The Mistress of Self-Deception

To borrow an expression from Forrest Gump, deception and affairs go together like peas and carrots (or like gin and tonic, if you’re disinclined to waste your calories on anything that looks like a vegetable ).

We tend to post mortem the cheater’s deceptions -we dissect, slice, dice, and examine them under the infidelity community’s equivalent of an electron microscope- but the affair partner is often somewhat of an unknown quantity to many.

The Habits of the Affair Partner

No, I most definitely do NOT mean the wimple and chaplet version of a habit - affair partners are a lot of things, but I haven’t yet encountered one who is a nun …

While there are clearly affair partners of both genders, we continue to note the significant differences in behavior between the other woman and the other man. We frequently encounter the other woman -they want us to listen to their Pine and Whine while seeking validation for their justifications- but the male equivalent is as rare as astatine in our chat room.

There are two main reasons for the other man’s notable absence from our reach:

  1. Those that do venture in aren’t single men who have hooked up with a married woman - they are married men who have hooked up with a married woman (it’s a veritable cheater fest) - and we deal with them as common or garden variety cheaters.
  2. Married women can be seen as convenient, desperate, experienced, and risk-free trophies. The absence of the single OM’s heartsick Pine and Whine is telling: a married woman can be a high excitement/low involvement notch on the bedpost for many single men.

So once again, we find ourselves focusing on the poor misunderstood, ‘I’m really a good person’ other woman. We should, though, continue not to tar Bambi with the same brush:

There are many that would argue that she must ‘know’, that there must have been ‘signs’, but if we don’t levy that against a wife who has been deceived by her husband then it’s unreasonable to expect Bambi to have super-powers of detection.

The Other Woman: The Zoology

The Lies Mistresses Tell Themselves

In her article The “Other Woman”: Lies Mistresses Tell Themselves, Lisa Merlo-Booth explored five lies that the other woman tells herself:

  • I’m his true love.
  • His wife is cold and doesn’t know how to keep him happy.
  • I don’t care if he’s married. I don’t care about his wife - that’s her problem.
  • He is going to leave his family for me.
  • Once he leaves his wife I will have his full attention and it will just be us.

I would add a few other lies they tell themselves, from our own Vault of Affair Codswallop:

  • It’s just sex - nobody will get hurt.
  • I don’t care what people think of me.
  • Everybody cheats.
  • He isn’t having sex with his wife (or trying to).
  • Our relationship is different to those tawdry affairs that other people have.
  • I’m the only one for whom he’d risk everything.
  • All’s fair in love and war.


I’m a modern woman and I don’t give a fuck about anything

When you’re on the painful end of the shitty affair stick it’s obvious that all of these statements are nonsense dressed up as rationalizations. So if you can discern these as big fat hairy lies, why can’t she?

Good people tend not to feel the need to run around blurting, “I’m a good person” and yet it’s a hallmark of the OW - it’s like OW Tourette’s. It’s evident that despite the claims that she doesn’t care what others think of her, she’s actually terribly concerned about how she’s perceived - by herself and others.

When our view of ourselves is threatened by our behavior or things not going the way we want them to, we generally try to resolve the dissonance by:

  1. adapting our self-view (maybe I am not as good a person as I think I am)
  2. rationalizing the situation that is inconsistent with our self view

It is so disagreeable to think ill of ourselves, that we often purposely turn away our view from those circumstances which might render that judgment unfavourable. He is a bold surgeon, they say, whose hand does not tremble when he performs an operation upon his own person; and he is often equally bold who does not hesitate to pull off the mysterious veil of self-delusion which covers from his view the deformities of his own conduct.

Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments

Plan B is clearly the easier path, requiring little effort and zero honest self-reflection. And once you’ve bought the Kool-Aid it’s easier to keep chugging it back than it is to do the uncomfortable work that might result in personal growth.

Integrity and Intelligence

The cheater is firmly responsible and accountable for their affair and the damage it causes to their spouse. But their accountability doesn’t make the other woman’s involvement harmless.

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.

IHG: 12 Affair Rules for the Other Woman

She is knowingly and actively complicit in harming others, and spewing OW Tourette’s doesn’t alter that simple, inalienable fact. It demonstrates an enormous lack of integrity to knowingly participate in harming an innocent party in the selfish pursuit of your own jollies.

It takes some humility and courage to remove the self-deception blinkers that protect your ego and your justifications. It requires a sense of ethics, an honest self-view, and a degree of intelligence to face up to the truth of your choices.

Avoidance of self deception is a matter of integrity not comfort

~ Orrin Woodward

Taking a truly deep dive into your basic motivations requires intelligence and critical thinking - but it doesn’t require super human intelligence. If you have a modicum of intellect and a reasonable understanding of the world it’s entirely within your capacity to give some intelligent thought to the situation you’ve created through your choices.

So why doesn’t the other woman simply remove the veil of self-deception? It’s a question of discomfort - she wants the relationship. She might even feel entitled to it. She prefers the satisfaction of her own wishes and desires over the alternative, whatever the cost. She doesn’t want to BE a good person as measured by her actions - she wants others to believe that she’s a good person, on nothing more than her own declarations that it is so.

Get smart, get integrity and GET OUT.

Lisa Merlo-Booth



“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

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