The Myth of the Other Woman

Yes. I said it out loud.

It is my belief that the idea of the “other woman” is a true myth.

And yes, I fully expect to get some backlash for that.

But, please, hear me out.

I believe that, like a fence, there are only two sides to the idea of the “other woman”:

  • the side where you get hurt
  • the side where the other woman gets hurt

Buried somewhere in there are different degrees of pain. Some of the pain lasts longer than the rest. This is a matter of perception, as most everything in life is. Other critical factors in the pain that is felt are the true level of commitment in the relationship, and the level of perceived commitment in the relationship of both the guy(s) and the gal(s).

Yes, I just inferred that it might be in your head. I can only say that because I have been there too – both when it is real, and when I manufactured it. As a writer and an analyst, I have a tendency to overthink  A LOT.

In reality, the idea of the “other woman” is not about the other woman at all; it is about you and the guy. It’s that simple.

At this point in our lives, most of us gals should have already seen both sides of this fence; and, depending on your perception, become connected to men who traverse both sides, and the middle. Needless to say, all of us have been damaged by it.

How much you are damaged by this scenario comes down to how you cope with your own identity, your honesty with that identity, and your honesty when communicating to your guy.

You become as damaged as you allow yourself to become.

The good news is that, like most everything in this life, you have a choice. Your choice is determined by the boundaries that you set for yourself, which in turn come from how you work through past relationships in conjunction with your own inner woman.

I, like many women my age, have seen my share of both sides. I have been hurt terribly. I have scars.

I have had to turn my back on a really good man because I chose not to be a part of jeopardizing his existing relationship after I found out that he and I were going down a dark path together. I have had to turn my back on two really good men because each of them overstepped the boundaries that I set for myself. The thing about that is I didn’t have a solid knowledge of those boundaries until I was already immersed in the situation.

In these cases, I was the other woman, just on different sides of the fence. They  were really good men who were struggling with their own issues and were straddling the fence in the middle.

But, I gave of myself to the best of my ability because it was the right thing to do. I didn’t point fingers, I didn’t get angry (well, maybe not too angry).

When I emerged, I was a stronger woman for all of it and continue to gain strength, wisdom, and can still love completely.

No matter what side of the “other woman” fence you are currently on, here are some pointers that I have tried and found to work well, if you have the strength to employ them consistently:

  • Be honest with yourself and your guy about exactly what type of relationship you both think you are in.
  • This involves a strong level of open communication.
  • Clearly identify – for yourself – what you will and will not put up with; then set the standard.
  • Be patient; sometimes it takes some time for an unfamiliar standard to become the norm.
  • When the norm is established, do not waver (too much).
  • Hold yourself, and him, accountable.
  • Be flexible; we are all people with our own demons and challenges.
  • When you get to the point of love, love completely and unconditionally, regardless of the outcome.
  • Protect your heart.
  • Remember that this is not all about you; there are two other people involved along with you.

This situation is not an easy one to navigate, particularly when there is so much bad and ill-informed literature out there. If you allow the bad advice in, it can result in empowering you to point fingers, label, control, and establish a selfish point of view in order to move through it. This type of advice will only complicate your situation.

Good luck being the other woman! If you’re lucky, you will learn to relax and enjoy the ride.

© 2010-2016 Kimberly Yoss. All rights reserved. No part of this online publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without prior approval from Kimberly Yoss.

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