DEAR CAROLINE: A friend is getting married again but I feel resentful of her happiness. How can I stop feeling so jealous of her?

If you have a problem, write to Caroline West-Meads at YOU, 9 Derry Street, London W8 5HY, or email [email protected]. You can follow Caroline on X/Twitter  @Ask_Caroline_   Caroline reads all your letters but regrets she cannot answer each one personally.

I’ve just discovered that a friend of a friend of mine is getting married again in her early 50s. I’ve always thought that the woman in question is a bit shallow and sees my friend only when there’s something for her to gain or when she wants to feel good about herself.

My friend is kind, probably too kind, and can always be relied on to boost this woman’s ego or run errands for her. Secretly, I think she even looks down on my friend a little – mostly because the latter didn’t go to university. However, I’ve heard so much about the forthcoming wedding and how happy this woman is that I can’t help feeling a bit resentful. Things always seem to have gone smoothly for her – even her divorce was amicable.

I know it does me no good to compare, but I’m still single after getting divorced ten years ago. Why should she have so much happiness when I am lonely and would love to meet someone else? How can I stop feeling so jealous?

Caroline West-Meads replies: It would be easy to think of this as simple jealousy, which is a painful emotion to hold. However, there are quite a few things going on here.

It is always difficult when you see people you love being used by others. I think you are feeling protective towards your kind friend and wish that she could see this woman’s true colours. Your friend sounds like a ‘people pleaser’, perhaps rather insecure and going out of her way to be liked, even by those who don’t deserve it. This is sad. I suspect that this other woman is confident, glamorous and self-assured, all things that your friend may feel she herself is not, which could be part of the attraction.

However, you also sound unhappy. In my experience, life is sadly random, and as you know, sometimes terrible events and sadnesses happen to lovely people, while others who appear less deserving breeze through. It is hard, and I’m sorry. You need to address this loneliness. You wonder why you are still single. It could be that you have simply been unlucky, but perhaps there is something holding you back. Are you still in love with your former husband, so haven’t felt able to fully engage in a new relationship? Or are you so hurt and emotionally bruised by the divorce that you fear getting hurt again and have put off dating?

Maybe, in subsequent relationships, you have repeated unhealthy patterns learnt in your marriage or even childhood, meaning that these haven’t lasted. Explore this through counselling (relate.org.uk). Meanwhile, try not to assume that being in a couple will complete your happiness. There is an interesting book that might help you, called How to be Single And Happy: Science-Based Strategies for Keeping Your Sanity While Looking for a Soul Mate by Jennifer L Taitz.

 

My ex wants me to keep his porn habit secret

My husband and I separated two years ago because I discovered that he had an addiction to porn. Our sex life had been almost nonexistent for a while. It started to decline after I was very ill for about six months. I did try to initiate sex when I recovered but my husband seemed unenthusiastic and I felt rejected. We were arguing all the time.

However, my in-laws have no idea of the real reason behind our split. They are lovely and I have remained close to them. Whenever I take their grandchildren to visit them, they ask if we can’t just patch up our differences. My ex begged me not to tell them about the porn.

I have been much happier since we divorced but they just can’t understand why their son and I split up and I don’t know what to say any more.

Caroline West-Meads replies: Sadly porn is often the death knell for relationships and can really knock the other partner’s self-esteem. So please remember that this happened not because of anything lacking in you but because your husband’s addiction became his priority.

It would only be possible to try again if he were to get help for this dependency. But, as you are happier since parting, it sounds as if it is too late for that. However, you don’t need the pressure from his parents, so tell your ex to explain gently that they need to stop asking you to reconcile.

You could also say to him that it is increasingly difficult not to tell his parents that their son is ill – because this is an illness – and that if he wants you to keep protecting his privacy, he must get help. If he does not, it will continue to ruin his life and his relationship with his children. He should see his GP and pivotalrecovery.org.

  • If you have a problem, write to Caroline West-Meads at YOU, 9 Derry Street, London W8 5HY, or email [email protected]. You can follow Caroline on X/Twitter @Ask_Caroline_ 
  • Caroline reads all your letters but regrets she cannot answer each one personally.

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