Dear Coleen

I feel bad for writing this as there are people far worse off than me, but today has been a rough day within a rough few months and I’m feeling so lost.

To put things into context, I’ve been unhappy at work for a while and have been dealing with some really old, tough issues with my counsellor, which has left me mentally and physically drained.

However, I thought I had a good support network and a caring boyfriend. We’d just bought a car on finance and had been living together for months. I was also planning to go into teaching next year.

However, two weeks ago, I found my partner had sent intimate pictures to another person. He’s done the same thing twice before and I forgave him. Then I discovered he’d actually been messaging eight guys and it’s left me feeling old (I’m 31 and my boyfriend is 20), ugly and unworthy of love.

I’m petrified to date again, as I got a lot of hurtful comments online. My dreams seem to be over and I feel so let down, scared and useless, and like I’ll never find happiness, and sometimes I feel I don’t deserve it.

This was also my first relationship, as it took me a very long time to come to grips with my sexuality. I’d appreciate any advice.

Coleen says

If this was your first relationship, I can reassure you that when the first one ends, it’s the most painful of all because you haven’t experienced it before and think you’ll never get over it – but you will. More importantly, you don’t love yourself, so you need to start working on your self-esteem and seeing the positives.

You’re far from old at 31 – you’re the same age as my son and I still see him as a baby! And of course you’re ­attractive – your 20-year-old ex certainly thought so. However, 20 is very young, mentally and emotionally speaking, and has proved he wasn’t ready for a serious relationship. I don’t think he did what he did to deliberately hurt you – I think he’s in the process of growing up and I guess that’s the risk you run when you have a big age gap.

Don’t blame yourself – you’ve waited a long time to come out and now you’re out, there’s so much to look forward to.

If you’re not happy about things to do with yourself or your life, then start to change them, only you have the power to do that. Start by not ­apologising for how you feel. Your issues are no less important than any other problems I read. If ­something is hurting you or making you sad, then it’s a problem. I’m sure your counsellor will say the same thing.

I know how bad it makes you feel, but it does get easier and you will come out the other side.

And, when you do, and you’re dating again, if you’re looking for more commitment and not casual flings, then think about that when you meet other guys. If someone’s giving off signals that they’re only up for a good time, then try not to go there, which is hard when you fancy someone.

It’ll help to start taking control and start taking care of yourself. Good luck.





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