Sun agony aunt Deidre Sanders reveals how to find that special person…and what to do next


FOR almost 40 years, The Sun’s agony aunt Deidre Sanders has helped readers find love. . . then hang on to it.

In a five-part series of special supplements, she is sharing advice on how relationships can weather the pressures of modern life. Today, in Part Three of The Dear Deidre Files, she answers your dating dilemmas…


Agony aunt Deidre Sanders is here to help you navigate the maze of dating[/caption]

Date expectations

MOST people these days probably look online to find a relationship.

It can be a great way to meet someone who shares your interests, but it has changed the pattern of how relationships develop, so we need to rethink some of our assumptions — or risk getting hurt.


Never rush into anything or you risk getting hurt – take the time to get to know your partner and see how the relationship develops[/caption]

We may feel we know someone well enough to have fallen in love, and feel ready to have sex with them, when we have not even met them face-to-face yet.

If we are happy to conduct the relationship online for ever, there is little risk attached.

It is when we want to take it out of cyberspace that we need to think very clearly about exactly where we are at with the other person.

What do we actually know about them? How much can we trust them?

Some find this way of getting to know people a great opportunity to paint themselves as they would like to be rather than as they are.

Others who are actually in a committed relationship, perhaps married with children, pretend they are young, single and fancy-free until it is too late and the other person has fallen for them.


Middle-aged men can pretend to be teenage girls, for example. Someone usually ends up getting hurt. You need to be alert.

Friends you make online can lie their heads off and you may not have an inkling until way down the line.

If you are going to meet up for real with someone you have met online, read the safety guidelines in my e-leaflet Love Online.

So where are you going to look for this special person if not online?


If you’re looking to meet someone in person, opt for quiet pubs or evening classes rather than clubs[/caption]

Some of us sparkle in crowded pubs and clubs, but if you are not much of a drinker and find pubs and clubs noisy and intimidating, then it is a bit daft to limit yourself to a selection of people whose idea of a good night out is propping up the bar.

The great thing about evening classes, voluntary work, clubs, sports, drama and film groups is that you already have something in common with everyone you meet.

Even shy people will have a topic of conversation to get the ball rolling. If you meet someone you like but are too shy to suggest an actual date, ask if they would like to come with you to see a film you fancy or to a show.

Then you have not got to fill the whole evening with entertaining chat.

When you have met someone you think has potential to be right for you, make sure you give the right impression of what sort of relationship you are after.

The great thing about evening classes, voluntary work, clubs, sports, drama and film groups is that you already have something in common with everyone you meet.

People usually judge you by what you do, and how you behave, rather than what is in your thoughts and heart.

On your first or second date with someone you think is just right for you, you may have secret visions of a long romance, or even dream of wedding bells. Having sex may seem only natural.

However, what this tells the other person is that you see it as normal to have sex on the first or second date.

They may well assume that casual sex rather than a steady, lasting relationship is what you are after. You can not rush the real thing.

If you want to be sure you are developing a relationship with the right sort of partner for you, you have got to get to know them first.


Don’t settle for the next person hoping that they’ll change for you – start with someone who makes you feel happy and never settle for anything less[/caption]

You can be sexually infatuated with absolutely the wrong sort of person, someone who will treat you unkindly and make you very unhappy.

So it is best not to let a relationship become a sexual one until you know that this new partner really is right for you.

If you are looking for the right partner but seem to have had the unhappy knack of falling for just the wrong type time and time again, watch yourself during the early stages of a relationship.

If you spend a lot of time feeling miserable because they have not phoned when they said they would, or have been unkind, or have not shown you any affection, they are the wrong partner for you.

Do not keep kidding yourself that they are your ideal but just need to make a few changes.


Unless they make those changes quickly and willingly as soon as you mention them, they never will. People do not change their basic nature to please others.

Start as you mean to go on. You deserve someone who makes you happy, who makes you feel good. Do not settle for anything, or anyone, less.

If you fall for people who are already married, or living on the other side of the world, or in some other way unavailable, it can be you are unconsciously avoiding the risk of being asked for commitment.

You may think commitment is what you want, but deep down it makes you feel too vulnerable, often because of past experiences of relationships or witnessing your parents’ relationship.

If that sounds familiar to you, counselling or psychotherapy should help.

If you would like more help from me, get my e-leaflets on Widening Your Social Scene, Social Life For Single Parents, Finding The Love Of Your Life or How Counselling Helps by emailing me or private messaging me on my Dear Deidre Facebook page.

Is it lust or love?

DO you feel so drawn to someone you cannot imagine life without them – even though the relationship is causing you complications?

Do you find someone sexually irresistible, even though you know you should not get into bed with them?


Identifying whether your feelings are down to lust or love is key to telling if a relationship will last[/caption]

The first thing you need to figure out is whether it is true love or just an infatuation or strong physical attraction.

The strength of your feelings is no guide here. It doesn’t mean it is love – sexual chemistry is powerful stuff, too.

You may feel faint, your knees weak, but the relationship may still be an infatuation and absolutely not deserving of being called love.

In a sense it should not matter what name we put to our feelings. What matters, surely, is how we feel inside and how we behave as a result.


Sexual chemistry is powerful – and important – but people often convince themselves that they’re ‘in love’ when they want to feel in control of their behaviour[/caption]

You can be in love and sexually hooked on a person, and that causes no problems as long as you are both free to enjoy the deepening relationship. In fact, it is wonderful.

The trouble is that people often tell themselves, or me, they are “in love” when they want to believe they are not in control of their behaviour.

In other words, they say so when the relationship in question is causing, or could cause, a lot of problems to themselves and, usually, those around them. I’m often told, “I love him too much to resist”, or “I love her too much to end our affair”.

If your feelings for the one you desire are in conflict with other loyalties, how do you decide whether it is the real thing or just a passing infatuation?

Here are three questions to ask yourself. If the answer to any of them is no, then I’m afraid what you may be calling love is actually an emotional dead end.

Does the other person treat you with consideration, affection and respect as well as desiring you?

No matter how wonderful a relationship is in bed, it cannot survive on sex alone.

If you are having sex with someone who shows no other concern for your well-being, then it shows you have such low self-esteem that you are being drawn into a relationship that could be very damaging for you.

That is not true love, that is a problem you need some help to sort out.

2. Do you and this other person enjoy each other’s company apart from making love?

If a relationship is to last happily, you have to be able to enjoy spending time together apart from in bed.

Do you find each other fun? Are they a good mate in the friend sense? Are they relaxing to be around?

If neither of you has any other ties, then it may not matter if you have a brief but intense sexual fling which burns itself out.

However, if you are risking a marriage and children’s security for this other relationship, you should be wary that you are not risking them for the sake of a month of madness which will then fizzle out, perhaps leaving you with nothing.

3. Are you being pressured by the other person or your feelings for them into any sort of behaviour which goes against your conscience or is worrying you?

This could be that you are having a sexual relationship when that was not really what you felt ready for.

Or maybe you are not using the sort of protection you would prefer. You are doing it to please them.

If this relationship was truly loving, then the last thing the other person would want is to pressure you into any actions that risk making you unhappy.

You never make anyone love you more by sacrificing your own integrity. You just encourage them to take you for granted, even despise you.

If you do now begin to suspect that the relationship that is troubling you is not true love, that it is not destined to last, then of course you are still stuck with the problem of how you can find the determination to end it.

It usually helps to regard it as an addiction you have to wean yourself off, just like drink or drugs.


Everyone has to make sacrifices in a relationship but never sacrifice who you are[/caption]

As long as you keep seeing them, you are going to find it hell because you just keep getting hooked again.

It really is best to go “cold turkey”. Tell the other person you are ending the relationship and be firm that you will not see them at all, for at least, say, six months. Block them on social media.

Ask yourself why they had such an attraction for you in the first place. What does it tell you about your life as it was before you met?

If you are single, you may realise that you need a more interesting social life. Or perhaps you have old wounds making you vulnerable to the wrong sort of person, and which you need help to sort out.

If you have a partner, you may realise that you had let life become far too humdrum and need to reintroduce more fun into your relationship.

Ask yourself why they had such an attraction for you in the first place. What does it tell you about your life as it was before you met?

In that case, my free e-leaflet Your Relationship MOT will help.

If you are unsure how to rebuild your life so you can get over this infatuation, my e-leaflet on Widening Your Social Scene has lots of ideas.

Counselling or psychotherapy can help if you realise your past is haunting your present. My e-leaflet How Counselling Helps explains.To receive an e-leaflet, email or private message me on Facebook.


Car sex drives me wild

DEAR DEIDRE: WHILE my boyfriend was off collecting our takeaway, I had sex with his mate in the back of the car – and now I can’t stop thinking of him.

I’m 20 and have been seeing my boyfriend for three months. He’s OK in bed but I’ve always fancied a friend of his.


I had amazing sex with my boyfriend’s mate in the back of his car and now I can’t stop thinking about him[/caption]

The mate is 22 and he has a regular girlfriend, but there’s just something about him I’m drawn to.

When I’m with my boyfriend, just the two of us, it’s fine. But when the pal is there, I have eyes only for him.

It’s like I’m hypnotised and I know I’d do anything for him. One night we were out with friends.

This guy’s girlfriend was away for the weekend with her family and he and I were left alone in the back of my boyfriend’s car while my fella and another mate went to get our takeaway.

We knew there would be a long wait and we were parked round the back out of sight.

It was cold and he said: “Let’s huddle together for warmth.” So we snuggled up and immediately we were kissing.

It was like lighting a fire and before I could think, we were having sex. He told me things I wanted to hear and I couldn’t stop myself.

We had to be quick, as we knew the others would be back before too long, but I still thought it was pretty special.

I got his number out of my boyfriend’s phone the next day and texted him to ask when we’d see one another again. He said it was best forgotten and he loves his girlfriend.

I’m so hurt and the trouble is I think I love him even more since that night in the car. I can’t get him or what happened out of my mind.

I don’t want to lose my boyfriend, but these feelings for the other guy are wrecking everything for me and seem to be getting stronger.

DEIDRE SAYS: Casual sex with guys you happen to fancy isn’t the answer if you don’t want to feel hurt and rejected when they walk away.

One positive from this is that you’ve learned your boyfriend’s mate isn’t to be trusted at all.

If you don’t want to lose your boyfriend, ask yourself what’s missing for you to be so easily tempted when opportunity arises.

Perhaps your sex life needs more depth and intensity, or your relationship more emotional commitment – from you both.

Or is he just not the right guy for you? Clearly he is not holding your attention.

When we are torn between two people, it is often because neither of them is right for us. My e-leaflet Your Lover Not Free? can help you think it through.

Boss won’t accept it’s over

DEAR DEIDRE: WHAT started as an ego-boosting relationship with my manager at work has turned into a nightmare, as she will not accept I have found someone else and moved on.

I am a 21-year-old man and my manager is 33. For three months, I’ve been working in a packaging factory where she is my immediate boss.


I found a great girl but my boss won’t accept that our fling is over and it’s making it unbearable at work[/caption]

Everyone said she was cold as ice and never interested in anyone at work, but she was the one who came on to me. She would chat to me in the canteen.

I really did like her and, within weeks, we were having a passionate affair. She’s been married and divorced and said she didn’t really think she’d trust men again until she met me. It was fantastic.

But then I went clubbing one night and met this beautiful girl the same age as me – someone I’d known from school, in fact.

I soon realised that what I felt for her was far more than how I felt for my manager, so I told her it was over.

She went completely crazy, saying it wouldn’t last with the new girl and I would be better off with her.

Now she just won’t give up. Every day, she finds a reason to call me to one side about work. But really she wants to have a go at me about my girlfriend.

She says it’s only a question of time before I come to my senses.

I’ve even thought about telling the boss of my company but I don’t know if he will believe me, and she might turn it all around anyway.

She’s very well-respected by the bosses here. I’d get another job but they are few and far between where I live.

DEIDRE SAYS: You took on a lot more than you realised having a fling with someone who clearly has a lot of painful baggage from her past.

She will chalk you up as another man who let her down but, in fact, she should have known better than to rush into an affair with you, especially as she is your line manager.

Whenever she finds an excuse to pull you aside and confront you about the relationship, keep repeating that you are sorry she’s finding it hard to accept, but your feelings have changed and you have moved on.

She will get the message in time if you are consistent.

If she starts criticising your work unfairly or you feel she is bullying you, talk to Acas (, 0300 123 1100) who help with workplace issues.

Freaked at flowers

DEAR DEIDRE: I THOUGHT I had met my ideal woman through a dating website but when I sent her a bunch of flowers, she phoned the police.

I’m 45 and have never had a lasting relationship. Over the years, I have tried all sorts to meet someone to bring me lasting happiness.


I met a woman on a dating site and sent her some flowers but instead of being grateful she freaked out and called the police[/caption]

Finally, after quite a long list of disappointments, I met a woman with whom I had a lot in common.

She was divorced and said she was looking for love. She’s very attractive and I was optimistic.

We had two dates, then she told me over the phone me that she had met someone else and that was it – no proper goodbye or anything.

I did some detective work and found out where she worked, then sent her a bouquet of flowers along with a message saying, “Good luck”. But the way she reacted to this knocked me for six.

She went berserk, phoned her ex-husband and the police and said if I hassled her again I’d be in big trouble.

I haven’t had the courage to try to meet anyone again but I’m so lonely.

DEIDRE SAYS: I’m afraid that modern dating can feel a bit too much like a business transaction.

Her reaction to what you saw as a kind gesture shows how fearful she felt at being tracked down. Learn to be a bit more cautious in future – until you get to know someone better.

The best and most lasting relationships often begin with friendship stemming from shared interests or hobbies. My e-leaflet Finding The Love Of Your Life will help.

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