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)

Sport
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
Arts and Entertainment
Ricardo by Edward Sutcliffe, 2014
artPortraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb go on display
News
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
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: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

    £17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

    £17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

    £17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

    Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

    £16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

    Day In a Page

    The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

    Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

    Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
    Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

    'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

    Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
    Compton Cricket Club

    Compton Cricket Club

    Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
    London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

    Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

    'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
    The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

    The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

    It helps a winner keep on winning
    Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

    Is this the future of flying?

    Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
    Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

    Isis are barbarians

    but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
    The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

    Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

    Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
    Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

    'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

    Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
    Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

    Call of the wild

    How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
    Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

    'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

    If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
    The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

    The science of swearing

    What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
    Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

    Africa on the menu

    Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
    Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

    Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

    The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'