This week, we had a particularly heated debate on our flagship podcast Mamamia Out Loud.
It was in regards to cheating, and more specifically, the morality and politics that comes with being the ‘Other Woman‘.
What does sleeping with a married man say about you? Is the act ever justifiable? And do some great love stories begin with a case of infidelity?
We spoke to four different women about where they sit on the subject of having an affair with a man who is already married.
Xian – 33
“I think it says you’re selfish.
Of course, everyone is capable of complex feelings, and perhaps being attracted to someone who is in a relationship or even married. But practice some self-restraint.
If the person truly loves you, and their marriage is truly broken, then let them sort out their own mess before they drag you into it.
My father cheated on my mother for a decade. I knew and she didn’t. He would invite some of the women over for dinner, and I couldn’t believe it when they’d look me in the eye, and act like everything was fine.
If my mother found out, it would’ve destroyed her. She dedicated her whole life to my dad, and invested so much into their marriage. And women who met her and saw how much she adored my father, happily slept with him. He decided to spend time with them, rather than at home with us, and I know that’s on him, but it’s also the reality of having an affair with a married man. You’re sleeping with him, while his wife is at home cooking his dinner. There’s a profound injustice in that.
Man or woman – sleeping with someone who is in a monogamous relationship is just a shitty thing to do.”
Emily – 21
“Despite what everyone else seems to think, sleeping with a married man doesn’t automatically make you an awful person. It just makes you a flawed person capable of making bad decisions like the rest of us.
My close friend had an affair with a married man and I can tell you that if you met her without that knowledge you would not for a second think she’s a wicked or amoral person. At the time, she was in a relationship herself, feeling neglected, and working in an office with a man who had married young and was having problems in his marriage. They became closer friends, eventually crossed the line and thought they were in love. I found out about the affair when it all came crashing down – her boyfriend found out, so he told his wife.
My friend was utterly distraught and heartbroken. Both her relationships ended, he’s still with his wife to my knowledge. And while I knew she’d gotten herself into this mess and didn’t agree with her decisions, it made me see that getting involved with a married man is a mistake that’s easier to make than most of us would believe. This girl wouldn’t eat grapes at a supermarket because it’s ‘stealing’ but she allowed her heart to let her not think about the part she was playing in ruining another woman’s life. We can all get self-absorbed sometimes. We can all disassociate ourselves from the pain we are causing others. We can all use flawed logic to justify our choices. We are not better or worse than the women who sleep with married men.”
Michelle – 25
“I honestly think it means that, for a moment at least, that woman is selfish.
Selfish in that she has put herself and her 10-minutes of pleasure (if she’s lucky) ahead of another person’s enduring heartbreak and pain. I don’t understand sexual cheaters, especially those who engage in an affair for anything longer than a one-night stand; to continually make that harmful decision, knowing you’re contributing so much pain to an unknowing woman, is so ugly. I’m sick of the bullshit that “life is complicated” and “not everything is neat”. Humans have agency. Being horny should be outweighed by knowing what’s right and wrong.
To continually contribute to another woman’s pain – or your own partner’s pain – tells me you don’t have much compassion, and can definitely be a better person. If you don’t like your relationship, leave. If you find a married man interesting, control yourself. You’re not an animal. Simple as that.”
Lucinda – 51
“As cliche as it might sound, there are two sides to every story. And, for some women who enter into relationships with married men – theirs is a love story.
Sometimes the circumstances aren’t ideal. But if you truly love someone, and they truly love you, then I can understand how that connection is difficult to resist.
For a lot of couples, their marriage is already broken. Men, or women, can feel trapped.
I just don’t think it has anything to do with the ‘other woman’. She has no obligation to the wife. For all we know she’s off having an affair! Or she has explicitly stated she doesn’t mind if her husband is sleeping with someone else.
There are couples who have been together for decades, and their relationship began from infidelity. It’s just an inevitable part of adult life – even if it hurts.
I don’t think it says anything particularly about you, except you made a decision, and lived with the consequences.”