Ask Delissa! Sorting the agonies of love, dating and relationships
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Ask Delissa! Sorting the agonies of love, dating and relationships

Our agony aunt DELISSA NEEDHAM answers your questions. This week: Emerging from a long-term relationship

(Photo by Renee Fisher on Unsplash)
(Photo by Renee Fisher on Unsplash)

Delissa Needham is here to answer your relationship problems. She runs The Dateist, an advice-based dating site and has produced various shows for ITV, Channel 4, Discovery and Channel 5. Specialising in relationships and she is an agony aunt for Essex Radio.

Dear Delissa

Earlier in the year I finished with my long-term boyfriend of 9 years. Our relationship had become boring. He’s in his late 60s and not interested in doing much anymore – except moan about his health and money issues. I joined a dating agency and was looking forward to meeting somebody new and exciting.  

Then lockdown happened. I would have been OK being on my own but my ex bought a house in my street last year,  then at the start of the lockdown a woman moved in with him. She is someone we both know from the golf club. Now I see them together all the time, very loved up,  I find it quite hurtful and its driving me insane. 

I can’t sleep at night thinking about them together in his house. I hate going to the shop in case I bump into them. I haven’t been in touch with him since I ended it. Not being able to get away from it is making me ill. I feel the lockdown has made me a prisoner not just of my home but my feelings. 

Jackie P – Hampstead

Delissa Needham

Dear Jackie

One of the consequences of this virus is that the lockdown has put all our plans on pause. And with you this means all your schemes to start afresh can’t go ahead.  You literally can’t get away from your ex, and as a result it seems you are fixated on it in a way you need not have been had you been able to meet someone new.

My heart goes out to you because this situation is clearly a daily torture where even your home doesn’t bring you comfort.   I did know of a lady who was jilted at the alter by the groom. He then moved in with another woman in a house in the same street. Every day she had to walk past that house – and it was a long time before she was able to move on,  and when she did she was able to say ‘thank you’.

Her thanks were because not being married to him had meant new experiences – and eventually a new love. So do take heart that eventually you also will have new experiences and probably be able to say ‘thank you.  But in the meantime how do we deal with the pain this situation is causing you.  Let’s look more closely at what’s really causing that pain.  

I’m sure that there are readers who will want to say that you ended the relationship so therefore what’s your problem – he has a right to see someone new.   But that isn’t it – is it?  You ended the relationship but what you didn’t expect to end was the friendship.  And the friendship is what’s important here.  That’s what you have lost and that’s what you are grieving.  You say you haven’t been in touch since you ended it. Why not?  Will it hurt that much just to reach out by email and say hello. Re-start the friendship but on new terms.

You have shared so much and understand each other – and you clearly still care for him and I would guess he feels the same. So why not hang onto those foundations of a friendship and continue to laugh, joke and enjoy the various things you have shared. This needn’t impact on his current relationship.

You haven’t said that you want him back so obviously you don’t so as long as you don’t give the wrong idea there is no harm in contacting him.  He is happy with someone else and you will find it easier to accept that if you revive the friendship.  Ask how he is and suggest a coffee when its next possible. Chances are you will remind yourself why it’s over while at the same time hanging on to what was special – the friendship. 

I hope this will help diffuse a lot of the anguish and grief that you feel,  and help you sleep better. I also recommend you get yourself involved in a project at home and find new experiences to take your mind of it – such as finding an online learning course in something that interests you. I also recommend you use your social media to connect with friends old and new.  If you are still restless in the early hours of the morning, I find it helps to listen to audio books. 

A story is very good for harnessing your mind and taking it to another place.  

  • Delissa’s book How I Met My Man is published in October.
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