Whenever my girlfriend goes away I miss her like mad but when she gets back I find I need a few days to get used to her again. This is probably because I was an only child and I very quickly become quite insular. I love her deeply but she expects me to jump up and down at her return and I often don't feel like it. (I don't resent her going away, really I don't, before you suggest that.)

Paul, Norwich

Aunty Ag: When one goes away, it is nice to be welcomed back with enthusiasm, so why not fake a little jumping-up-and-down type stuff, if it makes her happy and can be achieved without too much effort on your part, you old misery? Perhaps going out for a meal on the eve of her return, so you can at least hear a bit about the trip, wouldn't be too much to ask. Though I suppose it's equally valid to argue that she should be the one to jump up and down with joy at seeing you, or that the whole jumpy thing goes both ways: why should you be the one doing all the leaping about and tail- wagging?

Uncle Ony: It's a sign of a healthy relationship that you don't live in each other's pockets and that an occasional separation doesn't send you into a tailspin of despair. You should cultivate this. It is very important not to live your entire life through your partner, however delightful they may be, and it is a sign of emotional maturity that you can remain your own person even while engaged in a fulfilling relationship. Explain to your girlfriend that an over- enthusiastic welcome would be a sign of insecurity and she will begin to read your lack of excitement at her return in a much more positive way.

I have a colleague who seems to want to try to befriend me, but I think she's a little odd. We get along okay in the office where we both work, but now she has signed up for the evening class that I attend, which is still fine with me. But some time ago, I tried to help a friend out because she was waiting for her house to be finished, and I told her that we've got a spare room in my houseshare. This friend told the weird one about this, and now she's asked me for my landlady's number - apparently she's in some sort of "flat trouble". I just can't stand the thought of her being around me 24 hours a day, but neither can I stand the thought of me being an unhelpful, selfish cow. Help!

Yolanda, via e-mail

Aunty Ag: I am a great believer in the "weirdometer" that we all have built in, which twitches and buzzes when outwardly normal but inwardly off-beam people turn up. If your weirdometer is twitching, there probably is something strange about this girl. You are not being unhelpful or selfish in not wanting to share your house with her. Are you a convincing liar? Do you think you can get away with an out-and-out whopper along the lines of "What a shame, but my landlady has decided to hang on to the room for her niece, who's coming over from Acapulco in a few weeks time"? If this girl finds out that the room is still vacant then either the fictitious niece hasn't turned up yet or has decided to stay in foreign parts.

Uncle Ony: So, just because this poor girl has signed up for the same evening class as you makes her a stalker, does it? I don't think so. She is just trying to be friendly. Is she new to the company, and perhaps wanting to find her feet? I'm sure that once you must have been in the same situation. Show a little civility and kindness, and hand over your landlady's telephone number, please! Incidentally, do bear in mind that it's up to your landlady who she lets her room to, not you: it's her house, after all, not yours.

Estate agents. Will it ever be legal to shoot them?

Gavin, Bristol

Aunty Ag: Sadly, probably not. Though if you want to start the ball rolling, I'm sure lots of the rest of us will gladly join in.

Uncle Ony: Tsk! Lumping all estate agents together as glib, silver-tongued, inefficient bad lots is as much of a cliche as saying that all nurses are ministering angels or that all politicians are scheming self-servers (or indeed that all journalists are wicked exaggerators and fibbers). Such a nasty generalisation does you no credit, Gavin. Shame on you!

Send your problems to Aunty Ag and Uncle Ony at the Independent on Sunday, Canary Wharf, 1 Canada Square, London E14 5DL or agony@independent.co.uk

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