I’m 26 and have just begun my first serious relationship. We’re in love, but I’m worried my boyfriend may think I’m not experienced enough. He’s had several girlfriends and many short-term relationships, while I’ve only ever had sex with two people. I’m too embarrassed to talk to him about it. Tara, via email
First, the good news: men care about performance not experience, so as long as you have a vague understanding of which body parts go where in the bedroom, you’ll be fine. Now, the bad news: successful relationships are built around communication, so if you’re to be with this guy long-term you’re going to have to start talking to him about sensitive stuff. Don’t panic, just be honest. Say what you like and don’t like, and tell him what you understand and don’t. Chances are he’ll be more than happy to play teacher. And if he makes you feel bad about your lack of experience, then jettison him for being an immature idiot who doesn’t love or deserve you.
My boyfriend and I have been together for two years and although we’ve talked about having children, neither of us wanted them yet. Now I’ve just discovered I’m pregnant. I want to keep the baby, but he doesn’t, and we’re both adamant about our decisions. I can’t see where this will end up – should I hope he’ll change his mind? Rachel, via email
This is going to end up where you want it to, meaning it’s going to end up with you giving birth to a beautiful baby. Got that? Good. Now listen up. In less than nine months you’re going to be a mother, which means you don’t have time for hope. You need definitive answers, so you have to give your man an ultimatum. Tell him you love him and want to raise your kid with him, but you’re going to have the baby whether he supports you or not. He’ll either change his mind and you’ll start painting the nursery together, or he’ll stick to his guns and you’ll start painting the nursery on your own.
I make enough money to get by, but I’ve been offered a job with a substantial pay rise which would involve moving 150 miles away. Is it worth getting my family to up sticks for the pay rise or should I keep searching for something nearby? Katie, via email
Money isn’t the most important thing in life, but with the cost of living rising many families are finding themselves in a similar situation. Moving 150 miles is a big decision, especially if you have a family to think about, but there are benefits to be had. I’d suggest making a list of pros and cons with your family and be sure you all agree with the decision.
My boss asked me for my Facebook password and I refused as I feel it’s a huge invasion of privacy. Is it illegal for an employer to ask for this? She’s asked me again and I’m worried my refusal makes it look like I have something to hide. Claire, via email
No employer has a right to gain access to your private details. It is also a violation of Facebook’s Statement of Rights And Responsibilities to share or solicit a Facebook password. I would kindly tell your employer that you don’t feel it necessary for her have access to your account as it in no way affects your work. Say that if she wants to know more about you as a person, you’d be delighted to join her for a coffee. If she insists, contact your HR department.
Dear Dr Hilary
I love the healthy bronzed look and worry I won’t get such a good tan if I use suncream. How can I stay safe and bronze at the same time? Delia, via email
A tan may look great, but it’s just a sign of skin damage. When skin’s exposed to sun, it produces melanin, which turns the skin darker in an attempt to protect it from harmful ultraviolet radiation. But don’t think a base tan provides sufficient protection – tanned skin only gives the protection of a cream with a very low sun protection factor (SPF) of 2-4. You can still bronze using a suncream, but your skin will tan gradually, which is much healthier. If you have fair skin, use a minimum SPF30 product, such as Boots Essentials Sun Lotion SPF30 (£4.99, Boots.com). The safest tan is a fake one – try Ambre Solaire No Streaks Bronzer Tinted Self-Tan Gel (£11.49, Boots.com), but take note, fake tan doesn’t protect you from the sun, so always use suncream.
Dear Dr Hilary
I have awful stomach pain after every meal, which has now been diagnosed as IBS. What foods should I avoid, and what will help? Jennie, via email
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common gut disorder affecting up to 40 per cent of people at some stage. It can really impact your life, with diarrhoea, abdominal bloating, constipation, cramps and wind among the symptoms. The exact cause isn’t known, but stress does aggravate IBS, so exercise and relaxation techniques may help. Many people control IBS with diet. If you have constipation, eat foods rich in soluble fibre such as rolled oats, fruit and veg, but if you have loose movements, you may need to moderate your fibre intake. Fatty, spicy and sugary foods are also known to make symptoms worse. Probiotic and prebiotic supplements may help, as they can boost healthy bacteria in the gut.
If a man offers to buy you a drink and you accept it, are you then obligated to spend the evening with him? Sophie, via Twitter
A true gentlemen will send a drink (preferably the bottle) over to your table and admire you from afar. But nowadays, I suppose thanks to the credit crunch and the rising cost of cocktails, men want a little more for their “investment”. Some cads (normally playboy-operator types) think that accepting one measly drink from them is the equivalent of a marriage proposal. In fact, I like to think my borderline alcoholism is the reason I’ve ended up with so many ugly husbands. But I suppose talking to the man for the duration of the drink is polite and acceptable. And with the speed at which I knock them back, they’ve usually only just had time to put their wallet away.