This week I'm talking about whether a toxic relationship calls for time out to parent the kids, how to deal with someone you fancy who doesn't want a relationship but keeps calling anyway, and whether your kids should love you unconditionally.
If you would like any advice, feel free to treat me as your agony aunt. Just message me or pop a comment in the comment box at the end of this post. I promise to be gentle.
Here are this week's questions.
Q: If your relationship is toxic, would you take a time out to parent your children?
You can't live together or without each other. You constantly break up and get back together. The love is strong but you can't seem to make it work and your children are caught in the middle.
A: It depends on the reason why you keep breaking up.
If it is infidelity then putting your children through this is unfair, let alone the effect on the partner who is being cheated on.
If it is the usual niggles of being in a long term relationship, then, forgive me, but a lot of people would say you both need to grow up and focus on your children.
I am not saying it isn’t difficult or draining - because I’m sure it is, but you talk about your relationship as if it is a teenage romance “the love is strong but you can’t seem to make it work”.
Sit down together and talk. Decide whether you are committed to making this work once and for all.
If you are the one being cheated on then it is up to you to say “enough”. This is what I will and will not put up with and stick to it.
Ultimatums don’t work but firm, committed action may.
Have you considered family or relationship counselling?
Could a family member take the children for a bit while you work through your differences?
I wish you luck but I do think you need to stand firm now and stop this endless cycle which is making everybody miserable.
Q: Why do I hear so many people talk about how they have to "look good" together with their partner?
People say there should be a “nice” height difference (I’m told 4–8 in) and couples should look equally fashionable and attractive. Do people think of themselves as furniture?
I understand needing physical attraction but this seems a shallow way to view compatibility.
A: I quite agree with you. It is an incredibly shallow way of looking at compatability and whilst I think we all gravitate towards a certain ‘type’, there are absolutely no rules.
If you are going to spend your life looking for someone with a 4–8 inch height difference, as opposed to a lovely, kind, thoughtful person who makes you happy, then you are going to have a lonely life.
I really wouldn’t set much store on comments like this.
Wouldn’t you rather be a partner than a book-end?
Q: Is it your kids' job to love you as their parent?
A: There’s no question that children should be taught respect - for themselves and for the other people in their life.
It may be that they also feel an unconditional love for their parents but it is not their ‘job’ and in many ways love, like respect has to be earned.
It’s easy, though, for us mothers to feel a bit unloved and taken for granted but I think that’s life. After all, you have to let them go at some point.
So they may love us very much indeed but see absolutely no necessity whatsoever to show us that.
I usually find with my two that it’s when they’re poorly or when something bad happens that they really need me - and that’s when you see the depth of their feelings.
But, if you want something that loves you unconditionally and without question, you’re probably better off getting a dog.
And if your real question is “am I being a good enough parent”, then I’m sure you are.
Q: What is the most polite way to let a man know you want him to stop calling everyday?
I wanted a relationship and he didn't. He also didn't tell me he wants to stay friends and I don't want him as a friend. Yet he dials me everyday and I feel like my time is wasted where I could be doing something else instead of useless talk. How do I politely let him know? We also work together.
A: It’s obviously trickier because you work together but if he has been clear with you that he doesn’t want a relationships then I think you can just say “look I’m really busy and I don’t have the time for long conversations” or something. Hopefully he’ll get the message.
If not then do you have number recognition on your phone? If so you can simply not pick up the call.
Also if he calls at the same time every day, again, don’t answer.
Or when you pick up the phone just say “I’m in the middle of something right now I’ll have to catch you later”.
I’m sure if you do this a few times he’ll get the hint.
I sense that you don’t want to tell him to stop phoning in case he changes his mind about a relationship and it may be he already has, hence the constant phoning.
Or he knows how you feel and is enjoying the attention.
In which case, the sooner you end the phone calls the better.
Time to be assertive.
Q: When a girl ignores my text sometimes does it mean that she might be testing me and I have a feeling that she likes me?
A: It could.
It could equally mean that she is becoming irritated by you texting her and isn’t really interested.
You honestly cannot tell via a text.
If you think she likes you, then ask her out on a date and stop hiding behind your phone.
If she turns you down then at least you will know how she really feels and not waste any more time chasing a relationship that is going nowhere.
How would you have responded to these questions? I'd love to know. You can find more advice on my problem page.
Disclaimer: All materials included in this post are intended for informational purposes only. This post/information is not intended to and should not be used to replace medical or psychiatric advice offered by physicians or other health care providers. The author will not be liable for any direct, indirect, consequential, special, exemplary or other damages arising therefrom.