Ask Fiona: My boyfriend is unreliable – but I can't help liking him
Columnist and trained counsellor Fiona Caine offers her perspective on family dramas, emotional issues and dysfunctional relationships. This week: a late date, long distance relationships and a daughter who doesn't like her dad's girlfriend
AFTER one failed marriage and two messy relationships I decided I would simply stay single for a while.
That was three years ago and, by and large, I have enjoyed the freedom this gave me.
I did what I wanted to do, when I wanted to and without guilt, and I also found I could focus more on my career.
A couple of months ago I met a man and, unexpectedly, I was attracted to him.
We see each other a few times a week but the problem is, he is nearly always late for our dates and once he left me sitting in a busy restaurant on my own for almost an hour.
Twice he has been a complete no-show and he didn't use his mobile to say he wasn't coming, he just texted me the following day to apologise.
He had good reasons for standing me up (his job involves travelling and at short notice), but it still hurt and last week he forgot to call while I was away visiting my mum, having promised he would.
Knowing how he is when he is with me, I am sure he doesn't do this to be nasty – I think it's just that he's forgetful.
I think I am ready to try again for a serious relationship, but I'm worried I might be setting myself up for another fall.
Should I continue to see him?
FIONA SAYS: You've been remarkably forgiving so far and many people, myself included, would have decided that being stood up twice in such a short space of time was already a step too far.
It's not difficult to stay in touch with people using mobile phones today. To apologise by text, rather than a voice-to-voice call or voicemail, suggests a lack of respect at best and downright cowardice at worst.
I accept that plans must change sometimes but, when a pattern develops like this, I am not sure it can be put down to simple forgetfulness – but only you can decide whether to give him more time.
If you do, I suggest you make a start by saying you care for him and want to continue to see him, but that you were hurt by being stood up and doubly hurt when he didn't call after promising to.
Stress that you understand why his plans may have to change at short notice, but tell him your time is valuable too, so could he let you know in good time if he's going to be late or his plans change.
You can then see how it goes, but I think you might also want to consider pulling back from thinking of this as a "serious relationship", at least for now.
I am not saying it won't get to that stage, but you've only known him for two months and his behaviour to date suggests he might not yet see this as a serious relationship either.
Enjoy your time together and decide how long you want to give him; hopefully he will grow to feel the same way about you.
If his behaviour doesn't change, and he fails to consider your needs though, you'll know it's time to move on.
She told me she doesn't love my brother
JUST over a year ago I set up my brother with a woman I knew at work.
They seemed ideal for each other and I was happy when they started seeing each regularly.
The change in my brother was great; he used to be quiet but now he's far more outgoing and confident.
Last month he even mentioned he was thinking about marrying her, but when I last saw his girlfriend she blurted out that, while she liked his company, she doesn't love him.
Now I don't know what to do, and the last thing I want to do is hurt my brother.
Why did she say this to me?
FIONA SAYS: I suspect she senses he is about to propose and is hoping you can pass on the bad news for her.
This is something they are going to have to resolve themselves though, so I'd advise against getting involved.
If you attempt to interfere in the relationship, it is only likely to cause resentment and hurt your brother further.
All you can really do is be there for him to offer support if things go wrong.
My daughter doesn't want to visit her father
I AM divorced and have a 13-year-old daughter who sees her father every other weekend.
She has looked increasingly unhappy over the past few months, and when I pressed for an explanation, she confessed she did not want to see her father any more.
It seems that while she loves her father, she hates being around his new girlfriend.
She's the woman he left me for and I have always felt she resents the time my ex-husband spends with his daughter.
It seems she is succeeding in driving a wedge between my daughter and her father - I don't want this happen and I am sure he doesn't either.
Should I just let this slide and hope that it resolves itself?
FIONA SAYS: You need to talk with him, putting it off won't help as, if your daughter refuses to go, it will force the issue anyway.
Explain that she is unhappy and doesn't want to visit but, whatever you do, avoid blaming his new girlfriend.
If you do, he may see this as you trying to get back at him for leaving.
Instead stress that it has come from your daughter and that, although she is not happy, you still want her to continue to see him.
Suggest that perhaps some time together on their own might help.
This is never any easy situation to reconcile but, if your ex-husband cares for her as much as you indicate, I am sure he will understand and want to help.
It is sometimes hard for children to discuss separation issues with parents, so if your daughter continues to struggle with this situation, you might suggest that she contact Childline (childline.org.uk) which offers a phone support line as well as 1-2-1 online chat.
I miss my boyfriend
I HAVE just gone back to university and am really missing my boyfriend.
During the summer break I couldn't spend much time with him because his new job means he works long hours and at weekends, and even when we were together it didn't feel the same.
Now I'm at the other end of the country and can't get home very easily.
I still love him and am worried we are drifting apart, so I'm thinking of giving up on my course as I'm so unhappy.
FIONA SAYS: Please don't give up your course. I know it hurts, but even if you move back home there is no guarantee things will go back to the way they were.
People do change and grow apart, no one is to blame, it just happens.
Talk with your boyfriend and see how he feels, as you may find he too is struggling to come to terms with this enforced separation.
Perhaps you can agree to stay as friends for the moment and then, once you've finished your course and his job has settled down, you can explore the possibility of spending more time together again.
If you have a problem you'd like Fiona's advice with, email email@example.com