Ask Martha: I spent New Year's Eve at home. Does that make me a loser?

Got a social dilemma? Martha Arthur has the answer...
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Indy Lifestyle Online

Q. Dear Martha, I spent New Year's Eve at home on the sofa watching movies with my best friend. Does that make me a loser? Shelley, York

A. If you'd spent New Year's Eve out on the town with 300 of your best friends, watching your glass empty and fill, would that make you a winner? OK, Shelley, so you stayed home this year. Great. Now you just need to make peace with yourself about it. Weird, isn't it, how often our actions and desires pull forward and our concept of our own identity lags behind? There's an almost Cartesian dualism at work here, Shelley. Anyway, to maintain your party-girl self-image, just tell yourself that New Year's Eve is an anomaly, in no way representative of your usual indefatigable, insatiable, in-demand, incorrigible, incandescent, in... oh, you get the picture – lifestyle.

Q. My friend's young child was playing with my phone when he managed to enter Drafts and press "Send" several times. All manner of half-written, half-witted messages have now winged their way into the phones of important contacts, prospective girlfriends, etc. What should I do? I have always been told to never explain, never apologise. N O'B, London

A. Never say never. It's a good enough excuse and you're better off deploying it than leaving all these people thinking you're losing your grip on reality. The only catch is you should have fired off a breezy explanatory follow-up text immediately, rather than waiting around to hear what some glamorous agony aunt thought of it. I can only intuit that this episode has caused you more psychic pain than is merited. You consider yourself a bit of a player, don't you, with your plural prospective girlfriends and "important contacts"? Now this small child has exposed a more pensive side to your nature. Try showing it more often.

Q. Some horrible posters have appeared in the communal hallway of my block of flats. I asked my neighbour if she wanted to complain about them, too, when she said she'd put them up herself! I quickly backtracked and said how nice they were. What should I do next? Katie, by email

A. The damage is done, Katie. Your neighbour knows you hate the pictures, so the blame for any sabotage will be laid at your door. So you can either try collective action – banding together with other like-minded people in the block – or, for someone as non-confrontational as you, Katie, a better option might be to simply get used to the hateful posters. You'll stop noticing them pretty soon, and anyway, hallway art is meant to be grim.

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