Your problems answered by YOU relationships expert Zelda West-Meads

 

I WANT US TO BE MORE THAN FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS

Three years ago I had a six-month fling with a friend. It was never an exclusive relationship. I think, to him, it was just sex, but I had strong feelings for him and hated seeing him with anyone else. 

It got to the point where even being around him hurt, so I moved to another part of the country. After a while we became good friends again and put the past behind us. 

We have both had other relationships and that was all fine. Recently we found that we are both single again, and a few days ago we ended up in bed together.

I feel OK about it but I need advice on how to stop it from becoming how it used to be – I know that if I carry on, I will start to fall in love again.

I don’t want to lose a friend, but I don’t want to feel the way I felt back then. I have never been hurt like that before or since.

There are three options: the sensible one, the more risky one and the one to definitely avoid. Firstly, don’t have sex again until this is sorted out. The sensible option would be to tell him that, though you enjoyed it, you regret the fact that your friendship slipped over into sex. 

Explain that you don’t want a relationship which is just a flirtation and not exclusive, so you would prefer to just stay friends. That gives him the option to accept this, or to tell you that he wants more than that and discuss how you would both like this relationship to be. 

The more risky option is to explain that though you really like him, you only want it to become sexual if he has deep feelings for you and you can become a couple and be faithful to each other. He may surprise you and say that is what he wants too. However, the risk is that he might agree but not really mean it because he wants to enjoy a ‘friends with benefits’ relationship. 

What I really don’t recommend is that you allow the sexual and flirty relationship to resume and just hope that, given time, he will fall in love with you.

I think you are still in love with him and you could get hurt all over again.

 

WHO SHOULD PAY FOR OUR WEDDING?

I am getting married in the autumn –my parents are paying for the bulk of the wedding and my fiancé and I are chipping in. His father works full time and his mother has a part-time office job, but they aren’t contributing a penny. 

This is causing arguments between us. Surely the days are gone when the bride’s family paid for everything?

In my experience, the bride’s family still tends to pay the bigger share, but usually the groom’s family also contributes. Sometimes, the couple themselves pay for everything. In some cases it is just not financially possible for the groom’s family to share the bills, but this does not sound like the problem here. 

Even small weddings are pretty expensive these days, however, and I do think the groom’s family should make a contribution. Your fiancé could explain to his parents how appreciative your parents would be if they helped with some of the costs, and that it would mean a lot to him too.

It would then be a good idea if the two families met to discuss the wedding plans and the guest list. If your fiancé feels he can’t ask his parents, it probably reflects his relationship with them or he knows they would refuse.

In that case, it might be better to accept it, even though it is not very generous of them. If it is causing arguments between you, you would both be wise to address this, as one of the biggest indicators of whether a marriage will survive is how a couple resolves an argument. 

 

HE HAS DESTROYED MY CONFIDENCE

I have been told that most people can’t stand the arrogant, stuck-up personality of my partner of five years. I am 42 and he is 50. He had a long marriage and his ex-wife had affairs, she stole a lot of money from her employers but he stuck by her for their children’s sake.

Eventually the marriage ended. I have put up with so many emotional issues and always supported him, but it is never enough. I have lost all my confidence and changed from a bubbly, funny woman to one who is constantly paranoid and endlessly worried about putting on weight, what I am wearing and what my hair looks like.

I don’t know who I am any more, and I am always being told that I have changed, and not for the better. He is always comparing me to his ex-wife. I have locked myself away from everyone.

Sadly, it sounds as if your partner is not just arrogant but also a controlling bully. Understandably, this is making you unhappy and damaging your self-esteem. Comparing you to his first wife is part of this control. 

Try to hang on to the reality. His marriage was not a good one. If they loved each other, why was his wife having affairs? Maybe it was an escape from her controlling husband, because other men made her feel good about herself. He probably criticised her and her appearance just as he does you. 

Don’t cut yourself off from your friends – they can give you some of the support you need and perhaps help you see that this man is destroying you. You need to end the relationship and reclaim the lovely, fun, bubbly, kind woman you were. For further support contact Relate (relate.org.uk).

 

 If you have a problem, write to Zelda West-Meads at: YOU, Northcliffe House, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TS, or email z.west-meads@you.co.uk. Zelda reads all your letters but regrets that she cannot answer them all personally