auntie ag & uncle ony

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My girlfriend will not let me out of her sight. As we're both freelance and work at home we are together all the time. Even if I disappear for five minutes to go to the loo she asks me accusingly where I've been. I feel as if I'm suffocating. I'm desperate to escape and leave her, but I'm afraid she will fall to pieces or stalk me forever.

William, Bristol

Uncle Ony: The big question, William, is what is it that has hurt your girlfriend so deeply and at what point in the past - possibly before she was old enough to remember - did it occur? When a buried hurt exists, a portion of the mind becomes fragmented and rejected as too painful, and the wounded person assumes an attitude of control in an attempt to keep the pain away. It is this which has destroyed the trust which should be the cornerstone of your, or indeed any relationship. You must help your girlfriend to unearth and heal the moment of hurt, possibly by visiting a therapist together if necessary.

Auntie Ag: Darling! It sounds as though you're trapped in a nightmare. You only have one life and - particularly if there are no children involved - it seems a little over-chivalrous to ruin yours by staying as an act of charity, or over-feeble through a fear of stalking. It's always tempting to imagine no one could possibly live without you, but they usually do and it's not ultimately kind to stay with a girlfriend you don't love. You watch. After a couple of months of drama, sobbing with girlfriends and slagging you off, she'll be following someone else to the toilet. My advice is that you should make a dash for it while you can!

My boyfriend drinks so much that he has become really useless in bed. We hardly ever have sex at night and on the odd occasion he manages it in the morning he is like a great flobbering bin-liner full of beer.

Sandra, Manchester

Uncle Ony: The big question, Sandra, is why is is your boyfriend drinking too much? The answer is that he is blocking: possibly an old hurt but more likely his desire to commit. I suggest the two of you take a month's "retreat" from alcohol, using the time he would have spent drinking to discuss the path of your relationship, encouraging him to view commitment as a gateway to freedom.

Auntie Ag: Ugh. No! No! No! If you follow Ony's advice your boyfriend will start taking drugs as well and take to spending all night out lying in the gutter. The big question, in fact, is why on earth are you going out with a beer-filled binliner? Surely you can do better. I suggest you pack your bags one night, sneak out quietly, leave a cold six-pack on the pillow in your place. If he doesn't even notice the difference you'll probably feel you've done the right thing.

Is it rude to take phone calls when you have visitors? I think it is and always put the answerphone on, but whenever I visit a friend of mine she seems to spend half the time yacking on the phone.

Carol, Gwent

Uncle Ony: The question here is not whether the use of the phone when one has guests is socially acceptable, but why the use of the telephone has become a bargaining counter in the power struggle between you and your friend. What have you done to make her feel she must use these phone calls to say: "I have other friends who want my time and attention and who are just as important to me as you"? Have you perhaps been self-important, made her feel "second best" or less popular than you? Are you thinking "win/lose", seeking to win at the expense of your friend? You are clearly a very competitive person who needs to learn, instead, to think "win/win".

Auntie Ag: (And you, Ony, have now disappeared so far up your own bottom that if you were to start advising your appendix to "think win/win", I wouldn't be in the least surprised.) Of course it's rude, angel. Next time you go round there, take your portable phone, talk on it continually for 45 minutes then go away again, talking into it as you wave. That should make the point.

A close friend of mine has been crazy about this boy for 18 months but he doesn't feel the same about her and nothing has ever come of it. I liked him too but I kept away from him because of my friend. Last week he asked me out, we had a drink, and are seeing each other again on Friday. I'm falling in love with him and he told me he feels the same about me but my friend, who is very insecure, will be devastated if I start sleeping with him. Should I tell her?

Tabetha, Rochdale

Uncle Ony: Yes. Deception will be the death of your friendship. And in fact I would consider very seriously whether to proceed with this relationship. Is this boy really worth more to you than your friend?

Auntie Ag: For God's sakes no, darling! You're not doing anything wrong. You've behaved with admirable restraint in the past. She has no claims whatsoever over the poor chap. Give yourselves a chance to get things off the ground before you start adding complications. You deserve to be happy, too, remember.

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