Columnist and trained counsellor Fiona Caine offers her perspective on overcoming jealousy, social anxiety and dealing with unwanted advice.

I can't trust my boyfriend after being hurt in the past

I don't know what it is about me, but since my last two boyfriends both cheated on me I find it very hard to trust people. I swore I wouldn't start another relationship but, stupidly, I suppose, I've been in a relationship now for nearly a year.

My boyfriend is nothing like the last two I went out with - I think this is what attracted me to him. He's considerate, fun to be with, honest, kind and I've fallen for him in a big way but, in spite of all this, I find it so hard to trust him and I don't know why.

He says he loves me and that he won't cheat on me - but if he so much as looks at another woman I find myself getting angry. If I catch him talking to another woman I get very possessive and can't wait to drag him away, which I know is stupid.

As I said, he's a kind person and he's been very patient with me so far but I'm sure he must be getting tired of me needing constant reassurance. I really don't want to lose him, and I know I have to change but I don't know how. - SM.

Fiona says: Get to the root of your own insecurities

In order to stop feeling jealous, you need to get to the root of your problem, which is nothing to do with this man at all. It's all down to your feelings of self-worth and self-assurance and I suspect that, having been hurt twice, you have lingering doubts about how worthy you are to be loved.

In order to develop meaningful relationships, we have to be open - which means being vulnerable. If that sounds risky, it is - but life is messy and if we don't take risks, how are we going to enjoy all it has to offer? If you're ever going to trust someone again, you have to first learn to trust yourself.

You say this man is different - that he's considerate, fun to be with, honest and kind so now you need to trust your own judgement. You say you were attracted to him because he's nothing like the last two boyfriends you had, so you also need to trust your ability to make good choices.

Having had past boyfriends hurt you doesn't mean you showed poor judgement, nor does it mean letting them get close to you was a mistake on your part.

Learning to trust your instincts means you need to pay attention to them, so regard these two relationships as part of the process of learning. It's all too easy to blame ourselves for allowing someone else to hurt us - you might even think you were stupid to allow these two men to get close to you.

You need to learn to forgive - not necessarily them but yourself, because you were brave to open yourself up to them and you're not responsible for their actions.

What happened in the past doesn't dictate your future any more than failings by two people in your past are a reflection of all the men you meet. Deep down, you know that, but you also need to know you deserve to love someone who deserves your trust.

Whether that's your new boyfriend, I can't say. If you continue to be possessive, you risk pushing him away which you clearly don't want to do.

Have you told him why your behaving as you do? You don't need to go into detail but if you explain how you've been hurt, he's likely to be more understanding, especially if you tell him you recognise it's a problem you're trying to change.

While knowing what causes you to feel jealousy is a good thing, that may not resolve it completely, however. It may be that you need the help of a counsellor or therapist to help you understand what triggers your feelings and what causes you to act as you do.

You may also find it helpful to read Jealousy: Why It Happens And How To Overcome It, by Dr Paul Hauck (Sheldon Press), which explains the ways in which jealousy occurs, the reasons behind it and strategies for dealing with it.

Socialising in groups makes me so nervous

I don't know what's the matter with me. I can cope with people on an individual basis, but as soon as I have to cope with three or more people together, I lose the ability to speak!

My mind goes to a mush and I get really nervous - so much so, I stutter and stammer and can't string a coherent sentence together. It's got to the point that I now avoid most social occasions and, if I can't get out of them (especially when they're work related), I end up either drinking too much or making excuses to get away.

People probably think I'm weird. I really want to join in but just can't. - CS.

Fiona says: Embracing being a good listener might help

It sounds as if you don't have much confidence, but please don't let this stop you socialising. Instead of trying to communicate with the group, concentrate on one person at a time and develop your listening skills.

The listener is a real asset in any group, and while some people enjoy holding centre stage, don't bother trying to compete because, remember, they need an audience!

People who are prepared to listen - and I do mean really listen - are hugely popular and much in demand.

It's not a case of nodding and smiling but trying to understand what the other person is saying, and making the occasional relevant comment that draws them out to say more.

Being in demand as a listener will probably increase your confidence so that you'll eventually feel a little more comfortable in crowds.

My GP thinks i'm too young for a vasectomy

I went to see my GP about getting a vasectomy but, to my surprise, he didn't want to refer me and said I was too young. I might only be in my twenties but my wife is a little older and we've got three great kids, which is all the family we want.

Contraception is a real chore and we think we're ready for a more permanent solution. Vasectomy would seem to be the easiest and safest option, hence my visit to the GP.

My wife and I have known one another since we were children and, after 10 years of marriage, are still very much in love. She wants to go back to work though, so having another child would be a disaster. Should I see another doctor? - TD.

Fiona says: If nothing else, think very seriously about what you are considering

While you could see another doctor, if you have, until now, had a good relationship with your GP, I'd encourage you to go back and talk about it again.

You are relatively young for a vasectomy, so I wonder if your doctor is trying to gauge your determination to do this. Why not go back and re-state your case to see how he reacts; if he's still negative then ask to see another doctor.

Alternatively, you could consider private treatment from an organisation like Marie Stopes (, a registered charity providing reproductive health advice and services. The cost of private treatment would probably be around £500.

Whether you go through the NHS or privately, you will almost certainly have to go through a counselling session - usually some days before the operation - to ensure you are sure.

Fed up with family telling me i got engaged too soon

I get on well with my family but right now they're driving me spare, as they think I've made a big mistake in getting engaged to my boyfriend of two years.

He's 24 and has just started a new job in the Merchant Navy, which means he will be travelling and away for long periods. We decided we wanted to make a commitment to one another before he went off on his first long trip, and I'm glad we did.

My mum, though, thinks we should have waited to see how things go before we committed ourselves and my dad backs her up.

We know it's not going to be easy, but we love each other and are prepared to work hard at it. I'm getting so fed up with all their 'advice' and wish I could just tell them to mind their own business. - BP.

Fiona says: Talk to them - and remember they care

I'm sure your family are concerned for you and have your best interests at heart, but I understand too much unwelcome advice can be tiresome.

Try not to get angry with them, as this won't solve anything and it might perhaps make life difficult for you when your fiance is away, as you'll need people around to support you.

Calmly point out to them that you've both thought this through and that you've got engaged, not married. You could also explain that an engagement will give you a chance to see how a long-distance relationship works before you make that next commitment. Hopefully this will be enough to make them more supportive and understanding.

And although you're not yet married, you might find the organisation SeaWives ( helpful.

n 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.