The Mistress Manifesto: in praise of an unknown sexual preference

*mistress means a woman who falls in love with married men*

I’ve once heard Yoko One screwed it up for mistresses. That it was either her snatching John away from his wife or, more likely, her snatching him away from the Beatles, that marked the end of an era where having a mistress, and I assume also being one, was probably one of the more uncommon relationships, but it wasn’t unheard of. And it certainly wasn’t demonized, the way it is now.
I have one friend, only one, who knows a former and lifelong mistress. This now elderly woman had a relationship that stretched decades. With the same man. Until he died. And just like my lover he was married with children.
Like so many married men with children before him.
I’m not going to pretend being a mistress is the only unknown sexual preference: you can easily argue that being a man who needs a mistress is equally uncommon.
Uncommon meaning that he can be easily mistaken, first of all by himself, for a man who doesn’t have a good marriage. Or a man who has commitment issues.
He can be mistaken for a man who likes to cheat and fool around.
All things which do not have to be the case.
He can simply be a man, hard wired to love two women at the same time. And who has a choice to abstain. Or to not. But who can’t change himself anymore than anyone who is gay can make himself be straight.
And if we switch the genders around, with a man in the role of the mistress, and the woman in the role of a wife with a secret lover, two new sexual or psychological profiles pop-up.
So no.
I m not going to make a whole song and dance about “The Mistress” being the most misunderstood, sexual lifeform. But it is the only one that I am.
And the only one that I can talk about from experience.
Both the experience of joy when embracing, and understanding, your sexual preference. As well as the sadness and the loneliness of knowing that no matter how open-minded  people say they are when it comes to sex, their minds will barely ever stretch far enough to include you.
And it will probably never include you, unless you start dating a married man who is open and honest about dating you. Because then you can belong to the poly-amorous people.
It won’t include you, unless you choose a man who lives alone, and what you have qualifies as a LAT relationship.
It won’t include you, unless you keep it at seeing someone just a few times, and what you had can count as a mistake.
And even if you are having sex with a married man? As long as you’re not in love, you can still get away with it. You simply have a friend with benefits. A married friend, but still. Pretty harmless.
To understand why the mistress, as well as the other sexual orientations I briefly mentioned, are not some flawed-something-else, but genuine sexual orientations that can never be fully fulfilled in any other type of relationship form,  there are two aspects to sex and relationships that need to be understood.
Liking it secret and liking competition.

First, secrecy. Both of the relationship itself, as well as within any love relationship. I’m sure this whole idea of transparency and honestly, and two partners communicating all the time, must have been a good idea at some point in time. But as a mistress I almost feel like it is my personal mission to convince people to start having MORE secrets from each other. And here it comes: ESPECIALLY if you are in a monogamous relationship.
Look.
Let’s look at this with a fresh pair of eyes.
If you think your relationship will benefit from you being honest about that you want to date multiple people or whatever, because you think that it prevents getting into trouble over it in the future (it won’t, but okay) Go right ahead.
But if you both know that most likely, both of you will not be very adventurous and outgoing with other people, then PLEASE!
Keep secrets.
Don’t tell the other person where you’re going.
Be mysterious.
I once talked to a Catholic Priest and he was really modern because he said that it wasn’t his job to convince people God existed. It was his job to preserve the mystery. Well, whatever is good enough for Jesus is good enough for you.
I honestly think, at least in the Netherlands, the moral righteousness of looking for “the truth” can be directly linked to the Netherlands’ official religion being protestant. And therefor “truth” biased.
It is my personal opinion that we need to start taking a very hard look at ourselves why we ever thought “honesty” was a virtue.
Isn’t this what we crave for:
To be seen.
To be looked after.
To be cared for.
But also, the other way around:
To see.
To admire.
To gush over.
To love.
To support.
Where now, is honesty? Nowhere. Honesty, is completely irrelevant in the list of all the things we truly desire. But because we are afraid to ask for what we truly desire, we come up with some kind of monstrous binary measurement system, in which all the people who are honest are on the good side. And all the people who aren’t are the bad guys.
For me personally, if me telling my story as a mistress, would only lead to normal monogamous relationships bringing back the mystery into their relationships, and start appreciating each other based on the things that make all human beings happy as fuck?
My mission is accomplished.
Keeping secrets from each other, about actual events and also about your emotional life, is a way to keep the mystery in, the garbage out, and to honor the sacredness of your relationship.

The second aspect of secrecy is of course the secrecy of the relationship itself. Which is not something that can be duplicated in a normal relationship. Many relationships go through that phase of: “Are we something? Should we tell the others? Or are we just having three day sex sessions like any normal adult would do when giving the chance?”
And I don’t think it’s just the not knowing, that makes us cautious to tell the good news to the world. I think it’s also because we know that we will lose something with it. Sure. Initially, there is that thrill of excitement, of sharing the news. And showing up in public together. It’s absolutely intoxicating. Even now, as a mistress, I know fully well that if it had not been for the fact that he’s married and we can never make such public displays of affection, I would have gone that route.
It is practically impossible to “make yourself” have a secret relationship, and keep yourself from going public with it at some point, unless there is a massively important reason why you can’t.
Being a mistress is the only relationship form with built-in secrecy.
Secrecy that evaporates in normal relationships, the moment you come out and present yourself to the world as a couple. And the thrill of being a couple turns out to be short lived. I remember so vividly the feeling of loss, when after keeping the relationship with my college sweetheart a secret for over half a year (we had our reasons, it wasn’t because we were involved) we came out as a couple.
But then again: I “am” a mistress, meaning I have a certain set of preferences surrounding sexuality and relationships. So this loss of secrecy will probably not be experienced so strongly, by those who thrive in normal relationships.

The second aspect that makes a mistress a mistress, and not a chance victim of a married man, is that it arouses her to know that she’s not the only one. Now, I ll be honest: For a while I thought “we” were beyond the “ego” thing of needing a man for ourselves.
I honestly believed that monogamous women were deeply insecure and basically needed to have their wounded ego mended by a man choosing for them. And that “we” mistresses, were in a way elevated beings, because we went without that childish game of:
“If you love me, you choose for me.”
Not pretty. I know. I’m sorry, and I don’t think that anymore.
– By the way I do believe that many looking for a faithful partner are basically saying: “I want to feel loved, and special, and as if I am the only one.”
But that’s not for me to find out –
Okay, but, initially I thought; monogamy is an ego thing. And us, mistresses are more detached on these matters.
Until I looked a little deeper, and realized we were far, far worse. Or that maybe not “worse” but that we took that whole game up a notch… I ll explain in a moment, maybe I shouldn’t have brought the ego up.
Because there is a fairly neutral explanation too, for liking “competition”.
It’s called “compersion”. And means getting aroused from knowing your partner has other partners, or seeing him or her do it with someone else.
“Compersion” is what I experienced when I saw my lover charm a gorgeous woman practically out of her skirt. So maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on myself, or on other women, by making this about how often we need to boost our egos. So no judgement.
But I want to illustrate this dynamic of competition.
The difference between having a partner who is sexually active, or ambiguous, or secretive, with other women, and having a partner who isn’t, is that you have competition. My lover can end things with me at any time. In favor of his wife, or a new lover, or in favor of having mental rest and calm.
So every time I see him?
I win.
He chooses to see me, there is no entitlement. This motivates me to always be at my best! And you get three guesses who benefits most from that? Well?
Me of course!
It’s a bit related to the secrecy thing, but feeling my best, and sharing only the things which connect us, or how we can learn more about each other? That is amazing… And not only does it give me a feeling of accomplishment because I’m giving it my all. He may only see the best part of me when we’re together, but so do I!
Having competition is an extremely good motivator to be my best self. I may not get him to choose me once, like a normal relationship.
But I get to be chosen time after time.
That’s what I meant when I said we mistresses were even more ego driven, and/or we are more compersionists. We like to have a partner whose attention we have to win, every time.
But we also get the reward of being chosen, every time.

I m not going to pretend I don’t understand why the world would be a better place, if mistresses didn’t exist. I do.
And I also understand how tempting it must be to blame us, for everything that has gone wrong in any marriage where a man cheated on his wife.
If I could choose, please believe me, I would choose to have a different type of sexual preference. One that rewarded loyalty, and frailty, and where I made one man really happy, and he would devote his life to me alone, and no one would get hurt.
If I had a choice, I would.

Now a second choice is that I would abstain from having sex and not date a married man, until he was divorced, and so on. If you want to blame me for not choosing that, I understand that. You hold the popular opinion for sure.
But I don’t think that mistresses, unlike child molesters, should be trained or treated to learn how to control their needs. A mistress and her lover are consenting adults. And a real mistress, someone who has the preferences I talked about, is not out to destroy any marriage.
She is simply a woman in love.
And a woman who can peacefully coexist next to a marriage, and even turn out to be quite effective, and discrete, relationship glue.

But as long as we keep seeing mistresses as villians, “she” cannot find or refind her place in society. She is stuck in being judged for her preferences, because everybody assumes they’re a sign of ill will or poor character.
They’re not.
She’s a mistress because that’s how she was born.

It took me until I was well over forty to figure all this out. And yet in retrospect it is all so clear: I was always so interested in sex. I liked my partners aventurous, but I myself liked to have only one partner.
I found no joy whatsoever in being promiscuous.
I kept my relationships secret, for as long as I could. I had a feeling of loss when we came out. I fell for unavailable, taken men, time and time again, and I just knew it had nothing to do with lack of self-esteem no matter what anybody said.
All the pieces of the puzzle fit, once I had made my peace with being a mistress, and started “counting back”. It’s so easy once you know what you’re looking for! But as long as you don’t, or as long as you’re biased because you Can Not Be That Because That Is Evil?
Then it will take you over forty years.

A gay friend who loves my books once tried to explain to a friend who I was, and what my mission in life was. He said:
“Lauren is going to emancipate the mistress.”
Which is not a very sexy way of saying it, but I do think that is what it comes down to. Educate on this.
And not just educate potential mistresses, but everyone.
In a society where half of all marriages fail, the come-back of the mistress could actually save a couple of them. And if not by direct participation, then still what better person to ask how to spice up your relationship, then someone who truly masters the matter?
A woman who knows what the Catholic Church has known for two-thousand years:
How to preserve the mystery.

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