The Realities of Being the Other Woman

Being Mary Jane was a reminder of a real-life affair, which forced this viewer to confront her own issues.

Gabrielle Union in Being Mary Jane
Gabrielle Union in Being Mary Jane BET

Television viewers turn on their flat screens and computers in an effort to escape the realities of life. However, current dramas and reality shows may force us to confront conflict in our own homes. 

After watching the movie and the first three episodes of Being Mary Jane, the memories of my own adulterous affair have resurfaced. Like the main character, I was a single, young professional woman involved with a married man. I was also a media producer.

Of course, he was unhappy at home. You know, he was just hanging in there for the sake of the children. Cue the Sunshine Anderson track, because many of us have heard it all before.

“We can do a good job of deceiving ourselves,” explained licensed family and marriage counselor Joanne Jennings of Durham, N.C. “Who wouldn’t want to be told, ‘You make me feel special’? It is very esteeming to hear, ‘You make my life better.’ ”

To hear my lover tell it, I cooked like a Food Network all-star, relaxed him like a glass of brandy and made him laugh as if I were a queen of comedy. Meanwhile, I received “just checking on you” calls during the day and drive-by quickies en route to errands or picking up his child.

“The relationship may have some benefits, but not for long,” explained licensed drug and alcohol abuse counselor Sothia Green.

According to Green, who practices in Oxon Hill, Md., the adultery storylines on television may not be seen as fictional accounts because many see similar relationships taking place in their own families. She has also noticed couples discussing their relationships by referencing the activities of characters on reality shows.

“Reality television has become most of the fare of what people watch,” said Jennings. “It can help people individuate and ask why they do this or that.”

The emotion I saw in Mary Jane’s face as Andre fixed the light in her pool in episode three reminded me of the time my gentleman friend fixed my clothes dryer. Repairing the dryer was equal to caring and rescuing me. If only a few minutes and a $10 part could have fixed what was broken within me.

Years later, I watch Being Mary Jane as an ordained minister who has repented and identified internal issues that led me to willingly becoming “the other woman.” In the words of Iyanla Vanzant: “I’ve done my work.” I now journey alongside others as I minister during conferences, retreats, and through preaching and writing.