Many women tell me that they feel like they are in relationships with married men when dating a W. Recently, a member of The Official WOW/GOW Message Board (http://www.juliedonnerandersen.com) even created a short list of reasons why:
1) We spend little or no time together on the holidays. His immediate family, extended families...yes, even LW’s family...all come first.
2) His inability to plan and/or take a trip with me, even a short overnighter.
3) Friends and/or family members that treat me like “the other woman”; an outsider.
4) No card or small token gift for Valentine's Day...no W, either.
5) The LW’s and her memory – and the preservation thereof – comes before everything else.
6) I feel like I am constantly competing with LW for W’s love, but never attaining that coveted #1 spot in his heart.
Some GOWs have told me that their Ws have even gone so far as to make love with them once, feel guilty about it, and then cut off all sexual contact altogether...as if the Ws were cheating on their LWs. Talk about feeling cheap!
While NO man has the right to make you feel like his mistress on purpose, it is easy to forgive a W’s seemingly hurtful behaviour when you understand the grief process....and how it is his lack of intent that makes his mistakes forgivable.
Some of you may ask incredulously, “But how in the world can a man be so unaware of - and so blind to - such insensitivity?” Most men wouldn’t be, but Ws are exceptions. Grief, like love, can be very blind...and guilt is often in the driver’s seat, holding the reins of control. Sadly, there is no blueprint or guide to grief. Ws stumble their way through it unwittingly, without a plan, and without knowing what they’re doing or if they’re doing it right. They need to be reminded that what they feel is normal, as are the behaviours that rise like phoenixes from such confusing emotions. However, normal does not always equal productive, and there ARE steps a GOW ca take to overcome feeling like her W's mistress (more on this later).
To be sure, most Ws are unaware of how their behaviour impacts others, least of all, their GOWs....that is, until they are shown the way! Dr. Phil says, "You teach people how to treat you!"..and GOWs are no exception! In fact, I can say without fear of retribution that if a GOW feels like her W’s mistress, SHE is partly to blame! It is a GOW’s lack of communication in those delicate areas listed above that lead to a wall of resentment and confusion in her relationship.
Indeed, it is up to each and every GOW to communicate her needs effectively to her W. Most men are not known for being mind readers, and very few actually “get” sarcasm or negative female body language and facial expressions. Thus, it takes good oral communication skills to tune a W into his insensitivity without raging at him for his woeful incompetence brought about by grief.
It starts with validation: a GOW should acknowledge her W’s grief in a way which conveys to him that he is not being blamed, resented, or otherwise scolded for his actions/inactions. She should actually take the guilt burden off of him by offering her understanding, informing him how she knows that grief can render a W selfishly myopic and sorely out of tune with anyone’s needs but his own.
With a spirit of cooperation, a GOW should be willing to give her W a pass for his past mistakes because she knows she must put the blame where it belongs: on grief. She should acknowledge that, although she has been patiently understanding thus far, some things DO need to change.
Finally, a GOW should communicate to her W in detail those things that upset her (see list above) and, using The Three C’s (communication, cooperation, and compromise), she should ask for his help in working together with him toward solutions that are mutually satisfactory to both.