Ask Fiona: I'm not good looking and I know I'll never amount to anything
Columnist and trained counsellor Fiona Caine offers her perspective on family dramas, emotional issues and dysfunctional relationships. This week: looks, children and relocating
IT SEEMS to me that success these days in anything – especially in love, sex and a career – depends entirely on how good-looking a person is. I am 24, fat, ugly and therefore doomed to a second class life because of it.
No amount of dieting, exercise or make up will ever be able to resolve this, and it's so unfair. I have been given such a bad start in life simply because of my parents' genes, and I know I'll never amount to much or get married.
FIONA SAYS: It's about confidence – not looks
While it's true that some people set great store by appearances – more fool them. To say that success in every sphere of life depends purely on good looks is simply not true.
Millions of women, who could never be described as beautiful or even attractive on the outside, have been able to find success, fame, love and happiness. That has a lot to do with confidence – they know how to make the best of what they've got and know how to present themselves.
A smile can go a long way to transforming someone's face, but when you're feeling unattractive, it's hard to summon one. Looks really aren't everything, as I'm sure you've heard others say, but because you are so upset, I suspect it will take more than this reassurance to lift you out of your depression.
Please consider talking to your doctor, or asking your GP to refer you to a counsellor. You need to look at yourself in more positive ways and counselling can help you achieve that.
SHOULD I MARRY HIM?
MY BOYFRIEND and I got together when I was 17 and I became pregnant soon after. We moved in together as a family and had another child.
He started having affairs, but I put up with it because I was in love with him. However, when he brought one of his girlfriends back to our flat, I moved out and got a divorce.
Three months ago, I started going out with a guy from Canada. He's over here with his job and will be going home in a couple of months. I really, really like him; he's wonderful with the children and wants us to marry.
The children like him too, but they also have a really good relationship with their father who they visit regularly, so I don't know what to do for the best.
FIONA SAYS: Could he relocate instead?
It is tempting to think you could up-sticks and make a new life for yourself, but you know how painful a failed relationship can be. Three months is a very short time to be sure of someone, especially when you are seeing them out of their normal context.
Could you find a way for you and the children to go and visit him in Canada? It would give you a chance to look at his lifestyle and see if it is something you could all fit into.
If he really loves you, he will realise what a huge decision he is asking you to make and will, I am sure, want to help in any way he can. If you find you still want to be with this man, you have some serious thinking to do.
It used to be relatively easy for a parent who had custody of the children to relocate with them to another country. These days though, in most cases where parents separate, they share the care of the children, so you would probably have to get your ex-husband's permission.
Cutting them off from regular contact with him will be hard and, although internet chats through Skype/Facetime etc can help bridge the gap, it's not the same.
I'd encourage you to get legal advice as soon as possible as anything you write down now (in emails and so forth) could end up being used in court.
Finally, is there no possibility of your Canadian boyfriend relocating here? It would certainly make things easier.
I WANT CHILDREN BUT HE DOESN'T
MY PARTNER made it completely clear when we first met that he'd never wanted children and had had a vasectomy. I was young, we were very much in love and so I thought it wouldn't matter, but, as time has gone on, I've realised that, deep down, I do really want children.
We've been together for five years and he wants us to marry, but much as I love him and would like to marry him, I can't get over the feeling that I will want children and will end up regretting it.
FIONA SAYS: Talk to him about your concerns
There's no compromise on an issue like this. If you marry him, knowing you want children and he doesn't, you'll end up either depressed or angry or both.
The short answer is, if you want children, there is no future in this relationship – but have you really thought through all the consequences of this? You could be throwing away a perfectly good, loving relationship without even knowing if you can have children.
It might be that you – or he – has fertility problems that makes having children difficult or even impossible anyway. Talk to your partner; being with you might have softened his attitude to becoming a father. It may be that he'd be willing to try and have his vasectomy reversed, or be willing to parent a child you conceive through artificial insemination.
In the end, only you can decide what means more to you – the love of this man or the possibility of having children. Please don't give up on a loving relationship, though, without fully discussing it first.
WHAT'S THE POINT WITHOUT HIM?
MY FRIENDS and family all said I did the right thing when I dumped my boyfriend of five years when I found he'd been two-timing me. They all went on about how strong I was, but a year later, I'm still on my own and I think my life is a complete waste of time.
I've never met anyone since I've liked as much as my ex-boyfriend. I used to have such great plans for what I was going to do with my life, but without him, I've become a coward and don't do anything.
FIONA SAYS: Seek support and move forward
IT'S easy to feel strong and confident when you've got a good support network in place, but now, without your boyfriend to lean on, it's not surprising you're feeling more vulnerable.
Don't be hard on yourself though, you've been through a tough time and you've had the strength to come through it. You still have your plans; you just have to find the courage to act on them.
Take stock of all the positive things in your life; talk to your friends and family about what you want to do. They helped you when you dumped your unfaithful boyfriend, so I'm sure they'd stand by you as you move forward.
It may be that they see you as so strong you don't need their help, but, if you explain how important their support is to you, I'm sure it will still be there for you.
Take one step at a time and, no matter how far distant those plans may seem, you'll be one step closer to achieving them.
:: If you have a problem you'd like Fiona's advice with, please email email@example.com