Virginia Ironside

Virginia Ironside is an agony aunt, columnist and author. She writes the weekly Dilemmas column for The Independent.

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Reader dilemma: 'I'm addicted to rough porn'

"The sadistic stuff you’re watching isn’t completely victimless. Women – or, even, perhaps, men – are being exploited to gratify your desires. When pain is inflicted, it hurts. Just because it’s on film doesn’t mean it’s not real."

Reader dilemma: My husband and I want to move away and run our own business, but it means leaving our 18-year-old son

"We talk of children flying the nest. Parents aren’t meant to fly. They stick around creating a secure background for their children to come home to until they’re old enough to cope on their own."

Reader dilemma: 'Ever since my children left home, my life seems completely empty'

"Try to find some caring occupation that you can always fall back on, now that your own chicks have flown"

Reader dilemma: 'Our son is 34 with an IQ of 85, and spends all his time in his room. What will happen to him when we're no longer here?'

"While there are parents around, children cannot help but feel slightly infantile, however much they love them. I feel it’s only when your parents have died that you really grow up"

Reader dilemma: 'I'm a teenager, and all my friends talk about is food and dieting'

"Don’t take responsibility for your friends’ eating habits. You can’t influence how they behave by how you behave. Their obsession with food and looks may well just be a phase."

Reader dilemma: My ex-wife doesn't want my new partner to attend our son's wedding

"It may be time for a bit of bluff-calling, saying that you’re sorry, but you can’t attend without your partner"

Reader dilemma: 'My friend is depressed, and I found a suicide note she'd written'

"Tell her that when she says there’s no hope, she should remember that it’s her depression speaking and not her. And get her to see a doctor"

Reader dilemma: 'As I get older I have more and more time to socialise, but my husband has gone into his shell'

'I want to see my friends more and more - He spends his time gardening, reading and writing a history of his family.'

Reader dilemma: 'My friend confided a secret, and then stopped speaking to me'

"They see their emotional breakdown as a weakness rather than simply a sign of perfectly normal humanity. They’re ashamed of themselves."

Reader dilemma: 'My 10 year-old child made a bad joke on Twitter, and the reaction has left her unable to cope'

"The first thing is to encourage her to stop using Twitter temporarily. When I’ve received a cruel letter, I haven’t kept it to mull over. Every time you reread cruel remarks aimed at you, you are traumatising yourself once again."

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