Agony Aunt

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I GET SO NERVOUS AROUND MEN - HELP!

Why can't I hold it together when I'm around guys? I get nervy, tongue-tied and sweaty and I also blush like a tomato, which is never a good look!

I'm 28 and, although I have had a few dates, they have all led nowhere, as I struggle to talk coherently with other people, particularly men. I would love to have a proper relationship with the right guy, but the older I get, the less likely this seems.

My sister says that I am attractive and that, if I am patient, I will meet Mr Right one day, but how much longer have I got to wait? I already feel that I am the only 28-year-old virgin on the planet.

Anon

 

FIONA SAYS: ARE YOU PUTTING TOO MUCH PRESSURE ON YOURSELF?

I think your sister has a point; you're possibly putting too much pressure on yourself to find someone, which might be making your symptoms of shyness even worse.

Thinking negatively about yourself probably isn't helping either. Shyness and a lack of confidence stem from anxiety in social situations but the good news is, you CAN do something about it.

There's a wealth of digital and print self-help material available to read, far too much for me to recommend any one item. Alternatively, please consider counselling, which I suggest you speak to your GP about first.

I would also suggest you look at the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy's website (bacp.co.uk) for details of therapists in your area.

In the meantime, please try not to fret too much over this. You are still young and there is plenty of time to find Mr Right, if that is what you want.

 

2

HOW SHOULD I DEAL WITH MY DAUGHTER'S ANGRY OUTBURSTS?

I have three children aged four, six and nine. I love them all very much but my middle child (a girl) has become very difficult over the past year or so.

She is angry a lot of the time for no apparent reason, and often works herself up into a tantrum from which she finds it almost impossible to calm down.

We spend a lot of time talking her down and have tried several different approaches, from getting angry ourselves to just holding her until she is calm again.

It's exhausting and, worse, I think my other two children have started to resent this. Please help as I feel I am failing as a parent.

W. B.

 

FIONA SAYS: DON'T BE TOO HARD ON YOURSELF

Please don't think that way. You love your children and you're doing all you can to look after them, which is all any parent can do.

Your daughter's anger might indicate that she is being bullied or is unhappy at school, so it's probably worth checking with her teacher as a first step.

If all is OK there, it's always possible that your daughter's behaviour may be simply because she is the middle child.

Middle children do sometimes think that their siblings receive more attention and love. They can resent the older one for being treated as more grown up, and they younger child for being the baby that is forgiven more and given more care.

Your daughter's solution to this is to get angry in order to get noticed and, to date, this seems to have worked, so she probably sees no reason to change.

Given this, try rewarding her with love, attention or even treats when she is calm, and be aloof (but calm yourself) when she is having a tantrum.

 

 

3

I'M BORED OF MY MARRIAGE

I have been married for 24 years to a good man, but something is now definitely missing in our relationship. I still love him, I think, but I'm not sure that's enough and we seem to have grown apart.

We both have secure jobs that pay well, but demand a lot of our time. What time we do spend together is usually over meals or streaming TV programmes through our tablets, during which little gets said beyond commenting on the food or the programme. We rarely go out together, unless someone else invites us, and even then, it's usually with the same circle of friends. We spend our holidays in the same apartment each year, but nothing changes; we just transfer the same dreary repetition to Italy.

My husband seems content to continue like this, so I suppose I'll just have to try and get on with it, but I just wish there was more to married life.

L. B.

 

FIONA SAYS: CHANGE YOUR ROUTINE

There is, but please don't just 'try' to do something about it, instead, actually 'do' something. This might sound glib, but the essential point is that people who think a lot about making changes, rarely achieve as much as those who set out and actually do something.

It doesn't matter what you do, as long as it breaks the routine and gets you using your free time more creatively and productively. This might involve joining a local club or group, taking up a new hobby or sport, further education or perhaps voluntary work. Whatever you do, commit to it wholeheartedly and enjoy it; life is like anything else, you get out what you put in.

Finally, are you sure that your husband is content? When was the last time you turned off the TV, talked with him and asked a big question, like 'Are you happy?' It's possible that he's just as bored as you and would welcome the chance to join you in some of these new and exciting activities.

 

 

4

WHY CAN'T MY FAMILY UNDERSTAND MY FRIEND NEEDS ME?

A school friend of mine lost her husband at the start of the year and it really hit her hard. I visit her as much as I can, usually two or three times a week, sometimes more and occasionally at the weekend. It's a round trip of about 2.5 hours, but I'm happy to do it, as she's still very upset and doesn't go out much.

However, my children and husband think I'm spending too much time with her and, although I've tried to explain I'd hope someone would do the same for me, they don't seem to understand.

Last week I was late collecting my daughter from school and she got upset. When I pointed out that it's only a short walk home anyway, she got really, really angry and accused me of neglecting her. What should I do?

Anon.

 

FIONA SAYS: YOUR FAMILY NEEDS YOU TOO

You probably won't want to hear this, but I think your daughter has a point. I understand that you feel you must help your friend but, in doing so, I think you may have lost sight of the fact that you also have a responsibility to your family. It appears they miss you, and I don't mean just to do housework - they want more time with you.

It should be possible to accommodate this and still help your friend. As a start, ask her to visit you sometimes. This will not only give you more time to be with your family, but will also encourage your friend to start getting out and about once again.

You've accepted a lot of responsibility for getting her through her grief, but you can't do this on your own, nor will it help her if she becomes overly dependent on you.

Catherine Devane