Dear Toxic My boyfriend never listens to me. We’ve been together for five years and our relationship is great, but I feel like I’m talking to a brick wall. Whether I’m telling him about a film, something I heard on the radio or suggestions for things to do, he doesn’t listen. Then the next day he’ll say the same thing back to me as if it was his idea. It’s driving me mad. What should I do? Antonia, via email
You are not alone. Lots of women endure the same problem, because men rarely listen to their partners (we expect you to be talking about shoes, spin class or “that Sue from work”). So what’s the solution? Here goes. Wait for it. Drum roll, please… You have to stop suffering in silence and tell your man how you feel. Sit him down, admit he’s driving you crazy and ask him to take more interest in what you have to say. And if he doesn’t listen? Repeat the process. And if he still doesn’t listen? Give him the silent treatment. It’s not big or clever, but it’ll sure as hell worry him into asking: “What’s wrong?”
Recently, I’ve been thinking about joining a dating website, but have no idea where to start with my profile. I want to make sure I come across well. Do you have any tips that will ensure any potential dates don’t overlook me because of what I’ve written or the photos I’ve posted? Tamsin, via email
Trying to be funny if you’re not and uploading pics of you hugging your ex are major no-nos, but aside from this it depends on what type of man you’re trying to attract. If you’re after blokes who just want a bit of fun, then your words don’t matter. It’s all about posting photos that show you’re up for a laugh, so mix holiday snaps with pics of you drinking cocktails and laughing at misshapen vegetables. If you’re after a boyfriend, then it’s all about being yourself. Write in detail about the things you like to do and post pictures of you doing them. If you do all that and no one flirts? Make the first move yourself.
Dear Michelle I’m in my 20s and would love to become a counsellor. I have a full-time job but can’t afford to go to university. Is there any way of training on a part-time basis from home, so I can still try and juggle my day job? Kirstie, via email
Contact the National Careers Service (Nationalcareersservice.direct.gov.uk) to find out exactly what skills and requirements are needed for your desired role. Their careers advisors may also be able to suggest the different options available to you. You could also contact The Open University (Open.edu/openlearn) who will be able to offer advice on the open learning courses available. You can then work out which would be most suitable to your needs.
I would like to set up a mobile app which will direct people to the location of the nearest bathroom facilities. I know this app would be a success, but have limited knowledge on the technical side. Debbie, via email
There are many software programmes you can download to build your own app. However, I would suggest speaking to a specialist in this field. You need to ensure that your app is going to function properly. Firstly, contact companies that specialise in this area and get their credentials, so you can test out apps they have designed before deciding which programme you will choose.
Dear Dr Hilary
For the past few weeks, I’ve been taking a creatine supplement to help with my weight training in the gym. Since then I’ve been getting stomach cramps. I’ve eased off on the weights but it’s still there, so I’m worried it might be to do with the creatine. Is it a safe way to add muscle? Enzo, via email
Creatine is produced naturally from protein in your diet and helps muscles to grow. About 95 per cent of it is found in “voluntary” muscles, which bodybuilders pump in the gym – such as biceps, triceps and pecs. Some athletes take supplements to give them two to three times the amount they’d get from a very high-protein diet, enabling their bodies to build muscle more quickly than weightlifting alone. A long-term intake of up to 5g per day is thought to be relatively safe. But too much could cause dehydration, cramps, diarrhoea, asthmatic symptoms or kidney and liver damage, and a sensitivity or allergy to it is also possible. If in doubt, stop taking it and see your GP about the symptoms.
Dear Dr Hilary
I keep getting a burning sensation at the back of my tongue. It’s worse in the evening and after I’ve eaten. What could be causing it? Rachael, via email
Burning tongue syndrome, or glossodynia can be caused by nutritional deficiencies, type 2 diabetes, hormonal changes, dry mouth or thrush, dental problems, stress, anxiety or depression. It can also be caused by a chemical called sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) used in many toothpastes, or by overuse of mouthwashes. Visit your GP to rule out anything more serious, but then a dental check-up, multivitamin supplement and an SLS-free toothpaste are worth trying. Your doctor may also suggest a low dose of amitriptyline, a sensation-reducing medication.
After how many months of dating is it OK to let yourself go? Hannah, via email
I’ve never understood this “let yourself go” expression people seem so keen on. The right medication mixed with strong alcohol can do all the relaxing you’ll ever need. However, when it comes to a relationship there is a debate about the right time to reveal the real you. And I’d say that time is never. It is totally unacceptable to undo the top button on your skinny jeans or, even worse, swap said jeans for the stained tracksuit bottoms you’ve had since 1993. I wear a full girdle and corset even in my sleep. And while we’re on the subject, one’s “lady maintenance” must never, ever slip. Missing a wax appointment is like euthanasia for your sex life. Next thing you know you’ll be emitting methane in each other’s presence and being honest about your feelings. Hideous.
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