I had a very interesting conversation with a friend of mine this week. She is what I refer to as my 'smug married' friend. I know, it's terribly Bridget Jones of me to say it, but it's true. Some of my married friends admit they are, or have been, screwed up and screwed over in their lives, but Becca hasn't. She claims she has never done anything wrong, outrageous, outlandish, impulsive, dangerous or hurtful to anyone in her entire life. She met her husband 15 years ago. They have two perfectly behaved, beautiful children. Her husband is incredibly good looking and successful.
She has a small but lucrative interior design business she runs from home, her beautifully decorated, immaculate home. It is like being friends with Kirsty Allsop. Everything has its place, she is organised, efficient and well and truly ahead of the game. Christmas is organised and all preparation is finished by the end of November. She hand makes her Christmas cards. She sews the costumes for the school nativity play every year. She bakes healthy food for the kids to take to school. Every time I visit there is a fresh batch of cheese scones coming out of the oven. Her timing is impeccable. These are the cheese scones that win a red rosette every year at the village fête, along with the red she receives for her quiche, her carrot cake, her perfectly decorated handmade cards and, of course, the flower arranging gold medal. The Women's Institute would make her their 'poster girl' if they got the opportunity.
I don't mean to sound bitter, I'm not at all. She is a wonderful friend, always there to help if anyone needs anything at all. She's a delight at dinner parties and social events. She is a good conversationalist, so long as the subject matter resembles the middle shelf of the Home Interests section of WH Smith magazine department. Parenting Monthly, House Beautiful and Good Food magazines are her bibles! I'm not saying she isn't clever, far from it, she's fabulous, but she'd rather talk about the benefits of slate tiles in the kitchen than discuss the possibility that the refs decision in the match on Saturday was scandalous, or the massive problems facing our economic situation. However, she is currently sewing and knitting clothes and blankets for Syria, so her heart is certainly in the right place and I love her to bits. I'm not sure how we managed to remain friends for so long, especially as she frowns on a lot of what I do, but she encourages me to tell her what I have been doing and occasionally pushes me for details, so I wonder if she is living her life vicariously through me in some way.
Anyway, the conversation I was having with her was about the fact that I believe we have all slept with someone else's man. The subject came up when we were talking about a relationship she had before she met her husband. She was 20 at the time, and a man she was seeing only saw her two or three times a week and was unavailable to contact for the rest of the time. He would always call her. She couldn't contact him. It was in the days before email and text messages. As they parted company after a date, he would make the next date, he would call her the day before to confirm and then he would meet her, bang on time, on every occasion. She assumed this was normal but, with an old friend of hers present for our coffee, we started discussing the way men behave between dates. Becca referred to her past love as Justin briefly, and her friend stopped and asked his name again.
Apparently she had always referred to him, for years, as J. Her old friend didn't know him as anyone other than J. So when the name Justin popped up she realised she knew him, that is the pleasure of living in the countryside with a slightly unusual name. Everyone knows everyone and it's impossible to hide anything.
Becca's Relationship with J lasted a year until he moved away and they decided to end it rather than try to maintain a long-distance Relationship. Just over a year later she had met her husband and J was relegated to a small part of her heart where the embers would burn endlessly. That was when her smugness and (impossible) perfection increased to gargantuan proportions. She was always quick to remind everyone that she had never done anything 'wrong' in her life and although she didn't stand in judgement of others (that would be so unladylike), she did polish her halo occasionally, in full view of others.
As Justin was discussed and timings were contemplated, the conclusion surfaced that he had actually been dating a distant friend, Suzie, at the same time as Becca. He had been with Suzie since high school and went on to marry her the year he 'moved away'. Apparently they did move away, to live in the same village as her parents, in a house 'Daddy' had built for them. His life was made for him, so with a hop, skip and a jump he headed off into the sunset with his childhood sweetheart. Leaving behind the broken-hearted Becca who was still under the illusion that he was and always had been single. Becca was speechless. She had no idea that for the whole year she was fooling around with someone else's man. She was, in actual fact, a Mistress! I wasn't pleased about her being upset, she was shocked by the news, but a little part of me smiled inside because it proved my theory that we have all been the Mistress, even unknowingly.
We have all slept with someone else's man at some point in our lives. I decided to conduct a little bit of a survey amongst my family and friends - thankfully they know what I'm like and never object to opening up to me. I emailed everyone and asked the women 'Have you ever slept with someone else's man, either knowingly before you chose to do it, or unwittingly, where you found out after the event? Either a full Relationship or just a one night fling? And I asked the men - apart from the ones I knew the answer to - 'Have you ever slept with a woman while you have been in a Relationship - semi or totally serious relationship?
Apart from two people not replying to my mail, every single one said yes. It may have been years ago, even a couple of them said it was while they were in school or college, but every one of them said yes. We have all been in my shoes to some degree. So, when someone is judging my lifestyle I know in my mind that they have, more than likely, been there themselves, with or without their knowledge. My situation is slightly different because I actively seek married men, but, as I have said before, at least I know what I'm letting myself in for.
But in Becca's case, to see the look on her face, 16 years after the event, was heartbreaking. She had no idea the man she had loved all those years ago had moved to get married and set up a new home far away from her. He suggested not keeping in touch because it would be 'too hard and upsetting' to do so! Yeah, it would have been too hard for him to hide and too upsetting if his new wife found out! I prefer to know what I am getting into. She knew nothing, and so many unsuspecting women in this world find themselves in the same predicament. Sites like illicitencounters.com lay it all bare for us to see, and that is far less damaging to our feelings than lying about it, and in Becca's case, finding out 16 years later, when she had carried a torch for him all those years. I can assure you, that day the torch was well and truly snuffed out.
Like I said she has never judged me for what I do but she has been fairly smug about her sin free life and how she has never done anything to be ashamed of. It is too soon for her friends to be joking with her about being a Mistress but I'm pretty sure when the wounds have healed, we will. I think we need to get her drunk one night to discover if there are any other skeletons in her closet! I'm sure there won't be, but it does make you wonder about the 'smug marrieds' we have in our lives and not only are the husbands usually looking elsewhere, but the wives have, at some point in their lives, almost definitely been the other woman! How smug can you be now?
Ask your friends and family if they have slept with someone else's man, and I bet you will be surprised by the response. I'd love to hear of your results, just out of curiosity, and how many of my readers have done exactly that too?
Karen uses leading married persons dating website, IllicitEncounters.com