Virginia Ironside's Dilemmas

 

Dear Virginia, I was very unhappy when my boyfriend of three years suddenly dropped me. It’s taken me six months to get over him and I still don’t feel I’ve recovered. I really thought we might get married. Now I’ve got a new boyfriend, who I like a lot and who’s kind and considerate. In many ways he’s a much nicer person, but I still hanker after my old boyfriend. But my ex got in touch recently and when we met he said he’d made a terrible mistake and wanted to get back together. Do you think I should risk it? I feel so torn – can’t stop thinking about him! Yours sincerely, Moira

Virginia says... I can't help feeling very wary, I'm afraid. It's quite true that, knowing you're getting seriously involved with someone else, your boyfriend might have suddenly realised what he's lost. He may have looked around a bit and discovered that actually there's no one who comes up to your standards anywhere to be found. He may wish he could put the clock back.

But – and this is a real possibility – he might be one of those unhappy people who, the moment they get too close to anyone, wants to push them away. These people are known, rather scathingly, as "commitment-phobes" but as one who is myself extremely cautious about getting too close to anyone, I feel they should be pitied rather than condemned. Ask yourself: what was his relationship like with his mother? If he isn't relaxed with her, and feels ambivalent about his parents, it's probably because at some point in his past they hurt him deeply. Or, to be accurate, he felt they hurt him deeply. Whether they did or not doesn't really come into it. That way, he associates love with agonising pain. It's a horrible situation. He's longing to get close but at the same time terrified of being hurt. In the same way as children of abusive parents often go for abusive partners, because the abuse feels, in some distorted way, like "home" to them, so people like your boyfriend can really only love people when they're quite a few degrees away from them.

At this moment, you're a few degrees away from your ex. Now the boundaries are clear and you're not completely involved with your boyfriend, it could be that he suddenly feels free to love you – as I'm sure he does – because there's no risk of being too close. The moment you left your boyfriend – who you admit is much nicer than your ex – and started talking marriage to your ex, he'd scarper again. And he probably wouldn't even know why.

I'd have coffee with your ex. In public. In the cold light of day. Don't even dream of making it an evening date and a make sure you leave on the dot. Ask him if he wants to get married. If there's any shilly-shallying at all, or mumbles about "waiting and seeing", forget it.

But if he says he's certain you're the one and starts talking about rings and weddings, then you might consider it. But whatever you do, don't rush into anything. You've got too much to lose. "Niceness" may not feature as a top characteristic in your list of what you want in a boyfriend, but it's exactly what you want in a husband. And father of your children.

Readers say...

Move on without him

A reality check is in order here. After a break-up that caused you so much pain, you should not risk being hurt again by this guy. He took up three years of your life, which was more than enough time to make a serious commitment. He had his chance, and now he's simply toying with you. Today you're older and wiser: for your own self-preservation, you have to take control of you emotions. Let him go, and focus on your new relationship. Move on and don't look back.

E Forbes

Edinburgh

Give him a chance

I know a woman who dumped a lovely boyfriend for spurious reasons after a happy two years together. Six months later, regretting it, she called him, and when he readily, and forgivingly, agreed to meet she was so overwhelmed with relief, she had to lean against the wall to prevent falling to the ground.

That woman was me. That forgiving boyfriend has been my glorious and beloved husband for 30 years. We all make a foolish decision sometimes. Don't hold it against him.

Felicie Oakepace

Birmingham

 

Next week's dilemma

Dear Virginia,

I've got two friends who I really like, but they often find it hard getting on with each other and are always falling out. Elisa showed me an email she'd written to Valerie, written in the heat of the moment – but luckily she hadn't sent it – and I said she couldn't possibly send it and I re-wrote it. She sent it off and now Valerie has received this email, and has asked me how to reply. In one way I feel pleased with myself to be playing the role of peacemaker, but in another way I'm feeling I'm betraying both of them and wish I hadn't got involved. Can you advise?

Yours sincerely,

Eleanor

What would you advise Eleanor to do? Email your dilemmas and comments to dilemmas@independent.co.uk. Anyone whose advice is quoted will receive a £25 voucher from the wine website Fine Wine Sellers (finewine.sellers.co.uk)

News
The two faces revealed by the ultraviolet light
newsScholars left shaken after shining ultraviolet light on 500-year-old Welsh manuscript
News
Rosamund Pike played Bond girld Miranda Frost, who died in Die Another Day (PA)
news
Arts and Entertainment
books
News
newsHow do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? With people like this
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: In House Counsel - Contracts

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This leading supplier of compliance software a...

    Recruitment Genius: Associate System Engineer

    £24000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Associate System Engineer r...

    Recruitment Genius: Executive Assistant

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An Executive Assistant is required to join a l...

    Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - B2B, Corporate - City, London

    £45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

    The masterminds behind the election

    How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
    Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

    Machine Gun America

    The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
    The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

    The ethics of pet food

    Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
    How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

    How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

    Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
    11 best bedside tables

    11 best bedside tables

    It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
    Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

    Italy vs England player ratings

    Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
    Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

    An underdog's tale of making the most of it

    Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
    Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

    Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

    Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
    No postcode? No vote

    Floating voters

    How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

    By Reason of Insanity

    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
    Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

    Power dressing is back

    But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
    Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

    Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

    Caves were re-opened to the public
    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

    Vince Cable interview

    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat