Lucy has two friends. Their names are Helen and Mina.
Helen’s in her mid-forties, married with a 10-year-old daughter. Mina is 35, and single… technically. Helen’s husband has been having an affair for the past fifteen years. For the last ten, Mina’s been in a relationship with a married man.
Two sides of the infidelity coin. The scorned wife, and the scarlet woman.
Lucy met Helen at work. She was one of the best bosses Lucy’s ever had: brilliant and decisive, but also warm and supportive. She and Lucy hit it off, and after the project ended they became friends.
Recently, over dinner and rather too much wine, Helen told Lucy all about her husband’s affair. 51-year-old David has been secretly seeing Sarah, who’s in her late 30s, for almost their entire relationship. So far, so fucking stereotypical. He and Helen both have busy careers, often involving nights away, so he was easily able to hide his despicable scumbaggery until the day he received a text and immediately jumped on his phone with a guilty look. Helen smelled a rat, so the next time he was out, she checked up on his location using the ‘find my phone’ app, and – quelle surprise – instead of being ‘at a work event in the city’, it turned out he was at a house in a totally different part of town. Jesus Christ, man, if you’re going to sneak around behind your wife’s back, at least have the fucking decency to be subtle about it!
When Helen confronted him, David admitted the affair and swore he would end it. Yet a few months later it was still going on. Often, when he said he was away with work, he was actually with Sarah and – in Lucy’s mind the most shocking crime of all – was having unprotected sex with her. This pathetic piece of shit was actually willing to risk knocking up another woman, or transmitting an STI to his wife, simply to satisfy his own pleasure. Total Bottom-Feeding Pathetic Evil Cunt doesn’t even begin to cover it.
Helen says the worst part about all of this is not the sex, it’s the lying and the betrayal, which is still going on even though everything’s out in the open now. Helen’s told David she’s not going to leave him: she doesn’t want to uproot their settled family life and give up her nice home. So she’s been forced to accept the cheating, and has drawn a line in the sand, telling David that while she won’t kick him out, she will never, ever, have sex with him again. And yet even though he now has carte blanche to carry on, he still continues to lie to his wife, telling her he hasn’t been seeing Sarah, even though his WhatsApps, which Helen occasionally spies on, tell a very different story. It’s as if he enjoys the sneaking around and deception, or maybe he’s just pathologically incapable of telling the truth and admitting what a scumbag he really is.
Lucy’s really not a man-hater; she has loads of male friends who are just lovely, but when you hear so many stories like this, of middle-aged sleazeballs cheating on their kind and patient wives, it’s very difficult not to conclude that an enormous proportion of the population are feral animals who make every decision with their dicks and don’t give a flying fuck who they screw over in the process. Maybe #notallmen, but certainly #afuckloadofthem.
Of course, #notjustmen, as well. Women cheat too, obviously, though Lucy never has, FTR. She just doesn’t think she could respect or trust a cheater, and that would make her not want to shag him. Though it may, of course, also be down to lack of opportunity. She’s been single for so much of her life that she’s rarely ever had anyone to cheat ON, and she finds it so hard to meet even one nice man that the chances of her meeting two at the same time are about as likely as Theresa May ever winning Strictly.
But plenty of women do cheat, and of course the reasons are complex. Disconnection, frustration, dissatisfaction, neglect and self-esteem issues all play a part, as well as, for some, the more simple reason that they’re just spineless jars of warm piss in human form.
Lucy’s not a psychologist, though, and has never dated a woman, so she can’t really comment on that. What she can comment on is what it’s like to be friends with both a cheat-ER and a cheat-EE, and to be able to empathise with both sides of a very conflicting coin.
So what about Sarah, the girlfriend? Lucy despises her for her part in the pain poor Helen is suffering, though she can only imagine what that must be like. Lucy’s lucky that long-term infidelity has never happened to her: twice she’s had boyfriends leave her for someone else, but they did so swiftly, ripping off the plaster in one excruciating wrench, rather than carry on the sickening deception for months or years behind her back. She doesn’t know what this would feel like, but she supposes it’s not dissimilar to having your internal organs slowly drawn out of you with a crochet hook. So sure, the selfish bitch who knowingly inflicted this torture on her friend definitely deserves whatever misery this sorry mess is causing her. She should’ve walked away while she had the chance. But should she be blamed? Stoned to death for adultery? Lucy’s not convinced.
Single women involved in affairs regularly get ripped to shreds, branded homewreckers and man-stealing whores as though they somehow lured the husband into doing something against his will. Just look at the recent media storm surrounding Carrie Symonds and Boris Johnson – sure, by all means attack her, but not for ‘stealing’ anyone’s man as though he’s just a chocolate bar you can slip into your pocket down the local newsagent. If you want to convict her, do it for the real crime, the total lunacy of getting naked and doing the nasty with a despicable cretin like BoJo.
It’s definitely not black and white. Lucy knows from bitter, soul-crushing experience how difficult it is to find a decent man, and how it’s possible for feelings to creep up on you unexpectedly and painfully, like a bad case of cystitis. Most women don’t go out looking for a husband to ‘steal’, but if feelings develop, what do you do? In Lucy’s case, angst over it relentlessly, shed bitter tears of frustration, pine like a lovesick teenager, and do nothing. Lucy knows that getting involved with a married man would only lead to more misery, frustration, and mistrust. But other women might take a different view. And if, after years of loneliness, you finally meet someone with whom you feel a connection, and he pursues you, who amongst us can honestly say with 100% certainty that we’d be strong enough to resist?
This is exactly what happened to Mina. Lucy also met Mina through work, just last May, and even though they haven’t known each other that long they’ve already become great friends. Mina is brilliant at her job, clever and funny and sarcastic and brave – in other words, just Lucy’s kind of person. It wasn’t long before she and Lucy were having lunch together every day, and boozy evenings out, and sharing all their secrets.
Mina tells Lucy she met Stephen when she was 25, and he was a visiting lecturer on her postgraduate degree course. Twelve years older than her, charismatic, highly intelligent and articulate, he flirted with her, asked her out for a drink, and only after several dates did he reveal he was married with kids.
By this time it was too late for Mina. There she was, an ambitious student with the world at her feet, fed up of being dicked about by fuckboys her own age, and now being pursued by a confident, successful older man. A few dates led to more, which led to sex, which led to falling in love, and before she knew it, it was ten years later and she had become the reviled ‘other woman’, the object of scorn, shame, and hate.
I’m sure you don’t feel too sorry for Mina, but being the ‘mistress’ is not exactly cupcakes and rainbows, y’know? She can’t introduce her boyfriend to her friends and family, or even tell them about him. She can’t spend holidays with him. In a crisis, can she rely on Stephen to be there for her? She’ll always be second best, a side dish, a backup option. Her wishes and opinions only count when they don’t interfere with his other life, his ‘real’ life. And every so often Stephen has a crisis of conscience and pushes her away, only to come crawling back a few weeks later when he realises he misses her.
Meanwhile he gets to have it all. He has the seemingly perfect happy home, an adoring (but unknowingly scorned) wife, two bonny children, barbecues and dinner parties and holidays to the South of France. And on the side, a younger girlfriend who he can call on when it suits him, but who is never allowed to make any demands on him. Put out, and shut up.
So why, oh for fuck’s sake why, do women like Mina and Sarah put up with shit like this? Why do they allow themselves to be drawn into this kind of situation? They may not be the criminals, but they are certainly accessories to the crime – so why, for the love of whatever deity you believe in, do they allow cuntish arsewipes like David and Stephen to get away with this shit?
Lucy’s not a psychologist, but she imagines it’s a lot to do with accidents of fate, of falling for someone in spite of your best intentions, of wanting what you can’t have, and of a depressing dearth of attractive, charming, confident single men to fall back on.
For everyone’s sake, women need to stop accepting these shitty deals. Of course this type of fuckboy is going to dick about, because we fucking LET THEM! We’re offering ourselves up on a plate! Hey, it’s ok, I don’t mind! Fuck me and then go home to your wife until you get bored again, it’s cool!
We all need to stop, hold hands in a big circle, and agree to not do this any longer. If women stood up for themselves more, men would soon learn that this kind of behaviour is not going to wash. If we threw these guys right in the sea where they belong, and instead only dated the decent ones, then the fucktards and the walking erections would soon realise that if they want any chance of getting laid ever again, they’re going to need to treat women better.
And wouldn’t that be a lovely world to live in?
What do you think? Have you ever had an affair? Been cheated on? Comment with your thoughts below.