Your affair with a married man will start with you swearing you’d never get involved with an involved man.
It will start long before you meet the adulterer. It will start with an assertion that you’d never be one of those homewreckers. That only women with poor self-esteem allow themselves to become the other woman. It will start with not understanding your own inner workings, making it easier for the inevitable to happen.
Your affair with a married man will not first be an affair, but a kinship. A friendship. You two will have a connection and, while you don’t fully understand what’s going on, you do know you need to spend more time with him, but, you know, not like that. You just enjoy his company. Only fools fall in love with married men. Only homewrecking harlots fall in love with married men. Only sad, pathetic girls fall in love with married men.
Your affair with a married man will kick off with you realizing that you’ve fallen in love with a married man.
And he has picked up on it. Maybe this was his plan from the start. Maybe he fell into it as much as you did. But he doesn’t hold back when he starts crossing boundaries, or when you start crossing his. You two will play this weird, perverted tango until the right (or wrong) lines have been crossed and there’ll be no more ambiguity: he is cheating on his wife, and he’s doing it with you.
He will murmur things like, “I should’ve married someone like you,” or, “Why didn’t I meet you first?” Maybe he means it. Maybe he doesn’t. He’ll tell you that you make him feel things he didn’t think was possible. Maybe he means it. Maybe he doesn’t. That will forever be the tough part: is he a conniving womanizer or is he a tortured heart? You desperately hope it’s the latter.
Your affair with a married man will include you asserting that this not like every other affair. Yes, you know you’re saying the same things every other woman says, “How can it be wrong if it’s for love?” “He truly loves me.” “He’ll leave his wife for me.” And you know your path is looking identical to all the other affairs in the history of modern infidelity, but this one is different. It’s different because you can feel it in your heart that it’s different. It doesn’t matter that, when you actually line up your circumstances with the stereotype, they overlap just a little too well. Because what do they know? You two are in love. You two are meant to be together. What you have is special.
You ignore the part where men who leave their wives for their mistresses usually end up cheating on their paramours, too. You ignore the part that people who stray in their relationships are usually refusing to confront something. Something about themselves, something about their marriage, something. And if they can’t confront with their first spouse, they most likely won’t confront it with their second. You ignore all this because, once again, it’s different with you two. You won’t fall into the same pitfalls as everyone else.
Your affair with a married man will be pocked with little things that make you feel worthless — like when he cancels plans because his wife needs something, or when he answers her texts in front of you (“So she won’t be suspicious.”), or when he declares his devotion to his wife online in big, ostentatious ways. You tell yourself it’s no big deal—you can live on scraps, you can compromise for love, you know what’s really going on in his heart. But inside you’re dying.
Your affair with a married man will feed your demons: the ones that tell you that you don’t deserve real, undivided love and attention, the ones that say you’re secretly a terrible person (so that’s why all of this is happening). Your affair will force you to either combat with your demons or become smothered in their darkness.
Your affair with a married man will eventually end.
You wished you’d have been the special one he’d upend his life for. You point to the rare occasions when it does happen: when the man leaves his wife and marries his mistress. But that’s not going to happen here.There’s too much at stake. He’s put too much investment in the roles he currently plays to the outside world to ever give his secret world with you priority.
I don’t know how your affair with the married man ends. For your sake, I hope you are the one who ends it. I hope you are the one who looks in the mirror and realizes that this entanglement has wrapped precariously around your neck. I hope you step back and go, “I’m done playing second fiddle. I’m done helping you live a lie. I’m done living a lie, myself.”
What happens after that, I do not know. This is where the path truly splinters. But whatever path you’re on, I hope you take from this some vital lessons. Lessons we sometimes have to get burned in order to learn: that you are worthy of real love, by an honest, faithful person. That you deserve respect, and if you don’t get it, you demand it. That you’re no “other” anything. You’re too wonderful to be a side piece, a mistress, what someone does when they can spare a minute or two (but only if no one is looking). That, regardless as to whether or not he was manipulating you, using you, or genuinely following his misguided heart, he put your own heart through the ringer, and that’s never okay.
I hope you understand that while it’s in poor taste to be with someone who vowed their life to someone else, at the end of the day, the only person wrecking their home was him. Whether his marriage is on the rocks, or he’s bored, or he was never one who should’ve ever gotten married in the first place, his actions (and whatever consequences that follow) are his responsibility. The same way your actions are your responsibility.
And I hope you walk away from the affair understanding that, if we don’t understand ourselves enough, we’ll fall into traps like this, traps we swore we’d never fall into. I hope that serves both as solace and as a call to arms to truly find and better yourself. To strengthen what you know needs strengthening. To recognize that some mistakes are not worth making twice.
Your affair with a married man might have fallen into the same patterns, but you’re a unique soul, and I hope you find a love—a real, faithful, undivided love—that fits that uniqueness.
Author’s note: the use of “married man” instead of “married person” is for creative purposes, and is not to imply that only men cheat, or affairs with married women go better.