Agony Aunt April

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Q: Dear Agony Aunt April,

I’m really worried about my flatmate. She’s fallen in with a new crowd and has started taking drugs and staying out all night. She never used to be like this and I know her work is suffering because of it. She looks terrible and we are all really worried about her. I’ve tried to talk to her about it but she denies she has a problem and refuses to discuss it. What can I do?

A: This is a very serious issue and I understand your concern. Unfortunately, until your flatmate admits that she has a problem and decides to accept help, there is very little you can do. Clearly, she is in denial and therefore likely to go on the defensive if she feels challenged. With this in mind, try to talk to her in a non-accusing manner and make it clear that you’re not judging her, you’re just worried, and you’re there for her if she needs you. It’s definitely worth giving her some numbers of organisations trained to deal with these issues, such as FRANK (0800 776600). Even if she laughs it off at the time, or even gets angry with you, when she’s on her own and has had time to think, she may well come round to the idea of talking to someone she doesn’t know and isn’t closely involved.

In the meantime, try to rally round as a flat and organise as many activities together as you can. This way she will be too busy with you to have time for this new crowd, and hopefully she will remember that she can have a good time without drugs. Obviously only do this as long as it doesn’t start to interfere with your own studies – ultimately, as much as you’re worried about your friend, you have to put yourself and your degree first. Lastly, remember that, whatever she might say, this girl is lucky to have a friend like you!

Q: Dear Agony Aunt April,

I’ve been having trouble sleeping recently. I think it’s due to the amount of girlfriends I’ve been having. I’ve gone through about eleven in the past 3 months. I don’t find sex satisfying, it depresses me. I get bored easily. I once texted this girl on a night out just so I could sleep with another girl I met in Jesters that night. Friends are always congratulating me, saying I’m ‘a player’. But that’s really not how I see myself. I thought this is what people were meant to be doing at University? ‘Having fun?’ I’m not having fun.  What should I do, I don’t want people thinking I’m the kind of person I’m not, but I don’t want to compromise myself to please them?

A: Ok, well it may sound obvious but no one’s forcing you to sleep with lots of girls, so if it’s not making you happy, don’t do it! You should never feel pressured into doing anything just to impress someone or because you think it’s what you’re supposed to be doing. Contrary to popular opinion, just because you’re at University, doesn’t mean sleeping around is compulsory. Of course plenty of people use coming to Uni as a chance to experiment, but the truth is most people find this lifestyle unfulfilling in the long term and calm down after the first few months – this sounds like the stage you are at now. You’ve tried the sleeping around thing, and decided that it’s not for you. The reason you find sex boring is probably because you have no connection with the person you’re doing it with, and therefore there’s no laughter and no chance to become comfortable enough with each other to experiment. Perhaps you would like to meet someone you can talk and have a laugh with, as well as sex, or maybe you just want to be on your own for a while. There’s nothing wrong with this. Try going out and make it your goal not to go home with a girl – just focus on having a good time with your friends.

The reason these friends congratulate you over your conquests is probably because they think you’re enjoying yourself. Clearly the fact that they call you a ‘player’ means that they aren’t acting the same way you are, so I’m sure they’d be supportive if you told them how you’re feeling – it’s good that you don’t want to be viewed this way. On a more practical note, if you’ve forgotten to use protection with any of the girls you’ve been with, it might be a good idea to have a sexual health check up, just to make sure you haven’t picked up anything unwanted and put your mind at rest. Hopefully then you can make some changes to your lifestyle and you’ll be able to sleep easier again. Good luck!

If you have a problem, however big or small, and think you could benefit from some friendly, confidential advice from a fellow student, please email alf1g10@soton.ac.uk. All questions, if published, will be done so anonymously.

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