I miss daughter of my ex-partner — what should I do?

I recently separated from my long-term partner. He had a daughter from a previous relationship when we met. He never told me he didn’t want another child but over the last year things became strained when I started to talk about having a child. I love his daughter, don’t get me wrong, but I always wanted to have a child of my own. I turned 36 this year and I suppose I have felt the pressure of getting old. I want to have a child but I feel like time is running out for me. I really dread Christmas now, being alone and not having anyone to share it with. As I said, I loved his daughter and we had a very close relationship but I haven’t seen her since we separated. I’ve tried to contact her but she hasn’t returned my calls. I didn’t realise that when he left me I would lose his daughter too. Any advice on how to get through this Christmas would really be appreciated

It really does sound like you’ve had a difficult time of it, and you have to acknowledge that. Often in our attempt to pretend everything is OK we try to ignore the fact we are going through a challenging time and this can place more distress on our shoulders. So, giving yourself a break for not feeling perfect this Christmas is a good start. The separation of a long-term relationship is always a difficult process to go through. There are so many complicated emotions at any one moment that often we can feel quite vulnerable and exhausted, especially at this time of year where you are surrounded by so many images of family and happiness.

When we set out on a journey together with a partner, we have so many hopes and dreams and when that relationship comes to an end it can signify the end of those dreams and expectations. So, you can be left holding feelings of failure and disappointment. The reality is relationships end for many reasons and it sounds like you had an expectation that you were not willing give up on. And this is something you should be very proud of. It sounds like you are a strong person and are not willing to ignore your own desires for a child. I would imagine, somewhere in your thoughts, you have wondered whether you should have pushed the notion to have a child?

When a client asks me for advice about the future I often have these types of conversations. I look at the advice they would give their younger self and then I ask what advice their imagined future self might give them. These types of conversations can yield interesting insights. It is very easy to stay in a relationship because you fear being lonely or fear the unknown but the fact the relationship has ended signifies something was not right to begin with. And separation doesn’t have to be a dark, lonely place. Separation is the start of the life you have always wanted to live.

We can often feel pressure from society to get married and have children at a certain age — there is no perfect age to have children and 36 is certainly not old in modern terms.

So, again give yourself a break here.

In my experience working with women who are looking to start out after a difficult separation I often think of it in terms of finding your voice again. We can lose ourselves in a relationship and it sounds like you really gave yourself fully to your ex and his daughter. Take this time to find yourself again. Tap into that strength that you have — and you do have it, you probably just don’t see it right now. The fact that you had the strength of character not to compromise on your dreams illuminates what a wonderful, strong woman you are.

You opened up your heart to your ex-partner’s daughter and now that you have separated you have lost contact with her. Hopefully this will change – depending on her age, maybe she is finding the break-up challenging too. Normally there are a few residual negative feelings and your separation is complicated. You really don’t know what she has heard from your ex-partner, so it important you try to meet her and explain that you still love her and want to continue a relationship with her. Until you do this, you will be left wondering what her feelings are

and they are probably complicated too. Don’t worry about Christmas because it will come and go. There is a new year on the back of it, and this will be your year to find yourself and the life you deserve.

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