If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can ask the A team!
I’ve been with my boyfriend for two years and recently found a photo of his ex on his phone – with her top off. It’s a picture she’s sent him and from what I could see, he didn’t reply, but I’m still worried they have been in contact with each other. Should I forget about it or mention it to him? Anna, via email
There’s no evidence of any wrongdoing, so in an ideal world you’d pretend the photo doesn’t exist. Sadly, this isn’t an ideal world and the image does exist – both on his mobile and in your head. So you need to discuss it. But, won’t he go psycho about you snooping around his phone? He will, but there’s no way around that, so buckle up, accept his wrath and then ask for an explanation. Then, he’ll either reassure you that she sent it unprompted but he’s not interested, or he’ll get defensive and guilt trip you about trust. If he does the former, he’s clean. But if he does the latter, he might not be. So watch him like a hawk.
My boyfriend is into public displays of affection, but I’m not. I get embarrassed when he’s kissing me and tell him to stop. I know I should be flattered, but I find it uncomfortable, and he’s offended when I tell him to get off me. I’m more than happy with it behind closed doors, just not in public. Please help. Ruth, via email
Have you explained that your problem isn’t him, it’s anyone touching you in public? You haven’t? Do it now. If you have, then you have two options. You can show him it’s not personal by calling in character witnesses (your mum, dad, sister, friends etc) and getting them to tell tales about you going red and shunning contact in crowds. Or find a non-physical way of publicly displaying your affection. You could change your Facebook status to “in a relationship” or upload a picture of you both as your phone screensaver. Then let him know you’ll have more fun indoors if you can build up the anticipation by keeping your hands off each other outdoors.
Dear Dr Hilary
I suffer from terrible insomnia. I’ve tried herbal remedies such as valerian, but they haven’t worked. I don’t want to take prescription sleeping pills, so what else can I do to get a good night’s sleep? Anne, via email
It’s good to hear that you want to try alternatives to sedatives, as they can become addictive and often don’t solve the underlying problem behind insomnia. Try going to bed later, so you’re naturally more tired. Also, keep paper and a pen by your bedside to write down anxious thoughts in the night, as a study has shown that writing down anxieties can help to calm worries.** Avoid watching TV and using the internet before bed – both activities cause adrenaline to be released, making you alert. Exercising during the day will also help, as it will tire your body out. Avoid caffeine before bed, too. Visit Mind.org.uk for more advice about insomnia.
Dear Dr Hilary
I suffer with hay fever all year round, and take antihistamines even during winter. However, I have heard that it’s not safe to take them all the time and that they can lead to weight gain – is this true? Laura, via email
Hay fever usually lasts between March and September, when tree, grass and weed pollen is released. As your symptoms last all year, you may instead be suffering from perennial rhinitis, which is an allergy to indoor allergens such as house dust mites and pets. Non-sedating antihistamines, such as Boots Non Drowsy Hayfever And Allergy Relief 10mg Tablets (£8.49, Boots.com), are safe to take all year round and won’t cause weight gain. However, if your allergies are still interfering with everyday life, your GP can refer you to a clinic for blood or skin prick tests to identify exactly what you’re allergic to.
I’m about to graduate with a degree in fashion photography. I’ve done some work experience placements, but I can’t afford to do any more unpaid work. Do you have advice on other ways into the industry? Jodie, via email
Work experience is a great way to boost your CV and contacts, but it can be a financial burden as most placements offer little more than expenses. I would suggest taking a part-time job to keep money coming in, and carrying out
“test shoots” – this is where you pair up with models and stylists and take photographs for free so they can build up their portfolio and so can you. Try Modelmayhem.com to make contacts.
I’ve handed in my notice at my job because I’ve been offered a new one. The only problem is, my new contract hasn’t come through and I’m worried I’ve jumped the gun. What’s the best way to handle
this situation? Rowan, via email
You should always wait for a formal contract before handing in your resignation. My advice would be to check with the company you are set to join that everything is OK, and if so, go ahead with your resignation and wait for your new contract to come through. Otherwise, technically, you can withdraw your resignation, and if your employer agrees they can reinstate you. Good luck!
The new girl in my office wears very inappropriate clothes to work in warm weather. How can I get her to cover up a bit? Jan, via email
What is it about this country that the minute the temperature rises above freezing, all sense of style leaves the building and all men (however repulsive) want to remove their shirts? Absolute no-nos include flip-flops (just the sound of them makes me want to retch), sunglasses inside (you’re not Bono) and hot pants (stop kidding yourself, they’re not “city shorts”). For my summer wardrobe I replace the tweed with white linen and then refuse to go anywhere without air-con. Luckily, British Summertime™ tends to last a maximum of 48 hours so you should be over the worst of it soon. If not, send her a polite memo explaining “Dress Down Fridays” haven’t been renamed “Slutty Everydays”, and if she doesn’t cover up you’ll ruin her career.
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