Recently on some website I’ve come across this confession of a young woman: “I’m being courted by a married man, a colleague. I don’t want to start anything with him because he is married and already has grown children. To me this is totally yucky. ”
Having read those few introductory lines, first I thought that it was a young and determined woman (her youth revealed to me by that “yucky”) and that, after possible initial thrill, she will avoid a lot of suffering and a multitude of problems that many relationships with married men turn to. But already my second thought was: After all, it is a man, a hunter, he has to try, he will be persistent. I kept reading her text: “…Firstly, I don’t want it because of his wife, and I’m not sure if he’s interested only in a one-night stand or if he really does have feelings for me. On the other hand, he often contacts me, he is considerate towards me, he said he wouldn’t insist on anything. However, given the nature of our work, the two of us see a lot of each other so I think I might yield if an opportunity arises because I miss gentleness and affection”
It was clear to me that because she explained the circumstances and his behavior so much, she was ready to accept the courting. Even if I had at that time given her the advice not to get involved with a married man, it wouldn’t have helped. His constant nearness, tactful manner (would he ever be intactful already at courting?!) and especially his saying that he wouldn’t insist on anything (I congratulate him on this very skillful performance) has already done their job. Finally, she justifies the decision to yield to him by her need for gentleness and affection.
Who in today’s world would resist that argument?
Indeed, she could get a great deal of gentleness from a married man; But what about love? If we define love only as love towards a woman, then she might get it. But if we consider commitment to the relationship, responsibility on various levels which are brought by a relationship with a loved person, such as support during times of illness, attending weddings or funerals within the family, summer vacations, winter vacations, going out with her friends to celebrate New Year… in those cases the love of a married man stays at home.
Men are hunters
This example too shows how men are hunters in their approach to women. They are physical, concrete beings who connect nearness with availability, sexual as well as emotional. And work is one of those situations when there will be other women near him. There is no problem if a woman and a married man are aware of what they’re getting into and if they both know the rules regarding lovers in a love affair (just think of French novels). But mostly it is not like that.
The temptation of forbidden fruit
The relationship starts romantically. He knows the moves. We’ve already seen how considerate he is towards her. The first intimate encounter follows. He is trying to please her, to prove himself a great lover. They both enjoy the charms of the forbidden. They are excited by the ingeniousness of hiding. They are a bit condescending when thinking about their friends and family who have no clue as to what is happening right in front of them. Sometimes, however, the relationship begins, so that the girl doesn’t find out about him being married until afterwards – unfortunately, of course! He justifies himself by saying that he didn’t tell her about it when they began because he feared her rejection, and he was so in love with her that he couldn’t help himself…
A woman in love, overwhelmed by thrill, only absorbs his words. She doesn’t notice that this man is very selfish and has no respect for her as a person. For him she is no more than a pastime, just another easy prey. And now, after a wonderful encounter in a neutral zone, they have returned to the everyday life where he avoids her.
Love is blooming
He rented an apartment for her. It is their love nest. A business trip will be made up, days will be stolen away. He tells his family that he will stay in the office or on a trip longer, and he spends time with his darling… In a car parked somewhere inconspicuously, it all happens as if it were a movie. They have their love language, little rituals. She is happy, loved, showered with gifts. That is love!
Some women understand what they can get in such a relationship with a married man, and know all the things they have to give up and they accept that. For some women a relationship with a married man is quite suitable. They choose that blind alley because they fear a “real relationship” with its uncertain outcome; they are afraid to engage in a relationship in which they can get hurt. They consent to a relationship with a married man in which there is no “danger” for them to really yield and commit to one single relationship.
However, most of the women want that man very much for themselves so they agree on all his conditions and patiently wait for the day when he will get a divorce and devote himself only to her.
While they are in a relationship, if he isn’t jealous, she goes out with her company, with her girlfriends… same as if she were single. She conceals her relationship and lies to the people around her (maybe she will tell about it only to her closest girlfriend), and that gradually distance her from everybody.
She receives gifts from him, especially when he hasn’t enough time to spend with her, when he makes a mistake, when he wants to cheer her up: cynically, but not untrue would be to say also when he gets afraid that she might disclose their secret love to his wife…
And so pass weekends, holidays and vacations… There are a lot of lonely days, a lot of anticipation, the depressive holidays pass. He loves her, she is the right one. But he has a family, obligations… Let her wait a little more, he cannot be only hers just yet.
A mistress of a married man spends a lot of time thinking about his wife. She thinks of what the wife is like. What is she better at? When she feels the guilt because she is in a love affair with another woman’s husband, she comforts herself by reasoning that a man wouldn’t cheat on his wife if she were good to him. Exactly that is what makes every mistress feel superior! For his wife she has many feelings: insecurity, rivalry; finally, she is angry with her for not giving him up even when she finds out about the affair. And the man often tells her about his wife: how depressive she is, cold, sick, dependent, she would turn the children against him, he owes money to her parents…
On weekends and holidays she is alone. And he’s having a good time with his family, children, parents, business partners, pets…
Married men, “the hunters”, actually have no intention of leaving their family. Extramarital relationship is a delicious bonus to a married man’s consolidated life, a life he cares about, because of which he is reputable, respected, successful. They (in their own way) value their wives, sometimes that youthful love which they went through together, care about the family, children, they especially value their comfort and the social status that they have acquired together.
The mistress patiently awaits for him to choose her so she keeps listening to his promises about the divorce. She waits for his children to grow up. She waits for his wife to get healthy, waits for her to accept, waits for this or that to happen… And so to infinity.
A married man doesn’t have such a patience nor compassion for his mistress. He doesn’t want to give her up, let her settle down with someone else and have a family of her own. He doesn’t care about her ticking biological clock (he already has children, he knows what it’s like!).
To be or not to be a mistress
It seems to me that the longer a woman is in a relationship with a married man, the harder it is for her to get out of it… and it isn’t helped by the fact that she loves him, that she has subjected everything to him, that she is giving up or postponing maternity and family, she pleases him and is creating a fairy tale in their secret little world. Out of a relationship with a married man, the woman usually comes hurt. But, maybe it is an opportunity for her to grow: to take what has been nice, to mourn her unrealized hopes and to take responsibility for what she has lived through. The future awaits: she should get to know herself better and not fall in the same pattern as soon as the next opportunity arises.
Written by Zdenka Pantić, psychologist – psychotherapist, family therapist