Boys Who Have Girlfriends… Who Aren’t You

Emma Tonny shares her regrets about being tempted into cheating with guys who have girlfriends. Most importantly though, be honest with your friends about mistakes you may make and move on.


We’ve all done things we’re not proud of, but the very worst for me is being tempted into flirting with guys who have girlfriends. Absolutely nothing makes that ok. Yes, it’s totally on them for flirting; no one is denying their dicks, but you don’t need to pander to it. Other women always come first.

Meeting men after university is really tough. You’re focused on building your career and trying to juggle friendships that are suddenly flung across the world. Your priorities change and the pressure can feel enormous. When you finally have the opportunity to let go and flirt, the temptation to take it too far is a dangerous pull.

In my first year after university, I met two guys in quick succession who it turned out had girlfriends. The truth is that I knew this beforehand and lied about that to my friends because I was horrified by what I’d done. In a dream world: don’t fuck up. In reality: don’t lie about your fuck ups to your friends. If you can’t be honest about your failings, then the lies spiral and you end up feeling disingenuous and shit. That may be brutal, but it’s true. Good friends understanding that we all fuck up now and again and that all we can normally do is put our best foot forwards in the future.

I met the first guy, Jack, when visiting a friend in Leeds. I thought she’d been joking but she really had bought us all tickets to a strip club and honestly, if you’re night starts in a strip club then what hope has the ending? Jack was attractive, he was incredibly attractive, but I had been ‘paired off’ with his best friend. (No, don’t worry, I’m not talking about a stripper- he was part of my friend’s circle!) I don’t know if your friends have ever done this to you? They set up some kind of bizarre expectation that you will hook up with a particular guy and, under the pressure, you obviously don’t.

I’d met Jack’s girlfriend earlier in the day and there was clearly tension because she’d recently cheated on him. Now, to any sane, sober, self-respecting human that does absolutely nothing to justify any flirting on my part. In my bizarre, drunken logic however, I don’t think the flirting seemed so bad because she’d been disloyal, and the relationship was fractured. In my defence, I did do my best to place myself away from him as much as possible throughout the night because I could feel myself getting sucked in. Honestly though, if he’d kissed me, I know that I wouldn’t have pushed him away as quickly as I should have. I really hate knowing that.

My wonderfully eccentric friends were equally off their faces and oblivious to most of this drama. Thank fuck. Less fortunately, they were still all for me and Jack’s best friend hooking up. Awkward… we all went back to his place and it was here that Jack pulled me into a corridor and stuck my hands down his trousers. I kid you not. Shit like this really happens when you’re a woman. This gesture was completed by the romantic declaration: I’ve had a semi all night because of you.

I’m honestly not sure I can convey to you my utter confusion at this truly bizarre moment. I just… who does that? How do you get there? His poor girlfriend; whatever her faults may be, surely no woman deserves this fate. Perhaps equally to my shame I didn’t tell her any of this. Should I have? I would have told a friend, but I don’t know her at all, and would it have done any good? I still don’t know the answers to any of this. Naturally, I left promptly, and things moved on. An embarrassing moment I had to learn from… or at least, should have.

Don’t: be tempted into flirting with people who have partners.

Do: put other women first and support one another.

What I learnt: Be the star, be the leading lady, steal the show… honestly, who has time for anything else?