a side effect, not a cause.

  33. ding dong bell says:

    This piece broke my heart. So well done.

    I’m there, in the thick of it, like jennifer was. But I’m married, too. His kids are all older, two out of the nest, ond a year and a half away from flight. He says this last one’s flight will seal our deal, and we will be together then.

    I don’t buy a word of it. I love him with every fiber, I’m 40 and have never felt a smidgen of what I do with him, but I know we are doomed. As we should be.

  34. dreamsinalaska says:

    Thank you for sharing such intimate details. I completely understand.

  35. janna says:

    6 days ago my married boyfriend and I broke up. Your story, while not exactly like mine, resonated with my heart so deeply. The timing could not have been more perfect, more meant for me. Thank you for your post..

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  38. @gjwriter says:

    I had an affair with a married man who insisted his marriage was over. I'd known him for quite some time before we got involved emotionally and physically. He told me he couldn't wait to start his life with me and looked forward to the years ahead for us. Foolishly I believed him. I was all in and then he turned on me. Everything became my fault. The slightest thing sent him running back to his wife. That is when it finally occurred to me that it was all a ruse. I consider myself a smart woman, but I was completely played. The entire experience has left me shattered completely. Picking myself up has been next to impossible. Functioning through life is like slogging through mud. I cannot sleep, I cannot eat, I cannot trust anyone. I cannot find my bearings again. I was so happy being single and then I thought maybe a relationship was possible for me. Anytime you get involved with a married man, no matter what he says, you are setting yourself up for complete annihilation. I don't know if I will ever be able to trust another human being again. I regret ever responding when he said he needed to talk. I wish I had walked away. If I ever recover it will because a power greater than me showed me mercy. I certainly have not been able to show it to myself.

  39. Joyce says:

    I long for authors with real maturity, where their writing reflects that maturity. I want to be enlightened, to be moved by the insights of the author.

    What exactly did you learn about yourself?

    Why is it you have a pattern of being attracted to unavailable men? You mention that you are emotionally unavailable yourself, but what have you done to counter that? If you think your pattern is over, why is it? Do you really think it's over just because you got hurt? You got hurt before and that didn't stop you from dating another unavailable man. I wanted to hear that you recognized that you have unmet emotional needs….that you were getting your emotional needs met externally and that you learned how impossible that is. I wanted to hear that you learned how to meet your own emotional needs.

    Why is it your OCD and depression gets worse when you are alone? I was so hopeful that you figured that out and that you could share that to help others. So many people give significant meaning to things happening and when those thing don't happen they are sad and depressed and hopeless. I wanted you to tell them that you learned how to be peaceful and happy on your own regardless of being in a relationship.

    Did you contemplate commitment and/or what it takes to make a relationship work? I was hoping you had recognized that people cheat because they lack the skills, desire, and commitment to make a relationship work. I was hoping you'd DE-romanticize cheating by exposing your lover for being someone who wasn't capable of working on his relationship. Do you really think he recommitted to his wife or has he simply moved on to another hot bed? People who cheat lack the ability to go the long haul in relationships…when things get tough, they get out. I was hoping this article spoke to commitment but it wasn't mentioned at all. Weird.

    What about love? I was hoping you would at least speak about love…how it's an emotion either felt or not felt and when people don't feel love for their partner it's because of a choice to not feel it. It's because there are barriers…things like poor communication or hurt feelings, or resentments, etc., that have gotten in the way of feeling the love. It's not because people "fall out of love". That's one of the silliest concepts people subscribe to today. I wanted you to expose your lover as someone who simply chose not to stay committed to being in love with his wife.

    I didn't get any of that here. All I got was: I dated a married man and it went bad. Pretty predictable. And really, what else do people expect out of those relationships?

    This had the potential to be moving while doing a significant amount of teaching. Oh well…

  40. mindbodygoddess says:

    After reading a lot of commentary here, I think it was courageous of you to write about your experience. A lot of people have very strong feelings, as they were on the other side of a story like this. However, I don't think we should be so quick to judgement. We are all human and we all make mistakes, and it's usually much deeper than just making a thoughtless decision to have an affair. I imagine you probably learned quite a bit. I used to have issues with unavailable men also. Though they weren't in relationships, they were emotionally unavailable so I understand a lot of those feelings. I also think that in the heat of some situations it's difficult to think rationally, so, though many people may not have gotten involved with married people, I think it's safe to say we've all done irrational things at one point or another that have hurt someone.

  41. jac. says:

    Thank you so much for this article, Jen. This has happened to me and I am hoping rock bottom will hit me soon…I can feel it. Thank you for being so open and honest. I think you are potentially helping a lot of women with this story.
    Thank you so much.

  42. guest says:

    I notice that other women who have had affairs with married men seem to sympathize with the author and some men too, but being a woman who has never done this, chooses not to do this and has seen those who have been deeply wounded by this, I don't have much sympathy especially for those who show no sign of owning their own mistakes regarding this choice. If she wrote about realizing how there is a code of sisterhood that you should always consider before mindlessly making a choice that could greatly hurt a fellow sister and her children then I would have more respect for her. Instead I see this as her just feeling sorry for herself and not taking any responsibility for her actions. Of course, the married man is very responsible too, but so is she and I hope she realizes that and starts to honor her fellow sisters with more consideration and respect. This comment is in two parts please see my next comment since I couldn't fit it all in one…

  43. Betul says:

    I believe the writer didn't have this experience, she is reflecting what she knows, heard or etc. The writing is from "the other woman's" side but it doesnt claim "she is right", on the contrary it shows perfectly how vulnarable that woman is. It tries to make us see the moral from amoral and have emphaty, which doesnt mean acceptance, just emphaty for a human being, bad or good.

    Before any kind of personal stuff, I am againist cheating, I have a family, I have sisters and brothers who are married and I dont want any of them be sad because of cheating hence, I KNOW WHAT FAMILY IS, I never flirt, date or whatever with a married man.
    I am againist any kind of cheating but that doesnt mean I dont want to know what they feel, what they go through. Or help a friend who is in this torture. This writing lightens up what is happening in the "the other woman" side so well.

    Sorry for my English.

  44. Tifa says:

    To "questioning" and all the others who don't understand the perspective of the other woman – try entering the dating world again. Just try it, badasses. See how many decent, emotionally available men there are. Unfortunately, our free market dating system is a failure, and many men and women are staying single a lot longer than they want to be. And many married people – married men – are choosing to take advantage of the situation and try to harvest these singles, because they know they don't have many other alternatives.

    Our society raises selfish people who embark on relationships and eventually marriages with no concern other than themselves. Most married couples are comprised of selfish people who chose to get married out of societal obligation or convenience. No wonder so many are indulging in affairs. As a single woman who finds it hard to find a decent, available man, I see no reason to turn down the offer of a married man if the attraction is mutual. I turn myself off emotionally and enjoy the ride.

    The kids? The wife? Not my problem. GO TEND TO YOUR HUSBANDS, SELFISH WIVES. THEN MAYBE THEY WON'T LOOK TO CHEAT IN THE FIRST PLACE! Acknowledge your fault in this. It always takes two.

  45. Sage says:

    Not sure what she learned. Something shifted in her?? What shifted? The article doesn't mention anything about what she really learned from her another unavailable-man-experience. It feels more like something shifted in her until she meets another unavailable man. Nice journaling type of writing, though.

  46. susan says:

    Why are you all complimenting and lauding her? She chose to cheat with a married man and completely disregard the man's wife and children. She doesn't seem to feel and guilt or shame at all. She feels relieved that she won't feel anymore attachment to this man rather than not feeling anymore guilt about hurting a family. There is not thought about anyone but herself. I am ashamed for her and truly disgusted by her disregard for anyone else. She is completely narcissistic and not one bit brave for sharing this story. She only feels sorry for herself when he ends it. Yuck! Not someone I would want to have in my life.

  47. Gineen says:

    I would love to know if you every thought of his wife. The mother of his 8 month old baby. How you were affecting her, the kids, their lives. What consequences your attraction to unavailable men would have?

    I'm asking this in all honesty. My ex left me for his mistress when our baby was 6 months old. He began his affair when I was pregnant. Our daughter is 7 and she is married to him.

    I wanted to die. I just had a baby and I wanted to die and it was awful feeling. Me and my daughters life has been affected by their decisions forever. And while I smile and nod and talk to his wife, the affair partner, I still cannot find closure as to what could have possibly been going through her head and if she ever thought or cared what she was doing to me or my unborn baby.

    Maybe you are the person who could answer this question.

  48. LindsayW says:

    Wow – well written to a point, but wait — there was no point. Except that you are the center of the universe. Yawn. Not interesting. Not introspective. Just a bunch of flowery fluff leading nowhere, and about as substantial as the "love" you professed.

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