Dear Nick

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Dear Nick,

I went out on a first date last night and I'm keen to see the man in question again. But I don't want to appear desperate. How long should I wait before calling him?

Deborah, Nottingham

Call him whenever you want. If he fancies you, then any time is right. If he doesn't fancy you, you can schedule your call to the exact second and he still won't be interested. Well, actually, he'll probably be interested, anyway. Men are usually pretty desperate, whether they appear so or not.

My boyfriend is always going on about how gorgeous particular film stars are - at the moment his favourites are Catherine Zeta Jones and Jennifer Lopez. It's beginning to get me down. What should I do?

Gayle, Brighton

You could join a nunnery, I suppose. Because if you plan to continue associating with men, this is the least of the crap you've got in store. But don't be downhearted. However much time your boyfriend spends hanging around travel bookshops in Notting Hill, he's not likely to meet any film stars, is he? It's when he starts going on about how gorgeous your sister is that you should worry.

My boyfriend is always flirting with my sister. He says it's innocent fun, but I'm worried that he genuinely fancies her. What should I do?

Victoria, Reading

Looking on the bright side, there's probably a family resemblance so, if he fancies your sister, there's a fair chance that he quite fancies you, too. Looking on the dark side, if he does fancy her there's nothing you can do about it. Whatever the rights and wrongs, no one has ever been persuaded to stop fancying someone else, unless the person doing the persuading was renowned throughout the underworld for his creative and original approach to kneecaps. Looking on the bright side again, if your boyfriend does run off with your sister, you'll be an ITV documentary researcher's dream. See, there's always a silver lining if you know where to look for it.

Every week or so my girlfriend starts sulking, but I never know why. If I ask her, she just snaps that nothing's the matter, and this seems to put her in an even worse mood. I can't win! What should I do?

Robert, Dumfries

Ask her again another five times. A woman in a sulk will never tell you what's wrong the first few times you ask - it spoils her fun. Of course, when you do finally get her to tell you why she's in a bad mood, her answer will consist of a torrent of abuse directed at you. No, Robert, you can't win. You can only lose better.

My boyfriend has a habit of getting into fights with men who talk to me. Also, he's usually drunk and I'm always having to lend him money. The thing is, though, once you get to know him he's really sweet and gentle. My friends think -

Julia, Belfast

I'm afraid I've had to cut off your letter there, Julia. You are too annoying to put up with any longer. But I'm sure you're really sweet and gentle once people get to know you.

My new boyfriend has much cooler taste in music than I do. I've tried to bluff my way through conversations about Mogwai and Sleater-Kinney, but I'm afraid he'll discover the truth and think I'm dull and unfashionable.

Becky, London W12

The best tactic when dealing with a hardcore John Peel listener is just to make up some band names. You might try memorising the following sentences. "Have you heard the new single by Knight Takes Knight? It's a bit like The Graphics or one of those post-beat San Diego bands, except that the singer sounds like the guy from Tacoland. The Sten Gun remix is better, though." You'll soon see who's bluffing. However, this scheme is to be used only on vague acquaintances. Where the obscure specialism of a boyfriend is concerned you should admit your ignorance at once, thereby making him feel knowledgeable and superior. Nothing could be better for your relationship.

I want to settle down and get married, but the men I meet never do. Is it true that men are afraid of commitment?

Janet, Newcastle

No. Given the opportunity, most men would not be afraid to commit to Catherine Zeta Jones. At least until Jennifer Lopez came along.

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