Uncle Ony: Has it occurred to you that this might be something of a compliment? Karin clearly feels that you are a good enough friend not to need to be impressed into spending an evening with her. She is probably suffering from low self-esteem. Next time you're at a "scuzzy" party together, spend the time discussing this problem. I'm sure you will find the benefits of a true friendship much richer than those of so called "glam" parties.
Auntie Ag: Silly bloody bitch, darling. She's using you as a C-list friend and you must have none of it. There's a simple way to deal with it. Relegate her to your own C list: only take her to supermarket mini-pizza tastings and refuse to go to anything she invites you to unless its an A+.
I am going out with a man who has had a lot of therapy in the past: something I feel somewhat sceptical about. On Saturdays I usually go shopping then get a video and cook us supper. Last week my boyfriend was panicking because he had a read-through on Sunday morning (he's an actor). I offered to help him learn his lines and he suddenly exploded and accused me of being a "Shopping Addict" and "Compulsive Helper" and stormed out of the flat. He seems now to be expecting everything to carry on as normal but I am really hurt and angry with him.
Uncle Ony: You are "blocking", Rachel, using your anger to avoid confronting the painful truth he has unearthed. When we are unhealthy, we feel a "hole" within us which we attempt to fill with addictions - to alcohol, for example, drugs, shopping, or to the feeling of being needed generated by unsolicited "helping". Your boyfriend has spotted the need for you to confront your own "gaping hole". If you strip away the shopping and helping you used to fill it, you will indeed feel pain and may find the therapy about which you are so scathing is your only "lifebelt."
Auntie Ag: (Oh, for God's sakes Ony. If one doesn't go shopping where is one supposed to get one's things? I mean, have you any idea how much a Personal Shopper costs?) Rachel, darling. This is a cause for celebration! You need never cook a meal for the silly luvvie again. If he complains, all you need to do is say (in a California whisper) "I'm really trying not to act out on my compulsive helping at this time" and pop another Belgian chocolate into your mouth. Then rush down to Harvey Nicks to celebrate asap.
My girlfriend has stopped shaving her legs (or whatever it is she does with them). When we first started going out they were always smooth but now she just leaves them to be all hairy. I don't want to seem like I'm not a new man but I find it a real turn-off.
Uncle Ony: You have my sympathy, Damian. This sort of aggressively feminine posturing is tiresome and unattractive. If we all left ourselves to revert to nature we would be stinking and toothless. Tell her outright you find the leg-hair unattractive. If she refuses to remove it, you need to think whether the relationship is satisfying your needs.
Auntie Ag: Oh, for God's sake you silly boy, have you any idea what a girl has to go through for a smooth leg: pounds 18 a time and slow torture for waxing; stinking cream all over the shop and stubble two days late if you go for depilation; or permanently scarred shins and uncontrollable bleeding in the shower if you go for a shave? Until you are prepared to have your own legs waxed, you don't, so to speak, have a bloody leg to stand on.
A good friend of mine rings up all the time. She leaves great long messages filling up the answerphone. If she catches me in, she talks for ages without letting me get a word in edgeways. I work really hard, and don't want to spend the little free time I have, gassing on the phone. What to do?
Uncle Ony: Has it ever occurred to you, Melissa that you might be a Work Addict: using work to avoid having to address the needs of the rest of your life: such as friendship? Why don't you call your friend, and this time, you set the agenda, you express your needs, and think, as you talk, how good the conversation is making you feel.
Auntie Ag: Oh Ony! The minute Melissa starts expressing her needs, the friend will coo "must dash, darling" and be off the phone before you can say "selfish cow". Melissa, swap the answerphone for one of those which only leaves you 30 seconds for the message, and screen your calls for a couple of weeks. She'll soon find somebody else to bore on to, and you can concentrate on your nice friends.
Should you send a thank you card when you have been to someone's house for dinner?
Uncle Ony: Hmmm: much more of a complex issue than one might think. Had you asked me this five years ago I might have said, "No card - a card denotes low self-esteem: your company in return for a meal is equal barter. No thanks required." Now, however, I sense a self conscious sociological swing towards a reassertion of old values: not, of course taken at face value, but a deliberate, self-aware, attempt to reassert those values "in quotation marks" so that feelings of community and love with follow. Your gesture must, if you make it, suggest the post-modern. I would send the card but make it chintzy.
Auntie Ag: Yes, darling. One must do anything one can to encourage a repeat invitation: the more free dinners the better, I say.
My friend has taken to dressing really tartily. If we go to a party or out for a drink she turns up in really short skirts with her tits hanging out, really coming on at men. She thinks she is being a huge hit but I hear them laughing at her behind her back. I try to defend her, and know why she's doing this because she's just split up with a boyfriend of nine years, and hasn't been single for so long that she doesn't know how to play it. Do you think I should warn her what they're saying about her?
Uncle Ony: This is not your friend's problem, Sarah, but yours. You are quite simply jealous. Speaking as a man, I have to tell you that there is nothing whatsoever wrong, off-putting or untoward about a woman who dresses to emphasise her womanhood and sensuality. What we perceive is not always reality, and your reality is evidently being filtered by your own inadequacies. You are threatened by your friend's emergent sexuality and need to ask yourself why that is.
Auntie Ag: You're quite right, darling. There's a huge difference between feeling strong and confident and luxuriating in one's sexuality, and being rather scared, insecure and therefore desperate for sexual attention. Don't for God's sake tell her what people are saying, just remind her how ghastly men on the sexual rampage can be, how you have to watch them like a hawk for bad behaviour, and that they never deserve to feast their eyes on one's cleavage until they've bought you an extremely nice lunch, or darling little pair of earrings.Reuse content