BEL MOONEY: Should I settle for a nice guy… or wait for the bad boy I long for?

Dear Bel,

I am 25 and live with my boyfriend. We met two years ago through a mutual friend and after a year I moved in with him.

He has a demanding job and works long hours, so moving in seemed sensible, otherwise we would never see each other.

He is very much in love with me and is wonderfully caring, attentive and calm. Sexually, things aren’t that great, but he tries and becomes less embarrassed and self-conscious as the relationship progresses.

I know he would be a great father and a strong husband.

I always envisioned having my first child before I was 30 and being married for a year or so before that. Now that I’ve invested all this time, I don’t want to walk away from an incredibly caring man.

But I can also see myself falling for a passionate relationship like the one I had with a bad boy for a year in my late teens. I don’t want to write off an incredible man, but I can’t let myself feel anymore.

I have enjoyed building our house, but I am also a nester and love cooking, baking and having someone to care for.

I’ve often set unattainable goals for myself, so am I just overestimating the concept of “the one”? I hear stories about terrible dates and terrible boyfriends and feel so guilty for underestimating what I have, but how can I agree to spend my life with a man when I’m so insecure? Can anyone ever really know?

I do love him, but don’t know if I’m ‘in love’ with him, or just clinging to what is ‘safe’ – and I told him all these concerns. I care about him very much and in the few days it took for him to withdraw, nurse his wounds and come back to me since the ‘conversation’, I felt quite anxious. Now I think he attributed the conversation to my usual over-analysis and moved on.

Please help me decide if I should stick with this or walk away.

I don’t want to lose the intimacy we share, but I don’t know if what we have is enough for sustainability.

Is this just the effect of choice and awareness of divorce rates? I don’t want to become another statistic.


Bel Mooney replies: You’re not the first young woman in a good relationship with Mr Nice Guy who still fantasizes about being swept off her feet by a dangerous, sexy ‘bad boy’. You won’t be the last either!

This is the core of your problem.

Sex with this good, loving man is not at all what you would want – and at your age that matters a lot. Otherwise you wouldn’t have mentioned it.

It concerns me that you seem to have written a rather rigid script for your life and now have serious doubts about the plot and the characters.

On the one hand, you love the idea of ​​nesting, cooking, having a baby, living happily ever after with ‘the one’ – and being the perfect wife and mother.

On the other hand, your inner self dreams of rebellion. From smashing walls and running away.

From your uncut letter I know that you did very well at university and that you now have a good job with interesting prospects.

I wonder if your lurking dissatisfaction with your partner and your pleasant, easy life together isn’t also fueled by a frustration with yourself for always being the top performer. Are there roots of this in childhood? For example, what was your parents’ reaction to your teenage boyfriend? Have you always felt like you had to live up to their expectations?

I’ve never believed in the concept of ‘the one’ – because for some people there are two or even three loves in a life. None of us can ever “know” whether the choices made in the 1920s will prove to be a source of great disappointment and pain in the 1940s.

I assure you, I never thought I would be divorced at fifty; “Becoming another statistic” is not something you can have any control over. As for ‘sustainability’? What is that? I’m afraid you can’t incorporate the mysterious workings of fate into your personal script for paradise found.

Why not live in the present, focus on having a good time with your partner and just park your plans? Stop the endless navel gazing and cross-examination. Mr. Nice Guy might get tired of you and suggest a fresh start with new people. Or you can meet the sexy Mr Wrong next month and run away with him.

The jury is always looking for our lives, you know. That’s why tomorrow is exciting.

Mom is cruel and made her friend cry

Dear Bel

My mother, who is 86, raised three children on her own and provided for us as best she could, for which we are so grateful.

But she was not loving (I don’t remember her saying I love you) and is not tangible; when I hug her, she steps away or pats me.

We didn’t have the easiest relationship because she expected more from her only daughter than from her sons. I’ve learned not to challenge her because if I do, she’ll argue with me for months.

Bel Mooney says some of the saddest letters she receives are from adult children of elderly parents

Bel Mooney says some of the saddest letters she receives are from adult children of elderly parents

She has become worse in recent years – often nasty. I don’t want to be near her; it affects my mental health.

She has a dear friend for life, and I often take her to visit – but mom is so rude now that it’s not fair to put her through this (she was in tears last time). But without the girlfriend’s buffer, I don’t think I can handle her. I also feel bad when I don’t see her.

Mom’s mental health is not good. Her doctor has suggested she take antidepressants, but she laughs about it.

I want to do something to keep her from losing the few people who still care, but my brothers disagree and say she won’t change.

I’m afraid she’ll get into a fight with me if she tries to challenge her.

Do I leave things alone or try to help her understand how her behavior affects other people?


Bel Mooney replies: Some of the saddest letters I get are from adult children of elderly parents. They are torn between a sense of duty and frustration.

You don’t mention father. Whatever the circumstances, it sounds like your mother has had a tough time, which makes me wonder if that has made her tougher than you would have liked as a mother.

Some old people look back on their history and develop a deep anger and wonder, “Why did it have to be this way?” Such regrets can cause bitterness in those who feel wronged by their own choices, bad luck, or simply by chance. Do you think some of this might apply to your mother?


Every week Bel answers questions from readers about emotional and relationship problems. Write to Bel Mooney, Daily Mail, 9 Derry Street, London W8 5HY, or email Names are being changed to protect identities. Bel reads all the letters, but regrets that she cannot conduct personal correspondence.

When I read your description of her behavior, my first thought was that she might develop dementia, which can lead to what I consider a hardening of personality. Forgetfulness is one thing, but increasing verbal aggression is another.

The fact that she is difficult to deal with can be explained by family history, but to be so mean to her friend? That is different.

You say “her doctor has repeatedly suggested she take antidepressants,” which makes me wonder why she makes those appointments – what physical symptoms? She may be “scoffing” at all things mental health, but still feels an unspoken need for help. If she rejects her doctor’s help, how will she find it in herself to listen to you?

There are no easy answers. You know her well; she will undoubtedly get angry and reject you if you tell her the truth.

When she made her friend cry, was anything said then or after? Maybe that incident can be an entry point into the conversation you’re afraid of.

I’m not sure why your brothers would need to bail out, but since you have a good relationship with the friend, why not enlist her help? Can you take her on another visit and make a pact to explain to your mother why her behavior was unacceptable? The two of you could make her think, and also provide some mutual protection from her anger.

I suspect that such an intervention would best come from a colleague. And it can also help you to get some guidance to bring back old memories and explain why your relationship with your mother is so complicated.

I admire your desire to save her from herself, but you can only do this with help.

And finally… sharing is a way to make miracles!

The sun disappeared, the rain came, but I was blessed by the sunshine of my mailbag, in response to last week’s ‘And Finally’.

You like it when I wear my heart on my sleeve – and prove it by sending the ‘hearts’ back to my inbox!


We must take the risk of joy. We can do it without pleasure,

But no pleasure. Don’t enjoy. We must have

The stubbornness to accept our joy in the unforgiving

Oven of this world.

A Brief for the Defense by Jack Gilbert (American poet 1925-2012)

In response to my sad comment about not being Wonder Woman anymore (health reasons), Alison W put me right with some kind but strong words:

“…that part wasn’t right. You looked in the mirror with the wrong view. There is no “older woman, tired” etc. to be seen there, but a woman of great strength… So go back to the mirror and look again.’

Lynne M picked up the theme: ‘You take a break, you’ll soon be back in those boots. They’re tied up for when you’re ready.”

And she sent me a picture of Wonder Woman’s red boots!

So many loving emails reinforced my belief that real miracles can be accomplished by sharing our stories here. Thanks everyone.

Lawrence S supplied one

moving lesson in positivity: ‘Last April I lost my dear wife of 66 years… I had never lived alone in my life, so it was difficult… 12 days after her death I was rushed to hospital for five blood transfusions due to some internal bleeding caused by the stress.

‘Then in June I was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer. In January I was taken to hospital again with sepsis. It has made me weak and unreliable after years of fitness.

‘Then I started thinking. As I turn 90 next month, I can be grateful for 88 years of good health. I have had more than 60 years of wonderful love and companionship. Bless you, Bel, for all the help you give every week. Get well soon.’

That humbles me.