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Don’t hate ‘the other woman’

LONELY: mistresses often wait in vain for their married lovers to leave their wives

THERE HAVE been a number of women in the public eye who have perpetrated the ultimate crime against their fellow sisters: slept with or ‘taken away’ a man already in a relationship.

Soul songstress Alicia Keys hit the headlines for exactly that reason, after it became known that she had embarked on a relationship with producer Swizz Beatz – who, at the time, was still married to R’n’B singer Mashonda. The Fallin’ hitmaker stood firm in her relationship with Swizz – despite a wave of criticism from many who dubbed her a homewrecker – and eventually, she legally bagged her coveted fella, marrying him and starting a family with him.

Former American Idol winner Fantasia Barrino was also embroiled in a similar saga, embarking on a relationship with a man, Antwaun Cook, who was already married. During Cook’s divorce proceedings – which are still ongoing – Barrino was even named by Cook’s wife Paula as the alleged cause of her marriage breakdown.

So messy was this drama that in 2010, after being hospitalised due to overdosing on aspirin, Barrino – then a mother-of-one – admitted that her actions were an attempt at suicide. Overwhelmed by the consequences of the whole affair, Barrino admitted that she had attempted to take her own life because she “just wanted out.”

Still, much like Keys, Barrino went on to find joy, after she gave birth to her second child, a baby boy last month. Though she has not publicly named the child’s father, the Grammy award-winning songstress remains romantically linked to Cook, leaving many to assume that he is the father of the child.

But alas, the apparent fairytale ending hit a snag just last week when rumours emerged that Cook had been caught cheating on Barrino.

Unsurprisingly, many quickly took to the world wide web to insist that Barrino had been a product of the saying ‘what goes around, comes around’.


HIGHLY PUBLICISED: Swizz Beatz began a relationship with Alicia Keys (main image), whilst still married to his then wife Mashonda (inset)

Indeed, it seems to be society’s general consensus that it’s always ‘the other woman’ who is at fault in these scenarios. And all too often, when rumours emerge that a woman has been cheated on by the man she once cheated with, folks – especially women – tend to get all judgmental, insisting that the woman only got what she deserved.

But hold your righteous indignation for a minute. We shouldn’t be vilifying these ladies – we should feel sorry for them.

The life of ‘the other woman’ is not fabulous. Contrary to popular belief, she does not sit at her dressing table, staring into a mirror, wondering how she can steal your man.

There is no Sunset Beach-style soliloquy where she vows to only go for married men because she was hurt in the past and is trying to cause as much chaos as possible. Often, all the stereotypes of the bunny boiling hag or desperate witch are just that – stereotypes.

In reality, the other woman, the mistress, the bit-on-the-side, whatever you want to call her, is like any other woman who is looking for love and companionship. And every woman’s situation is different.
But one thing that remains the same is that they are all lonely. The other woman often doesn’t get the wedding of her dreams or the special holiday. She doesn’t go to the family barbecues and usually spends her most valued days like birthdays and Christmas, alone.

Getting involved with someone who is married is easier than a lot of women let on and what should be remembered is that it takes two to tango.


CONTROVERSY: Fantasia Barrino began a relationship with Antwaun Cook (main image), who is still married to his wife Paula (inset)

I have heard many stories of men who embark on relationships with a woman, and spend hours out of the day with her, promising a devoted and pure love. And for a while, that man is all that he promises and more.
But slowly, as time goes on, things don’t seem right with Casanova. He becomes less attentive than he once was, and stops answering his phone when you call. Eventually, you pluck up the courage to ask what is going on and then, boom, the truth is revealed: Mr Right is Mr Married.

By now, the initially unsuspecting woman is in love and in trouble; an accomplice to adultery without knowing it. What is she to do? Many self righteous and ‘God fearing’ women would say, “Forget that dog, he is not worth it.” And they may be right. But often, it’s not that easy.

By now, there are strong feelings and emotional ties between the woman and her lover. Her feeling of hurt at discovering ‘her man’ is married is weighted equally by the fear of loss.

And if he does most things right and makes her feel like the only woman in the world, can you blame her for wanting to keep that love alive?

As said earlier, I don’t believe that most women who find themselves in the mistress category have made a concerted effort to fall in love with a married man. Love develops over time, and even for the women who know the object of their desires is married, they cannot stop how they feel.

It is really the short straw. Already, the woman knows she cannot expect too much in the way of time, but there is still hope for a future; a hope that the man you love and have put family planning on hold for, will leave his wife as he promises he will, and finally marry you.

I sympathise with people who may have high hopes and dreams, but still put everything on hold because they love someone. There is a thin line between seeming crazy (because you wait for a married man) and being devoted (because you wait for your man). The subject of building a family cannot easily be broached in such a situation and usually the mistress loses out, opting to wait to have children with the man she loves.


ROYAL ROMANCE: In 2005 Prince Charles married Camilla Parker Bowles (main image), who was his mistress whilst he was married to Princess Diana (inset)

The sense of neglect, the feeling of always coming second, the lonely nights and cancelled dinner dates, are a depressing state of affairs and something no one really deserves to go through.

And it is a big risk, because in the end, all of the power is with the man. He can choose to leave his wife and set up a home with the woman he has had in his life for years – or he can break it off with his mistress at any given time. What is worse is that after spending years in a relationship, the mistress has very little right to anything. Whereas, if a man divorces his wife after 10 years, she is entitled to half of her husband’s earnings, along with whatever else a good solicitor can get her.

All a mistress can hope for is a good exchange policy on gifts that she has been given. All the financial support she received from her ‘partner’ (if any) will be null and void. Even after 15 years she has no rights, and no solicitor in the land will be able to get her even the most basic of recognitions, especially with the legal system and super injunctions leaning on the side of the cheating husband.

In an ideal world, there would be one wife for every husband; every marriage would be perfect and all love would be pure. But that is an ideal and then there is reality. Too often the blame and scorn is heaved on the other woman who gives up and goes through a lot because she is in love. It’s simply not fair.

And what about when an affair does prove to be true love? Keys dutifully waited for Swizz to end his marriage to Mashonda and now she is his wife. And what about our very own Royal family? Following the demise of Prince Charles’ marriage to the late Princess Diana, he of course went on to marry Camilla Parker Bowles – who was long rumoured to be Charles’ true love, even before he wed Princess Diana. So isn’t it possible that in some cases, men simply marry the wrong woman?

Mistresses have feelings too and most deserve more understanding than they actually get, because, after all, they are only trying to find love just like the rest of us.

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