Our columnist Jameela explains why if a man’s attached, he’s not to be trusted…
‘My wife just doesn’t understand me, I wish she was more like you…’ Other than, ‘We don’t need a condom – I can just pull out,’ these are just about some of the most dangerous words that can ever be strung together by a man and fed to a woman. Should you ever have that sentence tied around your neck, beware. More often than not, it will strangle you and leave you utterly breathless.
I realized this as my friend lay at the foot of my bed, collapsed in a heap of Kettle Chips, pleading with her phone to ring. She was desperate to know: had he left his wife yet? Did he even care? Or was it just a sex thing after all?
She didn’t wander into a happy marriage and plot its demise.
If you’ve ever been cheated on, it’s unlikely you have much sympathy for my friend’s situation. Even if you haven’t been cheated on, for that matter. But the thing is, she didn’t wander into a happy marriage and plot its demise. She just met a lovely, handsome man, who befriended her and then started to confide in her about his awful wife. How she’s cold, how they never have sex, how nothing he ever does is good enough and how they have nothing in common anymore. A heady cocktail of immediate attention and attraction, followed by a stomach punch of sensitivity and vulnerability.
I’ve almost been there myself. A few years ago, I fell in love with a man before realising he was married. First, he told me they were separated. Then he told me they weren’t separated – but that they hated each other and slept in separate beds. He said she was sleeping with her ex and was only using him for his money. My heart went out to this poor man. He was being bled dry by his evil wife, who had clearly tricked him into marriage! I believed him, but, thankfully, refused to have sex with him before he was divorced. I didn’t want him until he no longer belonged to someone else. And thank god, because three years later, they’re still together. In fact, they’ve just had baby number two and are, outwardly at least, ‘happily married.’ So I feel like maybe she wasn’t quite as bad as he made out? Maybe he just needed some attention? Maybe he’s just a dick.
Some people cheat because they want to, because they can, because it gives them a thrill, or because they just can’t do long-term relationships. I’m going to get controversial here and say that monogamy isn’t natural, especially not for men. It’s a concept society birthed a few hundred years ago, even though men’s DNA is busy telling them to spread the seed. From what I’ve seen, it’s only love and respect that manages to anchor their little downstairs friend.
Now I’m not saying all men are likely to cheat, or that all situations involving the unhappily married ones are the same. But in my experience, from watching friends and colleagues get involved in these complicated tangles, it’s almost always the same script, just with a different cast. Unless they are officially single and living apart from their former spouse, it’s just not good for your health or emotional well-being to get involved in any way.
Picture her lying in bed alone, not knowing where he is, or what he’s doing.
And what about the other woman in the triangle? No matter how awful he makes her out to be, until you get to know her, you have no idea. She may be a lovely person waiting at home for him, totally unaware she’s lost his interest, with a full heart and open arms. Picture her lying in bed alone, not knowing where he is, or what he’s doing. Think of that sinking feeling you get in your chest when you start to suspect the man you love is up to no good and please, don’t be the reason another woman feels that way. That kind of betrayal doesn’t bruise; it scars, and sometimes those scars never go away. If that woman finds out she’s been betrayed, she may go through the rest of her life suspicious and unhappy in love, constantly waiting for the rug to be pulled out from under her.
If you want someone, you have to be willing to wait for them.
And if you watch a man deceive his wife (especially if he does it well, over weeks, months or even years), you’ll never be able to forget what he’s capable of. If he pulled the wool over your eyes so spectacularly, how on earth can you ever be totally sure he won’t do the same to you?
If you want someone, you have to be willing to wait for them, and trust that what you have is real and strong enough for them to wait for you. If somebody jumps ship for you, that fact will always haunt you, because you’ll know they’re light on their feet. Spare yourself the paranoia and the pain, and walk away until the coast is clear. The bloodstains of another woman’s broken heart are very difficult to wash out. And frankly, you both deserve better.
Originally featured in Cosmopolitan’s May 2015 issue.