[COLUMN] Do Better, Be Better:<br />
When Youâre the Other Wo(man)

Don’t Aid and Abet Cheaters.

A few weeks ago I learned I was “the other woman”.

Let me re-phrase that. I was one of many other women. I won’t go into a lengthy soliloquy about being hurt or distraught, because that would be disingenuous. Truthfully, something about the guy just didn’t feel right— though he answered all questions perfectly (ex. no significant other anywhere on the horizon)— so after lots of lectures from gal pals about giving this particular Black Man Working a chance, I decided to simply follow my gut and exit. My preferred method of disengagement: ignoring all contact. Not the best tactic, but effective, and fair, when there is no “relationship."

There’s just one downside to “silencing” a suitor: The awkward run in. Fast forward two months and I see “Mr. PhD” (his girl circle nickname) at a mutual friend’s BBQ— neither us knew the other party was acquainted. Despite being all smiles, inwardly I was hoping I didn’t get cornered for being messy, and most important, happy I took the time to bump my hair, fully lotion and jogged three times that week. After a few relatively painless conversations, I thought I was in the clear. I assured my girlfriend “Mr. PhD” posed no clear and present danger and preceded to mingle. A few minutes later, mid-sangria sip, I was accosted by a tight squeeze on my arm. I turned around, and it’s not “Mr. PHd”, but my friend. Still maintaining her manlike vise grip she relayed a surprising message, “Mr. PHd is engaged…for two years. His wedding invitation is on the refrigerator. It’s in August.” Really.

Now, the only thing that saved Mr. PhD from an Evelyn Lozada moment was indifference. But what if I had really liked him? What if we had dating strong for the six months? I would have been humiliated, heartbroken and jaded. Over the course of the event Mr. PhD’s fiancé (a beautiful, seemingly sweet woman) arrived and he played her close — but had his boys serve as crowd control in case I decided to approach. I didn’t. I did not want to ruin the event or embarrass her. But I have to say I regretted that choice. Here’s why.

Silence is almost as encouraging as approval. My decision to remain quiet not only told him that his behavior towards his wife-to-be was acceptable, but that I was alright with him robbing me of my choice. I had the right to know whether I was involved with a man who was in a relationship. Most important, I’d asked him and he’d lied. Repeatedly. About everything from where he resided to his last relationship. I felt torn but heeded the advice to keep it simple, and step.

Then a funny thing happened, Mr. PhD— who I’d never run into before — was brazen enough to come chat with me at popular bar a few weeks later. In fact, he was so flirty and cocky that he interrupted me while I was telling story to an entire table. As you all know, arrogance killed Cesar— but I just wounded Mr. PhD’s pride. He asked me how I was doing and I responded without pause, “Great, why didn’t you tell me you were engaged?” Not easily broken, Mr. Smoothness replied with a quick believable lie, that it just happened a few weeks prior. And when I told him I knew he’d been engaged for two years, I got hit with more gigantic tales and eventually a blank, awkward stare. I laughed, sat down, enjoyed my Pina Colada… and watched as he hit on several other women — many of who heard our conversation and shut him down.

But don’t feel too sorry for him. There were other bars on the street.

DBBB tips:

  1. Don’t Subscribe to the “No Good Men/Women Theory”- There are few things more painful than sitting in an Amen corner of man/woman haters. You can only attract goodness if you expect.
  2. Don’t Aid and Abet Cheaters – We all know someone who allows a serial cheat to use their pad or bring their wife and girlfriends to different events. Stay out of their mess.
  3. Trust Your Instincts – If something doesn’t feel right it probably isn’t. Sketchy, improbable stories aren’t the only signs— but are the most obvious.

Do better, be better. Talk to me at dobetter@ebony.com.