Let's say you're a single woman at Club HollerAtMe and you meet Mr. Married Guy. The more you talk, the more you find out that he's everything you ever wanted. And soon, the wedding ring on his finger is just another piece of jewelry to you.
Eventually, things turn into thangs, and suddenly you find yourself having regular horizontal refreshment sessions with Mr. Married Guy at the local hotel motel Holiday Inn. You're happy, but something has changed. Now when you look into the mirror, you see not your own reflection, but that of The Other Woman. What do you do? How do you act? There is no guide…until now.
Enter Kiki Richardson, a life coach based in Los Angeles and the author of the new book, The Other Woman Code of Conduct. Richardson had noticed that her clients tended to struggle with their place in unorthodox relationships society may frown upon, but were a reality nonetheless.
"People pretend infidelity does not exist until it happens to them or it is being sensationalized in the media,"said Richardson, a soror of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority since 1995.
"I am a firm believer that when you know better, you do better. If people are aware of the rules of the game they can decide if they want to participate or not and know what the ramifications are if they break the rules. I think it is important that people understand that just because you have chosen to engage in socially unacceptable behavior does not mean you have to be personally irresponsible in your actions."
As a life coach, Richardson specializes in interpersonal relationships with a focus on the reconditioning of the subconscious.
"I pay attention to what people do and why they do it," she says. "My clientele come to me about issues they are having in their relationships and I noticed how much infidelity comes up; in client sessions, in the media, in politics and in our own lives, and I am no exception."
Obviously, the idea of providing a handbook for someone participating in infidelity is bound to be controversial. And Richardson has received some blowback.
"I knew writing the book I would get people with strong opinions pro or against the book and I am totally ok with that. I knew the subject matter would ruffle feathers so I anticipated that the feedback would be a mixed bag.
"There's a large group of religious, judgmental and or dogmatic people who are appalled that I would even think of giving a "permission slip" for cheating," she continued. "Even to the point that one of my closest friends said she would not stand behind me on this book. On the flip side, a lot of people have been appreciative that I was brave enough to speak so openly about something considered to be so taboo."
So if are the other woman, what are some things that you should do in order to make sure that you're happy? As a life coach, Richardson doesn't give advice, but instead helps her clients find their own inner truths. And she does this by asking questions and making her clients accountable for their decisions.
"Some of the questions I'll ask the other woman are, ‘is this relationship allowing you to be your authentic self?'" Richardson says. "And if you die today, would this relationship define your legacy?"
If a client answered no, then Richardson recommends that the other woman make changes in her life, or his life (as there's a men's section in the book too) that ultimately lets them be happy and find their authentic selves.
But let's say our other woman is happy and feels comfortable in his relationship. What is the essential thing she should know in order to? For Richardson, it's simple.
[She should know] that she is the other woman and nothing more! Since she has chosen to be in this arrangement, stay in her lane and play her position. She should never try to be the main one. After all, take a look at the position that the wife or girlfriend is in. Why would you want to be in her shoes in a few months or years? Use your head and not your heart."
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Lawrence Ross is the author of the Los Angeles Times best-seller The Divine Nine: The History of African American Fraternities and Sororities. His newest book, Blackballed: The Black and White Politics of Race on America’s Campuses, is a blunt and frank look at the historical and contemporary issue of campus racism on predominantly white college campuses. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram.