Mistresses often get a bad rap. They’re usually thought of as being these horribly manipulative women who will stop at nothing to get the man that they want. Movies and books have turned them into villains who have zero regard for the damage they are doing to the family of the man with whom the mistress is having the affair, and more often than not they’re portrayed as callous, ruthless, and with bodies to die for. But the thing with stereotypes is that they aren’t always true.
Enter Sarah J. Symonds.
Sarah J. Symonds is the former mistress of Chef Gordon Ramsay and Lord Jeffrey Archer who’s out to kill the old stereotype about mistresses with her new show The Mistress on Discovery Life Channel. Each week Symonds works with a different mistress as she helps them come to terms with the good and bad that comes with being the other woman.
We talked to Symonds about what it’s like to be the other woman, and what the biggest misconceptions about mistresses are. Here’s what she had to tell us.
1. Mistresses are always better looking or younger than the wife.
Movies like The Other Woman like to have us believing that the mistress is always some cross between Cameron Diaz and Kate Upton, but that’s not always true. According to Symonds, “The biggest misconception of a mistress is that usually they are dolly birds or glamour models,” but in actuality they’re just “regular” women who may not be known for blowing minds with the looks.
2. There is a specific ‘type’ when it comes to women who are likely to be mistresses.
Anyone can be a mistress. It’s not as though it’s regulated to just one specific type of woman. Hell, you could be sitting next to a mistress right now in your office and not even know it. Yes, the nerdy one in the orange cardigan who eats tuna sandwiches everyday could be a mistress!
3. They are always ‘kept women.’
Let’s be honest: not every man who strays has the big bucks to put his mistress up in the penthouse of The Four Seasons where she can live quite happily on room service and in-house massages until the end of time. I mean, seriously. In fact, sometimes, according to Symonds, the mistress is the one with the bucks and she’s the one lending money to him.
4. They are home-wreckers.
Although this one is going to sound a bit crazy, when Symonds explains it, it makes perfect sense. “They keep a marriage together in that the man has a release. A place to go to and a person who understands him. He goes home a happier man, husband, and father. I know that firsthand. The other woman becomes the crutch for his failing marriage, meaning he never has to leave it as he has his own little Nirvana on the sly. That helps him stay married.”
5. Mistresses get to have all the fun.
In addition to keeping a marriage together, mistresses sort of pick up where the legal wife leaves off, becoming what Symonds calls a “second wife.” “The other woman benefits a wife when the wife has become lazy and delegated her marital duties, and yet the wife is always so angry when she finds out. I think wives should be a little more appreciative of mistresses!” exclaims Symonds.
6. They are not in it for love.
Being the mistresses isn’t always fun and games. It hurts to be in love with someone with whom you can’t spend important days, special occasions, or holidays. For all the pain it causes the woman who’s being cheated on, the mistress is suffering in her own way, too.
7. They’re bad people or ‘sluts.’
It’s easy to dismiss mistresses as these horrible, heartless women, but that’s far from the truth. You can’t always choose whom you fall in love with, and just because that person happens to be married, it doesn’t mean that these women are spawns of the devil. Besides, the man in the relationship really needs to take some, if not most of the blame, too.
8. Mistresses don’t understand the trouble it can cause.
As Symonds points out to the mistresses she counsels, if a man can cheat on his wife with you, then he can cheat on you with someone else. “If he can do it WITH you he can certainly do it TO you. A real man wouldn’t manipulate two women, he would take action. Hence cheaters are just cowards underneath.”