Fiona offers her perspective on family dramas, emotional issues and dysfunctional relationships. This week: loneliness, confidence and horrible bosses
Q After my divorce, I began to suffer from nerves and depression very badly.
I went to the hospital and they set up a support group for people with depression and anxiety where I met a man who has similar problems.
After one of the meetings, he asked me to go for a drink - which I did, and since he’s given me a lift to the group with him.
Last week, when I got out of the car, he said he wouldn’t change me for the world.
I’m pretty sure he likes me, but as I’m a lot older than him (five years), I don’t want to make a fool of myself.
I thought, maybe, I could ask him for a meal at my house, but my home isn’t posh and he might get the wrong idea.
A What wrong idea might that be? That you like this man sufficiently to invite him to your home for a meal? Or that your home isn’t featured as a centre spread in Homes & Gardens?
He has shown you, by his comment and his interest, that he likes you and, honestly, five years is nothing.
It may be that he doesn’t want to push things with you because he is aware of your issues, and of course he may be nervous about being rejected, especially as he has problems of his own.
He may need an indication from you that you’re interested and that you wouldn’t dismiss him if he suggested taking things further.
With both of you lacking confidence, you could spend a long time trying to second guess one another and getting nowhere, so take the plunge and invite him in for coffee next time he gives you a lift. Don’t assume, if he refuses, that he’s not interested, he may genuinely have to be somewhere else. Just suggest maybe he’d like to take you up on your offer the next time.
Q I’m a single parent with a few issues that get me down from time to time. There’s nothing particularly serious, but what I really need is someone to talk to who knows what I am going through – just someone I could chat to and share some of the stupid little problems with.
I am quite lonely and the few friends and family I do have are all happily married.
A There are a number of groups for single parents around and I’d strongly recommend you consider joining one of these.
Gingerbread (gingerbread.org.uk), for example, has groups throughout England and Wales plus an online forum where you can chat to people in the same position as you. Don’t discount your married friends – they may not be in the same position as you, but I’m sure you’d find them willing to try to help.
Q My manager is making my life a misery. She does nothing all day and passes everything to me. She does nothing to help and recently, when the workload built up, she persuaded her boss to appoint an extra member of staff.
The new woman is a friend of hers and so, of course, does next to nothing too which now means I’ve got even more work to cover. When I complained to the boss, he just called her in and told her to sort it out! Of course, she was furious and now makes things even worse for me.
A Under normal circumstances, I’d suggest you talk to your manager. In this case, that wouldn’t work - nor would my next suggestion, which would have been to take it to her boss. If there is a union rep try asking them for help. If not I suggest you contact Acas (the Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service acas.org.uk) and ask their advice - they offer online help and a phone line.