She Follows Her Ex On Social Media – Problem Page

In this week’s problem page, when your girlfriend still follows her ex on social media, dealing with bullies and how to get someone out of your house when they just won’t leave.

Here are this week’s questions.

Last week, my girlfriend broke up with me saying that I’m the nicest guy she ever met but she doesn’t deserve me, but her roommates and friends still know we are in a relationship. What should I do in this situation?

I’m sorry to hear that you have been, effectively, friend-zoned and I can imagine that it really hurts.

As for her roommates, it is up to her to tell them. What you shouldn’t allow her to do is to carry on pretending that you are in a relationship – and that means you need to separate yourself and not hang around them for a while.

In your shoes, I would go out and start enjoying myself. What about hanging out with your male buddies?

Don’t let this girl use you a ‘boyfriend fodder’ to make herself look good. Make it clear that you are now single – and if any of her roommates fancy a date – you’re free!

Should I be concerned my girlfriend still follows her ex on Social Media?

I don’t think I’d be very happy about it, to be honest. I suppose it’s one thing to follow someone but another altogether to keep engaging with them. Is she liking posts and responding? Are they messaging each other?

In your position, I’d be doing a bit of subtle investigation and if you find that she is firmly in contact with the ex, remind her that you are not particularly interested in sharing her and it is time to make up her mind.

He tells me to go away. He doesn’t feel like talking to anyone. It’s because he is going through a tough time. Being his friend, should I leave him like this?

It sounds as if he is suffering from depression and I don’t think you should leave him. It is very, very difficult, that I understand but I would seek advice and seek if you can get him to have some counselling.

You can tell him that you are worried and agree between you some form of staying in contact. For example, you could say “I know you want to be left alone but I’m going to check in with you at 8 pm (or whatever). You can tell me to go away but at least I’ll know you are OK”. Something like that.

Depression can be a killer and as a friend, you have the challenge of ensuring he is OK whilst not being swallowed up by the pressure of caring for him yourself.

It’s not easy but he is very very lucky to have someone like you concerned about him.

What do you have to do when you’re being bullied, except ignore them?

You take the situation to a higher authority.

You don’t say who these lowlifes are but if you are in school then you talk to your family, teacher or pastoral care.

If you work with them (and rest assured adult bullying occurs) then you must talk to your manager or HR department.

Ignoring them is a sensible first step but you need to take action. If you are being bullied for reasons of sexuality, disability, race or gender, don’t forget there are laws in place to protect you.

Talk to someone who will support you and come up with a plan together. And don’t be afraid to seek legal advice, nor talk to the police if you fear actual physical harm.

Lastly, write/record EVERYTHING – take screenshots of tweets and facebook messages in case they are deleted. Save voicemails. Keep a diary and record dates, times and exactly what happened.

This is the kind of information a lawyer will need.

Don’t take this lying down -easier said than done I know – but if you start opening up about what is happening to you I’m sure a lot of people will be very angry on your behalf.

Should I post pictures on social media for my recent ex to see during the no contact phase?

If they’re an ex, they’re an ex. What is the point of a no-contact phase if you have split up? It’s usually suggested by the one who’s leaving to make the one who’s being left feeling better. Don’t be fobbed off by that.

Post away on whatever social media you like. It is no longer any of your ex’s business. If, though, you are posting to make them jealous and to win them back, I wouldn’t bother. If you need to go to that much effort then the relationship is over.

If they want you back they’ll be on the phone or texting, not playing silly games with a ‘no contact phase’.

How do you break up with someone who is living in your house but won’t leave?

You need legal advice to sort this out. If you are afraid for your personal safety you should talk to the police and seek support from friends and family. It would be better for you to move out if you are in physical danger.

In terms of getting this person out, a lawyer will need to decide if they have any claim on the property. Who owns it? Have they been paying rent? They may have tenants rights.

I’m not sure this is something you can handle on your own.

She tells me that she’s poly because she has trust issues and is just not at a point in her life where she’s ready to commit. I’m ready to commit but I don’t like the poly aspect. Is there any way I can help her?

I don’t think it’s for you to ‘help’ her, to be honest. She has made her decision, although the poly thing sounds like a bit of an excuse. She doesn’t want an exclusive relationship with you at the moment.

I wouldn’t waste time. If you are looking for exclusivity, this one isn’t your girl.

How would you have answered these questions?  I’d love to know.  You can find more advice on my problem page.

In the meantime, you can find more dating tips in these posts:-

Dating:  11 Ways To Tell They’re Really Into You

 6 Signs Your Dating Buddy Isn’t On Your Side

32 Ways To Tell They’re Just Not That Into You

Relationship Dilemmas – Including When The Ex Wants You Back

I spend a lot of time responding to the questions I am asked about the most common relationship dilemmas about dating and relationships and I thought I’d share some of my answers with you in case you are going through anything similar.

Obviously, I am not an expert but I am a 50-something married mum of two with quite a few years’ experience under my belt. I take the view that, sometimes, you need to hear it like you would from your own mother – however tough the truth may be.

Here are some of the questions about common relationship dilemmas I’ve been asked.

My partner and I broke up because he realized he doesn’t feel ready to fully commit to a relationship at the moment. What should I do, beyond waiting?

He said he’d hit me up when he’d feel ready to fully commit because currently, he doesn’t want a relationship with anyone. We love each other a fair lot, and I’m willing to wait for him to make up his mind and get back together, as unbearable as the wait is.

Answer: I’m afraid this guy is looking for a way out of the relationship and hasn’t got the guts to tell you. If he loved you that much he would have no hesitation making a commitment.

Your best bet is to try to move on and develop your own social life – you will probably meet someone new who loves and values you and is ready for a commitment.

Pressurising a guy into making a commitment rarely works though and most will run away scared if they are not that into you.

Work on developing your own self-confidence and self-esteem. Men can wait.

My ex-girlfriend who dumped me wants us to give our relationship another try. I don’t know if I’m ready. What should I do?

Answer: Say no. It’s obvious you’re not really interested and if you go back there is no guarantee she won’t dump you again.

Sometimes in relationships, people do things which are unforgivable. It doesn’t make you a weak person for saying ‘no more’ and standing up for yourself.

You could ask for a bit of space I suppose but the fact that you ‘don’t know if you’re ready’ tells me you should concentrate on finding someone new.

If your ex dumped you because YOU were unfaithful or an idiot, on the other hand, then a bit of time out reflecting on how you could be a better boyfriend is called for, to avoid getting dumped again.

My girlfriend and I got into a fight and now her parents won’t let me talk to her. Are they wrong to block me?

Answer: As her parents, they have every right to do what they consider best for their daughter’s happiness. If she is not making every effort to talk to you then she agrees with them.

It sounds like this was not a minor argument. If you need to say sorry and apologise then I would do so quickly – and start by apologising to her parents.

That’s the mature thing to do and will win you points from both them and your girlfriend.

I have been hanging out with this girl for about 6 weeks.  She’s had bad relationships before and we both like each other but she freaks out if I tell her I love her.

Her last relationship was about 3 years ago. I love her and am nice and respectful but she has asked me to wait for her because there are lots of things she needs to think about. How long should I wait for her?  What should I do?

Answer: I’m not surprised. It’s only been 6 weeks and you hardly know each other. Calm down or you will frighten her off! If she has a troubled past you need to take things VERY slowly and build up her trust. Get to know each other. Do lots of talking, particularly if her last relationship was 3 years ago – that’s a long time.

In terms of ‘ waiting for you’, I take it she means she is not ready for a sexual relationship – and again, after 6 weeks this is not surprising.

Why are you in such a hurry? If you keep pressurizing her, she’ll be gone. You can’t keep someone by telling them you love them, you know.

At heart, most of us know these things take time if they are real and if they have a chance of lasting.

Is there anything you can do to ‘unattract‘ someone already attracted to you?

Answer: Other than being completely horrible or cruel, I’d say no. Why would you want to turn off or hurt someone who has genuine feelings for you? Your responsibility is to find a way to communicate that YOU are not attracted to them or feel the same way. If this is an existing relationship then you need to consider whether you should end it if you don’t feel the same attraction. If this is attention from someone who is causing trouble or you are finding a nuisance, then the adult thing to do is be honest and just make it clear that, while you are flattered, you don’t feel the same way. Giving false hope is cruel. As is encouraging their attention whilst being dishonest about how you really feel.

How can I tell my girlfriend to stop talking to another guy who likes her?

Answer: This is one of those common relationship dilemmas that is tricky to deal with.  In all honesty, you can’t. And the more you go on about it, the more attractive he will seem to her, not least because she will start to view your behaviour as controlling and possessive. If you can’t trust her, it may be worth changing our girlfriend. If all she is doing is having a friendly conversation with him, on the other hand, some exploration of why you are so insecure is needed. Be warned. Jealousy is deeply unattractive.

What do you think of a young Christian man who does not want children ever?

Answer: It is entirely your choice. The most important thing is that you are honest about your decision with your future partner(s). It would be unkind to develop a loving relationship with a woman who wants children without her being aware of your feelings on the subject. I also think it would be worth exploring your reasons why you don’t want children as it is a little unusual to make that decision quite so young.

I will move soon and it is unlikely that I will see the narcissistic ex-boyfriend who dumped me again. Should I meet him one last time?

Answer: Not unless you want to give him yet another ego boost. It sounds like you are really not over him and are looking for a way back into the relationship. Running away to the other side of the country won’t help you know. You need to talk to someone like a counsellor or trusted family friend about what happened (NOT him) to understand that this happens to loads of other women and that he WILL do it all again to the next woman. Some people are just intrinsically flawed and there may actually be NO answer, other than he got bored and perhaps felt he could be more adored by someone else. Please don’t keep chasing a man who is beneath your dignity.

Is it natural, in your opinion, for the woman to be the one to make the first unplanned sexual advance?

Answer: These days, yes. Also if the relationship has been going on for a while and the guy has been reluctant to make a move, then understandably the woman wants to test the waters to find out what’s going on. I’m a little concerned about what you term as ‘unplanned’ – sex doesn’t have a timetable. If you are feeling uneasy then you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to. I can’t tell whether you are the woman or man in this question, but I sense that someone, somewhere is feeling a bit uncomfortable.

Sex should be a natural, unforced part of a relationship – not something to be ticked off a checklist.

Why do all the shitty guys get the girlfriends and the nice guys don’t?

Answer: Probably because they are more confident and employ the “treat ’em mean, keep ’em keen’ approach which most intelligent women will only put up with for so long. The shitty guys may have the girlfriends but do they keep them? Do they get to marry the girl of their dreams? I’m guessing not. You need to develop a bit more confidence in yourself because I’ll bet you have a lot more to offer than men who shore up their frail egos by behaving like complete idiots to women. I do think that the shitty guys might be prepared to take a few more risks and care a little less about rejection – that’s because they think they are so marvellous. And that’s what you need to start thinking about yourself – without acting like an idiot of course.

How would you have coped with these common relationship dilemmas? You can find more advice on my problem page.

Want more relationship dilemmas?  They’re here.

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 healthcare providers. The author will not be liable for any direct, indirect, consequential, special, exemplary or other damages arising therefrom.

32 Ways To Tell They’re Just Not Into You

I’m sure you’ve had loads of dating tips about winning the man or woman of your dreams.  You may even be an expert at spotting the signs of genuine interest from a mile away. But what happens when the spark starts to fade?

 

Have you ever spent time with a couple where it was obvious that one half of the couple was just itching to get away and the other half was completely oblivious to the fact? What if, scary thought, you are the oblivious one? How do you identify the difference between a true lover and a fake lover? Are you mistaking what you think are signs of genuine interest for what is actually a rapid cooling off or even behaviour to cover up an infidelity?

There’s surely nothing more damaging to your self-esteem than finding out the partner you thought was your dream date can’t wait to get away.

So, to ensure you can keep your head held high and your heart intact, check out the list below the next time you are on a date or spending time with your lover.

Whilst the signs of genuine interest are often easy to recognise, spotting when things are cooling rapidly can be trickier because, so often, we don’t want to admit what is happening right before our eyes.

Signs they’re not interested

Here’s how to spot the signs of a love that’s definitely past its sell-by date.

1.  They are frequently late for dates.

2.  You have to chase for a follow-up date.

3.  They never phone when they say they will.

4.  They always text and never phone.

5.  They are always on their phone – even on dates.

6.  They are always ‘working late‘ or have to go for a drink after work far too often.

7.  They never talk about you as a couple.  It’s always ‘I’ and never ‘we‘.

8.  Months on and you still haven’t met their relatives or close friends.

9.  They are not making future plans with you.

10.  They don’t like holding your hand in public.  Public displays of affection are definitely out.

11.  They never take you anywhere new.

12.  They forget your birthday.

13.  Valentine’s day is a “load of commercial rubbish” they refuse to acknowledge.

14.  They never want to dance with you.

15.  When they do dance with you they’re eyeing up the rest of the room.

16.  Women you’ve never met or even heard of greet them in a way that just a tad too familiar when you’re out together.

17   They try to check your behaviour. A bit too lairy when you’ve had a drink?  They’ll be telling you to shush.

18.  They don’t want to linger over coffee.

19.  They always have to leave early because they have an urgent appointment next morning.

20.  They would rather watch TV than go out

21.  They flirt openly on the basis that ‘they’re just being friendly and are like that with everyone’.

22.  They don’t hold doors open for you or help you with your coat.

23.  If you’re ill they say “oh dear,  I’ll catch up with you when you’re better then“.

24.  They never offer to pay.  Or expect you to pay for everything.

25.  They criticise your appearance or weight.

26.  Their clothes are always immaculately ironed but you’ve never seen an ironing board.

27.  There’s a strange white patch of skin on an otherwise tanned wedding ring finger!

28.  They smell of a different perfume.

29.  They always pay by cash (card payments can be traced).

30.  They always take you to out of the way restaurants and pubs where you don’t know a soul.

31.  When you stand close together, their feet are pointing away from you, ditto legs when they sit cross-legged.

32.  If you feel instinctively in your gut they’re not really interested,  you’re probably right.

Are there any others you’d add to this list? Remember.  You deserve someone who loves and values you just as you are.  Don’t put up with anything less.

If you do spot any of these behaviours, it’s time to have ‘the talk’.  Stay calm, address your worries and be specific.  Giving examples is much more useful than vaguely saying “you just don’t pay me enough attention”.

We teach others how to treat us and if you think there may yet be some mileage in your relationship, it’s time to take action and to set some expectations and boundaries to keep things on track.

You’ll find more dating advice in my problem pages.

My Boyfriend Won’t Talk To Me – Problem Page

In this edition, boyfriends who ‘forget’ your anniversary, texting 200 times a day and when you move somewhere new and struggle to make friends. My boyfriend won’t talk to me, you say?  Here’s my advice.

Photo by Henri Pham on Unsplash

In this edition:-

  • how can a girl capitalise on her looks?
  • my boyfriend won’t talk to me!
  • when you declare your feelings and they won’t talk to you.
  • no friends in a small town
  • is she enjoying your flirting?
  • he keeps contacting you but he’s got a girlfriend
  • is texting 200 times a day healthy in a relationship?

Question: What can an attractive girl do to capitalise on her looks & achieve the most from life –whilst maintaining her integrity, propriety and decency?

Answer: It depends how important the validation of others – and, if I’m reading your question correctly, men is to you.

YOU are the one to judge whether you have made the most of things by setting goals that will make your heart sing.

That really doesn’t have to be marriage and 2.5 kids. It could equally be finding a cure for cancer, helping solve the ongoing problem of poverty in the Third World or just caring for your family.

You ask what can an attractive girl do?

I ask what do YOU want to do. Don’t set yourself up to need judgement.

Be your own flag bearer. You can do whatever you want to do. You are in control of your own happiness.

Question: My boyfriend won’t talk to me.  What can I do to resolve this?

We had been dating for 1 year, we had loose plans to go out for a meal, he went out and ate and no longer wanted to. I cried because it hurt my feelings as I thought we were going to celebrate. He left pretty coldly in the morning and has barely said 3 sentences to me in 2 days. We didn’t argue.

Answer: Ask yourself this. What would your mum, or your closest friend be saying to you now?

In their shoes I’d be saying he’s acting like a complete pillock. He has either had enough of the relationship and doesn’t have the guts to tell you, or he is feeling completely hemmed in and you need to relax a little and give him some space.

Was this an anniversary meal? Did he know it was an ‘anniversary’ – do you have a relationship which is likely to go the distance in his mind?

He has behaved atrociously and I can’t help but think of the phrase “treat ’em mean, keep ’em keen”.

I would get busy, go out with my mates, do some flirting and let him see that your world does NOT revolve around him – even if he thinks he does.

Crying and having a fit of the vapours if you don’t get your own way is just going to make him think he can get away with whatever he likes.

I’m sure your mum would say “what on earth are you doing with him” (as would I) but if you are determined to keep him, then you need to employ a bit of strategy and ‘suddenly remember’ there are other men out there – at least as attractive and interesting as he is!

Question: How do I pacify an angry girl who won’t talk to me after I declared my feelings for her?

Answer: You don’t. If you told her you had feelings for her and she isn’t interested or rejected you, you need to chalk it up to experience and move on.

Frankly, if her reaction to your declaration was anger, I would assume that wasn’t particularly healthy and take on board the warning signs.

If you feel the need to pacify her before you’ve even got into a long term relationship then something isn’t right somewhere.

Go seek someone who IS worthy of your feelings and will reciprocate them.

If she has issues then of course I sympathise but sometimes other people’s problems are bigger than we are and we don’t have the tools to placate or pacify.

Question: I moved to a small town 100 days ago, and here nobody seems to be liking me. I haven’t managed to make friends so far. Am I wrong? How can I know?

Answer: 100 days is nothing. Honestly. Sometimes we can turn people off by trying too hard. Realistically you are not going to move into a town and have them all fall in love with you.

That’s the stuff of Hollywood.

Start small.

Find ONE person who you click with and build a friendship with them. Everything else will come in time.

You’re fine just as you are, you know. People just need time.

Question: How can you tell if a woman enjoys it when you flirt with her?

Answer: Because she reacts to you, rather than closes you down with defensive gestures – crossing her arms or legs, using a newspaper or book as a barrier, avoiding your gaze.

Stop trying so hard. Try to interact with her as a friend.

Get to know her as a person.

Far more effective than any of those terrible tips the ‘flirtation gurus’ give you for speed dating or seduction.

Humour is a great weapon. If you can make a woman laugh, you’ll go a long way.

Don’t focus on you, focus on creating a connection. Listen more than you talk

You’ll find some great tips in my flirtation post.

Question: He has a girlfriend so we can’t be together so why does he contact me daily?

We had a no string attached relationship for a year. He chose to cheat on his girlfriend. Yes, we have feelings for each other. I know we can’t be together as he is still with his girlfriend. He took her on vacation & still contacts me daily while with her. He tells me that misses me always and texts daily. Why? Is he in love?

Answer: When you say you had a no strings relationship for a year, was this before his latest girlfriend?

To be frank you are in the position of ‘mistress in waiting’. Others, more cynical, would say he wants to ‘have his cake and eat it’.

If he wanted to be with you he would dump his girlfriend. There is no easy way to say it and I hope that statement will make you angry.

Because you deserve better than to play second fiddle to a man who is probably quite happy with his girlfriend but enjoys stroking his own ego by keeping you dangling.

The true gauge of romantic attraction is ACTION.

Not words, not gestures, not promises to be together at some undefined point in the future.

This is probably an old fashioned view but I always think agreeing to a ‘no strings attached’ relationship means you don’t have too much confidence that your affection will be returned and are happy to take whatever you can get.

I think you should value yourself more highly. Accept he has a girlfriend.

And tell him CLEARLY that you will be interested WHEN he is single.

If he misses you THAT much then he will be hot-footing it over to you sharpish, won’t he?

Question: Is texting 150-200 times a day with one’s boyfriend or girlfriend normal these days, or is it unhealthy for a relationship?

Answer: No it isn’t normal. It sounds either deeply compulsive, controlling or on the way to stalking. We’re talking about texting 15–20 times an hour through the day aren’t we?

And, as I’ve often written, concentrating on texting is a way of avoiding having a real relationship where you actually talk to the person involved.

This amount of texting must surely be affecting other aspects of life – study, holding down a job, relationships with other people.

I suspect this isn’t the only area of compulsive behaviour and if this is the case, it’s time to seek some help and guidance either via a doctor or counsellor or, as the first point of call, a trusted family member or friend.

If you are texting that amount you surely can’t be happy.

How would you have responded to these questions? I’d love to know.  Find more advice on my problem pages here.

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. 

Waiting For A Valentine’s Day Proposal? Questions To Ask YOURSELF

The Valentine’s Day proposal.  How many of us, I wonder, are waiting with bated breath to see if this might be the day they’ll propose.

Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, a January birthday have all gone by and nada.

Waiting for a Valentine's Day Proposal? 2 white roses

The problem is that you can rarely be entirely sure a proposal will be forthcoming particularly if you already live together.

Will you get a Valentine’s Day Proposal?

It’s bad enough wondering if they’ll remember to get you a Valentine’s Card but if you are expecting a marriage proposal then the whole day will be fraught with waiting and hoping and longing …. and potential disappointment.

So before you risk having to crawl miserably into bed nursing your dashed hopes of the dress, the ceremony, the doves, the champagne and the vintage car, it’s time for a little Valentine’s reality check.

Here’s what you need to ask yourself.

What is the real state of my relationship?

You can’t use Valentine’s Day or any other annual celebration as a sticking plaster for a relationship which just doesn’t work.

Receiving a bouquet of roses or a diamond may well signify intent but there’s many a step between popping into Interflora and writing your vows.

Have you been getting on?  Have there been arguments?  Are there fundamental things upon which you just don’t agree?

These are red flags for a long-term relationship.  Money, sex, children, religion, ambition, hobbies – all of these things can throw a spanner in the works of romantic happiness.

Check in with how you actually feel about your partner and ask yourself “if it wasn’t Valentine’s Day, how would I feel about my partner?”.  Do they make me happy?  Do I feel confident and loved when I’m with them? Do they boost my confidence and self esteem? Would they be the person I would turn to first in any emergency?

What do other people think about my relationship?

This probably matters more than you might think.  If your friends and family hate your partner then you really need to ask yourself why.  Obviously sometimes we are constrained by cultural or religious expectations to do the right thing but, generally, if everyone else hates your other half then it’s time to wonder if they might have a point.

Has marriage even been discussed?

In my weekly problem page, I often come across the issue of mismatched expectations.  The most memorable is a lady who had been with her man for 3 years and was asking how much longer she had to wait for a proposal. My question to her was “why have you waited so long to raise the subject with him”?!

This is still, I think, an enduring problem in long-term relationships where the couple live together.

There is no longer the impetus to marry for the sake of children or to conform to society’s expectations because the landscape of gender, sexuality and the way we relate and live have changed almost beyond recognition from our parents’ day.

I think marriage has to be firmly on the agenda pretty early on  – especially if you are both over 30 and want to have children.  I married at 41 and had my kids at 43 and 45 and wish I had done the whole lot at least 10 years’ earlier – but life’s not like that, is it?

You do need to be open and honest about what you want for your future, and clear about what commitment means to you.

Many of us want the big white wedding to have our ‘day’ but in lots of cases a ‘day’ is all it turns out to be, plus a debt of around £33,000 , the average cost of a UK wedding in 2017.

Making the wrong choice of partner could be very costly indeed – and that’s before the cost of divorce, not only in terms of money, but in terms of friendships and your social life.

Far easier to gently ask “do you see us getting married and having kids one day” than lugging stacks of bridal magazines home and sighing loudly every time a jewellery commercial comes on.

What if it’s not a “no” but a “not yet”?

This could leave you, like the lady from my problem page, in limbo for a very long time. You have to be clear in your own mind how long you are prepared to wait. If you do get a ‘not yet’, you have every right to ask what would need to happen for the time to be right.

Putting pressure on your partner will not work.  “When, then!” is not the right thing to ask.  You need to understand whether ‘not yet’ really means a future marriage or whether, frankly, you are being fobbed off.

There’s a big difference between “yeah, I suppose so at some point ” and “when I have finished studying my business course and we have saved up enough for a deposit on a flat”.

Most of us can tell when we are being fobbed off but acknowledging that means having to be honest with ourselves about whether this relationship is the one – and if you have had quite a few ‘the one’s’, it’s understandable that you may feel panicky at the thought of going back on the dating scene again.

What if your partner wants to propose in their own way, in their own time?

Lots of people hate being put under pressure.  Equally lots of men hate Valentine’s Day – the commercialism, the cost, the fakeness of many of those hearts and flowers.  If your partner is going to propose you can probably tell you know.  But you shouldn’t assume they’ll conform to your expectations and do the big Valentine’s proposal.

If they are talking about settling down with you, buying a home, having children, planning future holidays, commitment in general then that’s a good sign and a basis upon which to have a grown-up and honest conversation.

If they are muttering about Valentine’s being a load of crap, arriving home later and later and going out more often with their friends, then the signs aren’t good, are they?

If the big proposal doesn’t appear on Valentine’s Day, the worst thing you could do would be to have a major strop, start a row and end up splitting up because one of you said something unforgiveable and unleashed the floodgates of every little irritating thing they’ve ever done since you met them.

Which will just convince them, if there’s any doubt, that you weren’t the right person anyway.

Hold it together on Valentine’s Day

Your best strategy, if you’re hoping for a proposal, is to play it cool, calm and collected.  If you are going out make sure you look gorgeous.   Try to stay in the moment and enjoy your food, the location, the ambience.  Talk to your partner rather than scan the room for a lurking violinist!

If no proposal appears and you are hurt and upset then say you are feeling under the weather and have an early night – rather than start the relationship wrecking strop I mentioned earlier.

In the morning with a clear head you can then make plans to have the conversation you need to have with your partner.

There’s one last question you should ask yourself too.

Are my expectations realistic?

I often hear of people who after just a few short months are so overcome with love that they are ready to hear the “will you marry me” and run off into the sunset. For most of us that is much too short a time to decide whether someone is worth spending the rest of our life with.

For others, having enough money saved up and making sure that their friends and family like their other half really matter.

I suspect lots of engagements happen just to keep the other partner quiet after too much nagging about setting the date. And, as we all know, an engagement can be dragged out for years – anything to avoid actually setting the date.

Desperation isn’t attractive and even today, I think a bit of mystery and independence work wonders when you’re trying to snare the partner of your dreams.  What’s that antiquated expression?  “A man chases a woman until she catches him”.

If you haven’t been together long and haven’t even discussed marriage, then Valentine’s Day is most likely not going to be the day your big proposal happens.

But what if I’m asked and I don’t want to?

What if that proposal does turn up and you just don’t know how you feel?  Actually I think most of us have a very strong gut instinct which tells us exactly how we feel but we often ignore it.

It’s so tempting to put the ring on, accept the congratulations, start planning the big party but if it’s wrong, a wedding isn’t going to put it right.

If you are really not sure just say “that’s so lovely and I really care about you but I’d like a little more time for us to get to know each other (or spend time together) before we make such a big commitment”.

Be kind but above all – be honest!

I really hope you get the Valentine’s Day proposal you long for (if that’s what you truly want) but just remember, it’s how you partner treats you the other 364 days of the year that is the truest indicator of their love.

Dating: 11 Signs He’s REALLY Into You

You know, I always find it strange when my girlfriends say they don’t know if a man is really interested in them.  And most blokes seem to remain resolutely oblivious to the most obvious of flirtation signals. If you’re looking for signs he’s really into you or if she would like to take things further, read on.

Prior to my becoming a “respectable married woman”, I had quite a lengthy flirtation with internet dating. Now I know a lot of people are still quite sniffy about meeting a partner this way, seeing online dating as the refuge of the dateless and socially inept, but I found it immense fun and an excellent way of deciding what I wanted in a man.

A long-time single girlfriend of mine (and I mean years) would love to meet a special someone but won’t try online dating on the grounds that she’d have to have a profile picture.

It’s funny how we’ll happily supply the most ghastly of photos for passports and driving licences but when it’s a question of our attractiveness being judged, nothing less than a photo-shoot with David Bailey will do. She also worries about work colleagues finding her out.

Frankly, unless you’re the boss of MI5, I’m not sure this is too much of a problem, always assuming of course that your profile is the right side of mainstream and there’s nothing to scare the horses.

Rather than view my dates as a nerve-wracking experiment, I pretended I was ‘auditioning’ the latest candidate, thus making him the one on trial rather than me.  Possibly a weird mental switch, but try it, it works.

Anyone who works in HR or who interviews as part of their job knows that the first judgement of a candidate is normally made in the first few seconds of meeting and that most of our communication is non-verbal.

Yes, what you say is less important than how you say it and the various signals you give out. I could read body language tomes all day from self-styled ‘sexpert’ Tracey Cox to the grandfather of body language study himself, Desmond Morris.

So, when you are at a party or a date, take a moment to observe your potential partner in action. This is no bad thing because the late Helen Gurley Brown (Editor in Chief of Cosmopolitan Magazine) once said: “if you’re doing all the talking, you’re boring somebody”.  Silence is power.

Signs he’s really into you (or she!)

Here’s what to look for.

Good signs

Prolonged eye contact – particularly if they look into your eyes and then at your mouth.

Proximity – are they sitting close to you or, if not, are they turned towards you? If you are standing in a circle with others, have a quick glance at the floor to see if their feet are pointing towards you.

Preening – I’m sure we all know the classic preening gestures such as toying/flicking hair or licking lips.  Some men will hook their fingers in their belt loops, unconsciously ‘pointing’ to their groin. Some women will stroke their throat, drawing attention to their breasts.

Mirroring – if you both have a drink, look to see if you both lift your glasses to sip at the same time or if you change your posture, do they change theirs too?

Territory – if you are sitting across a table from each other, try putting your glass or a piece of cutlery down on their ‘side’ of the table.  If they are comfortable, they’ll probably let it stay there.  If not, it’s likely to be pushed straight back (whether consciously or, more tellingly, unconsciously).

Conversation – do you both finish each other’s sentences?  Are your questions being answered without just a curt yes or no?

Including you in future plans – do they say things like “oh, we must do that at Christmas, or I must take you to see this movie”? Then they see you in their future.

Introducing you to friends they run into – if you bump into their friends when you’re out, watch to see how they react.  If they’re keen, they’ll be sure to introduce you and use your name.  If they leave you hanging back while they catch up on gossip, that’s not a good sign.

Revealing gestures – the inside of the wrist is considered to be an erogenous zone – watch to see if there are lots of palms up / wrist revealed gestures.  Revealing the wrist whilst smoking is a classic flirtation gesture and you could probably write a book about Hollywood’s use of smoking as flirtation.

Now such a thing would be not quite Disney and I suspect that trying the same femme fatale routine with an e-cig probably won’t have the same effect.  It’s probably far sexier these days not to smoke unless you’re happy to keep leaving the table to stand outside with other lonely souls and light up in the rain whilst your date eyes up other prospective partners in the restaurant.

Ending the date by planning another  – if they’re keen they’ll indicate when they’ll next be in touch and they’ll be specific about it.  They’ll want to get a date in your diary as soon as possible.  If, on the other hand, they say “it’s been great, I’ll catch you sometime next week”, I wouldn’t waste too much time waiting for their text or call.

The Kiss – I don’t really have to explain this one but bear in mind that should the evening end on a hot and heavy note, there’s still no guarantee you’ll get another date.  There are some who are capable of monumental double standards when it comes to sex on a first date.

Bad Signs

Lack of eye contact – that thing where you’re dancing and you just know he’s checking out other women over your shoulder.

Constantly checking a mobile – be honest.  If they are checking their email or updating their Facebook status, chances are they aren’t that keen!

Pomposity – they sit with both hands behind their head maximizing their physical size and space. This is the gesture of arrogance and superiority.  Him Tarzan, you probably one of many Janes. Either way, you’re not considered an equal.

Closed answers – yes / no answers that leave the conversation in the air and stunted silences.

Not asking about you – this is a pretty obvious clue!

Talking about the Ex – no, no and once again, no!

Not attempting to prolong the date – if you finish the last mouthful of your dessert and they ask for the bill rather than coffee, not good.  Some women think men should pay on the first date.  I’m more pragmatic.  I think it’s OK to split the bill, particularly if you earn more than he does.  But if he starts to quibble and wants to split the bill to the penny, I’d probably run.

Let’s be honest.  If your date is not making every effort to know when they will see you again, then in the words of that famous dating bible inspired by “Sex & The City”, he’s just not that into you.

You may remember the book “The Rules” which was popular about ten years ago which contained rather militant advice such as “if he phones after Wednesday asking for a date on Saturday tell him no”. You were supposed to be a creature of mystery, alluring and just that little bit hard to get. When you get to a certain age, all that game playing is very wearing, decidedly not sexy and, generally, a complete waste of time.

Many women say they just ‘know’ when they’ve met the ‘one’ so if the one you’re with is Mr or Miss Right Now rather than Mr or Miss Right, keep auditioning!

You can find plenty of dating advice on my occasional problem page.

Reasons Why You Don’t Get A Second Date

Have you ever wondered why you don’t get a second date?  Have you had dates where you were sure there was a connection?  The conversation was right.  The restaurant, the food, the music, the moonlight – it was all there and then – complete radio silence.

Sometimes we don’t realise that some of our habits can be really off-putting and we need a good friend to point out the error of our ways so that we can finally attract the man or woman of our dreams. After all, every diamond needs to be polished to sparkle at its brightest.

I asked my blogging friends what their ultimate dating ‘faux pas’ are and what behaviours meant you’d be unlikely to get a second date.  Forewarned is forearmed, as they say.

How not to get a second date

Bad Table Manners

Zoe of Lycra Widow says “Chewing with their mouth open, clinking their fork on their teeth. Slurping their drink. Any of the above” and Pete at Household Moneysaving can’t stand burping.  “Absolutely hate it when people do it in front of strangers”, he says.

Noisy eaters won’t fare well nor will the extremely picky who won’t eat anything off the menu. These are the sort of people who will order a burger and then religiously pick off every last scrap of lettuce, tomato and gherkin.

Alex at Better Together Home’s bugbear is “Being rude to the staff or not tipping, I could never date someone like that!”  Since many staff are paid the minimum wage these days and are taxed on their tips, surely we all leave something if the service is good, don’t we?

Personality Problems

Candace at Buckets Of Tea says a failure to make her laugh would mean no second date. Taking things too seriously would be a definite no-no, whilst for Charlie at Our Altered Life it’s “not making conversation and leaving me to do all the talking. Even though I’m a chatterbox it’s exhausting to fill those awkward silences.”

Emma at The Mini Mes And Me is turned off by people who are overly forward or who “use too many sexual innuendos and make you feel uncomfortable… back off!” And Kate at Ever After With Kids can’t stand people with a massive ego.  “If they think they are God’s gift it comes across immediately. And constantly. Total no no.”

Then there are those who insist on comparing you to their ex, or who have to drop their ex into the conversation.  “Oh you like tennis – my ex loved tennis”.  You wonder why they have bothered going on a date.

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

Bad habits

Carly at Forever Cosmopolitan echoes many people when she says “smoking! Can’t stand it!”  Time to stop smoking because it may be seriously affecting your romantic chances.

And talking of bad habits, Lauretta at Home and Horizon hates “looking over your shoulder while you’re talking with them – or worse still, checking out other girls while on a date. Do they think we don’t see these things???!!!”

Other examples included “asking to touch my boobs”, “turning up with cocaine in his pocket”, “farting in front of me”, having bad breath and spending all their time staring at their mobile phone.

Perhaps the biggest faux pas listed was, unsurprisingly, being married and trying to hide it. My girlfriends and I used to joke that you could spot a married man a mile off because their shirts were always impeccably ironed (yes, I know there are men who do their own ironing but still..) and they were never around on a Saturday always a Friday night after work.   In summer you could usually spot the tell-tale tan line of a hastily removed wedding ring!

Dating horror stories

Some the dating stories shared would make your hair stand on end so I’ll leave you with three particularly memorable ones.

“When I was at uni I turned up for a first date, the chap had a dog with him, not a problem, I like dogs. He then said that we just had to take the dog somewhere first before we went for a drink. OK, still not a problem.

We took the dog, it was a big Alsatian, to a tiny terraced house where there was another big Alsatian. I sat on a red leatherette sofa in a tiny sitting room while the two dogs had sex.

They kept on bumping into my legs while they were doing it and my date and the other man shouted encouragement.

He couldn’t understand why I didn’t want to go for a second date.” Sara, Jodhpurs For Maisie

“The hot rugby guy who had asked me on a date took me to TGI Fridays with his parents, and I endured some of the most excruciating few hours of my life. Needless to say, there was no second date!!  Laura, www.fivelittledoves.com

“I worked with a woman who set me up on a date with her son. I’d met him, he was attractive, and we had chemistry, so I thought I was safe. Turns out he was super religious (when I am not). Would only date and marry a Christian girl, wanted to get a giant Jesus tattoo on his back (a cross with a giant eagle overlaid), and after asking if I wanted wine and ordering a bottle, made me pay for it because he didn’t drink! I’m not sure why he even wanted to go on the date. He spoke mostly about religion and the trashy girls his roommate brought home. Needless to say, I drank the whole bottle!” Lisa, Bare Mother

Lots of this stuff is common sense but it’s easy when we’re nervous to become so wrapped up in ourselves that we behave in ways we normally wouldn’t.  The best thing to do on a first date is simply this “focus on the other person”.

Crack that one and you’ll get a second date.  I guarantee it.

More dating advice

Find lots more clues the date may not be going your way in this post – 32 Ways To Tell They’re Just Not That Into You.

Get a second date - reasons why you don't - book and flowers




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5 Signs That Your Love Interest Likes You

Having a crush or liking someone can be very exciting, but it can also make you feel anxious. This is because so many people, despite going on dates with their love interests, can still be unsure of the feelings of the other person.

Many of us would still go home after spending time with each other, and ask does he like me or does she really like me?

If this is you, read through the list below for some signs that may indicate that your love interest likes you back.

How to tell if they are really into you

1. They like spending time with you – one of the best ways to foster a relationship is to spend time with each other, and there are even theories that say that investing time in a relationship can indicate just how successful it will be in the long run. If you are interested in someone, it’s only natural that you want to spend time with them, and vice versa. Being together does not mean that you have to spend a lot of money. If you find that your love interest is just as happy just being with you at home, lounging around without having to dress up or spend a lot of money eating out, then you know that they are interested in you.

2. They pay attention to you, even when you are with a group – when you are on a date, your partner’s full attention is on you, so you may not be sure if they are really interested in you. Try to see what they are like when you are in a group setting, say a party for example. While there’s nothing wrong with mingling with other people, you might notice that they seem to hone in on whatever location you are in. It just goes to show that they are truly interested in you because they would always want to know where you are. They also listen closely to you even when you are surrounded by many people.

3. They make it a point to listen and know more about you – if someone truly likes you, they will want to know a lot of things about you. They are interested to hear about how your day went, or know about your embarrassing stories from high school.

4. They empathize with you – ever had a bad day at work or school and you just want someone you can air out your frustrations to? If your love interest truly likes you, they will listen, even if they are tired themselves, and they will make time to encourage you and be there for you.

5. They remember the little details and information about you – when you are interested in someone, you file away every little thing you hear, every tidbit of information. You’ll be surprised to find that you will receive your favourite coffee from them because you made a comment about it in the past. Even the smallest details matter to those who truly value you.

How to tell if he’s into you is a matter of doing your detective work and picking up on those vital clues.

6 Signs Your Dating Buddy Isn’t On Your Side

In my single dating years, I used to go clubbing with a friend I’ll call G.  On Saturdays we used to go into town and would usually end up in one of the spit and sawdust, sticky-floored bars which was particularly popular at the time.

dating buddy - girls lifting cocktails in a toast
This bar had the reputation of being the place where even Frankenstein would find a date. The drinks were watered down. The music was dire and the toilets should probably have been taped off by the Health & Safety Executive.

But it was cheap.  So cheap, in fact, that queues used to snake outside from about 11 pm onwards.

G was always keen to go out.  She was likeable and fun, but once inside the club, you wouldn’t see her for dust.  Like a heat-seeking missile, no DJ, bouncer or male under 40 was safe.

By the time I had checked my coat into the cloakroom, she would be gone.

In those days, there was no ‘girl code’ as such – no pre-agreed rules about sticking together. No discussion about what to do if the other became a gooseberry.

But I got the feeling that I was there to make up the numbers and to give her the confidence to walk in the bar.

Having been left once too often to make my own way home at some ungodly hour, I called time on our Saturdays out.

Have you got a ‘friend’ like that?

If you’re dating, you need a dating buddy who is on your side and, for the sake of your personal safety, to agree what will happen if one of you meets someone and the other goes home alone.

Photo by Lachlan Gowen on Unsplash

Surely a good friend will want to make sure that you get home safely.

And wouldn’t a true friend want you to have a good time too?

These signs should give you pause for thought if your dating buddy:-

– leaves you as soon as they get in the club
– flirts with someone you’ve expressed an interest in
– subtly makes fun of you or puts you down in front of others
– gets you to buy most of the drinks (funny how some people can never find their purse)
– leaves you to go home alone
– only phones you to arrange the next night out

When romantic relationships go wrong, it’s often our friends who are there to pick up the pieces.

I’d suggest hanging out with people who value you and your friendship.

The acid test?  How does your dating buddy make you feel about yourself?

And what kind of friend are they when you’re not hitting town?

People judge others, too, by the company they keep.

If your dating buddy treats you like this, I’d suggest they’re not your buddy.

And they certainly won’t help you to get a date.

Have you got friends like this?

 



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Problem Page Edition 27 – 2018

In problem page edition 27, there’s more free relationship advice from me – your online relationship coach!  This week, when you fall in love with your cousin, when he eyes you up in front of his girlfriend and when you have to obey their rules – or it’s over.

free relationship advice - man and woman holding hands walking into the sea at Venice Beach

Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash

If you would like any free relationship advice, just message me or add a comment at the end of this post and I will answer selected questions on this problem page.

Here are the questions for problem page edition 27.

Q: If someone is aggressively invading my personal space and making threats to harm me and I headbutt him to get him to back off, have I legally done something wrong?

A: Headbutting is pretty horrible and, no, I don’t think that was a very sensible approach. Unfortunately, if you took the first physical action, provocation aside, it may well be viewed, legally, as an assault.

Was there no better way of handling the situation? Moving away? Telling them that they are invading your space and that you will be forced to protect yourself if they do not leave you alone?

You are an adult, after all, and the most sensible thing to have done, assuming this was a one-off, is to remove yourself from the situation.

If alcohol was involved in this scenario, you might want to consider the effect of drink on your temper as it is likely to lead you astray in the future.

If this is an ongoing situation with this individual, a bit of legal advice and a word with the police would be more sensible than landing yourself in the dock.

Q: Do you still date your spouse or significant other after being together more than 10 years?

A: I do and I think it’s important to maintain your romantic relationship, especially if you have kids. Read why I think it’s so important in this post.

Sometimes we need to remember who we are as adults, rather than spend all the time in our roles as parents.

It’s so easy to fall into good cop / bad cop roles or to get into the habit of constantly talking about kids or work. When was the last time you asked your partner how they were feeling or what their plans are for the future? What are the places that are still on their travel bucket-list? What life experiences will they feel they have missed out on if they don’t do them before they die?

When you have these conversations it’s often surprising what you discover – and it’s a good reminder that people change and grow over time – even our partners – and we need to make sure that we are keeping up.

Q: Am I crazy if I break down after hearing my boyfriend’s voice on the phone?

A: It’s not the most normal reaction is it, unless you have been apart for a long time. Some people are highly sensitive types, I appreciate, but to cry (your description is to actually break down) after a phone conversation is a little extreme.

Have you sat down and tried to work out why this is? Are there other situations that push your buttons to this extent?

Could you be suffering from depression? Are you anxious about the future of your relationship?

There is more to this but only you will know what it is that is triggering you so badly.

I would gently suggest you need to do something about it. If you are this emotional over the phone, what are you like actually in the presence of your boyfriend?

Needy and emotional isn’t always that attractive, you know, so you need to work out what is going on.

Q: Is it stupid to stay in a relationship where the person gives you a set of rules (like avoiding alcohol/ partying etc.) to follow or else they will leave you because it is against their morals and they are not willing to compromise?

A: Yes it is. This is emotional blackmail and it’s pretty unpleasant. If it were a parent making these ‘rules’ I can understand that they may only want the best for you but this has all the appearance of an attempt to control you.

It does, however, depend on the rules. No booze or partying is pretty dictatorial but if you expect to go out partying without them, or you think it is OK to flirt on and offline or even to date other people, then it is understandable that they may try to impose some sort of boundary.

I think what worries me about this, though, is that you are already asking whether this behaviour is OK – a clear sign you’re being controlled because you should know that it is NOT OK.

Controlling people are experts at making you think it’s all your fault and shaking your confidence.

They like to gradually remove you from friends and family so that your whole world revolves around them.

I would tell him that he knew what you were like when you got together and, whilst you respect his ‘morals’, you are not prepared to be treated like a child.

In your shoes, to be honest, I’d be off like a shot.

Q: I’m 18-years-old going to college and I’ve never had a girlfriend before in my life. Whenever I do try to ask a down-to-earth girl out she always either has a boyfriend or just isn’t interested. What should I do?

A: Get to know girls as friends. It’s old advice but find something – a hobby, an interest, that you really enjoy and make friends with the girls you find there. There’ll be loads of groups, clubs and societies to sign up for a freshers’ week, won’t there?

Develop your confidence. Do you work out? You don’t need to be a bodybuilder but take a healthy interest in your body and your fitness – whether that’s at the pool or the gym – or just go out for a run.

I think maybe you need to spend more time in the company of girls so that you understand the signals a woman gives off when she is interested. You might need to also hone your flirting skills. I’ve written about these on my blog here.

Lastly, at 18 I think you need to take a deep breath and say to yourself “there is no hurry”. Desperation will turn people off. Have confidence that you are a kind, decent man and women WILL find you attractive.

You do have to put yourself out there but concentrate on friendship before you launch in and ask an unsuspecting girl for a date.

Q: Why will a guy keep looking at me even though his current  girlfriend has spotted him looking? He used to eye me up before he got with his girlfriend.

A: This guy sounds a bit of a creep, to be honest. He already has a girlfriend and he also has a wandering eye.

If he is really interested in you, he needs to dump the current girlfriend and then ‘come near you’.

If he behaves like this with the current girlfriend, chances are he’ll do exactly the same to you.

Q: I’m a girl and I fell in love with my girl cousin. How can I forgive myself for that? How would I ever tell her?

A: We love who we love. There is absolutely no shame in that so, first off, forgive yourself. We are all worthy of love and you have done nothing wrong.

Where it gets complicated, however, is that this girl is your cousin and, if I understand correctly, that makes her too close a relative to have a relationship with.

On that basis, I would continue to express your friendship and affection for her but keep quiet about the true strength of your love because, hard though it is, it can’t really go anywhere and it may cause upset within your family network.

It’s also normal, by the way, to test out our romantic feelings when we’re young. Sexuality is fluid and doesn’t necessarily settle for many years.

Is there anyone you can talk to in confidence about this? Have you thought about telephoning a gay counselling service or something like that?

I hope you find some support. I’m sure there are lots of people on Quora who have had a similar experience who can offer some wise advice.

Q. How do I get my 22-year-old female teacher aide to have sex with me? I’m a 17-year-old boy.

A. I’m not sure whether you are in the UK, but I can tell you that if you were to have sex with this woman she risks ending up with her name on the sex offenders’ register.

At 17 you are a minor and pursuing this woman could lead her to lose her job – and possibly wreck her career for good.

Until you are 18 and have preferably left school, the best advice is to focus your attention on someone else.

I hope you enjoyed Problem Page Edition 27 and if you’re looking for free relationship advice, get in touch!

You can find more dating tips in these posts:-

Dating:  11 Ways To Tell They’re Really Into You

 6 Signs Your Dating Buddy Isn’t On Your Side

32 Ways To Tell They’re Just Not That Into You

Problem Edition 26 – 2018

In problem page edition 26 of 2018 from your online relationship coach – when you’re in a long-distance relationship and they haven’t texted for 36 hours, when your boyfriend unexpectedly says something really horrible to you and when your ex blocks you and gets everyone else to do it too and friends who let you down.

friends who let you down - woman alone on a beach at sunset

Photo by resa cahya on Unsplash

If you would like any advice, just message me or add a comment at the end of this post and I will answer selected questions on this problem page.

Here are the questions for problem page edition 26.

Q: What do I do? My girlfriend and I are in a long distance relationship and she hasn’t texted me in a day and a half?

A: Why are you panicking after 36 hours? Don’t you think that’s a little extreme – unless you two are in daily contact? She could be ill, or busy or away on business.

Perhaps she is finding you a little needy – some people find that a turn off you know. Try to relax and play a little harder to get.

Have you actually phoned her? If there is something wrong, a phone call will show far more concern that relying on a text.

If you don’t hear from her in a week, I would assume, if she isn’t ill, that things have cooled.

Q: My friend has let me down and has hurt me so many times but doesn’t even realize it. She thinks she is a perfectly good and innocent person but she actually causes me so much stress. What should I do?

A: Why have you not told her? How do you know she thinks she is a perfectly ‘good and innocent person’?

It sounds to me that you don’t actually like her all that much and enjoy playing the martyr just a little bit.

That’s not a healthy relationship.

You either have to tell her what she does that you find unacceptable and set new ground rules for your friendship, or tell her it’s over and hang out with someone who doesn’t let you down.

Friends who let you down aren’t friends, are they?

Q: He confessed to cheating on me with his ex-steady-hookup. We hadn’t said we were exclusive (it was implicit) so I let it slide. She wants a relationship with him but he says he chooses me. Last Sunday he tells me they text every day. How would you feel?

A: This man is a self-confessed cheat who you have allowed back in your life – of course he’s going to continue to try to get away with seeing this other woman. What is a ‘steady hook-up’ anyway? Why do you want to be with a man who uses women in this way?

If he thinks he can get sex without the faff of a relationship, he will.

It sounds as if he is playing you both off against each other and enjoying having two women to choose from.

In your shoes, I’d kick his sorry backside into touch pronto because I doubt you can believe a word he says.

Q: My boyfriend said a horrible thing to me the other night. I was hurt and shocked and he eventually realised what he’d done and said he’d been an idiot. Should I just forget about it and forgive him?

A: I think a very loud warning bell has been sounded and sometimes people say things which show you who they really are without realising they’ve done so.

The fact that you were so shocked and that he didn’t even realise it isn’t good, is it?

I don’t think you can just brush it under the carpet. At the very least I hope you have sat down with him and talked honestly about it – why did he say it? Did he mean it? Did he know you would be hurt?

You deserve the answer to those questions at the very least.

I’d say go with your gut instinct on this one – and if you feel something is wrong, then it probably is – ESPECIALLY if you feel your personal safety is at risk.

Q: What have I been doing wrong? My ex-boyfriend and I broke up like 2 months and a half ago.

A: Without more information, it’s difficult to say but it could be any number of reasons. Surely you must have some idea? If not why don’t you ask him?

Sometimes people just don’t ‘gel’ and that’s all there is to it. Rather than waste time wondering what went wrong, look to the future and finding someone more compatible.

Q: Why is my ex-boyfriend suddenly posting so much on every social media? In our 3-year relationship, he barely ever posted anything on any social media.

A: Is he posting about you? If not, the fact that you are stalking his social accounts suggests you want him back.

It may be that this new lease of life means he has finally got over your break-up and is ready to date again.

That may hurt but if there is no chance of a reconciliation, make it easy on yourself and stop following his social media.

Q: My boyfriend is currently depressed because of his relationship OCD. Should I just leave to make it easier on him?

A: I’m not sure exactly what you mean by ‘relationship OCD’. OCD is a recognised mental illness that can be crippling and extremely upsetting to both the sufferer and their families.

Are you using the casual term for OCD whereby someone is thought to be excessive in their demands?

The distinction is important because if he is truly suffering, leaving him would feel like a kick in the teeth.

If, on the other hand, you are really saying he is too demanding for you and YOU are struggling to cope, then the answer may be to gently suggest counselling for him.

You may also benefit from talking to friends and family for a more objective view of your situation.

Leaving him in this state, however, sounds as if you just want to run away.

Don’t feel guilty. This is understandable but if you do decide to leave then do it with kindness and consideration.

Your boyfriend may need help.

Q. It has been a month since my ex blocked me. He got everybody to remove me and block me everywhere. Is it over? He said he wants nothing to do with me. It was all very sudden.

A. These are not the actions of someone who wants you back. These are the actions of someone who is very childish and rather spiteful.

I’m curious that it was all very sudden – were there no signs that there is someone else in the picture (which is the most likely explanation)? Did you do anything that could be considered cheating?

Either way it sounds like this relationship is dead in the water and, frankly, I think it is beneath your dignity to chase after this childish man.

If anything, I think you should block HIM and move swiftly on.

I hope you enjoyed Problem Page Edition 26. You can find more dating advice from your online relationship coach in these posts:-

Dating:  11 Ways To Tell They’re Really Into You

 6 Signs Your Dating Buddy Isn’t On Your Side

32 Ways To Tell They’re Just Not That Into You

Problem Page 10 - pink flowers and macaroons

Tips For Getting The Most From Your Babysitter

Going out for the night and leaving your kids in the care of someone else can often be pretty nerve-wracking. If you are booking a babysitter, though, particularly for the first time, you may find yourself wondering – what does a babysitter need to know? What do I need to tell them to ensure that they can give the best care to my little ones, allowing me to relax and enjoy my night?

For the sake of your relationship, your self-esteem and your mental health, you really need some time out, adult conversation and a chance to be the person you used to be – if only for a short while.  So it’s well worth making sure you are prepared and that both you, and your babysitter know what to expect.

what does a babysitter need to know - Caitlin and Ieuan at home by the back door

Caitlin and Ieuan in 2015 – double trouble!

If you don’t want to spend all night grasping your mobile in case the babysitter calls, here’s what you need to do.

What does a babysitter need to know?

First off, make sure your babysitter is up to the job.

There is no legal age requirement for a babysitter but the NSPCC recommends that no-one under the age of 16 should be left alone to look after children.

Frankly, I think even 16 is too young, no matter how responsible their own parents may claim them to be.

You may feel differently if the babysitter is a member of your own family or an older sibling of course, but I would rather play safe and ensure that a responsible adult was looking after the kids in case of accident, sickness or some other emergency.

There are babysitting websites such as www.findababysitter.com where you can buy a monthly subscription (currently £25 a month).

You can post your requirements and receive messages from prospective babysitters free of charge but you’ll need to subscribe to message them if they do not include a contact number.

Whilst schemes such as these offer the added peace of mind of being able to put you in touch with far more local babysitters than you could probably drum up by just asking around, and some background checks are carried out, you may find that lots of your messages are from eager teenagers looking to earn some pocket money.

I also found lots of messages from babysitters who lived so far away from me it would have taken them a couple of hours to get home!

You still need to take steps to ensure you find the right person to look after your kids, even if it is just for a night out.

I always interview any new babysitter and make sure that they meet my children.

I’ve found the babysitters who are truly interested in the job generally don’t mind a quick 20-minute meet ‘n’ greet.

Kids are usually very upfront about whether or not they like someone and it’s a great way to see how the babysitter interacts with the children.

Sitting on a sofa clutching a coffee and observing them from the other side of the room isn’t that great a sign.

The best babysitters I have had have found themselves dragged off to play / colour / inspect toys and haven’t minded in the slightest (well, maybe just a bit!).

Tell them exactly where you’re going and roughly when you expect to be back

If you’re going to a restaurant, give them the establishment’s phone number in case you cannot be reached by mobile. This is particularly important if you’re going somewhere where you know the mobile signal is poor – as it is at one of our regular haunts. If you’re going to a show, tell them that you will not be contactable during the performance but that you will call them during the interval.

Leave a list of emergency telephone numbers

It’s a good idea to have a typed list of emergency telephone numbers to give to the babysitter.

We usually visit the same restaurants on our rare nights out so I add the restaurant telephone numbers to the list.

I also include the number of a nearby responsible adult (in this case my parents) in case we are in an area where mobile reception is poor.

Leave stuff for the kids to do.

Our current babysitter always brings a selection of craft material and some DVDs but you may want to have similar things available to help the babysitter out.

Leave clear instructions about bedtimes and bedtime routines.

Our babysitters know to put our kids to bed at 8 pm.

We’ve found in the past that telling a babysitter to put them to bed “when they’re tired” means kids will suddenly be bright eyed and bushy tailed way past 9 pm.

Tell your babysitter which toothbrush/toothpaste/comforter is required and whether doors should be shut and lights left on or off.

Our kids always have a glass of milk before bed too.  Departing from their normal routine can be unsettling for some children so let the babysitter know what helps your little ones to settle best.

Leave even clearer instructions about any medicines to be given and in what situation.

Generally, I’m talking about antibiotics and medicines like Calpol or Nurofen here.

Make sure the babysitter knows where they are and most importantly when the last dose was given.

To be honest, if my kids are unwell enough to need medicine we usually stay home but this isn’t always possible I know.

Let the babysitter know under what circumstances you must be called.

This will vary according to the level of trust you have in the babysitter.

If your child just wakes and needs comforting, the babysitter should be able to handle this but if your child is sick, for example, you really need to know so you can come home.

This is another reason for carefully vetting your babysitter and employing someone with experience – many babysitters now have first aid training under their belt which an inexperienced teenager is unlikely to have.

Be clear about when you are likely to be back.

We are not exactly rock ‘n’ roll types (any more) so we are usually back before 11 pm.

There are two reasons for this.

Firstly I don’t think it’s particularly fair on the babysitter to leave them there into the small hours and secondly, given that the average hourly rate for a babysitter is now upwards of £8 an hour, you can quickly find a night out becomes very expensive indeed.

Leave refreshments for the babysitter

Explain where the tea, coffee or soft drinks are and leave some biscuits or a light snack if you are going to be late and you know the babysitter hasn’t eaten.

Explain where the TV remote works

If your house is anything like ours, it takes at least 2 remotes to turn the TV on and some complicated button pushing to swop over from the XBox.

You might also be asked for your Wi-Fi password.  We have a guest one set up for friends and babysitters.

Check that the babysitter can get home safely

It’s just courtesy to ensure that your babysitter isn’t wandering off home alone in the dark. Again, employing a babysitter from a reputable agency means you can check whether they can drive and how far they will be travelling.  Generally, our babysitters drive themselves but we will drive babysitters home if they live nearby.

Have their pay ready and make sure you’ve agreed what that will be beforehand.

Make sure you have the right money to pay the babysitter on hand as soon as you get home.

You don’t want to be rifling through bags, pockets and down the back of the sofa to find the right money – and your babysitter will be eager to get home.

And since this is your date night….

Dress up

This is your chance to dress up, glam up and be a woman again.

Some of you might have managed to maintain immaculate levels of grooming despite having children but I seem to have been welded into a pair of black leggings so it makes a nice change to see my legs again and slip into a pair of heels.

Try to relax

This is your time so make the most of it.  I find I often get so stressed before I go out I get a headache.  I’m working on becoming a little more chilled.

Don’t just talk about the kids

If you have made sure you have the best babysitter for the job then you should be able to relax a little and concentrate on your date.

Chat about your holiday plans, what you’d like to do in the future, how your partner’s job is going, what your ambitions are.

This is your chance to try to reignite any spark that may be less bright than it was between you.

Don’t constantly look at your mobile.

Put it next to your plate if you must but try to concentrate on your date. On the other hand, make sure your phone is fully charged when you go out.

Eat something

Yes I know – you’re spending money on yourselves – so try to enjoy it!

If you’re like us, it may be quite a while before you’re able to go out again so try to make it memorable.

The world won’t implode if you have a Sticky Toffee Pudding.

Book your taxi home before you leave.

Worth considering if it’s a Friday or Saturday night and you face a long wait to get a cab.

And if you’re taking the car, put your mind at rest by checking the fuel level and having cash on hand for the car park.

I always love coming home after a night out and going upstairs to give Caitlin and Ieuan a sneaky good night kiss and to straighten their bed covers.

They look so angelic when they sleeping.

And I feel extra happy, having had a break of a couple of hours.