The Mistresses’ Affair Rules

12 Affair Rules for the Other Woman

Pursuit of Happiness

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness

Our societal structure supports our right to create the life we want for ourselves, and to work towards our dreams and desires - in fact, we are positively encouraged to pursue our happiness. Unfortunately, our single-minded pursuit of our own satisfaction often comes at a price - we sometimes make choices that hurt others. In our free society we are privileged to be able to behave improperly if we choose.

In getting involved with a married man, you know exactly what you are getting into. After all, you’re researching rules on how to be the other woman - you absolutely know what you are getting into but have decided to do it anyway.

Without diving into the obvious contradictions here, if you’re going to be the other woman at least try to do it with a degree of honesty, consideration, and integrity and follow some simple affair rules.

1. Don’t Do It

I know, rule number 1 is don’t do it?? Assuming you’re of the mind that this is your life and you’re going to live it how you choose regardless of how your choices impact others, then telling you not to do it will fall on your very deaf ears.

The ethical thing would be to sever contact with him until such time that he honorably ends his marriage to pursue a relationship with you. Instead, you’ve deemed that any harm caused by your involvement with a married man is an acceptable price for you getting what you want.

I won’t needlessly flog the dead horse, but it had to be said anyway.

2. Don’t Believe He’s Faithful to You

That might be a little ironic to point out in this situation, but it is what it is.

  1. While in our experience it’s not common for cheaters to have multiple, concurrent affairs (though it does happen), we observe that men always continue to have/try to have sex with their wives throughout their affair(s).
  2. If you happen to be in the unfortunate position of having a serial cheater on your hands (and it’s very common for a cheater to be a serial cheater) be clear that he will cheat on any woman with whom he’s involved, despite any love declarations.

Cheaters can be highly unoriginal and in our experience affairs are often shady facsimiles of their previous dating relationships. Trust that he’s used the same lines before, even if they were on his wife. Please take his promises, assurances, and declarations with a whole sack of rock salt.

3. Make a Condom Mandatory

How Infidelity Is DiscoveredEthics aside, the intelligent and safe way forward in an affair requires some minimal precautions: Get tested and use condoms.

Unfortunately, you both bring your own sexual history to the table and then he goes home and shares yours with his wife. (And refer to 2 - despite his declarations, you might not be his first or only affair.)

In all of this, none of you deserve to contract an STI. But you have an advantage over his wife because you at least understand that there is a third person in the mix - she doesn’t.

You might not give two hoots about her but do the ethical thing, in this at least, and use a condom. Not all STIs are curable.

4. Stay Away From Their Kids

Don’t weaponize kids or use them to try to curry favor or as convenient cover. Using their children as a way to facilitate their father’s affair -even if it’s at his instigation- raises red flags about who you truly are. Woman up here - they’re kids - gently refuse to get involved with them until after he’s divorced.

There is, if you like, an etiquette of the illicit which is vital to protect the innocent in these situations — his partner, his children.
Carol Sarler: I was a mistress three times

Don’t screw their children up by giving them an obvious memory of their father being unfaithful to their mother with you. It will cause a negative dynamic with them if you become part of their lives legitimately, as their father’s girlfriend or new wife.

5. Don’t Tell His Wife

In fact, don’t contact her at all, everThere’s no legitimate reason to contact his wife unless it’s your spiteful, deliberate, and malicious intent to gloat or cause an uproar.

Many mistresses exact revenge not upon the miscreant himself, but upon his family.

Carol Sarler: I was a mistress three times

There is nothing you can say that will help her, mitigate what her husband is doing, or make her think better of you (or him). She will see through any faux concern or solidarity (especially if he has dumped you).

She does have a right to know about her husband’s affair but she will recognize your own self-interest in you choosing to disclose the affair to her and that makes you the last person in the world who should presume to inform her.

6. Observe a No Go Zone

No Go ZoneOh the thrill of having sex in their bed? Err … no. It’s seedy, it’s ugly, and it’s malicious. It’s the equivalent of a dog pissing on the carpet to mark its territory. Get a room. Seriously. Stay away from their home.

Whilst an affair is the opposite of respecting boundaries, at least respect property boundaries. Don’t spy, don’t stalk, don’t sit at the end of the drive craning your neck for a glimpse of him/them. This is her home, her life, her family, and her belongings with her husband. You are not invited or entitled to observe or experience their or her life.

7. Stop Justifying

You might postulate how monogamy is unnatural, how it’s an unrealistic artificial societal construct, and how you’re a free spirit and how you intend to carpe diem the hell out of life.

You might wax lyrical about soulmates, karma, free choice, and how a higher power wouldn’t have thrust you together (excuse the imagery) unless your love was for realsies.

You might indulge in invective about his wife’s inadequacies, imperfections, and unworthiness, contrasting those to your own stellar qualities, but please understand that you didn’t win in a competition with her - he’s involved with you because you are the kind of person who will participate in an affair.

You might genuinely consider any animus or vindictiveness you feel towards his wife as uncharacteristic and believe you are a good person. Does it follow that you’re a good person if you continue to cause harm while knowing that it is harmful?

Stop dressing it up: You are knowingly and deliberately complicit in harming another person because you consider it an acceptable price for your own satisfaction. 

8. Pay Your Own Way

Cheaters are very concerned with how they are perceived and he probably delights in your thanking him for expressing his ‘feelings’ for you by spending money on lingerie and jewelry. However, we often encounter wives who are struggling to feed their kids (and that’s not hyperbole) because their husband spent the grocery money on a fancy dinner to impress his other woman.

You’re not impressed with dinner - we both know that because buying dinner is an unremarkable and easy thing to do - after all, you’ve been buying your own food for years! Don’t be part of that hideous version of prostitution where you expect to be showered with treats or gifts as the upside to the inconvenience of not being his wife.

You knew what you were getting into - if you expect gifts as compensation for the inconvenience of your choices, why not just put a tariff sheet above your bed?

9. Don’t Insinuate Yourself Into Her Life/Home

Don’t buy him a dog, or give him a pet rock. Don’t buy him clothes or cologne. Don’t plant little mementos of you (love notes, lipstick marks, scratches, panties) on him. Don’t attend venues he’s attended with his wife and family, or try to hang out with his friends. Don’t send birthday gifts to his kids’ birthday parties.

First, you have no rights. Your feelings and your needs are at the bottom of the heap: below his wife’s, his children’s and their hamster’s. So no, you may not phone his home — ‘just to hear his voice’ — and slam it down if his wife answers.

Neither can you ask to hear from him during weekends, holidays or at Christmas, regardless of your loneliness or sudden illnesses. You are on your own. You will not send saucy emails or photographs that his wife could stumble upon on their home computer — even if he asks you to.

Carl Sarler: I was a mistress three times

Observe a clear demarcation between his affair (you) and his life (his family and home).

10. Don’t Indulge Your Affair Via Facebook

facebook_logoDon’t use social media to post pictures of the two of you together. Don’t post status updates about illicit love or passionate longing. Don’t post details of your hook up arrangements. It’s tacky, it’s unnecessary, and it’s smug. It’s also very unattractive to a married man trying keeping you on the down-low. If you feel the urge to try to get your relationship out from under the rock, refer to 5, 6 and 9.

It’s absurd to treat his affair with you like a normal relationship: If you want to do all those usual relationship social media things, hook up with someone single.

11. Don’t Get Pregnant

I know, you’d NEVER trap him like that and you’re insulted that anyone could suggest it. In our experience it’s abhorrently common for the other woman to try to trap the married man with a pregnancy. You might believe that you’re different but emotions can run high in affair land - and we’ve already established that you are prepared to throw your ethics out of the window if it means you getting what you want (refer to 1), so let’s not pretend here.

Oh, and refer to 3. Again.

12. Prepare Your Break-Up Song

I know - your love is different: It’s special; he’s different; he’s not a tawdry cheater; you’re not the stereotypical other woman; it wasn’t planned, it just happened. Refer to 7.

Unfortunately, if you have dreams of marrying him and living happily ever after, the odds aren’t in your favor. Understand that most affairs end - not all, but most. When you’re dreaming of becoming Mrs Cheating Married Man remember that his second marriage has a 67% chance of failing just because it’s his second marriage, affair aside. If you then factor in affair statistics, only 25% of the few affairs that become marriages actually last - added to the already dismal second marriage figures, it’s a rather sorry picture.

So, if you’re holding out hope that your affair-to-marriage will beat the odds, buckle up buttercup because only an approximate 0.13% of the population fits that demographic.

“A man who marries his mistress leaves a vacancy in that position.”

~ Oscar Wilde

Sobered by that incredibly tiny likelihood that your relationship with him will last, I’ve taken the liberty of suggesting a breakup song for you:

While you’re wailing in anguish about how he wre-e-ecked you, refer to 1: You deemed that any harm caused by your involvement with a married man was an acceptable price for you getting what you wanted.

Affair rules for the other womanYou named the price - you can’t legitimately cry and complain that you ended up paying it too.

Carpe that.



“I'm not a teacher, only a fellow traveler of whom you asked the way. I pointed ahead - ahead of myself as well as you.” ~ George Bernard Shaw


  1. Dear Carol,

    I have been out of an affair for almost 10 months. It was a very intense emotional and physical affair lasting almost 3 years. We were meeting each others needs on multiple levels, needs that were lacking in our primary relatiionships. He did love his wife, but not in love with her. His wife was not physically intimate (said her body didn’t work right???) but told me all was fine when they were first married. He didn’t find her physcially attractive as well. He said she would not go to therapy to address her initimacy issues. He felt like they were roomates and there just raise there son. So he sought love and affection elsewhere…………. and we found each other.

    We spoke to each other everyday, meeting a several times a week and traveled together a few times. We enjoyed making passionate love to each other, quiet conversations, romantic dinners. We exchanged wonderful good morning and good night texts daily. I tried to always be there for him, to listen, laugh and love with him. He said he had never loved anyone like he loved me. I knew my feelings for him were genuine.

    Over the years, he regularly stated that once his son was off to college we would be together. He called me his partner, the love of his life, the one he wanted to spend the rest of his days with. I felt I was tool to keep there marriage together and I resented it. She didn’t have to work on her intimacy issus and keep enjoying her lifestyle. He felt justified in his infidilety, I did not. However I accept my responsibily that I continued to let my emotional needs be met in an unhealty way.

    I chose to ignore some very major red flags in our relationship until one day a flag was so gigantic, I could not ignore it. After a nice weekend and some miscommunication, I felt very disrepected. I chose to say quiet for about a day while I could think through my feelings. Very shortly after that I texted him “better to say nothing than say something in anger” (he used this line on me when he pulled one of his silent treatments). Prior to sending my text he didn’t even bother to check if I was dead or alive but instead spent that time on an affair website. He tried to deny this but I had evidence to the contrary that he was actually looking.

    I came to realize that the man I gave my heart, mind, body and soul to was in it for his own gain and intersests. It was easier for him to discard me than face any kind of criticism. Even after all that he said to me, telling me DAILY FOR ALMOST 3 YEARS that I was the love of his life, the one he wanted to be with for the long term, it was just an illusion. I truly loved this man like I had loved no other. He was a fraud and I was replaceable.

    This is where rules have to be abided.

    Out of complete emotional shock of seeing how easily he could write me off, I sent just ONE anynonmous email to his wife with his profile pictures from the website. I sent NOTHING about our affair nor about the different affair he had for 2 years before me, a total of 5 years he had been cheating on his wife.

    I feel HORRIBLE for sending her that email. He said that I put his marriage in jeopardy and his relationship with his son at risk. I was dumbfounded by those words. Marriage in jeopardy???? I didn’t understand this, especially after everything he said to me. I realized that he was faking a future with me and saying something different to his wife. Lies of omission stance. He said I hurt her with that email. What???? Hmmmmm, engaging in affairs didn’t hurt your wife???? I also asked him how hurt would his wife be if after 20 years of marriage he decided to divorce. He wouldn’t respond. You just wasted valuable years of her life. The sad part is I caught him with another woman 6 months after me. Seeing him with another woman confirmed that he is a serial cheater. Other than the one email, I have not sent his wife ANYTHING. He said I ruined us with that one email, all I could think is he must not have thought much of relationship if he could easily discard me.

    I was a shell of person after everything. Anger, shock, resentment, self loathing, guilt (more guilt thinking I had hurt his wife) started to take their toll on me. My husband could see I was physcially deteriorating (down to 85 lbs), depression set in. He knew something was VERY wrong and finally asked me what was going on. I was so scared tell my husband, but I did. He put his arms around me and said “you are my wife, I love you and we will get through this together”. It was as if heavy weight had been lifted and I could finally start to heal. Counseling and a lot of self discovery have been beneficial. I have come to suspect that my affair partner was a narcissist and definitely know he is a serial cheater. No amount of love can change this type of person.

    There is not a day that goes by that he isn’t in my thoughts or I wake up dreaming about him. I still have days where I grieve the loss of my relationship with my affair partner. I miss him dearly (or I should write I miss who I thought he was) and there will always be a place in my heart for him. Even though he lives close, in order to heal I take an active role in no contact. I will always love him on some level but know I can never see my lover again.

    Living a lie is no way to live. I take each day as it comes, some days better than others. My husband has been a tremendous support. We had to really face our own issues to help in mending our marriage. It is getting better and I am hopeful.

    • I am encouraged that you are no longer in the affair, and that you have confessed it to your husband. I understand that you feel loss and grief, but your husband is the one who deserves your focus and attention, not your or your ex affair partner. You’ve written very little about your HUSBAND’S pain and upset here, and that saddens me. As you said about your ex affair partner’s wife, “Hmmmmm, engaging in affairs didn’t hurt your wife????” - well, your affair hurt your husband too.

      A spouse who is supportive and prepared to try and work through this with you, deserves your concern to be about him, not yourself and your ex affair partner. Even if he seems to be coping and strong, finding out that his wife had a long term physical and emotional affair must have been devastating. You indulged your own desires for years regardless of him - he deserves now to have you put him first.

      That you’re still dreaming of your ex affair partner after 10 months is a problem. I’d ask you to take a long hard look at your situation, and ask if you are fully committed to your husband or if he’s just a safe, default position, in lieu of your ex affair partner?

      The affair rules in this article that you seem to agree with, are not founded in any form of ethical thinking. The better affair rule has to be this: If you agreed to a monogamous relationship and change your mind, exit the relationship and find one aligned with your position on non-monogamy.

      If you don’t, and simply engage in deceitful and manipulative behaviors to indulge your own selfish desires, what you’re saying is, “I am prepared to dupe my spouse in order that I may maintain my lifestyle uninterrupted, while all the time dreaming of my life with someone else.” I believe your husband deserves better.

      The affair is over - and yet you’re clinging onto it as if it is the relationship you really dream of for yourself. If that’s the case, it’s time for an ethical reality check - time to woman up and release your husband from a sham of a marriage, and move on.

      Your husband deserves more than to be in a relationship with you when you are still mooning over your fantasy relationship with someone else. As you said yourself, “living a lie is no way to live”.

      I wish you and your husband well, and hope that you can see from your story here that even now, you are still mired in affair thinking - and that you are open and honest about that with your husband.

      ~ Wayfarer

  2. I am having an affair with a man who has been estranged from his wife and son for nearly 4 years, but they are still together. She lives in another country, but is coming to join him in a matter of months. We have been together for nearly two years. I love him intensely, but he indulges himself with other women too. I think I am the main one - we share a lot together and and see each other nearly every day. I know he has other women because I’ve seen so much evidence. He continues to vehemently deny it, even when I found women’s things in his bedroom and in his bed. I will never know the full truth, and I am so angry that he refuses to be honest with me. I see it as a sign of disrespect and that he is protecting his other relationships so they can continue. I wasn’t thinking when I fell into this relationship. I was led by intense emotions. I would never cause trouble for his wife and son, because they don’t deserve that. He actually belongs to them, not me, as much as I would like it to be otherwise. Though I am not out of this relationship; I am deeply attached to him and on top of that, obsessed by finding the truth about his other women. I feel that if he was open about his polyamorous/promiscuous lifestyle, I could at least make informed decisions about where I stand in regard to that. It would be a mark of respect for me and and my intelligence. Unfortunately I feel it’s deeply seated sexism on his part to be like this. I want a normal life and a good partner who I can introduce to my family and friends. I’m not usually one to write in something like this, but I’m feeling desperate. My questionis: is it possible to maintain contact and friendship with someone in this situation, without being lovers????? I really would like that, but I don’t know how to let go. I am terrified that he will just drop me like a hot potato when his family arrive, and not look back, leaving me devastated. How can I detach? Do you have any pearls of wisdom for me? Kind regards and thanks for your honesty.

  3. There is so much to this story and what you’ve asked, that I recommend you register with our discussion forum and seek assistance from the community there.

    You haven’t said whether his wife is aware of you or the other women, or if she has agreed to an open marriage, but I will say a few things assuming that she does not know of her husband’s ongoing serial cheating, and that she hasn’t entered an open marriage.

    If you see his cheating on you as a sign of disrespect, and that you believe that you deserve honesty about his choices so that you can make an informed decision for your life, then his wife deserves the same thing. Your continued relationship with a cheater makes you knowingly complicit with, and actively engaging in, willfully causing injury to another person and a family. No, it is not all down to you, but you are not innocent of it at all either. You are showing her the same disrespect and insult that you complain is being inflicted on you, and you don’t get to have it both ways. You say you would never cause trouble for his wife and son - I put it to you that in fact, you would, you are and you have. You’re dressing it up very nicely for yourself though.

    A man who has been ‘estranged’ from his wife but is still together, isn’t an estranged husband. It may be imperfect, bumpy, with periods of separation, but they are in a marriage, a relationship (and unless it’s an agreed open marriage), and you are not part of it. If this man wants you sufficiently, he would exit his primary relationship, end it, make appropriate and honorable arrangements for his wife and child’s future, and then come knocking on your door. If you want to be anything more than second best or a convenient fuck-buddy without commitment, you owe it to yourself to remove yourself from this mess with dignity, and give him the opportunity to make his choices without pressure from you.

    I personally wouldn’t characterize his cheating as sexism. It sounds more about entitlement and opportunity. You are facilitating the same behavior that you claim you don’t want. There would be no cheaters if there weren’t willing affair partners. You might like to read this post, about the lies that mistresses tell themselves:

    My guess is that this serial cheater (and serial liar) has no intention of leaving his wife or family. My guess is that he won’t end the affair with you either - it’s all win for him, so what possible motivation does he have to lose an easy avenue for his self-indulgence?

    I also see nothing at all to recommend him as a person. Someone of his character isn’t someone to be proud to introduce to your family.

    To your question of is it possible? Well, anything’s possible. Is it likely? Not a chance! It’s time to choose. Forever second best, the tawdry secret with the married cheater for a ‘boyfriend’, or to decide that you deserve better.

    You detach by choice. You detach because you get to decide what kind of person you are, who you want to be, and what basic values you expect in a partner. That you have described him here as a lying, cheating, sexist, demeaning prick should tell you all you need to know.

    You detach by taking of those rose-colored glasses that show you the fantasy of the white dress, the devoted husband, and the picket fence, and look upon the reality you are living. It’s more akin to an ugly troll in rags, living in a swamp with a slew of similar swamp creatures, wallowing around in their own stinkhole and calling it a palace. (And no, I am not calling you an ugly troll hehe - it’s just an anology.)

    Detachment starts in self-respect and ends in self-worth. If you ever need a reality check, re-read your own comment here, and don’t forget that a relationship born in deceit, ends in deceit.

    I wish you luck and strength to do the right thing for yourself.

    ~ Wayfarer

  4. Wow no one got hurt? You are living in absolute deception. You have stolen something very precious from the wives of the men you were sleeping with you are forever responsible for that. What a callous and decieved person you are.

  5. Hi Karen

    I think entitlement and self-deception are as common in affair partners as they are in cheaters. All this ‘no one got hurt’ nonsense forms part of the justifying narrative they create for themselves in order to engage in the affair. It’s a way of dealing with the dissonance that arises from trying to keep their self-view intact (‘I am a good person’, ‘I wouldn’t hurt anyone else for my own ends’ etc.) while being the other person.

    Telling themselves that no one got hurt is an exercise in personal flimflam that enables them to do what they want to do without acknowledging the very real damage they could be causing someone else. If they don’t acknowledge the damage, they don’t have to be personally accountable for it. And if they’re not personally accountable for it, then they relieve themselves of the truth that their deliberate and cognitive choices have a direct and negative impact on someone else.

    You might also like to read this article ( ) that further explores the lies that mistresses tell themselves in order to engage in an affair with a married man.

    I don’t necessarily share your view that the other person steals something from the faithful spouse. I think it’s more accurate to say that the cheater GAVE AWAY something that was precious to the faithful spouse. Again, you might like to read this article which explores the idea that infidelity is some form of ‘theft':

    However, the other person who knowingly participates in an affair DOES contribute to hurting someone else. They are accountable for that, fair and square, regardless of whether they wish to own it or not.

    I at least agree with Carol Sarler that the mistress is less important than the family hamster though. :)

    Best wishes and thank you for commenting.

    ~ Wayfarer

  6. Dear Wise Woman,
    I have been unfortunately been in multiple affairs, 2 married men and 1 with a girlfriend. I find myself in a strictly sexual affair with a married man whom works with my boyfriend. We would meet up once a week to have sex and would not text or talk until it was time to meet again. I finally decided that I can’t do this anymore, I’m young and I love my boyfriend and I want to put him first and not seek attention of other men. I deleted the app we would text on and I don’t want to ever speek to him again. Like I just want to go cold turkey. I know he would never speak to my boyfriend about it bc he expressed many times that he did not want to leave his wife which was totally okay with me considering I don’t want to leave my boyfriend. I know my boyfriend deserves better, but I actually do love him and I know I did this bc I wanted to fulfill my fantasy of having sex with this guy. Would I put myself and my relationship with my boyfriend by just going no contact with this married man and never talking to him again? What makes this worse is we all go to the same gym every single morning so I have to see this MM everyday. Going to another gym is not an option. I am fine ignoring him at the gym. I’m in a sticky situation. Please help.

    Silly Girl

    • Hi SillyGirl

      I confess I am confused about what part of your situation you consider ‘sticky’.

      What I do see is that you’re content to make choices that satisfy your own desires while also intending to preserve your primary relationship with your boyfriend by deception. You clearly consider the risks this brings to his sexual health and emotional well-being as acceptable.

      You are evidently willing to manipulate your boyfriend into staying with you by you withholding information that might inform his decision to leave you.

      Your post doesn’t really suggest that you see yourself in any ethical or moral dilemma. You’ve deemed that any harm caused by your involvement with a married man is an acceptable price for you getting what you want

      None of what you’re doing can be brushed away as flighty silliness. It’s calculated, deliberate, and harmful to others, and it’s most definitely not ‘love’.

      What help is it that you’re actually seeking?

      ~ Wayfarer

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