Fidelity is an uncomfortably large pill to swallow, whether you're in a relationship, desperately trying to make one happen, or scared shitless that one might be brewing between you and that chick you thought was simply a one night stand. It's the ultimate test of commitment and respect for yourself, your mate and your potential dance partner, one that many of us will fail -- or already have.
However, being "the other" is rarely discussed. Books, talk shows, paternity tests -- it's always about the one who cheated and the poor soul who got jilted. But what about the person who decided it'd be a good idea to get in the middle of this now strained, if not unraveling, union? What's his/her deal?
A recent UK Daily Mail article profiled a woman named Karen Marley who calls herself a professional mistress, someone whose goal is to maintain simple, surface relationships with married men and more than happy to do so. She says she's "the best kind," one who won't meddle or cause drama and respects boundaries. But what compels her -- or any "other" man or woman -- to decide that this is a good way to go?
While inspired by a recent episode of the Between the Sheets With Lora Somoza radio show, this article is not backed by a scientific or sociological study. Nor does it feature extensive research. What it does have, however, is first-hand experience, something that no amount of investigation, public surveys or Googling can offer.
I've been the "other" more than once, often initially duped into believing his current relationship was ending and ours about to begin, but later fueled by a false sense of power derived from being so desired -- needed, even -- by a man who supposedly already had it all.
(I have since smacked my "inner goddess" in the cunt and given her a serious reality check.)
While I've since evolved -- having developed a more realistic and rock-hard sense of self-worth, confidence and responsibility -- the only way one truly can feel confident in his or her progress is to have it put to the test. That's what I inadvertently encountered a few nights ago in a NYC bar, leaving me reeling by what had transpired as I walked to the L train four hours later.
I had stopped in a popped-collar bro bar the day before knowing that its plastic table cloths and beer steins meant I could find local beer at a cheap price while waiting for a table at a vegan spot down the street. Twenty minutes after the butch cocktail waitress went missing I ventured inside to order drinks from an exceptionally tall, long-haired bartender with a fiery wit and scruff on his face. Game on.
He proceeded to buy me my drink, commenting that I was far too pretty and intelligent to be at a frat bar such as this. (Bartender 101 -- compliment the chick, flirt just a tad, and triple your tip.)
And before I left to feast on quinoa cakes and Kambucha, I wrote Mr. Bartenderman the coolest "call me maybe" note (with phone number attached) ever and asked a cocktail waitress to deliver it.
I didn't hear from him (whatev) but when I found myself in the same neighborhood just the next day, I decided to head over, order a whiskey, and see if he got the message. And as I walked inside, Mr. Bartenderman turned, locked eyes with me, and forgot my name. And that was a-OK, for my ultimate goal was to make the fuck out with him on the bar's garden patio once he'd closed everyone's tabs and locked the front door.
So the night began. We bonded over a love of music and mutual understanding of how ego, narcissism and technology both progress and deteriorate communication and, in turn, modern society. A few hours later Mr. Bartenderman let me plug in my phone and play DJ, blowing the minds of everyone in the bar with a series of carefully selected songs that I knew would wreak aural havoc on us all. In the best way.
When it came time to close, Mr. Bartenderman didn't outwardly ask me to stick around, yet failed to offer hints that I should get the hell out, so I sat listening to music and wondering what it'd be like to blow him under the NYC stars.
And when I noticed his loose ponytail was dyed azure blue I proceeded to unzip his jeans with my pupils. Then he informed me that he had a girlfriend.
Though I was disappointed, I was astounded by his honesty. He remarked that the situation was perfect, that I'd hop on a plane home the next day and he'd head back to his questionable relationship -- one he wasn't sure he even wanted -- and no one would ever know. Except he and me.
Three years ago, his ultimate unavailability wouldn't have been enough to stop me. Because the sheer magnetism I felt and the urge -- no NEED -- to release the sexual and sensual tension that had been building for hours would have overridden any sense of morality or conscience. That I somehow deserved the experience and denying it would be a disappointment I didn't want to deal with.
The above-mentioned pro-mistress Marley says she prefers the "other" status because, "Married men are better trained. They have had all their rough edges sanded off by their wives and know how to behave around a lady. And married men are better in bed."
But Marley misses the point here. The rough edges she believe have been buffed smooth are calloused by whatever conflict, neglect or discomfort is compelling him to seek her as his glorified Band-Aid.
He's unable to communicate his fears, take responsibility for the impending failure of his relationship, and do the work to find a solution -- and he's turned to this "other woman" as a mere distraction.
Marley goes on to gush about the favor she's doing men and their wives, and that if she learns one of her gents has ended his marriage or created conflict with Marley as his motivation, she feels "horrified" and ceases the affair.
"I don't want to steal someone's else husband for good, just borrow him for a while," she says.
But regardless of her self-indulgent altruistic intentions, that "borrow" session was the catalyst for the relationship's end and, frankly, it was her fault. Because a man who wants to stray will proceed with the necessary steps to find a vagina in which to release his steam -- but he'll only succeed when the vagina in question accepts the proposition.
And standing in that dank bar I found myself wiser, more mature, and completely zen with that reality. I looked him dead in the eye and told him I had to leave.
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Don't get me wrong -- I was bummed as hell not to learn what his orgasms sound like, or what it'd feel like to fuck to the rhythm of that Shlohmo remix I had played for him an hour earlier.
But none of that mattered, and I felt a new level of power as Mr. Bartenderman unlocked the door, watched me walk through, and bolted it closed as I strolled away. I had passed the ultimate test of character with chakra-like colors and when I finally made it back to my Williamsburg abode I simply took off my makeup and got ready to sleep.
My burning desire was satiated by my resolve to never again be a man's "Other" and only ever his "The," and whatever sexual impulse remained was easily quelled with an ice cream sandwich and my index finger.