A friend is writing a book and was researching it. So she sent out an email asking us all to pass it on to any women we know who have been in a relationship with a married man. The questions were gentle and the motive was to understand, not judge.
I sent it on to two women I know who have been in relationships with much older, married men requesting them to help her if they could. And to send the responses back to me if they wanted it to be anonymous. The responses I got were both, of outrage. Now I am fairly close to both women and I was probably one of the few people they confided in. From late night breaking down to taking them out for cups of coffee and talking them through the angst and finally helping them find closure when the men refused to divorce their wives, I’d been the quiet, non-judgmental, always available friend. There were nights when I’d be feeding a two month old Bean, my eyes drooping with exhaustion and a cell phone glued to my ear, putting my own day’s exhaustion and problems aside to be there for them. So its fairly safe to say that they knew they had a friend in me.
Anyhow, I think what ticked them off, was the label – The Other Woman. No one likes to be labelled. But here’s the thing, how do you deny your status? I’m not taking sides here, just looking at it logically. The man already HAS a wife. You have entered the picture a little later – you ARE the second woman.
In my mother’s day it was looked down upon and these women were shunned. In my day we take them out for coffee and sympathise with their plight and threaten to go kick the man in the family jewels for hurting them. But in all this, I know the other woman will still get bad press. There was a post I once wrote on how no one talks about miscarriages. I understand that people are private and I understand that it hurts. But I also think that communities are built in sharing experiences. In this case, if more ‘other women’ spoke about their point of view, they’d be shunned less.
Any taboo topic needs to be aired simply because it brings about awareness, sensitivity, understanding and takes away the mystery and shame around it. Any women here who would have anything to add to the research? Do drop me a line and I’ll put you in touch with the author. Else mail me or leave an anon comment and we’ll take it from there.