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‘I want to date but ex has wrecked my confidence’

Dear Coleen

I’m a single mum in my early 30s and I have a five-year-old daughter. I split up with her dad when she was nearly three and
haven’t had another relationship since.

However, I feel ready to start dating again, but I’m concerned about getting involved with anyone in case my daughter gets hurt.

My ex leaving the family home had a devastating effect on her and she’s hardly seen him since he went. She still misses him and cries for him.

The other problem is, I have very little self-confidence as my last relationship was emotionally abusive, although he never hurt

me physically.

He just made me feel bad about myself, telling me I wasn’t a good mum and I wasn’t attractive or smart. It’s hard for me to overcome something like that.

How can I start to rebuild my life and trust people again, especially men? I don’t want to waste my life worrying and not taking opportunities that come up.

I know my daughter will get more independent as she gets older and I will need a life of my own. My friends tell me to stop thinking about it so much and dive back into dating, but I’m not sure. What do you think?

Coleen says

I was a single mum for a couple of years when my boys were small and I can understand your protective instincts. I think it’s normal, but you shouldn’t let it take over your life.

If you do meet a man you like, then wait until you know the relationship is going somewhere before introducing him to your daughter.

I think there’s some sense in what your friends are saying – overthinking things does have a paralysing effect and we end up doing nothing.

When it comes to dating, you have to open yourself up to opportunities – don’t look at every guy as a potential husband and father, enjoy it and see where it goes.

Also, not every guy will behave like your ex – you have to give people a chance.

And he is clearly wrong – you’re a good mum and doing a great job on your own, but it’s OK to admit you need a bit of support.

So don’t feel bad about asking your family or friends to do a bit of babysitting, so you can go out or just have some time to yourself.

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