Agony advice from Fiona Caine

Advice columnist Fiona Caine offers her perspective on family dramas, emotional issues and dysfunctional relationships.


Q My brother is good-looking, charming and one of those people who succeed at everything he does.

I know he can’t help this, but it really hurts that all my family seem to favour him, and whenever he’s around, he gets all the attention.

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I might as well be invisible and although this sounds petty, I’m beginning to feel really resentful.

A You’re right not to blame your brother, who can’t help being successful, and I’m sure that deep down you wouldn’t wish him any harm.

It’s hard living in someone else’s shadow, but you can move into the limelight if you want to – you just have to look at the gifts you’ve got and make the most of them.

Concentrate on the positive aspects of your life and stop comparing them to your brother – and if others do, ignore them.

Have you tried talking to him? If you did, I’m sure you’d find he has his own insecurities too.

All too often, people who are great successes have a problem finding someone to talk to – you might find that he really needs you and your trust.


Q I was at a conference for work the other month and stupidly had a fling with another delegate. I was a little bit drunk after the dinner; he was friendly and attractive and we ended up in bed together, although we didn’t have sex.

I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror the morning after and fortunately he’d already left, so I didn’t have to see him again.

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I love my husband very much and would never want to hurt him. I feel so guilty. I know I’ll never do this again, but should I tell him?

A What would telling him achieve? It might make you feel better but it will make him feel a whole lot worse.

If you’re sure there is no chance of you infecting him with a sexually transmitted disease, then it would be kinder to him to stay quiet.

Living with guilt is hard but perhaps you could see it as a punishment for your infidelity and it will certainly make you think twice about letting it happen again. If you confess and he forgives you, then you may be tempted to repeat what you did the next time you’re away. I think you should try to find out what really made you do this in the first place.

Why not talk with a Relate counsellor ( about your feelings?


Q I’m 17 years old and I’m pregnant. I’m OK with this but my boyfriend is terrified that his parents are going to find out.

He’s 18 years old and he wants us to keep it a secret for as long as possible, so he can break the news to them gently. I expect my parents will be cross too but I don’t like the idea of keeping things secret, especially as we plan to keep the baby. I suggested that we ought to come clean and my boyfriend got really angry, saying we should be loyal to each other, not to our parents. Now I feel hurt and confused and I am not sure what to do.

A I think your first concerns should be for your own health and for that of your baby, so you certainly need to get medical attention – and soon.

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If you are going to need your parents’ support then tell them. They may well be shocked or even angry at first, but this will pass.

It sounds as if your boyfriend is trying to hide from his responsibilities; perhaps he’s hoping the “problem” will go away.

He needs to face up to the fact that it won’t, so try pointing out that he should be putting the health of his child above hurting the feelings of his parents.