I’ve been with my new boyfriend for about five months now. We met on a dating website, and while I’ve since cancelled my membership, he refuses to do the same, saying he’s waiting for it to expire. This would be OK, but I know he still checks his account.
He says he’s not looking for anyone else but I still feel insecure. Should I ride out the next couple of months or stand up to him? Leah, via email
If he’s still checking his account, he’s still checking out other women, so demand he shuts it down. If he agrees, hug him. If he refuses, start chucking plates. Or more simply you could just ask him why he hasn’t cancelled his online dating membership when his girlfriend of five months asked him to? There is no acceptable answer to this question, so at this point one of two things will happen. Either your man will apologise and go offline, or he’ll claim you’re being ridiculous and change the subject. If it’s the former, you’ve beaten the internet. And if he does the latter, give him a real reason to trawl the web – walk away.
There’s a man at work who I’ve started developing feelings for, but don’t know what to do about it. He’s single, but has never shown interest in me. I’ve been single for seven years and would love a relationship, but I’m not sure how to approach it. What do you think? Name withheld
Photocopy your bum and send it to him. I’m joking! Spark up an innocent conversation – eg: “Up to anything this weekend?” – and see how he reacts. If he leaves quickly, he’s not interested. But if he stays he might be, so keep chatting over email. Maintain this mix of verbal and non-verbal communication for a week and study his emails. If he’s merely responded to your questions, then he’s just being polite. But if he’s asked you questions, he may be interested. So you can either keep flirting and see if he asks you out, or be bold and ask him. Scary, perhaps. But if you don’t ask, you don’t get.
My colleague’s father passed away recently. I don’t have her home address, so is it OK to send her a condolence email? Georgina, via email
Death (like bad underwear and serious hangovers) happens to all of us sooner or later. But it’s difficult to find the right words, isn’t it? Especially when slurring “Itsh-what-he-would’ve-wanted” while doing a pole dance at the wake. But it’s for precisely this reason that greetings cards were invented. So make sure you send a nice card, lovingly penned by your own fair hand (when I say hand I mean maid). E-sympathy is just not appropriate. What next? A “sorry for your loss” emoticon? So stalk her until you discover her address, buy a generic card with lilies on, write the same, boring message she’s guaranteed to be getting on 30 other cards and be done with it, dear.
I have recently been made redundant. All of my old colleagues have since found work elsewhere, but I’m struggling. I have an interview lined up soon and would love some advice on how I can impress on the day. Abbie, via email
Unfortunately, in the current climate redundancies are inevitable, meaning getting a job is even more difficult. Don’t let that dishearten you though. It’s great that you’ve managed to get an interview, but this is just the first step. In order to bag the job, you need to be the best. My top tips would be: ensure you know as much about the company as you can, make sure you are immaculately presented and, as obvious as it sounds, ensure you arrive on time. Good luck!
My sister and I would like to open up a children’s soft-play centre in our local town. There isn’t one for miles around and there seems to be a real demand for it. We’ve written a business plan, but are unsure what to do next. Can you help? Becky, via email
Putting a business plan together is the best place to start. There are several ways to secure funding for your venture, one of which is going directly to a bank and presenting your plan. There are also various schemes that offer grants. Try the Business Advice Bureau for ideas of where to start looking, plus I have plenty of tips on starting a business on my website, Michellemone.com, too.
Dear Dr Hilary
I’ve always been fit – I go to the gym three times a week – but recently I’m getting out of breath more quickly. Last week I had to sit down after using the exercise bike as I felt dizzy and my heart was pounding. A personal trainer said I could be anaemic as I’m vegetarian, but I’m not pale. Erica, via email
You could be anaemic – some people don’t become pale until it’s severe – and the cause of your dizzy spells could be a lack of folate, vitamin B12 or iron. But as long as you eat a well-balanced diet and aren’t having heavy periods this is unlikely. Breathlessness can also point to heart or lung problems. An enlarged heart muscle or narrowed valve would make you short of breath when exercising. So would any allergic condition affecting the lungs, or stiffness in the lung tissue due to fibrosis and loss of elasticity. A blood test and a chest X-ray would be a first step and, if necessary, your exercise tolerance can be tested at a hospital outpatient clinic.
Dear Dr Hilary
My big toe has started to get really painful. I’m sure I haven’t stubbed it, but sometimes it goes an angry dark red, especially in bed. I’m overweight, but as I’m only 42, it can’t be arthritis, can it? Mark, via email
Arthritis just means inflammation of a joint. It has lots of different causes, so yes, it could be arthritis you’re experiencing in your toe. However, the fact it’s also angry and red, and comes and goes, suggests it could be gout you are suffering from. A simple blood test to see if your uric acid levels are high would confirm this. If so, some anti-inflammatory tablets and a special diet will bring relief. But even if it is just wear-and-tear arthritis in the big toe joint, losing some weight will definitely help.