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My Confession: I Was the Other Woman in An Emotional Affair

Emotional affair. I’d never paid much attention to the term. Why would I? I’ve never been attracted to men who are attached. I’ve also never forgotten to floss, started my car without my seatbelt on, or returned a library book late. My 10-year relationship ended because of many things, an unfaithful fiancé being one of them. So, you could say that I pride myself on being a bit of a fidelity snob. A “home wrecker hater,” if you will.

Even now, I won’t so much as have coffee with a man who hasn’t been divorced for at least six months. Please respect your last relationship by not using me to get over it, thank you.
See? Rules, I follow them. Boundaries, I have them.

So how did I manage to become “the other woman” in a full-throttle emotional affair with a married man?

I met Mr. Married through a mutual friend while out one night. To say we clicked is a gross understatement. Sure, I experienced mild stirrings of a crush, but it could have been the tequila talking, so I chalked it up to that. I didn’t sense any real alarm bells. Besides, he was married! The night ended, as did our contact. I was relieved that it turned out to be nothing. Or so I thought.

Later that week, we connected on social media, and then the texting started. Now before you send me to the firing squad, let me provide some context. I met Mr. Married under the pretense that he was in an unhappy, and rapidly deteriorating marriage. He described his wife as being toxic, narcissistic, lazy, mentally unstable, a heavy drinker and unfaithful. I shared with him some of my experiences being with the same kind of partner for ten years, and he seemed relieved that someone had finally helped him put words to what he was feeling. In that moment, I felt a tremendous amount of empathy for him. In hindsight, there are many potential realities to what began that night. Maybe I caught him on a bad night, maybe he was looking for revenge against a cheating wife. Or maybe he was what I wanted to believe, alone with nobody to talk to about his struggles, and he found comfort in my ability to relate to him.

Our conversations started as nothing more than friendship, but deep down I could feel the attraction between us, and I couldn’t get rid of the unsettling feeling that I was doing something wrong. I expressed these feelings to Mr. Married, but we convinced ourselves that we were overreacting, and that our friendship was harmless. Cue first alarm bell.

And sure enough, within weeks our friendship torpedoed into a full-blown emotional affair. I don’t know when we crossed the line, but before I knew it, we were texting consistently, finding excuses to talk on the phone for hours at a time, sharing intimate thoughts, admitting feelings of infatuation, and ultimately reaching the point where we both knew we weren’t just friends. We never met in person after that first night we met. We knew that the temptation was too great, and in the end, it was clear that we needed to cut communication. I guess we weren’t so good at being “bad.” But here’s what I’ve learned about emotional affairs, from a first-hand perspective.

1. They’re rarely planned.

I don’t believe anyone wakes up thinking, Today I’ll put my marriage on the line. I’ve read that emotional affairs are like spider webs: nearly invisible and incredibly sticky. I consider myself an intelligent woman with a strong moral compass and yet I found myself trapped in this forbidden well of emotion, without a clue how to escape unscathed. Mr. Married and I found ourselves entangled, seemingly overnight, and trust me, it wasn’t the slightest bit romantic.

2. They’re deeply complicated.

In many cases, I think the problem that causes the most distress is that you really were friends first. The possibility of a relationship wasn’t there, so you were free to grow close with ease. Until someone crossed a line. It might have been a secret kept from a spouse or taking flirtation too far or having a fantasy, but by the time you realize it, you’re already in the web and everything from that point forward becomes a painful, emotional nightmare to navigate.

3. They’re easy to judge … until you’re a part of one.

I wouldn’t have even known what an emotional affair was before, but I can guarantee I wouldn’t have had sympathy for one. I feel differently now. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t condone this. I simply have a new perspective. I’m grateful that Mr. Married and I ended this before incurring further damage, and before we hurtled any further down the path we were on. I’d like to think that Mr. Married will have a stronger marriage now and that I can move on to something greater.

4. The grief process still applies.

That doesn’t mean that this doesn’t hurt. I hear about him from time to time through our mutual friend, and I still feel a twang of sadness. It’s tragic; I lost my friend. I cared for Mr. Married as a friend and maybe more; I’ll never know that part for sure. But being the other woman came with its fair share of shame. I felt that I had no “rights” to feel, so I quietly worked my way through the stages of grief alone. I’ve conquered denial, anger, bargaining, and now, my least favorite: depression. The good news is that while I may vacillate between stages for a while, I know that acceptance and a shame-free future are around a very near corner. That’s where real love awaits. And that’s the only kind I deserve.

And as time has passes, I am realizing the reality of the situation. If I had met Mr. Married when he was single, would it have worked? The answer is no. Mr. Married needs a basic woman, a woman who is content with mediocrity, a woman who needs saving and makes him feel like a hero. He needs a woman who gives him the freedom to bury himself in his career and his hobbies avoiding the unhappy reality that is his life. I know that he dreams of something better, but he stays married to Mrs. Just Good Enough because he doesn’t have the courage to leave. He has forgotten who he is. And much like the boy who cried wolf, he recognizes the toxicity in his relationship, but rather than deal with that; he seeks to find comfort and validation in others. Maybe I was never special. Maybe the connection was never real. Maybe he does this with women often. I will never know. But what I do know is that he will never leave Mrs. Just Good Enough.

Yet, I still often wonder how it’s possible for something that feels so right, to be so wrong…….

Among the obvious feelings of guilt, humiliation, foolishness, and utter shame, I have had the tender realization that the love story that had consumed me for a brief time was nothing more than a symptom in someone else’s marriage. I wasn’t even the main character in my love story – I was the plot twist. What was important to me, was just escapism in someone else’s sad life.

Maybe us meeting was a right person, wrong time complication, or maybe it was only meant to be a life lesson. Either way, I think finding “The One” is a matter of person, place, and time. What if we’re both the right person but this is the wrong place and time? Will we miss our chance and regret it?

Maybe we’ll meet again when he’s single, healthy, and whole again. But right now, I am chaos to his thoughts, and he is poison to my heart.

I wouldn’t do it all over again, but I’m using the experience as best I can to fuel writing that will hopefully make others who find themselves in this position feel less lonely and ashamed.

XOXO,
Allison Rose

 

 

 

 

 

 

Allison Rose

Founder at Filter Free Bullsh!t Free

Entrepreneurship is my addiction, Sharing my story and empowering others is my passion. My girl gang, my family and tequila shots fuel my soul & calm my head. I’m here to inspire and to be inspired.

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