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What's The Motivation Behind The 'Other Woman/Man'?

So why do people go for someone who is already ‘taken’ when there are so many single people available?

Well, I’m going to explain some of the most obvious reasons, but basically the motivation for anyone’s behaviour is their value set (the hierarchy of what they love to get from life and do in life).  So the ‘unfaithful’ person will get involved because it appears that the new person matches their values more than the old one, and the ‘other person’ will get involved because it basically works for them.  If you would like to know more about working out your own value set, or that of the people around you, I give a free introductory ebook and audio when people join my email list for my newsletter.

The problem is that society puts such a lot of charge onto affairs, that people look for HUGE reasons why they happen, and often there is no obvious answer or problem to explain it, so it can be confusing (see my other blogs). Also, people are so sure that it is ‘bad’ to be the ‘other woman/man’, that they don’t look deeply into how come often very ‘nice’ people can get themselves into a difficult situation.  Mind you, there are also the less ‘nice’ reasons for it too ;o)

Infatuation: What Is It?

The reason why ‘nice’ people get all twiddled up in an affair is purely because they become so infatuated that they are totally controlled by their passion.  Ironically, I could ‘cure’ them of this within a few hours given a chance, because all I need to do is take off their rose tinted glasses (and I have the cruel tools to be able to do so!).  They will only see the fabulous things about this new person in their life, and will completely ignore the things that the partner sees; like snoring, farting, looking rubbish in the morning, being grumpy, being lazy, or being high maintenance (the list is endless, because we all have less attractive sides to us!).  Then they will be totally convinced that this person is bringing something to their life that they have either never experienced elsewhere or could never experience elsewhere.  So it is just a matter of showing them that they already have everything that they think they are missing, they are just not appreciating where it is.  I bet the partner would love to be sexy too, given the chance, or spend loads of time at the gym and become gorgeous.  Given a bit of caring attention, the current partner would probably be up for being less grumpy and more fun to live with as well (or whatever the complaint is about something being missing)!  Plus, there is always a hidden cost to the infatuation.  For some it is the loss of pension or half their savings.  For others it would be the loss of regular contact with their children, or losing friends or the disappointment of relatives.  It’s always there!


With Tiger Woods in the media at the moment, the subject of ‘addiction’ also comes up.  Now this is a more complicated subject that I will blog about at another point.  But it’s like the most extreme infatuation that you can imagine to either the romance of new relationships, or the lust of sexual desire.  It is totally fixable, but it would take more than a couple of hours, and would be more in depth than what I described for the general infatuation cycle.

Being Invincible

There are a few people (either the partner or the other person), who just generally believe that they will get away with anything, can charm anyone, and either won’t get caught or will always be able to get out of a situation or problem.  It’s a type of narcicism/big ego syndrome, which many famous people probably suffer from (aka a few footballers), plus a few of those people often termed ‘lovable rogues’ or ‘charming’.  If this is the problem that the unfaithful partner faces, then without help, they are unlikely to change their behaviour, and they are unlikely to ask for help, because they don’t see what is wrong with what they are doing.  Unfortunately, they need to learn from their mistakes by paying a big price, i.e. seeing one of their values hit big time.

The people who therefore have affairs with these types, are probably either easily led or easily charmed.  When in a good mood, a narcisist will make you feel a hundred dollars.  Just remember, that if they can do that, they can also do the opposite and make you feel like you are bankrupt!

They Have Already Proved They Can Commit

If the ‘other woman or man’ would like to be in a relationship, they can be pretty sure that it is also in the values of the person that they have the affair with, as they have already proved their ability to be in a relationship!  (The logic of wanting a relationship with someone who has the ability to be unfaithful as well, doesn’t tend to figure!).  Society gets very shocked when a woman gets involved with a married man with children.  However, he has already proved that he would like to commit, and procreate, so he is a good bet, especially if it is possible he could afford the maintenance and a new wife!  These people will be able to ‘sniff’ out someone who likes being in a relationship, but is currently dissatisfied with their partner, and offer themselves as a much more attractive option.

I’ve noticed similar behaviour in my coaching/therapy business!  I often assist my mentor at large events that have a couple of hundred people attending, including my own clients.  What is interesting is that sometimes I have noticed my compatriots shamelessly targeting my clients, rather than ‘fresh blood’.  It might seem unprofessional, however, you can see the logic to it, because they have already proved that they are willing to spend money to change their lives, so they are a good bet!

Outright Ambition

The previous option of finding someone who has already shown they can commit, can become a conscious and very ambitious, purposeful strategy.  These people are competitive, will have a strategy, and will make it very difficult for the committed person to resist them.  They don’t just target footballers and golfers either!  Basically, they will target anyone who could give them the lifestyle they are after, plus still afford to pay off the first partner.  In a previous post I suggested that sometimes we need to watch over our partners and almost ‘protect’ them from impossible temptations.  Lets put it another way;  If it is possible that you could be competing with people like this, then make sure you are not holding yourself back, because they will make sure that your partner knows they will do anything to get them, so are you showing that you are willing to do anything to keep them?  (I’m not suggesting you do anything that would belittle yourself, or that you don’t want to do.  But there is always a compromise, you just need to really know them well and what their values are, so that you can tick enough boxes!).

I know that you will think that this is outrageous behaviour on their part, but think about it this way; Hundreds of years ago, these people would have made fabulous adventurers, providers, hunters and protectors.  I suppose that they are frustrated predators.

Not Looking For Something Serious

Then of course there are people whose values mean that they would currently prefer to not be in a relationship that is heavy or heading towards marriage.  If someone is already in a relationship, then they make the perfect option.  It’s all about fun, and none of the boring suburban stuff.  They are obviously very attractive to the person in the relationship, because they appear to be offering ‘no strings’, and appear strong because they are not ‘needy’!  These people are unlikely to want to get found out or caught, unless they also have a high value on danger.  Sometimes, it might be because they are just trying on the concept of a long term relationship for size, so this is their half-way house enroute to finding their own partner.

Sometimes the unfaithful partner gets attracted into relationships like this because they can’t manage to see their partner as both a sexual being and a long term partner.  There are some cultures around the world, where it is deemed perfectly reasonable for a husband to have a wife and a mistress, as long as they behave respectfully.  It would be possible in this situation to help both parties to get over any ‘issues’ they have and combine the roles together.

A Word of Warning/Comfort

If your relationship fell apart due to an affair, be assured that ‘what comes around, goes around’, which is how come so few relationships survive when they start off with unfaithfulness.  Even if it doesn’t hit their relationship, it will hit them somewhere important in their lives.

If you were party to splitting up a relationship, then you might want to consider getting some assistance to work through the guilt of it, and the fear of it happening to you.  Because it is that guilt or fear that will attract the same situation back into your life.  This is not due to a judgmental ‘karma’, it is just so that you get to understand what it feels like on both sides of the story.

2 thoughts on “What's The Motivation Behind The 'Other Woman/Man'?

  1. Interesting post. Thank you. I would love to know what the other woman, a work colleague of my husband’s, was thinking when she slept with my husband who didn’t use protection while I was at home with a young baby and our 5 year old son.

    I’ve had a year’s worth of counselling since I found out and I’m embarking upon divorce. We are in the early stages. The petition has been filed.

    I know my husband was the one in a committed relationship with two children at home – and yes, I cannot look him in the face half the time, I still harbour great anger towards him for betraying me so terribly while I was at home and vulnerable. Also to betray our children in such a way, it just repulses me. The deceit, gaslighting and redirecting of blame has been something else to contend with! My counsellor believes he is narcissistic. I hadn’t even contemplated that until she mentioned it. But it makes sense. But that aside, I still would never put myself into a situation with a married man knowing that his wife has just had a baby. I mean, who does that? I can honestly say I hate her. I’ve never met her, but I hate her. I have been unable to move past it, the pain and anger have not waivers for 15 months now since I found out. Who has unprotected sex with a man knowing that? It’s incredible. It has eaten me up and it’s a daily battle for me that I don’t contact her.

    She has been party to splitting our family up. Apparently it was a one night stand, but I don’t believe this. It doesn’t ring true. My husband also admitted after his confession, that he’d kissed another woman while I was heavily pregnant. He’d walked her to the station after a party and she’d asked him to go to a club with her but he refused knowing what it could lead to and he felt it wasn’t right. How charming of him while I was at home 8 months pregnant, with a son who was awaiting a brain scan to look for issues on his pituitary gland. How kind of him to not go with her. Another work colleague.

    I wish I could write the woman he slept with a letter, just to explain how desperate, distressed and disorientated I have felt. How my mum had to sleep next to me for ten days after I found out because I was so distressed. How his behaviour brought me almost to the verge of a breakdown during lockdown. I would say to her I hope that it never happens to you because the pain is incredible, and my children have been drawn into the most horrible situation and have suffered greatly, particularly my son who is innocent. I must say, I would never want to be the other woman knowing this.

    But, without her, I would never have stood up for myself and said his cheating was the last straw. For several years his behaviour has made me feeling uncomfortable. He has a temper. He’s smashed things to pieces, hit walls, kicked chairs over, hit objects, yelled at me, he once parented to kick me while I was sitting on the floor when we argued about money and buying a car (or rather he didn’t want to even though we had more than enough money to do so), he wrestled with me on the bed when I was pregnant … among other things. He’s said some mean things, “why do you put so much emphasis on staying faithful?” “If you cheated, I wouldn’t mind.” I found out he’d looked online where to find prostitutes in the city he was travelling to once. I confronted him and he says it was just a fantasy. I was devastated.

    Without the other woman, I wouldn’t have come to realise with help, that his behaviour has been totally unacceptable and actually illegal. No longer am I going to sweep his behaviour under the carpet. No minimising, no gaslighting, no more coerciveness. I’ve chosen to divorce him for myself and my kids. I’m choosing a new life, a new house, a new job and to be close to my friends and family, not his, who have said “we all know he has a bad temper.” I’m choosing not to get drawn in to his promises of love and “you’re the love of my life”, because even if he believes this is true for the moment, he certainly didn’t think it before. It’s about control and lack or it. It’s about choosing to be dependent and not Co-dependent.

    So, my words of wisdom to the other woman and to my husband would be – karma is a funny thing.

    1. Dear Anne, I’m so glad you have been having counselling – you might also find that there are some other therapies that might help you to release some of this anger a little more, for example EFT, or a kinesiology based therapy, maybe even hypnotherapy.

      I think I replied to your other comment as well – Yes unfortunately certain men are prone to being unfaithful when their wife is pregnant – it’s not that you were unattractive or anything – it’s because the ‘power play’ within the relationship has changed. The reason that his associated still cheated with him, knowing about you and the children, is because again human behaviour – you see a man that has already shown they are ready to commit and have children is bizarrely more attractive. Crazy I know – because we all know they are likely to cheat again.

      Narcisists are a whole nasty kettle of fish I’m afraid – unbelievably charming, but horrifically damaging. I recommend shahida Arabi’s book ‘Power’ – it explains ever such a lot about narcissists. The best protection against them is to work on your own self-love – that is like a bubble that will surround you and not let them back into your life. Make sure that you don’t have any sneaky narcisists left as friends or relatives – anyone who makes you doubt yourself. I hope that one day when you are healed, you will be able to find a lovely man – to be sure that they aren’t a narcissist, just take it slowly – this disrupts the ‘love bombing’ that a narcissist will do and they lose interest.

      I actually think that writing the other woman a letter would be a great idea – and then burn it – and imagine it floating to her in the ether. As you do it, say ‘I set you free, I set me free’ and if you can’t forgive her, say ‘I hope to forgive you soon’ – because forgiveness will set you free from the pain she caused you (it’s not about making it right).

      Take good care of yourself and well done for getting out – you will I’m sure go from strength to strength. xxx

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