To protect the source of this article, names and job sites of she and the three interviewees have been changed.
While most Spelman College freshmen had their nose in the books, the then 18-year-old Lauren Jones was exploring Atlanta in the fast lane with an older guy she had met in the city. This man was well-known throughout Atlanta and gave Jones the opportunity and access to a world she had not known before and may have never seen without him.
“We would hang out pretty much every day. He would pick me up from school and we would have lunch. I also stayed at his condo from time to time, shit he even let me stay there for a weekend while he was gone on a ‘trip,’ now 23-year-old Jones recalled.
“I thought we had something growing,” she continued. “Then one day I was minding my business scrolling through my timeline on Instagram and came across a random woman’s page and from there the secret unfolded.”
“She had pictures of him and her out on vacations and at the club. And to add more fuel to the fire, there were even pictures of their two kids and from the looks of it a nice house. I was so mad and when I saw him again I confronted him because I didn’t sign up for that and his exact words were ‘you never asked if I was married.’ I was so upset and confused, but I couldn’t stop thinking about how much fun we had and how he could still give me all the right attention while he was married,” she added. “I felt guilty, but I kind of swallowed it, I didn’t want the fun to stop. — What freshman do you know that was getting picked up in Bentley’s, smoking weed on condo balconies, popping bottles at the club, eating good and throwing thousands in the strip club? I didn’t want it to stop, so I decided to ignore my conscious and played my role.”
This was the beginning of Jones’ side chick journey, of which she would continue to date men with wives and/or girlfriends and would receive all the benefits as the main girlfriend and/or wife minus the stressful nights. And Jones was not alone in her decision to remain a second-choice girlfriend. As many women around the world have gotten on board with being a side chick, which the Urban Dictionary defines as “the other woman,” who is also known as the “mistress; a female that is neither a male’s wife or girlfriend who has relations with the male while he is in another relationship.”
“This seems to be an epidemic,” Courtney Carter, a writer for the Huffington Post wrote in an article, noting that side chick storylines have even played out on small screens for millions of viewers each week in shows like Love & Hip Hop, Scandal, and Being Mary Jane. And even though side chicks are often seen as homewreckers, sluts, or whores, women who seek out men with girlfriends or wives “without regard for the homes and the lives that they will inevitably destroy” only make up a small part of the entire side chick demographic, according to Myra Mathis, a writer for The Washington Post.
So then what is all the allure of being a side chick that thousands of women are drawn to? For Jones as well as many other women, they saw that they could reap the benefits of a relationship without actually putting in the work for it.
“I wanted my cake and to eat it too and being a side chick allowed me to do that,” Jones explained. “I felt liberated! I felt in control and everything was on my terms. I said what I wanted and dealt with whoever when I wanted.”
But besides having the freedom of not being tied down and setting her own rules, Jones also saw the financial rewards that these men provided her.
“No was never in the equation. I always got what I wanted when I wanted,” she said. “If I needed some money, they sent it, if I wanted my nails done, they were taken care of. I even had a few guys who would give me money every week because I was far from their other headaches.”
And although Jones did receive a monthly allowance from her parents while attending college, she noted that the money they gave her wasn’t going to put her in a Bentley or a condo, and definitely not throwing thousands of dollars in the club. “Their money allowed me to do whatever I wanted. And while most college guys were on a budget, it felt like these men didn’t know what a budget was,” she said. “There was even one time when I was dating this guy and we went to the club and he threw over $5,000 and kept getting me dancers. It was my first time ever doing something like that. Then when we went back to his house he had a chef come cook for me. I had never seen anything like it.”
As explained by Loryn Dudley, a writer for Odyssey, in many cases “[side chicks] are shown more affection, more attention, and receive dinners more often” than a male’s girlfriend or wife because they are afraid to lose them. But after a while, this gets old for many women, as late at night while they’re lying alone, they begin to question why they can’t have a real relationship.
For Jones, the wake-up call was very similar, as she began to yearn for real love. But the leading factor in Jones decision to hang up her side chick jersey was her wish to realign her energy and learn how to be the independent woman that she always wanted to be.
“Since graduating in May last year, I have been working on myself. I am trying to realign my energy and detoxify all my negative traits,” Jones, who is now a Human Resources Coordinator at Turner Construction said.
“There have been some challenges while getting out of the lifestyle because it could all be so simple to just be a side chick again and easily get my bills paid,” she continued. “But getting a job a month after graduating college and making my own money, I realized I am a force to be reckoned with.”
“I am beautiful, funny, loving, caring, making my own money, saving and living my best life. And I know the more I focus on me, I will become a better woman — the best woman that I could be,” she added.
And as Jones has gotten out of the side chick game, her 52-year-old mother Kelly and 18-year-old sister Cynthia, who have been with her every step of the way, have even noticed a positive difference in her despite her having gone through the pitfalls of being a side chick.
“She talks to me more than ever and she is quickly learning that money doesn’t grow on trees. I noticed that she is even reading books of substance,” Kelly said. “I believe that one day Lauren will become a CEO of a Mega Fortune 500 company.”
Cynthia, who didn’t agree with Jones’ choice to be side chick said that she is now more proud of her sister than ever. “I have seen her grow into a more independent woman. She’s going to work on time and handling things that she has to handle. She’s definitely on the path to success, I believe that she will be her own boss one day.”
Next on Jones’ journey to finding her own independence and stability is getting certifications which will allow her to be eligible for higher paying jobs. Jones also plans to surround herself with people who are on the same path as her. She’s also looking forward to finding love in the summertime. — And don’t worry, she now asks men upfront if they’re married, in a relationship, or single in order to make it clear that she is not interested in getting back into the side chick lifestyle.
“Just within a short year of working alongside Lauren, I have seen her transform into a strong independent working woman,” Jones’ 39-year-old coworker Michelle Davis, who is a Development Coordinator at Turner Construction said. “The way she has handled her work with dedication and spirit and how she’s adapted to the team gives me no doubt in my mind that she will excel in whatever she wants to do in this world.” Whether she hopes to become a CEO of her own company or climb to the top in Turner Construction, Jones’ newfound independence and confidence will continue to guide her way.