Columnist and trained counsellor Fiona Caine answers another set of reader dilemmas.


I have been divorced for five years and the year before last, I started seeing people again.

I met a lovely widower and we got on like a house on fire - in fact, I fell deeply in love with him.

We spent a lot of time together and, as I was between houses, I moved in with him for a while.

I felt I needed to get my own place, though - being with him was convenient but I felt as if I'd foisted myself on him and, if we were going to live together long term, I wanted him to ask me properly.

So, I moved out into a place of my own and I loved having my own space again.

He kept saying he didn't see why I'd bothered to move out - but I never had my own furniture in his place and it never felt like my home.

On top of that, he could never bring himself to say he loved me, and he wouldn't talk about his feelings.

He said he cared for me but that was it.

I get on so well with his family - both his boys accepted me right away and are warm and friendly.

Then came the pandemic and we bubbled together, but I needed more in the way of commitment from him so, in the end we separated.

I was heartbroken and I think he was hurting too - we drifted back together for a while, but he still couldn't bring himself to commit and we split up again.

Yet again, we drifted back together but now we've split for the third time and I really think that's it.

I will miss him, but I suppose I must try and get on with my life but we're both in our sixties and it feels such a waste!

Do you think there is any hope for us to ever be together?

F. N.


Over the years I have known a few people (usually men) who are incapable of saying the word "love".

I'm not sure why but, for some, it's something they don't seem to feel, or else are never confident enough of their feelings to say.

You don't say how long he has been a widower but it's possible he is still grieving and unsure about forming a deep relationship again.

He may have felt rejected by you when you moved out of his home, even though you didn't feel as if he had fully embraced the idea of you living there.

What is so sad about this is that the two of you clearly enjoy being together but neither of you really seem to be able to talk properly.

You say he wouldn't talk about his feelings and that's a shame.

It is something a counsellor could probably help with - but would he agree to seeing one?

You also say you get on well and miss each other's company when you're apart, so would you be prepared to try and settle for this at present and wait to see if anything deeper develops?

In time he might come around - but it is a risk, especially if you pressure him for more, which could drive him further away.

You have separated for a third time so one of you will have to try and make a conciliatory move if you are to get together again.

If you're not prepared to wait and want a commitment now, I think it would be kinder to you both if you looked elsewhere.

He has said he cares for you and this may not be as far as you would like him to go, but it's seems to be the limit of his commitment.

If that's not enough for you then I don't think you'll ever be happy with him, because he may not ever be capable of giving more.

It would seem, unfortunately, that you don't really understand him, and he doesn't really understand you!

Unless you can make that happen, I don't really think being together will be possible.


I have always suffered with tinnitus.

It was so bad as a child that I often thought of throwing myself under a bus.

I struggled on until I was 23 when I met my wife.

We had two lovely children, and, for the first time, I did not notice the ringing in my ears - I couldn't have been happier, but then the tinnitus came back.

This time it's worse than before - my sleepless nights and moodiness returned, and I couldn't relax for one minute without the ringing in my head getting to me.

This meant that I often shouted and screamed at my family.

I suppose I should have told my wife about the tinnitus before we got married, but I feared losing her.

My marriage suffered and my wife and children eventually left me - the worst day of my life.

At 47, it seems that my life has run full circle and I am again thinking about throwing myself under a car.

The thought of spending the rest of my days alone, with this ringing in my ears, really scares me.

G. L.


If the urge to kill yourself continues, please make immediate contact with the Samaritans on 116 123.

Around 5% of the adult population in the UK experience the symptoms of tinnitus to some degree, so you really are not alone with this problem.

It is far more common than you might imagine but it seems that, in your case, it is severe enough to have badly affected your life and your relationships.

As such, you owe it to yourself to get help so that it doesn't cause any more damage to your life.

You make no mention of seeing an audiologist, so do speak to your GP about a referral.

You don't say if you've been in touch with any of the help organisations, so do please contact the British Tinnitus Association ( - their website alone can offer help for you as you can look at all the available treatments on there and see what might suit you.

Perhaps, if your family knew just how much you were suffering, they would be willing to give you a second chance - especially if you seek help to control these symptoms.

Do please explain to them what you're going through.


I'm really struggling to deal with my son and am certainly less tolerant than I used to be.

He is 21, learning disabled and autistic, and isn't coping well.

His depression and paranoia have increased, and he cries when I go to work and then wants to be with me all the time when I get home.

When I get in, I need time to myself without talking about his stress.

It's absolutely not his fault, and I do my best, but I know I am not being as supportive as he really needs.

How can I cope better?

S. C.


It must be very difficult for you to manage at a time like this, so I hope you are registered with all the possible sources of help.

For a start, NHS Volunteer Responders ( are there to help vulnerable people who are self-isolating during the coronavirus crisis, and your son would be included.

They're not only there to collect shopping or pick up a prescription, but they can also help if your son just needs a friendly chat.

You can call on 0808 196 3646 (8am to 8pm, every day).

I would also suggest you register with your local authority for extra support such as priority access to supermarket deliveries and any additional local support that may be available if you're shielding.

There are local coronavirus support groups being organised through things like social media and WhatsApp.

People are chatting to each other and helping one another in a variety of ways.

If your son can access this, there might be a group that could support him while you're at work, with phone calls to stop you feeling so isolated.

There have been some changes to carer's allowance to make things easier during the coronavirus crisis so make sure you are getting the financial support you need.

Finally, are you in a "bubble"? If not, do try and find someone you and your son would be comfortable with that could come and take care of him while you take a much needed break.


I am looking for some companionship as I feel so very lonely.

I have lived alone for a while now (basically, I got my own place just weeks before the pandemic).

I also started a new job but have been working from home and I'm just alone all the time.

It's pretty boring and while I'm not interested in one-night stands, I am looking for someone to talk to, someone that makes a good listener, a person that can be a friendly companion.

How can I do this when I'm not allowed out of the house?

A. K.


It would be hard enough moving to a new place and starting a new job to find new friends without a pandemic to contend with!

Lots of us, deprived of our normal social connections, are feeling loneliness right now - even people who seem to have lots of friends.

Unless we are committed hermits, most of us know the value of companionship - being involved with other people is important to most of us for our physical and mental wellbeing.

Some people have found it easy to keep in contact with others through the pandemic through online connecting, but even they can find connecting socially after a day of working online is too much.

Sadly, it's meant the pandemic has forced some friendships to go by the wayside.

Whilst lockdown has changed almost everyone's social network, the pandemic has made different sorts of relationships possible, especially friendships that are not bound by geography.

I now meet fortnightly with old school friends and whilst most are still in the UK, one is in France, one in Italy and one is in New Zealand.

Even those in the UK are too far apart to meet regularly but, even once we're out of all this, our online meetings will probably continue.

You say you've moved and started a new job, but this doesn't prevent you from keeping in close contact with old friends, and it's important to take care of these friendships before you try to make new friends.

It is easier to stay close to people who have known you for a while than it is trying to start anew.

However, you want new friends too - and that's possible, even now.

Have you introduced yourself to your neighbours and asked if they need any help with anything?

Have you considered volunteering for a local organisation that helps others on a more formal basis?

Volunteering is always a good way of making new friends as you're building a connection over something important.

Have a look at the online group Bumble ( which is not just a dating site, but also a means of building online friendships that lead to real life meetings.

You could find people nearby to chat to, but look at groups involved with your hobbies; people you could share online workouts with; even people to meet up with for socially distanced walks.

If you're a reader, you could find an online book group - your local libraries might be able to help with this as many of them have been running programmes.

Finally, you are working from home and are, presumably, talking to colleagues on a regular basis so have you thought of suggesting to them that you'd like to start a social group of some kind?

One friend, working for a local authority, has a quarter of an hour "catch up over coffee" once a week where people just chat - nothing to do with work, just a means of seeing one another.

If it's not happening with your employer, maybe you could suggest it.

You never know who your new best friend might be until you start to get to know them properly.

If you have a problem you need help with, email Fiona by writing to for advice. All letters are treated in complete confidence and, to protect this privacy, Fiona is unable to pass on your messages to other readers. Fiona regrets that she cannot enter into personal correspondence.