Becoming ‘The Other Woman’

I have never cheated on a partner, nor do I ever intend to.

Infidelity has been a hot topic on my mind recently especially after watching the BBC drama ‘Doctor Foster’. Do all men cheat? And are some just better at hiding it than others? I don’t believe that. I don’t believe all men cheat but I think a proportionate amount do. As for those who do not, this may simply be due to the lack of opportunity but they have never had their resolve tested and tempted.

One of my good male friends said to me:

“Men are as faithful as their options.”

I did not set out to become the villain in the story; I was always the princess waiting for Prince Charming until I got fed up wading through ponds of frogs.

We met at a gathering of travellers — strangers who danced the night away without having ever conversed. He was German, nearly a foot and a half taller than me (it’s ridiculous really) and doing an internship in London. That was all the facts I gleamed about him. None of us in the group knew anything about each other but we danced and took photos and exchanged numbers promising to all meet again.

It had been a good few months since I’d even entertained the idea of a man. I just stopped being interested; I was having too much fun spending time with friends and colleagues. Attraction is unexplainable. I have met many people whom do not fit my type but I have felt drawn to, however briefly. So, two days later, in a fit of brazenness, I messaged him: Hey, so I thought you were hot. Let’s meet for drinks. :) I don’t think I even found him that hot per se but I was attracted enough to be curious about how he would respond.

He replied: Hi I thought the same about you. But I should probably tell you about my girlfriend back in Germany.

And there we go. He was not available. Yet something made me want to push him a little so I said: And I should probably tell you I’m moving abroad in 2 months. We could still go for drinks. Always good to make new friends. Plus I figure you don’t know many people here.

He said: Good point. Sounds like a plan. When did you plan to go?

And so began the journey into becoming the other woman simply through curiosity. How much can a man be tempted into infidelity?

I was convinced he would back out before our first meeting. We first messaged on a Monday and were to meet on Saturday, giving him plenty of time to rethink otherwise. Saturday came and there he was — waiting for me — punctuality bred into his German veins.

Not one of us spoke about his girlfriend that night. It was the elephant in the room that tried to touch us like the rain that suddenly came down briefly out of nowhere after we left the first bar. We ran from this information like we ran in the rain. We brushed it away.

I never said I was a good person or a bad person. As I have gotten older, grey areas in my life have gotten greyer and the area that has seen the biggest shift is in relationships. I know my morals are questionable right now. I do believe in monogamy but I also think it is natural for people to grow and change and be attracted to other people whilst being in a happily long-term monogamous relationship.

He didn’t physically cross a boundary and cheat that night. When we ended up in a random basement club at 1am, there were moments when our faces were so close there was only a breath separating that fatal choice. I knew he was tempted throughout the night. I saw him watching me when I stood up to go to the toilet and when I came back. I felt his focus on my lips when I applied lip balm. In a moment of a daringness, I swung my legs over his as we sat next to each other — breaking down the physical barriers — and he trailed a hand up and down my leg whilst the other rubbed his thumb higher and higher, stopping only halfway up my upper thigh. We teased and pushed the boundaries but we did not cross it. Others may disagree: he essentially went out on a date with a girl that was explicitly not his girlfriend, flirted with her and touched her inappropriately.

The next day he messaged me: Hey, you probably recognised that I was kind of undecided yesterday that might be because of my girlfriend is going to visit me for this week. I really enjoyed the evening yesterday with you and I would like to repeat it but I need to wait until she left. I hope you can understand me in that point.

She arrived from Germany between Tuesday and Sunday and we shared no contact during this time except for a brief message initiated by me on the Friday. On Sunday — the day she left — I heard from him: Hey there how are you doing? How was partying in Clapham yesterday? Met anyone? If you are spontaneous we could go for a drink today but another day is fine as well :D

And I thought: you little shit. He had barely said goodbye to her and he was already messaging me. I did expect to hear from him after she had gone but later on in the week, not the same day! However that did not stop me. (Yes, you have every right to say, you little shit, to me as well.) We made plans to chill with a bottle of wine the following Saturday night.

London was in the middle of a heatwave and people poured onto the streets of Soho. With each sip of wine we took, the more we loosened up; the alcohol easing the awkwardness. After three hours of general chitchat and long lingering glances, conversation shifted to us: the motivations for why we were both there that night. He opened up to me and was honest about his past. Who was I to judge?

He had cheated before. Last year when he was away at summer school for a week, he met a girl whom he had bonded well with. She had kissed him but he had kept the knowledge of his girlfriend from her. He didn’t sleep with her but they came close. In the end, he said, he learnt a lot from the experience because he hurt people on both sides — his girlfriend and the girl whom he’d cheated with. He’s been with his girlfriend for six years and after what happened last year, they broke up for a few weeks to figure out their relationship. In the end he went back to her because he didn’t want to be without her.

Yet, despite all the mistakes and hurt and lessons learnt, here he was with me… He couldn’t explain why because there was nothing his girlfriend didn’t give him. All I could suggest was he craved newness and excitement. He had been surprised by my initial proposition and curiosity had driven him to me as well as the safety net of me stating that I would be leaving the country in two months.

We talked about the situation. We toyed with the physical boundaries. However neither of us took action. Hours into the night, the sexual tension was simmering like a rippling current. I could see the conflict, the hesitancy and the questioning in his eyes. He asked me several times what I was thinking. Eventually I told him that I was wondering when he would take action because I would not be the first to do so. Because the girl had kissed him first before, in some way he had justified it to himself because she had been the one to made the move. Finally, impatient of waiting and also wanting to test him, I pulled him close to me and with his face inches away, I said to him, “You decide.” And so he kissed me.

Once a cheater, always a cheater, as the saying goes. I expected the kiss to ignite some sort of passion and desire in me but it did not. We kissed several more times that night until the bar closed and the lights went on. It was nice and it was good and I enjoyed it but he didn’t leave me breathless. We went home separately that night. (My friend came to pick me up and drove me home.) Despite some spark missing, I still wanted to sleep with him. And so I continued to tease him.

The next morning I explicitly messaged him: I wanted you to pick me up and kiss me outside in a dark corner and shove your fingers up my dress and touch me until I moaned…

He replied: Hmm should have done that. Wanted to pick you up for goodbye but in front of your friend I thought you might not be comfortable. I did not dare to go under your dress so I held myself back.

And the sexual taunts by text continued between us. It was a game that angered me but I could not stop playing. Are men so easily seduced? They may not intentionally set out to cheat (but I don’t think many people do) but when presented with the option, they are tempted. Whilst they may be conflicted and may not be the initiators of the engagement, if they are pursed by a woman relentlessly then they will eventually cave. Come on, men, grow a pair of balls and hang onto them!

I saw him again a few days later at my local pub on a Wednesday night — the hottest June day for forty years. We were much more at ease this time; the familiarity of one another settling in. I moved to kiss him first and he met me halfway and the fire ignited. Eventually he ended up pushing me back on the sofa seat, sneaking a hand up on my dress whilst I subtly stroked his cock through his jeans. We tried to be discreet but it was a pretty public entanglement. This continued until I called it a night and he walked me home. As I stumbled in my happy excitable tipsy state, he picked me up and kissed me a few times along the way. It was evident where we were heading but I did not invite him in and he politely dropped me at the gate to my flat and left.

It is this moment I enjoy the most when I am with someone new: the kissing frenzy on the brink of sex. We both knew what we wanted and we had alluded to it in pretty clear terms yet it still surprised me when he told me he found a small hotel for us for the weekend. It made the exchange sound seedy and glaringly dishonest. I had said that I refused to take guys home unless they were boyfriends and he said that I would not be able to stay at his because his flatmates knew his girlfriend. So it did not leave us with many options and having a bed was the comfiest and safest. We had flirted with the idea of doing it in his office… And I know I sound terrible here and I know I was morally wrong. Yet there was this need to be selfish and to think of nothing but engaging in experiences for myself because I had spent so many years being unselfish and fearful of myself, of being hurt, of being unable to handle things. I just wanted to desperately live and not always think and plan and not know what the consequences might be.

We spent that night together in a replicable of a seedy American motel that it made me laugh when I saw the room. There in those moments he seemed so much younger and inexperienced than I realised. He was nervous too which I hadn’t expected of this giant macho man. He was a silent, serious and intense lover — so quiet and so intense that it unnerved me. He watched my every move and every expression without breaking eye contact. When we finished, he was considerate and held me close. Our pillow talk was light and honest and engaging. I fell asleep burrowed underneath his arms. We spent the morning lounging in bed until it was time to leave.

Although we messaged in the days after, I did not expect to see him again. My crazy busy schedule with work and packing up my life and saying goodbye to my friends for my move across the world did not leave me any opportunity to. Until one night.

It has been a few weeks since we said goodbye and I will never see or speak to him again. It does not make me feel empty. This was a game and when I got him where I wanted, I disengaged. The challenge of it, the toying, the teasing drew me in and attracted me to him. And when I had succeeded in making him fall, I left.

Yet I see photos of him and photos with his girlfriend and the experience still seems surreal. Was I really with him? Did this happen? I should have stayed away but I did not. I am not proud of this but I do not regret it. It was an exploration of my own inner psyche — pushing the boundaries of my moral codes — by looking into the mirror of the darker side within us all.

I wonder how this will affect my future relationships with men and whether I will always question their fidelity. Maybe this dangerous experiment is damaging to who I am and I will never fully trust who I choose to be with. If given the opportunity, will they stray?