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As a reformed mate-poacher, I’ve decided to let wives know the various and escalating strategies that poachers use to capture and keep their prey.
For the record, I apologize, on behalf of all mate-poachers, for the hoops you, the wives, have to jump through in order to save your marriages.
If your husband knows a woman who uses any or all of the strategies described below, you can bet she’s a poacher and she has your husband in her crosshair.
“Pollyanna” Strategy: The poacher shyly makes eye contact. “I have so much to learn from you,” she’ll simper. Or, “All I want is to make your life easier,” she’ll offer with an adoring smile. She’ll unexpectedly drop-in on the target for a quick daily connection, or send cutesie emails and admiring texts that have nothing to do with work. (What married man doesn’t want someone who makes him feel important and smart and who offers to make his life easier?)
“Family Friend” Strategy: A poacher insinuates herself into the personal life of the target (think nannies, but not limited to). She calculatedly befriends the target’s wife, children, parents and friends; keeping her eye on the prize, your husband and his income.
“We’re Just Colleagues” Strategy: Long hours working on a project, whether it be with a woman of equal or lesser professional status translates into meals, drinks, and business trips that look and sound like innocent work encounters. Nothing he couldn’t tell you about—yet. But he doesn’t. That’s how an emotional affair begins. The poacher persuades the target that he’s unhappy with his wife. Add a touch on the arm; deep soulful eye contact, whispers and murmurs of agreement and understanding. Sexual tension crackles. They’re not actually having sex, but she’s in his head, and you, the wife, are not.
In Japan, they have “conversation girls,” where wealthy Japanese men pay to “talk” to a woman for the evening. A poacher uses flirtatious conversation over a long period of time to worm her way into the heart and fantasies of your husband.
The “Gym/Yoga/Pilates Temptress” Strategy: An aggressive strategy in which the poacher moves quickly: she’s an instructor, fellow gym rat or classmate. Tight-fitting workout clothes, hands-on adjustments, sexually suggestive positions, fantasy-inducing conversations about meditation, tantric sex, or yogasms abound. Add lots of leaning in, brushing against, and lip moistening to make the target feel desired, virile, young and strong, plus invitations to meet for drinks after class, and he’s almost cooked.
“Free Spirit” Strategy: She’s the solution to her target’s burdened feelings of family obligation, boredom or neglect. She’s available whenever he wants her. (One yoga instructor was so determined to poach a male client who’s wife was battling a terrible illness, that she arranged to be in the same city, 3,000 miles away when her target was on a business trip. She invited him for drinks at her hotel bar, a drink in her room. He was flattered. Her strategy worked. After all, she’d made a superhuman effort to be available to him when his wife could not.)
“Non-Exclusive Strategy”: When the target hasn’t made sufficient progress in leaving his wife and family, a poacher lets her target know that she’s seeing other men, and that she’s not exclusively his. She wants to make him jealous so he’ll demand that she see only him. AND she’s hoping to make sure that the target no longer sleeps with his wife. Sometimes this works. With some targets, it backfires. And when it backfires, the poacher will have to take drastic measures, which, from this point on, rarely work.
“Ultimatum Strategy”: A poacher decides she’s ready for her “real life” with the target to begin; she’s done everything he’s wanted for as long as she can. After all, maybe he’s attended her birthday party when his wife is in the hospital; socialized with her friends or family instead of spending time with his own; taken her on trips, paying for expensive restaurants, hotels, and concerts.
She believes this means he’s genuinely hers. She may even pretend that she’s already his wife. (Like ordering expensive in-room massages or room service and signing her name with his last name). She demands (sweetly) that he spend more leisure time with her—holidays, weekends; that he move out from his family home so they can be happy together; that he make good on all the “promises” she believes he’s made.
At this point the target realizes the poacher wants a marriage. And he’s already got one. Fantasy over. The target ends the affair. The poacher realizes her mistake. She’s come on too strong. So she backpedals…
“Happy Place Retreat” Strategy: Once again the poacher becomes the breezy, carefree woman she pretended to be in the beginning. She offers a happy-place bubble where the rest of the world doesn’t have to ever intrude. She sends him funny or sexually suggestive emails and links designed to get him thinking about sex and fun times with her. She sends him “articles” that she’s written specifically with him in mind about love and life and fear of being trapped, and how happiness can only come with change—translation: moving in with her. She texts and calls him daily, pretending he hasn’t ended the relationship. A committed poacher is unfazed by the target’s lack of response.
“Poor Me” Strategy: She texts the target nonstop, pleading with him to come to her aid in whatever emotional or physical crisis she manufactures. She leaves piteous voice mails and sends guilt-inducing emails, outlining how she’s fallen desperately ill, she can’t sleep, she can’t eat, and all because she loves him and because he won’t return her missives. She sends numerous invitations to attend a milestone birthday, a family party, or some event she was sure he’d promised to attend while they were involved.
She cries to her friends, her parents (who are usually divorced), and pretty much anyone who’ll listen. She’s been had. She’s a victim. The target promised to love her, marry her, spend his life with her—and he reneged. (Isn’t it ironic?) In desperation, the poacher escalates her contact efforts, including hang-up phone calls to the target’s wife. She wants the target and his wife to acknowledge that she’s the wronged party here.
“I Want Closure” Strategy: Desperate to connect to the target, she writes him a long and soulful letter or email (a text would be too long). Some of the stock phrases of this strategy are: “I’ve always been kind and there for you. How can you hurt me this way?” “How can the gentle, loving man I know treat me this way?” “I gave you the best years of my life,” (the irony seems lost on the poacher). “After all we’ve done together—we danced, we laughed, and all our amazing lovemaking—how can you leave me without a word?”
She clings to the belief that he’ll walk back into her life (cue Vicki Carr’s song, “Let It Please Be Him”). She reminds him of his promises (most of which were probably in her head) that he would be with her forever (sigh). She’s “waited years for her real life to begin,” and he “owes her a final response” (Sigh again.) She also casually mentions that she’s seeing someone new, just in case she can re-ignite his passion by creating a jealous spark.
“Social Media” Strategy: This lets everyone know that she’s the wronged party in a relationship. She posts sad quotes by famous people about the cruelty of loving and lying and betrayal. She posts pictures of how she’s moved on–parties, concerts, trips—where she’s draped over men she’s having casual sex with, secretly hoping the target will catch a glimpse and want her again.
“Bunny-Boiler” Strategy: Named for the Glenn Close character in Fatal Attraction, the poacher leaps from passive to crazy stalker: she leaves dead animals on the target’s doorstep for his wife to find; calls the target’s home nonstop, muttering threats and epithets when the wife answers. She has her friends contact the target to get together so she can “accidentally” show up. Not a successful strategy by any means.
Best Advice to the Wives:
If your instincts tell you that your husband isn’t fully engaged with you, trust those instincts. If he denies you access to his phone, texts, and emails–he’s involved with someone else. Period. You don’t need to hire a detective. You don’t need physical confirmation. It’s happening. Particularly if you mention a name and he responds with the stock phrase, “We’re just friends.” Not so.
Final Word to the Wives:
To save your marriage, you’ll have to confront your husband. He’ll have to confess and be really sorry. You’ll have to figure out a way to converse that isn’t antagonistic so that you can ultimately forgive him.
And maybe take an early page out of the poacher’s manual (not the hopelessly unsuccessful strategies), and treat your husband like you’re his affair partner. Make time for fun and excitement and sexual adventure in your lives. Otherwise, your husbands will remain vulnerable targets, either to the original poacher, or to the next one that comes along.
Author: Ellen Allen
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Brett Jordan/Flickr