CAROLINE WEST-MEADS: I have little sympathy for my son’s girlfriend
Q My younger son, who is in his 30s, is extremely successful in his career but is a fool with women – he is taken in by their looks. His ex-wife cheated on him while he was working abroad. His current girlfriend is a loose cannon.
When she was 19 she had leukaemia, which took five years to cure. She had been on a performing arts course and had wanted to be a musical theatre singer but that fell by the wayside following her illness.
She now complains continually about lost opportunities and the fact that chemo has left her infertile. She googles actors and singers, saying it should have been her, and is envious of everyone.
I believe she should be grateful to be alive. If that sounds callous, my own father died when I was 14. He had cancer and the chemo was so savage that he suffered heart failure. I also lost a cousin to cancer when she was 20.
I reminded my son’s girlfriend curtly about this, but she still thinks that life has given her a bad deal. My ex told her bluntly to get the chip off her shoulder. My present partner, who is kinder, said that she needs counselling. She just said she needs a break in life. I find it hard to sympathise with her.
Q She now complains continually about lost opportunities and the fact that chemo has left her infertile. Stock image used
A I’m going to say this gently because you have also been through a lot; losing a parent while you’re still young is devastating and can have a lifelong impact. However, you need to try to find a kinder way of looking at this. You can’t compare tragedies and say that someone has suffered ‘more’ than the next person.
Grief and loss are significant to whomever they happen and are equally devastating. I think that your son’s girlfriend deserves a great deal of sympathy. You say that she has been left infertile by chemo, which is a huge loss. There is a fundamental need in most of us to have children, so she will be feeling a lot of grief for those she will never have.
This distress should not be underestimated. Furthermore, she has, for now, lost all her career dreams – and I imagine she is fearful that the leukaemia will return. To have cancer at such a young age must have been traumatic. It has taken from her five very formative years of life, while others her age were going to university and building their futures. She might even be suffering from PTSD. Having said all this, she does sound bitter and needs to find a less damaging way of coping.
Your partner is right – she needs counselling, and perhaps he could suggest this to her. Meanwhile, try to understand her, and maybe help her think about how she can reforge the career she wanted, or find something in a similar field. I also suggest counselling for you, to talk through this situation and your feelings.
HOW COULD I HAVE READ HIM SO WRONG?
Q I feel such an idiot. My self-esteem took a massive hit after my divorce three years ago. After much encouragement from friends I agreed to try online dating, and had a couple of ‘so-so’ dates.
Then I started chatting to a very charming man in his 60s. We went out to dinner having spoken on the phone quite a bit. He was gorgeous and extremely flirtatious. Very uncharacteristically, I ended up inviting him back to mine and, of course, we ended up in bed together.
The next morning he was still charming but had to leave for work, kissed me goodbye and said he’d call me later, then nothing. That was two weeks ago and he has not been in touch since. I did send him a text later that day and then another one a week later, but no reply. I feel used. How could I have got it so wrong?
Q I feel such an idiot. My self-esteem took a massive hit after my divorce three years ago. After much encouragement from friends I agreed to try online dating, and had a couple of ‘so-so’ dates. Stock image used
A You have not got it wrong. He has. There is language I could use, but let me just say that this man is a piece of… work. I’m appalled by ‘ghosting’, it’s just rude. But for a man in his 60s to do it shows an astounding lack of maturity.
You already know he is not worth your time, but your concern is why it happened in the first place. Please don’t berate yourself. You’ve been left badly hurt by your divorce and are vulnerable, which, sadly, on this occasion has made you too trusting.
You perhaps also needed confirmation that you’re still attractive and thought that this could be the start of something. Unfortunately, where online dating is concerned, caution is needed. Next time you’ll go more slowly but, meanwhile, perhaps counselling would help, or try The Self-Esteem Workbook by Glenn Schiraldi.
If you have a problem, write to Caroline West-Meads at YOU, 9 Derry Street, London W8 5HY, or email [email protected]. You can follow Caroline on Twitter @Ask_Caroline_
CAROLINE READS ALL YOUR LETTERS BUT REGRETS SHE CANNOT ANSWER EACH ONE PERSONALLY
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