Dear Thelma: I'm so unlucky in love and bound by the past

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I’m 29 and working in HR, in an international organisation. I've been on my own for the past 11 years.

I was raised by my grandmother, and my parents would visit me occasionally. My grandmother was very close to me but she died a few years ago.

I have been very independent my entire life. I took up many part-time jobs when I was in university. Life was never easy financially or emotionally as I would not rely on anyone. My parents are very nice and caring, but not financially stable. I was never close to them. I grew up believing they don’t care much about me.

I've gone through anxiety and depression almost my entire life, but always been strong and motivated myself to overcome it.

I’m a very spiritual person and have a soft spot for everyone, and it ends up with people taking advantage of me. I don’t really mind it because I just don’t want to be alone. I don’t have many friends, and recently we have not been very close.

I consider myself as not so lucky in love. I had two relationships which were very bitter and it took me years to overcome my pain. My first boyfriend was basically a player who cheated on me continuously. I was just 19 and I felt broken.

After that, I met many guys but my heart was closed as, when I was getting to know them, I discovered that their intention was to sleep with me or they didn’t want commitment.

After four years of being single, I met B through my childhood friend. That was when I lost my grandmother and really needed someone. He was very caring and loving. I was so much in love with him. I got all the attention and love that I had longed for my entire life, and I became emotionally very attached to him.

After some time, I realised it was a very toxic relationship and it was pulling me into constant depression. B was very jealous and had doubts about me. For example, I can’t even kiss or hug my father as he thinks it's very inappropriate.

He is always 24/7 on my Facebook and my phone, asking me questions about my past when he was not in my life and accuses and curses me with all kinds of names. He would call me at 3am to ask about some random guy or my ex-boyfriend.

After a month or so, he would ask me the same question to see whether I would give him the same answer. I had to send him pictures of what I wore to work, and he would video-call me at lunch hour to see if I was sitting with male colleagues.

B also drained me financially and would emotionally blackmail me if I didn’t fulfill his financial needs. Many times I tried to let go of him and walk away, but he would threaten to kill himself, fall on his knees and beg me not to leave. I always believed he would change and everything would be better, but it only got worse.

I was forced to change my number, delete my social media accounts and was not allowed to have any friends but him. He was verbally abusive and caused me mental stress; there were things that I can’t even share with anyone.

After a long time, B left me for someone else who was better looking and very well to do. My heart broke into pieces, as I had tolerated him and accommodated all of his needs but he treated me like rubbish. This was around November 2015.

It took me almost four years to overcome my depression and anxiety. Meantime, I moved to a better job and completed my masters. The breakup made me a totally different person as I tried to be more sociable, cheerful and positive. I met many guys but my heart was closed and my past experiences made me very cautious.

I’m a very romantic person, and I spend hours reading romance novels and watching romantic movies.

Recently, I met C through a dating app. We got connected pretty fast as we had so much in common. I told him what I expect from the relationship and what I want in my life. So, from the beginning, I was very clear that I wanted to get married one day and have children. He was very excited about it and told me that’s what he wants too.

One day, he proposed to me and I said yes. It was like a dream come true.

C and I share a lot of things. We don’t hide anything with each other, or so I thought. I started introducing C to my friends and family. Everything was fine, and one thing I liked about us was that we never had any kind of arguments.

One fine day, C told me that I’m too good for him and he doesn’t deserve me. He said maybe we should slow down a bit and he is afraid he might hurt a nice girl like me.

After a few days, he called to say sorry about what happened and that he loves me and wants me in his life. I was again very happy and decided to go with the flow, thinking that maybe he had cold feet.

Again, after a few days, he said he loves me but he doesn’t want to get married and have a family. He wants a live-in relationship.

I was in shock and asked why he was not honest from the beginning and he said he was sorry. I even asked him if he will love me enough one day to get married and start a family with me; he said maybe. I told him that's not good enough, that I want to take risks and chances in my life to be happy.

I told him to leave, and he asked me to forget everything he said and for us to go back to normal. But I turned him down. He even told me I’m his last love and he is not going to find someone like me ever again, and asked me to give him some time and when he is ready he will come back.

More than two months have passed without a single call or text from him. I have been crying every single day since then. My life has never been the same anymore. I really had a lot of love for him and hope in him.

I started having insomnia and taking sleeping pills regularly.

Everyone in my circle, including my friends and parents, blamed me for being so vulnerable. I admit that I’m an emotional idiot.

I've stopped communicating with those whom I believed to be my friends, as instead of being there for me they behaved in a very insensitive and unkind manner. They blamed me, said some very hurtful things and made jokes about my past relationships.

Almost every day I would go to sleep hoping that I don’t wake up. I am also very lonely, and sometimes would go for days without talking to anyone outside my work. I have no one to even hang out with.

What should I do? Should I wait for him? I can’t get over him. I’m constantly thinking about how unlucky I have been and all the past memories are haunting me again. Will I ever find true love?

Black Rose

You're not an emotional idiot, and of course you can find true love. However, you will have to invest some time in working on yourself first.

Ideally, we learn how to socialise when we are little. Our parents, friends and family help us to create good strong bonds with people we like, to negotiate through difficulties, and to recognise and avoid people who aren't good for us.

Kids who don't get that kind of education, don't have an opportunity to learn good relationships skills.

Also, if our parents don't love us unconditionally when we're little, we don't say,"Wow, that's some lousy parenting!" Instead, we think there must be something wrong with us. We fear we are unlovable. So when someone comes along and shows interest, we're so excited that we just jump in without thinking.

From your letter, I think your early upbringing didn't teach you how to recognise abusive people. You also didn't learn that good relationships take time to mature and follow certain steps. And you are desperate to be loved. Therefore, you've fallen into some bad situations. This has also led to your depression and anxiety.

As soon as you can, talk to a mental health professional. This is a must because you are taking pills and thinking about suicide. Go to a psychiatrist, a medical doctor who specialises in mental health, to be assessed.

Once you have taken the immediate pressure off, you can talk to any type of mental health professional about better ways to manage your relationships.

Start by doing a lot of reading! Check out blogs and books on how healthy respectful relationships work. Also read up on how to spot abusive people, and especially how emotional blackmail works. I suggest you kick off by Googling FOG fear, obligation, guilt and relationships.

Then discuss your personal needs and issues with the mental health practitioner. Take a good look at your past relationships and figure out what red flags you missed. Use that to improve how you conduct your new relationships.

From your description of your family and friends, you may want to assess those relationships too. We all have a giggle sometimes about our more unfortunate choices, but to laugh at your pain and taunt you with it is plain nasty. I also don't like their victim blaming.

Talk about this in a safe space and work out what relationships you want to keep, and which you want to step away from.

I'm aware this sounds like a lot of work. Please remember, your anxiety and depression are painting matters in a very bleak light. In truth you are adult, independent and thoroughly capable. You just need to polish a few relationship skills and to boost your self-esteem so that you can get the happiness you deserve.

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Couple relationships , love , anxiety , depression


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