BEL MOONEY: This flirty Facebook friendship could ruin my perfect marriage

This flirty Facebook friendship could ruin my perfect marriage


03:28 GMT, 17 March 2012



03:31 GMT, 17 March 2012

I know I've made a huge error and feel I've wrecked his marriage

I know I've made a huge error and feel I've wrecked his marriage


My husband is the only man I’ve ever been with (since 18) and we’ve been married 20 years — we have three children, a lovely home, a nice life.

A few months ago I started chatting on Facebook to a dad from the kids’ school.

He’s married with children, but is lonely since his wife works days and he works nights.

He told me there were marital difficulties and I supported him, as I think he was depressed.

We talked
about our feelings for each other, deciding to remain best friends.

went for walks, had coffee, laughed — as friends do. I never divulged
this friendship to my husband and my friend didn’t tell his wife.

few days ago, after a couple of glasses of wine, I sent him a message
stating my feelings, thanking him for his support, saying how glad I am
to have him for a friend.

I also mentioned how attentive he’d been that day, accompanying me to a specialist (I have a health problem).

He bought me lunch, we held hands, he touched my back to put me at ease, I felt special and cared for — and I put all that in the message.

He messaged back that it was difficult to talk. I messaged goodnight — followed by some kisses — as I do to any friend.

That night his wife, suspicious, decided to look at his phone. She was (understandably) devastated.

Now I’m racked with guilt. She’s a lovely lady. Even though I’ve never even kissed this man she’s convinced it would have become something more. I say it wouldn’t. And in the meantime, my husband has no idea about this mess.

I have this awful fear of her telling my husband and the friendship coming out as a seedy affair. I know I’ve made a huge error and feel I’ve wrecked his marriage.

Now I’ve ceased all contact with him, and have no desire to carry on the friendship — even though I do see him at the school.

His wife has made no secret of her anger. She says she won’t tell my husband but thinks he has a right to know.

I can’t bear to think of the effect all this might have on all our children if they witness any anger or hear any gossip. I feel confident that my marriage is strong, but feel unsure of how my husband might react, and don’t know what to do.


Make no mistake about it — an emotional affair where there is no actual intimacy can be just as dangerous for marriage as a full-on extra-marital affair.

Although a couple may not end up in bed, they know in their hearts that what they are practising is a form of Safe Sex — all the more seductive for being unconsummated.

The obvious fact for me to pick on is the fact that you and this chap kept your meetings secret.

Everyone who recognises the situation must know that the key question is: Would I be happy to tell my spouse all about it and would he/she approve

If the answer is no, then the chances are you’re on dangerous ground.

You, Claire, might also ask yourself how you would feel if your husband was sharing similar intense confidences and meetings with another woman. Would you count it as infidelity — sex or no sex

Which would be worse — to know that he’d had a snogging session with a woman from work, or that he had allowed that woman to go with him to the doctor and hold his hand in sympathy over an intimate lunch

You know you would be just as upset about the latter as the former. The fact is, you have been committing what can be called emotional adultery with this man — whose outraged wife is quite clear about the implications.

It’s obvious that he was never your ‘friend,’ any more than he was your lover. If there had been anything meaningful about the relationship it would not have been so easy for you to ditch him, as you have.

So what was going on was a fairly meaningless but dangerous flirtation — of the kind which happens all the time, all over the world, especially in the workplace.

The internet is the biggest facilitator of these pseudo-romantic encounters, since ‘talking’ on Facebook and by text can zip along very quickly, deepening an illusion of intimacy in relative safely.


Bel answers readers’ questions on emotional and relationship problems each week.

Write to: Bel Mooney, Daily Mail, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TT, or e-mail [email protected]

A pseudonym will be used if you wish. Bel reads all letters, but regrets she cannot enter into personal correspondence.

You don’t need me to tell you that you’ve been very foolish, but I can’t say I entirely blame you. Not as such.

You’ve been with your husband a long time; it would be astonishing if you didn’t have the odd fantasy about another man. But now your maturity will be tested by the course of action you take next.

Surely you can’t bear to go on living with the anxiety that the upset lady will blow the whistle to your husband Therefore you have to pre-empt her. The thought scares you, but I see no alternative but to sit down with your husband, ask him if he’s noticed that you have been feeling ‘down’ lately, and tell him what happened.

If I were you I’d gloss over the last intense message and make the whole thing sound like a silly flirtation. Tell him you feel guilty because the man’s wife got the wrong end of the stick and put two and two together to make five.

Say you know you were silly to hang out with the man, but you did so because you thought he was depressed. Reassure your husband that he is the best man in the world and the only one for you. You should also tell him that you have written a well-chosen card to the other woman, telling her how very sorry you are to have hurt her. Which — by the way — I hope you have done.

Talk these things through with your husband. Ask him if he’s ever experienced an attraction to another woman. Have a proper, deep conversation about your life together and tell him how lucky you feel that you met, all those years ago. Good luck.

I want to be his lover, not his patient


At 20 I should be looking forward to the years ahead with excitement but I simply can’t do that. I have a wonderful partner of two years (we’re still students) whom I want to spend the rest of my life with.

We talk of marriage, children, a pet dog. But last year I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and have felt my condition slowly worsening since.

Already I can’t do many small things and tire out far too easily to do anything particularly active during the day.

I can’t help feeling that if I don’t find the right sort of medication or therapy soon I’ll just continue to get worse and worse.

Not being able to put my hair into a ponytail (holding my arms up is too much) will eventually become not being able to wash it myself; not being able to open jars will become not being able to do my fair share of the household chores at all; walking with a cane will become crutches and then finally a wheelchair.

I simply can’t bear the thought of having to ask the man I love to look after me. I’ve spoken to him but he just hugs me and says that I’m being daft.

I’ve made it very clear what scares me about the future and he probably knows more about my condition than most doctors.

It doesn’t seem to worry him in the slightest, which just makes me even more agitated.

I almost feel he hasn’t really thought about the day-to-day burden of caring for someone who needs help with everyday tasks.

I love him and want to make him happy — which means I don’t want him to wake up in ten years time and realise he’s saddled with a useless cripple and can’t escape.

I want to be his girlfriend, his lover and his wife one day, not his patient.


When my daughter was ill (with a
congenital disease, all through childhood and her teens) I used to
gently halt her frantic questions — ‘What if . . .’, ‘What happens when
. . .’ — with the simple (but firm) phrase, ‘One day a time’.

I can do no better for you than
imaginatively to hold out motherly arms and tell you exactly that.
Because your mind is racing ahead, out of control, and this will only
make your condition worse.

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The diagnosis must have been a terrible shock, but working yourself into this pitch of dread runs the risk of becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Ask yourself this question: ‘Can I be 100 per cent certain that my physical future will map out as I have described’ Your answer to that question has to be ‘No’.

Think about that for a few minutes, while you take some deep breaths. Then allow yourself to feel released from the all-consuming dread. You need to slow down and be still.

Your boyfriend loves you, has made it his business to find out about this condition, and wants to continue with the relationship.

There are three priorities for you at the moment: to continue to enjoy this two-year-old love affair without second-guessing the future, to finish your degree and enjoy that too — and to treat your mental health with as much care as you treat your physical body.

Since both of you have researched your condition, you will be aware that there is much still to be discovered about it. One thing seems clear from my reading — that cognitive psychotherapy would benefit you on many levels.

Can you access any help through your university

In the meantime I want you to get hold of a book called Mindfulness by Mark Williams and Danny Penman, and work your way carefully through it, using the CD that comes with it. Why Because I believe it will help to break the cycle of stress, exhaustion and fear that led you to write to me.

One of the glorious — and moving — things about human love is the way people are prepared to make sacrifices for each other. I know a woman who suffers from chronic ME who has managed to work, bear two children and live a good life — because of the devotion of her husband. It happens again and again.

Your boyfriend sounds like one of those people who would take the noble phrase, ‘in sickness and in health’ seriously.

Allow him to love you. Allow yourself to trust that you will be able to manage your condition. Allow yourself hope. Pause, breathe, allow. One day at a time.

We all need a little bit of mothering

Tomorrow my parents will come for lunch and I shall give my mother a present and a card, as I do each year.

Because she’s a wonderful grandmother too, and because I shall become a granny quite soon (for the first time), these family relationships are all the more important to me each year.

My adult children feel the same. We’re lucky to be enmeshed in this particular family web (believe me, I realise that) which is more important to me than anything else at all.

I have no hesitation in advising anyone who is lazy about these things - remember Mothering Sunday!

I have no hesitation in advising anyone who is lazy about these things – remember Mothering Sunday! (picture posed by models)

I dislike people using the modern term ‘Mother’s Day’ or dismissing tomorrow as just another exercise in commercialism. It’s not.

Mothering Sunday (as it should be called) is a very old, Christian festival, which almost certainly has fascinating origins in an even more ancient pagan festival celebrating Cybele, the Mother of the Gods.

It was always held on the fourth Sunday in Lent, when people went home to their ‘mother church’ (where they’d been christened) and could visit their families, too.

There were no holidays then; this was a rare chance to get together.

Servant girls might be given just the single day off, to ‘go a-mothering’.

I imagine them on the long walk home, picking some flowers from the hedgerows on the way, to give a posy to their mothers. That’s surely how the tradition of giving a gift began.

So I have no hesitation in advising anyone who is lazy about these things — remember Mothering Sunday!

Small rituals have great effects; even a phone call to your mother (who may be far away) will make everybody feel better.

As for the commercial aspect — when I see displays of cards as well as suggestions for presents, I approve.

‘Any excuse to celebrate’ is my motto.

The thought that primary school children have been laboriously constructing cards for Mum, and that hulking youths will buy a bunch of daffs from the garage, and that some well-off guy in a pin-striped suit will remember to send his mother (or better still, take her) a bouquet . . . well, doesn’t it all just add to the kindness the world needs