My boyfriend of several years is really laid-back and always needs a push, whether he’s sorting out a birthday present, applying for a job or making social plans. It feels like I’m nagging him. I don’t want to be a bossy girlfriend, but I don’t know how else to get him to do things! Sophie, via email
Ask yourself this: would your fella become an unemployed hermit with no mates if you stopped hassling him? I’m guessing not, but let’s see because, from tomorrow, you’re going to bite your tongue, repress your inner bossy boots and stop getting all up in his grill for a month. And then, either his life will begin to fall apart or it won’t. If it does, rejoice, because he’ll realise just how much he needs you. And if it doesn’t, rejoice even more, because you’ll realise just how little he needs you. Wait. Isn’t that a bad thing? Not at all. For starters, it’ll reduce your nagging. And also if a man doesn’t need you and hasn’t dumped you, it means nag or not, he wants you.
I caught my boyfriend using a webcam on a live chat site to talk to another girl. I don’t know who she is and he claims he was just curious and it’s just a one-off. I’d like to believe him, because he’s never done anything in the past to break the trust we have, but a little seed of doubt has been planted and I’m not sure what to do about it. Farzana, via email
I’m inclined to believe your man (if only because I know how expensive some live chat sites can be and how little they actually turn you on). So problem solved, right? Wrong. Problem exposed. Your boyfriend might have been curious, but given the nature of the site, it’s clear that he was also horny. And if he’s looking for the internet to give him an orgasm, you need to talk about your sex life and what may be needed to give it a boost – for both of you. Start by writing down your top 10 sexual fantasies and ask your man to do the same. Now swap lists, head to the bedroom and set about turning fantasy into relationship reality.
A former colleague has just started working in the same restaurant as me. I get on well with her, but I know she was fired from her last workplace because she was stealing food from the kitchen. I feel a loyalty towards my employer – should I say anything? Laura, via email
Don’t get involved. Your colleague has been given a second chance at finding work – hopefully, she will have learnt from her dismissal. Try to start afresh with her. If you feel comfortable doing so, you could give her a friendly warning that you won’t be telling your employer about her dismissal, but that if you find her behaving inappropriately, you will have no choice.
I’ve started work in a new office and it’s very different to my old workplace. I’m used to quietly getting on with my work but here there’s a lot of banter all the time. I find it uncomfortable, especially when it’s directed at me. Do you think this is something I’ll have to get used to? Sara, via email
Being the new girl is never easy, but it sounds as though your colleagues have a great relationship which, in time, you will feel part of. If it’s not in your personality to behave in this way, your co-workers will soon pick up on this and stop including you in the banter. But do try to join in – having a good relationship with your colleagues is important and will make your working life more enjoyable.
Dear Dr Hilary
I’m 32 years old and seven months pregnant. I’m really excited about having a baby, but am terrified about the birth. I keep having nightmares and I feel really panicky when I think about it. I really don’t think I can go through labour – can I ask for a Caesarean on the NHS? Helen, via email
It’s your right to request a Caesarean section on the NHS, but before you do, discuss your fears with your midwife and find out about the many benefits of a natural birth for both you and your baby. If you opt for an epidural anaesthetic, which numbs the lower half of the body, a natural birth can be relatively painless – and there’s less pain after the delivery, plus immediate bonding with your baby. All women are apprehensive about childbirth, but usually find the experience nowhere near as bad as they thought. However, if you have deep-rooted psychological fears, you can still choose to have a Caesarean.
Dear Dr Hilary
Recently I’ve been getting sharp pains when I pass a bowel movement and sometimes there’s blood on the toilet paper. I thought it might be piles, but I can’t see any lumps. Miles, via email
It sounds like you have an anal fissure, which is a small split in the lining of your anal canal. It’s slow to heal because it opens up again each time you pass a hard motion. Pain, irritation and blood when you wipe are also an indication of piles (haemorrhoids). Your GP can diagnose this. In the meantime, avoid constipation by eating lots of fibre, drinking more water and exercising. Using a stool-softening laxative and local anaesthetic or anti-inflammatory suppositories, such as Anugesic-HC (which your doctor can prescribe), for a few days usually solves the problem.
I had a one-night stand a few weeks ago and I’ve not heard from the guy since. Have I put out too easily, or is it just that he doesn’t like me? Laura, via Twitter
Ah, the one-night stand, or the “I can no longer stand”, as I like to call them. The only way to approach bumping uglies with a random is to get so hammered that the next morning you have no recollection of who you passed out with. It’s like playing Russian roulette when you pull back the sheet in the cold light of day. Male? Female? Married? Or – even more horrific – married to you? Shudder. Just remember, trying to make an actual relationship out of a one-night stand is like trying to make a trifle out of caviar. You spoil a rare delicacy by turning it into something sickly, cloying and actually quite weird that no one’s really wanted since 1967. Oh, and by the way, he definitely doesn’t like you.