Women and Men: Auntie ag & uncle ony

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I have been living with my boyfriend in an upstairs flat for the past 11 months. All was well until a couple (younger than us) moved in downstairs. If we make any sounds of passion they bash on the ceiling, which usually affects our lovemaking. We are not sex maniacs. We are not "at it" all the time. We are not grunters or yelpers or screamers. Since they moved in we have taken numerous holidays and become avid campers but our bank account won't stretch any further, so we're moving to a ground- floor flat. Before we leave, I'd like to get our revenge. Is there something wrong with me? Or do you have any suggestions?

Delilah, Tadcaster

Uncle Ony: Might I suggest that "What aspects of my personality can I work on and develop?" might be a more healthy approach than, "Is there something wrong with me?" Think: low self- esteem, inability to confront, failure to communicate. Possibly sexual guilt also? I think you'll find the answer lies, not with a new flat, but your inner voice.

Aunt Ag: (Sorry about Ony, darling, just ignore him). The behaviour of these young people is so mealy-mouthed and peculiar that it must, surely, be the product of some bizarre religious conviction or Class A substance abuse, or a complicated postmodern joke - unless of course they're just ghastly. This is what you do:

1) Next time they knock, quickly slip into bathrobes - or maybe darling little silk kimonos, or unisex leisurewear, whatever you choose, angel - grab a bottle of booze , then rush downstairs and hammer on their door.

2) When they open up ask them breathlessly, in tones of panic and concern, what the matter is.

Interesting to see what they'll do: a) collapse in dopey giggles? b) stroke you in E-crazed wonderment? c) Come out with anal euphemisms about you "making a noise"? d) Try to convert you? or e) Just say they don't like listening to you having sex?

3) Being as pleasant as you can, say exactly what you said in your letter and - unless they gave you c) or d) - offer them a drink. They're clearly cowards. Face to face, they should crumble. If this doesn't work, go for the revenge. Next time they knock on the ceiling, go even louder with the passion noises, maybe adding sound effects - whips, chains, indoor fireworks, etc - and bang on the floor at the same time (could be rather exciting, angel).

A rather irritating woman in our circle of friends went out with my husband for two years before he chucked her and subsequently met me. Although she is married now - to someone rather dull - it is obvious that she is still in love with my husband. She keeps trying to prove she has a "special bond" with him and is always inviting us to dinner, turning to him when she has problems, ringing him at the office and cornering him at parties. I don't think he's interested, but, you know, he's a man, he's flattered, and it worries me and drives me nuts.

Rachel, Shepperton

Uncle Ony: One of the difficulties with serial monogamy and related modern relationship patterns is the role of the ex-partner. Often the bond between expartners becomes more valid and nourishing when the formal relationship ends. You need to examine why your own insecurities about your marriage are making your husband's other relationship threatening to you. Perhaps the best solution would be to discuss this, first with your husband, then with his former partner, and then between the three of you.

Aunt Ag: (Bollocks, Ony.) It really isn't worth another thought. He dumped her, he married you. She's the one who's making a prat of herself and you're the one who should be flattered. Don't bother to do or say anything unless it's cunning, discreet and imperceptible to your plainly divine husband. Make sure if you must that neither of you can accept her next few invitations. And whenever her name comes up, adopt a subtle tone of embarrassment for the poor sad cast-off. That sort of notion-planting usually has a perfectly effective drip-effect.

A man who is regarded with a great deal of respect and affection by lots of people I know keeps asking me out. I have been on several dates with him, and although I too regard him with respect and affection, I dread the dates because he is always trying to get romantic and lunging at me. It's impossible to say a simple goodbye without him insisting on a cordial peck, which he then tries to turn into a snog, and ends up with me keeping my mouth clamped firmly shut while he tries to get his tongue into it. Normally I would give him the brush-off, but because he's so nice and well thought-of, I feel I can't do anything so rude. The trouble is, I just don't fancy him.

Janine, York

Uncle Ony: Why, when you clearly like and respect this man so much, are you so resistant to a romantic relationship? I suspect that you can only respond to the type of emotionally unavailable man who you can try and fail to change through your love; the type of man who is probably addicted to drugs, alcohol and/or certain foods, particularly of a sugary kind. You must learn to respond to men who are nice, reliable and interested in you. Now pull your socks up and return his kiss properly next time.

Aunt Ag: One should never contemplate a romance with a man one doesn't fancy. It is unspeakably undermining for them and depressing for you. Men must be treated with kindness, firmness and a clear set of rules. Next time he calls, tell him categorically that there is no possibility of a romance between you, and there must be no further attempts at French kissing. This is neither rude, nor unkind, but the act of a friend who cares for him enough not to want to waste his time or self-esteem. If you want to keep his friendship - tell him so, and say you'd love to see him again, but only on these terms.

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