| 16.1°C Dublin

Dear Rosanna: Babe betrayed by beach buddy

In which Holiday horrors, facebook flirting, shopping addiction and beauty concerns are considered

Q I booked a holiday with a friend and put it on my credit card and the idea was she would pay me back. But she has just rung to say that her new boyfriend has booked for them to go away and that she can't afford to go on two holidays. She says I have eight weeks to find a replacement for her, and that she doesn't see why she owes me any money. I am gobsmacked, furious and very hurt by her cavalier attitude. I was so shocked I just put the phone down . . .

A I understand your anger towards your friend and why you reacted as you did down the phone. What she has done to you is outrageously rude. She has essentially ditched you for her boyfriend and left you inconvenienced and under pressure to find somebody to replace her. She should have had the maturity to honour your arrangement.

Legally you cannot make her pay, but what I advise you to do first is make amends for what you did down the phone, call her and calmly explain how hurt you feel. What she did is not how a friend should behave.

Examine all the options for replacements for her, or any way you can get the money back. She may be able to reach an agreement with her boyfriend where he pays for their holiday, she pays you, and pays him back over time. You could ask if your friend and her boyfriend could buy the holiday from you. Speak to the travel agent to enquire about your rights. I would never suggest you ditch her as a friend, but I'm sure you will both need to rebuild trust to continue your friendship. I hope it all works out the best for you both.

Q My partner's spending is getting out of control and I don't know what to do. Every time she goes to the shops she comes back with a load of bags and puts everything on her credit card. I've picked her up on it several times as we share a bank account and I regularly find the balance much lower than it should be. But she doesn't seem to think that she has a problem and says that I'm overreacting. I've tried sitting her down and telling her that I'm not made of money but she won't listen at all.

A It sounds to me that she has developed some form of shopping addiction. Walking out of a shop with a new purchase does give an adrenaline rush, but it's generally short-lived when the guilt of spending too much sets in!

Do you think that she may be over-spending to fill a gap in her life or doing it out of boredom? It would be worth considering some of the reasons behind her shopping. Rather than nagging her to stop, encourage her to pursue a less expensive hobby, even one you can enjoy together. She needs something that makes her happy and gives her the same rush as spending does, maybe a fitness activity would be appropriate.

If, despite your efforts, she continues, get tough. Consider cutting her off from your joint account until she can learn to be responsible with her own card. It's incredibly unfair that she is spending your hard-earned money. However you choose to deal with it, act quickly before more is spent. She must learn the value of money and some respect for you.

Q My boyfriend is in regular contact with his ex on Facebook and it's making me furious. He says that there's nothing going on and they're good friends, but they have very flirty conversations. He's very secretive about his mobile and never lets it out of his sight. I've raised the issue but he tells me that I am irrational and I need help for my jealousy. I am not sure if he's carrying on behind my back.

AThis is tricky as you can hardly accuse him of cheating, but it's also difficult for you to feel relaxed about the idea that he is in contact with his ex. The way that he is twisting the point to make it seem as though you are being jealous and irrational suggests to me that he does have something to feel guilty about.

While you have no concrete proof, you have noticed how he's behaving, I encourage women to trust their instinct. Speak to him and explain that she is an ex for a reason. Make it clear that it's great they've remained friendly, but you're part of his life now and there needs to be a cut-off point. Tell him that you're not being jealous but this is a matter of basic manners. I'm sure he would not like it if you were speaking to an ex, make sure he sees it from your point of view. If he refuses or tries to twist it, then I would re-consider the entire relationship.

Q My 16-year-old friend is determined to enter a beauty pageant but she's not model material. I'm not being cruel but she's a little overweight and doesn't take care of herself as much as she could. Although she can be annoying sometimes I don't want her to be humiliated. I can't say anything to her family as they are encouraging her to enter

A I understand that you want to ensure that she doesn't walk away from the competition feeling embarrassed. Presumably her family has no experience of pageants, and can't advise her and I can see why they want to offer encouragement. It is my concern that her confidence would be crushed if she was placed nowhere. She may view it as a bit of fun, but deep down, would love to win.

You can't tell her to lose weight or improve her hair without sounding critical, and I doubt her family would take kindly to such comments either. Suggest that she waits a year or two and researches what it means to be a beauty queen. Advise her to speak to past winners, prominent figures in the business, speak to nutrition experts to get her body in condition, and a personal style consultant for her hair and make-up. If she knows that she has tried her very best to prepare then she can enter with utmost confidence and a chance of winning.