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 don't know how to make friends

"The art of making friends is simply a social skill, not something that comes naturally to anyone unless they’ve been brought up in a social environment"

Reader dilemma: My girlfriend broke up with me twice before but says she wants me back - will I get hurt again?

"Tell her how hurt you feel when she distances herself from you, and explain that you're frightened of her behaving the same way yet again"

Reader problem: My son shouts abuse at me, how can our relationship improve?

"The sad truth is that this boy is gone. He is not hiding underneath, under a sea of madness. He has been transformed completely."

Reader dilemma: Our stepfather's children didn't care about him when he was alive - so do they deserve his money now?

"I’ve experienced dilemmas of this kind myself in the past, and been sorely tempted to sneak in, grab the money and run"

Reader dilemma: My wife only wants to have sex when she's drunk

"So much of the problem with sex is anxiety – men are too anxious to get an erection, women too anxious to have an orgasm"

Big Ben strikes 11pm as the lights turn off on iconic buildings while London marks the centenary of the outbreak of World War I

As it gets darker, I feel depressed. Do you think I have SAD syndrome?

It has always been around the time when the clocks change that I’ve felt either suicidal or very ill

My friend's son went to prison for viewing child sex abuse images, can I trust him around my young daughters?

"Rather than risk damaging your friendship, you’re prepared to risk your daughters' safety"

Researchers have said it could take only two questions to identify a problem with alcohol

My friend won't go back to rehab or AA, how can I help her?

"By refusing to offer a crutch and bolstering her own ability to make real choices – you’ll be forcing her to stand on her own two feet"

Virginia Ironside's dilemmas: My parents call me ugly and inconsiderate

"Faced with such powerful subconscious feelings, there’s little you can do except get the hell out of there"

A young girl smokes near a commercial for cigarettes

Virginia Ironside's Dilemmas: My daughter betrayed me over her smoking habit

"You will be no more successful bribing a nicotine addict to stop smoking than you will a heroin addict to stop shooting up"

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