Why I'm Done Being "The Other Woman"

A couple of summers ago, I found myself having mediocre sex with a guy I'd just met. I had noticed an extremely attractive man as I was leaving a party. When he invited me to join him for a drink, I was thrilled.

We hit it off pretty well — chatting about film and travel — and I considered the night an overall success, even if the sex wasn't especially mind-blowing. He told me his story: He was from Brazil and visiting New York for a couple weeks on a film shoot. Despite the fact that our physical chemistry was only so-so, I had every intention of staying in contact with him throughout his time in the city. 

The next morning, we had sex again. Except this time, the condom we were using failed. A cloud of anxiety set in around me. I dreaded the inevitable discomfort of taking Plan B, and I was also incredibly concerned about the STD status of this practical stranger. 

I began interrogating him, hoping to put myself at ease: "When was the last time you were tested?" "Do you usually use protection?" "With all of your partners, every single time?"

He assured me that I had no need to be concerned, but I was unconvinced and pretty upset. I continued unleashing my anxiety on him in a string of follow-up questions: "How sure are you though? Are you really, really sure?" "You know you're clean?"

"Yes," he replied. "I’m sure." And, then after a pause, "I’m married."

He started acting awkwardly then, almost skittish. He told me about his wife (and, thankfully, no kids) back in Brazil. But, he wasn't opening up to me about his marriage in an attempt to cut things off.

In fact, he made it very clear that he was still interested in continuing our sexual relations. I can only assume that he hadn't chosen to tell me he was married before he invited me in because it would have diminished the chances of us having sex. I felt manipulated and upset.
In theory, I did no wrong by sleeping with this man. It wasn’t until he belatedly chose to inform me of his marital status that I understood that he was inviting me to be his other woman. At that point, I had a clear choice: I could bow out with the knowledge that he had begun our relationship under false pretenses, or I could continue sleeping with him, knowing full well that he had a wife back home. Mr. Brazil and I did not stay in contact. He reached out; I didn't respond. I had no interest being involved with someone who only came clean when I pressed him about his sexual history. 

This isn't exactly the first situation of this nature I've found myself in. A couple of years ago, I started crushing on a cute sound guy at the club where I used to work. We slept together after months of flirting, even though I knew he was dating someone. After a long night at work, I went back to his apartment where we silently had awkward sex while attempting not to wake his roommates. 

Afterwards, there was no post-coital cuddling or pillow talk; I got demoted to the couch in order to create the illusion that I was just crashing there for the night — just in case the girlfriend came by in the morning unannounced. By that point, the entire situation seemed absurd, and I quickly began to realize that this wasn’t a sexy affair, it was just depressing. In retrospect, I should've gone home and taken with me what little self-respect I had left, but it was late, and I didn't have money for cab fare. I waited it out on a pile of coats and left in the morning.

It wasn't that hard to avoid him, since he started putting in fewer shifts at the club. But, we had the same circle of friends, so I couldn't have him out of my life completely. When his girlfriend started coming into the club, I yearned to tell her what kind of person she was dating. But, I was ultimately too afraid to make such a bold move — and it wasn't really my place, anyway.

I did find the guts to tell the guy that I felt really shitty about the situation and that I thought he should come clean to his girlfriend, though I never found out if he did. I heard they were constantly splitting up and getting back together, and I wondered if I had been the cause of one of those breaks.

I also betrayed a partner myself once. I impulsively slept with a visiting friend, but the guilt I felt afterward was so overwhelming that I knew I couldn't continue to lie to my partner about it. But, instead of coming clean to my boyfriend about what I'd done, I broke things off with him.

Since then, I haven’t been in a monogamous relationship. Right now I think my sexuality needs the freedom to go wherever the wind blows without fear of hurting anybody’s feelings. 

Although I don't have the inclination to be in a monogamous relationship, I still have intimate relationships and have even been in love. The people I get close to are fully supportive and understanding of the fact that I like sleeping with a variety of people. I make potential partners aware of where I am off the bat, not the morning after. 

One day, this may change. I sometimes fantasize about getting married and having children — but as a twentysomething I'm just nowhere near that point. I’m a bit too rambunctious to embrace sexual monogamy right now. 

I don't want to cheat again — or be involved with someone who's cheating. Cheating means taking advantage of someone’s devotion to you and turning it into a commodity to be exploited. It's not a sustainable practice, and I don't need it in my life in any way, shape, or form.

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