The guy I’ve been seeing for a couple of months is great and we get on brilliantly. But whenever someone mentions his family he becomes moody and withdrawn, and I can’t understand why. I’ve never met them and I’m starting to worry. I want to talk to him about it but I’m not sure how to approach it. Jenny, via email
Don’t worry about not meeting his family yet. It once took me two years to introduce a girlfriend to my parents, so two months is no time at all. Now, on to the mood swings. There are three possible reasons. It could be that they don’t get on. Or perhaps they’re a bit quirky and he’s embarrassed. Or maybe they’re in the middle of a difficult family situation, such as illness or separation. Which one applies to your man? You’ll never know unless you ask. Tell him he doesn’t have to talk about it if it makes him uncomfortable, but you’d like to know why his mood changes when people discuss his family. If he reveals his reason, listen to him. If he doesn’t, wait two months, then ask again.
I recently went on a girls’ holiday and I was completely faithful, but my boyfriend of two years is convinced I cheated on him. He has no reason to doubt me but nothing I say persuades him otherwise. What can I do to make him believe me? Kimberly, via email
The only thing you need to do is find out why he doesn’t trust you. And you do this by reversing the situation. Tell him that enough is enough. You’ve told him the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so it’s cards on the table time. What does he think you have done and why does he think this? Now, he’ll either explain why he’s suspicious (such as a suggestive photo on Facebook, or a misconstrued text) or he won’t. If he does, explain why he’s got the wrong end of the stick, and if he doesn’t, it’s ultimatum time. You love him, but can’t date a man who doesn’t trust you. So either he ends the accusations or you end the relationship.
I have an idea for a T-shirt business, but I don’t know where to start with copyright in terms of using images of famous people. I’m also on a very small budget, so any information you have would be gratefully received. Name withheld, via email
Buying the copyright of pictures can be very expensive, so you need to discover exactly what rights you’ll require before progressing any further. Your local business gateway (Yourbusinessgateway.co.uk) can offer legal advice and information on copyright laws, as well as assistance in making a business plan that fits with your budget.
My company is organising a charity walk through the Scottish Highlands but I’m really not keen. We’re a small organisation and everybody is taking part, so I’m feeling a lot of pressure, but I don’t think I can physically do it. I’m really worried about what I’m going to say. Jennifer, via email
Speak to your boss and explain how you feel. I’m sure that your colleagues will understand. It’s really important that you don’t take part if you feel that you can’t physically do it. You could suggest that you will support them in another way, by spreading the word about the walk, gaining some local press coverage or collecting sponsorship. There are lots of other ways in which you can take part and still do your bit for the charity.
Dear Dr Hilary
Even though I’m on the Pill, my periods make me feel uncomfortable and bloated. Is it safe to miss the monthly bleeds three times in a row over Christmas and New Year, so I can enjoy the parties without having to worry about my periods? Aysha, via email
Many women have discovered they can postpone a period by taking their Pill continuously. For women taking the 21-day combined oral contraceptive Pill, that means starting the next pack straight away without the Pill-free week in between. For women taking the 28-day combined Pill, it means discarding the last seven tablets in the packet and beginning the next packet after 21 days. Doing this for three months in a row is OK, but a withdrawal bleed at least every three months is preferable and most women like the reassurance of having a period on a regular basis. An alternative would be to talk to your doctor about a Pill with a stronger progestogen component to control bloating and cramps.
Dear Dr Hilary
My mother has varicose veins in her legs. She says they don’t bother her, but are they safe or should I encourage her to get them removed? Josie, via email
Small varicose veins, especially below the knee, are common. They may not look attractive but rarely cause problems unless knocked and injured, or if the person has a history of blood clots or skin infections. Large, twisted, bulging veins going up the thigh, however, are more at risk of rupturing, causing heavy bleeding and inflammation. Tailor-made, tapered elastic stockings may be all she needs to control them, but techniques, like sclerotherapy which involves injecting a foam into the veins, can eradicate them without the need for an operation to remove them.
We’re doing Secret Santa at work this year. Have you got any advice on buying the perfect gift? Sandra, via email
The concept of Secret Santa confuses me. The only reasons to buy someone a present are if they’ll shower you with thanks, you want them to think you’re rich with exquisite taste, or you want to sleep with them. But the element of anonymity provides the opportunity to do some festive meddling. If two colleagues have had an affair they’d rather everyone forgot, seeing their faces as they unwrap sex toys in front of the whole office is a gift that keeps on giving. Or if you hate your boss, spread some passive-aggressive cheer with a diet book. But if you really want to stick to the Secret Santa spirit of miserly budgets, what’s to stop you wrapping up something from the stationery cupboard? After all, who doesn’t love a stapler?