Ask Fiona: I'm scared my messy relationship history will put my new partner off
I HAVE fallen in love with a fantastic man. He's everything my previous boyfriend wasn't – he's kind, sympathetic and loving. We've started to talk about getting a place together and I think he may even pop the question soon.
I would love it if he did, but my problem is that he keeps asking me about my previous relationships and this is one subject I would prefer not to talk about.
My last relationship, which ended over two ago, was disastrous, as my boyfriend back then was a bully who tried to control everything I did for the seven years we were together. He messed with my head a lot too, frequently standing me up and pretending he'd been with his 'other lover'.
At the time, I wrote this off as teasing but towards the end of our relationship, I found out he HAD been sleeping around and then things got nasty. I did some stupid things to pay him back, including sleeping with his brother and his best mate, something I still feel guilty about.
We posted some malicious things about each other on social media but despite all this, I still fell apart when we split and had a breakdown, which took ages to get over.
Now my past is threatening to spoil my future with my new boyfriend, and I don't know if I should tell him?
I can't keep changing the subject but, at the same time, I have no idea how he would react.
FIONA SAYS: Your new boyfriend's curiosity about your previous relationships is not unusual but, if it is making you uncomfortable, I see no reason why you shouldn't continue to deflect his questions.
Rather than just changing the subject though, explain that you have been hurt badly by a failed long-term relationship and that you would prefer not to talk about it. Tell him you're trying to put what happened behind you and ask him for his help.
From there on, there's no obvious reason why he should ever find out what happened, unless those social media postings come back to haunt you (have you deleted as much of it as you possibly can?). Should your new boyfriend ever find out and question you about the fact you slept with your then boyfriend's brother and his friend, I think it would be wise to be honest with him.
Explain that your ex-boyfriend had cheated on you repeatedly and that you were upset, angry and very unhappy at the time. Let him know that the end result caused you to have a breakdown that took you a long time to recover from, which is why you find it hard to talk about.
Let him know that your relationship with him is important to you, and that you didn't want to tell him because you didn't want to risk spoiling the happiness you'd found with him.
If he is as sympathetic and loving as you suggest, I am sure he will want to spare you any further pain and accept this.
In the meantime, please try to stop feeling guilty about what happened. The break-up was difficult, bad-tempered and emotional, so it's not surprising that you acted out as you did.
You can't undo this but that is no reason to go on punishing yourself. You have a chance here for some real happiness and it would be great shame if you let guilt spoil things.
If you struggle to do this, you might find it helpful to chat with a Relate counsellor (relate.org.uk).
How can I get my daughter to realise her boyfriend is bad news?
MY DAUGHTER'S boyfriend is a waste of space – he never does the right thing but somehow manages to win people around because he always manages to charm them.
He's dumped my daughter several times, and then, a few days later manages to convince her he's made a mistake. When she does take him back (as she always does) he simply carries on messing her about, standing her up on dates and generally taking her for granted.
I wish I knew what to do to get her to understand that he will only ever hurt her. She loves him and cannot see the bad in him.
FIONA SAYS: Try not to interfere too much. It's never easy to stand back and let loved ones make mistakes, but sometimes that's exactly what you have to do for them to learn. Your daughter probably already knows that this man is taking advantage of her but, as she loves him, she can't resist his charm.
You need to be cautious about trying to force them apart, or your daughter may grow to resent what she could see as interference. I know it's difficult, but try to stand back and let things run their course.
Hopefully in time, she will realise he's no good, but until then, let her know that you love her and will be there for her if she needs you.
Being a working mum is making me feel so guilty
AFTER an extended maternity leave, I have just returned to work part-time, leaving my 18-month-old daughter with my mum.
She seems happy enough, she knows her granny well and mum's delighted to do it – but I'm a mess. I had no choice about going back to work because we needed the money; either I worked or we risked losing the house.
I hate that I have to leave my child every day. Even though I know she's safe and loved with my mum, I feel so guilty. For most of last week, it was all I could do to not cry at my desk, so I'm failing at my job and I feel I'm failing as a mother too.
FIONA SAYS: Please stop feeling bad. Would your daughter be any better off if you had lost your home? Would she be any happier if her mother was constantly depressed and worried about money? I think not.
You are not a failure, nor are you a bad mother, so please try not to feel so guilty.
I know that's easier said than done because parental instincts are strong, but there is some evidence that having two wage-earners in a family can be a positive influence on children.
It may be that they see the world as being more secure, knowing that both parents are working and providing for them. Your daughter is clearly too young to understand any of this so, for the moment, try to focus on the fact that she seems happy with the new arrangement. Then ensure she gets all the love and care she needs from you when you are at home.
If you need support, do look at the NCT website (nct.org.uk). I'm sure you'll also find the Working Families website (workingfamilies.org.uk) very helpful for practical help and advice.
My widowed mum is moving on too fast
THREE years ago, my father died when he was only 55 and my mother fell apart. We were so worried about her, and afraid she might even kill herself, so had to watch her 24/7 for a while.
Thankfully, she pulled around and is now back to once again enjoying life; in fact, she's met a man with whom she seems to be getting serious very quickly. They're talking about getting a place together after only seeing one another for four months.
I've tried to talk to her and suggest that she is rushing things a bit but she ignored me, and when I pushed a bit harder she all but told me to mind my own business. How can I make her see sense?
FIONA SAYS: It's for her to decide if she's moving too fast. If your mother has a genuine opportunity for happiness and perhaps love, do you really want to spoil things for her? I know you are worried but if she chooses to ignore your concerns, you will just have to accept that she knows her own mind.
She and her new man haven't yet moved in together, they are still only talking about it but, if you continue to question her decision, you risk the relationship you have with her.
Are you sure your reluctance to accept this new relationship isn't because you aren't ready to see your father's place taken by another man? If that's the case then it would seem the problem is more about you than about your mother, and that's something you will, I'm afraid, have to work through.
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