Our agony aunt, Fiona Caine, attempts to solve readers’ problems...
Q: I’ve fallen in love with a married man who is more than 20 years older than me.
He is unlike any of the boyfriends I’ve had in the past – he’s considerate, caring and says he loves me and wants to be with me.
He admits he still has feelings for his wife and doesn’t want to upset her, and he does get anxious sometimes about her finding out.
We’ve slept together a few times, but because of my parents and my job, I’m terrified of getting pregnant, so have relied on him to use a contraceptive.
Most of all I’m worried that if he realises how much this relationship is scaring me, I will lose him. Will it always be this difficult?
A: If you insist on continuing this relationship, I’m afraid it almost certainly will always be difficult.
It may get worse, as affairs with married men are never easy. Married men rarely leave their wives for a lover, especially when, as in your case, they admit to still having feelings for her.
Unless something happens to his wife, you could have many years of anxiety with this man. A genuine loving relationship is one in which partners can feel happy and at ease with each other.
It’s hard to give up someone you love, but I think you already know this relationship has no future. A clean break will undoubtedly hurt now, but save you from greater heartbreak later.
Q: Three years ago, I persuaded my elderly mother to move in with us.
She needed more help and always got on well with my husband, so I didn’t think it would be a problem.
It was fine to begin with, but now my husband and I are beginning to feel the strain. We’ve both got full time jobs, but I have to pop home every lunchtime to see mum and sometimes she’s hard work.
We haven’t had a holiday since she came to live with us because she can’t travel, and I feel that if I don’t have something to look forward to in 2017, I’ll go mad.
It’s not mum’s fault, but I am beginning to resent having her here and I’m sure my husband is too.
A: Sadly, this scenario is all too common for the many thousands of people looking after elderly or sick relatives.
Carers must have the chance of a break now and again otherwise it all becomes too much - as you are finding.
Have you talked to Social Services to see whether your mum might be entitled to help of some kind? Have you also considered a daycare centre for her to go to a few days a week?
When you care for someone you have to value yourself too. You’ve probably got so used to putting your mum’s needs first that you’re in danger of forgetting about your own.
Q: Fifteen years ago, I treated my then-boyfriend very badly when I dumped him in front of our friends. I’ve always felt guilty about it, although I’ve not seen him since.
Last week I bumped into him and I was so embarrassed. I’m now married with a family, but I found I was still attracted to him.
All we did was have a quick chat, which was long enough for me to find out that he’s still single and has moved back to the area. Is it too late to say I’m sorry?
A: It’s never too late to apologise, but in your case I think you need to be careful.
What are you hoping to gain? The fact you say you are still attracted to him makes me think you’re after a bit more than an easy conscience. You need to be certain about what you are trying to achieve, or this relationship could harm you and your family.