Chloë is our new ‘agony queen’. She invites you to take a chair, tell her your problems and await her judgement.

Dear Chloë,

I have been single now for ten years, since splitting up with my boyfriend after university. He wanted to settle down, buy a house and visit IKEA very weekend. I wanted to party and travel and maybe move to London to further my career. Ten years later, I looked him up on Facebook and he is living near the University town in a 4 bedroom house with a wife and beautiful twin boys with a not so stellar career but one which seems to afford an all-inclusive holiday to Spain every year for his family. I on the other hand can barely afford a weekend away now, still living in an expensive flat share in London, working in a ‘career’ that shows no signs of progression passed a basic admin role. Men were two a penny even five years ago, but now I’ve hit thirty, they are either taken, cheating or gay! I need some stability in my life, but fear I am doomed to endlessly flicking through Tinder profiles for the rest of my life. Help!

Take a seat – there is a lot to dissect here.

Firstly, your regret. Your letter talks more about your university boyfriend than it does about your present situation. In a sense, this is understandable – you have both turned thirty and recently celebrated New Year/ a new decade, both times of inner reflection. But rather than focusing on your own past and future, you have focused on your ex and wallowed in the ‘what ifs’ of what life may have been like should you have stayed together.

You seem to regret a few things – your choice of career, moving to London and not settling down. But the choices you made seemed valid ten years ago, and probably you would make the same choices again. But they are not valid for where you are now.

Secondly, anger with your current predicament. Focusing your anger on a relationship that was never meant to be, or choices you made ten years ago, will not help you focus on the choices you have to make today. If you are at the stage of wanting to settle down, are you likely to be able to do that on the salary of your current role, living in a flat share in London? If not, be prepared for a lifestyle change, but given you seem to want to change your home, career, finances, location and love life all in one fell swoop, this change can seem overwhelming.

Thirdly, then, hopelessness. Your letter ends on a sombre note, wishing that some knight in shining armour will appear, give you the ‘stability’ you crave for, whilst also imagining that this will never happen if you stay at home flicking through dating apps into your forties. And in this – you are right! Or probably right in my experience.

So what is my advice here? Focus on one change, and the rest will follow. So focus on what you really want to do in life first. I don’t know what you do currently so lets say hypothetically that you want to change from being a recruitment consultant to working with horses? You would find a course online that allows you to train whilst working, and saving for and planning your next move. You find a starter job in Wales where the money is half what you earned in London but the accommodation costs far cheaper. You really enjoy your new job and quickly specialise which sees your salary soar. You make a new group of friends who introduce you to a guy from the rugby club returning to his home village from London, where he hopes to take on the family farm…

Well, I am not promising it will be as easy as presented above to change your life, nor that you will end up with a gorgeous rugby playing farmer! However, my advice still stands; focus on what you want to do career wise first and the opportunities and possibilities will fall into place once you have made that initial decision. Best of luck!

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