Dear Barb,

I’m a 50-year-old, jealous and insecure man. There, I’ve said it. I have a lovely partner of two years — warm, kind, funny and honest — but I’m killing the relationship. I want to be with her all the time, I’m jealous of her friends, and if she asks to go out with them I kick up such a fuss that she doesn’t go. I don’t like her wearing anything too revealing and I get suspicious if she gets a text message.

Sadly, I’m even a little bit envious of her fantastic relationship with her three children, all teenagers from her long marriage before it ended. But most of all, if I see anyone looking at her when we’re out, I get really angry with them, which scares her, then I become ashamed and beg forgiveness.

I know she is getting fed up, but is too frightened to end our relationship. I’m not sure what she sees in me, I lost two houses in my failed marriages, but I feel terrified at the thought of being without her.

I’ve not had a brilliant life, five brothers and sisters, mother laid-back and father free with his fists, mediocre jobs. I’ve finally met someone who makes me feel like a better person, but I’m letting my past stain this relationship.

I’m on anti-depressants and I’ve seen a counsellor five times. She listens, praises the good I’ve done that week, but doesn’t tell me how to handle myself better. Therefore, I feel it’s a waste of time. What should I do?


Afraid of Losing

Dear Afraid of Losing,

I should point out that therapists are not actually supposed to tell people what to do. The trouble is, sometimes listening and praising isn’t enough when people like you are crying out for prescriptive guidance or gentle direction. But stay with therapy. You need to resolve your feelings of being betrayed by your mother, then by two wives and confront your feelings of inadequacy. It won’t happen overnight. In the meantime, remind yourself that you have no right to instruct your lady friend who to see or what to wear. Nor to turn yourself into a jailor and emotional blackmailer.

Now take a piece of paper and make a list of those things that are weighing you down. Crumple it up and clutch it very, very tightly, so that it feels part of your hand and almost hurts.

But is it growing inside your hand? No. So — open your palm so that the paper ball is resting on it and roll it around a little, relishing the movement and your control. Then ask yourself these three questions: Would you let it go? Could you let it go? When?

Your answers to the first two should be “yes” — because you’ve just shown yourself that the paper ball isn’t attached. So, you say, ‘Now!’ make a fist, turn your hand over, and let the paper fall to the floor. This simple exercise can create a feeling of peace. You can use it to change your conduct, so that each time you have an issue (your lady going out) you write it down and then follow the process above. It is all in your perspective created by past fear or hurt.  Hurt always turns to anger. We see lots of angry people displacing their anger without knowing it. Your relationship must bring out the best in you, and she naturally wants a team player supporting her and her interests and pleasures. Her warmth, kindness and sense of humor are probably why so many friends want to have her company. That would make any man very proud! Pay attention to her qualities. By the way, it’s okay to brag about your qualities as well!

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