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Internet dating taboo

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Tony Parsons told a similar story in his bestselling novel Man and Boy, based on his experience of his wife, the writer Julie Burchill, leaving him and their five-year-old son, Bobby.

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'The assumption is that she must have done something wrong, that in some way she must be unfit.' Fiction is full of admonitory stories about women who break this taboo." But in the circumstances my remedy was just to leave.' She shrugs.'I had a bad time but women give birth in terrible places – in Iraq – and they cope and form a bond with their children. I must be a terrible person." I wouldn't say I was in turmoil but I couldn't quite balance myself.'It's lovely now; I enjoy him and learning about him.I see having him as a wonderful thing in my life and I'm looking forward to the future of it.' Are maternal feelings beginning to develop?She was just 23 and a drama student in London when she became accidentally pregnant.

'I'd never dreamed about marriage or children but I surprised myself and my friends by feeling really positive about it,' she says.

Her young daughter, the future Diana, Princess of Wales, always made it clear she had been forever scarred by the abandonment.

History largely chose to ignore the fact that Shand Kydd had in fact fought and lost a vicious custody battle, an anomaly at a time when courts virtually always awarded custody to mothers.

'I found the routine of being a mother deeply unfulfilling.

With the bond other mothers seem to have it might have been bearable, but I just couldn't feel it in me.

Even back in England, where I felt so much happier, I wasn't sure that I would feel 100 per cent with my son there. I had to sit down and say, "This is who I am." In the end I had to think what was more damaging: me leaving or my son being with a mother who wasn't a happy version of herself.' She adds that her own mother was not particularly maternal.