By Shewanda Riley

I have a difficult confession to make.    It’s difficult because I’ve been forced to look at a part of myself that for years I really didn’t like because I didn’t like what I thought it said about me.  I’ve finally just had to accept that who I thought I was had nothing to do with who I really was.   In reality, I was actually somewhere in between.

Here’s the confession:  I’ve been the “other” woman for most of my adult life.  Being the “other” woman has affected every area of my life:  my career, my relationships, and my spirituality.   I haven’t always liked being the “other” woman because I thought it made me less of a woman and meant that I had less value to others.    My embracing my status as the “other” woman came a few years ago when I reevaluated the last 25 years of my life.   For the longest time, I blamed my lean dating years on my decision to be the “other” woman.

Now let me tell you what I mean by the “other” woman.   I’m not talking about being a mistress in an illicit affair with a married man.   Sorry to disappoint those looking for a juicy Lifetime movie plot.      By the “other” woman, I mean the woman whose life is distinctly different.    The dictionary defines “other” as being distinctly or disturbingly different.   Leviticus 20:26 says, “You must be holy because I, the LORD, am holy. I have set you apart from all other people to be my very own.”  The other woman I’m talking about is the woman who makes decisions and choices that positively sets her apart and is rooted in her desire to live a sanctified life.

I like Chaka Khan’s song, “I’m Every Woman,” but in today’s world that means that being the kind of woman that men talk negatively about.  Reality shows like the Real Housewives and The Bachelorette dating reality series have even glamorized the life of the “every” woman.   How many times have you heard a man say, “Every woman I meet takes my money, uses me for sex, or lies to me?

One friend said that I needed to embrace the fact that I was the “other” woman.  She also said that I shouldn’t be frustrated with men who were used to dating the “every” woman; I needed to be patient while they learned how to deal with being the “other” woman.

My definition of being the “other” woman also means not being afraid to embrace an uncommon standard of holiness.   The question isn’t how long it’s been since you smoked a cigarette, had a drink, cursed someone out or had sex.   The question is how have those choices positively affected your spirituality.    The “other” woman I’m talking about sees holiness as a beginning and not just the final destination.

Shewanda Riley (Aunt Wanda), PhD, is a Fort Worth-based author of “Love Hangover: Moving from Pain to Purpose After a Relationship Ends” and “Writing to the Beat of God’s Heart: A Book of Prayers for Writers.”   Email her at or follow her on Twitter @shewanda.   You can also listen to her podcast at