In case you weren't wholly convinced by new findings that we're being menaced by amoral homewreckers, well, look no further than the Daily Mail, where a "shockingly unrepentent" serial husband-stealer confirms our worst fears!
The funny thing is, that in spite of their presentation, when you get past the lurid headlines, sometimes these first-person accounts contain a sort of raw truth that one rarely sees. Far from being "unrepentant," the narrator is actually fairly insightful about her motivations. For one thing, when she first takes up with a married man, she's only 18. His marriage, she says
in fact, it made him more desirable. It was more of a challenge to ‘catch' him, and I was flattered that such an attractive man who already had a wife would want to flirt with me. I was very young and naïve, and I felt no responsibility for the fact that he was married. If he wasn't worried, why should I be?
This begins a pattern in which she only dates married men - each of whom ultimately returns to his wife. When she has her "one and only relationship with a single man," he confirms her feeling that they "can't be trusted" by leaving her alone and pregnant. (The married guys leaving her for their wives is, I guess, a sign of their steadfastness?)
Looking back, I think that a lot of my interest in married men stemmed from a feeling of insecurity. Married men were 'safe': they represented security and perhaps even a father figure to me. Also, there was the thrill of the chase, the illicit nature of our clandestine meetings and a feeling of romance and danger about the affair. It was a heady mixture to a girl who didn't feel very confident about herself or her looks...In turn, I think the married men were attracted to me because I presented an image of vulnerability and innocence. I made myself into who they wanted me to be. Or, more realistically, all the things they felt their wives were not.
She's forced to consider that there's another person involved when she calls one of her boyfriends at home. "Suddenly, it all came home to me. This was a real person, a young woman like me, with a child." However, she ultimately ends up with another married guy, stays with him for five years during which they have two kids and he leads a double-life, and now, they're together and planning to marry. "I don't regret a thing," she - or the editor - finishes defiantly, despite having said exactly the opposite in the body of the piece.
If this is supposed to give some kind of insight into the mind of the predatory husband-snatcher, I guess it does, but more than anything it seems like a window into the life of a very disturbed young woman drawn to horrible men. That she perceives a man who's unfaithful to his wife as automatically attractive is not normal "mistress" behavior but, by piece's end, a kind of pathology. And the guys range, to judge by this, from predatory to loathesome, taking advantage of her insecurities and playing fast and loose with their families' lives.
In a crazy kind of way, this put me in mind of that memoir Perfection, the betrayed wife's confession. Both, in a sense, seem to position the issue as a stark conflict between the betrayed wife and the mistress - both, in a sense, defiant victims. What I mean, I guess, is that's how the media seems determine to position both, reducing these issues to a cultural catfight. And the glee with which the study results have been reported - madonnas! whores! boys will be boys! - plays into the most obvious of misogynistic cliches. Maybe that's inevitable: at the end of the day, maybe these issues are too basic and too fraught and too ancient to transcend such normative rhetoric. But it's the "shocking" lack of repentance I find worrisome.
Why I Steal Other Women's Husbands... A Shockingly Unrepentant Woman Explains Herself [Daily Mail]
Do Single Women Seek Attached Men? [NY Times]
Related: Sex & The Single Homewrecker: Caitlin Flanagan Slams Rielle Hunter, Helen Gurley BrownWoman Confronts Husband's Mistresses: Modern Closure, Or Old-School Drama?