Having a sidepiece isn't the sole province of men—as the number of women stepping out continues to rise. Here's an inside look as ladies fess up about their infidelity.
"I STARTED A STEAMY AFFAIR WITH MY EX"
My relationship with Derek* was going strong until he moved 500 miles away for a new job. Soon after, I started hanging out with Leon, an ex, strictly as friends. It didn't take long for old feelings to reignite. When I was with Leon, I would ignore my boyfriend's calls, or I would be in the bed with my ex and texting Derek at the same time. My cheating on my boyfriend was really about me. I had always been a good girl, and it felt exhilarating. I was also just being greedy and selfish, wanting all the men for myself. I snuck around with Leon the entire summer until one day I remembered my grandmother's advice: The dirt you do to others will eventually wind up on your doorstep. I stopped cheating right away. Derek and I eventually broke up for other reasons. I never confessed about my affair, but I learned to stay true to myself—a valuable lesson.
"I WAS UNFAITHFUL ON MY HONEYMOON!"
Counselor Nwasha Edu and her husband both strayed soon after marrying. Now they help other couples conquer infidelity
I wasn't looking for a relationship when I met Montsho at a car wash in New Jersey 14 years ago. But he was charming and we had so much in common. We were the people our friends turned to for advice, which led to us both enrolling in counseling programs. We began building a life together and conquered many obstacles, including having a blended family with Montsho's three sons and a long-distance romance while I finished school in Florida. A year into the relationship we got engaged and started making plans to hold our ceremony on a spiritual trip to Egypt, where the world's earliest marriages took place. Four years later, the week of our destination wedding finally arrived. We needed to marry stateside first, so on our lunch break we exchanged vows at the court-house. Three days before our trip, my dream crumbled: Montsho was denied a passport and would not be able to attend our ceremony and go on our honeymoon. I was furious that he had waited to apply, and devastated that I would be denied an experience we had been looking forward to. The monthlong excursion had already been paid for by friends and family, so I decided to salvage what I could and traveled without my new husband. In the middle of the trip I met a fellow tourist. His flirting made me forget my broken plans and feelings of abandonment. High levels of stress can lead you to make decisions you wouldn't normally make, and soon I slipped into an affair on what was supposed to have been my honeymoon. Once back home I came clean to my husband, only to learn that while I was gone he'd cheated with his ex. With both our affairs on the table, we decided to use every lesson we had learned in our counseling programs for our marriage. We rebuilt our relationship and created Akoma House Initiative to help other couples. We've started planning a vow renewal next year to celebrate our tenth anniversary. This time Montsho will be sure to be there.
"I CHEATED WITH ANOTHER WOMAN"
Last year Sara Williams* was overwhelmed by work and family obligations when a flirty friend led her into temptation
While dropping my son off at day care one morning, a mommy friend invited me to meet her sister who was visiting. I was instantly intrigued by Bianca*, whose high energy, tight clothes and bright colors were a contrast to my slacks, sweats and earth tones. Because she was so much fun, my husband, Julian*, and I quickly formed a friendship with her. I was the family bread-winner, working 60 hours a week while also earning a business degree. Julian and I had been married for three years, and our love was stronger than ever, but the second I got home from work all I could think about was doing laundry, putting my son to bed and preparing for the next day. Bianca was like a breath of fresh air. I felt young and free as we started to hang out and she shared steamy stories about her dating life. As someone who never felt sexy, I was fascinated. She was constantly telling me I was beautiful, and the compliments grew. One night we were having a drink when she leaned over and told me she loves going down on women. Then she whispered in my ear, "Let me kiss it." I was shocked but laughed it off. A few weeks later she met me at my job. In the car she started to rub my thigh and whispered, "Just let me lick it." I gave in to curiosity and allowed her to pleasure me right there. Afterward she told me I hadn't cheated because she was a woman. I let it happen once more before I realized I was terribly wrong. If I couldn't tell my husband about what Bianca and I were doing, then it was cheating—even though we never kissed and I didn't touch her. I ended the friendship and confessed everything to Julian. He was crushed, especially since I rarely allowed him to pleasure me that way. We worked together to strengthen our relationship and communicate better, and scheduled more date nights. I also make more time to unwind from the pressures of work and family. I realize I saw in Bianca fun and sexy qualities I wanted for myself and used her as an escape. I've started watching YouTube beauty videos, bought my first pair of skinny jeans and am working to explore my own sensuality—which is all I should have learned from her.
*Subjects' names have been changed.
This article was featured in the May 2014 issue of ESSENCE.