A Problem Shared... Something troubling you? Share it with your new BFs, Star journos-turned-agony-aunts Jo Davison and Moly Lynch

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I am in my mid 30s and have a great career, fabulous friends and a lively social life. To everyone who knows me I am a confident, bubbly person who has a full and exciting life.

But there is a huge part missing. I have been single for years and although I am happy in every aspect of my life, I have absolutely no confidence when it comes to meeting guys and dating.

I struggle to believe that I am good enough and that anyone will want me. This makes me shy and awkward around men and I tend to reject them before they have any chance of rejecting me. It’s a self-preservation thing. I have been hurt before, but hasn’t everyone?

All my friends are either married or in serious relationships and I am tired of being the odd one out at parties and events. I have sat on the side-lines for years now, watching everyone else find their happy ever after and I am now determined to do something about this. One thing I have realised recently is that as scary as putting myself out there may be, the thought of being on my own forever is even scarier.

I go to the gym, have tried local clubs and even internet dating. But I get so nervous on first dates that I come across as either boring or stuck-up. I just wish I could transfer the confidence I have at work into my dating life.

I know that once people know the real me I have a lot to offer, but I just don’t know where to start in order to get over the First Date hurdle.

Advice from Molly Lynch:

Molly, is that you?

Either I have entered a time warp and stumbled upon a problem penned by myself in just over a decade, or we share the same issue, sister.

I too am a career girl, content in all other areas of my life. I even have a circle of friends in Sheffield.

And I too feel destined to be forever single.

The big difference between us, however, seems to be that I’m not particularly fussed by the absence of a man in my life.

Then again, I’m not in my mid-30s, don’t really want to get married (I’d pick a new kitchen over a wedding any day) and I am pretty sure I don’t possess a biological clock. I’ve certainly never felt it ticking.

I guess that being surrounded by smug couples makes it difficult but why should you feel like the odd one out?

Being forced to sit opposite one of your pals’ bratty kids at a dinner party might bring on an urge to bag a boyfriend, but if you give in to feeling pressured because of your age, or because people around you have settled down then you run the risk of jumping head-first into something which isn’t right.

I’d love to tell you that if you stop looking, love will find you but we both know that’s utter poppycock.

If you really can’t find fulfilment in other areas of your life, then you’re going to have to step up your efforts.

Ask friends to set you up and try different dating websites. The gym probably wasn’t working unless you a) look like Jessica Ennis in lycra and b) by some genetic miracle are incapable of sweating.

Another piece of advice is to drop the act.

Don’t act like a child when you’re out for a drink with a potential love match. I don’t buy the shy and awkward, I’m-not-good-enough nonsense for a minute.

Get yourself to Meadowhall and splurge on a new outfit or hair cut next time you get a date lined up for an instant confidence boost. Strutting away from a complete dud feels a lot better in new shoes.

I am about to share something nauseatingly romantic with you now in the hope that you adopt an ethos in your quest for love.

There was a time not long ago when I was getting messed around by a fella. I watched Pride and Prejudice on the settee with my mam the same night he sent yet another text letting me down over a date.

Matthew McFadyen in a pair of riding boots and breeches professing his ‘most ardent’ love to Keira Knightley in the pouring rain was enough to bring about an epiphany.

From that day on, I resolved never to settle for second best. I hope you don’t either.

Advice from Jo Davison:

You have been incredibly revealing in this letter.

Most Bridget Jones types who WLTM Mr Right with a GOS for a LTR reckon they haven’t found love because of circumstance. Or wrong timing, or lack of opportunity. Their lives are to busy with work. Or everyone they meet is unsuitable in some way.

But not you; no. You cut right to the chase and ‘admit’ that you think the lack of a loving relationship in your life is all your fault.

You consider yourself unlovable and I find that so sad. No one should think that about themselves. And it’s also untrue. No one is totally unlovable. Even someone as vile as Adolph Hitler had Eva Braun, for heaven’s sakes. Not that I’m comparing you, you understand!

All I can conclude, getting all deep and psycho-analytical now, is that something must have happened to you at some time in your life to make you feel that way about yourself. A boyfriend ending it and breaking your heart is not enough to make a sane, intelligent, successful woman believe she’s truly unlovable. Well, not for longer than a week.

That first rejection by a partner - did it remind you of another time? You need to identify if an incident long ago is still holding you back. Then you can work out what is really going on in your head.

It’s the final stumbling block - it sounds like you are ready to put yourself out there, in the dating arena, and try because you’ve come to realise that your happy, fun life would be e even better if you had someone to share it with. A great platform to start from.

But that lack of confidence you only ever feel when you’re meeting someone you might possibly end up falling in love or into bed with, as opposed to someone you might do bench presses with down the gym, has to be dealt with.

When you have done, don’t rule out internet dating, BTW. It works for so many people. It’s how I met my husband seven years ago.

Don’t see your profile on a dating site as putting yourself up for display and possible rejection. Put yourself in the driving seat and see it as opening up a smorgasbord of choice. It’s like when you’re looking for a new dress; go to one shop and you’re unlikely to find The One. Go cruise the malls at Meadowhall and you’re very likely to succeed.

The internet method is also ideal for those nervous about first dates. Ensure that you have emailed, texted and spoken on the phone umpteen times before that face-to-face. Go expecting nothing but a potential new friend and go to a pub where there’s a quiz on. That’s what I did. It broke the ice AND I discovered he was smart. Which was VERY attractive.

Advice from a reader:

Surriya Falconer, consultant director at MK Things Happen PR & Communications:

You are over-thinking this. Take the pressure off yourself – it doesn’t have to be the big romance straight away. Good relationships are often built on friendships first. Arrange the date by phone rather than email; it will get past that first conversation. Tell him you are nervous when you meet - he’ll be flattered and probably nervous, too - and do the date on your own terms – instead of dinner, pick an activity you feel comfortable doing.

Can we help?

Is there a problem we could give you a view on? We’re not experts, but we’ll listen, then tell it like it is. Send your 300-word letter to jo.davison@thestar.co.uk. Include A Problem Shared in the notes field and add your name, age, occupation and area of Sheffield you live in. All letters remain anonymous.Advice from Jo Davison: