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Reader's tip

"If you want to go away with a new partner, plan a long weekend / city break for your first trip - don't commit to two weeks in the middle of nowhere if you've never spent that much time together before!"
Paul Wellman, Leigh

James Rye
dialacounsellor.co.uk

James Rye is a qualified and experienced counsellor, an accredited member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy.

Ask James
about holiday relationships

He is an independent registered counsellor on the United Kingdom register of counsellors and psychotherapists. James was a teacher and manager for a number of years before training as a therapist.

relationships expert

Ask James about holiday relationship worries

James Rye,BA, MPhil, MA (Counselling), Cert CBT, MBACP (Accred.), UKRCP (Ind. Reg.) is a director of Connections Counselling Ltd in King's Lynn, Norfolk. In addition to assisting people who travel to his office, James now also regularly works with individuals and couples from around the world via telephone and the internet. He helps them understand their past and plan their own strategies for the present and future. James is married with two adult children.

Your questions answered:

I was recently dating someone who asked me to go on holiday with him but I said no as I thought it was too soon into our relationship. We’ve since broken up, though he is still in touch with some mutual friends and recently suggested to one of them that they should get a group of people together to go away on holiday. How should I respond if I’m asked to join them? I do miss his company but I don’t know if taking a holiday with my ex will just be too awkward for everyone involved.

The confusion you feel about the holiday just reflects the confusion you feel about the relationship. If you are hopeful that you might get back together again, then the holiday might help that to happen. If you are adamant that the relationship is over then you could go and enjoy yourself. A lot depends on how you feel you could cope with the renewed contact. For some people, going on holiday with an ex might be like 'playing with fire', there might be all kinds of emotional and sexual tension.

On the other hand, some people would be determined to rise above that and go on holiday and enjoy the time, regardless of who was there. You mention it being "awkward for everyone involved". I don't think it would necessarily be awkward for others - they might be too busy enjoying themselves and the awkwardness might be in your imagination. The key issue is would it be awkward for you? Could you handle it? If you are still very emotionally involved, but fear getting back together, it may be too soon to throw yourself into extended close contact with your ex. If you are definitely over it, you may be able to enjoy the holiday, despite a few moments of tension.

If you are unsure about your feelings, only you know whether or not you the situation would be too awkward for you.

I am going on holiday with my father and his new family for a long weekend to Prague. I don’t feel 100% comfortable in their company, do you have any suggestions to making the weekend go well?

It is natural that you are feeling slightly uncomfortable in this situation. It is probably true that all the other family members are feeling a degree of unease as well. Two general things may help this weekend go better than anyone dared to expect. The first is to remind yourself of your motivation - you probably want it to go well for all sorts of reasons, but especially for your father's sake. Because of that, and the continued relationship with him (which is inevitably going to involve his new family) you are prepared to make an effort and not just expect things to happen.

Secondly use that effort to take initiative and consciously try to get to know the new family members. One of the best ways of doing that is to make the effort to talk to them - ask them questions and try to get to know them. In bars and on walks, don't just stay next to your father but place yourself next to others and make an effort to communicate. Ask about your father's partner's work and interests. If there are children, play with them, perhaps offering to take them out.

Contact and communication will help melt natural frost.