TV’s Steph and Dom Parker, 53 and 55, draw on their 22 years of marriage to solve your relationship problems . . .
Q: I’m a 48-year-old divorcee with an 11-year-old son. During lockdown, my boyfriend of six months moved in with us in London. It hugely accelerated our relationship, and it felt as though in two months we did two years’ worth of getting to know each other.
My boyfriend is from a rural part of Scotland and the problem is he’s now saying he wants to go back there. He wants to go within weeks and he wants me to go with him.
An anonymous reader asked British TV’s Steph and Dom Parker for advice, after her boyfriend asked her to move to Scotland (file image)
I’m so conflicted. On the one hand, I’d love an adventure like that, but on the other it would mean giving up a good school place for my son. My question is, how do you know if you love someone enough to make such a radical change after such a relatively short time and in such weird circumstances?
Lockdown has turbocharged my relationship but it has made me too dizzy to think straight.
STEPH SAYS: I have to tell you, I got goosebumps when I read your letter. I have been lucky enough to know real love, so when you ask me how do you know if you really love someone, I think you already know: for my money, this is the real deal.
I understand when you say you’ve experienced the stages of falling in love at full speed, living cheek by jowl. Lockdown has fast-tracked your love life.
Normally, we don’t have the luxury of this kind of time, which is why it can take years to build such intense intimacy. Life is usually so busy that we just don’t really get to see each other with no distractions.
So there is no question in my mind that you’ve raced through to the ‘I’m in!’ level of sheer joy, and now it is being threatened.
Now, if this were a Mills & Boon novel, you’d be packing up your tweed and tartan and getting ready for the drive north. Sadly it’s not, is it? It’s real life, with a huge responsibility to your son. So while my romantic side wants to urge you to drop it all and Scotland, ahoy!, the mother in me knows you have a difficult choice to make between the love of your life and your beloved son.
Steph (pictured, with Dom) advised the reader to ask her 11-year-old son for his perspective on possibly moving
We all know that long-distance relationships are difficult and the risk of splitting is high. I know from experience that facing that is risky. Let’s not forget, however, that you have another 40 years of your own life to live and your boy will be an adult before you know it. At 18, he’ll be off, living his best life — and you may never regain the happiness you have just found.
But we know that children must always come first. So, I think you should put your son at the heart of the decision.
I believe he has the right to voice his choice. Ask his advice, involve him in the dilemma, tell him the truth. However, you must choose your words carefully — you cannot afford for him to feel that you are putting it all on him, because it’s too much for 11-year-old shoulders.
You’re a mum, not in a Mills & Boon
But this is a life choice for him too. Tell him that he is your first and only obligation. Remind him that it will always be you and him first and foremost, and gauge his reaction.
Tell him that the only way you’ll ever feel good about this is if you know that he wants it too — for himself, as well as you.
If he reacts strongly or with fear, go back to it in a few weeks once he has had time to digest it. This is not a sales pitch, this is a life-changer. Then wait.
The answer will come. You know what you want to do but you can’t do it without him. I hope your son is on side and you get to follow your heart and go.
DOM SAYS: First, I’d like to thank you for writing to us. In such tricky times it’s great to hear something positive. It does seem at the moment that all we hear is bad news, so it’s wonderful to be reminded of the good stuff. Falling in love is delightful, but what a shame your boyfriend has had to go and spoil it all.
Dom (pictured) told the reader that she should try a long distance relationship, until she’s sure if she should move to Scotland
As we all know — and it should go without saying — children must always come first. There is, I’m afraid, no getting around that and nor should there be.
So I think what you must do is consider what you can and cannot make happen with regard to your son and his life. He is in absolute pole position in your life until he turns 18. That means you have seven years to try to figure this out — which is, I think, more time than you will need.
At the end of your letter you ask us: how do you know if it really is love? Well, I would say, it’s when you simply can’t stop thinking about them — when you’re going to see that person and when they can be back in your life all day, every day.
You have received a beautifully romantic proposal and, quite naturally, you want to scream ‘yes’ from the rooftops and go and dance in the ferns.
Let him go and then you’ll know
But you can’t risk your son’s happiness for a relationship you are not yet sure of.
I’m not sure you should risk it even if you are utterly certain about your feelings and those of your boyfriend.
It’s a shame your bloke is so set on leaving London. I assume you have discussed this with him at length and he has made his decision. If so, then, hard as it’s going to be, you must make a decision too.
I think you should try to make the distance thing work until both of you decide you can’t take it any more. When that point comes you will know. And then you should move heaven and earth to make a relocation work for your son — or your boyfriend must move heaven and earth to return.
But there is, I fear, a note of caution to be sounded here. In principle, the wilds of Scotland should be worthless and empty for your chap if you are not there. Should he find that actually he desires the open roughness of the country more than you, then you will know.
It is, sadly, not beyond the realms of possibility that this most heavenly love is a sort of holiday romance, suffused with excitement and passion because of the pandemic.
If your chap says he has to go, let him go.
You will know soon where the future lies. I hope it’s a happy one for you and your son.
If you have a question you’d like Steph and Dom to tackle, write to: stephanddom@ dailymail.co.uk