Ask Fiona: I think I've made a bad move by relocating to a new area
Columnist and trained counsellor Fiona Caine offers her perspective on family dramas, emotional issues and dysfunctional relationships. This week: retirement, weddings and meeting the right partner
I'VE recently retired to a new area and, quite honestly, I think I've made a mistake.
Where I lived before there was always something interesting going on and people were friendly and willing to talk.
Now I can go several days without talking to anyone face-to-face, and those people I do talk to are not really on the same level as me.
I've been here 18 months now and can't afford to move back to where I came from.
I feel stuck and depressed.
FIONA SAYS: It's always hard to settle into a new area, but, if you expect it to be the same as the old one, you are bound to be disappointed.
First of all, now you've been here a while, consider if you're in the best place for you – every town or city has different areas that all have completely different atmospheres.
There may be a better one for you than where you are now.
Then consider the things you are interested in and want to do, and start asking where you can do them.
There are sports clubs, music groups, dining clubs, theatre outing groups, reading groups, study groups and just social groups all over the place - you just need to find them.
Your local library is a good place to start.
You say you're stuck and depressed, but you don't have to be – you do, however, have to make a real effort to get to know people and fit in.
HOW CAN I PERSUADE HIM TO GET MARRIED?
I really want to get married, but my boyfriend – who says he loves me and wants to be with me – says weddings are too expensive.
I don't want anything fancy, but I really would like a special day to celebrate how much we love one another, especially now we have a child together.
My sister thinks I'm daft because everyone says how much he loves me, but it's important to me.
Am I wrong to want this in this day and age?
FIONA SAYS: No, you're not wrong.
A wedding is a public declaration of your love and commitment to one another and while it can be an expensive occasion, it doesn't have to be.
A couple can get married in a registrary office for very little money.
You could buy a second-hand wedding dress from Oxfam (or a number of other charity shops) and have a party in your garden.
Why not ask your boyfriend if he would agree to get married if the whole thing cost less than £500?
Then show him how it could be done – there are plenty of online articles to help you with the planning.
WHY CAN'T I KEEP A GIRL INTERESTED?
I'm a good-looking, fit guy, but I couldn't get a girlfriend until I was 32.
Even on the countless dating sites I was on before that, I would only get one or two dates, and then I wouldn't hear back after contacting the girls.
I began to lose faith and the trouble is, now I'm in a relationship, I get the feeling it's going to go the same way.
I've tried to be upbeat and take my girl out every weekend, but she goes on about how many men she has left, and I'm fearing having to start all over again.
I have to do all the running in the relationship as she rarely texts and never phones.
How can I change things when she just rolls her eyes or walks away if I mention anything?
FIONA SAYS: I'm sorry to hear you've had such trouble getting a girlfriend, but if the only way you've tried is through dating websites, maybe it's time to try alternative ways of meeting people.
I have to say your current relationship doesn't sound too promising.
You appear to be making all the effort and she seems to do nothing other than try and make you jealous with talk of other men.
I'm not saying it's doomed, but unless the two of you can start communicating better than this, I don't think it's going to go anywhere.
There are plenty of genuine girls out there, but rather than looking on a computer, start interacting with people on a human level.
Join clubs, take up sports where men and women mix (tennis? badminton?), join amateur dramatic groups and so forth.
It strikes me that relationships that begin online don't have a chance to develop as friendships – some may, but certainly not all, and that's a real shame.
MY MUM THINKS I NEED TO BE MORE 'DOMESTICATED'
I'm so fed up with my mum trying to make me more "girly".
I'm 13 and really into sports and stuff, but she wants me to wear dresses and be interested in make-up.
What's worse is she also wants me to help her with housework – which I hate.
She says I'll never find a man to marry unless I can cook and clean, but I find it so boring.
Why can't my mum see that this 'domesticated' thing just isn't for me?
FIONA SAYS: There are two different things here as far as I can see.
Your mum wants you to be interested in things she values and probably finds it quite hard to understand that don't feel the same way.
That's something the pair of you will probably always disagree on, but try and be graceful about it.
Some women like "girly" things, some like "sporty" things – neither has any less value as a person, so try to recognise that you and your mum just have to agree to disagree.
The second thing is helping your mum around the house, something I think you really should be doing.
Housework generally IS boring and your mum may not like it either, but everyone has to do it, whether they're married or not.
You should do your share, as should any sisters AND brothers you may have.
So help your mum willingly, but point out that, in this day and age, everyone in the family should do their share.