Everyone and even some men wonder why a woman would accept being second, never ask for more and ultimately settle for a life of non-commitment and fleeting companionship.
Over the years, I have tackled many relationship questions regarding making up and breaking up; but the one constant theme has always been-Why men cheat and what does she have, that I don’t have?
So, Today I sat down with Terry, she is a professional, educated woman in her 30’s and has a profound love for GOD. She visited my office in the late afternoon to discuss a recent date she went on and how she was beginning to love the possibility of being married one day to the man of her dreams. Terry was kind enough to share a few personal mistakes in her life and share her story with the world.
Question: Being “the other woman” wasn’t a role you envisioned yourself in; You grew up in a Christian home and you certainly never set out to be “the other woman.” It’s not like you decided one day this was the path for your life. So what happened? How did this start?
Terry: You’re right—in fact, I pridefully thought I was “above” committing adultery. Like most things in life, it started with a series of choices, each one being another step down a destructive path. Specifically, it started with an instant physical attraction that I neglected to guard against. I ignored the red flags. I thought I could face temptation, when I should have fled it instead.
Question: What are some common red flags that others should watch for in their own relationships to make sure they don’t go down this road?
Terry: Here are the primary red flags I urge people to watch out for:
1. Complacency: I was complacent about growing in my faith and guarding my heart. I wasn’t personally seeking God for the affirmation and emotional intimacy I needed.
2. Pride: Like I mentioned, I thought I was “above” committing adultery. I would hear of others in adulterous relationships, and thought I could never do what they did. That judgmental arrogance definitely came before my fall.
3. No accountability: I was lacking accountability in my life. I didn’t even have a roommate. Living alone prior to marriage isn’t wrong. However, it does mean you need to be even more intentional with boundaries and accountability, because it’s easier to be secretive.
4. Lack of community: Though I seemed successful and thriving—by the world’s definitions—I felt very emotionally isolated. I wasn’t connecting with a church. I was lacking the fellowship and discipleship that help deter us from sinful and destructive decisions.
Question: When did you decide your affair was wrong and that you had to stop?
Terry: I definitely knew better, right from the start. I was not only raised with the belief that adultery was immoral, but during my adultery I was consistently convicted by guilt. There is a big difference, though, between knowing you should walk away, and actually walking away. It’s kind of like the difference between knowing you should exercise, and actually going to the gym. It took me about six months and a lot of pain.
Question: How long did you keep this secret hidden? And why share it with everyone who will listen, now?
Terry: Initially, I kept it a secret for weeks, then began confessing only to close friends and my parents. I had started to admit to myself that I needed help. But in the months and years since it ended, I’ve become more and more open with any-and everyone.
Question: Did the type of relationship that you became envolved in, come as a surprise?
Terry: On a very simplified level, think of what happens when you go grocery shopping and your hungry; needless things end up in your cart that you wouldn’t want or normally look for to forefill your daily needs.
Question: For you, the attention you received from this married man, made you feel powerful. Can you elaborate on this and why it can be an area of temptation for us as women if we aren’t on guard against it.
Terry: Feeling desired can be very empowering. Empowerment isn’t always a positive, though, when in my case it empowered me to make wrong choices. I know this was wrong to think, and may be hard for some readers to “hear,” but to feel like a man desired me more than his own wife felt very affirming. And prior to meeting him, I was very in denial about how much I longed for affirmation. In denial about that longing, I was also in denial about how vulnerable I was and the feeling of having him, met all my temporary needs in the wrong ways.
Question: I’ve talked to other women who have found themselves in a similar situation and have told me, “I never imagined this could be a possibility.” So, If you knew it was wrong, how did you fall into this trap?
Terry: As I mentioned before that one of the “red flags” was pride. When we’re prideful, I think we more susceptible to making foolish choices because I think pride has this “false invincibility” effect. We think we’re above certain consequences, which can blind us to the riskiness of some of our choices. It’s like thinking we can carelessly walk right into a minefield; there are minefields in life and relationships that we shouldn’t even think about stepping foot onto.
Question: You share the emotional strain and anxiety that became a daily part of your life as a result of your relationship with a married man. What finally caused you to end the affair?
Terry: A couple things: The man I was committing adultery with would periodically say he wished he could give me more of the relationship I deserved. It took me months, but I finally got to the point where I believed that for myself!
Question: You make no excuses for your behavior — and, in a day and age where so many do — I find that refreshing. Was that a hard place to come to?
Terry: I did have to overcome initial fears of what people might think if they knew, but the more I brought the truth of the relationship into the light, the more liberated I felt. And I think when we own our mistakes, they can’t own us.
Question: If you could share one thing with another woman who either finds herself facing the temptation of an affair or in the midst of one, what would it be?
Terry: It really won’t be as satisfying as you think it will be; If I could get you to take me solely at my word, it would be this: It’s not worth it. I know it can feel difficult to walk away — I often tell women to brace themselves for “withdrawal,” like they’re detoxing from an emotional drug — but it’s critical that you do.
I really appreciate your honestly and sharing some of the most intimate moments in your life. “Terry” I know that the universe will allow many people to be enlighted and and helped by your truth.
If you have a story similiar to “Terry” or maybe you are currently in this type of situation. We would love to hear your story.