Year of Questions: Why is the other wo(man) more scorned than the cheating partner in an affair?

A friend of mine who’s currently in China recently found herself on the wrong end of this question. She dated someone, turned out he had a wife & daughter, he said it was a loveless marriage, she tried to make it work with him, then his wife found out and threatened my friend with a knife (she’s ok).

That’s the abbreviated version, but basically we were chatting on-line this morning and both wondered why she, as the other woman, was the object of so much anger instead of the man.

I’ve been on both sides of the equation: one night stand when I was 22, terrible judgement, never made that mistake again, and more recently had a partner cheat on me repeatedly.

In the first instance my girlfriend at the time was incredibly mad at me (which she should have been) and absolutely furious at the other woman. In the latter I was just really hurt, sad, and angry at my partner. It never occurred to me to be particularly angry at the other men, though obviously I don’t think highly of anyone that would knowingly engage in a relationship with someone they knew already had a partner.

Have you ever threatened the other (wo)man with a knife? 😉
( If you have prob shouldn’t answer that…)


8 thoughts on “Year of Questions: Why is the other wo(man) more scorned than the cheating partner in an affair?”

  1. My guess is that your friend was the brunt of the anger because she was seen as the threat. Women are like that. We see each other as a threat to our marriages…granted, we should be able to trust our husbands, and understand that men cheating is 100% the man’s fault, but for some reason, women 99 out of 100 times, will blame the other woman. We don’t trust other women. Why? Its a good question.

    Its been my experience that men are less likely to blame the other man because men don’t perceive other men as threats to their marriages. Unless you have someone super insecure – or the other man is Bradley Cooper.

    1. I think you’re right.

      I have no idea why women don’t trust other women, but it’s a really interesting question. If it was just an issue of competition you’d think it would come out in men at least as often….seems to me it doesn’t, which goes to your second point.

      Also, I dislike the fact that

      a) It de-emphasizes the role/responsibility of the man (uh, what kind of person dates two people at once? Unless they know about it and are cool, though that’s not my speed so I have no idea if that’s possible)


      b) If someone’s really interested in preserving the marriage / relationship trying to stab your partner’s other romantic interest isn’t the way to do it. Really, if anything, in my friend’s case his wife should be chasing him with a knife. (not saying that should happen, just saying that it would make more sense).

  2. I’ll admit I never understood it either. The cheater should bear the brunt of the anger. In most cases, the other partner started out unaware. If they continue the relationship after discovering the relationship status of their partner, that’s another thing. But I still find the primary fault with the cheater, not the cheater’s booty call.
    The only exception is if the “other” is a poacher- i.e. I know you’re in a relationship, but I’m going after you anyway.

    1. I’ve seen the poacher thing, I’ve always thought of the burden as being on the person who should know better….but, thinking about celebrities and their environment makes me think it might not be so black and white (it’s one thing to say I would never cheat no matter what, and it’s a whole other to be constantly encouraged/expected to)

  3. Joe! I’m just meandering through your blogs a little bit so I’m leaving comments a few days late …. I can’t help to comment on this topic because, well just because. 😉 I think it takes two to tango in this situation. If you know you are with someone who is in a relationship and you still carry on with it you are equally at fault as the person who is in the relationship doing the cheating. The only exception I allot to this is if you are with someone and you are not ‘in the know’ about their other relationship.

    I hold myself equally accountable and I hope that other people do the same. (Although I’m fully aware that is not often the case and this situation is not so black and white.)

    1. I think you’re right about the “not in the know” situation, and as a person who tends to take people at face value I can see how that happens (although as soon as you know you’re the other person I think there’s a timely moral imperative).

      1. Exactly. If both parties know what they are doing is wrong and/or hurtful to others then I think both parties are equally responsible. I think it’s too easy to blame the other woman (or man), when in fact both parties are at fault.

        Just my 3 cents. 😉

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