So, I just finished comforting my friend who ended a disastrous affair with a married co-worker. It was particularly torturous for me, because it forced me to relive my own nightmare. I too, had fallen victim to the spell of a handsome, unavailable guy who happened to be one of my managers at work. He was tall, blond and intelligent. I never imagined that he would even give me a second glance. Not because I didn’t think I deserved the attention, but rather he seemed like he would be more drawn to the Upper East Side icy Princesses that paraded around the sidewalks in “Stepford Wives” mode every weekend.
It turns out that I was just his type and he made it abundantly clear almost a month after I started my employment. I couldn’t resist his “innocent” invitations to the corporate dives after work. He was paying way too much attention to me and slowly but surely we became the topic of conversation amongst our coworkers. But by that time I was too involved to care. I was busy being romanced and dined at the top spots in the city, and after we spent the night at the restricted Soho House, I just knew he would leave his wife for me.
Of course that didn’t happen. We rocked each other’s worlds for three more years (Yikes!) and then once he and his socialite wife started having kids, he pulled away and before I could say “What’s Up?” – it was over. I was left in the cold, with only memories and a short roster of other failed attempts with married men to keep me company. Why had I allowed myself to be enticed by men that were already taken? Did I delight in the fact that they found me a fitting escape from their constrained reality? Was it hard for me to resist the idea that I represented their version of perfection, an interpretation of what their life could be like if only they were free? Or maybe I was too lazy to give myself to a man who was available to love me without boundaries, because that would mean, putting in work to keep the love alive.
Either way, I had developed a pattern, and it was digging a hole in my soul. I never set out to be the “the other woman.” I was 21 when the pattern first took shape, and it was hard to tear myself away because I was being told all the right things and it felt good to feel “wanted” in such a desperate way. But now that enough time has passed, I am willing to own the fact that I was somewhat selfish in my pursuits, and I have since worked on rectifying my mistakes.
But some of my friends are still stuck in aimless relationships that leave them scarred and bitter. I am quite surprised at the number of women that settle for romantic dalliances with married men. Why do so many of us accept this dating ritual as the norm – and what does it say about us? A lot of it can be traced to our impressionable childhood. Absent father, sexual abuse or a mother who didn’t hide her promiscuous tendencies – either way, if you are in embroiled in a similar situation, maybe it’s time to examine your steps and take accountability.