Life

Ask Fiona: My teenage son doesn't like my new partner

Columnist and trained counsellor Fiona Caine offers her perspective on upset teenage sons and a woman looking for commitment from holiday romance

It's hard for children to accept that parents have their own needs and find a new partner

LAST year, I left my husband of 18 years to be with the man I now live with. I had known for some time I no longer loved my husband and he was no longer interested in me, so deciding not to stay in a loveless relationship was the logical thing to do.

My husband seems much happier now we're no longer together, but our two sons (16 and 17) have taken it badly and make it very clear they don't like my new partner. They behave very rudely towards him and try to run him down to me whenever they get the chance.

How do I get them to understand that he makes me happy and that I'm not giving him up?

SK

FIONA SAYS: Your sons probably find it easier to blame your partner for the break-up of their parents' marriage, rather than accept their mum and dad no longer love one another.

They don't want to blame you or their dad, so your partner is made the scape-goat. It's hard for children to accept that parents have their own needs – it's certainly very hard for them to imagine you can have any sexual needs, but a new man in your life makes it clear you do.

For them, that's particularly challenging, as mums and dad aren't supposed to enjoy activities they are just beginning to understand and explore themselves.

Your sons are clearly hoping you will get back together with their father so life will be "normal" again – it's a life lesson (and a hard one) for them to learn that this isn't going to happen.

It is also possible there is some jealousy involved.

Your sons may have felt "responsible" for you once you left their father; they might have considered they were the new men in your life.

A new relationship has shifted the balance of things for them and in ways that a new woman in their father's life might not have done.

They are old enough for you to spell things out to them.

Explain that you love your new partner and that, while you realise this isn't an easy situation for them, you would prefer them to stop running him down and being so rude to him.

Explain to them you're finding their behaviour hurtful because it implies criticism of you, just as much as it's criticism of your partner – he's your choice, after all.

Tell them you've had enough and, if they continue to do so on future visits, you will simply walk away from them.

Let them know you love them and that, in no way, did they contribute to the break-up of your relationship with their dad.

Explain to them, as you explained to me, that after being together for so long you simply fell out of love and needed to move on.

Explain to them that this man makes you happy and that their father no longer did – then ask them to be happy for you.

Make sure both you and your husband can reassure them of how much they are loved and how important they are to you.

It may take a little while, but once they see you are serious about this, and that it is not just going to blow over, I am sure they will eventually adjust to the new situation.

I CAN'T STOP LYING

Can you tell me how to get myself out of telling lies?

I want to tell the truth, but it's become a lifestyle thing for me and it's destroying my family, so I need to stop.

MN

FIONA SAYS: When someone lies for no reason, it's usually because they lack confidence that anyone will be interested in them as they are.

There is no point in my telling you to just stop and tell the truth, because this has become a way of life for you; it's a part of who you are.

For you to be able to stop, you have to feel there is no reason not to tell the truth.

For someone who is a pathological liar, there is a real risk to relationships – which sounds like what you are now experiencing.

Do please speak to your GP and ask for a referral to a counsellor who can help you discover the cause of your problems and help you start to believe in yourself and build your self-esteem.

Please don't leave this, because if left unchecked, the lying can become so ingrained it could end up having legal consequences for you, and you could end up being accused of fraud.

MY COUSIN IS GETTING CARRIED AWAY WITH A HOLIDAY ROMANCE

Last summer holidays in Greece my cousin started dating the travel rep at the resort where we were staying.

She fell for him big time and he told her he loved her.

They've been on Facebook writing to one another since – although he's not written very often and his profile seems sketchy to me.

Now she says she wants to go back and be with him.

I'm worried he is just using her and has done the same with loads of other gullible women.

She's talking about giving up her job and she's so excited about seeing him again.

I know holiday romances like this never work out, and I've tried to explain this to her, but she's not listening.

How do I get her to see she's going to be really disappointed?

JM

FIONA SAYS: Your cousin may be viewing this relationship through rose-coloured sunglasses, but you need to remember that not every holiday romance is doomed to failure.

There is a chance this man really does care for her, although the cynic in me tends to side with you.

Rather than try and stop her going, try to encourage her not to burn her boats.

Encourage her to go with an open mind and with realistic expectations.

Suggest she asks for leave of absence for, say, three months, rather than giving up her job completely.

Although they've been chatting on social media, they really don't know that much about each other and she may find she doesn't like him as much as she thought she did.

She could find that, out of season and with his family, he's a very different person and one she's not as keen on.

Once you've encouraged her to be a little more cautious, you then need to stand back.

She has to make her own decisions, whether they hurt her or not.

THEY ARE PUT OFF WHEN I WON'T SLEEP WITH THEM

Every one of the relationships I've had over the past four years has gone wrong when they find out I won't sleep with them until I feel we have a commitment to each other.

They've all started well, but after about two months and the moment I point out I won't be sleeping with them, everything falls apart.

I was hurt in the past and I'm simply not prepared to become physically involved until I'm sure that a guy is serious about me.

Is this so wrong?

There must be some guys out there who don't immediately expect me to trust everything they say?

SB

FIONA SAYS: I am sure there are plenty of men who would quite understand your cautious approach to relationships – many, indeed, who would respect it.

If the men you've been out with have been put off so easily, perhaps you are better off without them.

Are you, though, perhaps expecting a serious commitment a little too quickly from these men?

You say "after about two months" as if this is your cut-off time.

That's no time at all in which to get to know someone, and certainly too soon for most people to be thinking about a serious commitment.

So please, when you next meet someone, try not to immediately see it as a serious relationship.

I wouldn't even mention your personal rule about not sleeping with someone until you feel ready.

Just get to know the person, have some fun together, try and avoid things getting too serious and only tell him you won't sleep with him if he asks.

You don't need to make this a big issue, just say it's something you're not yet ready for.

If you have a problem and you'd like Fiona's advice, email help@askfiona.net

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