Why There is Always an “Other Woman”

There is always someone else behind the scenes- hear me out..!

When your loving, attentive husband breaks the news for the first time- that he’s not happy- AND that he’s leaving. It’s devastating. The shock is so horrifying that it’s delayed with disbelief. Its so unexpected- it feels like the universe is playing a cruel joke.

We were content, secure, and stable.. then it blows up in flames all at once. Now suddenly he’s vindictive, hostile and sadistically cruel. You no longer recognize this as the man you knew all these years.

What’s curious is that after initially bringing up that he’s leaving, many following statements are said as-a-matter-of-factHe doesn’t even want to hear your reply. There is NO wiggle room to talk things out:

  • “We aren’t compatible”
  • “I haven’t been happy for a long time”
  • “We aren’t good for each other”
  • “I don’t even like you”


Where did this come from? Clearly it did not come from the person you cuddled just the other day, laughed with and enjoyed a meal together. Only yesterday he was sending love notes and proclaiming his love. Maybe he complained of a headache that morning, and you happily fetched him some water and medicine- without a clue in the world what he was about to do later that day. The point is- you were secure and unaware of anything dark brewing. But there was something brewing- in your absence. In the company of another.

Vikki Stark explained that around 95% of runaway husbands are having an affair by the time they leave their wives, after interviewing hundreds of couples for her research.

So…. if every runaway husband has an “other woman”, what about the other 5%?

Lets explore for a moment just why the other 95% waited till they had someone else lined up before dropping the bomb on you…

Most claim that they were unhappy for a while, weren’t in love, etc etc etc… (If you’ve been here, you’ve heard it all). But there were also things going on mentally at the time- issues with codependency, conflict avoidance, disconnection with his feelings. Then this is all set into motion with an onset of depression- due to a variety of events in life that could have triggered it. He needs people to see him as “good” in order to feel lovable- it does not come from within. Unless he works through his codependency, he will always be reliant on another person in his life to make him feel worthy.
(For more on these compounded factors, see: Codependency in the Runaway Husband and Depression in the Runaway Husband)

In the 95% of runaway husbands, affair partners are the only reason they mustered up the courage to leave the marriage they blamed their unhappiness on, while still maintaining their dependency on someone else’s approval.

For the other 5%, it would appear that with his reliance on others to make him feel good and confident about himself, that he would be highly unlikely to cut you off without a backup plan. After all, he has used you all this time as his steady flow of validation and confirmation that he’s lovable and important. That addiction to others, and inability to validate his own emotions, is exactly the conditions that led to him not speaking up. But now- he’s not only speaking up, but he’s also moving on! He’s not relying on your validation anymore.

He did not have a sudden epiphany, and his hostility is proof. Anger is always a mask for another emotion. If he had spontaneously healed from his need to be validated by others, then why was he so volatile and hurtful? He is now using anger and detachment to numb certain feelings. This isn’t someone who’s had an epiphany and “sees the truth” (although he is trying very hard to convince you AND himself of this). This is the most out-of-touch with reality he’s ever been in his life- and he needs to maintain a strong level of denial, masking his feelings of guilt and shame with the emotion of anger- until he learns to cut off from his feelings entirely. He needs to believe that he’s righteous, and get constant affirmation from someone who agrees with him. This is someone who has discarded not only you, but his own reality, in favor of a better reflection of himself in the eyes of someone else.

And for this to happen- it does not need to be a romantic interest.

If you know for a fact that there was no “other woman,” I believe you. I know first hand the lengths that abandoned wives go through in order to find evidence of this. The endless obsessions, combing through every dollar he spent, and above all else- stalking. I did not find an actual woman, but I did find a divorced guy friend desperately in need of an ego boost and rent money.

I know I said “there is always an other woman”. What I mean by that is, there is always sometime behind the scenes filling that role– validating him, making him feel perfect, justifying his behaviors, siding with his story, painting you as “bad”. They saw your husband at a weak point, put band-aids on the wounds of his ego, and took him out of his depression by embracing a new fantasy life. A fantasy where he’s done no wrong (a victim), there’s a villain (you) and he’s being rescued (by the meddler). He reverts back to his inner child, needing approval from others, and putting blind faith in whoever feeds into the story that he did no wrong. Whoever feeds this inner child.

The meddlers in your marriage may have been a romantic interest, but there are many other people who can fill the role his ego craved. There may have been meddlers before he started an affair, then cheered him on for it. Examples of such people include family members (especially mothers or mother-figures), friends and co-workers. People he trusted enough to share private details with, and helped him in his journey to abandoning his marriage. In these cases, there is almost always an ulterior motive, which i’ll talk about in another post.

Unsurprisingly, many runaway husbands do not share their concerns with anyone who will defend you, help him save his marriage, or judge him for abandoning. This is the point where he keeps his social circle small-because the story being stirred needs to be as far away from anything that could compromise his feelings of being a righteous victim. Its hard to say if he realizes that his ego is steering him away from anyone who could pop his safety bubble- this means he avoids grounded and healthy people.

He goes from clinging to you, who had a realistic view of him, to clinging to another person, who has an idealized view. The perfect reflection he craves could only be shown to him through another person who did not see his flaws. This was his love with the warped reflection of himself.

Narcissus, from Greek mythology, gazing into his reflection before drowning. A grim reminder of the power that pride has over the well-being of someone’s entire life.

More from Husbands who Abandon:

6 thoughts on “Why There is Always an “Other Woman”

  1. … “This is someone who has discarded not only you, but his own reality, in favor of a better reflection of himself in the eyes of someone else.” Wow, does that sentence, sum it all up. I struggled for 5 years trying to find a ‘why’ until I got so sick of the story I wanted to throw up. Thank you Lessley for that post. Keep writing!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Besides Vikki Stark no one else has come close to my situation. My husband of 39 years did not have another woman. But, I have been replaced by our one and only child. He is 31 and on the spectrum. Very high functioning. Successful in business but social skills, not quite there yet. He and his father are best buddies (now). They vacation together, etc. Things my husband and I would be doing. You hit the nail on the head. Thank you.


  3. I am so glad I found this site. this has been so helpful for me to figure out the why and what happened. After thirty five years married, he left me for another woman who posted on Instagram, a siren song of ” come let me help you to bury your past, let us give life to our future.” He is now living with her. His sister told me that if I loved him so much, I should be happy that he has found someone worthy of a long term relationship. Another enabler of his behavior. The night I texted him that I filed for divorce, he had just taken her out and spent over $100 at a restaurant for her birthday. It took my therapist to convince me that he wasn;t coming back. i feel for every woman who is going through this..I have reread every article on this webpage several times. I am beginning to feel and realize that it really wasn’t about me. It is totally about him and his insecurities. He also was a serial emotional cheater online. All this to stroke his ego and his self esteem.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I have no t found any website that so clearly paints the pain , upheaval and distress and – ultimately- even during a lockdown, the thought process , as I navigate my life after his runaway , with our kids, so spot on. This is insane and scary and it helps to know it’s not just me. The stages and steps couldn’t have been more precise. Don’t stop adding, this has been both so hurtful and healing for me . Though- I had spotted it, I knew it was coming, I just didn’t take it too seriously since after 30 years the only thing I ever said was don’t shame me or make a fool of me. And yet… still- head up . At this point another woman would be an easier process than this minefield Of rage and unspoken emotion and lack of respect and responsibility. I knew the cliche and I believed that as our story but so reassuring to see the step by step simplicity in it all. Still. Betrayal, and life. It also allows me to confront (again and again) my own principles and choices I can make. Thank you endlessly. Wow


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