Ask a counsellor: ‘My holiday romance turned out to be married – what should I do?’

November 12, 2019 7:30:50 AM

The problem…

“I had an amazing holiday in Southern Spain this summer, where I met an English guy who was working over there. He told me he was 22, and although I’m 17 that didn’t seem like too huge a gap, as we got on so well. We spent most of our time together when I was there and really hit it off, big time.

“On the last day of my holiday though, he told me he was married, which was a real shock. He also told me he was 27, and that he’d only lied about his age because he didn’t want me to think the age-gap was too big. He said he and his wife hadn’t been happy for some time, but that he really liked me and wanted to stay in touch. I was still shocked, but I like him so much that I agreed.

“Since I’ve been home, he’s messaged me regularly and we’ve chatted on FaceTime, which has made me still feel close to him. Then last week, when I answered the phone, it wasn’t him – it was his wife. She broke down and cried when she saw me and said that because of me, her husband was planning to leave her. I was so shocked, I rang off, put my phone down and walked away. It rang again right away and my mother answered it, so this woman told my mum everything.

“Now my parents are furious with me and I feel scared as well as so guilty, as it seems she lives in Spain too and he’d told her he was working late when he was with me. I haven’t answered his calls since, but he’s texted me and told me he’s sorry and that he loves me. I just don’t know what to do.”

Fiona says…

“Even though your parents are furious with you, this is not your fault. A man that you liked and trusted has lied to you. He’s also lied to and deceived his wife, so please don’t try and shoulder the blame for the break-up of his marriage. That is entirely down to him – although I suspect there were problems in his relationship before you came on the scene anyway. You didn’t set out to ‘trap’ a married man and break up his relationship – you’re just as much a victim here as his wife is. He should never have involved you in this unpleasantness, but now you are involved you must decide what is best for you, regardless of anyone else’s point of view.

“If you really care for this man then you will, presumably, want to stay in touch with him, and will presumably hope to form an ongoing relationship with him. I would caution you though to be very careful, because he’s lied to you about his age and his status, he’s lied to his wife, and so deception is something he finds quite easy. It’s quite possible that a man who’s done that once could do it again – and the next time, you could be the victim.

“If you decide he’s worth the risk, then you’re going to have to build bridges with your parents. Talk to them and make it clear to them that this situation is not of your making but now you’re in it, you’d appreciate their understanding and support. I suspect they are not going to look on this man favourably for some time and he’s going to need to prove himself to them.

“If, however, you decide he’s not worth the risk – and it seems like a big risk to me – then your solution is simple. Tell him you don’t wish to have any further involvement with him, and then don’t answer his calls, delete his texts, and even consider changing your number. Almost everyone will have had a wild holiday romance in their time – probably even your parents! It might be safest to put this one down to experience and move on with your life without him.”

:: If you have a problem you need help with, email Fiona by writing to help@askfiona.net for advice. All letters are treated in complete confidence and, to protect this privacy, Fiona is unable to pass on your messages to other readers. Fiona regrets that she cannot enter into personal correspondence.

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