A month ago, I was asked by a guy who works in a publishing company to write an article titled Ten Etiquettes for Mistresses for an English-language Thai lifestyle magazine. Since they are still launching the magazine in August, he told me that they cannot yet pay their contributors. I did not mind of course coz I've always wanted to try writing about lifestyle, although I have serious doubts about my skills in that form (I'm more of a technical writer).
I've never been a mistress (although I've always wished I am; seriously), so the topic was an exciting challenge for me. I had to draw inspiration from the movies that I've seen and somehow started to assume the perspective of a mistress. I realized I have a rather pessimistic view of their status.
Eventually however, I realized that I was carried away by the mistress perspective. In some of the points below (I would not specify which ones) I injected my insights from having been recently in a "relationship". I have no idea how the article resonated with me, but I just allowed the thoughts and feelings to flow. I realized that the final output bled with my personal experience. Odd no?
When I promptly emailed him the short rough draft of the article, I was told that I was supposed to write Ten TRAVELING Etiquettes for Mistresses. That means I have to re-write the article, which I'm doing right now (today's the deadline). Looking at the first article now, this one seems like a better attempt. So I'm posting it and hopefully generate some comments from those who know lifestyle writing better.
Here it goes.
1. Do have a strong gut. You are very aware that society does not exactly have a positive view of mistresses. It is no wonder that you are often referred to as “the other woman” or even mia noi (minor wife in Thai). You could be called worse, such as “the home-wrecker”. Get used to these labels. People are naturally judgmental, but do not let their views get into you. However, what stings more is when your family and friends call you using such unkind terms. Be ready to live with that. It is likewise possible that the wife is aware that her husband is cheating on her. You have to live with the idea that someone hates you. You cannot rest your self-image on these labels, otherwise you would debase yourself unnecessarily. It takes a great deal of strength to turn a deaf ear to these attacks.
2. Don’t invade the wife’s territory. Do you know her favourite department store, the restaurant she frequents to, her hairdresser, or her favourite charity? If you don’t, better do as much research as you can and avoid going to these places altogether. The mistress and the wife meeting each other in public is not always a good sight, unless you are watching it in a soap opera. It is best to stick to your own turf, namely the places that there is zero probability you and the wife would even have a whiff of each other’s perfume.
3. Do know as little details about his family as possible. Aside from knowing the wife’s public territory, there’s not much you need to know about his family. Not their wedding anniversary, not the state of their marriage, not about his favourite child. You might be dying of curiosity, but his family is none of your business. Knowing about them only weighs you down. The next thing you know you’re criticizing his wife or kids in front of him, and this is definitely the last thing your lover wants to hear from you. In the same vein, tell him only the most trivial things about yourself. Unless he asks, do not go into the details of your life. The key is to be detached from each other’s lives outside of what’s going on between you and him.
4. Don’t count on his promises. Did he tell you he is going to take you on a summer holiday? Did he promise to be there on your birthday? Did he tell you he’s spending New Year’s Eve with you? Did he tell you he is eventually going to leave his wife for you? Do not, and it is worth repeating, do not believe any of this (especially the last one). You know these are just whimsical thoughts of your lover after you gave him the time of his life in your four-posted bed. He might still be hallucinating from extended, ehem, bliss. But you know better than to expect from him because it is true that you are not his priority. You never will be his priority. That, unfortunately, is the cost of living in too much uncertainty. Live in the present rather than counting on the realization of his promises, which are most often just empty ones.
5. Do make yourself available on call. You may not be able to count on him but he expects you to be there for him anytime he wants to see you. A mistress does not keep a routine. You live on the little gaps of his schedule. Be prepared at a moment’s notice to meet at some hotel or that he is on his way to your apartment (which he might be paying for anyway). His wife might've suddenly flown to a conference somewhere. Or that he has two hours to spare during lunch break. On the other hand, expect him to cancel plans at the last minute. But the main rule here is: do not call him, he will call you.
6. Don’t nag. He already probably gets enough of this at home. Men do not like to be berated for their insufficiencies, nor do they like constant criticisms. One of the reasons why a husband keeps a mistress is that he needs an escape from a wife who disparages him as a past-time. You, on the other hand, are there to provide him a fantasy of tranquility, which does not have any space for your whining. Try to boost his self-esteem instead, after all, men who cheat have oftentimes major insecurities. Also, never cry in front of him to get what you want. You can express your frustrations to your girl friend, but not to your lover.
7. Do assume that he is lying... all the time. As a start, men are liars; that’s a good bet and it will take you very far. This rule is most true among men who cheat because they have perfected the art of lying incessantly. He lies to his wife, he lies to you as well. The best affairs are based on the best-said lies. Lying is his most effective weapon to manipulate you and his wife. One common lie a lover tells his mistress is that he no longer sleeps with his wife. Lie. He would say he was terribly busy lately and has no time to see you. Lie. Or that he would make it up for the time he failed to show up. Lie. He would lie at all cost as long as he wants to keep you. Assume at the onset that everything he says is a lie and you can work your way from there to find out if it is indeed true. Do not reverse the flow of this logic and you’re in good hands.
8. Do have a life. Do not devote all of your time to him. Be your own person. Hang out with your girl friends, get a pet, travel, go shopping, read, visit the gym regularly. Invest in activities that would give you an enriching life, and you don’t have to do these things with him or with his approval. Learn to establish your own identity. It is especially empowering if you have a career of your own as you do not have to be financially dependent on him. However, if pursuing your interests and passion gets in the way, remember to revert to Rule Number 5.
9. Do watch your back. Being a mistress is a battle you fight on your own. It is wrapped in fear, especially of the future. Things can change radically in your lover’s life without you knowing about it in advance. Usually, even with major decisions he makes, like moving to another city, you would be the last to know. Also, you might not even know when he’d get bored of the relationship, especially if his motivation for the affair is a quick fix to his marital problems or self-esteem issues. You don’t want to be left hanging in the air. Always be ready for possibilities. Keep an exit strategy handy. If for instance you depend on your partner financially, invest your money in something that has long-term returns. This somehow ensures your future.
10. Do end the relationship if it is not working. Some affairs develop into committed relationships after a while. If that happens, you are one of the lucky few, although as a mistress you are still the third wheel and will least likely enjoy the freedom of conventional relationships. Some men however cannot give you the security of a commitment. The fact that he is in an affair with you indicates his commitment issues. He might only be committed to himself and not even you can change that. At any point that you’re not happy with the relationship, end it immediately. Things hardly get better, so wean your self from the relationship as early as possible to avoid further pain. This takes a lot of courage and determination, but if you value your self , you know that you deserve better.