How to deal with being the other woman

Dating a married man can feel like an invigorating experience. Because the other woman doesn’t come with the baggage of being the wife, he may feel uninhibited sexually and might give the mistress special treatment. However, after the novelty wears off, extramarital affairs can be an emotionally damaging experience. Holidays are usually the worst, and there is always the looming issue of when the husband will leave the wife, which almost never happens. The key to healing from such a relationship is for the mistress to be self-empowered and to eventually sever ties with the married man.

Face the truth. Statistically, it is incredibly rare that a married man will leave his wife for the other woman. In the rarest occasions that this does occur, an overwhelming majority of the resulting marriages to a mistress end, usually because of trust issues. Going into the relationship with zero expectations of a lasting, rewarding relationship or marriage is the first step for the other woman to gain empowerment and, ultimately, recover from the emotional damage wrought by extramarital affairs.

Develop outside interests. The road to healing begins by making sure that the other woman has interests outside of the married man. This is effective on two fronts: while the other activities help distract the mistress from fixating on the married man, it is also an opportunity to meet available men who may be able to provide a healthier relationship. Be sure that the outside interest is conducive to a healthy lifestyle, so as not to deepen issues that may lead to extramarital affairs.

Lean on or establish a support system. It is imperative that the married man is not the sole source of emotional support for the other woman, because extramarital affairs often end. Take great measures to cultivate and nurture healthy relationships. The mistress should open herself to date other men. If family is a positive influence on the other woman’s life, she should take care to keep up those relationships. Leave no reason to depend on the married man.

Consider therapy. A woman who would enter a relationship with a married man could have deeper emotional issues that led her to this type of behaviour. Time spent with a psychologist could help get to the root of why she is the other woman. In addition, the therapist can provide specific life strategies for tackling the issues that plague the mistress. Even better, the therapist is a trusted person outside of the big picture to whom the mistress must be accountable. Finally, it may be easier to talk to the therapist about extramarital affairs, as opposed to friends or family members.

Consider an exit strategy. As countless women have learnt throughout the ages, eventually it is more damaging to remain in extramarital affairs than it is to be single. The other woman should practice living life as a single person, and when she is ready, the mistress should make a clean break with the married man.

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About the Author

Sarah Snyder is a San Antonio-based freelancer with more than 10 years of journalism experience. Her work has appeared in Bloomberg, the "San Antonio Express-News" and the "Daily Texan." She received a Bachelor of Arts in news and public affairs at the University of Texas at Austin.