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Q I know this bloke that looks af­ter his el­derly fa­ther full-time. The thing is that he com­plains he’s re­stricted and can’t meet his friends or go away due to be­ing a full-time carer. But if I sug­gest look­ing into aged care and respite care, I get told this is his re­spon­si­bil­ity and duty. I don’t know if there is much as­sis­tance around in aged care un­less he has fi­nances. What could I say if this bloke vents about how stuck and re­stricted he feels? In a way it is his choice to be a full-time carer. SAM, VIA EMAIL. A I was my mother’s full-time carer for seven years. It was thank­less and all con­sum­ing. I did avail my­self of ser­vices for the aged. There are lots to choose from and most lo­cal coun­cils pro­vide as­sis­tance – of­ten for free. I ral­lied fam­ily and friends to look af­ter my mother for a few hours so I could have some ‘me’ time. It would have been easy to com­plain about my sit­u­a­tion but I chose to take on the job. Your ‘bloke’ sounds a mar­tyr. Tell him to stop com­plain­ing and do some­thing about or­gan­is­ing his life to in­clude free time – not dif­fi­cult if he makes the ef­fort. In the mean­time, he should care for his fa­ther in good grace. Q I have had a good male friend for five years now – love at first sight for me but no so much for him. We got to know each other quite quickly and loved spend­ing time to­gether but he wanted to keep it all a se­cret so no­body would know he liked me as he was wor­ried his mates would laugh at him and make fun as I am over­weight. Four years have passed and he is still the same. What should I do, as I love hav­ing him in my life? JEWEL, VIA EMAIL. A Be­ing over­weight has noth­ing to do with your love-life. It’s toxic, one-sided and sad. Five years have passed and he still hides you from his friends. For what­ever rea­son (surely not your body shape) he keeps you a se­cret – your con­fi­dence sounds shaky. Be strong and don’t al­low this un­healthy ro­mance to con­tinue. It is time he in­tro­duced you to his mates. If he re­fuses then con­sider mov­ing on. You may love this man but he is bad news. Q A lady I know asked me to pay her car reg­is­tra­tion and vet bill sev­eral months ago. She promised she’d pay me back within six weeks. But time has gone by and I haven’t had any money. I’ve asked sev­eral times on a mes­sage but had no re­ply. I asked in per­son and she got de­fen­sive. Would you for­get it and put it down to a les­son learnt? I am not get­ting any­where ask­ing for the funds back. CHRIS, VIA EMAIL. A Friend­ship and money are like oil and wa­ter. What started out as a kind ges­ture is now an em­bar­rass­ment. This lady is truth chal­lenged. She has not hon­oured her prom­ise, has ig­nored your mes­sages and con­fronting her in per­son also failed to get her to pay up. Say good­bye to the money and to un­prin­ci­pled friends. Q A neigh­bour re­cently let slip to me that a mu­tual friend of ours is very un­well, but had told her not to men­tion it to any­one. I think my neigh­bour thought I might have al­ready known as the woman has been ill for a while. Now I’m not sure whether to raise it with the friend – I’d like to be able to sup­port her but I don’t want to put my neigh­bour in a dif­fi­cult po­si­tion. MARGIE, VIA EMAIL. A Your friend will tell you when she is ready. It’s ob­vi­ous she does not want to dis­cuss her ill­ness with a lot of peo­ple hence ask­ing the neigh­bour not to tell any­one... so much for stay­ing mum! To raise her ill­ness with your friend is a def­i­nite no-no. Of course you would like to sup­port her dur­ing a dif­fi­cult time but you have no idea what she is go­ing through nor what she is deal­ing with. Do not in­ter­fere or get clingy. Be­have as you al­ways do – the friend­ship re­mains the same. Q I’m in my 70s and had two good friends who are a bit younger than me. They’re both still work­ing and go trav­el­ling reg­u­larly. Al­though they make sure to in­clude me in all their con­ver­sa­tions, I some­times feel like I have noth­ing much to con­trib­ute. Is there any­thing I can do to make sure I have more to talk about when we meet up? BETTY, VIA EMAIL. A If your friends found you bor­ing they would not in­clude you in their con­ver­sa­tions. Don’t look at your shoe laces. Hold your head high. Your friends may be younger than you, but I’m sure you have years and years of won­der­ful memories to talk about. Ask your friends about their travel, their work – peo­ple love the sound of their own voices – you’ll find you will not be re­quired to amuse the group, too busy talk­ing about them­selves. I’m sure you are just as in­ter­est­ing – maybe older, but wiser.

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