“The other woman” is a fascinating and polarizing cultural figure; many would gladly blame her for the demise of a relationship, while others would sooner say that she had no responsibility to the scorned wife or girlfriend whatsoever. Folks like me sit squarely in the middle, asking that she be accountable for doing something wrong, yet maintaining that the person who is in the relationship is the one who is primarily responsible for the agreement into which he entered. While I always have said that the husband deserves far more flack than this mistress, I can’t help but to feel some kinda way about women and men who willingly serve as the third wheel.

It’s pretty easy to blame women for a lot of things, especially when it comes to sexuality. I find it amazing how quickly a group of people will judge the mistress and call her every name in the book, while giving the husband a pass because he’s successful, poor, brilliant, stupid, stressed out, bored or simply a man. If you sign the marital papers or make the verbal arrangement to be faithful to someone, you are the one who should get called to the carpet when word gets out. Having your cousin who can fight showing up to some woman’s job because she slept with your man, while you continue to sleep with old boy yourself, is about as wise as Sarah Palin.

Like most women, I’ve been approached by attached men, some of them quite handsome and a few of the ‘everything I want in a man, except a girl and a cheating heart’ variety. The worst one I encountered was a married man who was in town for a convention; I found out that he was taken after I had already exchanged information with him, and when I confronted him about his status via a text, he replied, “My wife is blessed and you can be blessed, too.” Because, apparently, having a husband who lends his thang out when he’s on vacation is a blessing, as is having a taste of some other woman’s lover. Suffice it to say, I was able to resist his charms.

I’d never want to be a willing participant in a scenario that is going to hurt another person. I could never go behind some woman’s back and creep with her dude, largely because I would never want someone to do that to me. While I want for my man to be trustworthy, I’d also hope that were he to have a moment of human fallibility and attempt to get with someone else, she’d curse him out and remind him of what he signed up for with me. And thus, this is how I have reacted when faced with an advance from someone else’s guy.

Beyond my loyalty to women who I may or may not know, I also find myself to be too special to be “on the side.” I’m an entire dish. I don’t play the background, nor the margins. I can’t be a second class citizen in some man’s bed. We should all value ourselves too much to become someone’s dirty little secret. You have to believe that you are worthy of an entire relationship (or, if you merely want something casual, you should take the time to find a single person to have your fun with). Who wants to be at home alone on Valentine’s Day when they’ve been dating a man for months, because ‘holidays are for the wife’?

At the end of the day, the actual cheaters are the biggest offenders when it comes to assigning blame for an affair. Yet those of us who do not want to be cheated on should remember to put that karma in the air by refusing to engage in something illicit with a coupled-up person under any circumstances. I’d never say that ‘the other woman’ forced my man’s hand; if he stepped out, that’s on him. But we do have the choice to put romantic karma in the world… if you are out there sharing a woman’s man behind her back, be prepared for the days in which you are attached yourself and what you may have coming to you.

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