I Was the Other Woman, and It Was (Almost) Exactly What You’d Expect

All the clichés apply, but I’m still a person.

Taru Anniina Liikanen


Photo by Connor Jalbert on Unsplash

When did you realize you were a cliché?

For me, it was reading Poppy Nagano’s story about meeting her husband’s mistress. I love this story, and I’ve read it probably three times. It’s well-written, funny, empowering and brutal (for the mistresses out there).

There is a part of the story, where she describes her husband’s mistress, that really hit me.

“She was a young blonde Lithuanian student from the local university.”

Those words, in all their simplicity, brought back the memories of my affair with a married man, and made me feel like exactly the cliché I was back then.

He was much older than me, married with three kids. A charismatic, powerful man who knew exactly what to say to make people do exactly what he wanted.

I was 29, an exotic, long-legged Finnish immigrant with blond hair, visible abs and a tight butt. (No boobs, though. I only grew those after 30, when I gained weight post-heartbreak. Life doesn’t always give with both hands.) I had a college degree and I was studying for a master’s. I was relatively smart, if you compare me with the common stereotypes. But I was dumb.

I was dumb enough to go along with it. I was dumb enough to think I meant something to him. And I was dumb enough to think we had a chance. I didn’t see the situation for what it was. I sensed it would probably end badly, but I thought I would be able to manage it. Not fall for it.

What I didn’t know was how good he was at doing this, and how many times he had done it before. I didn’t know the tactics someone like him would use to lull me into a false sense of security. I didn’t understand he was love-bombing me to get me to trust him and to make me think I was important. And I also didn’t understand that his power position made the whole thing much creepier.

Yeah, I was a cliché. But it’s more complicated than that.

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Taru Anniina Liikanen

Stand-up comedian and recovering political ghostwriter. Finnish by birth, porteña at heart. Bad jokes frequent.