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

Tips For The Perfect Valentine's Day

Posted by Patricia_Marie
Patricia_Marie
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on Friday, 10 February 2017

Enhance your social life to encourage new relationships

Venture out of your comfort zone and find out what's happening on the singles scene. A number of bars and venues hold singles parties, especially at this time of year, where you can celebrate as an unattached person. Don't take your love expectations with you though. Just go for a great time and to discover new people with whom to converse and share cocktails. Also consider joining a reputable dating site, or embarking on new hobbies and interests. How about arranging a fun night out with friends? Who knows, any of these could lead to an unexpected encounter.

Treat yourself

Don't yearn for that special someone to treat you. Go and buy that beautiful bottle of perfume you love. Treat yourself to some flowers. Splash out on a yummy box of heart shaped chocolates. Even better, treat someone you love, such as a close friend or family member - Valentine's Day needn't just be about expressing love to a partner.

Celebrate being single, and be happy within yourself regardless of your relationship situation

Just because others are partnered up on Valentine's Day, doesn't necessarily mean that they are blissfully happy. Remember the advantages of being single, such as free time, less responsibilities, the ability to make your own decisions, staying up until midnight eating ice cream and watching a slushy film, not having to tolerate your partner's family or watch those football matches. Then think about how some of these would evaporate within a relationship. Enjoy this single time. Just because Valentine's is approaching, don't rush into the wrong relationship and settle for less than you deserve out of loneliness.

Get some perspective

Do remember, whilst at this moment you may be without a partner, there are plenty of Valentine's Days in a lifetime, and many possible people with whom you could eventually fall in love. Put away the soul searching love songs, and listen to energising music to lift your mood. Don't make the day about loneliness, make it about happiness, and instead of moping around, be inspired by Bridget Jones, who after having enough of being alone, and constantly belting out "All by myself" became determined to find love, and did just that.

Avoid being swept away by a tide of gloom

Sometimes we can feel desperation at our single status, because of the sheer bombardment of media suggesting we will risk missing the boat. Try not to make this day about what you haven't got, but more about what you have in your life. Celebrate the strengths and achievements that testify to you being a whole and healthy person, someone who has space for love should it come along, but who doesn't need such a relationship to create self-worth and happiness.

And finally.......

Make sure you acknowledge the people who do matter, and make this Valentine's a day about love, even if you are single. A day when you can strive to open yourself up to change and be willing to focus not just on the love you hope to receive, but on the love you can give.

Happy Valentine's Day to you all.
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I'm worried about joining a dating website

Posted by Patricia_Marie
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on Friday, 03 February 2017
Dear Patricia Marie,

I am a 55 year old lady, and after 20 years of marriage and a subsequent divorce am now ready to start looking to meet a gentleman, but I am worried about joining a dating website. Although I am wanting to, I am scared that the date could be a disaster, am concerned at the type of man that I may attract, and also that on meeting him he may be different from how he appears online.

However, if I sit back and do nothing, I may never meet a partner to share the rest of my life with. I am just looking for some guidance and direction regarding this dilemma I have. Can you help me?

Patricia Marie says...

Your concerns with regards to joining a dating agency are completely understandable after the familiarity of being married to the same man for many years. However, life involves taking risks, and you are the only one who can promote change for yourself and make things happen. Online dating is now one of the most popular ways to meet a new partner, and there is a huge variety of sites to choose from, catering for people from all walks of life and with widely differing interests. Just remember to follow the safety rules, and be sure to meet in a public place and drive yourself there and back home after the date. When selecting potential suitors, ensure you get to know as much as you can about each other before meeting, to help eliminate time wasters and the not so genuine ones, and do speak to each other on the phone first as much can be gained from this.

Your urgency to meet a future life partner is causing much anxiety, and putting you under intense pressure, and you could be setting yourself up for disappointment. Can you allow yourself to embrace this new chapter in your life by focussing on just having some fun and good times with those you initially encounter? If you do experience some unsuccessful dates, use this as a positive discovery to learning the qualities you are hoping to find in someone, and your confidence will soon grow. I would also recommend if you have any interests or hobbies, join a club where they may be incorporated, which will increase your chances of finding your perfect match.

It may take time to meet someone you are attracted to and want to spend more time with, but if you can trust that the journey is as important as the destination, you will enjoy and value the experience more.
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My boyfriend of six months ended our relationship by text

Posted by Patricia_Marie
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on Friday, 27 January 2017
Dear Patricia Marie,

I am so upset because my partner of six months has just ended our relationship by text. He said someone has found out about us, and he hadn't wanted anybody to know. He is accusing me of telling my friends we were an item, is refusing to answer my calls and says I am a liar.

I tried so hard to make him happy, and would do anything for him. He was very demanding in the bedroom, and even if I was tired, I always did my best to satisfy him. I wished I could stand up for myself more, but I can't bear not to be in his life. I don't feel my best at the moment, and keep thinking I should have made more of an effort to look perfect for him, then perhaps he wouldn't be behaving in this way. My ex-boyfriends have all treated me in a similar way, and all I ever wanted was to please them.

Where am I going wrong?

Patricia Marie says...

What concerns me is why you had agreed to keep your relationship a secret. Whatever the reason, it seems that this man is calling all the shots, and why wouldn't he, if you are jumping to his every demand. Because you are so intent on pleasing him, you are failing to recognise your own needs, and blaming yourself for his totally unreasonable behaviour.

These negative traits can arise from bad experiences, of not being valued or understood. You are displaying low-self esteem, which is why you are attracting the unfavourable types who are not worthy of you. Ask yourself whether you would prefer to be with this controlling selfish man who wants to keep you hidden away, or find someone new who wants to shout how much he loves you from the rooftops. With the right help and support you can move on from this destructive relationship.

Embark on some counselling sessions to help build your self esteem, because, unless you can learn to love and respect yourself, sadly, no one else will. Do also check out the 'MIND' website, where you will find useful tips on enhancing your assertiveness and building self-confidence.

www.mind.org.uk  0844 477 9400 
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I can't get over the loss of my stillborn son

Posted by Patricia_Marie
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on Friday, 20 January 2017
Dear Patricia Marie, 

I have just watched Coronation Street and am in floods of tears, because in this episode Michelle gave birth to a stillborn baby. It brought back traumatic memories of my own stillborn son five years ago. The acting was so believable, and when Michelle said her heart was breaking, that's exactly how it felt for me. In fact, despite being told time would heal my pain, I have never got over my broken heart.

Three years ago, I went on to have a daughter whom I adore, but I just can't move on from the loss of my beautiful baby boy. My husband struggles with this too, and if I do try to open up to him, he just dismisses my feelings. Neither can I talk to my to friends and family, as they seem uncomfortable speaking about my loss, which really infuriates me.

I never had counselling at the time because I believed it would be a waste of time as this could not bring my son back. Will I ever get over the loss of my son, and when will this intolerable pain go?

Patricia Marie says...

Time is a healer, but healing arises through the coming to terms with your own personal grief, and you need an outlet through which this can occur. Coronation Street has gripped the nation with this powerful storyline, and as much as this has ignited painful memories for you, it could well be the spark that encourages you to seek professional help. SANDS (Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Charity) is a helpline for those affected by the death of a baby. As well as being able to offer support, they can also help organise some counselling. Don't dismiss this, as you could find the results extremely beneficial. Group therapy in particular could make you feel better understood, and supportive friendships could be forged through sharing similar experiences.

Try not to be too hard on your family and friends. It's not uncommon for those closest to pull away during a grieving period, particularly when the loss is that of a child. This is unlikely to be because they don't care, but perhaps because they are upset too, and may even feel guilty that they have children who are alive and well. Tell them you need to talk and acknowledge your son, as even if they just listen, this should make a huge difference to how you are currently feeling.

Actress Kym Marsh, who herself gave birth to a stillborn son in 2009, said she had wanted these latest harrowing episodes to encourage those affected by stillbirth to speak out, and hopefully also enable friends and families of bereaved parents to gain a better understanding too. The programme also drew attention to the fact that parents cannot be given a birth certificate if the child is born dead before 24 weeks of pregnancy. SANDS, which worked alongside Coronation Street scriptwriters, has stated that many hospitals are now issuing certificates of birth for these children, to allow parents a keepsake. They added that if a hospital does not do this, parents can provide a certificate themselves for hospital officials to sign. The soap has been praised for increasing awareness of stillbirth, and for hopefully prompting a debate to change the law regarding birth certificates in such cases.

Don't suffer in silence anymore. You have been brave in sharing your story with me, and I hope you will now get the help you very much deserve. Have faith that your broken heart will heal through the nurturing process of opening up, and finally being able to express how you really feel.

Sands: helpline@uk-sands.org  020 7436 5881
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My mum tries to take over my daughter's upbringing

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on Friday, 13 January 2017
Dear Patricia Marie,

I have a beautiful one year old baby girl whom I adore. However I split with my boyfriend, her father, soon after I became pregnant, and he has nothing to do with our baby, which has caused my mum to be extremely upset, as she never wanted me to be a single mum.

I can cope with this, but what I am struggling with is the way she tries to take over my daughter's upbringing. It is her first grandchild and she is so over protective. She lives close by and is always popping round, sometimes at the most inconvenient time, being very critical of the way I am raising my little girl, and insisting she knows best. My dad can be a little interfering too, but he knows when to stop, unlike mum.

I believe I am a good mum, as my baby is developing well and is really happy, but my mum seems to think she has a right to dictate every aspect of her life. How can I explain to her the way I am feeling without hurting her feelings?


Patricia Marie says...

Having a baby in the family can be an exciting time for everyone, and you wouldn't want unnecessary conflict to take away that joy. Try to consider that grandparents generally mean well and just want to make sure their grandchildren are well cared for. It may be a while since your parents looked after a baby, but keep in mind there is a great deal to be said for experience. Stay open-minded, as some of their suggestions and advice may actually be very helpful.

Your mum may particularly be wanting to take good care of you both as your boyfriend isn't around. Explain to her that you value and appreciate her opinion, but ask her to understand that you might have a different way of doing things, and could she please respect this. Speak from the heart and tell her that you are wanting to adapt a routine for you and the baby, so could she please try to call before she visits. Perhaps it could be a good idea in future, when she gives you advice, to listen with a smile - and then do what you feel best. However, try and see things from your mum's perspective, as one day your own daughter may have children herself, then you will become the doting grandmother. Do remember also that no matter how old the children, a mother's love and protective instinct never wanes.
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