Louisa Saunders

Louisa Saunders is associate features editor of The Independent and writes a weekly advice column, The Help Desk, for the Independent on Sunday’s New Review magazine

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The help desk: My 'casual' girlfriend wants more. How do I get out of the relationship?

Q. A year ago, I broke up with my girlfriend of two years. Since then, I've had a few dates, but nothing serious. Recently, there's a woman I've been out with a few times. We saw each other perhaps a dozen times over a few months, but it was fairly casual.

The help desk: Should I go to my father's wedding?

Q. My parents divorced when I was 14. I'm now 23. My father left my mother for her best friend. We'd been happy before, and the break-up was really awful. I have tried to keep up a good relationship with him but it hasn't been easy. He's selfish, is often unpredictable and moody, and when he does turn up in my life, he expects me to drop everything for him. He's made it quite difficult for me to trust men and I've never had a successful relationship.

The help desk: Motherhood has completely changed my best friend - can I ever get her back?

Q. I met my best friend in our first term at university. We've gone travelling together, moved to London together and I was best woman at her wedding. We're in our thirties now and I thought we'd be friends for life. But having a baby earlier this year has completely changed her. I know motherhood is very demanding and I completely understood that things would be very different for her. But her fixation on her son, his routines, his 'personality' and so on borders on the obsessive.

The help desk: How to deal with mother-in-law interference

Q. I'm happily married (and have been for two years) and I'm expecting a baby in November. The problem is that I'm finding it increasingly difficult to cope with my husband's mother. Things have been a bit strained between us from the start. She and my father-in-law helped us buy and furnish our first flat and she seems to think that gives her a licence to comment on our choice of décor – and our standards of hygiene.

The help desk: How do people keep long marriages going?

Q. We've been married for 15 years and have three children aged six, eight and 12. My husband is a good person and he has always been faithful, yet I find our marriage gets more and more difficult. He has always been moody, and though he has a good career, he never seems to be satisfied and his work dramas often create an atmosphere at home. We rarely have sex, as I never feel like it. We seem to bicker all the time, and although I do love him, occasionally I think I hate him as well.

The help desk: A question of flagging belief

Q. We've been married almost five years and have a one-year-old son. My husband is a Christian and goes to church fairly regularly. When we met, I'd say I believed in God; as time has gone on, I've begun to doubt, but I didn't want to potentially upset him by telling him. Now, however, while I'm happy for my husband to have his views, I'm not keen on trying to make my son believe something I don't believe to be true.

The help desk: my daughter’s secret life

Q. My 14-year-old daughter recently left her Facebook page open and I had a look at her messages. I'm still in shock. My sweet and conscientious daughter and her friends – boys and girls – were talking about blow jobs, hand jobs, and using – what can I say that you can put in a newspaper? – porn-type words for body parts and sex acts. They also talked about "Frape" – is that Facebook rape?

The Help Desk: A case of filial guilt

'Our relations with dying people are also, of course, relations with living ones'

The Help Desk: A tricky father-daughter dilemma

Q. My parents divorced more than 10 years ago, when I was a teenager. I still live close to both of them, although now independently. In general I have a good relationship with both my parents.

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