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Sarah Symonds, Celebrity Mistress: On Sex, Love and Infidelity
Written by Fresh Vancouver   

The founder of Mistresses Anonymous tells all.

photo of man and women with surprised expressionsSarah Symonds says what women hate to hear and perhaps fear most: that love, respect and family life are no substitute for salacious sex with hot, young women; or more pointedly that, given their druthers, most married men would prefer to have both. And she is living proof. As one of the “celebrity mistresses” featured on a recent Biography Channel segment, Symonds knows what she is talking about. She has been mistress to such celebrities as Nicholas Cage, Lord Jeffrey Archer, and, most recently, “family man of the year” UK celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey.

During her seven-year affair with Ramsey, Symonds wrote and self-published a book, which took her onto the Oprah Winfrey Show, attracting international acclaim and attention. After the exposure of her affair with Ramsey, Symonds made it her mission to reform herself, and founded a 12-step support group for mistresses around the world who wanted to do the same. Since then, she has appeared on Dr. Phil, Dr. Drew, The View and Larry King Live. This reformed “celebrity mistress” has made something of her heartache, and is trying to help other mistresses around the globe do the same.

Her book Having An Affair? A Handbook for the “Other Woman” is controversial and outspoken, but in the end, it is kind-hearted. Yes, it is full of contentious opinions that will feel like a slap in the face to many readers: a suburban housewife who gains weight has only herself to blame when her husband strays; a mistress fulfills the sexy side of a relationship and ultimately makes a marriage better; men are fundamentally lying, cheating, inconsiderate boors who will do anything for sex. However, there is also some gentle care for miserable mistresses who have spent too many years putting themselves second best, waiting in vain for a day that never comes, and chastising themselves for all their many mistakes. Oh, and then there are those juicy little tips for how to get the most out of your affair, if marriage isn’t your end goal.

On the wagon from married men for the past three years, Sarah was recently in Vancouver and Toronto putting on workshops related to her 12-step “Mistresses Anonymous” program, and will return to Vancouver in the spring to begin filming her new television show, The Mistress, which premieres September 2012 on the Slice Network. “It will rip away the veil of secrecy that hides mistresses living in despair,” remarks Sarah during a recent phone conversation. “It’s about getting these women to wake up, getting them out of these toxic situations, and hopefully getting them on the road to romance where they can meet a decent single guy.”

Sarah’s message is a cry for support from “the sisterhood,” as she calls it, which includes not only mistresses, but also spurned wives who need to stop blaming the other woman and starting looking to the man, themselves, and their relationships. “I can honestly tell you that the majority of women I hear from never set out to be mistresses,” comments Sarah. “For me it became a pattern, and I felt I didn’t deserve any better. I didn’t think I deserved a normal boyfriend like other people had; I was used to the crumbs of somebody’s time. And you fall into those patterns again and again – the pattern of unavailability.”

The World According to Sarah

It’s a shocking, eye-opening account; one that many women (and men!) might not appreciate. But Sarah calls it as she sees it, and this refreshing, no-holds-barred approach gives mistresses everywhere the ability to grieve their hurts and losses beyond the shadows of their shame. In our discussion with Sarah, she shed her particular kind of light on the subjects of infidelity and heartbreak.

Why married men cheat: “Men have a penis in their trousers and that’s all they think about, I’m sorry to say. Women need to get with the program and stop trying to change them or fix them or make them something they’re not. Usually, a married man will step outside the marital home and bed when there’s something wrong at home. My message to wives is, don’t allow a space to be created in your marriage. I speak with women every day who know their husbands are having affairs and they’re happy to turn a blind eye. In my opinion, wives who turn a blind eye are just as bad as the man who is breaking his marital vows. Men are looking for something they’re not getting at home. It’s usually about emotional and sexual intimacy.”

Message to wives: “It’s in every man’s DNA to cheat, but that doesn’t mean they will. If you don’t want them to cheat, wives, get with the program and act more like your husband’s mistress. Men are simple creatures: they want to eat, they want to sleep, and they want to fornicate. Give it to them in that order! You can’t become complacent, pile on the pounds and stay home watching television all day. If you think something’s a little off, investigate it. If you’re not sleeping with your husband, I can assure you somebody else is. If you’re not making him feel special, somebody else is.”

The “Mistresses Anonymous” program: “After I was on Oprah, I was overwhelmed with the amount of women writing to me for advice. I knew I needed to set up a group so I could reach women all over the world. So I started the Mistresses Anonymous Society as a sort of chat room, and it became what we have now at mistressesanonymous.com. I’m thrilled that after six years of working with women, I’ve been granted my own show, and I’m excited to spend next year filming in Vancouver, and to be able to help more women than ever before because I’ve got a bigger platform now.”

Women helping women: “Whoever reads this article has either been there, is there now, or knows somebody who is there. Let’s as a society stop judging the sisterhood and try to help each other. Don’t let wives be humiliated and cheated on. Don’t let friends settle for married men. I’ve got tips for women on how to spot if a man is married; other tips for how to tell if you’re being cheated on. We have to start helping each other, and stop blaming the other woman. Yes, she’s part of the equation. But it’s the men who are cheating, and they’ve got so many textbook lies and lines to reel you in: If only I’d met you years ago... you’re the most beautiful woman I’ve met in years... I’m not sleeping with my wife... we’re getting divorced.... we live in separate houses... it’s all utter rubbish!”

“I wasted years as a mistress,” says Sarah, “but I’ve finally emerged as a much stronger person.” Whether that person is strong enough to handle the trials of marriage remains to be seen. In the meantime, regardless of what you think of her take on the nature of infidelity, Sarah Symonds is offering a voice and a support system to broken women everywhere who have long considered themselves second best, and is encouraging the sisterhood to stop men from cheating – since they obviously can’t be counted on to stop it themselves.