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My man's besotted with a girl at work

Q A woman's name keeps popping up in my boyfriend's conversation. She works with him and, at first, I thought it was because they were working on a project together. But that's finished, and he's still babbling on about things she says and does.

We went to a lovely restaurant last weekend, and it was only afterwards I discovered it was on her recommendation. He also wants to go on holiday to where she went with her boyfriend.

I wish he was as interested in what I have to say, but instead he has a habit of forgetting things I've asked him to do, or plans I've made. I've never met her, do you think I should pop into his office to check her out?

A I genuinely don't feel that this woman poses any threat to your relationship, but I also sympathise with how difficult it must be for you to have to hear her name so often without knowing who she is.

It sounds as though your boyfriend is impressed by her personality and tastes, and has decided to incorporate some of these into his own life. As he is in a relationship, and so is she, I doubt there is any harm in it -- she is simply a new and interesting person to learn from.

You tell me that he forgets what you have asked him to do, but, to me, that sounds like a typical man. It happens to me frequently, too! My advice is to inject a bit more passion and communication into your relationship. Arrange regular date nights,

and really talk about what's going on in your professional lives. Work together to suggest new places to visit and experience, and bring the fun back into your life together. He will soon stop talking about his new work friend

QMy two best friends have had Botox injections, and say that if a woman doesn't take preventative measures in her mid-20s, then she will age quicker than she needs to. They keep pointing out newsreaders and models and actresses on telly who they say have had Botox. They tell me if I don't start taking care of myself I will look older before they do. The thing is, I am terrified of needles.

AMaking the decision to inject your face with Botox is neither cheap nor straightforward. It worries me to hear that your friends are trying to convince you to have Botox. It sounds to me that they're just seeking another person to join them to add credibility to what they're doing. Deciding to get Botox should be your decision alone, made with medical advice, if and when the time is right for you.

I, personally, am an advocate of looking after your skin well to avoid any need for Botox. I recommend you focus on good skincare, no smoking, minimal alcohol, plenty of sleep and exercise, good nutrition, wearing an SPF every day and never exposing your face to the sun. These basic rules will really help to preserve your skin and make you feel smug around your Botoxed friends.

Also, you should let your friends know that you won't be bullied into following their example.

QWe are friends with a couple who are our age -- late 20s -- and who have two young children, aged two and three months. They are struggling to cope with both work and childminding, and at first we were delighted to give them a dig-out as they don't have any family in Dublin. They work long hours to pay their mortgage and for childcare. Yet I'm growing resentful of their constant need for free babysitters. How can we let them know that babysitting once a month is all we are willing to do, without hurting their feelings?

AI have a lot of admiration for you and your partner. You recognised a couple in need and found the generosity and compassion to help them out, and I've no doubt they are appreciative. Unfortunately, though, it sounds as if they're starting to take advantage of your time and kindness. They may just be too busy to realise that they're stretching you to your limits, but I feel that it's crucial for you to let them know you're unhappy with the current situation. Consider yourselves, the time you can spare and your own boundaries.

QI stupidly sent a text to the wrong person, and now a good friend thinks I was being smart by telling her to 'Grow up'. It was meant for my sister -- we often take each other to task in this way, although we never fall out. My friend refuses to believe this explanation, and thinks I was being judgemental about her sleeping with a man we know has a girlfriend. I do think she should find her own boyfriend, but I am not one to tell people how to live their lives.

AIt can be easy to send a text to the wrong number when we're distracted or in a rush, so please try not to feel stupid for a simple mistake. You sent a very innocent message to the wrong person and she has decided to interpret it in the way that she wants. I'm sorry to hear that she's refusing to believe what is a very straightforward explanation.

This is all originating from her own guilty conscience. She knows she shouldn't have jumped into bed with this man and is probably terrified of what people think of her now, making her respond more defensively to assumed insults.

My advice is to leave her until she calms down and stops being so combative. You have given the truthful explanation and further insistence would only annoy her more, given the frame of mind she's in, or else dilute your side of the argument.

In time she will, hopefully, see sense and realise there are more important things to worry about.