On breaking an engagement, coffee-morning whispers, parents who like to party and internet dating shame
Q I plan on breaking off my engagement following my fiancée overspending on everything for the wedding (booked for June) and becoming frighteningly demanding. She is skin and bones after losing weight and flies into a rage if I mention it. I come from a close family and she makes no effort to fit in, and I simply want to return to the friendly man I was, and not the angry and anxious one she has turned me into.
My mother advises I ask for the return of the engagement ring (price €5,600) but let her keep the honeymoon (cost €7,000) which is already paid for. My father suggests I ask for both back, as I paid for them. What do you think is acceptable, bearing in mind her family paid for the dresses and cars, and our families were splitting the cost of the reception?
A I'm sorry to hear that things have not gone well and you've reached the point where you feel it's best to walk away. I presume you have done everything in your power to fix the situation and nothing has worked?
It's such a shame that she has changed for the worse and it has affected the person you are. It sounds as if she got caught up in the pressures of organising a wedding and couldn't cope. If you are positive that your partnership cannot be saved, then follow your instincts.
It seems fair that you get the engagement ring back, but if you feel she should keep the honeymoon, then let her. In such a situation, the two families risk being embroiled in arguments over who has paid more for what. Do your utmost to ensure it's as clean a break as possible and try not to let others force you to make decisions that you don't feel are right.
Q My best friend invited me around for a coffee and when I got to her house a few other friends were already there, and they all went quiet when I walked in. I sensed an odd atmosphere but did my best to make conversation. I left shortly afterwards as nobody seemed interested in talking to me. I rang my friend later, and she accused me of being jealous of her meeting other friends without me.
I am very confused, do you think she has a point, or do you think I have just been dumped from the group? We’re all in fifth year and I have no choice but to see them all after the Easter break.
A You appear to have done nothing to indicate any sort of jealousy towards your friend, you were just arriving and, sensing something was awry, did your best to be friendly. From the details you have given, the problem seems to be hers. The group may have been talking about you or something you have done, and you walked in on it, caught them at it and that's what provoked the silence and strange atmosphere.
Your best friend realised that you would be suspicious and decided to turn the tables, placing the blame on you and accusing you of something you didn't do. It's a common and cowardly defence mechanism.
You need to have a frank conversation with her and explain that you have done nothing wrong and you're certainly not jealous of her meeting other friends without you. She needs to accept that she has treated you unfairly. Be sensitive because she is probably feeling vulnerable and guilty, but let her know you're not happy with what happened.
Q Since being made redundant, my dad has taken to chilling out all day, and he and my mum invite a lot more friends around than they used to. There have been some wild parties in the past few months - they call them dinner parties but they all get very drunk.
My granny died last year and left my dad money, so we have no money worries as such. I just want my old boring parents back. I am 14 and feel I can’t rely on them when they are hungover all the time.
A I can understand your parents’ motivations. They have probably worked hard all their lives and, faced with redundancy, they have decided to enjoy spending more time with their friends. Perhaps they are finding it difficult to cope following the death of your grandmother and they are probably wondering when they will find employment again.
However, as you're a young teenager, it's unfair on you to have to deal with their new lifestyle. If I were in your position, I would make clear my disapproval of their new lifestyle. You need them to realise that they are your role models and to begin acting as such, and be responsible parents.
Explain that you don't mind them having fun and it's preferable to them moping around in a depression following your dad’s redundancy, but you need to be able to view them as reliable adults who can offer consistency and stability in the home.
Q I met my boyfriend on an internet dating site yet I’m afraid of what my friends will say. We’re due to go to a wedding soon, and I’m thinking of lying about how we met when I introduce him. Is there any way to mention meeting on an internet site without sounding desperate or tacky?
A There is nothing wrong with getting to know somebody over email and social media networks. It may even benefit a relationship in the long term. So my advice is to be proud that you have successfully met somebody you really like and internet dating has worked for you. Don't ever be tempted to lie about it and risk being caught out. Explain with confidence that you were lucky enough to find each other on an internet site - disproving popular opinion that such sites are crawling with weirdos!