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Should I let him wine & dine his ex?

QI've discovered my boyfriend of four years is still in contact with his ex, and meets her every month for dinner. As far as I'm aware, their split was mutual and my boyfriend has never given me any reason to think he regrets their break-up. He says he wasn't keeping their meetings a secret but was afraid I'd make a big deal out of nothing. However, he says his meeting his ex is non-negotiable and he's not going to stop. Should I be worried about his lingering feelings for her?

A I must admit, while I consider it positive when a couple can split up and remain civil towards one another, attempts to cling to what they had are futile, particularly when a new partner comes along.

I feel it's dishonest of your boyfriend to hide this information from you. He obviously knew that you wouldn't agree to it and he has made a serious mistake. He has behaved disrespectfully towards you. You must be open about your feelings and discuss this with him. Let him know clearly that you're unhappy about him seeing his ex and it must come to an end because he is putting your relationship in jeopardy.

Ultimately it comes down to his respect for you and you must decide how to react to it.

QOne of our closest friends has the annoying habit of forgetting her purse when we go out for dinner or drinks. She plays at being ditzy, and goes "Oh

my God", when the bill arrives. Then we all have to sit and watch as she pretends to look for her purse.

It's not funny as we're all 19 years of age and have to watch our money. We've dropped several hints but she ignores us. We don't want to drop her as we all go to her family holiday home in Spain for girly weekends. But we also have to treat her a lot when we're there.

AFrom what you describe, it sounds as though she's trying every trick to avoid spending money when she's out with her friends. Unfortunately for her, she has been caught out! Obviously it's perfectly normal to watch the pennies as much as possible, especially at your age, but it's never right when it's at the expense of your friends.

You tell me you've dropped hints which have had no impact, so I really think it's time for you to speak properly to her about it. Rather than the whole group accosting her at once, I would suggest that two of you pull her aside as soon as possible, and explain that you love having her as a friend, but you feel that she hasn't been pulling her weight when it comes to the group paying for things.

Without sounding combative or accusatory, simply explain that none of you can afford to be forking out extra money for her. It's a fairly minor problem that can be quite easily sorted out through gentle communication and the support from the other members of your group of friends.

QMy boyfriend's mum is competitive with me and I'm beginning to hate going over to his house. I told her I'm planning on doing economics at college and her reply was that I'd be lucky to get in.

I go to the gym twice a week but she boasts about being fitter than me. I haven't as much money to spend on clothes as she does and she always lets me know that she thinks I'm a bad dresser. I try to keep an eye on what I eat, but she piles my plate with roast potatoes and stuffing, which she knows I find hard to resist. Will she ever stop trying to make me feel bad about myself?

AThe last thing you need is to come between your boyfriend and his mum. To me, the most obvious and straightforward explanation for this is that she is extremely jealous of you. Is she quite a controlling mother? It seems that she is finding it difficult to accept that she's no longer the only woman in her son's life.

To a small extent, I have sympathy for her, as it must be a difficult process for any mother to go through. But ultimately, she is a grown woman behaving like an immature, petulant teenager and that's simply unacceptable.

My advice is to ignore it completely for the moment. If it does continue, you may want to mention it to your boyfriend and ask his advice. It's important that he knows how you're feeling. Just be mindful of your approach and be tactful with your words, as you do not want them to be repeated back to her.

QWhy do I find it so hard to stick to a diet? Every weekend I go out and see how my slim friends look so much more attractive than me -- I'm a size 14 -- and swear that I'll be good during the week and stay away from the junk food and chocolate. Yet come Tuesday I'll be sitting on the sofa eating a chip sandwich. I promise to start again the next day, and yet will get some chocolate with my lunch. It's like all my good intentions go out the window once I get hungry.

AFirst, it's incredibly important you stop beating yourself up over feeling larger or less attractive than your friends. Everybody is different and I guarantee that they envy something about you. Us women are usually our own worst critics, and while I, admittedly, constantly criticise my own appearance, I am getting better at focusing on my good points and moving on from the rest. It's deeply self-destructive to waste time worrying over how you look to others. It's clear when somebody is comfortable in their own skin and it's one of the most attractive things in the world.

You must concentrate on adopting sustainable healthy eating and exercise habits, rather than a quick-fix solution. This is about overhauling your daily eating pattern rather than simply wanting to have a flat stomach for a Saturday night out with the girls. It would be a good idea to speak to a nutritionist about your own personal dietary requirements. Good luck.