Dear Dr Lukats, I need some advice. I’m single because I’m depressed and who would want to date a miserable person? I’m depressed because I’m single and strapped for cash.
I’m strapped for cash because I’m single and depressed and keep spending on designer clothes to attract a man and fill the empty void in my life.
So my friend struck on a great idea - I should stop buying clothes and instead join an up-market matchmaking agency to meet a man. Then to get over any depression seek professional help from a psychotherapist to stop my addiction to designer labels. Between dates and therapy I won’t have time to go out shopping.
I know this sounds like a joke but a £50,000 debt is no laughing matter. The agency I’ve found charges £6,000 and therapy will probably come in at around £3,000. Is this really going to work or will I just end up in more debt?
You do need to address some serious issues but you don't need to spend huge amounts of money to do that. If you seriously think that you might be suffering from depression then the first place to go for advice would be your GP.
It will be difficult for you to stop feeling so unhappy while you have this large debt hanging over you but going to see your GP will be a start. He or she will be able to assess you and discuss what sort of treatment will be best for you – whether that's medication or psychological therapy or both. If it's a full-blown shopping addiction that you're suffering from then it's likely your GP will want to recommend some specialist assessment and treatment for this as psychological therapy may be helpful.
The best thing you can do about your debts is to stop burying your head in the sand. If you forget about the debt and keep on spending money like you have been then it's easy to see that you're going to get into serious difficulties and you won't be able to repay the debt. Meeting a partner won't solve all these problems. For a start, going into a relationship where you expect your new partner to sort these things out for you is hardly a sound basis for a lasting relationship.
It's understandable that you'd like to meet someone and have a relationship but there are things you need to sort out first before you start actively looking. Your debt problems aren't going to be solved overnight. In fact it could take you many years to pay back that sort of money, but try to get a plan in place as soon as possible. This means listing all your essential and non-essential outgoings against your monthly income and planning what you should be cutting down on and a projected plan of how you're going to pay your debt off in the coming months or years. This should be your most urgent priority – not spending thousands on expensive dating services. Once you have a plan in place for your finances, this should ease your mind a little, although at first it may be quite a shock when you face up to the reality of it.
The next thing you should consider is how you're going to fill this “void” in your life. Meeting a partner may partly help but you really shouldn't think of this as the answer to everything. So why not give yourself a break from feeling you should have met someone by now. Try telling yourself that you're going to be single for at least the next 3 or even 6 months. In that time you're going to put ideas of meeting someone to the back of your mind and instead try doing different things that will make you feel better about yourself. This doesn't have to be expensive psychotherapy and if you've spent £50,000 on clothes it really shouldn't be shopping either. But things you might think about are spending time with your friends or family, meeting new friends, doing some voluntary work in your spare time, regular exercise, putting some renewed effort into your career, trying new hobbies. What you should avoid is spending large amounts of money on things you don't need and lying under your duvet feeling miserable.
When your situation feels a bit less panicky and you feel you've regained some of your self-esteem and you feel the time is right, then get back into dating again by either putting the word out amongst your friends or internet dating.