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'My friend pushed me to leave my toxic boyfriend. Then she started dating him.'

As told to Ann DeGrey 

Lisa was a close friend of mine when our kids were at pre-school together and we bonded as we both went through a divorce at the same time. She was always a beacon of positivity and joy, brightening my days during tough times. We shared the challenging journey of single motherhood and supported each other through ups and downs. Our daughters even had a joint fifth birthday party — that's how close I was to Lisa.

A couple of years after my divorce I got very lucky and met Jake. We were inseparable, and Lisa made it clear that she was a little jealous. She'd make occasional jokes that she'd been "dumped" by me as a friend. I knew she was joking. But I've always believed the saying "many a true word is said in jest" so figured that she was hurt that I wasn't seeing as much of her as I used to. 

So every now and then I'd invite her to be the "third wheel" and come out with Jake and I — she seemed to really appreciate being included, even though Jake probably found it weird at first.

Watch: Let's talk about friendship. Post continues after video.

Video via Mamamia.

She'd often phone me after our catchups and bring up things about Jake that she didn't approve of. For example, she said he clearly takes no interest in my work, and that he always expected me to pay for myself. I didn't have a problem with that but Lisa seemed to think there were several red flags.

Lisa's involvement in my relationship with Jake increased gradually. Initially, our conversations about Jake were casual, with me sharing bits and pieces of our relationship. However, Lisa kept pointing out things about Jake that she said were not good for me and I really started to believe it. She didn't approve that he went on frequent "boys' weekends." Lisa said men were notorious for hooking up with women on these weekend getaways. She planted so many seeds of doubt in my mind.

Then I started to notice things about Jake that I hadn't before — that he was sleeping over at my apartment less and less as time went on. According to Lisa, that was a sign that he was cheating on me or, at least, losing interest in me. I confronted him and he denied it but I was suspicious because of Lisa's comments. 

Lisa became my sounding board, someone who listened to my growing concerns and frustrations with empathy and understanding. One thing that did worry me a lot was Jake's drinking — he was always hungover on a Sunday morning and that was the only day I could spend with him during the week, due to custody issues.  

As Jake's excessive drinking worsened, Lisa's support turned into advocacy for my well-being. She pointed out the red flags I was too in love or too afraid to acknowledge fully. Lisa often spoke of self-worth and the courage it takes to leave a relationship that no longer serves your best interests. She also highlighted the dangers of staying in a toxic environment, reminding me of my past struggles in my former marriage and how I'd promised myself to never endure such circumstances again.

Lisa's encouragement to leave Jake was relentless, not just in our private conversations but subtly in group settings, where she reinforced the idea that I deserved better.

Listen: How Often Do You Water To Your Friendship Garden? Post continues after podcast.

"You've already left a man who didn't treat you well and now you’re with another man who doesn't treat you like a Princess," she said.

She'd always use her own experiences and insights to persuade me that ending the relationship was the best for my happiness and health.

The tipping point for me was when Jake was supposed to pick me up and take me out for dinner but never showed. He later texted to apologise that he'd fallen asleep due to being hungover from the previous night, and that was it for me. I called Lisa and she even congratulated me when I said I was going to end things with Jake. Eventually, after a particularly intense argument, I asked him to leave, effectively ending our relationship. 

Just three weeks after we split, Lisa said she had to talk to me. She confessed that she has a "new man" in her life — it was Jake. I was absolutely shocked. She said she didn't mean for this to happen, but it was unavoidable, as they'd become close when she was “comforting” Jake in the aftermath of our breakup. 

I cried and told her, "But you wanted me to end things with him?" and she explained that just because he wasn't good to me, doesn't mean he won’t be good for her. An absolute BS explanation that I did not buy. I feel that she had a thing for him and wanted me out of the picture so she could make her move on him.

How could she do that to me? The deception was just devastating. Surely, she's heard of the "girl code" where you just don't date a friend's ex-partner? This was worse than that — when I spoke to Jake he told me that Lisa chased him "relentlessly" until he realised he was better suited to her. Three years later, they are still together and while I have seen Lisa from time to time in group situations, I will never call her my friend. 

Feature Image: Canva.

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