auntie ag & uncle ony

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I HAVE a monster crush on a girl called Julie who works on the floor above me. We go out for dinner a couple of times a week, have lunch every day, and chat on the phone all the time but however much I plead with her, she will not sleep with me. If ever I try to kiss her she giggles and tells me not to be silly. She says we are just good friends. I feel so near and yet so far. It is terribly demoralising, as if I am some sort of eunuch or asexual being. What shall I do?

Simon, Norwich

Uncle Ony: Why do you have to be in so much of a hurry? It sounds as though the sort of friendship you have is worth a hundred instant affairs. It's one of the worst by-products of modern culture that people think a romance is only a romance when two people are sleeping together. In days gone by, this sort of thing was known as courtship. The fact that Julie wants to know and trust you before she takes your relationship onto a deeper level is a sign of her feeling for you. Give her all the time she needs. It certainly sounds as though she's worth waiting for.

Aunt Ag: Oh don't be so bloody ridiculous, Uncle Ony. If some handsome bastard comes along who she fancies she'll put out in 10 seconds flat. Now listen, Simon, darling, every woman likes to have an adoring slave to keep her company and boost her ego - why should Julie want to alter the set-up? What you need is a drop-dead-gorgeous female friend, or a friend's sister perhaps, meeting you from work clad only in a spray- on sundress. Start being a little less available too. Be sure to be apologetic and discreet when Julie brings the sex-goddess up, but say, obviously, as you and Julie are just friends you do need to have romantic relationships with other people. This will subtly shift her position from smug, adored, unattainable object on pedestal, to dowdy old best friend. She obviously loves your company and won't want to lose you, particularly to some Jessica Rabbit figure.

MY BOYFRIEND Michael's parents are a complete nightmare. I have spent hours trailing up to Welwyn Garden City to help his fright-witch of a mother wash up after lard-smeared Sunday roasts, and listen to his father drone on about the relative merits of repayment and endowment mortgages. Last night my boyfriend announced they had told him they didn't approve of me. I am not only furious, but also hurt and upset after all I have done. The four of us are supposed to be going to the theatre later this week. What shall I do?

Helen, London

Uncle Ony: Of course you are hurt and upset, but I wonder if you realise how much your language communicates about your feelings for them, "fright- witch of a mother" and so on. What is it about them you so dislike? What do they represent about your own fears - fears of being provincial or ordinary perhaps? I suggest that after your visit to the theatre the four of you sit down and talk things through. Make sure you tell them that, like them, you love Michael very much, and only want the best for all of you.

Auntie Ag: Darling - don't bloody well go near them. Celebrate - you are off the hook! Assume a mood of dignified hauteur with Michael. How dare he listen to his parents insulting you in this vulgar way without springing to your defence, and what's more, what on earth is he doing reporting all this back to you? Inform him that accompanying him on further visits to Welwyn Garden City will be out of the question, since his parents have insulted you to the very core of your being. Similarly, you feel it would be inappropriate to join them on their dreary theatre visit. Ask him to pass this on to his parents. In no time they will realise they will see a lot less of him if you're not coming too, and he will realise it's going to be an awful bore trailing to Welwyn Garden City on his own. So pour yourself a giant gin, sit back and wait for the apologies.

I LOVE MY boyfriend dearly, but after we had been going out for about six months he began asking if I would mind spanking him with a ruler prior to making love. I agreed and all was well but then he started asking me to wear full academic dress for the performance. Last night he produced a fireman's helmet. I am afraid I may end up like a member of the Village People, appearing dressed up as a member of a different profession every night.

Sarah, Brighton

Uncle Ony: Fantasy and experimentation are important parts of every relationship. It is possible that your partner's mild academic fetish began in early childhood, maybe by being spanked by a teacher. It is important to encourage him to talk about this, maybe even write down his dreams. As long as the list of professions does not become too extensive, and as long as he does not hurt you, it is in the interests of a healthy relationship to encourage him to fully explore his sexuality.

Auntie Ag: Oh for God's sake, Ony. Fetishes or no fetishes, the man's an egomaniac. Try confessing to him that you can only get really turned on by a man when he is dressed as a bishop, in full ecclesiastical purple complete with mitre; and that if he really loves you he must be willing to help you explore your sexuality. That should shut him up, angel. (And make him pay for the bloody outfit too, darling. He started it.)

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 cannot enter into personal correspondence

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