ASK ZELDA: Our relationships expert Zelda West-Meads answers your questions

Zelda reads all your letters but regrets that she cannot answer them all personally

She blackmailed me into staying with her 

I was happily married to my wife, who was my best friend, for ten years. Then a year ago, I met the most wonderful woman. I knew that I should walk away, but I couldn’t. Our friendship turned into a full-blown love affair. I have always despised men who cheat and the guilt and shame was eating me up, but I couldn’t walk away from this woman. She never pressured me to leave my wife, but in the end I decided to do it. However, when I told my wife, she was devastated and told me that she was pregnant. We had always agreed that we did not want children. I had assumed that she was taking the pill regularly, but she wasn’t and I will never know if it was intentional. She begged me to stay. I was devastated, but I could not let this child grow up without a father so I ended the affair. My lover accepted my decision, even though she thinks that I am falling on my sword out of guilt. My wife and I now sleep separately and row a lot. I seem to have committed myself to a life that I don’t want. I am doing this for my child, but am I making the biggest mistake of my life?

I understand how devastating this decision is and how torn you are feeling. It would be difficult for your wife if you left her with a baby on the way, but if you stayed now only to leave in a couple of years that could cause even more pain. To decide what is right for you both, and to see if the marriage has a future, you should have counselling with Relate (, 0300 100 1234). Ideally this will be together, but if not, go on your own. While you are doing this, you would need to explain to your lover that you can’t have any contact with her as you are trying to give your marriage a chance. She must also feel free to find someone else and not wait for you. However, if you have fallen out of love with your wife and you don’t think it can be rekindled, would she want you to stay? If you do decide to be with the other woman, then it is important she accepts you would want to see your child. You can still be a loving father. It might help to read my book To Love, Honour and Betray: Why Affairs Happen and How to Survive Them (£10, Thistle Publishing).

 Why do I keep getting hurt and rejected?

Three years ago, my husband of 30 years and I moved to New Zealand. He got a lucrative job, we made lots of friends and it felt like a new beginning for our turbulent marriage – until he had an affair with a colleague’s wife. They are now together. After a year, I tried online dating and met a lovely man. He was smart, educated, religious, charming and had a good job. We got on wonderfully well, he bought me flowers and champagne and told me he loved me and that the age gap didn’t matter – he is 33 and I am 50. Then he dropped a bombshell – texting me to say that it was over as his mother did not approve of me. Then he sent a barrage of nasty texts telling me that he wanted nothing more to do with me. I feel that I am unlovable.

This is the second man who has treated you badly and rejected you, which is understandably devastating, but the problem is not with you. You have just been unfortunate. It is sad that your marriage ended after 30 years, but, as you say, it had been turbulent so perhaps you were not happy either. As for the second man, I suspect that he was looking for a wealthy ‘sugar mummy’ and ended it when he discovered that you weren’t as wealthy as he thought, using his mother as an excuse. You should end all contact with him and block his number. You are not unlovable but, as I said, unlucky. Perhaps you may want to return to the UK where you have more support?

I don’t want them to vape in the office 

I started a new job six months ago. However, I am trying to get pregnant and my new manager and one of my colleagues, both of whom I sit next to, vape and use e-cigarettes. I am worried about any possible effects on the baby. The research on vaping is sketchy and I don’t want to rock the boat unnecessarily, but if something happened to the baby because I said nothing, I would never be able to forgive myself. My manager vapes all day and I am not sure how to approach him. I could move to the other end of the office or another office next door, but then people will ask questions. Is there any reason to be genuinely concerned about the side effects of vaping when trying to get pregnant?

This is a tricky one; the long-term effects of vaping are unknown and health guidelines are ambivalent. Vaping or smoking e-cigarettes is not illegal in offices and the government advice seems to be that any risks from e-cigarettes and vaping should be balanced by helping smokers to give up and therefore allowing vaping in certain areas. However, the main issue here is how you feel about it and how you should approach your manager. If you are pregnant, you will feel uncomfortable and worried if you are sitting in an area that is heavy with vaping fumes. So I would suggest that you first talk to someone in your HR department. They will give you advice on how to discuss this with your manager. Then ask to move or for a separate office. When you are pregnant, you can explain to people that you are concerned for the health of your child. Visit for more information on pregnant employees’ rights.

  • If you have a problem, write to Zelda West-Meads at: YOU, Northcliffe House, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TS, or email