auntie ag & uncle ony

A friend of mine has bought a new house. She asked if she could stay with me for a couple of weeks while the builders were in and I said yes. She has now been here for six weeks and the builders are showing no sign of finishing. In fact they are doing a huge reconstruction job. She's fine to have around the house but I am getting more and more annoyed at her just staying on without explanation or apology and not paying any rent. The difficulty is, she's obviously going to make pots of money on this house when she comes to sell it, but at the moment she is broke because of the building costs and I feel mean asking her for rent.

Georgia, lslington

Uncle Ony: You need to clarify the root of the problem. Is it anger at being "taken advantage of" and manipulated? Envy at your friend's canny property deal? Or is it - and this is my hunch - a fear of intimacy? You may need the help of a therapist to untangle the messy undergrowth. Lack of self knowledge and inability to assert will indubitably prove to be, as it were, the rot beneath the root.

Auntie Ag: Tell her you invited her for a couple of weeks for free and now it's six and it's a different deal. If she can't afford to pay rent then she'll just have to up her mortgage, darling.

There's a girl who's a friend of one of my friends and recently started hanging round with us all. Everyone thought she was great including me and I flirted with her quite a lot. She's now completely part of the gang and I still really like her but I think she's taken my flirting seriously. The other night we all went to a party together and she asked me to drop her off home. When we got there I realised - I think - that she was expecting a snog. I got all embarrassed and just gave her a blustery peck on the cheek and said goodbye. Now I don't know what to do because I would like to snog and indeed sleep with her but it all seems a bit much if she's a friend because what if it goes wrong?

Ben, Kensington

Uncle Ony: It sounds to me as though your interest in this girl is more of a competitive sport than genuine desire: new girl on the block, all the guys want to win her attention, and once you've won it, it loses its appeal. You're right. Sow your wild oats outside the circle.

Auntie Ag: You know, there's a very silly tendency amongst today's urban singles to treat their friendships with all the commitment, openness, sharing and devotion which used to be reserved for lovers and treating their love-life as a sort of game choosing people to sleep with they wouldn't even want to be friends with. Don't be silly. Next time, take a big breath and sweep her off her feet. Remember, darling, the more you fear to lose the more you stand to gain.

I have been on three dates (full snogging on the last two) with a man who seems to be keen on me. The trouble is the time seems to be right to sleep together soon but his ex-girlfriend, who still wants him back, is an unbelievable sex goddess with a figure like Cindy Crawford and terrifying lip-glossed pout. There is no way my body or my lips can compete with hers and I am terrified the whole experience will be a horrible disappointment to him.

Deborah, Bristol

Uncle Ony: We seem to have heard an awful lot about what this man may or may not think of you and very little about what you think of him. If the whole question of whether or not to sleep with him is making you anxious, if you feel threatened before the affair has even begun, then perhaps it might be better not to expose your ego in this way, and to work instead on developing and strengthening your self-esteem.

Auntie Ag: Darling, he's not with the pouting silicone mountain for a reason and that could just be because she's a pain in the arse. You'll be surprised how many men don't want to be with the kind of women they like to watch on Baywatch. If he's asking you out and not her, it's because it's you he wanted to be with. So just think gorgeous and go for it.

My girlfriend cleans her ears out with the tops of biros, matches - anything which comes to hand - in front of me. I know this is not as bad as picking one's nose - but is it really socially acceptable?

Nigel, Salisbury

Uncle Ony: You need to look at what your girlfriend is saying here. Have you put her on a pedestal? Is she crying out to be taken off - begging you to accept that she is human, animal, earthy - that her ears too have wax? Why don't you ask her? You may find a whole new, honest, relationship vista opening up to you.

Auntie Ag: Ugh, how disgusting. Over-react, darling - always so much less insulting than some tortured overly-preambled "little chat". Next time she does it shriek: "That's the most repulsive personal habit I've ever seen in my life. lf you ever do that again, I'm going to tear off my own head and eat it, and see how you like it." I'm sure she'll get the message.

You are invited to send your problems to: Aunty Ag and Uncle Ony, Real Life, Independent on Sunday, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL. However, Aunty Ag and Uncle Ony regret that they are both unable to enter into any personal correspondence

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