One of my favorite songs to sing along to growing up was “Jolene” by Dolly Parton. Listening to it, I would always identify with Dolly—I could never imagine being the type of woman who would be involved in upsetting someone else’s relationship. I don’t think it’s something anyone really sees themselves doing until they find themselves in the middle of the situation.
A few years ago, I found myself as the “other woman” in a relationship, and, oddly enough, it ended in friendship.
He Was A Guy I Had Been Acquainted With For A While
We originally met because we volunteered at the same place with a group of other people. While I knew him by name—for this article, let’s call him Alex—and we’d maintained small talk from time to time, we were never close.
He’d Made His Interest Clear
Within the first few months of us volunteering at the same place, word got back to me that he’d asked some of the other people in the group if I was single and tried to gauge my interest.
I Was, At The Time, Pretty Tangled Up In My Own Life
When we first met, I was busy in the early days of my career and working long hours—I didn’t really have the time or energy to put into dating, and I wasn’t particularly interested in trying to date someone I’d have to continue to see on a regular basis if things went sour.
After Those Few Months, We Kind Of Went Our Separate Ways
I mean, that sounds dramatic because I really didn’t know the guy. I went on to date someone else for about a year, and he went about with his life, and, though we kept some mutual friends, we didn’t see each other for over two years.
Cue A Casual Run-In
It wasn’t until about two and a half years later that we just happened to run into each other during a night out and got to talking. Unlike when we first met, we really hit it off.
He Pulled Out All The Stops
Soon, we were going on regular dates and he was ramping up the charm—he bought me flowers, sent me surprise gifts at work, and brought over my favorite takeout foods when I wanted to be more of a homebody.
We Shared A Lot Of Common Interests And Values
Okay, so I can’t deny that the fact I met him volunteering with underprivileged children made me a little doe-eyed, but we also just had a lot of things in common—we had similar ideas about health, lifestyle, career ambitions, and just how we looked at the world.
In Fact, Everything Was Good
I’m never one to rush into relationships, but things were going so well in that first couple of months that I began to fantasize about what something long-term with Alex would look like in the giddy way you do when you’re smitten with someone.
I Found Out Very Unusually
Remember: we still maintained a few mutual friends. I was out for brunch with a group of women, some of whom I was close with and others who were friends of friends. A totally normal outing.
Then, The Illusion Shattered
One of the other women who was a friend of a friend (we’ll call her Claire) was talking about a trip she and her boyfriend had taken a couple of weeks ago to a vineyard. She held up her phone to show a photo and there was Alex.
I Was Blindsided
I tried to remain calm and cool as I excused myself to go to the washroom, and I proceeded to look her up on Instagram and see the year’s worth of posts featuring Alex on her feed. I made up an excuse for why I had to leave, settled my tab, and headed out alone.
Then, I Was Mad
I confronted Alex about it, but he kept saying that he’d broken up with her—I didn’t buy it. I stopped answering his calls and messages. Beyond my own disappointment from the situation, I had a dilemma on my hands: do I tell Claire?
It Was A Sticky Situation
I think it would have been easier if she were some random woman I didn’t know, but the fact our social circles overlapped made the situation a little more uncomfortable. I didn’t know if Claire would react poorly towards me if I told her, but I hated the idea of her not knowing that Alex was cheating on her.
I Felt Very Personally Conflicted
I asked some uninvolved third-party friends what I should do, and the consensus was that it probably wouldn’t be best for me to tell her—it might come across as smug on my part. I still didn’t think it was right to leave her in the dark, though.
I Trusted My Gut
I told a mutual friend of ours about Alex’s two-timing and trusted her to tell Claire. I requested, however, that she keep my identity anonymous when she broke the news so that, when we inevitably ended up at a party/brunch together again, Claire and I wouldn’t feel awkward around each other.
Alex Was The Absolute Worst
He may have been sweet when we were seeing each other, but he was suddenly harassing me. After telling him I didn’t want him to contact me anymore and him not listening, I ended up blocking his number. Even then, he tried to add me on LinkedIn.
He Was Abrasive When I Continued To Want Nothing To Do With Him
The one time Alex and I ran into each other at a bar after everything, he drunkenly yelled at me for blocking his number and trying to convince me that I had misconstrued things. He swore that he and Claire had been over for a while, that she was insane, getting increasingly agitated as I kept saying I wasn’t interested in talking to him about it. I ended up leaving the bar early.
I Was Still Very Angry About The Situation
I was, in the long run, less upset about Alex being the worst and more annoyed that he’d put me in that position. I never wanted to be “the other woman”—I never wanted to play that role in another woman’s life. I’ve always respected other people’s relationships and would never want to inflict that kind of pain on someone else.
I’ve seen my friends be cheated on, and I know the feelings of insecurity and distrust that follow for years.
I Didn’t See Claire Again For Several Months
It eventually happened—Claire and I were at a party hosted by a mutual friend. I personally felt a tad awkward about the situation, still unsure if she knew I’d been involved in the demise of her relationship with Alex.
She Actually Approached Me
She pulled me aside for a one-on-one conversation, and I could feel my palms starting to sweat.
However, things went in a different direction than I was expecting, because she thanked me for making sure she knew that Alex was unfaithful. Interestingly, she also said she’s thankful I let someone she trusted tell her rather than doing it myself—it made it easier for her not to resent me during the first few weeks when she was really hurting.
What Followed Was Almost Pure Magic
Of course, we were a couple of drinks deep, but we started joking about all the ways he tried to lie after the fact—I told her about the LinkedIn incident; she told me that he tried to talk to her through literal letters after she cut off all contact—and I found myself appreciating that she was a much cooler person than he ever was.
The Rest Is History
We started to talk more when our friends held gatherings, and soon we were hanging out regularly for wine nights, yoga classes, and getting lunch. Before I even knew it, Claire was one of my closest friends. To this day, we still sometimes joke about how we’re so glad Alex was a cheating loser because it brought us together.