I’ve been with my partner for five years and, as far as I’m aware, have a happy and fulfilling relationship. But recently I discovered he’s been visiting adult websites and contacting women through them. I’m sure he hasn’t actually met up with any of them, but I can’t stop thinking about it. What’s the best way to confront him? Kay, via email
There’s no point in playing games. You know now, so you have to tell him. Say that you realise you shouldn’t have been peeking at his PC and you don’t think he’s straying, but you’re upset about his flirting, so would like him to stop doing it. Cue an argument over your snooping. Then, after you’ve both calmed down, he’ll either deny he has an issue (in which case you definitely have an issue) or he’ll explain why he did it and insist he won’t do it again. So why did he do it? One word: boredom. It’s time to talk about how you can spice up your relationship.
Whenever I chat to my friends about having sex with our boyfriends, it sounds like they have it a lot more often than me and my partner do. I also read the average couple has sex twice a week, but we do it about twice a month. I’m happy with my sex life but I’m worried my boyfriend may not be. Are we doing something wrong? Name withheld, via email
You are doing something wrong, but it doesn’t involve male bits and lady bits,
it involves your mind and your lips. You are worrying too much about what other people are doing, plus you and your man aren’t talking enough about whether you’re both getting enough. Stop fretting about “the average British couple” and start asking your fella if he’s satisfied. If he is, proceed as you are. And if he isn’t, discuss what’s enough sex for both of you. If you need ways to ignite his passion, try initiating date nights, or “naked Tuesdays”, or write down your biggest fantasies and turn them into reality. You’ll soon find your sex life is interesting enough to boast about.
I’ve just found out I’m being made redundant. I’ve been with my company for nine years but have never had a contract, so I’m unsure how much money I’m entitled to. We don’t have an HR department – who can I ask about it? Susie, via email
As you have been there for nine years, there is actually a legal obligation for your employer to provide a statement of your terms and conditions of employment, so you can point out their failure to do this and try to settle a payment package yourself. It may also be sensible to seek the advice of an employment lawyer, and look at Acas.org.uk (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service).
I’ve been promoted and now manage four people. Having been in their roles, I know how to do their jobs inside out and find it hard not to get involved. How can I get better at delegating? Name withheld, via email
Managing people takes getting used to, but you have to let go as you don’t have the time to do everything. Each week you should work out what tasks need to be done, then hold a meeting with your team where you share out duties. Give each person a deadline and ensure they understand what is expected. When you are confident the work is being carried out well, you’ll be able to focus on your role. You could also ask your employer to send you on a management course.
Dear Dr Hilary
I’ve had catarrh in my right ear for more than two years. The condition makes it hard to hear sometimes. I’ve read that caffeine and cheese in my diet could be making it worse. Is this true? Becky, via email
Catarrh is a build-up of mucus following an infection, and it sounds like it has built up in your middle ear cavity, causing hearing loss. An allergic reaction to caffeine or cheese is very unlikely and would affect both ears anyway. It’s more likely that you have glue ear, a condition in which sticky fluid builds up behind the ear drum. Ephedrine decongestant nose drops, available from pharmacies, will help clear the mucus in the middle ear cavity. Try this along with an antihistamine, such as Piriton, for six weeks to help dry out the catarrh. If there’s no improvement, your GP should refer you to an ear, nose and throat specialist for possible surgical drainage.
Dear Dr Hilary
I’m worried about a mole I’ve got in the middle of my chest. It’s red and slightly raised. How can you tell if it’s a cause for concern? Nellie, via email
Is this a new mole or has it always been there? And if it’s always been there, has its size or appearance changed - or has it become itchy or started bleeding? If you have noticed any of these changes, or if the mole is bigger than the blunt end of a pencil or you’ve sunbathed lots, it’s wise to ask your GP to check it out. They can refer you to a dermatologist to examine it with a dermatoscope, which magnifies the mole under a special light to see if it has any cancerous features. If it does, it should be removed at once. To keep an eye on all your moles, visit The Mole Clinic at Superdrug, a nationwide mole-checking service, which costs from £30 (Superdrug.com).
I’ve had the same hairdresser for years. I’ve always tipped her but I’m not even sure she’s that good anymore. What’s your tipping etiquette? Glenda, Surrey
I’m more intimate with my hairdresser, Gianni, than I am with anyone, and I occasionally let him tend to my hair if he has time. Although years of styling and copious amounts of hairspray have made my bouffant so solid only a hammer and chisel can penetrate it. I tip Gianni generously, but that’s only because of a “misunderstanding” we had a few years back. He asked if he could trim my fringe, but I misheard it as something else and put my legs akimbo in the middle of the salon. One trainee girl was so shocked she had to be sent home. But back to your predicament. This woman’s clearly lost interest in you and become lazy. You should pretend you’re emigrating and start seeing another hairdresser immediately.