When love rivals become best mates!
A woman was devastated when she found out the love of her life had fathered a child with another woman, but her heartbreak led to an unlikely positive - becoming close friends with her love rival.
Carol Avenell, 37, from Bromley, Kent, was devastated when John, whose name has been changed to protect his identity, revealed he'd had a baby with Shelley Broughton, also 37.
He promised their relationship was over and Carol agreed to stay together, but when the two women started talking for the sake of their children, Charlotte, now 12, and Lydia, nine, they realised he was seeing them both at the same time.
After both ditching John, the former rivals are now the best of friends - and even feel grateful that John's actions brought them together.
'We’re family,' said Carol, speaking of their ten year friendship. 'Thankfully we were able to see through John's lies and have put everything that happened behind us. Despite the deceit and heartbreak, I’m so glad we found each other.'
Carol Avenell, 37, from Bromley, Kent (left), was devastated to discover the love of her life John had fathered a child with, Shelly, 37, but he claimed it was a one nigh stand. Both women later discovered he was cheating on them both, and have since become best of friends. Pictured: During a get together in December 2018
During happier times: After five years together John (left) told Carol (right) that he wanted a baby. She said she 'was shocked as the topic of children had never come up before' - but she fell pregnant three months later
While John claimed that he and Shelley Broughton, 36 (right) had a one night stand, she alleged they had actually been in a relationship for 16 months
'Me and Shelley spend time together in the school holidays and have days out together,' continued Carol. 'We go to the beach, fun fairs and even stay at each other's houses so we can go on shopping trips. We try and see each other as often as possible.'
Carol first met John back in 2001 after meeting through a friend, and she found him 'handsome and charming.'
After realising the feeling was mutual, the pair quickly became a couple - but it wasn't all plain sailing.
'We had our ups and downs and sometimes when we went out, John would end up flirting with other women,' said Carol. 'And though there were times when I was fed up, there was something about him that always reeled me back in.'
Then after five years together, John dropped the bombshell that he wanted a baby.
'I was shocked,' said Carol. 'The topic of children had never come up before. I told him that once I come off the Pill there was no turning back, but he was sure he wanted to go ahead.'
Carol fell pregnant just three months later - and John quickly lost interest. He didn't show up to the scans and even missed the birth of their daughter, Charlotte, turning up two hours late.
While Carol admitted that her 'blood was boiling at the whole situation' when she first found out, she and Shelley enjoy playing happy families with John's daughters Lydia, nine, (left) and Charlotte, 12, (right)
Carol (pictured) said that she and Shelley have tried to put everything behind them and are just glad that they saw through the lies and have found each other
Shelley was in a 16-month relationship with John prior to the birth of her daughter Lydia, and they got together again after she was born because he claimed he was single
After becoming distant following the birth of their baby. Charlotte, John (left) rang Carol out of the blue and confessed that he had fathered a child with Shelley (right)
And while John was a proud father at first, it wasn't long before the novelty wore off. He constantly told Carol he was 'busy' and became increasingly distant - up until the point they barely saw each other.
Then one day when Charlotte was almost three, Carol received a call from him out of the blue.
'He told me that he had something to tell me and that I was going to be angry,' Carol explained. 'Then he told me he had another daughter, called Lydia.'
On hearing the news, Carol was in 'shock' and asked whether he was still with the mother - to which he said no and claimed it was just a 'drunken one-night stand.'
While Carol was in hospital having contractions with Charlotte (above), John was nowhere to be seen. When he eventually turned up two hours later, he said he'd 'got caught up' in something
Relieved he wasn't in love with another woman, Carol agreed to take their daughter Charlotte to meet Shelley and the daughter John had fathered, Lydia.
'I smiled at her baby lying innocently in the buggy,' said Carol, speaking of the first time they all met. 'My blood was boiling at the whole situation but it wasn’t the child’s fault.'
John adamantly denied having a relationship with Shelley, and things between him and Carol got back on track.
Meanwhile, Carol maintained a civil relationship with Shelly for the sake of their children, but months later the two women had a heart-to-heart, they realised he’d been stringing them both along.
'I double checked with her that she knew me and John were together. She told me he'd claimed that we weren't and that he'd been pulling her into the bedroom at every opportunity,' said Carol.
What's more, that Shelley admitted she hadn't conceived after a one-night stand with John - they had in fact been in a 16-month relationship together.
Carol said: 'She explained they had split when she was pregnant and nothing had been going on at the time of our first meeting. But soon after, things had started up between them again – around the same time John had been seeing me.'
Shelley and Carol initially wants to have a civil relationship for the sake of their daughters Lydia (left, as a baby), and Charlotte (right)
Carol said that the four of them are now 'family' and is grateful that they were able to eventually see through John's lies. She said: 'despite the deceit and heartbreak, I’m so glad we found each other'. Left to right: Shelley, Lydia, Carol and Charlotte
After realising John had been playing them off against each other, Carol and Shelley became firm friends.
Now, they enjoy meeting up and often watch daughters Charlotte and Lydia play together.
They still want John to take an interest in his children’s lives and have tried contacting him, but now he's in a new relationship, and they claim he doesn't make the effort anymore.
Carol and Shelley have tried to put everything behind them and are just glad that they saw through the lies and have found each other.
'Shelley and I see each other as much as we can and spend birthdays and Christmas together,' explained Carol. 'We love nothing more than to watch our girls dress up in Disney outfits, dancing around the room together giggling.'
Carol and Shelley agreed that they love nothing more than watching their girls dress up in Disney outfits and dance around the room together giggling. Pictured Charlotte (left) and Lydia (right)
Carol (above) tries to see Shelley as often as she can and they now enjoy spending birthdays and Christmas together
Speaking of her newfound friendship, Shelley Broughton, 37, said: 'I’m just so glad we have come out the other side and have each other as friends. I really want others who have gone through a similar situation to read our story and realise that it doesn’t have to end badly'
Shelley Broughton, 36, said: ‘Carol and I were so in love with John that for a while we couldn’t see he was lying to us both. I had my suspicions but John was always managed to convince me otherwise.'
'I’m just so glad we have come out the other side and have each other as friends.
'I really want others who have gone through a similar situation to read our story and realise that it doesn’t have to end badly. You never know, you might even come out a happier person.’