You've pretty much made up your mind about me from the title and I'm not going to try to change it. I did a horrible thing and I'm not even sorry. It's very hard to be when you're happy, even if your happiness is at the expense of someone else's misery.
Tom and I had been friends for about a year before it happened. Before you jump to conclusions, it wasn't one of those slow-burning 'emotional affairs' – we didn't bitch about our respective partners (partly because I had one and he didn't), we didn't over-confide, share intimacies or flirt.
We were friends. We made each other laugh with stupid jokes and silly puns and talked about our shared interests. It wasn't a big secret or a big deal. We were just friends.
About a year in, a group of us were visiting a pub near his work and I invited him along. At this point I was single and he was newly attached.
The night passed without event – apart from a few times where we caught each other's eye and held it for a bit too long. Or when we laughed at a stupid joke and it felt a little bit like a date. He mentioned his girlfriend every third word, so I knew it didn't mean anything.
The next time we saw each other was at my birthday: I was holding court in a terrible pub, downing tequila shots and trying to lapdance a poor stranger to the tune of Call Me Maybe.
All I remember about that night is a crowded table, his hand stroking my knee, the inevitable dregs going back to my house to carry on the party, then when I got out of the toilet (after a sneaky tequila vom), him waiting in the corridor and kissing me and us tumbling down the hall to my bedroom.
He left about 4am and I cried. We hadn't had sex: we'd argued about how we couldn't do it, he offered to leave his girlfriend, and there was a lot of door slamming, storming off and dramatic shouting. We confessed that we both liked each other and said we'd talk about it when we were sober.
We text a lot the next day and I told him he had three weeks to leave his girlfriend or we'd go back to being just friends. Looking back, I cringe at my arrogance. He text back “I'll try”, which was like a kick in the stomach and served me right. I spent that night at a house party, posing for photos to show what a great time I was having.
Is there anything I can say to justify this? Probably not. Earlier in the night he'd told me he 'hated' her, that he couldn't be himself around her and that he wanted to end it. They hadn't been together that long – under six months, I think – I never asked. But in my head that made it alright. I didn't think for a second that I wasn't going to be with him. It was quite simple to me – she couldn't possibly like him more than I did, and so therefore didn't deserve him.
The next few months passed in a string of clandestine meetings, arguments and petty acts of passive aggression. We argued, I sulked. I told him to leave her. I sent him scantily clad photos of myself to remind him what he could have. I compliment-bombed him and then when that didn't work, told him he didn't deserve me and that I didn't want him. I began to think of it as a campaign and devised tactics to make him leave.
Sometimes he'd tell me that I wasn't his type or I wasn't girlfriend material. A few times he told me I should dye my hair to make him fancy me more. He told me he couldn't end it with her before his holiday in six weeks time – I never asked if that was because they were going together or because he wanted a chance to shag around on one last hurrah before being with me. He said things that made me believe both.
He flipped from telling me he would leave her and had never felt like he did about me before, to telling me that he needed to be single, or that he was sorry and we should just be friends. My friends hated him and told me I was being used, but I couldn't see it.
Eventually, we slept together. Which only made things worse because it doubled my guilt and made me start to hate him a little bit. He wasn't the person I thought he was if he could do that to someone. It also made me resent his girlfriend even more – she clearly didn't like him that much if he could just slip away for days at a time and her not notice. I built her up to be some massive, whiney, dull bitch in my head. I felt angry with her for not ending it with him so that he could be free to be with me.
I honestly couldn't believe that they shared intimate moments like we did – they wouldn't send each other songs they'd heard on the radio, or have in-jokes or kiss and talk in the dark until they went to sleep. I accepted that they had sex, but assumed it to be dull, functional, in-and-out sex. And he probably thought about me as he did it. I'm not telling you this to get your sympathy, I'm telling you this so you realise the level of delusion involved when you're seeing someone who is attached.
The last time he told me he thought we should just be friends I bought us matching 'best friends' necklaces, and joined an internet dating site. I met someone pretty quickly and fell into a fairly intense fling. I still kept sleeping with Tom, but no longer listened or cared about what he said. That's the worst part: even when I didn't want him, I got a thrill out of sleeping with him, thinking that I was punishing him for not wanting me, and her for not dumping him sooner.
I also got a thrill out of rubbing Tom's nose in it, reminding him that it was his fault I was seeing this other guy. I'm not sure where this sadistic streak came from, but I was hurting. I'd realised that every time I wasn't with him, he was with her. And I wanted him to hurt too.
Eventually, I ended it. The turning point for me was sitting on blankets at a festival with friends, watching a young couple in front of us hug and kiss. When the boy stroked the girl's hair off her face I realised that Tom was that intimate with his girlfriend. They didn't sit there in cold hatred. She probably wasn't a bitch and he probably did like her.
Later on, when a reveler covered head to toe in poo from a quagmire near the portaloos slipped and fell on the couple, the boy still held the girl's stinky hand, and I realised that I didn't feel that way for Tom. If he got shit-spackled I would take a step back.
I dumped Tom by text and switched off my phone. I had a holiday booked a few days later which would give me some space. He sent me a text which I refused to read for a few days that was heart-breakingly sweet. I can't remember what it said, only the ending: he wanted me to be happy and he would always feel the same for me and would wait to see if I'd change my mind.
I landed back in Manchester at 5am and had gone from beach to airport to work on zero sleep. When I checked my work email I had a message from him saying he knew I'd be tired and have no food in the house so he'd done a shop. He asked if he could come round and cook and would leave straight after if I wanted.
When he got there he told me he'd dumped her the day after I'd sent the festival text.
That was in July. We've been together almost six months now, and are sickeningly happy.
What's the moral of this story? There isn't one. I still feel sick at the thought of what I did to another girl, and at the end of the day I have a boyfriend who not only loved cheating, but was very good at it. He goes on frequent weekends away and it's always at the back of my mind.
One thing that happens when you move to the front seat from the passenger is that it leaves a space that's just waiting to be filled. And I know better than most girls how far someone is prepared to go to steal your boyfriend.