Should you be confronting the other woman? Psychologists weigh in

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Experts weigh in on the age-old question of confronting the other women.
Experts weigh in on the age-old question of confronting the other women.

From over the neighbours’ fence to showbiz, not a year goes by where relationship scandals aren’t aired out in public for all to see.

Remember in 2019 when Khloe Kardashian took to Twitter to lambast Jordyn Woods for “destroying her family”? If you missed that popcorn moment, Woods appeared on Jada Pinkett Smith’s Red Table Talk in February 2019 to address the cheating scandal.

During the interview, she admitted to kissing Tristan Thompson, but denied ever sleeping with him. Kardashian immediately called the model out on Twitter, accusing her of lying.

READ MORE | 'Cheating is a choice' - 8 tips to keep the flame alive in a long-distance relationship

Another recent cheating scandal involved content creator Snikiwe Mhlongo and her ex-boyfriend actor Zamani Mbatha, whom she caught in bed with another woman and blasted him on her Instagram stories in March 2023.

‘Fetching the other woman’ — earrings off and sleeves rolled up — isn’t anything new, and comes from a place of hurt. Many of us have witnessed incidents of a woman ‘getting fetched’ because someone else’s husband or boyfriend strayed.

Now comes the age-old question — does it make it right to blame the other woman for your man’s philandering ways? Pretoria-based clinical psychologist and author, Thabang Tlaka, says that calling the other woman is an act of displacement — you are talking to the wrong person about your relationship.

“Firstly, the idea of owning someone is a myth. No one can exist in the heart or life of another person if one’s not invited and permitted to stay,” he clarifies.

“Becky with the good hair”

There are many derogatory terms given to the other woman. And while society tries to justify, and only slap the man on the wrist for having an affair, it’s women who bear the brunt of a cheating scandal.

Obviously, finding out about your partner’s infidelity is painful, but learning that it’s with someone you know or are even close to, is enough to give anyone a heart attack. While nothing rationalises any violent response to this betrayal, it’s very rare for one to react gracefully.

So where does this violent reaction stem from?

Joburg-based psychologist, Rachel Molongoana explains that researchers who study different modes of socialisation, have found that men and women have different emotional reactions to infidelity.

The most common reaction in both sexes is jealousy.

“Jealousy is a very complex and layered emotion — it’s often accompanied by vengefulness, fear and sadness, and, at times, humiliation,” she explains.

She adds that, “If we consider these emotions, vengefulness in particular, and fear, they can bring about a number of reactions, including fight-flight or freeze responses. It then gives us a clearer understanding of why someone may feel the need to respond violently in retaliation – it’s to protect what they may feel is rightfully theirs.”

Is it ever worth it?

This is the question you must ask yourself, before pinning the blame on someone other than your partner.

In addition, what purpose will confronting the other woman serve? In an article on, lawyer and writer, Simrat Bedi, shared that most women seek a confrontation with the other woman because they feel that, if the other woman decides to leave their man, he’ll come back to them.

One needs to bear in mind that men and women who cheat, do so on their own accord.

American psychologist and author, Andrea Bonior, adds in an article published on, “There’s still a deep-seated belief of women being the caregivers and that they should be able to nourish and keep men happy. So if a couple is unhappy, it’s presumably because the woman isn’t ‘doing her part’ to keep it together.”

This issue of putting the well-being and happiness of the couple on a woman’s shoulders, has put an unrealistic expectation on women to keep men faithful at all costs. And if he cheats, the woman starts thinking that she’s not good enough, or that the other woman tempted or made him leave the relationship.

In the end, it seems the women on both sides of the cheating are blamed. Tlaka advises that, although it’s necessary for healing, it’s how you confront the other woman (and your man) that brings different results.

“A mature and reasonable discussion about the facts and the emotions felt may be therapeutic, while violent, abusive and demeaning confrontations may bring shame, harm and even an arrest,” he adds.

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Confronting the other woman means you are branding her a perpetrator.

But as the popular reasoning goes, it’s not the other woman you’re dating and you can’t expect her to honour a non-existent agreement.

Girl code?

To this day, Beyoncé still sings about her husband straying, and Angelina Jolie is the villain who snatched Brad Pitt from Jennifer Aniston. The list goes on.

If the other woman knows of your relationship, are you justified in expecting better from her? Is it unreasonable to expect that she respects your relationship by staying out of it? Yes and no, Tlaka says.

“Yes, in a society that respects boundaries, relationships and the sanctity of a commitment between two people, it’s reasonable to expect others to respect your relationship because it’s a social contract humans have with one another,” he explains.

“We do to others what we’d like them to do to us in return. However, in a society where the earliest bird catches the fattest worm, it’s unreasonable to expect others to respect your relationship. A culture of go-getters, materialism and lack of boundaries doesn’t respect romantic relationships. It all depends in which society you live in.”

Ultimately, one needs to bear in mind that society isn’t playing a fair game as to what it expects of women — this includes being blamed for men’s behaviour. Where cheating is concerned, it’s time everyone in the picture account for their own actions.

‘Fetching the other woman’ is a choice that will bring consequences that you might have to live with forever.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
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