How To Master The French Braid
It was a quiet night in and, over a couple of glasses of wine, I flicked idly through Tinder to see if anyone caught my eye. Suddenly, I saw him, pint glass in hand, looking handsome and relaxed. I hoped I was imagining things, but there was no mistaking it – even without his name and location, which he hadn’t even bothered to change – there was my best friend Laura’s boyfriend.
Laura and I had hit it off the moment we met through work seven years ago. Despite being pretty, a highly successful accountant, bubbly and fun, she’d had bad luck with men. We’d spend alcohol-fuelled evenings commiserating the pitfalls of being single and encouraging each other’s internet- dating exploits.
But while I felt relatively relaxed about finding a boyfriend in due course, for Laura it was a major concern. She’s a few years older than me, in her early thirties, and as time passed I could see she was increasingly eager to get married and have children. So I was delighted when she met James* on Match.com. From the start, she was smitten.
An entrepreneur a couple of years older than her, James seemed to have it all: looks, money, confidence and charm. Most importantly, he seemed equally bowled over by her, sending her flowers and telling her she was his perfect woman. That is, until the warning signs started to appear.
After they’d been together for a few months, when she logged into her Match. com profile to deactivate it, she noticed James had been using the site again. She confronted him, but he shrugged it off, saying he’d only logged on to shut down his profile. Then came the periods of radio silence from him, often lasting a few days, which left her hurt and confused – previously he’d been in touch constantly, yet now he seemed to be picking her up and dropping her at will. She was devastated and called me many times in tears, asking for my advice about what to do. She wanted to settle down with James, hoping he was The One, but at the same time she knew he was treating her badly.
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I tried to be supportive without telling her point-blank to walk away, encouraging her to trust her instincts and to consider that if she had suspicions he was being unfaithful so early on in the relationship, what would she be feeling further down the line? She listened, but continued seeing him. I worried for her, but reasoned that she must know what she was doing.
I was invited to meet James over dinner. I noted how good-looking he was, with undoubted charisma. He showered us both with compliments and kept the drinks flowing. He listened intently and had us laughing at his witty anecdotes. But as Laura gazed adoringly at him, I found myself wondering if he wasn’t a bit too charming. I couldn’t help but think he fitted a little too neatly into the stereotypical mould of a player.
I tried to shrug off the feeling, until spotting him on Tinder removed any doubts. The moment I saw him, I felt sick. It was bad enough that he was on a site known for casual hook-ups, but the fact that he’d used his real name and linked his profile to his real Facebook account felt like he didn’t even care if anybody caught him. His arrogance took my breath away.
For days, I agonised over whether to tell Laura. I summoned the courage to let her know I had something important to say, and we arranged a time to meet. I tried to be as gentle as I could and to let her know that I was only telling her out of concern. I told her I would support whatever decision she made. Then I took a deep breath and said: ‘James is on Tinder.’
She burst into tears, which made me feel terrible. All she said was, ‘Are you sure?’ When I said yes, she just picked up her stuff and walked out in silence. I didn’t hear from her over the following days, despite sending several concerned texts. As the days turned into weeks and she still wouldn’t answer my calls or reply to my messages, I realised, in total shock, that she had cut me off.
That was three months ago, and we haven’t spoken since – despite my constant efforts. I can see from Facebook that she’s still with James; posting romantic photos on a mini-break to Rome. I’m angry that she would choose a man over our friendship, particularly as I hadn’t even suggested she dump him. All I was trying to do was be a friend, but it backfired spectacularly.
Beyond my own feelings, though, I’m worried for her. I suspect it was James who persuaded her to drop me, and I fear he’s behaving like emotionally abusive men often do, separating her from her friends to make her easier to control. I’d love to think she’ll come to her senses and realise she deserves so much better than a man she can’t trust
to be faithful. But even if she’s still with him, I hope she comes back to me – because although I hope I’m wrong, I have a strong feeling that the time will come when she’ll really need my support.
- As told to Polly Dunbar
So, would you have done the same as Lucy? Let us know at email@example.com
*Names have been changed. Photos posed by models. Main photo: Rex Features
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