The refrain is all too familiar, “I did not have sex with that woman.” Or, “We were just friends, nothing inappropriate happened between us.” Or as GOP Presidential hopeful Herman Cain put it on Tuesday, “I was just trying to help out a troubled woman. Her allegations are completely false.”
Yeah, okay Herman. (Side-eye)
We’ve all seen this movie before: a famous or powerful political figure or athlete denies that he has been unfaithful, then he backtracks, then he goes silent, and finally he admits to his transgressions with a wounded wife standing humiliated by his side. We saw it most recently with disgraced Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-NY), who knew with certainty that he had posted nude photographs of his uh, er, well you know, via Twitter and the Internet, lied, and denied all the way up to the bitter end -- just before he resigned in disgrace.
We saw such extra-marital shenanigans lead to abrupt resignation of Governor Elliott Spitzer (D-NY), and the historic impeachment of President Bill Clinton when he was charged by the Congress with lying under oath about his affair with Monica, Lewinsky, Jennifer Flowers (another southern gal who says she had a 12-year affair with a married politician) and the Paula Jones sexual harassment allegations.
Sadly, we see it happen within our own community and with our sister celebrities like Fantasia, who was embarrassed so badly in 2010 when it came to light that she had been having an affair with a married man, and his wife wanted to sue her in open court, she tried to take her own life by an aspirin overdose.
When asked why she attempted to take her life, a weary Fantasia told People Magazine: “I was tired of people doing me wrong, constantly, over and over again, dealing with my family—my father, dealing with men and their [expletive]—I was tired. My head was hurting me. I was over it.”
What a hot mess this situation turned out to be. Like many women before her, Fantasia got caught up, and in the end, she stood alone in the court of public shame as a home-wrecker. It is as old as the story of Mary Magdalene in the Bible. Sisters, buckle up here: The “other woman” always loses; the blame is always cast on her. I would ask you to count the cost before you allow yourself to get in such a place because the cost is very high.
We hear rumors of other high-profile sister celebrities or notables who keep company with married men, and even get pregnant by them. Yes, we’ve seen it all before and we all know the outcome is never good for “the other woman."
So why do so many of us still fall willing victim to the prey of married men? What is the allure for something that we know in our heart of hearts will end badly for us, even if we end up with the man. Who wants to wear a scarlet letter? Who wants to say I took someone’s husband and father away from his happy home, to be with me the home-wrecker? And better still, what does an attractive, well spoken middle-aged woman like Ginger White (alleged mistress of Herman Cain for 13 years) gain from going public with information that she knows will brand her forever as that “hussy” who broke up Cornbread’s (aka Herman Cain) happy home?
Truthfully, if I had answers to these questions I would be a very wealthy psycho-analyst living in Beverly Hills or New York, but as I discuss in chapter five of my award winning book “Black Woman Redefined: Dispelling Myths and Discovering Fulfillment in the Age of Michelle Obama” (May 2011), it has become somewhat common place for Black women who are single adults to either knowingly or unwittingly get involved with married men. The reasons are varied. Sometimes its loneliness, brokenness, or accidental, and sometimes it’s as Ms. Ginger White (a 46-year-old mother of two grown children) said in an interview with Atlanta media, “I knew it was inappropriate, but it was a very casual affair.”
Renowned Psychologist and Best-Selling Relationship Author Audrey Chapman gave me this analysis in chapter five of my book as to why so many of her Black female patients are women just like Ginger White:
“I’ve seen an increase -- as have my professional colleagues -- of middle aged, upwardly mobile Black women dating married Black men in the hopes that they will leave their wives,” says Dr. Audrey Chapman. “But these men do not leave their wives, and so the women end up compromising themselves in very damaging ways. These women are so lonely they’re willing to settle for this type of situation.” (See Black Woman Redefined, pp. 118)
Sisters, if you are in this type of love affair, please get out or tell someone who can help you get out. Oprah had a show on this very topic last year titled “I’m the Other Woman.” This program featured women who date married men, and they spoke candidly about their experiences. What I have found is that many women try to fool themselves about the realities of what happens when you get involved with a married man. As one woman told me recently, “If you understand the rules, you can make it work for you. It’s better than having no man in your life.”
What fool’s gold that is.
Sisters, there are no rules. Cheating with a married man is wrong. And as the third wheel, I promise you that you will lose. I'll ask again, even if you get that man, what will you have? A man who violates his wedding vows, cheats on his wife, and irreparably hurts his children to be with you. Is that what you really want? Really?
I counsel anyone who asks my opinion on this subject from my own painful experience many years ago with the words of a noted psychologist: “An affair is like a nuclear bomb that goes off in the lives of all involved in the triangle that is created by the affair; one that leaves devastation, regret, guilt, pain, and sometimes mortally wounded dead human souls and spirits, even dead physical bodies.” Take heed to these words and the sad story of Ginger White and many before her. Sleeping with a married man has no up side at all.
Sophia Nelson is an award winning author and Freelance journalists who covers The White House, Politics and Culture. She is a frequent contributor to ESSENCE.com.com