Dear Janice, I am leaving my partner of four years when Christmas is over. I know it would be cruel to upset everyone before the big day, especially as his kids are so excited, but I realise I don’t have the feelings I should have for him and can’t drag our relationship on any longer.

The whole situation is making me feel anxious and sick to my stomach and it’s torture keeping up this charade.

I just wish it was 2022 and this sad situation was sorted.

I am dreading telling him. I don’t even know when the right time will be, or how to start the conversation.

I’m also terrified of being on my own again. Any advice would be welcome. Tracey.

Dear Tracey, you have made a decision which is the first step.

Christmas in itself rarely causes breakups, in fact, in many cases (like yours), it actually stalls it for some time. In these situations, people want to avoid awkwardness and sadness, especially if children are involved.

That said, you are responsible for your own happiness, therefore, if you know in your heart you do not want to keep this relationship going, then breaking up is the only option.

He will be upset and the kids will be upset, and yes, it will be a daunting time for you too, but in order to find true happiness, you know this is something you must do. Be strong, and be honest with him. There is a chance he is aware that all is not rosy between you and is hoping you start this difficult conversation.

Between you, you can decide what’s best for his children going forward.

Tracey, staying because you fear being on your own would be selfish for everyone. Don’t despair, this will sort itself out in time and you can look forward to new beginnings, which may well turn out to be the best for all concerned. Good luck.

Dear Janice, my best friend is now dating my ex, which I’m absolutely fine with because although we got on great and had lots of good times, I didn’t see our relationship going any further, so we split amicably and remain on good terms.

Soon after our breakup, he began dating my friend. He is a nice person, she is a nice person, so I thought nothing more of it.

However, it now seems she has fallen out with me. Whenever I ask to meet up she always has some lame excuse and I really have no clue what I’ve done wrong.

I barely see or speak to her these days and I miss her. So how do I get my friend back? Arlene.

Dear Arlene, I suspect your friend may be envious of the relationship you and your ex had.

To be honest, because you split on good terms, he more than likely sings your praises, which will no doubt make her believe he still has feelings for you. Chances are he still does.

Therefore, avoiding you is avoiding any conversation which would include him.

You’ve done nothing wrong, but there isn’t a lot you can do at this point to convince your friend otherwise. If I were you, I would keep the distance she has created until their relationship is established and she feels more confident in his feelings towards her.

It may work out and you can all be friends. It may not, and she will need her friend again. So for now, leave them to it, she’ll come round one way or another ... eventually.

Dear Janice, my son has invited me for Christmas dinner at his house and I am so looking forward to spending time with him and my grandchildren.

The problem is months back I had a horrendous fall out with his wife and we haven’t spoken a word since, and Christmas Day will be the first time we have broken breath to each other. The last thing I want is an awkward, unpleasant atmosphere on Christmas Day, but my son assures me that what happened is all in the past, although I can’t help wondering if I have done the right thing in accepting his offer.

Should I go, or should I make an excuse and spend Christmas on my own to save any further upset? Morag.

Dear Morag, the mere fact that you have been invited tells me that your daughter-in-law is at least willing to meet you halfway. Which seems to be more than you are willing to do. Spending Christmas Day on your own will only widen the void between you.

You don’t elaborate on this argument, but I suspect you were not blame free.

Nevertheless, your family have decided to put this in the past and build bridges, and you would be a fool to forego this opportunity.

Rather than “breaking the ice” on the day, why don’t you call your daughter-in-law now and ask for ideas for your grandchildren’s Christmas presents? Also, offer to help with the many Christmas Day preparations.

Remember, your son is caught in the middle of the two women he loves. You are both adults, so behave like one and enjoy this family time together. Sadly, many people don’t have this option.

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