I’ve written about my experience as “the mistress.” It was a much-read post that unleashed both an outpouring of emotional stories and unbridled fury against me.
There’s not one part of me that condones cheating. Before my experience sleeping with a married man, I was the type to utterly condemn people who had affairs. I had zero sympathy for people like that. And then — it happened to me.
Long story short — the affair was full of heartbreak, chaos, and abuse. I was 100% responsible for my own actions and I’ve come out of the experience with new wisdom.
With this wisdom, I want to continue talking about this subject because it’s become clear to me that many kind, intelligent, women have also found themselves embroiled in affairs.
It’s not always about the evil vixen who only has intentions of stealing a married man. Often times, it’s a sensible, functional woman who slips and falls for a person who is incredibly experienced in manipulation and deception.
There are subtle, insidious ways in which a married man who cheats on a regular basis can seduce a smart woman.
In the beginning, these guys are often friendly, charming, and non-threatening. They might start out making idle conversation and some of them will openly discuss their wives and family seemingly with the pride of a happily married man. Generally, whether you’re a single woman or a woman in a relationship, you won’t think too much of this kind of casual chit chat.
Quite often, this kind of interaction happens in the workplace (which is where it happened with me) but it can also happen in other settings.
Typically, most married men who are serial cheaters begin to groom their intended target by showering them with compliments, acting as a shoulder to lean on, or even going so far as to bring them gifts. Eventually, they’ll find a way to get your phone number, stalk you online, or find some other means to communicate with you on a regular basis.
Most of the time, it’s not important to this kind of guy if the woman is married, in a relationship, or single. There are, however, married men who are looking to aggressively control just one woman as their mistress and will choose a single woman so they can isolate her more easily from family and friends.
The character I became involved with was a serial cheater. I was single and recovering from my divorce at the time. I didn’t find out about his many dalliances until we started talking more. He was very open about it after several conversations. I would even go so far as to say he normalized his behavior as if it was what everyone did.
The main kicker is when this type of man begins to confide in you about how miserable they supposedly are within their marriage. They’ll start to gripe about their spouse in such a way that leads you to believe they are headed for a separation or divorce. They may also complain about their sex like — or lack of — in most cases.
Many men will express a decline in attraction to their spouse, insinuating they’re deprived sexually in some way.
One of the most common tactics a married man who cheats will use is to lie about their current living situation. The most common lie is that they’re sleeping in separate beds or on the couch because they need to stay in the home for some reason. Usually it’s, “for the kids.”
They may also go as far as to say divorce papers are close to being signed (as in my case). Most of the time, this is not the case, and usually they are still sleeping in the same bed with their spouse and are sexually active with them.
Unfortunately, for a lot of women, once they have sex with someone — even if it’s with someone who’s married — they may start falling in love and believe pretty much any lie they’re told. Believe me — I know.
The person I became involved with was a controlling, jealous, manipulative cheater. Though he had engaged in multiple affairs, he didn’t want me to see anyone else outside of our relationship. It sounds insane, but so many women find themselves in this trap.
Finding yourself in a seriously complicated and stressful relationship with no easy way to extract yourself is not a healthy place to be. Affairs can flip from passion to anxiety very quickly. It’s almost never worth it.
The carnage of an affair can last a lifetime. For the most part, married men who are regular cheaters never have intentions to leave their wives. Essentially they want it all — at everyone else’s expense.
I can’t change what happened in my past but hopefully, what I’ve learned from my experiences can help someone who’s in this kind of situation right now.
More from Michelle: 5 Things Wives Should Know About Mistresses