Virginia Ironside is an agony aunt, columnist and author. She writes the weekly Dilemmas column for The Independent.
24 July 2012 12:00 AM
I'm just about to go off on a gap year before I start my studies at university, but I'm really worried. My mum and dad have always smoked dope in the evenings occasionally, even though I've never liked it much. But Mum told me last week that Dad is hooked on cocaine, and she's worried sick. He's spending too much money and he's getting paranoid, even though he still works at the ad agency he's always worked at. I feel I can't leave Mum alone but so want to get away. Should I go? What can I do? Yours sincerely, Georgie
17 July 2012 12:00 AM
I have a friend who is obsessed with her figure. She keeps telling me how fat she is and in fact she's just a normal weight. But she goes on and on about it, and it's driving me mad. She's always trying diets and no matter how much I tell her she looks great and she doesn't need to do anything about her weight, she can't stop. I'm starting to feel it is something of an obsession. We can't talk about anything until she's gone through beating herself about how she looks for about half an hour. How can I help her? Yours sincerely, Zara
10 July 2012 12:00 AM
I happened to see an email my partner had written to a girlfriend and I am so upset. It seems she thinks I'm a "lazy sod" and I'm "driving her mad by being at home all day". She said, "if he doesn't get a job soon, I don't know what I'll do!" I've been searching since February, sometimes writing five applications a day, and I've been for several interviews without any luck. She seems loving on the outside, but I feel she's betrayed me. I can hardly bear to touch her, but I can't tell her why because I shouldn't have read the email. Yours sincerely, Clive
03 July 2012 12:00 AM
I've been having an affair with a woman for a couple of months now. It's been fine – nothing too serious, but I've become fond of her. A couple of weeks ago she told me she was married but that she and her husband have an open marriage. This didn't worry me too much, because I wasn't serious about her – but now she's said that she wants me to meet her husband and that her husband wants to meet me. She suggests we all go out to dinner together. I feel uneasy. What do you think?
26 June 2012 12:00 AM
I'm 17 and still live at home, but whenever a guy comes round to pick me up for a date, my mum always flirts with him. Sometimes I ask friends round for coffee after we've been out for the night but if she hears us, then Mum always comes down in her dressing gown and starts chatting to any of the guys I've brought back, and making sexy remarks. I really hate it, but I don't want to say anything because I know she's lonely after my dad left two years ago, but it's really embarrassing. What can I do? Yours sincerely, Jerry
19 June 2012 12:00 AM
Four years ago I had a baby with my then boyfriend. Things weren't going well – he was into drugs and even hit me, once – so we split up. When our daughter arrived he was over the moon, but after we split he gradually lost touch. Now he's written asking to see her, saying he's changed. He's with another woman, and they've got a child, but I'm in two minds. I've been so happy without him in my life and I don't see why he should disrupt our situation. My parents are dead against letting him see her. What do you think? Yours sincerely, Jen
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
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