Agony Counseling with Our Skilled Counselor Fiona Caine


OUR columnist and skilled adviser Fiona Caine answers another set of reader dilemmas.

I met an ex-boyfriend just before Christmas last year, who now lives in Spain but had managed to enter the UK for work purposes despite Covid restrictions. We got along well and caught up with what we had done in our lives.

I found out he was married and then divorced about five years ago. Since then he has been working hard and traveling quite a bit between the UK and Spain. During the two months that he was here, we saw each other a lot. It became apparent that we still had feelings for each other – in fact, we ended up in bed quite often.

When he returned to Spain in early March I was really upset and thought that was probably the last I would hear from him. However, he immediately got in touch via Zoom and we’ve been chatting that way ever since.

Last week he surprised me and asked me to marry him and come to live in Spain. I realized then that I loved him, and that’s what I really wanted, so I said yes.

My problem is my 32 year old son, who has never been able to take good care of himself. He seems to waver from one crisis to another. He is a qualified electrician and earns a lot of money, but he seems unable to hold a steady job.

He also had some financial problems and I always bailed him out. I worry about what will happen if I leave him alone. I finally told him everything last night and he got really mad.

Now I wonder if I made a terrible mistake. What should I do?


Fiona says: You have a second chance to be happy

I suspect the reason—or at least part of the reason—your son never learned to care for himself properly is that you were always there to sort out whatever mess he was in. It may sound harsh, but I think the time has come for you to sort this out. His angry reaction suggests he recognizes it and is scared of it.

However, at 32, he must learn to live independently and solve his own problems. He’s qualified and earns what I assume is a reasonable amount, so it shouldn’t be beyond his means.

I’m not saying that you suddenly refuse all requests for help. If he has a serious and genuine life problem, of course you will help him – but for everyday life problems he must intervene himself.

Talk to him again, reassure him that when you go to Spain, you will not abruptly cut off all contact. After all, it only takes a moment to call or video chat and what’s more, it’s only a two or three hour flight from the UK. You will always love him and be there for him when needed.

Then explain that you love this man and want to marry him. I hope he will be mature enough to be happy for you. Then, if you are sure this is what you want, I suggest you grab this opportunity with both hands and have a wonderful time in Spain.

Not everyone gets a second chance at happiness and the fact that you two found each other is very special. The only caveat I would offer is to suggest that you think about why you broke up in the first place and make sure the reason is not likely to happen again.

As for your son, try to stop worrying about him – I’m sure he’ll be fine when he needs to.

I can’t believe my cheating boyfriend lied twice

I broke up with my boyfriend when I found out he was seeing someone else. We had been living together for almost four years, so it really hurt. He moved and told me he was going to share a room with a friend. Then, about five months ago, we saw each other again and he told me that he was deeply sorry for what had happened and that he had missed me.

He promised me that it wouldn’t happen again and, since he seemed sincere, I forgave him. He came back and I thought we were happy; we had made plans for a vacation and even discussed buying a home together.

Then last week I found out from a mutual friend that when we broke up he hadn’t shared with a mate at all! In fact, he had lived with the same woman again. When I asked my friend why she didn’t tell me before, she told me that my boyfriend had sworn to secrecy. She apologized and said she should never have agreed.

I was so angry that I threw all his things down the stairs and left a message on his phone telling him never to come back. I guess he got his things back because everything was gone, and I couldn’t face him anyway.

I was hurt badly again and I hate him for it, and right now I feel like I can never trust another man again. I avoided seeing people because I’m embarrassed that he cheated on me twice. So I stay, I cry and I drink to sleep. How do you overcome something like this?


Fiona says: You have a lot to deal with

I agree that you have been seriously hurt by a man who just doesn’t understand what it means to be in a relationship of trust and love, it seems. He was deceitful, selfish and didn’t hesitate to manipulate his friends to cover it up. You have every right to be angry – but I promise you’ll get over it.

It may not be a quick process unfortunately, but over time those feelings will fade. In the meantime, please don’t turn to solo drinking at home; it’s probably one of the worst things you can do. This can numb the pain, but it will also make it harder for you to think clearly about ways to move on. It can also cause you to focus too much on the past, and it just isn’t worth it.

Instead, change it up, seek to introduce fun and healthy new things into your life, new hobbies, new sports or activities, or even new friends. For now, don’t be in a rush to start another relationship. Yes, you made a mistake trusting Him again – but forgive yourself and let yourself enjoy life again.

Mistakes are also what we learn, so when you’re ready to start another relationship, use what you’ve learned from this experience to guide you. Also, remember that not all men or people will be like your boyfriend.

There’s no guarantee you won’t ever be hurt again, so don’t rush things. Spend time getting to really know someone before committing to them, whether as a friend or a lover. Listen to what others have to say about them, and if something is wrong, walk away.

The last thing you want to do is build a relationship with someone like your ex – but that’s what a lot of us do, follow the same pattern. Figure out what this pattern is and shift your thinking to explore relationships with different types of people. You can do it.

Worried about Viagra

My husband and I have always had a good sex life. However, he recently bought Viagra on the internet and wants to use it to spice things up. I was a little shocked because I’m not aware any of us are having any issues right now. He said it was not for a problem and it was just for fun.

I’ve heard there can be nasty side effects with Viagra, and I’m not sure he should risk his health “just for the fun of it”. I’m also not sure about taking medication bought off the internet, but he thinks I’m worrying unnecessarily. Is he right ?


Fiona says: Check with the GP

I’m definitely with you on this one, and I personally think you’re right to be concerned. Many people regularly purchase these drugs over the internet, and often from seemingly reputable sources.

However, there is also a real risk if you buy drugs online from unreliable sources or use them without proper guidance. Also, even though Viagra is genuine, all drugs can carry certain risks for people with medical conditions, and some drugs can mean that the use of this stuff is contraindicated. Considering this, your husband should be careful and if he is determined to go ahead, he should talk to his doctor first.

I don’t want their dogs near my baby

My in-laws have two dogs who are still very sweet but very excitable. They keep jumping on things to reach my granddaughter every time we visit. They only lick her face, but I’m afraid that’s transmitting some kind of disease.

I pushed them away every time I saw him, but my in-laws think I’m making a fuss for nothing. I tried to let them know I’m serious about this, but they don’t do anything to stop the dogs. My husband also spoke to them to no avail.

I don’t want to fall out on this, but I don’t know how long I can keep my cool. I now avoid seeing them as much as possible. I don’t want to deny them time with their granddaughter, but I can’t let this continue.

Am I unreasonable?


Fiona says: They have to listen

No, not at all – she’s your baby and how you want to take care of her is important.

Although some research suggests that having dogs around at an early age can boost a child’s immune system, it’s also true that dogs could potentially transmit several viral and bacterial diseases to humans. Also, if a child or baby becomes the center of attention, then dogs may show jealousy which can turn aggressive. Or they might just be unaware of their size and strength around young children. So I think you are absolutely right to express these concerns to your in-laws.

Since they haven’t responded to your requests so far, I suspect you’ll have to issue some sort of ultimatum. It should come from you and your husband together, but doesn’t have to be confrontational. Calmly explain that you are both worried about this and that you would like them to keep the dogs away from her.

Hopefully they will agree. But if not, tell them that you may not be able to visit your daughter again – and while that might cause a family disagreement, you’ll have to stick with it.

If you have a problem you need help with, email Fiona by writing to [email protected] for advice. All letters are treated confidentially and to protect this confidentiality Fiona is unable to forward your messages to other readers. Fiona regrets not being able to enter into personal correspondence.

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