Virginia Ironside is an agony aunt, columnist and author. She writes the weekly Dilemmas column for The Independent.
12 June 2012 12:00 AM
My boyfriend of a few months has suffered from depression and anxiety, on and off . He feels guilty at being responsible for someone else's feelings (probably because his mother was an alcoholic who relied on him for emotional support.) It means that in relationships, when he gets too close, he panics and ends it. He says he doesn't want this to happen with me, but he now wants a couple of months on his own to sort himself out. However understanding I am, I can't really understand the extent of his anxiety. Why won't he just commit? Yours sincerely, Val
05 June 2012 12:00 AM
At 45, my older sister is nearly blind. She is also confined mostly to a wheelchair. She lives in special accommodation. I try to visit her most weeks but my problem is that her life seems to be based only around these visits.
When I arrive she tells me how lonely she's been, then she rings later to say that now I've gone she feels bereft. I have tried cheering her up and phoning most days, but I hear nothing but how lonely she feels. There is a limit to my sympathy, I'm afraid, and I'm starting to feel really resentful. And yet I feel so selfish. What can I do?
Yours sincerely, Philippa
29 May 2012 12:00 AM
My wife has never liked my friends but has tolerated them coming round occasionally. Now we've moved house and I want an old friend who lives abroad to see it when he's over here. But she particularly dislikes him, for no good reason. He has always been polite. I've suggested she go out for the day, but she refuses. She has in the past driven away so many of my friends I feel I need to make a stand. It is my house, too. But she just throws such tantrums and says if I loved her I wouldn't do this. Otherwise we get on perfectly well. What can I do? Yours sincerely, Mike
22 May 2012 12:00 AM
Two months ago, I broke up with my wife after 10 years, and have nearly had a breakdown I've been so upset. It was all her decision. It's all I can do to go into work. But a couple of weeks ago, I met an amazing woman. I've told her I'm not in a position to say whether this relationship will go anywhere because I'm in turmoil, but she says she understands and just wants to help me. My friends say I'm mad, and should wait at least a year before getting into anything new, but this woman is making me feel happy again. I'm not being stupid, am I? Yours sincerely, Christopher
15 May 2012 12:00 AM
I have a friend I get on well with, but she never seems to appreciate what I do for her. I visited her in hospital every day and even took her nightdresses home to launder, I had her to stay – and I get no response at all except occasionally a grudging "thank you". I've tried to show her what manners are, so whenever I go to her flat or she does something for me, I email or ring to say how kind she is, and the other day I said I'd like a sign of appreciation occasionally, but she didn't seem to take it in. I feel so resentful all the time. I feel I'm just taken for granted. Yours sincerely, Lisa
08 May 2012 12:00 AM
My 15-year-old son watches porn on the internet all the time (I know because I've looked at the browsing history on his computer).
01 May 2012 12:00 AM
I'm getting married this summer, but I'm starting to have second thoughts. It turns out that my fiancé can't swim, or even ride a bike. He doesn't know how to change a plug, and when I asked him to bleed the radiators he didn't know what I was talking about. True, he can always fix my computer, but I'm starting to get irritated by his inability to do anything practical. My father was always fixing gates, repairing machines etc. It's preying on my mind and I'm starting to feel he's not a man. Do you think it's just pre-wedding nerves, as my mother says?
Yours sincerely, Carla
17 April 2012 12:00 AM
Q. I'm fairly well-off and people tell me I look good for my age – I'm 50. I'm divorced with a wonderful daughter, but though I do a lot for other people, no one seems to want to know me. I just can't get a girlfriend. I'm fine with short-term friends, but it's difficult to meet people when everyone I know seems to be married. I just seem to have dropped off the social rounds – it's as if I don't exist. I don't want to go online because I know it's full of gold-diggers and I'm reasonably well-off. Is there any hope for me? Yours sincerely, Patrick
10 April 2012 12:00 AM
I am convinced that my 65-year-old husband has something wrong with him. He used to be so intelligent but now he's forgetful and muddled. He writes paranoid letters to neighbours, and is obsessed by one, who he's convinced is spying on him. He now also spends hours on the computer on the David Icke website. He agrees he's got more peculiar but blames it on our neighbours' pesticides. He used to write and paint, but now just gardens all day. Our mutual friends say there's nothing wrong and it's me who's paranoid. What can I do?
Yours sincerely, Emma
03 April 2012 12:00 AM
I'm 18 and after a few drinks with my mates, I ended up in bed with a girl whose name I didn't know. We were both pretty drunk. We exchanged names and numbers in the morning, but never got in touch. Now she's rung to say she's pregnant. I don't remember much about the night, but do distinctly remember her saying she was on the Pill. I feel my life's ruined because of one night. I haven't told my parents, as I'm sure they'd be furious. I suggested I pay for an abortion – I'd find the money somehow – and she put the phone down on me. What can I do? Yours sincerely, Jack
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