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ASK ZELDA: Our relationships expert Zelda West-Meads answers your questions – Jan 06, 2020

ASK ZELDA: Our relationships expert Zelda West-Meads answers your questions

If you have a problem, email Zelda reads all your letters but regrets that she cannot answer them all personally

My girlfriend wants us to settle down… but I’m not sure 

I am 47 and my girlfriend, who is 35, wants us to get married and buy a house but I am reluctant. We have been together for two years. She is kind, clever and I love her very much, but the problem is that I was in an abusive relationship for more than ten years with a woman who constantly criticised and yelled at me. I wanted to leave her for a very long time but whenever I tried to go, she threatened to harm herself and I’d do exactly what she wanted and stay. In the end, she left me for someone else because I somehow managed to resist her demands to marry her. I was so relieved but I was left very shaken and it took me four years to begin dating again. I really want my girlfriend to be happy and I know she is thinking about children as well, but I am worried that things could all go wrong again – my ex seemed lovely at first until she showed her true colours. There are also other complications: we both own homes in different parts of London and, of course, we’d each have to sell if we were going to buy a house together. I’m scared of giving up my home and moving in with my girlfriend, because if we broke up I would be stuck owning a house with her and have nowhere of my own to escape to.

It is totally understandable that you are anxious about committing. You have obviously been hurt and it has left scars. But your girlfriend sounds lovely and I am sure that it is just fear that is holding you back. There are several ways that you can tell whether she is different from your ex. For instance, does she welcome your friends and family into your life together? Have you met her family and friends? If so, do you like them and does she have good relationships with them? Has she had previous long-term relationships and how did they end? Controlling people – like your ex – tend to isolate their partners from others and blame everyone around them when things go wrong. It would be a shame to lose your girlfriend if you love her, so talk to her about this and explain how nervous you are and why. If she understands then this is further proof of her kindness. If you are really worried about selling your home, you could always suggest that you both let your properties for a year and share a rented home to see how things go. At 35, she won’t want to wait ages before having children, and if this is something that you want then you shouldn’t leave it too long either. If you need more support counselling could help, but it may be that all you need is your girlfriend’s love and an extra shot of courage.

I can’t stop thinking about my younger man

I was really down after my 30-year marriage ended, then I began a relationship with a much younger colleague. He was fun, lovely, caring and the sex was amazing. I was on top of the world. However, a few months later, he got his dream job and moved away, ending our relationship. I feel totally bereft, not just emotionally but sexually too. I long to have sex with him so much that sometimes it is like a physical pain. I did go to visit him once and we ended up in bed together – it felt great but it didn’t last. I had thought that part of my life was over. Is there something wrong with me?

No, there is nothing wrong with you. I suspect that as you had been growing apart from your husband for perhaps a few years, sex had become infrequent and probably dull, too. Then this man came along and reawakened your sexual desire. It felt fantastic, so now that the relationship has ended you are particularly aware of what you are missing. A new fling after a divorce can feel wonderful, restore self-confidence and make you feel desirable again – but sadly when that ends, it brings back all the pain of the marriage as well as the loss of the new relationship. Believe me, the hurt will eventually lessen, but hold on to the fact that this relationship has shown you that you can be loved and desired again. So be open to meeting someone else, but please resist the temptation of visiting your ex. 

  • If you have a problem, write to Zelda West-Meads at: YOU, Northcliffe House, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TS, or email