Dear Janice, I’m dating a lovely man and am pleased to say we seem to be really hitting it off. Getting to know each other, he tells me that he has spent the last twenty years travelling and as a result has been living off hotel food, takeaways, and dining in Michelin star restaurants. So, I thought it would make a pleasant change for him to enjoy a home-cooked meal. Now I’m no Nigella but can serve up a decent dish or two. Or so I thought. He didn’t say much throughout the meal and when I asked what he thought, he said his steak was overdone and his prawn balls were burnt! I wish I had just taken him out for dinner but that was defeating the purpose. He asked when I’m cooking again, and I don’t know what to do because I’m nervous now. Stacey.

Dear Stacey, I assure you, if he had made comments like that to me after my efforts, it wouldn’t just be his prawn balls that were burnt!

Tell him that as much as you enjoy cooking you realise that you’ll never reach the dizzy heights of a Michelin star chef, and that for you, it would be upsetting to serve up even more sub-standard food.

Following this conversation, I am pretty sure there will be sufficient grovelling on his part for you to make a few suggestions.

You could both continue to enjoy his five-star restaurant food and destress yourself, or why don’t you suggest you sign up for cookery classes? If he’s a disaster in the kitchen, he may well be a little humbler with your offerings, or, if he loves it and is the new Gordon Ramsay, it’s a win-win situation for you both. Keep me posted.

Dear Janice, I really fancy this girl who works in the deli on my way to the office. I’m in there every morning, not just because the rolls are nice, but because it makes my day just to see her. She is always very friendly and smiles at me, but the shop is very busy, so I never really get a chance to chat to her on my own. How can I ask her out without embarrassing myself (or her) in front of customers? Hamish.

Dear Hamish, when I was in my teens dating was a fairly straightforward process. If somebody fancied you, he would tap you on the shoulder and say, ‘Do you want to go out? If you agreed he would say ‘see you at the bus stop (or wherever) at 7pm’, and that was that. Simple!

However, it’s not so straight forward nowadays. The number of instances of stalking has risen dramatically over the years, more so since lockdown, therefore you must tread carefully. You can’t be seen to be hanging about her place of work, peering shiftily through the shop window, or following her to or from work, so I suggest you choose a time when the shop is most likely to be quiet. Try and start up some friendly banter, and once you have found a commonality (the cinema for instance) then communication between you will flow much easier. Pick your moment and politely ask her if she would like to go to the cinema, new bar opening, etc and hopefully she will say yes.

I’m not trying to put a damper on this potential romance, but there is a chance that she is just being friendly and smiley as that’s what she’s paid to do. Only one way to find out though. Good luck.

Dear Janice, I’ve had to do this a couple of times now, the first time with someone I had a one-night stand with, and the second time with someone I’d been seeing for a few months, but it still isn’t an easy thing to do. You see, I have a STI and have just met a guy whom I really like but don’t know how to bring this up without scaring him off before we have had a chance to get to know each other. Andy.

Dear Andy, STI’s are common among young people and they’re nothing to be ashamed of, especially now that most can be treated, if not cured. But I would say, if you feel mature enough to have sex with someone, then embarrassing as it may be, you should be mature enough to handle the downside of it too.

People have the right to be treated with respect so be upfront and honest. Perhaps if others had been honest with you, you wouldn’t keep getting STIs. And really, should you be sleeping with others knowing you could be passing this on? I would suggest keeping your trousers tightly zipped until you seek treatment, which if left, can lead to an array of problematic health complications.

Please use protection, and perhaps consider less partners, before this cycle continues and you pass this on to another unsuspecting partner.

Dear Janice, there’s a really good-looking guy at work and I can’t stop staring at him. Does this mean I’m gay? Sean.

Dear Sean, absolutely not. I stare at gorgeous females and I’m not gay. It’s natural to be drawn to beautiful people.

Apparently, our brain rewards us for looking at pretty faces. It’s just like enjoying tasty food. Best check he is on the menu though if you do change your mind!