Q How can I dump my girlfriend nicely?
She says she wants to spend the rest of her life with me and at one point we discussed moving in together after college. But I feel the spark has died, and to be honest, I have my eye on someone else. We're both 20 and too young to settle down. We have lots of friends in common, and our families know each other, so how can I let her down without hurting her and becoming Mr Bad Guy in everyone's eyes?
A Unfortunately I don't think there's any way to dump somebody "nicely", particularly when they're not expecting it and don't share your attitude. I do agree, however, that you're both extremely young and possibly not at a stage where you can realistically make the decision to spend the rest of your lives together.
You admit that you're interested in somebody else. I strongly urge you to put this other girl to the back of your mind until you deal with your current situation first.
If you break up with your girlfriend, make it clean and as kind and decent as possible. While you have friends in common and families who get on well, this is ultimately about two people; forget everybody else for once and deal with this in the most mature and responsible way you can.
Speak to her honestly and explain that you feel you're both a little too young for such a commitment, and you're not ready to settle down just yet. She will undoubtedly be hurt initially, so you will need to be as supportive and understanding as possible. Walk away with your dignity and self-respect intact.
Q My boyfriend hit me and I feel afraid. We were fighting about him not answering his phone when he is out, and he started shouting insults at me and hit me across the face. He immediately apologised and said it'll never happen again. I'm 18 and he's 25, and he has always been completely charming. Should I forgive him and give him another chance? When I think about it I feel frightened.
A I'm generally an advocate of offering people the chance to redeem themselves if they have made a mistake. But my mother has brought me up to be completely intolerant of domestic violence and if a man dared to lay a finger on me I would end the relationship immediately.
I respect that it is a personal decision you must make alone, but in many cases a man who hits you once will do it again.
Were alcohol or drugs involved in this case? My best advice is to trust your gut instinct as it's not right to be in a relationship where you feel frightened by the prospect of violence.
Please speak to a trusted friend or relative who will be able to offer their opinion and support, but based on what you have told me, I would urge you to walk away from this guy before something more serious happens.
There is also plenty of advice and support available from organisations such as www.womensaid.ie.
Q Why am I so jealous of my friends? I'm a girl of 21 and I can't stop myself getting extremely jealous of all the nice things that my friends have -- from their bags and accessories and even their boyfriends. It's just not fair. Their parents are still giving them everything that they want but mine are saying they don't have the money any more. I can't help feeling very angry.
A I sympathise to a certain extent with your position, as I appreciate how difficult life can be as a young person trying to keep up with everybody else and to feel like you're fitting in to an increasingly competitive world.
Money is tight for many at the moment but rather than relying on your parents, why don't you look for a part-time job if you have the time? It could provide you with more resources.
Nevertheless, jealousy and anger are extremely unpleasant traits which will only erode and destroy your life, your friendships and your self-confidence.
There will always be somebody else who has something you envy, it's human nature. It takes a more mature individual to be perfectly comfortable and secure in themselves. It is incredibly refreshing and liberating to live life without jealousy.
My advice is to focus on all the good in your life; the family, friendships, personal goals and hurdles you have overcome. Concentrate on being above material goods and fickle desires as they will ultimately not make you happy.
Q I just had a one-night stand with a guy and I really like him. Although I used to be a bit of a wild girl, I've calmed down a bit over the past few years and don't drink or party as much as I used to. I know I shouldn't have slept with the guy on the first night but it just happened. Now I'm paranoid that he'll think I'm easy and I don't know what to do if he bothers ringing me. Please help!
A Choosing to sleep with a guy on the first date is obviously your own personal choice, but sometimes it does give out the wrong message.
If you're interested in developing something long-term I would advise spending as much time as possible getting to know the person before the relationship becomes physical.
But please try not to worry too much, what's done is done and if he is interested in seeing you again then he'll ring you. If he is the type to negatively judge you, he is not worth your time.
If you do organise a second date, then concentrate on being a little more mysterious and not so available. Make sure he realises that you're not easy and his for the taking! My advice is to just be yourself and relax. If it is meant to happen, then it will.