In Living Commentary

The cheating spouse isn't the only one facing emotional turmoil in an extra-marital affair.

The other side of infidelity

I've done a few columns about cheating, but it's come back up in the news a bit lately and I thought -- why not get right to the source and talk to someone that has been in the lion's den and will be brutally honest about the facts and the outcome.

A friend of mine (obviously her name won't be given), confessed to me about three months ago that she'd slept with a few married men, but one in particular turned into a drawn-out affair. I could see that she was hurting and needed to talk to someone, so I held my judgment and lectures and just listened. This is the gist of our conversation:

How did the affair begin and who was the instigator?

Out of nowhere. We had mutual friends, but he was older and obviously married, so I figured the flirting was just that. I didn't think much of it. Then he invited me out one night, I was nervous, I knew it was wrong to even be there so I drank way too much and woke up in a hotel room... he was there. It just happened. He started and I didn't really want him to stop and that was that. It continued on from then.

How'd it feel to wake up next to someone you knew was married?

I felt like throwing up. I was incredibly confused and upset with myself. However, it also felt really mysterious and dangerous and like we had a secret between us that no one else could ever know. There was definitely a lot of guilt attached to the idea and the actions. One minute I felt like I didn't care who I hurt, the next I wanted to move to another state and leave him and all the bad feelings behind.

If you felt so guilty, why did you continue with it? Why not cut your losses and get out of it?

It's difficult to explain having feelings for someone when you know full well they are married and will never ever really be with you. That they're actually using you ... but I fell for it. I developed totally inappropriate and obviously way one-sided feelings and I liked the attention from him. Every call or text or whatever made me feel like, maybe he feels the same. I felt like there had to be more than just sex behind all of this. Why would he take the risks that he did if he didn't like me for more? That sounds like what every idiot girl that does this says, but it's how I felt. Like he was risking everything to be with me and that it meant so much more than just drunk sex and a hotel room to sleep in.

You said you had mutual friends. Did you know his wife, also?

Yes, but only in passing. We'd officially only met once and I don't think she'd remember my name or my face. I figured I knew more about her than I ever actually did. I assumed she was this frigid, rich bitch living in a big house and that she didn't really care what her husband did so long as he brought home big fat checks. Clearly that was all to try and make myself feel better and justified. Like she didn't deserve him, like he needed me to escape with for a while.

There's been a lot of talk in the media about this and I've even heard some people say that infidelity actually helps a troubled marriage ... Think there's any truth to that?

Ha! On what planet does that make any sense whatsoever? I once heard a quote; "Fighting for peace is like f*cking for virginity." It's the same thing as what you're asking me and no, it makes no sense. How is sleeping with other people supposed to solve the B.S. going on in your relationship? How was his running out to sleep with me going to help him communicate with his wife back at home? People that say things like that do so because they need to justify their own actions. Those are the words of someone that is having an affair and needs to believe they are "helping" the other person deal with their "terrible" spouse. Come on.

Why do you think you got involved? What was the draw?

I was lonely. I was unhappy. I was at a point in my life when I'd gotten really good at hiding most of my insecurities but they were still there underneath and honestly I think that played a big part.

How so?

When you are constantly looking for the approval of other people, you're susceptible to their suggestions and falling into bad behavior because you -- I don't know -- want them to keep wanting you. I'm not implying I'm a victim in all of this. You just want the attention, even if it's bad, because it makes you feel validated. It's almost addictive.

So you were addicted to this situation?

In a sense, I would say yes. I didn't want it to end even though I knew it would never be anything real and knew I was hurting people. I didn't want his attention to go away, because there were times when it felt like waiting for him to get in contact with me was the only thing that kept me going. So yeah, addiction might not be too far off.

Why did the affair eventually stop and who ended it?

It ended a year or so later. I guess you could say it was a mutual thing. Our lives were going in totally different directions, even more so than they had been and we both knew it needed to end. Plus, I knew that it had already been everything it was ever going to be. He wasn't going to get a divorce to be with me and I was ready for something more than a once a week or month fling.

Not that you have much choice, but are you OK with it being over?

Yes. It was an experience I never really wanted. I never wanted to say that I'd done something like that and been so selfish. But it happened and I have to live with it. Now it's over and I've had the time to really think about how much hurt I could've caused his family if they'd ever found out. I don't ever want to feel that way again. I knew it was wrong the entire time, but what really made me question myself, my worth, was that I was embarrassed to tell anyone, even my closest friends. That made me realize that this wasn't some special secret he and I had, it was nothing more than a huge lie that I'd been living with.

What advice would you give to anyone, cheaters or those being cheated on? What if anything did you learn from this?

Don't be an idiot. A lot of people cheat and you need to at least have your eyes open to that fact. From my perspective as the other woman, it's not all that Hollywood makes it out to be. If you have an ounce of a soul, you know that you are hurting people you may have never even met and that feeling will stay long after your affair is over. Just realize that you're being used. If the person you're with is really that unhappy, tell them to get a divorce.

Epilogue: My friend said she believes people cheat for a variety of reasons, insecurity being one of them. She says a lot of people cheat because they are under the impression that everyone else is, too. That it's become the norm as opposed to the exception. Or, once a person feels they've been that bad or crossed a certain line, there's no turning back anyway so why not keep up the bad behavior? Whatever the reasons, none of it is very comforting.

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Talkbacks

sandstorm | Aug. 25, 2010 at 6:32 a.m. (report)

what you can believe and take to the bank is the people posting here about being disgusted by the people in this article are always the first to cheat.

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beefsupreme | Aug. 24, 2010 at 7:56 p.m. (report)

she's walker texas ranger funny. i have to pull the lever.

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zappa | Aug. 24, 2010 at 2:51 p.m. (report)

just a little suggestion for those who constantly shred this author----ya don't have to click on her stories.

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BrewCityAllstar | Aug. 23, 2010 at 1:40 p.m. (report)

There are words for the people that this article is about. In this situation, I believe the girl is called a whore, and the guy is called a douchebag. They are both completely lacking these things that used to be important called morals.

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zach01 | Aug. 23, 2010 at 12:42 p.m. (report)

It's interesting that people tend to place more blame on the person their spouse is cheating with, rather than on their spouse, who is the one in a committed relationship.

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