Between You and Me: Your Problems Answered Part 18
Trained therapists we are not but what we lack in PhDs, we make up for with our honest hunks of friendly but fair advice. We’re all fallible humans just trying to muddle through life as best we can!
From struggles with home life after uni to dealing with a break that turned into a break-up, we’re back with our monthly serving of life advice… because sometimes you just need to ask someone impartial on the internet what they would do in your situation.
Trained therapists we are not but what we lack in PhDs, we make up for with our honest hunks of friendly but fair advice. We’re all fallible humans just trying to muddle through life as best we can. Mistakes are inevitable, breakups suck and anxiety happens but when you have a system of support around you and the space to talk it out, positive change and personal growth doesn’t seem like such an impossible thing to wrap your head around, after all.
Consider this your window to rant – we’re all ears!
Hello lovely human,
I’m so sorry to hear you’re struggling, I completely get how you feel. I met my best friends in the world at uni and you bet it’s a shock from seeing each other every day to only a few times a year. They all live at least 2 hours away from me.
I know how daunting it is to find new friends and you might feel like you’re being annoying but trust me that is not the case! After almost 18 months of not leaving the house, everyone is craving new relationships and meeting like-minded people. I’ve had people reach out to me online that I’ve not spoken to in 10 years and now it’s like those 10 years never happened. Try and put yourself out there, if you have a genuine connection with someone it doesn’t tend to go away.
Try and make a conscious effort to go out more. If you’re ever invited to go out with work friends, family or even just random meetups, do it! You might not make a connection with someone the first time but keep at it and you’ll get there. Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone is so good for confidence too!
Most areas now have Facebook groups for likeminded people, I’m part of a Brighton based one and there is probably a post about once a week of someone saying they don’t have many close friends, writing a little bit about themselves and then people comment if they want to meet up. It’s great, I know so many people who have moved and used this as a way to make friends. I hear that bumble BFF is great for making friends too. And a bit less scary because you know the other people on there are looking for exactly the same thing.
I think also talk to your current best friends about how you feel. It might be that you can make effort to see each other more often. Even if it’s not all of you together. It might sound dramatic but I’d also consider moving to be closer to one or two of them if you’re really struggling!
Good luck and know that everything works out in the end.
Hey Anon, thanks so much for sharing your story with us, I know EXACTLY how you feel. I would be one of the friends that moved away from the group, first to London then to Brighton and because I arrange to see my family and home friends or London friends so often I was pretty complacent when it came t making friends in my area.
I’m busy every weekend I want to be, but I completely agree with you that I really miss that feeling of spontaneous nights in or popping to the cinema on a whim with friends as everything I do has to be organised. I’m probably not the best person to give advice on this as I have not succeeded in doing what your asking, but I have done a lot of research into it in case I’m ever feeling brave enough!
Now that we’re coming out of COVID imagine it as a re-birth to making friends and try and put yourself out there, which is much harder than it sounds! For me most of my friendships have come from work so maybe try to get something social together outside of work with your colleagues, you do see them every day which means you can grow a really strong friendship quite quickly.
We wrote a really great article for navigating friendships as an adult that I think you’ll find super helpful, I also remember reading a little piece from Charlotte Jacklin that helped me feel less alone, simply by understanding that there are so many people who feel similar to you! Good luck love, I’m sure you’ll be sending that Saturday night takeaway text before you know it! x
Hey anon! I wish I had better news for you but even reading the subject line of your dilemma made my heart sink a bit having been the girlfriend in a situation like this, so although my immediate reaction is maybe a bit more emotional than most, I do think fundamentally anyone would agree it’s not okay.
The dynamic you’ve found yourself in is entirely his fault, let’s get that straight first. He should never have engaged in that kind of conversation with you as someone in a relationship, and I think the fact he has crossed that boundary at all is very telling of his character. Is that the kind of person you could really trust or rely on? Also the fact you were talking to him for a while and he managed to conceal this from you is really concerning in my opinion! Not good vibes.
You’ve definitely done the right thing in taking a step back, and if you both really do like each other it will have to wait until he is ballsy enough to end his relationship because he cannot eat his cake and have it too sadly! My advice would be forget about the guy, find someone available and with no baggage and enjoy spending time with someone knowing there’s none of this background noise going on.
If you’re meant to be together then I think the universe will draw you back into each others lives when he’s ready. Good luck!
Hey anon! If I’m honest, I really don’t think you should talk to him about it. I think for something so little, that you think he might like you too, just isn’t enough of a reason to potentially create all this drama and upset. It sounds as well to me that he’s a bit of a flirt, potentially with other people too, as it’s super weird to have been speaking to him for so long and to have had no idea about his partner?! Aka, he didn’t want you to know, but is that a good sign? Not particularly as it shows a lack of respect for his partner from him. I think this kind of behaviour can really show someone’s true colours, it’s all very sneaky and when something has to be kept secret, it’s usually because you know you are doing something wrong.
I do totally emphasize with you as liking someone who you can’t be with really sucks, but at the end of the day they have a partner and that person’s feelings have to be considered as well. I truly think the best option is to take a step back from this guy and have some space. There are so many people out there who would be happy to give you all of them, not just a tiny slice! I just think this relationship isn’t particularly fulfilling for you and I’m not sure it ever will be as it sounds like they don’t have any plans to break-up with their partner anytime soon. The only person that will end up getting hurt in the long run is you, and we would like to avoid that please! If you are truly meant to be together, you’ll find each other at the right time, but I think for the time being, this isn’t the right time. It’s going to hurt not speaking to them, but I do think it will be for the best, but you know your gut and you have to trust your own instincts sometimes too! All the best Xx
Hello my love,
First of all, huge congrats on getting through the first year of uni in these crazy times. I can’t imagine how disruptive trying to study during these last 18 months must have been! Bloody well done to you for getting through it. It sounds like everyone’s struggling in their own way in your household and that can’t be easy to be around. You’re right to address it. It’s far too easy to sink into a negative mindset very quickly when you’re around that tense energy 24/7, that said, I think there are definitely ways to support the others whilst being mindful to respect your own boundaries and keep something back for you.
Could you suggest doing something fun as a group to lift the mood and shake up this routine of waking up and feeling crappy? If they’re struggling with depression, they might not have that get up and go energy or motivation to plan a day out together but it could be nice to have a change of scenery and have a bit of bonding time, even if it’s a simple day at the beach or a picnic with games. Test the waters and see what they say but equally, don’t put too much pressure on yourself to be the mood-lifter or the life and soul all the time because that in itself can be an exhausting role. Do your bit to be there for them as all friends should (as much as your emotional capacity will allow) and if nothing changes, don’t feel guilty for removing yourself from the situation, going on walks, doing the things that make YOU feel good and respecting your boundaries. Also, talk it out – I know, eye roll, it’s such a basic thing to say but as is this case with Between You & Me, I feel like the majority of people aren’t necessarily looking for answers to their problems, they just need someone’s space and time so they feel heard and understood. I hope you try to find some pockets of joy this summer whilst you’re home. Look after yourself xxx
Hey, anon! Congratulations on finishing your first year at uni- what an achievement! I hope you find some comfort in knowing that the way in which you were able to adjust to going to uni in September for the first time is very much the same as adjusting to coming back, and so although it feels difficult, I know you have it in you to do it. It can be really challenging to support those around you with mental health problems without it impacting you too, so I’d say prioritising your free time and making sure you can get out of the house when you can is essential for you. You mentioned that aside from your boyfriend you can feel quite lonely so I think making some new friends in your hometown would be just the ticket. Bumble BFF is great for this, and most towns have local Facebook groups for women in that area and I often see people posting in the Brighton equivalent looking to meet up with like-minded people for a walk or some drinks so it’s absolutely worth putting yourself out there if you can. I think having some balance in the time you spend with family and time dedicated to freeing up a bit of your headspace is key.
I know you’re a student so I imagine you’re on a low budget but I wonder if looking into therapy is an option? As I mentioned it can be really taxing to take on the emotions of others, no matter how much we love them, and having a bit of mental health support for yourself would go such a long way in my opinion! If not then I find journaling to be a really useful outlet for my emotions and it’s a free and easy way to vent those and feel some release. Take a pen and paper, set a timer for 20 minutes (or however long those feelings keep coming for) and write an unfiltered account of everything that’s troubling you- even the stuff you wouldn’t say out loud to anyone else. You can rip it up or scribble it out at the end and it might just help to give some space to any difficult feelings.
Remember that your experience at home is so valid and being able to vocalise what you need is okay and necessary and a priority. Sending lots of love and light.
Ahh, the old break to break up dilemma. Let’s start by saying although you probably feel very isolated at the moment, this happens to sooo many people and you aren’t alone in how you feel.
There is genuinely no pain like a break-up and the break is awful, you just sit there for however long, feeling helpless and hoping your other half makes the right decision. I’m all for breaks to get your head straight but when it’s not a mutual decision, it’s hard to get your head around. The fact that he took time to really think through your relationship shows that he respects you and definitely still cares for you so please find some peace with that.
At the moment your emotions are so raw, you can’t be expected to know exactly what to do or how to act. What you’ve done so far is amazing, it’s so hard to distance yourself from someone you love but deleting his contact details was 100% the right thing to do. That isn’t to say you’ll probably try and get in touch in a moment of desperation (we’re all human) but for now, you’ve done the right thing.
Surround yourself with good people, your friends are family are vital right now and just let yourself be sad. 6 years is such a long time and it will take you a while to get over that. Eat loads of chocolate, watch sad films but also try and make yourself happy too. Put on some powerful music and get a drastic haircut. Al the cliche things really do help.
So often people get complacent in their relationships and when someone new and exciting comes along, they think it’s what they want. I give it a few months before he realises it is likely just a fling and comes running back. By which time, you’ll be a strong, independent person who can make an informed decision on who you want to be with, and I’d put money on it not being him.
Sending you a big cuddle, it gets better I promise.
I’m so sorry you’re dealing with a breakup, heartbreak really is the worst kind of pain and there’s barely anything that can cure it other than time which as we all know can’t be put on fast forward. It sounds like he had checked out of the relationship when he started having feelings for this person he worked with, which adds another layer of heartbreak as you’re probably feeling rejected which is always a terrible feeling.
I’d start your journey to happiness without him ASAP and kick things off by blocking him on every platform as well as his number, not to be petty but seeing him come up on your timeline and stalking him while you’re drunk is not a good move, you’ll end up going 10 steps back. You probably have a ton of people telling you this but it really sounds like you dodged a bullet, and this break-up will be the making of you. The next thing is to just feel what you’re feeling, if you want to spend Saturday night watching romcoms crying then do it, but try and lean on your friends for support. Try and get some exciting things in the diary with your mates to look forward to, and start journaling your thoughts and feelings, things that make you sad and things that make you happy about the situation.
Finally, I just want to say relationships that start when you’re 17 truly have the smallest chance of making it long term, one of you will 100% end up changing and the fact it’s happened now is probably a massive blessing. Think of your life ending when your 100, and all the amazing things you want to achieve and do in between now and then, this guy will be a blip in your timeline and when your walking down the aisle and having children you’ll think back to how you thought it would be with this guy and actually laugh I guarantee you.
Thanks so much for writing to us and being bold enough to open up about it, that’s a huge step in the right direction. I feel like you need to hear this: you’re braver than you know! Look how you just opened up about your mental health, just like that… all those baby steps mean you are making progress and you should absolutely acknowledge how far you’ve come already. It’s incredibly easy for someone who isn’t struggling with mental health conditions to say seek help and talk about it, and by sharing what you have with us today, you’ve actually made me all the more aware that even getting to the point where you feel comfortable to trust someone professional with your feelings is a milestone in itself. Even if that first hurdle felt terrifying and anxiety-inducing, you did it.
I would hazard a guess that what you went through on the phone call is incredibly ‘normal’, especially as you were not expecting it, which ultimately left you feeling panicked and unprepared to discuss your mental health, hence why you wanted to shut it down and block the number to avoid the situation happening again. Anyone would feel the same. This is all new to you and phone calls are awful at the best of times haha, let alone when a stranger is putting you on the spot about the tough stuff you want to work through. Owning the way you’re feeling and making that decision for yourself to get therapy takes guts and self-worth, and I think on this occasion, it was just really unfortunate that the way the conversation came about wasn’t conducive to sharing intimate details about yourself – it didn’t provide the calm and safe environment you need to have that dialogue in the first place.
Reaching out to this organization to begin your therapy journey says to me that you’re ready for it, but I think this sudden phone call has just thrown you a tad and chipped away at your confidence. Maybe email the organisation and explain that you’d like to continue with next steps in your own time and in a way that allows you to ready yourself to open up. Explain that the initial phone call was triggering for you given that you weren’t expecting it, but if you can get a set time and date to discuss things further, you’d like to try again (if you’re comfortable with that of course).
It’s not going to be an easy or instant process but at least if you know when to expect those phone calls, you can prepare yourself adequately and get into the mindset that allows you to think right, I’m ready to talk now and prepared to answer the questions they may need to ask to help me.
I have everything crossed for you and your future, it sounds like you’re on the brink of making some really positive changes for yourself. Please keep us posted with how you get on as we’d all love to hear from you in a few month’s time because you absolutely WILL do this. Go surprise yourself! Loads of love xx
Hey anon! I’m so sorry you are having a difficult time with your mental health, but even thinking about going to therapy is a step in the right direction, so you should be super proud of yourself! This a really great question and I think more people feel this way when looking to start therapy than you might think. Starting therapy can feel so daunting and to be honest it actually can feel pretty scary at first. I started therapy in September last year, after similarly like you considering it for about a year. Something quite big in my life happened that pushed me to seek help and if I’m honest I was pretty scared to start looking because it’s admitting you are having problems and knowing you are going to have to speak about them.
Therapy is hard and it takes a lot of facing yourself and learning to open up, especially with a complete stranger! So, I’m not surprised you left that call feeling panicked, if I’m honest I think them calling you at random doesn’t seem all that professional either. Whenever I’ve spoken with a therapist, we organise a time together to meet and discuss my needs, this way it feels like you are more in control. I can tell from your question that you are serious about wanting to start therapy and you are so brave! So, I think put yourself back out there and contact some therapists yourself, have a big goggle sesh looking at local therapists and find some who 1) specialise in what you are wanting help in and 2) have a face that to you seems friendly and like someone you could potentially talk to and lastly 3) check they have the correct qualifications! I think having more control over the situation will make you feel more safe and secure. You’ve 100% got this and I can promise you that you won’t regret starting therapy, just got to make that final push! Wishing you all the best in the future Xx