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. ellenaburns says:

    I think it's pretty obvious she learnt a lot.

  6. 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.

  7. Katie says:

    While I can feel the pain that you and your family went through, I find your reaction to Jennifer's story a great example of the mindset that needs to shift in our society. It is, as you said, the oldest story in the book, and yet we, as a society, continue to shame the "selfish and amoral" women in this story while excusing the men's actions.

  8. 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?

  9. JJJ says:

    I would say that the men are held accountable in a very personal way, where the other women are not, which is why every "other-woman" becomes the lightening rod of that particular social rage.

    To explain, when a man cheats on his wife, his wife confronts him. His children can also confront him (when they are of age and aware). His church can confront him. His buddies. His coworkers. Anyone in his community that knows that he is cheating will — at some level — talk to him about it and hold him accountable.

    Typically, his girlfriends are not in his usual social spheres. The author, for example, seems to have no socialization with his wife or other aspects of his community that I can see. They just met via FB and her writing. Then lunch, then in places that were hers or neutral-ish (though his office is hardly neutral and I can't believe behaving so unprofessionally).

    She comes into their lives, but they have no way of holding her accountable. Once she is gone, she is gone,a nd that is it. No one can step up to her — like they can their husband/father/friend — and say "hey, this was hurtful!" and hold them accountable.

    And, to be sure, people in general can decide that marriage is inherently valuable and until a person is completely unfettered, they will not have relationships with them. Likewise, married people can take their marriages seriously and act in accordance with that — remaining faithful until they are unfettered.

  10. questioning says:

    I wrote to offer the POV of often invisible people in these scenarios: families affected by infidelity. Since the piece was written by "the other woman," I directed the letter to her. It is situational, not a misdirection of rage, societal or individual. What needs to "shift" is the tendency of some young women to view infidelity as only an expression of their own self-esteem issues, instead of moral/ethical vacuity and childnessness. The puerile self-dramatization is tiresome and stupid. The writer still seemed to see the whole scenario as HER tragedy only. That is what prompted me to write. The tragedy was the man's family's, not hers.
    She needs to get a value system that entails actually trying to look at things from other people's points of view, and to anticipate consequences for many over the long term: the bedrock of compassion.

  11. 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

  12. ronna26 says:

    Thank you for your honesty and sharing your writing.


  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. mary nash-pyott says:

    it illustrates that we are all in it, this human thing.

    To Questioning: why didn't your mother get help?

    now, before you pop a gasket, I know that is an unfair question. But it is no more unfair than your questioning another fragile, developing human being in this accusatory fashion.

    it was your FATHER who broke your family. And i'm not even sure they are parallel situations, in terms of what it was that kept your father cheating, or whether the man in the article even WAS a serial cheater. It doesn't actually sound like he was, but who knows?

    Needless to say, I'm sorry that you went through what you did. You had no choice. But it is painful to see how this disgorges as blaming and shaming for that which you obviously are not willing to try to understand.

    the human heart is wild. It doesn't fall in love with who it is supposed to on any reasonable timetable. The passions stirred can cause murder and mayhem or worse. It's a lot like sweaty nitro-glycerin. So be careful who you judge, for you may surprise yourself someday, by not adhering to your own moral strictures.

    and if that were to happen? Know that you are already forgiven. Which doesn't get you, or anyone, off the hook for cleaning up the mess they made not knowing what they did, while under the influence of a powerful urge to bond.

    i am grateful for authors who are willing to lay out the raw meat of human experience.

  16. Denise says:

    I bet you are very young.
    Did someone cheat on you?
    Do not be so judgemental.
    You never know lies around the corner for you.

  17. 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.

  18. Marsha Mellow says:

    Why is your question unfair to "Questioning"? I think it's a very fair question and brings the debate to the forefront here; both people are equally involved in the marriage and equally responsible for the success or failure of the marriage. Just because the father cheated on the mother, it doesn't absolve her of any responsibility here. Responsibility pertaining to taking part in making sure the marriage was healthy and enjoyable for each party involved.
    Your take regarding the "fragile developing human" is quite interesting to me. I guess we see the author on opposite ends of the spectrum. I see the author for who she is today; the mistress, the 'other woman', one who only takes herself into consideration. I hope the only similar characteristic we view is the "developing" one. For the sake of society, and the author for that matter, lets hope this development progresses rapidly and the author's eyes are soon capable of viewing those around her while sufficiently located outside her rectum. I might suggest you consider; from time to time, it is indeed, perfectly normal and productive to judge others. Especially, when discussing the universal expectations and sanctity of marriage and the vows therein. Your statement "the human heart is wild"; yes, it may be wild at certain points in our lives however, when one makes the choice to commit and join another in the marital state, then the responsibilities and expectations associated with the marital union should be respected and honored – no matter what – from that point until death. You seem to be okay with having a wandering eye. What you state in your remarks is that marriage is great until the point it's not convenient for you. The point where you meet somebody attractive who catches your eye, then you may allow your heart to be "wild". Honestly, I'm at a loss as to why I've wasted so much of my time responding to such outrageous statements such as yours. You're a romantic? You're looking out around the corner for true love? You never know when it may appear before you? If you are married, I pity your husband. If you are not married, I pity those in your future.
    Think about something here…..consider placing the necessary value in the wonderful bond of marriage and everything it entails. The powerful urge to bond should be kept sacred to the partner you choose. It should not be displayed upon every whim, each time you receive a little attention and are made to feel special. Plain and simple, humans know when they're attracted to others, physically, emotionally and we each choose when we allow others in to our sacred space of attraction and attention. This is what gets me….the author could have saved herself and the affair partner all of this anguish had she listened to the voice of her therapist (the educated and trained professional she sought for advice) and respected the fact the guy was married! But no, since she's "developing", she had to experience the bullchit first-hand.
    If you're a man or woman in an unhappy marriage and you're doing yourself and your partner the dissatisfaction of taking part in an extra-marital affair (emotional or physical), ask yourself; "why am I not giving my partner this same amount of attention and respect?"

  19. Please! says:

    Let's hope not!

  20. Marsha Mellow says:

    Yikes; bravo! I applaud your take on this and it's refreshing to know there are others out there who recognize this author's very clear personal issues. It's astonishing how many responses this story has generated from those who want more or relate to the author in some twisted fashion.

  21. Denise smells says:

    I bet you have cheated on your husband or a boyfriend in the past….now that's judgemental. Heather is perfectly within her right to state her feelings here. Why is she being judgemental? She simply states the obvious here. The author took it upon herself to become involved in a situation which in some countries (agree with it or not) is punishable by death by stoning, or as we call it here, adultery. Yes, perhaps she is someone who was cheated on, she knows the true pain of what it's like to have her world turned upside down by the one you love with all of your heart and soul. Denise, do not be so thoughtless. Denise, get a clue!

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

  23. […] 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 […]

  24. 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.

  25. mark88209 says:

    thank you so much…….it awakes mes

  26. Ana says:

    Thank you for writing this.

  27. MissH says:

    "Denise smells" – really?
    In some countries, adultery is seen in the complicated& multifaceted light in which it inevitably happens. We are all human. & all on different journeys.
    The author obviously learned from this situation. Which is the point of experience. To learn.
    We all live in glass houses.

  28. bluebird says:

    Thank you, questioning, for sharing so eloquently the perspective I also share from experience. This piece was painful for me to read as a child of a “David”. It pains me more as a woman that, in this case, the “other” woman knew there were children and another woman that would be affected by their collaborative actions. That there are even women who actively pursue married men to fill the own void and emptiness. It is sad they are blinded by such sorrow to not see this in their actions , it is sad that they are sometimes successful. I just wish the title “married” was understood as “committed, for better or worse, back off and let me figure my shit out, and if not, I’ll let you know when the divorce is final”.

  29. Danielle says:

    This resonates so much!

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

  30. SireneB says:

    Great writing. Please, write more.

  31. Anonymous says:

    YOu sound as though you are still quite bitter about your father. Mine was the same…a string of mistresses, all of whom had children, many of which went to school with my sister and I. I even KNEW some of the mistresses! The thing that you are not realizing, that I learned as I grew up, is that my father did not exactly paint a picture of a happy home life that he was stepping out on. He pained my mother as a shrewish bitch, to not just his mistresses, but to his buddies. He complained about my sister to me, and me to my sister. He painted a picture where HE was the victim, to avoid anybody thinking he had done anything but what was absolutely necessary for his own happiness. Nobody knows what motivates people to stray, on a case by case basis, except for the person who strays. And, I have yet to meet a man that has strayed, that did it just to be hurtful or make sport of their spouses feelings.

  32. 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!

  33. 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.

  34. 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

  35. 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.

  36. Daniel says:

    Let it be, Marsha. Inner peace and happiness do not come from committing to the moral structures of society, unless they do. There is no right or wrong path.

  37. Steph says:

    I so agree with the fact that you can't say, "Hey girl, why'd you do this?" and her accountable. It's a really messed up place to be. I am there. I don't know the other woman. I don't really know her story and I try not to pass judgment, but it's hard. You don't ever get to say wtf? I understand why my husband did what he did. Although I wish that he would have talked to me and told me what he needed instead of building up resentment and cheating on me. Understanding helps people heal and deal. And forgive.
    The other woman was lied to. He said he wasn't happy in his marriage- real life with kids is no picnic and really puts a strain on a couple. Unfortunately it's just so much easier to have an affair than to work at making a marriage better.

  38. wilde's wife says:

    Perhaps, along with depression, anxiety, OCD, childhood traumas, and bad breakups, this "other woman" is also afflicted with narcissism which accounts for her lack of empathy for those affected by her behavior as well as her inability to see past her own pain. She made a choice to get involved; the man's wife didn't get a vote. Even if the marriage had problems, the author's move to become an intimate interloper denotes destructive tendencies–she or the wife were going to suffer greatly as a result of her actions. Surprising to see that this author blogs for Psychology Today…

  39. kcat says:

    Oh come on. Life is complex, relationships are complex, you can't predict what will happen (a huge reason I am a proponent of open-relationships). It is admirable for her to share this with us all. I suggest you stop being so prudish, stop allocating blame, and and open up a bit.

  40. 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.

  41. 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..

  42. 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.

  43. 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.

  44. Heather Crespi says:

    Thanks for sharing! Good for you!!

  45. Life's Not Simple says:

    Let this story and your story be a lesson to the men (or women) out there who "stay for the kids" that it does more harm than good. How much better for your mother, you and your siblings would it have been if they'd parted ways long before they did? Before the resentment took hold. Your father was the married person and as such, his fidelity was his responsibility and his alone. Sometimes people connect and connect on such a level that it's difficult to fathom unless you've been there. Things are never black and white and chances are your father conveyed a story to the women with whom he became involved that made the affair seem acceptable to the other women. You also didn't mention if your parents attempted counseling. He did what he thought was right; staying in the marriage for the kids but getting his needs met that weren't getting met at home, whether those needs were sex, intimacy, love, adoration. He may have just been a jerk, or your mother may have had a role in it too. Regardless, I think you need to look more closely at your parents and both of their roles in their loveless marriage than the women who enabled your father to be the cheater he was.

  46. C. P. says:

    I used to think that women who got involved with married men were "home wreckers". After all, if you keep the man's image untarnished, and blame it on that woman (when it could've been any woman, not just THAT one), you can forgive the man without harboring so much hatred at home.
    Now I think that it's a female manifestation of machismo to demonize women who are looking for men who appear to possess the stability that such women crave, when it is actually those men who are the "home wreckers". I would still assign some grief to the lady in question – but maybe just 25% compared with the 75% that is the man's hurtful choices and assholiness.

  47. 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?

  48. 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.