Fearne Cotton on the tool she turns to for relationship honesty

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Anna Brech
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TV presenter and mental health activist Fearne Cotton

Want an honest relationship? Ignore the social media pressure and cut through the noise, says mental health activist Fearne Cotton

When you’re mindlessly scrolling through Instagram or Facebook, there’s a fair chance you’ll come across a gushing relationship post. 

This might be sweet, or slightly galling, but either way, it’s hard to avoid the impression that the world is full of deliriously happy couples. 

And that’s exactly the kind of “compare and despair” effect that presenter Fearne Cotton wants to avoid, in handling her own close relationships. 

Earlier this year, Cotton talked openly about a rough patch she and husband Jesse Wood (son of Rolling Stones star Ronnie Wood) were going through, in a column for Red magazine.

Although she’s since confirmed she’s “more in love than ever” with her husband of four years, amid a storm of media coverage that misinterpreted some of her comments, the presenter believes it’s important to have these honest conversations about the ups and downs of a relationship. 

“I wrote that article to go ‘what a load of s***,’ [to the illusion of relationship perfection],” Cotton tells The Telegraph in a new interview. 

“Every marriage… takes work. It doesn’t dilute our love or make our marriage any weaker, it actually makes it stronger because we’re willing to have those conversations.”

Along with her various presenting gigs, Cotton is a mental health activist who has spoken openly about her battle with depression and hosts the joy-finding podcast, Happy Place.

For her, being candid about the challenges of her marriage (both within that relationship and to the wider world) is part of a bigger commitment to charting the highs and lows of life.

“I’m happy to share the good and bad bits of myself because of course I’m not living this perfect, fairytale life,” she says. “What’s the point of me having a platform and a large following if I’m not talking about something that’s going to have a positive impact?”

It’s this candour that Cotton believes is key to combating the noxious effects of social media on our mental health.

“I think we underestimate how big a problem it is,” she says.

“Some of it is lovely and you can find your own community online but it also brings a whole host of comparisons, and that kind of compare and despair model that’s the worst.

“I fall into that trap at the age of 37 as do many of my peers, and you have to really work hard and apply some discipline so as not to. We have to remind ourselves and the younger generation that there’s choice involved.”

Main image: Sarah Brimbley


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Anna Brech

Anna Brech is a freelance journalist and former editor for Her six-year stint on the site saw her develop a vociferous appetite for live Analytics, feminist opinion and good-quality gin in roughly equal measure. She enjoys writing across all areas of women’s lifestyle content but has a soft spot for books and escapist travel content.