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Over a month has gone by since I ended my relationship with my boyfriend and kicked him out of the apartment here in Madrid Spain. I thank myself everyday for having the wisdom to move to a foreign country for more than a relationship. So while the boyfriend has now since disappeared (actually still in process because most of his stuff is still here) I have many reasons beyond him to stay where I am.

Three and a half years ago I knew I wanted to change my life. I was halfway through my five-year plan to reside in Norwich Vermont and add stability to my life by working a desk proper desk job when an idea came to me to combine travel, living abroad and gong back to my passion. And I always knew I would not stay in Vermont beyond the five years.

I enjoyed living the village life, my accounting jobs were great, and I had many wonderful people in my life but the wanderlust and desire to do something creative again kept coming back. Each year the feeling returned, it came back stronger. So I tried a few things to satisfy the craving. I drove cross country with a friend, put my head down and dug in deeper at work, published a book of poetry, went to NYC as often as I could, and found pleasure in gatherings with friends. I tried out different romantic relationships but things didn’t work out.

Alas! My desire to change my life, to pursue my dreams would not leave me be.

On April 1, 2014 my life changed. I had just published my book of poems the day before and was attending a friend’s reading and I met someone. We had great political and philosophical conversations. We laughed when we realised we went to the same high school. He was a musician and I love live music. He said he was back from Spain for a while and didn’t really know anyone in the area. So I invited him to go with me to an Open Mic at one of my favourite spots in the world Skunk Hollow Tavern in Hartland, Vermont. I was meeting girl friends there and he said he’d invite some friends too.

The next evening, while sitting at Skunk, getting messages from friends that they were unable to make it, and his friends bailed too, I thought to myself…is this a date? It seemed eerily like one and well, it was. We went out to a movie after that and the rest is history, or rather, a story for a different time.

So fast forward about a year and half to now, here I am sitting in my apartment alone here in Madrid writing this. I’ve been reflecting all week on the fact that a girl who called herself my “friend” was never one. Maybe in her mind I was somehow her friend but she completely fooled me.

I met this “girl friend” while visiting my friend in NYC. My friend and I had met at a mutual friend’s party in Vermont when he was up from Brooklyn for it. And again met up later when he and another friend came to a poetry reading I did last fall for about a hundred people opening for Jim Rooney. My friend and I spoke again in January. I was headed to NYC with the boyfriend to attend a costume party on a super yacht that would launch from Pier 40. My friend was overjoyed to offer me a place to crash for the night with him and his new girlfriend. We talked on the phone and he was speaking so quickly I could hardly get a word in as he went on about how wonderful she is. Clearly my friend was in love. I was happy for my friend. The excitement in his voice. The joy. I couldn’t wait to meet this girl who had so transformed him.

The first evening all four of us met was lovely. We had a wonderful morning together the next day before the yacht party. My friend’s girlfriend was sweet, kind, generous, and friendly. I could see why my friend was so in love with her. They were very cute together.

That evening, after we returned from he yacht party, my friend’s girlfriend strutted around in front of my boyfriend in her underwear. At the time I thought nothing of her nudity or being scantily clad. I’ve been at many a gathering where someone decided to take off all their clothes and go for a swim, lounge about, etc. But as the evening progressed, she could see that my boyfriend was getting turned on and she kept the ball rolling. My boyfriend and I drove back to Vermont the next day, and that really was the start of my romantic relationship starting to fracture and fall apart. I can see it all now in hindsight.

My boyfriend and I were already in an open relationship and had been for some months. Unfortunately men always seem to forget that an open relationship is a two-way street. So when opportunities arose for me to have something or spend time with others, he did not like it. Our rules were, no sex with each other’s friends and don’t bring it home. But after that trip down to NYC, he began to complain constantly about how much easier women have in hooking up than men do. That the situation was unfair because the only attractive women he knew were my friends. And that he was inhibited because we spent so much time together (he called me daily and wanted to hang out constantly) so I always encouraged him to go out separately without me. But he didn’t.

Obviously my boyfriend and I stayed together. We came to Spain in April of this year. Our desire to continue having an open relationship remained. But his complaints and supposed “restrictions” that prevented him from meeting someone else to have sex with did also. Nothing changed, for him. Other than after that trip down to the city, and the subsequent farewell party the weekend before we left, my boyfriend and my friend’s girlfriend started emailing each other.

How often? I don’t know. About what? I couldn’t say. But as time marched on, they began to talk more and more frequently. I know that some of the talk was about sex, because they both mentioned it to me, but friends do discuss the topic of sex. And trusting as I am in other people, my boyfriend and girl friend, I thought nothing of it.

So all the while this girl is calling me “friend”. And I was there for her as a “girl friend” when she said her relationship with my friend, her boyfriend was falling apart. She wanted to see other people but he wanted a monogamous relationship. She complained about him not getting his life together fast enough after he followed her to San Francisco from New York City. She works for a pharmaceutical company and he is an artist. She moved out there for a job.

I sent messages to my friend asking him how he was doing because surely, this must all be very difficult for him. I didn’t hear any response back so I figured he was doing what I do when I have issues with someone: discussing them with the person one is having an issue with.

Then one day my friend’s girlfriend said to me that she had moved out their apartment and into a new one. She was leaving him but she told him she was just moving into a new place and that he would move in later when the lease on that one finished. My friend advice to her was to tell him immediately that the relationship is over so that he is no longer living under a false pretense that you and he have something. She said “You’re right,” and “I will.” She also said she felt guilty about the situation so she was paying for his cell phone.

Then a few days more went by and my friend’s now ex-girlfriend said to me that she was getting sick of paying for his cell phone. She was going to let him know she was turning it off and he was being unreasonable about giving her back her things. I said that was fair, giving him notice, and surely he would return her belongings. Around that same time my boyfriend asked me if it would be okay if she came to visit and stay with us in Spain around Thanksgiving. Of course, I said “Yes”. My door is always open to friends. But then I spoke with my friend and we had a long talk where I got to hear his side of the story. I asked about the cell phone and he said it had been turned off a couple of weeks ago. And that she had been refusing to communicate with him.

A couple weeks later, I told her that I kicked my boyfriend out of the apartment after he hit me and I had broken up with him. She said she was surprised to hear this but then thinking back to many of our conversations, she had often confessed to slapping her boyfriend, my friend. I had told her violence is wrong. And to broach the topic and get it settled, I said that if she planned on coming here and having sex with my now ex-boyfriend it would be better if she stayed with him or in a hotel. She said that she had no plans to have sex with my ex-boyfriend, that she was in love with some other guy, and had decided not to come to Spain after all (huge relief for me). She also made it clear she planned to remain friends with my ex.

A week ago, my ex-boyfriend made an off-hand comment, “(my so-called now ex-girl friend) said, what do I have that Nichole doesn’t have?”

A lightbulb exploded.

And I realised that this girl was not my friend. She had never been my friend. I’m not saying she’s responsible for the demise of my relationship but she was part of the problem. The unintentional gift she gave me was a burst of creative inspiration which resulted in a poem called “False Friend”. And when her WhatsApp message arrived a few days ago saying “Hi Nichole! How are you?” I side-swiped left and hit “Archive”.

Yesterday my ex-boyfriend came by to pick up a couple things from the apartment. I fed him breakfast and we talked for a while. Because while the violence he did to me is wrong, I am a forgiving person who thinks that people can learn, grow and change. But in the course of conversation, he told me he had shared my poem with my now ex-girl friend and she said it was “cute”. And she wrote a poem in response to mine and had asked him if he should send it to me. She also said to him that I had always tried to “cock-block” my ex from having sexual relationships with other women in our open relationship.

My thoughts are as follows: that saved me the trouble of sending the poem to her which is another item off my busy To Do list, they’re still talking about whatever, she’s still stirring the pot, her response poem is her trying to impress and relate to my ex with her “poetic skills” otherwise she would have just sent it to me directly, and she is absolutely not a friend nor a person who I ever care to associate while she exists in her current state of being. And her description of my poem as “cute” is a way of snarkily trying to invalidate, minimise and gloss over her underhanded BS way of supposedly being someone’s friend.

So, yes, Ice Cube got it right when he said women are bitches, hoes and tricks. Of course there are exceptions. Not every woman is any one or all of those. And men can be all of those too. But sometimes you meet a false girl friend who is just clueless about how to truly be someone’s “friend” and pretends to be yours because she really has no idea who she is or what her values are. Thus, you may talk to her, giving friend advice, about why she has shallow and superficial friendships when she brings it up, but as long as she is ignorant of her behaviour, she will remain the architect of that very poor design and will never be a true friend to herself or others.

The fact is, females (and people in general) who treat their so-called “friends” in unfriendly ways give the title “friend” a false meaning. Some of you may be saying that there were multiple indications that my ex-girl friend and my ex-boyfriend were not my friends. But I say, “My greatest asset and biggest flaw is my belief in the goodness of people.”

My mother once said that I am naive because I give people too much credit. Perhaps I am. But I’m okay with that.

I believe that people will make the right choices and do the right thing if given the chance. So I’d rather give people the benefit of the doubt to step up because it’s not me who’s losing out when someone decides to be petty and underhanded; It’s their loss….of my friendship and the opportunity to be a better version of themselves.

So what’s the lesson in all of this?

Don’t be a bitch, a hoe or a trick and you may find that you have a deeper, more meaningful and authentic relationship with oneself and with others.

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