I Was the Other Woman Once — Does That Mean I’m Destined to Cheat?

M. Brown

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I’ve been the other woman. The mistress.

I’ve participated in having an affair with a married man. I was complicit. I was wrong. I apologized to the wife.

However, I’ve never cheated on anyone I was in a relationship with. Ever. Not even the married man I was having the affair with.

There are those who subscribe to the idea that if you are a person who is willing to engage in illicit behavior such as having an affair with a married person, for example, that you are then deemed untrustworthy as a person forevermore.

Even if you were single when you embarked on the affair. Even if you weren’t the one betraying a partner.

This is understandable.

It’s fair enough to think that a person might be considered dangerous or untrustworthy to a potential partner — especially if they’ve slipped up in the past.

I don’t see myself in that light.

The slip I made was a one-time event during a very dark period in my life. It’s not a pattern of behavior. It was an action that I regret and from which I have learned from.

When I was married the first time around, I didn’t betray my then-husband by cheating or even flirting with the idea of cheating on him, and that relationship was a tumultuously terrible one.

Now, in my second marriage — an absolutely wonderful marriage — do I sometimes wonder about my own character based on my past actions? Do I worry that I might slip up again one day?

Sure I do. I think we all do.

Would I be capable of cheating on my current husband? What if things got really miserable in our relationship? Would I ever stoop to stepping out on him? Does my past behavior mark me for life?

Does my quiet suburban life as a devoted mother and faithful wife belie my deviant tendencies which may be lurking under the surface just waiting to re-emerge?

The short answer I’m going to give you is no.

However, the long answer is more complicated.

Do we ever really know our partners? Are we ever really able to tell if they will betray us down the road? Do we know for sure that WE won’t betray them down the road?

I can tell you that I have absolutely no intention of ever cheating on my partner and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t have those intentions either. It’s about trust — and although we tend to throw that word around quite frivolously sometimes, actual trust in the real world is not as easy as it may sound.

Trust means having the faith in someone to say and do what they said they would.

Having trust in someone doesn’t mean they won’t fail. It just means that you have significant confidence in them that they will do their utmost to remain true to their word and that their actions will follow suit.

You can only gain trust by repeatedly showing up and proving that you’re up for the job of being honest and sincere time after time.

Trust isn’t an automatic failsafe for relationships.

Once you do have trust between two people in a relationship over a long period of time, it can easily be taken for granted. That’s when we need to remind ourselves that trust is not a trivial thing. It is the most important thing for a bond of strong intimacy within a relationship.

Would I ever cheat on my husband? Would I ever betray his trust — the trust we have built over a decade?

The truth is that I can never imagine hurting my husband that much. The truth is that I know what it’s like to be betrayed. The truth is that having made mistakes in my own past, I’m better able to understand just how sacred real trust between two people really is.

To have a partner who trusts you and whom you also trust is truly humbling. It’s a big responsibility. It’s not for everyone. However, I can say, to the best of my ability that it IS for me.

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