I was visiting a friend this week who told me that her live-in boyfriend was talking frequently with an ex-girlfriend. I was immediately overwhelmed with sadness and a little bit of shame remembering when I was “that girl.”

I tried to explain to her that he is with her and nothing was going to change that. Regardless, her pain was still quite visible. I was hurting deeply for her.

That moment got me thinking about when I was “the other woman” a few times in my past. I guess I should share some of that with my readers. It was about 11 years ago when I was much (much!) younger and not even remotely close to receiving any sort of diagnoses.

First, let’s talk about how this period of my life started.

I was dumped by my first love. He was in the military and when it came time to move away, he did not want to uproot my young son and I and from my family so he dumped me instead. I was devastated. For a year I was lost in grief over losing him. He was everything to me.

Then I met another guy who was even more amazing than the first. That is how it goes, right? Anyway, this other guy and I had such an amazing connection. He was perfect (and gorgeous!) and he got me. He saw me for who I was and knew exactly how I was. He saw a broken girl who was struggling to be a mother, and wasn’t doing a good job. He made a bunch of promises one night, and the next day he left. He packed his things and moved away.

Okay, there’s a pattern now. How lame!

When he left, you could compare it to a movie: I was standing in the parking lot at night in the rain begging him not to leave with tears streaming down my face. He got in his car and drove away. I would never see him or talk to him again. I was crushed.

Three weeks later at a wedding I met another guy. He did not have a wedding ring on, and he seemed like a perfect rebound target. He was cute! So I pursued, and ended up with him for a little while. At first I did not know he was married, and I had my hooks in him so deep that by the time I found out he was married I just didn’t care. That is (as a dear friend puts it) whore-able.

Well, this guy lived a few hours away and we spent a few months going back and forth, visiting each other while having a very wild and passionate affair. I still did not care that he had a wife and two children at home. It did not matter to me. I was stuck on this mindset that “if he had what he needed there, he would not be in my bed.” Wow, I was so ignorant.

During this time I did not develop any sort of attachment to him. I did not “fall in love” or even “fall in like” with him. He was so much fun! It was about fun, laughing and great sex during what I understand now was a massive hyper-sexual episode. When I ended things, it was so smooth, clean and easy to break free it became my new preferred relationship: men who were in a committed relationship, either engaged or married. It worked perfectly, for quite some time.

The thing with what I was going through (which I still don’t completely understand) is I did not want these guys. I did not want a “relationship” and these guys were not going to leave the women they were with to be with me, which meant I could not get hurt. I was able to get the part-time attention I desired, spicy sex from men who desired that, and space of my own to have time on my own. I did not have to answer to anyone, and I did not have anyone breathing down my neck all the time. My life was incredibly easy at the time.

I know how terrible it was, all the things I did. During that time, however, I went through a major healing process which allowed me to open up to my husband when I met him. Without that “safe” period of my life, I would never have married the man I am with now.

I know there are many women who would have been hurt by the things I did, and I do carry a good amount of guilt after I had my own experience as “the wife” who was cheated on. I still try to tell myself if these men were in a good place, they would not have been so easy to seduce. Yeah, I know, it’s a crappy way to think. We all deal with things our own way, though.

Anyway, because I am now with my own married man who had his battles with seeking attention where he shouldn’t, I have to decide if I got what I put out there. I had a little bit too much fun seducing attached men, and my husband had a little too much fun playing with fire.

It all comes around full circle, doesn’t it?

Infidelity photo available from Shutterstock.