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“I Had An Affair With A Married Colleague — This Is How It Happened”

Posted on: by Women's Health
colleagues who are married touching hands over a laptop

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“Besides a few minor gripes about his wife’s quirks, he described himself as happily married…”

How Tina Became The Other Woman

For two years, Tina* and Brandon, both thirtysomething account execs at a marketing firm, were work buddies. They sat together through snore­-inducing meetings, bounced client ideas off each other, had lunch together in the canteen several days a week, clinked countless drinks after long work nights, even swapped stories about their love lives.

Tina had been in and out of a few relationships, and Brandon, besides a few minor gripes about his wife’s quirks, described himself as happily married.

Then one night after work, everything changed. “He grabbed me first, I think,” Tina says of that initial kiss. “All I remember is that it was an incredibly hot moment. We just surrendered to it.” And just like that, Tina, an attractive, successful, sensible, independent woman, launched into a year-long affair, stepping into a role she never thought she’d play: the Other Woman.

READ MORE: “I Cheated On My Husband – And This Is Why I Did It”

Changing Stereotypes

The media has traditionally depicted the Other Woman as either a lonely psycho (Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction), a young Lolita desperate for male approval (Mena Suvari in American Beauty) or a dim-witted bimbo plotting social advancement. But now there’s a new breed of Other Woman who, like Tina, doesn’t fit the stereotypes of slut or sad-sack.

If the other woman is no longer a social pariah come to tear your marriage to shreds, then who is she?

Could She Be You?

According to an online poll conducted by Women’s Health International, she might be you. Though 79% of respondents said it was never acceptable to fool around with a taken man, a surprising 46% admitted to having done it – and more than half said they felt no regrets. Even more intriguing, when asked whether you’d rather be a mistress or a deceived wife, more than 62% of you opted for the former.

What gives? Is being the Other Woman truly losing its stigma? Are husbands no longer off-limits? And, hey, whatever happened to the vaunted sisterhood – aren’t women supposed to be watching each other’s backs?

READ MORE: 6 Things That Make Your Partner Way More Likely To Cheat

What’s in it for Her?

There’s still an assumption that the Other Woman has a premeditated plan to displace the missus and become Wife No. 2. While that stereotype may apply to some, it’s based on the belief that most women are looking for something quasi-permanent. In fact, a woman may take the plunge into an affair precisely because she knows it will be short-term. Nearly 62% of poll respondents who have had affairs with married men said their forbidden fling wasn’t part of any scheme to snag a husband and that they had no desire to marry the guy.

READ MORE: Here’s Whether You Should Confront The Other Woman About An Affair

The majority of Other Women we spoke to said they actually didn’t set out to sleep with someone else’s significant other. And of all poll respondents, a little more than 44% said that a man’s “taken” status had no bearing on his appeal; they just wanted him.

Sometimes a man’s troubled marriage can provide the springboard for dalliance. The chance to play saviour is a common reason women end up in bed with men who are already taken, says Mira Kirshenbaum, a couples therapist and the author of When Good People Have Affairs: Inside the Hearts and Minds of People in Two Relationships.

We Can’t Resist – It’s In Our Genes

Whatever a woman’s motivation to bed another’s man, there’s plenty of evolutionary research to explain the behaviour. Scientists say mate poaching happens in almost every society on earth; it sparks an estimated 10 to 15 percent of all romantic relationships, according to a survey of nearly 17 000 people worldwide by evolutionary psychologist Dr David Schmitt.

“From a historical perspective, women compete with each other for the best mates,” says evolutionary psychologist Dr David Buss, author of The Evolution of Desire: Strategies of Human Mating. “Mate poaching is an effective strategy because high-quality men are often in scarce supply, so women are in competition for access to them.” In other words, when it comes to choosing a mate, evolution has shaped individuals to look out for numero uno – sisterhood be damned.

READ MORE: The 2 Reasons Why Millennials Cheat On Their Partners

How Sacred is Marriage, Anyway?

Why are “Other Women” no longer shunned? Because, some experts believe, our views of marriage are changing. With the divorce rate hovering so high, it’s not unreasonable to assume a huge number of husbands will be back on the market eventually. And a number of studies have shown that about half of all married men and women have cheated.

These stats may explain why we no longer instantly brand any and all mate poachers as devil spawn and why so many women are willing to compromise other people’s commitments.

READ MORE: These Are The 4 Most Serious Relationship Red Flags

As a culture, we understand that relationships are complicated and change over time. “We no longer expect most marriages to last a lifetime,” Kirshenbaum says, “so when a woman gets involved with a married man, or vice versa, it doesn’t shock us the way it used to.” We almost expect it. (That doesn’t mean we think cheating is justified: in the poll, 57% of respondents said they respect a woman friend less if you know that she has been with a taken guy, and 77% have less regard for a male friend who’s been unfaithful.)

READ MORE: How To Tell If That Guy You’ve Been Seeing Might Be A Psychopath

But if you would sooner be single forever than tramp all over another woman’s heart, here’s some consolation: according to our experts relationships that stem from extramarital flings are as shaky as Patsy’s sobriety. One survey, of 4126 male business executives, found that only three percent of those who left their wives pursued a serious relationship with their mistresses. And 86% of Women’s Health poll respondents who’d cheated said that they didn’t end up with their poached paramour either. That’s good news for women who are after fleeting fun, but anyone expecting lasting happiness with a borrowed man isn’t just deceiving a fellow female – she’s kidding herself.

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Got something to say?

  • Ashamed

    I was once involved with a guy who was is a promising relationship but i did not know.

    I eventualy woke up form the spell a few months later and broke it off but always landed on his **** when i had problems. Just like other bustards he knew exaclty what to do and say to gain trust and win a woman over and it seems only a handfull are immune to his kind.

    When a cheater wants something he will give his all to get it at whatever cost and wont think twice about running back home only to do the same in no time.

  • Anonymous

    I’m in a steady relationship, I love my boyfriend and he makes me happy bt I am cheating on him with 2 married men they both love me in such that the other married guy wants to make me the second wife. For me my relationship with them is basically for sex because my heart is not in it, I like the fun of sneaking, and being free to do whatever I want, because there is nothing tiring me down. I want to get married someday and I know that there is a chance that my husband might cheat but as long as he respects me and i dont get to see his dirty laundries, i will be fine.

    besides guys, there are fewer men and lots of single women out there that want to have that special someone in their lives, how are they going to have or get them without having to cheat someone???

  • Anonymous

    I believe that ones sole is made of different connections that you do not nesessarily connect to one sole all the time and depending on the stage that you are in life you connect toi other soles at a more intense level than the one you could be committed to and it is your values and beliefe that should draw the line as to whethe you are going to act on that attraction or work on it, hence the work level of maturity. we all have choices in the end and they are directed by the values, beliefs and level of maturity we are in. Self worth!!!

  • Lynne-Mari

    I would strangle any woman who tries to seduce my husband!

    It is just so cruel to seduce a married man, what about his wife! the man could be very happily married and love his wife a lot,
    Then there comes a bitch to destroy it All!!??

  • Anonymous

    Lynne-Marie if it would be so easy to seduce your husband then he most certainly did not love you alot nor was he happily married. If he did he would have said no. Don’t only blame the other woman, blame your useless husband!

  • james

    reading all this as a married man in a stable monogomous relationship is a very, very interesting insight into the wiles of the woman. barring a few – you ‘evolved women’ should be ashamed of yourselves. you take an oath – you give your word – to be faithful to your partner come what may (yeah, things change including decreasing excitement while a deeper understanding of each other on a different level develops) and then have no difficulty whatsoever in breaking it. if you can’t keep your word – regardless of the circumstances – what else have you got? you deserve to get messed around. for those posting here that aren’t married – don’t expect fidelity when you do….if you can find a man who’ll believe your bullshit.

  • Anonymous

    Well said James! Guess it all boils down to maturity too (and morals and values).

  • Anonymous

    James, I believe you miss the point. As the article states, most single women who have relationships with married men are in it for short-term gratification. It is the married men who are deserving of your attack. Now, if we talk about married woman + married man having an affair (especially when kids are involved) then this is another matter entirely deserving of total condemnation. All too often cheating spouses throw caution to the wind with no thought to consequences – because they believe they can get away with it! The truth is: they don’t. Why then lose your head over some fluff on the side?

  • Anonymous

    I am very disappointed in Women’s Health…”health” …for publishing this article. It has got nothing to do with women’s health; on the contrary.

    No woman in her right mind will have an affair with a married man and think nothing of it. If you have gotten to the point where you allow your body to be used and abused for sex and do that to others, there’s something seriously wrong with you emotionally and mentally.

    WH – I’m disappointed that you would give these sick women a voice in your magazine. Come on now! Speak to the women who are faithful to their husbands. And those who have had to go through the intense pain of dealing with an unfaithful spouse.

    I honestly do not want to read in your magazine, the opinions of women with no self respect…very very disappointing.

  • Anonymous

    I fell for a married guy – have been in love with him for 10 months. We have heart-stopping locked gazes and all the rest, but he refuses to cheat on his wife. I know he wants me, and he knows I want him. I’ve told him I’m in love with him, and still he stays faithful to his wife. That makes me love him and want him for me even more, but I won’t do it because it will destroy his life.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t believe what I’m reading, most of the women talk about men and their needs, but what about the wife’s needs.

    I’m married to a man for the last four years that constantly only thinks about HIS needs, as a women I also have “NEEDS” persay, I want to feel loved and special and all the above, but I don’t want those things from another man, I want them from my own husband. But all that seems to be important is what he wants, when HE wants sex, when HE needs me to be all lovey dovey, when HE needs a hug after a bad day. (I also work an 8 hour shift)

    When I had our only child the only thing that was important was his friends and famil and etc, and that;s when a women needs her partner the most. The women having these affairs with married men have they ever asked themselves how they would feel being the wife of a husband leaving his wife at home and going to have sex with someone else. When he even can’t let his wife feel like a women.

    Women can do whatever they want to keep a man happy, if he wants to cheat he will cheat, in most cases it;s everything the man does at home that pushes his wife away, a person’s heart can only take that much, and you stop trying. And ask yourself what have i done to deserve this except being there when he needs me, the shoulder to cry on when he needs it, and loving him with every ounce of your being.

    I don’t think any women deserves being cheated on, and you the other women should be ashamed of yourselves because when the shoe is on the other foot, is usually hurts.

    A women also deserves love from her husband, not just being pushed away, I have been that women whose husband keeps pushing her away, and it hurts, especially when looking back at everything thing that I have put in this marraige.

    After everythings said and done, and the cheating usually comes out, it’s not just the wife that gets hurt, it usually the whole family that gets torn apart, and the children are usually the ones that gets the shortest end of the stick, how would you feel if you found out that your daddy cheated on your mother with another women!

    So please stop being available to these cheating men and only thinking of your raging hormones and needs for sex because it goes far beyond that! It just doesn’t stop with you having a wonderful roll in the bed, it ends with heart acne, and if you feel a “fluff”, then your selfish and only thinking of yourself.

    If women stop’s being available to cheating husbands than they would stop and start to work on their marraiges, but they don’t have to because they are getting it somewhere else, BECAUSE

  • Anonymous

    If a man was really happy with his wife and marriage, he would have actively pursued me like he did, seduced me, and stole my heart. I love him, I know I shouldn’t, but I do. I wont tell her, or ask him to leave her. If he loves me like he says he does, he will do that on his own.

  • Anonymous

    I believe that when we meet the right person we will know it. Unfortunalty the time of meeting is not always ideal. I was the other woman, for a long time. But we are together and now and 100% committed to each other. We know that the way we went about things was wrong, but we dont regret ever being together as we are now happier than ever.

  • Anonymous

    I think both parties are to blame (the husband and the other women), what type of person are you to betray your wife and children. Why not get a divorce, or will the costs cramp his style and the amount of money he is spending on the office tramp.

  • Anonymous

    I believe that if a man feels the the need to cheat he should rather be straightforward and tell his woman.I have been with my boyfriend for 3 and a half years and we have never cheated on each other.I always tell him that if he ever felt the need to cheat he should be honest and leave me(end our relationship),It will break my heart but at the end of the day my health comes first, I do not want infections or HIV.AS for women that sleep with married men, I think that is disgusting and shameful, I must say your’ll honestly dont like yourselves.

  • nolene

    I am 24 years old and have just had my first child who is now 5 months old.After the birth I didn’t want my husband to see my body and would never get dressed in front of him.Whenever he touched me i would ask him to stop because i felt uncomfortable.It’s not that i didn’t want to have sex with him,it’s just that I thought that he would be turned off with my body.From what my husband has told me, he has never looked at porn.But recently, while i was going to bed one night, i caught him looking at porn and it tore me up.He blamed me for it obviously!But if he only spoke to me then i would have understood.i just needed him to tell me that he still wanted me.i can only imagine how the wife feels if she found out about her husband.Because although my situation happened over a month ago I still think about it day and night.It’s hard to trust my husband now even though he said he will never do it again.When women cheat with married men they dont just wreck marriages, they wreck homes.

  • Anonymous

    I’m the other woman, 2 months into our new relationship, I found out he cheated on me and his wife with another woman. he now wants me to support his wife through this and hasn’t thought once about how I feel