Being the Other Woman: What It Feels Like and What to Do

A man sitting on the edge of the bed secretly talking to another woman, representing his girlfriend being the other woman.

Being the Other Woman

No relationship is clear-cut, least of all affairs. When someone is the “other woman,” they’re romantically or sexually involved with someone who’s already in a romantic relationship. This can occur even in open relationships

In many cases, neither party sets out to be a “homewrecker.” In fact, people have affairs for a variety of reasons, some more complicated than the next.

According to a recent study published in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, affairs are rarely just about sex. Researchers found that 62.8% of participants cared for their new partner, with about 10% expressing sentiments of love. 

Key reasons why some people cheat include, but are not limited to:

  • Anger or resentment towards their primary partner
  • Self-esteem issues
  • Sexual desire for the secondary partner
  • Lack of love in the primary relationship 
  • Feelings of neglect in the primary relationship

In the case of the secondary partner (i.e., the other woman), reasons are just as complex. In this article, we’ll discuss what it’s like to be the other woman, what to do if you’re in a similar situation, and how to find support

What People Say It’s Like to be the Other Woman

Though no one woman’s experience is the same, many in affairs struggle with the reality of their relationship. Below, we’ve outlined some of the hidden truths about being the other woman: 

 

“It’s stressful and affects my mental health.”

No one likes feeling like a cheater. Whether the relationship is sexual, romantic, or purely emotional, affairs are tense, stressful situations that can negatively impact your mental well-being.

Lacking a sense of security in the first place may also have negative effects later on. On the chance that the affair becomes monogamous, feelings of paranoia and guilt may persist, affecting trust in the relationship. 

 

“It’s more emotional than it is physical.”

Many affairs are built on connection. People sometimes find what they’re looking for in the most unlikely of places, such as a good friend or co-worker who is already in a romantic relationship.

In an effort to not hurt those around them, an “emotional affair” may begin. In this case, the affair doesn’t become physical—but the relationship may still be cheating if a deep intimate connection is formed.

 

“I should have drawn boundaries earlier.”

Cheating is an inherent red flag. Though the other woman is complicit, they may be vulnerable to unhealthy power dynamics, toxic behavior, or even abuse.

This is especially true if the other woman was unaware that their partner was already in a relationship. Despite the revelation, however, the other woman may disregard their boundaries or ignore warning signs in hopes of something more. 

 

“It rarely works out the way we want it to.”

An affair may feel like real love—and it very well may be—but affairs are rarely the foundation for a strong, long-lasting relationship. In fact, it’s claimed that only 15% of couples are able to successfully recover from incidents of infidelity. 

And for those that go on to commit, revelations about the affair may have unforeseen consequences, namely on friends and loved ones.

 

“I never stopped worrying if he’d do the same to me.”

After entering a monogamous relationship that stemmed from infidelity, trust and security may be in short supply. 

For example, one or both partners may worry all the time about the other’s whereabouts. They may wonder if their partner is a serial cheater or fear they’d return to the previous relationship if things didn’t work out. Fears like these can nurture distrust and resentment, hindering the relationship’s future.

 

“I wish it began differently.”

Suffice to say, affairs don’t begin in a good place. The other partner may have already filed divorce papers, but this doesn’t absolve them or their new partner of the natural guilt they feel.

Other factors may also complicate the new relationship. How does the affair affect children from the previous relationship? Could this affect custody cases? Was the cheating partner honest about their reasons for leaving? 

 

“I felt terrible guilt and didn’t like who I was.”

The role of the “side chick” or “other woman” is riddled with stigma. Regardless of where the relationship leads, being the other woman can nurture self-hatred and self-esteem issues. 

If the other woman also happens to be a married woman, they may struggle with guilt on both sides of the affair. These feelings may further affect their mental health. 

What to Do if You’re the Other Woman (How to Move On)

If you happen to be the other woman, you may have come up with a million reasons why the relationship could work—and why it can’t.

Ultimately, what matters is your well-being. To help you get through the situation, here are a few things to consider before continuing an affair:

 

Identify the cheating person’s motive/frame of mind

Take a step back and examine the situation. Put yourself in the shoes of the cheating person and try to think objectively. Why did they choose to cheat?

You can also try to start a dialogue. Sit down and discuss what’s going on at home. If they say they’re unhappy in their relationship, why? What is the driving force behind the affair and will it be resolved by leaving?

 

Respect all wishes to protect their family and close friends

Affairs can have major consequences. If you’re involved with a married man or woman with children, consider how your relationship will affect their family and how it might affect yours.

If family and friends are aware of your relationship, respect their boundaries. Some people may not wish to have a relationship with you or your partner after the affair becomes known.

 

Approach the person about coming clean and making a choice

If you want to continue the relationship, start a conversation about your next steps together. If they plan to break up with their partner, discuss how and when. 

Keep in mind they may never fully commit to you, even if they come clean. Do your best to prepare for heartbreak and potential confrontations.

 

Do not threaten or force an ultimatum 

Affairs aren’t ideal situations for anyone. That said, avoid making threats or ultimatums.

Not only is there no guarantee that they’ll leave their partner for you, but there’s no certainty you’ll be happy together if they do. Consider your options carefully and whether they’re truly right for those involved.

 

Leave the situation

Affairs can cause untold damage. They can affect your mental health, self-esteem, and relationships with others.

If you’ve decided the relationship is not for you—or if abuse or power imbalances are involved—then it’s time to leave the situation. To help you move on, avoid your former partner’s social media, set boundaries, and refocus your energy on you and your needs. 

 

Seek emotional support

It’s essential to know who we are outside of a relationship.

Put some distance between you and the affair by spending time alone or confiding in a best friend or a trusted loved one about your situation. Try to rediscover life as a single woman. You can also consider speaking to a therapist or counselor about your relationship and gaining professional insight.

Coping with Emote Online Therapy

Affairs are rarely anything like you see on TV. What may have been fun and exciting the first time around can lead to a complicated and unhappy situation for everyone involved.

No matter the circumstance, know that you’re not alone with Emote.

By matching with one of our qualified therapists, you can develop the revolutionary tools needed to navigate and move on from a difficult relationship.

Whether it’s a current or past affair, with Emote, you’ll always have a judgment-free space.

Get guilt off your chest, explore your options, and put your mental health first through affordable text and video chat therapy sessions.

To learn more about how Emote can help you, check out our FAQ and discover the benefits of therapy for only $35 for your first week.

8 Major Signs Someone Doesn’t Want to be Your Friend

Two friends that are pulling away from each other, representing a sign that someone doesn't want to be your friend.

Even in a world where communication is instantaneous, it can be hard to keep up with friends, much less make new ones. In fact, our social circle begins to shrink around age 25. Women, in particular, begin to interact with fewer and fewer people, followed closely by men as they enter their late 20s and 30s.

This could be for any number of reasons. From major life events such as marriage and loss to a busy work schedule or a new friend group, it’s simply a part of life for good pals to sometimes drift apart.

In some cases, however, friendships end because they’ve grown one-sided. Maybe the other person has stopped showing a genuine interest in your life. Perhaps they never felt as deep of a connection in the first place, or maybe they no longer prioritize the relationship.

Whatever the reason may be, it can be difficult to come to terms with losing a friend.

As many of us also struggle with confrontation, it may be even harder to identify the subtle signs that a friendship has run its course—and what to do when this happens. To help you find the emotional support you need to move on, we’ve outlined some red flags to look out for below and what they may mean.

8 Signs Someone No Longer Wants to be Friends

It’s well-researched that healthy relationships are important to our well-being. For a relationship to be healthy, mutual respect and communication are necessary. 

Friendship is no exception.

Though it’s perfectly normal for life to get in the way, a true friend will try to be there for you as often as they’re able (and vice versa).

If this doesn’t seem to be true anymore—or you’re not sure where you stand with someone—it may be that they don’t want to be friends. If you suspect this is the case, here’s what to look out for:

 

1. They’re not interested in the events or details in your life. 

Whether it’s a new job or drama with an ex, a healthy friendship is all about sharing. 

Although staying up to date with a friend’s life isn’t always possible, what matters is that you both try to be involved, even at a distance. If you feel that you’re present in their life but they’re not in yours, it may be time to reevaluate your relationship.

In this case, it doesn’t hurt to check in and see what’s going on, especially if you’re in a long-distance friendship. They may have had no time to catch up and want to do better. However, if this issue is chronic or they’re unwilling to try harder, the friendship may have grown one-sided.

 

2. They’ve stopped inviting you out.

Another good sign that a friendship has possibly reached its end is if you’re experiencing a serious case of FOMO.

Thanks to social media, we’ve all dealt with the fear of missing out on something fun or exciting, be it a new trend or the latest Netflix obsession. When it comes to our best friends, however, FOMO can be especially troubling.

While there is nothing wrong with a friend spending time with other people—in fact, it’s healthy for friends to have friends outside of you—a genuine lack of quality time can indicate something much deeper than FOMO.

If you find that your friend doesn’t make time for you anymore, and yet has plenty for other people, it’s possible they no longer value your friendship as much as they did in the past.

 

3. They keep making excuses and canceling plans.

It’s not uncommon for old friends to rarely see each other. One may have moved out of state and gotten married, while the other can’t see loved ones often due to work or other priorities.

Whatever the case may be, canceled plans don’t necessarily mean someone no longer cares for you.

That said, frequent cancellations, vague explanations, and last-minute apologies can damage even the strongest of relationships. If your friend has become flaky and their reasons have started to sound like excuses, it might be time to reinvest your energy into people who can be more present in your life.

 

4. They don’t engage with you on social media or have unfollowed you.

Twitter, Instagram, Facebook—social media is not the be-all-end-all to any relationship, but they can indicate a change. Though true friendship isn’t necessarily affected by how much you engage with each other online, a sudden lack of interaction can be their way of pulling away. 

As a way of avoiding confrontation, your friend may ignore your replies, mute your posts, or respond with a “like” whereas they’d usually comment. 

Another sign that someone no longer wants to be your friend is if they’ve unfollowed or blocked you. This is a subtle but clear sign that the friendship is over in their eyes. 

5. You’re always the one reaching out to them.

There is nothing wrong with taking the initiative and being the “planner” in a relationship. That said, it should never be solely up to you to keep a friendship going.

After all, friendship is a two-way street. 

If you and a good friend have communication issues, the best way to resolve them is by discussing them. However, if your friend is unwilling or unable to make changes, then it may mean they’re not the best match for you. 

 

6. They don’t respond to your texts or messages.

As with social media, not everyone is great at texting. If your friend happens to be a slow texter or introverted, late replies may simply be a bad habit. A complete lack of response, however, or a reply weeks, possibly months later without explanation is a sign that the friendship is one-sided.

Messages left on “read” are also signs of ghosting. If your friend is ghosting you and makes no effort to contact you in general, it’s reasonable to assume that they’re not interested in being friends anymore.

 

7. Their answers are short and sound unlike themselves.

To avoid confrontation, we sometimes choose to distance ourselves from an uncomfortable situation by being overly curt or formal.

In the case of a friendship that’s run its course, you may notice a change in your friend’s behavior and language.

When they text you, their once colorful responses are now short or sparse. If you ever spend time together, their body language may also seem reserved and your meet-ups feel a little like a business meeting.

This may be their way of creating an emotional distance. If you feel that there is tension between you and a friend, talking about it can clear the air about the state of your relationship.

 

8. They talk mostly about themselves.

Though we must do our best to support our loved ones in whatever way we can, no healthy relationship is about the needs of one person.

If your friend tends to dominate conversations or focus mostly on themselves, this may be a sign of an unequal friendship. Another indicator of an unequal friendship is a lack of boundaries. If your friend’s needs sometimes take priority over yours, the relationship may become exhausting or overwhelming, possibly even affecting your mental health.

This may be also a symptom of a toxic friendship, another sign to let go of the relationship.

You’re Not Alone with Emote Online Therapy

Oftentimes when we meet someone we connect with, we want to hold on to that relationship for as long as we can. We might put time and effort into someone who doesn’t feel the same way or who takes advantage of us. And by the end, we may be left feeling hurt and need to walk away from the friendship.

Breaking up with a close friend is never easy. It’s a form of loss, one deserving of compassion and emotional support. 

 

At Emote, we offer a safe space for you to explore these difficult emotions and get the closure you need. By working with one of our highly qualified online therapists, you’re free to discuss unresolved feelings, gain critical insight, and discover strategies to build healthy, long-lasting friendships. 

Be it through text or video chat, our team of mental health professionals is here to lend a helping hand whenever you need it most.

Put yourself first for only $35 during your first week. To learn more about how Emote can help you, check out our FAQ or contact us today.