Ask Martha: Should I tell me friend that her fiancée is sleeping around?

Got a social dilemma? Martha Arthur has the answer...


Q. An old and not particularly close friend is getting married but I happen to have heard that her fiancée is sleeping around. What should I do about this horrible situation? Ella, Leeds

A. Don't assume she doesn't know. Some couples are satisfied by the most uncommon arrangements. In the words of Jim Morrison, people are strange. Still, it's your duty to do a little digging. Just get in touch with a really close friend of hers (you may want to pick a sober, quiet time well in advance of the wedding) and sound her out. Be careful to sound candid, not gossipy. How she responds will be the best indicator of what to do next.

Q. I am trying to climb the greasy pole in LA and as part of my after-hours duties I have to have drinks with a certain actor, who (from past experience) I know will insist that I drink a foul and highly alcoholic concoction called "Cactus Juice". If I drink I'll have to take a cab (which I can't afford) and the evening will inevitably lead on to a further dilemma – dancing. I hate it but will be forced into prancing around a hotel suite with other drunken fools. Help. Confused Brit in Hollywood

A. Wow. If there were a prize for most rock'n'roll contribution to a problem page, you would get it. But honey, this is not a problem. It is a party. Your personality is another matter, however. You are facing a glamorous version of a very common dilemma: how much dignity should we sacrifice to promote ourselves, career-wise? Clearly your ambitions are driving you onwards, so all this slightly ironic self-doubt is ultimately a great big waste of time and energy. If the Cactus-drinking, hotel-dancing ingratiation stuff is what you have to do, it's what you have to do. It's clearly the means to a bigger, better and worthwhile end – like a producing credit on Gandhi II – right?

Q. My very rich uncle has started wearing a terrible toupee. I am fond of him and don't like to see him as a laughing stock. Should I say something? MFK, Brighton

A. Buy him a warm woolly hat. When you next see him, whip off the toupee and tuck the beanie on his head with the words, "You were losing half your body heat from under that terrible hat, Uncle." This may not go down well, admittedly, because even the richest among us are susceptible to vanity, MFK – oh, I see your meaning now. You want to resolve the toupee situation as kindly as possible and without being disinherited. In that case you must simply say this, after me: "My, Uncle – aren't you looking well!"

Email your social dilemmas to Martha at askmartha@independent.co.uk

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