After the tremendous response I received for my last piece where I listed six reasons why people cheat, I decided to do an entire series on affairs. This next one, however, is very different from the run of the mill stuff on extra marital affairs.
In my years of counselling couples dealing with the aftermath of affairs, I also happened to counsel the ‘other’ man/woman many times, and that opened up a whole new world of perception for me with regards to this most neglected or misunderstood angle in the affair triangle. Every time an affair is discussed it’s made to be about the couple but rarely any attention is paid to the ‘other’ (man or woman). If at all, the third person is spontaneously assumed to be the villain or vamp in the story going by their portrayal in the numerous daily soaps where they are merely scheming nefarious plans to steal someone’s man or woman away. But there’s a lot that this other person goes through which is never brought to the limelight.
If you’re the other person in a relationship with a married man/woman, or if you’re a spouse trying to get a peek into what is going on in the mind of the person infiltrating your relationship, here’s what you need to know.
Surprised? Ideally, you would think that the spouse should be the only insecure one because their partner found someone else attractive. However, the grass is not greener on the other side. The other woman/man has no legal or social rights on the person she/he is having an affair with and they know that their lover will leave their side on the first call from home; they will have to. This leads to some pretty intense levels of insecurity.
A major portion of the relationship from the other person’s side is about waiting. Even though they may initiate contact and express a wish to see their lover, all they can do is wait, until he/she is able to find an opportunity to meet them. This wait can sometimes be excruciating and makes one feel helpless because they really cannot do anything about it.
No matter how close is the relationship between a spouse and their lover, the lover will always be an outsider. There will be times when he/she will be deliberately ignored if they run in same social circles, he/she will be asked not to text or make contact, he/she may even have to stop herself/himself from wishing their lover on special days.
A lover in an extra marital relationship always struggles with one-upmanship. He/she always struggles for more time and more recognition from their lover. And not all the time is this done in an evil way (as depicted in movies and soaps). They may appear okay with it on the outside so as not to upset their lover, but inside there’s always a storm of emotions raging.
Sadness and dread
An extra marital relationship is almost always doomed with a feeling of dread. Both people involved always know that the time they have is limited and taboo. Each separation is tinged with sadness and uncertainty. This usually hinders with the relationship and even though to a spouse may appear that they are having the time of their lives, they are actually under quite a lot of tension all the time.
By enumerating these emotions, my idea is not to take any sides or to get into the right or wrong moral debate; but the intention is to humanize the ‘other’ in an extra marital affair because in a triangle all three angles contribute to the dynamic of an affair and all sides must be heard.
Have you ever found yourself as the ‘other’? Tell us your side of it, and anonymously if you want. Let people hear your side of the story…