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Why Some Women Sleep with Married Men

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Why does a woman choose to sleep with a married man? The answer may surprise you.

Jaimee Grubbs, Kalika Moquin, Rachel Uchitel

Dr. Michelle Golland: Some women sleep with married men because they most likely have been "mean girls" for a long time. These mean-girl man-stealers do not understand the bond of true sisterhood, and may have trouble with establishing or sustaining authentic female relationships because it is probably hard to find a nice girlfriend who would support their home-wrecking ways.

Such a woman may not have ever gotten enough attention from her father, and craves male attention at all costs. The fact that she can get a married man to stray from his wife may also feed her insecure ego, because she inherently feels in competition with other women. Which, in her twisted logic, means that getting him to stray places her as the winner and the wife as the loser. What she has really done, however, is lose big-time -- she has lost her self-respect.

The mistress probably likes the thrill of the hunt and feels her self-esteem boosted at the thought that a man would risk so much to be with her. She may like the drama and illicit experience too. I predict, however, that the mistress also feels comfortable being the victim, because ultimately, at least most of the time, she gets lied to and cheated on herself in the end. She winds up crying alone because her romantic life has been a secret, or she simply doesn't have any friends to cry to. It becomes a sad cycle of false hope fueled by desperation and desire, while being led on by a married man who himself obviously has a host of his own issues and demons he hasn't faced.

The high of being with a married man also extends the illusion of the "Romantic Love" experience for such a woman. She is pursued, desired passionately, and the possibility of an amazing future seems almost available. "Almost" is the key word, because the married man is lying to her in order to keep the emotional and sexual attention coming (no pun intended). But 90% of the time, the cheating man knows that even the illusion of "Romantic Love" is just that -- an illusion. It is mostly hot sex and emotional attention with no strings.

As the woman willing to be a mistress, you must have been hurt by a man and have real trust issues. By being the one who is cheated with, you have a false belief that you are in control of things, and that at least you are not being "cheated" on. You choose to believe that he doesn't "love" his wife and he really wants to be with you, so it seems safer to you than being in an authentic, honest relationship with a man who is actually available. You unconsciously fear being truly vulnerable with a man, so you collude in the cheating to avoid really being vulnerable and trusting a man.

You mistake him wanting your body sexually for love. It is not and will not ever be the same. He may love how you make him feel, and love that you allow him to not focus on the reality of his life, but remember you are not actually in his reality -- you are a part of an illusion. This illusion of his will most likely fade due to age or interest, and he will either move onto another newer and hotter illusion, or he may man up and deal with the problems in his "real" relationship with his wife.

As a marriage and relationship expert, I am always hoping he will man up, especially when there are children involved. With my female clients who have cheated with married men, I have learned that deep down they actually do want more for themselves, and also desperately believed the illusion they chose to live because they themselves felt so unworthy of an honest, connected, healthy relationship.

next: Get in the Holiday Spirit!
39 comments so far | Post a comment now
Jenny December 6, 2009, 6:11 AM

Beautifully written article! I have a few friends who I love dearly. Both are them are so blind to their man’s cheating ways. Their men lie to them everytime their lips are moving. I can’t bear that their mans lies are so easily believed by each of them. They don’t check up,investigate or even have any clue as to what the red flags they are denying are really saying. I have no respect for any man that doesn’t “man up” to his cheating. It proves that he doesn’t want to stop, he just doesn’t want to be found out.

Joan December 6, 2009, 3:12 PM

I have to say that this entire article is pretty much the truth. However, as a single woman, I have learned that women can be pretty nasty to their “sisters”. Personally, after years of having many, very close friendships then relocating and trying through the normal avenues to meet other females for friendship, I have found few. I’ve heard some of the untrue things that have been said and how (jealousy??) will make people degrade others with no shame. That said, after awhile, you give up and look for just about any way to “cure” the loneliness. Unfortunately, men, married or not, are the first to offer companionship, whether it’s real or not, sometimes, it’s better than nothing. And yes, when friendship becomes so hard to find, self-esteem gets very, very low.

Katie December 6, 2009, 3:19 PM

Good article!

jd December 6, 2009, 9:35 PM

Or maybe she just thinks he’s going to be good in bed & she doesn’t want a commitment. Maybe sometimes it’s just that simple.

misfedupwithlies December 10, 2009, 7:04 PM

Many mens think that it is their god given right to cheat. They really act like that it is ok for them to do this and the wife or girlfriend don’t or better not even say anything about it. It is so hard to put the trust back into the relationship once it is broken. My story is I have been married for over 10 years and now my anniversary is coming up again. My husband cheated on me once he got a promotion at work he lied time and time again I mean really every breathe that he took was a lie. There have been many confrontations between me and him I found his bank statements showing that he spent a large amount of money on her every time he got paid which was every two weeks. He took her to the hotels and any where else he wanted to go. Me and the children have been hurt and neglected by his cheating ways. The children always talk bad about their daddy when he is not around but talk good about him when he is here. They don’t understand why he cheated all they want is for our family to be back together. My son even told me that he wanted to take a bat and beat the crap out of him and her for destroying our family. I know violence do not solve anything but I tried to tell him that this is my problem not theirs. I had to comfort the children on several occassions and they comforted me for the whole time during our seperation. They was hurt by his lies and betrayals more than I thought. He told me that the children do not understand what is going on because of their ages which is under the age of 12 and a little older than 3. But I told him that they do understand what is going on with his betrayal.
He said the reason why he cheated was because I would not give him any and I kepted telling him no. I told him that I was tired. I have been working 2 jobs and trying to raise kids and running every where for him so I was tired so he went to his job and slept with the married woman. She used him for everything what he was worth and wasn’t worth. Her husband and her is sitting back laughing at my stupid husband because they don’t have to spend money or pay bills because my husband is doing it all for them. I have called her husband and we was suppose to be meeting and discuss the rest of the details. Her husband do not care what she do as long as he do not have to spend any of his money on her. All I am trying to do is keep my self together and my family so where is my justice from this cheating fool and players. When will I be able to find me a man that I can trust and love. I am not looking for another father for my children but a partner that will grow old with me.

melissa December 17, 2009, 11:28 AM

I dated a guy for 4 months and found out he was married. He lied to me. Hindsight was 20/20 and there were some signs. However, I did ask why he was single, why we wasn’t married, etc? He always told me he was single. As soon as I found out he was married, I gave him hell and kicked him to the curb.

I learned a lot from this. I don’t think I’m a bad person nor a mistress. I would’ve NEVER EVER touched him if he was married. Married men aren’t my thing.

Not all “other women” are bad people. I’m just as much of a victim of his lies as his wife.

T April 22, 2010, 9:11 AM

I have to disagree with some of this article. I am 45 and divorced for the last eight months. I have two grown children. I’ve been a “mistress” to a 58 year old married, professional man for the last six months. I am also in a professional position. I do not hate other women, I do not hate his wife in any way. I am in full understanding of my position in this relationship. We are confidantes to each other and we even talk of his wife and family. I know he loves her and his family. He also loves me in his own way. He was there for me in the early days of my marital separation and has provided me with very generous financial support. He also has paid for me and my daughter to go to Europe this summer while he’s out the country on a vacation with his wife. To put in succinctly? THE SEX IS AWESOME, there I said it. My marriage was horrendous, my husband had a porn addiction and an erectile issue he refused to get treated. I haven’t had such good regular sex in longer than I care to remember. I am thoroughly enjoying the time I spend with him. He calls me everyday and we meet at least weekly, or more if his wife is out of town. I did not pursue him, he pursued me. I do not feel bad, or guilty or mentally ill. I do not feel like I’m hurting his wife. He has a very high pressure job and has been married to the same woman for well over thirty years. He has provided his wife and family with a very comfortable life style. I was not his first mistress and I’ve known him peripherally for almost 25 years. As far as finding a single man? My options are extremely limited as I live in a small rural area. I need to stay for the timebeing as my daughter is going off to college. He also wants to pay for me to get an advanced degree in my field. I’ll never regret this relationship.

Jim April 25, 2010, 7:13 PM

I am in love with a girl who is currently, shall we say, “Distracted” by an affair of this nature. I must say it is very painful.

This isn’t some sort of puppy love thing with her, but rather a fairly significant spiritual and emotional connection. So long as she is immersed in this affair, however, whatever would she need me for?

Knowing her as I do, I believe that I could probably provide a relationship that is loving and supportive and fulfilling on many levels.

But because she is living in this fantasy, and it is little more than that, aside from the emotional damage it’s going to eventually do to her, I can’t get the time of day.

So you see it’s not just the individuals in question whose lives are affected, it’s those of us on the periphery as well. A cheating male has in effect taken two females out of the available pool of potential mates, and that short changes everyone.

Then of course there’s who whole circle of impact that emanates out from these little affairs that ultimately involves the courts, broken children, theraputic services, insurance for same, etc, etc, etc. Essentially the very social fabric we live in feels the ripple effect.

Perhaps that’s why society at large puts value on things like the sanctity of marriage and keeping ones word. Perhaps some thousands of years of human evolution and lessons learned the hard way speak to this as well.

These people, both parties, play very selfish and childish games and everyone in some way or another feels the pain or bears the burden of it in some way.

The mistresses in many ways I find pitiable. The men I find beneath contempt.

If he can’t keep his word to a woman who trusted him enough to forsake all others, who will he with?

He’s not someone I can trust to have my back in combat (where I have spent many years). A harder bottom line than most people, but there are thousands of us now who see things through that prism. It’s the ultimate acid test.

In that respect, this is not some archaic moral stand.

Regards women who cheat. Same is same.

So, ultimately I say, if you’re married and it’s not all you think it could or should be, then either do something about it or together, like a couple of adults, come to some means of ending the relationship in a way that doesn’t create too large a blast area.

Then you can go out and screw your wait staff…

(which I won’t even go into the whole senior / subordinate aspect of that social dynamic)


me June 2, 2010, 4:50 PM

your article typically vilifies the woman who sleeps with a married man regardless of the circumstances that can lead to that coupling. i expected a more scientifically behaviorally-based and a little more unbiased evaluation of why affairs occur from someone with your scholastic credentials.

during the course of my own marriage, i met a married man. we were both receptive to the idea of getting to know each other better because of circumstances within our individual relationships. affairs dont just “happen”. they are a function of curiosity, condition and receptivity.

in my case, i ended up leaving my husband and my married man left his wife. we are now together, and have been, for a few years now and cant be happier. we just happened to have married the people that werent right for us when compared to what we could be to each other. it happens. and it doesnt mean anyone is a villain or a victim.

cat June 2, 2010, 5:25 PM

This article is full of generalizations that sound like they are coming from someone who hates women who sleep with married men and has no clue why they would do such a thing. Maybe the author has experienced a cheating husband and is letting that experience speak instead of actual research.

Sometimes, marriages fall apart and people get hurt. Sometimes the “wife” is not a good wife and is to partly or even fully to blame for a bad relationship. Sometimes the “mistress” is not evil, and is actually a much better match for the husband. Sometimes the cheating husband is genuinely unhappy with his relationship with his wife and finds someone better. So it goes. I wouldn’t wish a crappy relationship for eternity on anyone. Some marriages just shouldn’t last forever. Maybe more often it is simple explanations like these that are the likeliest scenarios, and less so the tired “mistresses must be horrible people” nonsense.

Woodrow June 2, 2010, 6:22 PM

If your marriage isn’t working, do the decent thing and end it. Don’t have an affair. Don’t stay together ‘for the kids’, because you’re setting an example of dysfunction for them to follow.

If you’re attracted to someone else, and your marriage is ending, do the decent thing and be honest with your spouse. Too many “innocent affairs” have turned into ugly divorces.

Your kids are smarter than you know, and they will figure it out faster than you think. Do you really want to set that example for them?

kellie June 2, 2010, 7:58 PM

why do we have to overthink everything? I slept with a married man once. It had nothing to do with low self-esteem or jealousy. i wanted sex and have found that men (like women) will say they’re ok with that and then end up wanting more. I knew i didn’t have to worry about that with a married man.
I was also young and self-centered and have thankfully outgrown such behavior.

Bleh June 12, 2010, 12:48 PM

I’m sorry, but this is a bad article, and I agree with the few others who have noticed that it is a very biased take on mistresses, delivered in a very subjective manner. As a therapist/scientist, I’m surprised that you have let personal feelings tinge your article.

To make sweeping statements such as mistresses having trust issues, or being attention seekers is plain wrong. There are mistresses and mistress-wannabees. Real, smart mistresses are those who will actually through their actions try their best to keep a man’s marriage together. She is discreet to a fault, emotionally secure and understands her role as a lover and confidante. Often a mistress will be well-looked after by the man in return and when this is the case, she of course won’t rock the boat because that messes up the happy balance she has attained with her male lover. It is not a situation for everyone and to pull it off successfully, you have to be a person who is trustworthy, strong-willed and above all realistic! Not everyone is like this though and this is where the stereotypical loud-mouthed ‘mistress’ who doesn’t get her way and tells all comes from. Don’t let that fool you that all mistresses are like that. Fact is, if she’s doing things right you won’t even know she exists.

What many married women don’t realise is that real mistresses dont want to steal their men AT ALL and most men don’t want to leave their wives either!!! When a man is married for a long time to someone who does/can not fulfil his needs at one point, he may turn to a source of escapism for release. If it’s a mistress, she can offer him that time away to think, vent, relax which can mean he returns to the family home with a burden lifted off his shoulders (often meaning less stress for the wife too). It may be a preferable alternative to a man who just ups and walks out of the family home because he is upset. Think about it.

Mistress June 12, 2010, 3:39 PM

I am a Mistress although when I read the last comment I have realized I am not the best of one. I am trust worthy and wont ever tell and I am discreet. Unfortunately, Yes I really like him. Many times I want him around more and hate myself for what I have done to me. I am faced with the fact he is married every day as I see them together. I wonder to myself what is it with me that I settle for this kind of relationship. Then I remember that its not a relationship at all. On top of that I feel like his world. Only to be slapped in the face when I see them and realize I am nothing. I feel so close yet so far away. It is killing me that I have stooped so low for a false feeling.

Jim June 23, 2010, 7:51 PM

For the record…I think man and mistress are both completely untrustworthy. Man because he’s sneaking around and lying and mistress because she’s betraying a sister and being delusional or a sexual predator.

other girl August 10, 2010, 10:56 AM

this article is very judgmental. Many women who sleep with a married men ARE NOT looking for romance, they are looking for sex with someone who hopefully won’t ever have feelings for them. and yes i was “the other girl”before and I am not insecure AT ALL whatsoever. i just don’t want a relationship, I want sex. And many married/taken guys do not get sex enough, so why not help them out? In fact, I have actually saved a marriage before b/c the man was about to get a divorce b/c of how rarely he had sex. The key is just to not develop feelings for the guy which is hard for many women to do but i can do that very easily.

Mag October 8, 2010, 1:26 PM

Anyone who’s just looking for sex can get it from a single, available man. Good sex is not a justification for victimizing someone else, for lying, cheating and treating your fellow human beings in a way that you would never want to be treated yourself. While some of the people who commented here are willing to rationalize away bad behavior, it doesn’t change the fact that helping someone cheat is wrong. That’s why most people, even when they understand why someone cheated or became the “other woman” don’t respect those who assume these roles. Of course, not all these people deserve condemnation, but they also don’t deserve respect.

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