Agony Aunt

Patricia Marie, MBACP qualified counsellor is a member of The British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy, practising in Harley Street, Essex and Scotland. She has many years experience of dealing with domestic violence, relationship problems, bereavement, depression, addictions, post traumatic stress and many other emotional issues. If you have a dilemma, please email Patricia.Marie@lady.co.uk

My friend doesn't support me

Posted by Patricia_Marie
Patricia_Marie
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on Friday, 08 September 2017
Dear Patricia Marie,

I've had this friend for years - since we were at college together. And I always thought we'd be there for each other through thick and thin. Three years ago, she went through a terribly messy divorce and I supported her. Then, last year I found out my husband had been cheating on me, and after trying to work through it naturally, I went to my friend for sympathy. But she turned on me, telling me I was dragging her down and asking too much of her. We're still friends, but the closeness has completely gone. Was I wrong to have expected more from her?

Patricia Marie says...

You weren't wrong to expect more from your friend at all, but you may have to accept that she wasn't necessarily rejecting you when she let you down. Sometimes people can't be how we would like them to be, or act in the way we'd prefer them to. For you, it hurts because it feels personal, almost as if your friend decided you didn't deserve her help. But in reality, her behaviour is about her, not you. It sounds like your unhappiness, in a situation so like her own, dramatically brought back her grief and pain.

When we want to offload, we have to take some responsibility. Just because we want to get angry and upset, it doesn't mean that our friends are able to deal with us being this way, especially if they have issues that they are trying to deal with, which we may be ignoring because we are too focused with what's bothering us. While friends can, and should, be there for us when we need their support, often a professional can give us the care we really need to move on. Perhaps if your friend had gone for counselling as well as asking for your help, she might have been able to put her sadness aside and been there for you - and now not feel so guilty about failing you, which I suspect is what the distance is about.

I believe you may benefit from some counselling yourself to help you move forward with this situation. Hopefully, once you start to feel better you'll be able to forgive her and that closeness will return.

The British association of Counselling and Psychotherapy have a directory where you can find a qualified therapist in your area. www.bacp.co.uk 01455 883300
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I'm worried my friend will get hurt

Posted by Patricia_Marie
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on Friday, 01 September 2017
Dear Patricia Marie,

A friend of mine has recently set up a joint account and is planning on buying a house with a man she met on the internet just three months ago. He seems nice enough, but my husband and I have noticed he has some serious money issues and lies a lot, for example when he told her he has never been engaged before when in fact he has. He has become friendly with my husband and tells him things that are different to what he tells my friend. She is completely in love with him and is planning their entire future, oblivious to his financial situation. I don't know what I should do. I can't tell her anything my husband has told me about him as I don't want to spoil their friendship or be in the middle. Also, I'm worried it's none of my business. However, I'm struggling to sit back and do nothing when I'm worried this man might hurt her, am I overreacting and should I just ignore it? Please help. Thank you.

Patricia Marie says...

You are concerned that you don't wish to jeopardise your husband's friendship with this man, yet they have only known each other for a few months, and in this time he has lied about both personal and financial matters, so perhaps discord between them is preferable, to protect your friend from making a huge mistake with him.

However, please remember, your friend is in love with this man, and may be in denial if told something she doesn't want to believe. Rather than being seen as caring and loyal for disclosing this information, you might be construed as a troublemaker, which could cause you great anguish, despite your good intentions.

Although I do understand your wish to enlighten, you may risk your friendship in the process. Nevertheless, you could have a candid discussion with your friend and explain how worried you are that she is verging on a huge commitment with a man she barely knows. Suggest she checks his authenticity, and particularly the personal facts he has communicated to her. If she shows resentment at your suggestion, be prepared to let her find out the truth for herself. Some of the best lessons ever learnt are those we learn from our mistakes and failures. After all, the error of the past can be the success and wisdom of the future.

It is possible that this man may have no ulterior motive, other than perhaps retaining information for fear of being misjudged by your friend. If it should prove that he has been manipulating the truth, is not to be trusted, and the relationship does crumble, continue to be there for her, and she will see that you are very much someone whom she can depend on.
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Results time

Posted by Patricia_Marie
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on Thursday, 17 August 2017
The last week or so has been a frantic time for students up and down the country, with both the GCSE and A level results coming in. If the results are disappointing, it can cause emotional fallout for the student themselves and their parents, and cause problems between them...

Even if you are unhappy with your child's grades, try not to show this, as it could have a negative impact on their wellbeing. It is very important to remain calm and look to the future, so put aside your own wishes for them, look beyond the marks, and, at a time when they could be feeling disheartened and not good enough, remind them of their attributes, giving them reassurance that your love and approval are unconditional. Don't push them into making the wrong choice just to please you, as this may cause resentment in the future, and try not to compare their results with those of others, as even the most successful people in the world have had failures in their life. Make sure they have some time out to do their research and get as much advice as they can, before making any decisions and bear in mind that helplines are only a phone call away, so do encourage them to call sooner rather than later.

If you are a student, remind yourself that your parents ultimately just want you to be happy. It can be hard to see a way forward when you feel you haven't achieved, but learn from this setback, take responsibility for your results, and consider that if you work hard and commit yourself, your options are limitless. If you haven't been accepted at your chosen university, speak to your tutors, who have the skills and resources to help you explore your choices. Remember, there are always opportunities to improve yourself, whether in or out of education. Experience and other life skills are just as important as qualifications, so perhaps take a gap year, which will allow you time to think of alternatives that you may not up until now have considered.

Sharing life's challenges is a great time for parents and children to bond together, and, with mutual understanding and the right attitude, it can surely only lead to success...

There are helplines available for both students and their parents: The Universities and College Administration Service Exam Result Helpline on 0808 100 8000 offers careers advice and practical support, and Family Lives can provide much needed emotional help on 0808 800 2222 or go on to their website: www.familylives.org.uk
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My dog died six months ago and I am bereft

Posted by Patricia_Marie
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on Tuesday, 15 August 2017
Dear Patricia Marie,

My beautiful old dog Henry, died six months ago and I am just bereft. He was always with me whatever I did or wherever I went, and as I live on my own he was my companion and I would talk to him all the time. When I walked him, people would often come up and talk to me. Somehow when you have a dog with you it makes you more approachable.

I just feel so lost without him, and so lonely, made worse by the lack of understanding of those around me. I can't believe that my friends have been so insensitive and have hardly mentioned my loss. I have thought about getting another dog, but just don't feel that any other dog could replace him.

Thank you in advance for any ideas you can give me.

Patricia Marie says...

Many people, even our closest friends, can often feel uncomfortable talking about any losses we may have experienced. Because of this, we can sometimes feel isolated just when we need some support. This applies particularly after the death of a pet, as there are some, particularly those who have never owned one, who can't acknowledge the loss of an animal to be a cause for grief. However, be assured that you are not alone - there are many dog owners who are left heartbroken after losing their most loyal companion.

Allow yourself time to come to terms with your sorrow. Recollect the wonderful memories that can never be taken away from you, and hopefully you will soon begin to remember your beloved dog with more smiles than tears. Display a photograph of 'Henry' - it will help you to feel connected when he is in your thoughts.

There are many dog rescue organisations desperate for help, where you could perhaps volunteer to assist with looking after the ones at the centre and, therefore, benefit from having dogs in your life, but without the full responsibility, although I can't promise you won't become attached to these vulnerable animals. Spending time at such a place would also enable you to make like-minded friends and not feel so lonely.

If the only reason you can't face getting another dog is because you feel the new one wouldn't replace the old, yes, of course, no two could ever be the same, but a different dog could prove preferable to not having one. Do consider this, and you may just want to begin a new unique and perfect bond with another furry friend, who would thrive from the love and care you could clearly offer.

For a comforting read, I recommend: Goodbye Dear Friend: Coming to Terms with a Death of a Pet - by Virginia Ironside.
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I don't find my husband sexually attractive anymore

Posted by Patricia_Marie
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on Friday, 04 August 2017
Dear Patricia Marie,

I have been married for just over 2 years to my second husband, who is kind and loving. The problem is that I don't find him sexually attractive anymore. I love and care for him, but, to put it bluntly, no longer fancy him. I am 52 and menopausal, so keep thinking this may be contributing to my loss of libido, which has now started to affect our relationship. Our sex life was good when we first met, but it is now almost non existent. I want our love life to return to the way it was, but don't know how to do so.

Thank you for reading my problem. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Patricia Marie says...

In the early stages of a relationship, sexual desire can be intense, and then generally replaced by deeper love, warm companionship and familiarity. Nevertheless, loss of libido can become a serious problem for many couples, and appears to become more common with ageing. Often when someone is withdrawing from intimacy, they tend to push their partner away, yet, ironically, this is the time when communication is more important than ever. For many couples celibacy can become a habit, and the only way to break this pattern is to start indulging again. Of course, this is easier said than done.

Do consider there are many psychological reasons for not wanting to make love, such as stress, poor diet, lack of sleep, and depression. Part of the desire to make love is purely physical. The rest is emotional. Relate can offer expert Psychosexual Couples Counselling which you may find beneficial. The menopause doesn't help either, and can have an impact on sexual feelings and behaviour, so eliminate any problems here by arranging a blood test with your GP.

Can you share with your husband your desire to rekindle the passion between you both? This should open up the channel of intimacy and help create a reconnection. Plan ahead for an intimate evening. It's surprising how sending a few flirty text messages throughout the day can instigate sensual thoughts. Prepare an easy supper, so you won't feel tired, enjoy a candlelit bath together, and see where this leads - which may not necessarily be to the bedroom. Variety really does help. There is nothing quite as boring as predictable sex. We can all take what we have for granted. Remind yourself of all the things you used to find seductive about your husband, then re-visit those memories, which could reignite the spark between the sheets.

I recommend: Reclaiming Desire by Andrew Goldstein and Marianne Brandon.

Relate: 0300 100 1234 www.relate.org.uk 
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