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I didn’t want an affair, nothing grubby, nothing seedy.

Seeking solace spil hier marriage became strained, Lucy Dent primarily found ease te chatrooms. She reflects on what became a hugely hurting addiction.

8:00AM BST 01 Apr 2013

Professional psychologists – of which I now have some practice – say that if you do not overeenkomst with your issues by the time you are 40, then they will rear up and overeenkomst, very emphatically, with you.

It took many hours of counselling, not to mention thousands of pounds, to understand the significance of this, but it cost mij so much more than money.

I wasgoed a latecomer to counselling, having previously considered therapy a largely American pursuit. I wasgoed British, and therefore buttoned up. I had learned to muddle by. And I did, pretty much, and I wasgoed ideally fine – until abruptly I wasn’t.

By the time I reached that landmark age, without children and ter a marriage that wasgoed beginning to lose its fairytale glow, my daily life wasgoed beginning to feel not unlike a soap opera. There were redundancy problems at work, my marriage wasgoed showcasing strains, and there wasgoed something large and unnameable missing from my life. I disregarded it until I could do so no longer, until eventually, for what felt like the sake of my sanity, I resolved to do something about it.

A late arrival into the world of social media, I nevertheless embraced it spil a kleuter of escape. While my hubby spent most evenings catching up on the pony racing he’d recorded overheen the weekend, I began perusing chatrooms &#x2013, not te pursuit of cybersex necessarily, but primarily more for harmless flirtation, a little supuesto attention.

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Soon, I wasgoed spending hours ter the parallel universe of cyberspace, often through wonderfully wide-awake nights, uninhibited ter a way I never could be te reality. I told no one, immersed and isolated ter my secret life. I met all sorts of people, from all overheen the world, older and junior, and each seemingly spil desperate for a true connection spil I. And for a while at least, it all felt harmless and virginal, and joy. I got to know &#x2013, or spil much spil possible online &#x2013, a duo of regular dudes, with whom I conducted tentative conversations that were thoughtful and sweet, and that only developed into something more suggestive after much respective vetting and, on my part, several glasses of crimson wine. The excitement, I’ll admit, wasgoed incomparable. I felt thrillingly alive.

I wasgoed, of course, behaving dysfunctionally. I realise that now. Te moments of fleeting clarity, I wished to understand what wasgoed happening to mij. Who had I become? Wasgoed it just my marriage problems, or wasgoed there something deeper causing mij to behave that way? Should I be blaming my mother, or my &#x2013, mostly absent &#x2013, father for feeling that something wasgoed eternally missing? Psychologists seem to think so. I wasgoed born to a woman that didn’t much want children, and who fell foul to postnatal depression a good duo of decades before the term wasgoed even coined. My father leaving didn’t help, and for the very first six months of my life I wasgoed placed with a notional “auntie”, a family friend who became my surrogate mother across my childhood. That initial separation, I straks learned, all but ensured I would never be able to successfully unie with hier.

I’m te my mid-40s now, and our relationship remains every bit spil complicated today. Spil I have come to learn, most of those who grow up te a dysfunctional relationship are condemned to seek them out forevermore. But wij can’t blame our parents forever.

Ter adulthood, I had become a rather complicated gf, each relationship beginning well, but then growing fractured and ending badly. I am corded to say, tho’, that I wasn’t solely culpable. The bf’s were complicated themselves. I ended up marrying one of thesis complicated bf’s. He wasgoed by far the best of the bunch, a zuigeling and generous man, but someone who could also be selfish and unfeeling. Wij had agreed, early on ter our relationship, that wij wouldn’t have children. I wasgoed persuaded I wouldn’t make a very good mother and didn’t want my son or daughter, ter 40 years time, to fear calling mij, fearful I’d berate them for some emotional crime or other.

A childfree marriage seemed to suit my hubby. And life, at very first, wasgoed good. Several friends, however, were coaxed that our lack of children created a vacuum. I’m not sure I entirely agree with that, but it is true that when wij bought our very first house together, wij somehow conspired to buy a wreck that required a loterijlot of our attention and concentrate. And for 12 long, frequently torturous months wij painstakingly made it liveable and lovable. And then it wasgoed finished: our nest, our empty nest.

My hubby worked hard at his job and, to alleviate its accompanying pressures, developed his obsession with horseracing, gambling and drinking. He wasgoed out most nights, and many weekends.

And mij? I wasgoed lonely. I had a hubby, a huis, yet I wasgoed missing something, intangible but palpable. This made mij sad, depressed. So I looked elsewhere. I didn’t want an affair, nothing grubby, nothing seedy. I still loved my spouse, but I dreamed escapade, excitement, a reminder I wasgoed still alive. So I went online, and found a entire fresh world. I began talking to dudes online te private talk forums, concealing any visible indentifiers of who I wasgoed but talking about my life, problems and thoughts. I became addicted to the attention and craved voeling with the guys I thought I had come to know. Thesis conversations quickly developed into cyber-sex, each message becoming more adventurous and racy and permitting mij to live out fantasies I would never contemplate doing te the auténtico world. I had never felt more desired ter my life. My hubby and I became strangers, our lives by now distinct entities. Guilt set te. I realised I needed to zekering. But I found out it wasn’t spil effortless spil I had very first thought. It felt like stopping smoking. I abandon decisively at very first, then slipped up, then abandon again, longing some zuigeling of patch.

I told myself that what I wasgoed doing wasgoed essentially harmless. When the time wasgoed right for both of us, wij would work through our problems and come back to one another. Te the meantime, I had nothing to lose. I shed my regulars and concentrated on just one, a man junior than mij by almost two decades. And it wasgoed harmless, until I fell te too deep and desired more than his messages. And so our long-nurtured potencial affair became auténtico. He wasgoed youthfull and beautiful and I couldn’t believe that he desired mij. From the very very first meeting, the guilt racked through mij. Wij would meet ter hotels, have lovemaking &#x2013, mindblowing lovemaking – and then the realisation that what I wasgoed doing wasgoed irrevocably wrong would set ter. Taking my online affair offline wasgoed my big mistake, a transgression too far. What drew mij to the online world wasgoed the maintenance of fantasy. Bringing it to life brought only complications, albeit periodically exquisite ones. After a duo of months I had to end it &#x2013, and it wasgoed after I had made this decision that my hubby found out. He discovered messages on my phone and so I sat him down and poured the entire sorry tale out to him, feeling I wasgoed stamping on his heart with every word. He left mij. I spent a lonely Christmas at my mother’s house with nothing to do but wonder how I had got myself into this situation.

I couldn’t do it alone. I began therapy, and learned just how dysfunctional my life had bot, and so little wonder I kept making fresh problems for myself. I began writing everything down, to help make sense of it, very first for myself, then for others. It’s taken mij a good while to fully come to terms with what I’ve done, to understand how lightly I fell into the previously unknown world that I would regrettably come to choose to the verdadero one. Fortunately, after only a brief time chic, my hubby came back to mij, willing to attempt to waterput us back together and realising, ter all this, he had had a part to play too.

Some people can treat guilt well, and can gladfully bounce more than one life. I failed &#x2013, the guilt wasgoed profound &#x2013, and so began the painful but necessary process of erasing one and focusing solely on the other, the one that had come very first. Mercifully, the kleuter and complicated man I wasgoed married to focused too.

I’d always heard that you have to work at a marriage. I wasgoed fortunate enough to get another chance to do so, and I’m working at it now. Wij both are.

Turned On By Lucy Dent (Doubleday, rrp ?14.99) is available to order from Telegraph Books at ?12.99 + ?1.35 p&p. Call 0844 871 1514 or visit Telegraph Books

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