The ”Other Woman,” Your New Best Friend

Tuesday, Dec. 14th 2010 4:20 PM

How committed are you to being angry? Chances are, there has been a time in your life when someone did something most people would consider a major sin against you, and you felt hurt. Maybe the majority of your inner-circle rushed to your side to comfort you – and promised to shun the “victimizer” indefinitely. You got their attention and validation, and that probably felt gratifying in the moment. But how long can you play the victim before you start to victimize yourself?

Someone recently asked my advice for a woman in an uncomfortable situation. This woman (we’ll call her Danielle) divorced her husband, and co-parent, because he “cheated.” The woman with whom he had an “affair” (hereafter known as “the other woman”) also had a child with him. And she recently reached out to Danielle, suggesting they become friends because their children have the same father. Now, Danielle is unsure whether to consider what many people would consider a very strange relationship.

The easy and typical answer to Danielle’s question is some derivation of “Is she crazy? You should have kicked her butt,” or other hateful remarks that capture the general disgust most people have for “cheating” and “mistresses.” And that would probably be gratifying to hear, if Danielle was solely interested in playing the victim. But instead of calling her friends to rant hysterically about “the other woman’s audacity,” she reached out for different opinions. And I applaud her for considering them; it is a door to a much healthier mindset – both for Danielle and her child.

Whether Danielle likes it or not, these two women have at least a couple of things in common – children with the same father and the fact that they’re single mothers (I presume). I have four children, and while I love them deeply, I know that parenting is not a cake-walk. I’m fortunate to have a mate who is my partner in juggling the responsibilities – homework, transportation, behavioral issues, emergencies, feeding, cleaning, sick days… the list can get exhausting. When it comes to parenting, partnership, even community, is important. So I say, accept partnership where you can get it. These women may be able to share some of the work, expense and responsibility for raising their children. Hopefully, without using their new partnership as a forum for “father-bashing.” That would be neither helpful to them nor their children. And imagine how emotionally beneficial it would be for the kids if their mothers got along, even helped each other out. After all, children want to know and love their siblings (even if they don’t like them all the time). And it wasn’t the kids’ choice how they came to be.

Danielle can choose to carry her anger and burden indefinitely, or she can stop, breathe and embrace the possibility of a new partner. It may take working through some pain and awkwardness in the beginning, but before long, they might even become best friends. If you choose to stay angry and disconnected (and it is a choice), you also choose to carry the burden of anger and loneliness in your heart. And that is how you destroy yourself.

Someone could argue that I was victimized by the man who stabbed me many years ago. I wasn’t. And I wasn’t blameless in the incident – a situation where two egos didn’t mix well on a bad night. He was arrested, and I went to the hospital. But if I saw him today, I would shake his hand, ask how he’s doing and move on with my day. Why? Because to say or do anything else would mean allowing my own anger to hold me hostage. There’s too much ground I look forward to covering to waste my time stewing. And I hope that’s true for him as well.

Besides, I wasn’t an innocent bystander; I chose to participate in the altercation. And if Danielle is really honest with herself about the events that led to the dissolution of her marriage, I bet she’ll realize that she wasn’t completely blameless either. If she can admit her own imperfections, perhaps she can use that understanding as fuel for forgiveness.

So, how committed are you to playing the victim? You will surely gain a lot of attention and validation (at least until people get tired of talking about it), but you’ll also spend a lot of time being unhappy. Are you willing to remain angry, even when it’s hurting you? Who knows, maybe the person you once blamed for your pain could become your new best friend.

Keep Rising,

Frank Love

…and please do not multi-task when driving.

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How to Gracefully Exit a Relationship

30 Comments on “The ”Other Woman,” Your New Best Friend”

  1. terry Says:


    Enjoyed your story and your sense of taking life as it is. Best wishes,

    MAIS student, ASU

  2. Kwame Sarpong Says:

    Frank, I am not sure if I get what you are about to spew in this forum. Yes, if the other woman will be instrumental in your progress be it economics, social or phychological, then we could be talking asking the question why the “other woman” Progress here can be defined in this context as sacrificing today for a better tomorrow. But here, it all depends on what this person with the other woman is looking for. As you might know, there are 3 main things men want in this life that we live in.

    I will call them out, not in some appropriate order but rather any; battle to fight , adventure to take and a beauty to rescue. With this said, the third reason has some relation to your topic. Yes, a beauty to recue. Now, we have to ask, does the other woman has something the ” known woman” does not have. Yes, most of the time else, the man will not pursue such a venture. It is risky and it brings a lot of heartaces to all parties involved.

    On the other hand, if it makes your woman pays attention to you more than she has been, that sounds like a winner. If does, it can cement a lasting relationship between you and the “known woman ” It can also have a negative effect which we all know. That is separation and the final straw being divorce if there is marriage in such instance.
    So, here it depends on where the table turns. It also depends on what kind of woman you have to play the other woman game. At the end of the day, there is so much people can take. At some point, when she is tired of being with you ,some women will implore the other woman syndrome and get out. Just watch it.

  3. Rob Beenker Says:

    Here in the Netherlands we have a website devoted to polyamory. It is based on the fact that we may love more than one person intimately. My wife and I both have another ‘significant other’, and it works very well for us.

    In fact, our marriage was at an all time low when we decided to give tantra a try, together, som seven years ago. Since then I have befriended a number of women, some of whom I shared tantra with, and one with who I now have had a loving relationship for about four years.

    My marriage has been going well, with ups and downs, ever since.

    I’d like to share that with you all…

  4. Martha Says:

    I do not agree with this article at all. I know I am wrong, but I do not want anything to do with my ex’s family, because they think he can do no wrong, and they saw me as the problem, never him. Being away from them is refreshing!!!!!!

    I do not want to be friends with my husband or whoever he decides to be with. ha ha ha ha ha What?!!!!

  5. Rich Brown Says:

    The premise seems backwards, unless the goal is to live a selfish life, lacking in trust and love. If one’s goals are to simply seek personal gratification, then infidelity certainly fits in to the plan of marriage.

  6. Kristen Kelly Says:

    Good stuff Frank.
    I have been dealing with anger around wanting to have a child while my husband does not. I loved what you wrote. I will admit, I am going to hang on to some of the anger for a little while longer (because, of course, I can if I want right?) but this article helped me realize I need to take the focus off him and put it back onto myself. Thanks again.

  7. Jesse Birkey Says:

    I think your article might be a little unrealistic for people who truly want to heal from one of the most devastating traumas we can experience. People who are good at repressing feelings are the ones who can immediatley carry on relationships with people who have traumatized them. Not exactly a healthy way to deal with things.

  8. Marsha Dean Walker, MSHS, HS-BCP Says:

    Frank, as a relationship coach for over 21 years I am the first to say that all relationships are not created equal. NO one can truly ever get inside of a marriage or alternative relationship. Your perspective isn’t really so much different as it is vocalized in a forum such as LinkedIn. Relationships are forged by people with similar interests, similar goals and similar needs. How it all spins out is often quite unpredictable. You might want to read my upcoming book The Great State of Couplehood due out in the spring of 2011.

  9. Susan Kates Says:

    Frank, that’s very “grown up”. I have actually seen relationships like that as well. It is great for the kids. But, realistically, not everyone can do it, but to those that do good for them.

  10. Cecilia Ann Zoby Says:

    Frank, from what I’ve seen on TV, that can be true only if she is the same race as the first woman. I saw on Oprah, many years ago, a segment on black woman whose significant other dumped them for a white woman. They’re comment was that, “they could loose weight; change their appearance with a new hairdo, dress to the nine, be more romantic, but they could not change their race.”

    Now, re-reading your statement–can it be that “”infidelity” may lead to better results than you ever thought imaginable”, is in reference for the man??? It seems so. Woman do not take it lightly when in a relationship and their significant other has sought out someone else. My father stepped out with an ‘other woman’ who unfortunately was a ‘fatal attraction’ and the devastation to my mother, the family unit and my dad–so , so sad, –each time he tried to dump her, she attempted suicide; the third time, she succeeded. Leaving a son with no parent to raise him. His grandmother had to step up to the plate. So, in my life experience, I do NOT agree with your statement, unless you are referring about it for the man’s aspect. Reconsider the ramifications of seeking out an “Other Woman” if you are already married and a FATHER. Leave such PLAY TOYS ALONE!!! they are taboo.

  11. Emily ZS Rose Says:

    1. The heart seeks pleasure and marriage can be pleasurable for the right couples.
    2. When one party ventures into another intimate relationship while his better half stays faithful, the balance is broken and will have to be restored.
    3. One way to restore that balance by most people is to break up the marriage so as to let the new relationship florish while the faithful party in the original marriage becomes available for another relationship, though it may or may not happen.
    4. Frank’s way is to let the man have two women in his life and it is not totally impossible as a household but not sure if a man will not be torn apart emotionally trying to chose between two women. That is if love is a one and only business.
    5. It can happen in societies where multiple wives are common among rich families. It will be very difficult for the parties involved in a society where marriage and love is perceived to be in the form of a man and a woman and their children. Both parites will find themselves under social scrutiny and be regarded as failures. Though nobody really cares about anybody else’s business in life. Too much going on in their own lives perhaps. What with the world economy in dicline and rising inflation in China. hehe…

    Just some thoughts. Nothing authoritive.

  12. Miles Says:

    Okay, Frank — you provocateur, you! As an executive coach, I have rarely had a client that didn’t have issues with anger.

    There are four things to remember about anger that may be helpful: (1) you only hurt yourself; (2) you are never angry at what you think you are angry at; (3) anger is never justified, and the constant mental justifying of it keeps it in place; and (4) if you just pay attention to the feeling of it in the body and not the thoughts, and you explore the feeling with interest instead of resistance, it passes.

    Anybody who thinks that he/she is more effective when he is angry, he is only fooling himself. Effectiveness takes presence, of which there is very little when one is angry.

  13. Diana Says:

    Miles, I disagree: anger may be useless, but at times it is not only justified but necessary if we transform it into actions towards a worthy cause. I agree with all the rest you stated.

    As for the case presented by Frank… I have changed my mind several times in the last few minutes, so I better explore the issue more deeply, or rather my stance towards it before giving my opinion.

  14. Miles Says:

    Diane, what does it mean when we say the anger is justified because we transform it into action? Does it mean that we have to get angry sometimes in order to act? Is that true? Or does it mean that we can then transform our anger into something more useful? But did we have to get angry first? If we were going to transform it anyway, what was the point of getting angry?

    I didn’t say, by the way, never get angry. I just said that it is never justified.

  15. Jonathan Sibley Says:

    I think it’s useful to distinguish between anger and holding onto anger without doing something about it.

    Anger is a useful emotion, initially. It let’s us know that a boundary has been crossed or an obstacle is in our way. We have the option of using that feeling as information that something needs to be addressed. If we just hold onto it, nothing is likely to change, I agree.

    When we are angry, if we can communicate our anger and someone is able to listen to what we are angry about and try to understand it, it’s difficult to remain angry. If, instead, we are not met with empathy (and it can be hard to be empathic in the face of anger), the anger tends to rev up, rather than dissipate. Then, we need to figure out what to do with the anger.

    As for the article, I don’t think it’s in favor of affairs, although that makes it sound more interesting. It does seem to question whether accepting the inevitable, rather than continuing to be angry about it is useful.

  16. Diana Says:

    Miles, please reread what I wrote. I never said that anger is justified “because” we transform it into action. My words were and are “if” we transform it into action. Anger is an emotion, and as such, we cannot deny it, but can learn to manage it. We do not choose to get angry, it happens, so it needs no justification. I think that the central point is what we do with it, how we relate to our own feelings, which need no justification…

  17. Miles Says:

    Diana, I apologize for thinking I read something into your comment that wasn’t there. I knew you said “if”, but I thought what you were saying amounted to a justification of the anger.

  18. Diana Says:

    It´s okay, Miles, although, as I wrote in my previous entry, emotions don´t need to be justified. What may need justification are the actions they trigger, which is another story.

  19. Diana Says:

    Hi, Frank!

    I have reread the article and -just between you and I- I would love to coach one (and even both) of these women and even the friends who gave advice and emitted their opinions!!! There are so many sides to the issue you pose and so many possible answers that I personally don´t see the point of reducing it to a matter of “anger”. A badly injured ego plays a large part, and so does finding out who “the other woman” is. Let´s imagine she is not the sort of person Danielle would choose as a friend and she is not raising her child according to Danielle´s values. The fact that the two kids were sired by the same male does not automatically mean anything in itself, unless we make it matter. Think of how many kids there are out there who are the children of the same sperm donor. Should they be traced and raised as siblings? I can´t help smiling at the thought of these two women getting together and establishing a relationship that allows them to talk about the “scared of bullets” (s.o.b.) that betrayed the two of them. A great way to feed the anger, resentment and all the rest they probably feel. Another possible scenario is that these two women would choose each other as a friend in another set of circumstances. Let´s imagine that they have things in common that would draw them close, other than the fact that they both chose the same father for their children. They can move on without becoming friends; they can become friends and nourish their anger…

    So many thoughts come to my mind that I could write forever and still not feel happy with “one” answer, basically because I don´t think there is one. All I can say is that tomorrow evening (I live in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where we get together for Xmas Eve), there will be around 40 people. The gathering includes ex husbands and ex wives, current ones, second exes with current ones, shared children and grandchildren, and exes children and grandchildren, jews, catholics, a couple of lutherans, a presbyterian, several atheists and /or agnostics. A “strange” mix seen from the outside… We get together because we are a part of each other´s life, because even though there may be anger in some cases, we acknowledge the fact that we constitute a part of who the other one is. Nobody in this world is as close to me as the father of my 4 children, whom I divorced 13 years ago. Not even my current husband. Nobody in this world loves my four children as much as their father, and that is all that counts. When we got married our main project was to BE a family, and we are. We may not be a couple any longer, but we both assess we were successful in raising four wonderful persons and acknowledge that we were partners in that project. Gratitude for the role each one of us has played in raising those persons was (and is) our “secret weapon” when anger threatens to come back. We get together for children and grandchildren´s birthdays, weddings, to share the joy; family funerals because we can provide comfort, help, company. It works for us, which does not mean that it “should” work for everybody
    Merry Xmas !!!

  20. Dani Says:

    Thank you for providing the article, which is a far different topic than what I originally thought was implied by the topic. With consideration to the situation posed in the article, (that two women who slept with the same man and both had his children – “the other woman” reaches out and suggests friendship), I would say that if they are both raising their kids without the father in their lives, and if both women can spend time with each other without playing the blame game, then it would be healthy for their children if they could have a relationship. I would say that if dad is still with “the other woman”, it might be a bit uncomfortable. I don’t think “victim” mentality needs to come into the picture…..I do think it’s a matter of how we make choices.

  21. VelB Says:

    I believe that a person that continues to be underestimated and used as a doormat, may feel victimized at some point, but in Danielle’s situation and the other women, I commend them both on working things out. These woman have the right idea to think more of the children than their pain and suffering from a man who knew what he was involved with both women and in doing so, should have predicted the outcome would be pregnancy. But the women did not expect to experiene the nightmare and heartbreak. I would not want to be in their shoes, though. Certainly, I have during teen years cried my eyes out over a guy that impregnate an older woman while he was planning a life with me. He is a drifter now from pillow to post from sisters, new girlfriends, and back to old girlfriends. I am so blessed he did what he had done to me. Furthermore, I felt like a victim, but I eventually found my husband a little bit later. In this, I learned a lesson that relationships are not promised and one must shield their feeliings and guard the heart until absolutely sure of involving themselves with newcomers. We can be our worst enemy by feeling a victim all the time, which is good reason some people may end up in love triangles that result in death over heartbreak and disappointment; unhappiness, anger.

  22. Shafiq Abdur Rahman Says:

    Sounds autobiographical to me. Nevertheless, perhpaps you need to allow Danielle to find her own balance without having an opinion as to how it should transpire, she, no doubt, has legitimate reasons to be angry…betrayal comes to mind as one.

  23. VelB Says:

    This is a very good lesson for many who are out there experiencing these situations without acknowledging what is possible to happen when sharing the same man. Many of women as Danielle and the other woman end up with Aids, including the children. Great blog F. Love. It seems you have received a comment from a no it all web crawler that cannot participate in a blog without going off the topic.

  24. sherry Says:

    i think it depends on how betrayed both of them felt , if they are playing blame game, and still hurting emotionally, sometimes it is hard not to hurt when it is right in front of your face, even some people dont even want to know who the other woman or man was or is, i just think it depends on the person, and how damaging the pass relationship was, and if they both dont love him anymore, but still we all are naturally emotionally impacted with things for what ever amount of time it take us to get over , but we may still love them, thats the hard part.

  25. David L. Gray Says:

    Here’s my response to your article. You inspired me 🙂

    Some weeks ago I came across an article written by a fraternity brother entitled, The Other Woman, Your New Best Friend: Infidelity may lead to better results than you ever thought imaginable. Initially I was puzzled as to why a grown man who belongs to a fraternity that extols the virtues of Christian manhood would post such an article on a public forum. Then my confusion subsided when I remember that my views on what constituted a healthy relationship were not much different than his not more than a decade ago.

    Like so many men, I too found it nearly impossible to be faithful to one woman. As much as I knew, intellectually and out of a basic sense of reciprocity, that I should be faithful – I simply found the practice impossible. I would try my best, and for a year or for months at a time I would be successful, but eventually I would fall back into the sins of fornication and adultery.

    “But seek first the kingdom (of God) and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides” (Matthew 6:33).

    I have found it to be absolutely true, that if we as men are failing loving God with our entire mind, our entire body, our entire soul, and our entire strength then it is going to be impossible to love our woman our total self as well. Or if we are being disloyal to God by worshiping things of this world, then we aren’t going to be able to loyal to our woman with complete loyalty either. Or if we cannot find the time to spend with God in prayer then how do we expect to find time to spend with our woman and family? There is an order to being successful in all things, and it begins by putting our relationship with God first. “I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

    I am not saying that those of us who are in a healthy relationship with God won’t fall into temptation. No, but what I am saying is that it is impossible to get the second thing right if the first thing is all jacked up. We cannot love our spouse right if we are loving God wrong, more than we can boil eggs in cold water. First things first.

    The Triune God of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is the cosmic pinnacle of monogamous relationship. The Father being pure Holy Love desires nothing but to share all of Himself all of the time. It was this divine magnanimity that brought forth God from God, Light from Light, True God from True God, in the distinct person of Jesus the Messiah, who is one in being with the Father. He being everything like His Father also desires to give all of Himself away, and out of His divine magnanimity all things were made. When God breathes it is creative Spirit, and it is this same breath that the Father exhales that the Son inhales and breathes out again. Because the Father and the Son give all of themselves away at all times, the breath they breathe is a person just like them and equal in Holiness and Love. We call that breath of God the Holy Spirit.

    “He said in reply, “Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'” (Matthew 19:4-5). Indeed the mutual self-giving of the Triune God is reflected in marriage, as one man and one woman give all of themselves to each other – holding nothing back. As God became more to love, man and wife become one to love. In other words, God, who is one, condescends to the many so that the many will become one God, and, in contrast, we who are many, ascend to God so that we will become one with Him. For this reason we know that polygamy is not of God; for, man cannot become one with more than one woman at a time – he cannot give all of himself to more than one woman at a time, no more than a woman can become one with or give all of herself (mentally or physically) away to more than one man at a time.

    Through the grace present within the Sacrament of Marriage man and woman are constantly being reconciled to each other while they are simultaneously being reconciled to God. That is, while the grace of God is making them one with each other it is simultaneously making them one their Creator. The Sacraments of Baptism and Matrimony are the only Sacraments through which God makes a new creation – a new thing out of an old thing.

    There are so many ways in which God prepares us to enter into a healthy relationship with our spouse that I don’t have the space to list them all here, so I would like to bulk all of them into these three categories: (1) Vulnerable, (2) Discipleship, and (3) Vesselhood.

    Vulnerability is an essential grace and disposition in all relationships. It allows us to be open to the possibility of love; to being loving and giving love. Vulnerability also opens us up to the possibility of being hurt. We all have baggage and pain from various experiences and that stuff hinders the health of relationships with others when we bring that old garbage into it. Vulnerability is the grace that allows us to walk away from the past so that we will be open to the future.

    Love desires the best for other at all times, and what healthy relationship with God teaches us is that, being vulnerable means that we must trust that our spouse desires the best for us. And we learn that essential truth through prayer to God. That is, I have to trust (be vulnerable to the fact) that God desires the best for me because He loves me. Once we learn that trust is the fuel that powers vulnerability and being open to love, then we can give and receive love to and from God and our spouse as we ought.

    In Discipleship we become one with God and spouse by learning who they are. Discipleship is essentially apprenticeship, and for this reason the Disciples of Christ went to go live with Jesus; not only to learn the craft of the Master, but also to study His ways – how He lived – how He negotiated and governed His day. Just as we become one with Jesus by taking up our cross and following Him to Mt. Calvary, so do we become one with our spouse by learning what their crosses are and helping them carry them – being a Simon of Cyrene to them.

    Vesselhood teaches us that God is the source of all things and that He fills us up with whatever He desires and pours us out on whoever or whatever He so pleases for His glory. In the same way we must be vessels of sustenance for our spouse – be a wellspring of whatever they need to get through the day. The most important thing about being a vessel is learning how to be available. Again, if I cannot be available to be used by God, then I am not going to be available for my spouse when she needs me either. First things first.

    I am really just starting to discover the rich beauty of what it means to be committed to one woman, and I hate that I missed out on this for most of my life, especially with the woman who I was civilly married to. But I recommend now it to everyone.

    If you truly desire to see the face of God, then love the one you are with as Christ loved the Church – love that person with every fiber of your being and with every measure of sacrifice. If both of you do that, what you will discover is the same thing that God has known from the very beginning – that giving all of yourself away does not cost a thing.

  26. Kevin Clark Says:

    Very deep and profound. The time that is spent with dwelling on pain and hurt “pity party” could be spent in healing and progressing.

  27. J. Kevin M. Says:

    Interesting analysis. Keep up the good work team.

  28. Linwood S. Says:

    Good article but not everyone could follow those steps of forgiveness and maturity. I recently had two friends who went through a divorce and in both instances the man cheated with woman of another race and the wives still after a year plus since the divorce can not let go of that fact. Good article but I believe it would take a very secure and self aware woman to take your approach. Keep sparking conversation with your writing.

  29. Bryant S. Says:

    This is a very interesting concept. Thanks for sharing, I think it has greater implications just in getting us all to think about forgiveness in a new light. You put this out at the right time for me, I have been working on forgiving some folks and this helps.

  30. The Beauty of Monogamous Relationship – call it Divine Says:

    […] comments Some weeks ago I came across an entitled, The Other Woman, Your New Best Friend: Infidelity may lead to better results than you ever thought i… that was posted by a fraternity brother on the Linked-In Network. Initially I was puzzled as to why […]

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