I Was the Other Woman—but I Still Feel Sorrier for Myself Than for Her

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You should really meet my friend Mason*. You’re basically the same person. You’d be obsessed with each other,” said Ace*, my skinny college roommate. I had just made a highly inappropriate joke, peppered with c-words, which apparently signalled that this Mason guy and I were a match made in heaven.

Mason was dark-haired with an earring and miscellaneous tattoos. Although he wasn’t traditionally attractive, what he did have was charisma. When he spoke, people were drawn to him. He had a way of making you feel important, like you were the only person in the world.

We finally met one night towards the end of our first semester of freshman year. Instantly, a chemical, animalistic attraction possessed us. From the moment he said hello, he didn’t take his eyes off of me. His laugh gave me goosebumps.

Mason’s charms were like an infectious disease: One person in the room caught the bug and then passed it on to someone else. Pretty soon everyone was lapping up what he was serving, myself included.

I don’t know how much we actually spoke that evening, but I sensed that our bodies needed to be touching. Naked.

As our group left the pre-game to go out for the night, Mason and I redirected the cab we were sharing to go home and strip each other’s clothes off in my extra-long twin bed. I had my first orgasm with another person that night. That oxytocin, it’s like a drug. I became an addict; I needed my next hit.

“I DON’T KNOW HOW MUCH WE ACTUALLY SPOKE THAT EVENING, BUT I SENSED THAT OUR BODIES NEEDED TO BE TOUCHING. NAKED.”

Ace was right: We were a match made in heaven. Two hedonists with a penchant for Jim Beam and bad decisions. The morning after we first had (mindblowing) sex and went about our days, we simultaneously made our Facebook statuses, “[Insert name] is a hot mess.” It was WiFi-enabled cosmic fate.

We got close quickly, spending our days in bed hungover and our nights drinking cheap whiskey and having lots of sex. When we weren’t together, we were sending graphic texts to each other on our flip phones.

At bars and clubs, we spent entire nights wrapped around each other. I felt like I had won the big prize. On Mason’s arm, I absorbed his energy. I became the most interesting person in the room, too.

Our foundation was sex, but Mason soon grew to be more than a lover. He became my best friend, someone I felt comfortable talking about absolutely everything with. Well, with one exception: His girlfriend back home.


The girlfriend may be the betrayed one, but there is no worse agony than being the mistress. You are the half-loved one. You’re never “The One.” You’re the one’s who not good enough. You’re never the priority. Eventually, you forget what it’s like to be treated as a human being who’s deserving of love.

And though I knew Mason had a serious girlfriend before I slept with him, I don’t think that either one of us even considered that a reason to avoid hooking up. We were nineteen, an age where you lack big-picture thinking and are almost always drunk. I suppose I knew I was supposed to care, but I didn’t.

The weight of the affair didn’t set in until I fell in love with him—which I did quickly and violently.

And then, the inevitable: I became every cliché side-chick. Thinking I was different and special…knowing in my bones that we would end up together. But I wasn’t different. I wound up so absorbed in his charms that he was even able to convince me to edit most of his college papers (add tutor to the growing list of talents I was offering up with no remuneration). I pretended his girlfriend didn’t exist and refused to speak of her, forbidding Ace and our other friends from broaching the subject, too. I was in a constant state of frenzy: Wrapped up in “the game” of winning him, while battling an overwhelming sense of impermanence.

It was a concoction of self-preservation and self-loathing: the deadly makeup of the side-chick’s psyche.

One morning, lying naked and fresh from sex, I picked up Mason’s phone while he was in my shower. It didn’t have a lock. I don’t know why I did it other than masochism, but there it was: a text from his girlfriend that said, “I want to f*ck you.”

I dropped the phone and pretended it never happened. It’s surprisingly easy to convince yourself that abnormal things are normal when you’re sleeping with someone else’s boyfriend. In my mind, he was my boyfriend.

“IT WAS A CONCOCTION OF SELF-PRESERVATION AND SELF-LOATHING: THE DEADLY MAKEUP OF THE SIDE-CHICK’S PSYCHE.”

But at the same time, I knew things weren’t quite right. Our bond was somehow growing both deeper and weaker at the same time. I became desperate for his affection and more insecure about our arrangement. If I just show him how amazing and funny and gorgeous I am, he’ll eventually wake up and realize that I’m the one for him, right? Of course, that’s never how it goes. He wanted to have his cake and eat it too.

If you’re a crappy enough person to juggle two women in the first place, why would you suddenly breakup with one of them when you could keep a girlfriend at school and another back home? It’s simple logic.

 Getty

Everything came to a head one morning in early April. Ace informed me that Mason’s girlfriend was in town and that the whole crew was getting together for lunch.

Mason hadn’t told me about her visit, obviously. I was terrified by how horrible I felt. With my heart like a fragile balloon, I spent the entire day in bed, unable to move. I didn’t even cry, instead just laying there in agony.

Mason and I continued sleeping together sporadically for a few weeks after, but the whole thing felt poisoned. The bubble had burst. The harsh reality of the situation was beyond plausible deniability.

“HE WASN’T WILLING TO SLOW DOWN AND COMMIT TO ME, AND I’D GROWN WORN OUT FROM WAITING.”

Other than one night at a club where we did too much cocaine and screamed at each other, there was no grand finale or fiery crescendo. The novelty of it all had faded. He wasn’t willing to slow down and commit to me, and I’d grown worn out from waiting.Where spending time with him had once excited me, now it just made me sad.

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The texts were fewer and farther between, until they stopped coming at all. I started sleeping with some other guy and then another; he started sleeping with other women too—and notably continued dating his girlfriend.

As many freshman-year friendships do, our crew eventually splintered into factions. Mason and his friends went one way, Ace and I another. We didn’t have to avoid each other because there was nothing to avoid. There was no awkwardness or harsh feelings, just shades of disillusionment.


Being the side chick means you’re painted as a vile harlot who is out to ruin the lives of committed, “good” women. Conveniently exempted from this stigma: the person who chose to cheat on this “good woman.” Despite the reputation, I know these truths about a side chick: She’s rarely malicious. She isn’t sleeping with another woman’s boyfriend or husband because she’s a terrible, home-wrecking nutjob. She’s in so deep that the consequences don’t matter. She doesn’t want to be a side chick. She wants to be the only chick. The only problem is that she, like many women, chose to love a jerk.

To this day I still feel worse for myself than I do for his girlfriend. My adult brain says I shouldn’t, that I should take full responsibility for my part in the affair, but she was never real to me and she never will be.

She and I never saw each other in person and I never felt her pain. When Mason texted me the following year, announcing he’d made a mistake and wanted to try with me “for real” because he’d finally left her, she still felt like a character in a TV show. It was too late then, of course.

Now, years later, in a committed relationship with my domestic partner (and future husband), I can look back on this experience and recognize it as my foundation for understanding adult relationships. It isn’t as screwed up as it sounds.

I know what real love is now because I finally have it unconditionally. Looking back on what I had with Mason, I can see how glaringly wrong it all was. It felt like love, but it wasn’t. Love lifts you up. It makes you feel whole, happy, confident, and adored. It doesn’t eat away at you like bacteria.

I spent a good deal of time trying to figure out what I’d done to end up in such a screwed up situation. I even cheated on several really good (and a few really bad) people. Therapists have told me this was a way of trying to take back some power. I think I just didn’t know what love was supposed to look like in real life.

With a lot of work toward self-awareness, I’ve found that I am deserving of love. All women are—no matter their past mistakes. Your past does not hinder your ability to grow and change. It fuels it.

*Names have been changed.

A Look at All the Times Kate Middleton Has Worn a Tiara

The Duchess’s rare tiara moments in review.

Kate Middleton is known for many things—glorious hair, adorable children, a love of high street style—but wearing tiaras is not one of them. While the Duchess is frequently seen in a hat or fascinators, the times when she’s worn a tiara are comparatively few. In fact, the she has worn a tiara on just five occasions. Most recently, at the Annual Diplomatic Reception at Buckingham Palace on December 8, where the Duchess looked every bit the royal beauty in one of Princess Diana’s favorite tiaras.

It’s uncertain whether Kate’s decision to largely forgo royal headpieces has to do with representing the monarchy as more modern and in touch (which she often does by wearing affordable fashion and repeating outfits), or about distinguishing herself from Princess Diana, who had a penchant for tiaras (a less likely answer as Kate often channels her late mother-in-law’s style)—or perhaps she just wants each time she breaks out the bling to be extra-special. Regardless, the Duchess looks absolutely stunning every time she dons the royal jewels and we wish she’d wear them more often.

Scroll down to take a look at each of Kate Middleton’s rare—but always breathtaking—tiara moments:

From: ELLE

DECEMBER 8, 2016

At the Annual Diplomatic Reception held at Buckingham Palace, the Duchess accessorized her ruby-red Jenny Packham gown with the Cambridge Lover’s Knot Tiara—a favorite of Princess Diana.

This glamorous heirloom has been in the family since 1913, when Queen Mary commission the royal jeweler Garrard to make it. It features 19 diamond arches over a row of pearl drops.

DECEMBER 8, 2015

The Duchess previously wore the Cambridge Lover’s Knot Tiara at the Annual Diplomatic Reception in 2015, paired with an ice blue Alexander McQueen gown.

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OCTOBER 20, 2015

Dressed in the familier red Jenny Packham gown, Kate Middleton wore the Lotus Flower Tiara while attending a state banquet for the Chinese president at Buckingham Palace. This piece was originally a necklace given to the Queen Mother in 1923, but she quickly had it turned into a tiara.

DECEMBER 3, 2013

At the Annual Diplomatic Reception in 2013, the Duchess wore almost the exact outfit she wore to the event in 2015. The blue Alexander McQueen dress and borrowed earrings from Queen Elizabeth were the same, but at the 2013 occasion Kate opted for the Lotus Flower Tiara.

APRIL 29, 2011

On her wedding day, the Duchess complemented her Alexander McQueen bridal gown with a dramatic veil, which was anchored by the Cartier Halo Scroll Tiara, on loan from Queen Elizabeth.

This stunning diamond sparkler was created by Cartier in 1936 at the behest of King George VI—he gave it to his wife Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, three weeks before he ascended the throne. The delicate headpiece evokes a modern elegance, which made it the perfect choice for Kate’s wedding day.

These Celebrities Just Broke a Major Red Carpet Fashion Rule at Cannes

From cardinal sin to a clever trick for making sure you don’t look like anybody else.

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Due to me determining that it is not such an absolute, “wearing white” was not included on my list of things celebrities never wear. They do wear it—just never quite like Elisabeth Moss, Adriana Lima, and Rihanna did at Cannes.

Whereas the average famous person who wished not to stir the engagement-rumor pot would only touch the colorless color with a 10-foot pole and if it were Calvin Klein clean, the aforementioned trio went where few have gone before: Bridal White. Gasp! Scan Us Weekly! But they didn’t just stop at some lacy, “call it wedding-y for the headline” dresses—two of our three trailblazers straight-up wore looks off the bridal runway.

At the premiere of Loveless, Adriana Lima first axed the ruffly straps from her Naeem Khan Bridal Spring 2018 gown but left the sculpted bodice intact, which she amplified with a hefty necklace that probably required its own ex-military personnel.

Then, in an even more unexpected move, Elisabeth Moss showed up at the opening of The Square in a dress-and-leather-jacket combo that was anything but. (We did declare the logo-embroidered skirt some of the best work from this season.) The most flattering? Could be a bit more so, if you listen to the commenters. Daring? Absolutely. If you Cannes’t can’t do it at Cannes…

Now, the bridal-iest for last: Rihanna in Dior, even though she’s the type of gal who would make perma-single-dom (without casual sex!) look like a blast. While this wasn’t out-and-out intended for the cathedral/Vegas chapel, the strapless silhouette and ’90s shawl are very Reception Lewk #2.

So why the switch? Again, ::Gerard Butler voice:: this is Cannes, where you can wear Fashion Shorts, and everybody would simply nod. But more than that, it’s celebrities turning toward unlikelier clothing sources, in this case masterpieces that rarely see more than the inside of a showroom, unless there’s some shotgun society wedding. (But then again, they’d probably wait for a custom job anyway, because who wears off-the-rack?)

There’s still about a week of Cannes left to go, so maybe somebody will wear this gamine Viktor & Rolf—then run off to actually do the deed on a yacht.

Research Says You Can Safely Induce Your Own Abortion

Woman taking pill in bathroom

PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

A new study is showing that abortion medication prescribed through telemedicine results in successful abortions with low rates of adverse effects. So, yes, the abortion pill — a term that usually refers to both mifepristone and misoprostol, which are taken together to induce non-surgical abortion — works. And abortion drugs work without a woman seeing a doctor in person to use them.

The study, published this week in The BMJ, analyzed the self-reported outcomes of 1,000 women in Ireland and Northern Ireland after they induced their own abortions with medication from the organization Women on Web (WoW). (WoW provides access to medical abortion in areas where safe abortion is inaccessible or, as it is in Ireland and Northern Ireland, illegal.) In addition to assessing the success of the women’s abortions and any undesirable experiences they reported, researchers also looked at their ability to recognize symptoms that indicated a potentially serious complication and when to seek further medical attention for those symptoms.

What they found was that 95 percent of these self-sourced and self-managed medical abortions were successful, meaning they didn’t require any surgical intervention afterward. Of the 1,000 women, 93 experienced a symptom that might have been indicative of a serious complication. The vast majority of these, 95 percent, sought care (the five who didn’t seek care also didn’t report experiencing any adverse outcome) — so, yes, women are smart, sentient beings who can follow directions, take medication as prescribed, and seek care when needed.

Medical abortion has been shown before to be incredibly safe. According to Planned Parenthood, serious complications of the procedure are rare, and research indicates that it leads to serious side effects in fewer than one percent of cases. The drug mifepristone first gained FDA approval for use in in 2000. By 2012, a fifth of all abortions performed in the U.S. were medical abortions — and that’s not counting abortions performed outside the official medical system: “In the case of the United States, we already know women are self-sourcing, so there is a public health duty to help make it as safe and supported as possible,” lead author Abigail Aiken, an assistant professor at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Policy at the University of Texas-Austin, said in a statement.


More on reproductive health and rights:

CVS Is Getting Rid of All Its Sun Care Products Under SPF 15

Miami Celebrity Sightings - May 20, 2010

The Jersey Shore cast: Putting the “T” in GTL (gym, tan, laundry).

PHOTO: VALLERY JEAN

Of all the regrettable things I did in college—having a long-distance relationship senior year, skipping an Obama campaign rally to do homework, any of the Alpha Kappa Lambda guys—tanning is far up there on the list. This was the era of GTL’ing, and believe it or not, Snooki was something of an icon at my state school in Missouri. We all had poofs. And we all had deep, dark tans—even me, whose natural shade clocks in somewhere between “Casper” and “what could pass for porcelain.” When my friends and I weren’t waiting in lines that wound out the door of Tan Co., we’d be sprawled out on the deck, passing around a brown bottle of SPF 4 tanning oil like it was a bag of Franzia.

It took a few sketchy moles, a trip to the emergency room because of second-degree burns (from the sun and the oil!), and some really, truly humiliating sorority rush photos to finally get a grip on what derms have been saying for years: sun protection is crucial. I’m not saying it’s anyone’s fault but my own, but if someone had pulled the towel out from under me and made me realize that bronzing oil wasn’t doing me any favors—and that pale, too, is pretty—it wouldn’t have been the worst thing.

That’s essentially what CVS is doing with its new “Long Live Skin” campaign, and I wish I could time-travel back and plaster these ads all over MTV. In partnership with Johnson & Johnson and the American Cancer Society, the campaign centers around increasing skin health awareness and the importance of proper skin care. One of its biggest highlights: The drugstore will no longer carry any sun care products with an SPF lower than 15. In their place, CVS is adding new brands to its shelves that offer greater skin-health benefits—ones that are derm-approved as well as natural and organic options.

The brand is also rolling out weekly deals on sunscreens, along with a moving social campaign. You can sneak a peek at the first of ads (which centers around advice you’d give your younger self), below:

This is a brilliant way to make smarter sun protection choices easier. It would certainly have helped someone as careless as me in my teens do at least the bare minimum for my skin. But I’m going to put on my preachy beauty editor hat for a second (in this fantasy it’s floppy and wide-brimmed because SPF): No matter your skin tone, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends using a product with an SPF of 30+. (The FDA minimum recommendation is 15.)

Also, just earlier today Consumer Reports released its annual sunscreen ratings (a ranking of over 60 big-name products to see if their level of protection holds up to the SPF promised on the bottle), and the results aren’t exactly pretty. Roughly one-third of the sunscreens tested didn’t stack up to their claim; meaning, they aren’t protecting your skin as long as you think they are. (If you want to get real skin-nerdy, you can read more on sunscreen efficacy here.)

So, the moral of this story: Any sunscreen is better than none—and getting it at CVS this summer is a safe bet.

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Bella Hadid’s Cannes Gown Had Another Epic Leg Slit BY AVERY MATERA

"Ismael's Ghosts (Les Fantomes d'Ismael)" & Opening Gala Red Carpet Arrivals - The 70th Annual Cannes Film Festival

PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

Bella Hadid just made her first official red carpet appearance at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, where she looked predictably gorgeous in a light pink silk Alexandre Vauthier gown with a pretty epic leg slit, which is kind of becoming her thing.

"Ismael's Ghosts (Les Fantomes d'Ismael)" & Opening Gala Red Carpet Arrivals - The 70th Annual Cannes Film Festival

PHOTO: VENTURELLI

You’ll recall the supermodel wore a similar gown on the red carpet at last year’s Cannes Film Festival in deep crimson, which also had a plunging neckline and wardrobe-malfunction-defying slit.

Speaking of wardrobe malfunctions, Bella probably could have used a little extra fabric when the wind blew her way while posing on the carpet, but she handled it like a pro—and looked incredible.

While on the red carpet, Hadid also managed to greet actress Susan Sarandon and eat ice cream, which qualifies as a pretty epic day as far we’re concerned.

FRANCE-CANNES-FILM-FESTIVAL

PHOTO: ALBERTO PIZZOLI

14 Swimsuit-Shopping Secrets Plus-Size Bloggers Swear By

PHOTO: CHRISTINA EMILIE

When plus-size clothing brand Catherines offered to whisk me away to Playa Del Carmen for a week in January, my first thought was, ‘A swimsuit? Post-holiday season? No way,’ because, you know, I’m a human woman and have (sadly) been conditioned to feel insecure in any beach situation. My second thought, though, was that waking up under a palm tree with a melted margarita doesn’t sound bad. And my third was that I’d be in the company of Kelly Augustine, Kellie Brown, Rochelle Johnson, and Madeline Jones, four plus-size bloggers who were also invited. Between that and the margarita, my mind was made up and my plane ticket was booked for the Catherines trip. When we got to the beach, talk turned (naturally) to swimsuits—how we shop them, style them, and feel good in them—so I wrote down the women’s most valuable advice. Here’s what you need to know.

1. Fit comes first. “I’d compromise color for fit in a second!” says Jones. “For me, fit is always about the boobs—I need lift and support. If you buy something that’s really pretty but it doesn’t fit properly, it’s not worth it.”

2. Consider how a suit will function. “For my body type, I like two-pieces with a high-waist because most of my weight is in my middle,” says Brown. “I don’t want a suit rolling down, want a suit to perform—when I’m moving around in the pool, I want it to stay in place.”

3. Skip bra sizing if you have big breasts. “I have a K-cup chest, so I shop suits with L or XL sizing, because a lot of bikini tops don’t come in my bra size,” says Augustine.

4. Longline tops are your friend! “I like a thicker back band, not just a typical bra band, because I also have weight back there and I need full coverage,” says Brown.

5. Try on suits at home. “Shopping in general can be frustrating—especially when it comes to swimsuits—so I do all of my buying online,” says Augustine. “That way, everything comes to me and I can try everything on in the comfort of my house.”

6. But take note of return policies. “I have better luck online,” says Brown. “If something looks cute, I’ll try it, but I look for brands that have good return policies—or stores I can make online returns in. Returning never killed anybody!”

7. And try everything you think may work.Everything,” says Johnson. “I have a cover up that’s medium/large—which I’m not, I’m more like a 3X. You never know what will work.”

8. Same goes for online shopping. “Check every tab on the sites you shop on—including regular price and sale,” says Johnson.

9. Look for options with built-in support. “Normally, I buy suits with a bra in them,” says Jones. “And pay attention to straps, if they’re too thin, they tend to dig into shoulders. By the end of the day your neck and back will hurt.”

10. Material is important too. “Something with spandex will hold you in,” says Jones. “I also love a great neckline, I usually wear a sweetheart, v-neck, or halter to give good shape.”

11. Be open to shapes beyond a bikini or standard one piece. “Get something that you’re comfortable with—for me, I want something with more coverage around the hips,” says Johnson. “I lean towards a dress or a high-waisted skirt, when I want to feel a little sexier.”

12. Sheer is in! “If you’re not up for a two-piece but you still want to feel sexy, get something that’s sheer at the top or in the mid-section,” says Augustine.

13. Remember, you can alter an imperfect suit. “I sometimes size up to a 20,” says Augustine. “If you have the option to tailor it and have a special bra size like me, why not? It’s better to invest and have a few suits that really fit you, instead of a bunch that don’t.”

14. And just do you. “No matter what you think you look like, the woman you’re looking at with the ‘perfect’ body is also insecure about something,” says Brown. “It’s not something to dwell on!” Her parting thought: “I want to go swimming more than I don’t like my arms.”

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