DEAR FIONA: My friends’ husbands keep making passes at me

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Q: My husband and I have always had lots of friends, mostly married couples, but since our amicable divorce last year almost all these married men have made a pass at me.

Apart from being embarrassing, I’m not in the least interested in another relationship right now – least of all with husbands of women that I still count as friends.

It’s making it very difficult for me to remain on friendly terms, and I’m not sure how to handle it.

A: Some men seem to feel they need to constantly test they are still attractive by making approaches to all available members of the opposite sex.

Others may simply see you as a challenge, or a chance to satisfy their curiosity.

I am in no way trying to excuse what these men are doing, just offering a possible explanation.

Try not to get too upset by it, but, at the first sign of another pass, say quite firmly that you have no interest in risking your friendship with their wives.

Q: Just over a year ago, I met a great guy with whom I very quickly became good friends.

Then I realised he meant more to me than just friendship, and told him.

However, I was pretty upset to find he didn’t feel the same way about me, and although he tried to let me down gently, things have never been the same.

I feel he’s avoiding me now and I wish I’d never said anything, so at least we could be good friends still, even though I’d have to pretend I don’t love him. I feel so stupid.

A: It’s not stupid to fall in love with someone, so don’t blame yourself for that. You saw a chance for happiness and you took it.

Okay, it didn’t work out, and it may take some time for you to recover from the pain, but if he had loved you and you’d not said anything, and you found out years later, you’d feel even worse.

It may be difficult, if not impossible, to retrieve the friendship you had, but don’t write it off.

Q: Both my children have now left home and so I was looking forward to spending more time with my husband. That’s why it’s come as a complete shock that he’s announced he wants his father to come and live with us.

My husband and I still love each other, but I have felt in recent years that we haven’t always been able to give each other the time we need.

I really want to have time alone with my husband so we can get closer to one another once more, and feel so disappointed.

My father-in-law is only 72 and he’s very fit and active.

He’s always seemed perfectly happy in his own flat, and I don’t understand why my husband thinks he needs to move in with us.

How do I say this to my husband without it seeming that I don’t care?

A: I think the first thing you need to find out is whether this idea has come from your husband or his father.

If it’s your father-in-law who feels the need to move in with you, it may be that, like it or not, you are going to have to adjust to the idea of sharing your home with him.

It may be that he’s feeling vulnerable and has discussed this with your husband.

That doesn’t mean you and your husband give up the chance to get close to one another once more.

Make sure you ensure your father-in-law has his own space and that you and your husband make time to be alone together.

If, on the other hand, the idea has come from your husband, it may be that, like you, he misses his children and wants to feel that the house is full again.

If that’s the case, you and he need to be talking about your relationship and you need to let him know that you want to spend more time with him.

If it’s your husband’s idea, he needs to be made aware that his father may not want to give up his independence.

It won’t do any good if your husband prematurely takes away his father’s ability to lead an independent life.

While he may think this is what is expected of him as a responsible son looking after an ageing parent, making him dependent before he’s ready to be will only age him prematurely.

Try to get him to see that the most important thing is that his father feels happy and secure.

Alternatively, your husband may have just realised that the two of you are going to be alone together and he’s forgotten how to do this, or feels uncomfortable about it.

You and he really need to talk - explain that you care for your father-in-law but that you were looking forward to simply being with your husband again.

Make it clear that, if your father-in-law becomes ill or frail and needs to come and live with you, you will welcome him.

I am sure that once he sees you are looking forward to being alone with him, he will reconsider this decision.

Q: Now my daughter is one, I need to go back to work as I need to start earning again.

I want to find a childminder but don’t know how to go about looking for one.

Are there any that provide references?

I’ve not been able to socialise much for the past year, so I don’t know any other mums to ask.

A: There are several organisations for single parents, but I don’t think you should use these as a means of finding a childminder.

For that I’d suggest you contact PACEY (Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years, pacey.org.uk), where you can do a postcode search and find a list of local childminders.

While they don’t show references, you could certainly ask for these and, through being a member of Pacey, they are showing their professionalism and commitment.

As for making new friends, I’d suggest you consider joining Gingerbread (gingerbread.org.uk), the one parent family organisation that provides a range of help and support, which I’m sure you’d find useful.