“He’s nothing but a constant reminder of all the mistakes I made.”

Ask any heartbroken partner from a relationship split apart due to infidelity: affairs can be bad news. That being said, they’re also complicated, yet often blamed on the evil “home-wrecking” woman, who surely must be out to steal someone’s man and cause as much damage as possible.

While indeed some women who sleep with married men end up catching feelings and wanting to have a “normal” relationship, it’s not always done with cruel intentions. “The forbidden and the taboo is one of the biggest turn-ons for people. They’re not trying to steal him, or take him, but it’s appealing that he is unavailable,” says Dr. Michael Aaron, a kink-friendly therapist and author of Modern Sexuality.

“She’s thinking that being with this guy is ideal because he’s not going to want more from her because he’s already is married.”

For other women, while they may feel uncomfortable about the man’s marriage, their own intimacy issues draw them to someone unavailable. “You may have an individual who wants deeper intimacy, but for whatever attachment reasons, they may be afraid,” explains Aaron. From enjoying no-strings-attached sex to simply falling for a friend and coworker, three women shared with Cosmopolitan.com why they slept with married men, and what it taught them about themselves.

Paula*, 28, Philadelphia

“I’m a former marketing communications manager turned performer and entertainer. I met ‘Mr. Married’ about a year and a half ago when my friend asked me to play keyboard in his new band, and the man was the bassist.

I was drawn to him because he was super funny, cool, stylish, sweet, generous, kind, caring, creative, and artistic, not to mention quirky and adventurous. There was obviously chemistry, but I was a little uncomfortable at first about him being married, which continued into our relationship.

He assured me that his wife was cool with it and that they had a ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ relationship. I suggested we tell her multiple times, but he wouldn’t have the courage. Finally, I gave up and believed him when he said she would be okay with it.

When we spent time together, it was mostly in parks outside of the city, or in our practice studio that we shared and played music in for a few months. It was nice that there wasn’t that pressure of being in a fully committed relationship, and that allowed us to let loose sexually. At the same time keeping it under wraps made me feel awful, like he was ashamed of me, or us.

I trusted him when he said that their relationship was ‘monogamish’ so I never felt like I was a home-wrecker per se, but I did carry around guilt about the decision he made to keep it hidden from his wife.

When he eventually told her, it turned out she wasn’t okay with it. The relationship ended awfully. He has told me not to message or contact him again, and I haven’t seen him since. It’s been almost a year now. I still carry a lot of guilt about it all, although I’m currently in a committed monogamous relationship with a man who is not married and am super happy.

Regarding the ‘home-wrecker’ stereotype, I don’t find it accurate. Situations are a lot more nuanced than they appear to be. Sure, some people in the world don’t have the best intentions, but I do believe they are few and far between.

I think these women, myself included, truly believe that they can make this work without anyone getting hurt and they truly do care not only for the husband but also his family. It’s very rarely ill-intentioned.”

PART 2 PART 3

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