auntie ag & uncle ony

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My boyfriend works seven days a week as a BBC producer, travelling up and down between London and Manchester. His domestic life is total chaos. I try to help as much as I can, but his friends keep looking at me resentfully, saying: "He's only got one pair of trousers"; "It's trousers he needs"; "Can't you get him some trousers?" The truth is I have bought him trousers - five pairs to be honest (he pays me back) but he always wears the same pair of tatty old Levi's and then says, "I haven't got any trousers." When I asked him what happened to the trousers I bought, he looks at me as if I'm mad and says, "What trousers?"

Virginia, Crewe

Uncle Ony: Your boyfriend is evidently feeling exhausted and victimised by overwork.He has fastened on a shortage of trousers to symbolise the sacrifices that he is making in his personal life.You need to get to the root of the problem, which looks very much like workaholism to me. He needs to reschedule his life to find a more balanced existence.

Aunt Ag: Angel - first, buy no further trousers; secondly, ignore the friends; thirdly, next time you have dinner with your boyfriend, say: "I haven't got any trousers." If he says, "Yes you have", look at him as if he's mad and say, "What trousers?" Repeat as necessary till he stops being so self-indulgently loopy.

I recently heard someone on the radio saying they wanted the public to realise that ringing the Samaritans was as normal as going to the Post Office. One day I was in tears, because I found out my ex-boyfriend is moving in with his new girlfriend and it's only five weeks since he left me. So I rang the Samaritans and found this bloke on the other end called Matt. He was terribly understanding, but also had a really good sense of humour.When I said I felt guilty about talking for so long, because I wasn't actually thinking of killing myself, he laughed and said, "Well, I think it's the very least you could do", then got all panicky and said, "Just kidding." After about three hours I said I felt better, and he sounded disappointed and said: "Call again if you need to." Now I ring the Samaritans all the time, hoping I'll get Matt. If I get someone else I just cry a bit and say thank you and ring off. Then I try again until I get Matt. It's hard to think of enough things to be depressed about, because we get on so well and he never wants me to go. I keep hoping he'll ask me out but I think he must have taken some Hippocratic oath. Do you think it would be terrible to say I was about to take an overdose and the only thing that would save me would be if he came round? Samantha, Brighton

Uncle Ony: Yes I do.The Samaritans, Samantha, are not a dating agency. I can quite understand how transference might superimpose your feelings for your ex-boyfriend upon your Samaritans counsellor, but it is quite wrong and frankly vaguely shocking that you should continue to make calls merely to flirt with Matt when other, more needy people are waiting to speak to him. Part of getting over a broken relationship is rebuilding your self-respect, and flirting openly with Samaritans counsellors is no way do to this. I suggest you stop making these phone calls and get out and about and meeting new people.

Aunt Ag: Darling, how wonderful that you've fallen in love again so quickly! Did you know the Samaritans are on e-mail now? It's much more to the point that the telephone and can be answered with a delayed response, so you don't have to feel guilty about taking Matt's time while queues of potential suicides are on hold. Get yourself on-line, then simply give Matt your phone number and ask him to call you when he's off duty. If he doesn't ring and that makes you depressed, you can always ring a different Samaritans office and tell them all about it.

Last week I went to a party and met a gorgeous man who - totally unexplained cosmic miracle - seemed sexy, normal and single. It was very hot. We flirted openly. But for some reason he seemed to think this meant we were going to have sex at the party, and started looking around for empty cupboards even though we were in an art gallery. Naturally I said no.

We shared a taxi as we lived in the same direction and on the way home he started saying he wanted to come back to my flat and go to bed. I said no, because we'd only just met. He said he thought he loved me and wanted to spent the rest of the summer with me, and it would be really great to begin by having sex tonight. I said, look we're not going to do that and there is an end to the matter, but I really would like to see him again. But he didn't ask for my phone number or give me his, and I haven't seen or heard from him since. I am kicking myself for not giving him more encouragement. What shall I do?

Melinda, Glasgow

Uncle Ony: We all know that young men's desires are rather more immediate and, shall we say, urgent than young women's. You are quite right not to have succumbed to this young man straight away, but it sounds to me as though you have done yourself no favours by behaving like a Victorian schoolmarm. Why don't you try to contact him - perhaps though your hostess - and suggest an outing of some sort, perhaps a lunch date or a visit to a museum, and make it clear you find him pleasant company and attractive.

Aunt Ag: Honestly, Ony, the last thing she wants to do is meet the randy sod alone in a museum. He'll just start to get her frock off behind the exhibits. You did exactly the right thing, angel. What you must remember now is the old adage: "Never pursue a man, it will only make you unhappy." If he meant anything he said, then he will make an effort to contact you. As Ony says, it would be easy enough through the hostess - assuming he can remember your name. And if he can't, well, it's a good job you didn't sleep with him,isn't it?

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