The other woman. The guy she told you not to worry about. Or, “side piece, side chick, snack, dip, jump-off, situationship,” as said by sexologist, licensed clinical social worker, and sex and relationship expert and therapist, Shamyra Howard. Some of us find ourselves there accidentally, unwillingly. Yet some of us relish the forbidden position, the naughty notion. Howard helps us explore why.
Those titles are just a few names for those who might be involved with someone who’s already in a primary monogamous relationship. “So basically, yes, these are the relationships of those who are cheating on their partner. As a sex and relationship therapist, I often work with couples who are recovering from infidelity and other relationship injuries, and ‘other lovers.’ It’s not surprising to me that some ‘other lovers’ are content with their role and are OK with being the other. Many of them do not aspire to be a primary partner of the person they’re cheating with. I am in no way condoning cheating; however, I want to tell you three reasons why some people get off on being the other lover.”
“One of the lyrics in R&B group Xscape’s song My Little Secret says, ‘I like being in the same room as you and your girlfriend, the fact that she don’t know, that really turns me on…’ Some people enjoy feeling like they have the upper hand in this way. Although research shows us that keeping secrets can cause physical and emotional issues, keeping this kind of secret feels rewarding for some people because their goal is to not get caught.”
“Not everyone desires a full-time partner, and they don’t mind sharing the load with others (no pun intended). These are usually people who don’t want the emotional responsibility of a full-time relationship and enjoy the go-with-the-flow, see-you-when-I-see-you situation.”
They desire the connection
“There are people who didn’t know they were in a relationship with someone who was partnered. The considerate thing to do would be to end the relationship; however, it’s not always that easy for some people. When feelings are involved, people’s ethics can be affected, and they do what is best for them. Never say never.”
Whether it’s a power dynamic, careless and selfish convenience, or an accidental occurrence, if the main partner is in the dark, it’s not an ethical relationship. It’s easy to relieve oneself from blame, being the single person who does not have a partner to betray, but by participating in the relationship with the attached person, we are absolutely playing a key role in the betrayal, and it’s up to our own moral compass to decide how to proceed.
“If you are the other lover, the partner of the other lover, or the partner of a person who’s had another lover, reading this might bring up some familiar feelings for you. There are several reasons why some people prefer to be the other lover, but understand that deciding to betray your own or someone else’s relationship is not OK. If you find that you are constantly seeking partners who are involved, there could be a reason for this.
Many people with avoidant attachment styles are attracted to the emotional detachment that these types of relationships provide. If this sounds like you, consider seeing a professional therapist to help you sort through your feelings and relationship styles. There are so many different types of relational dynamics that you’d enjoy. The best types of relationships are those where each person is able to exercise their choice in how the relationship is structured.”
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