Dear Janice, recently I have been having these horrible lucid dreams. One night I dreamt that a giant cat was clawing at my face and I woke up with scratch marks all over my chin. It was awful, because I must have been clawing at my own skin.

A few nights later I dreamt that someone was at the end of my bed, I couldn’t make out who it was, but he had me by the ankles and was pulling me out of bed. I woke up half on and half off the bed, the duvet and pillows were everywhere and was shaking like a leaf.

I wake up and everything is so vivid that I don’t know if it actually happened or if I dreamt it. There have been a few other unpleasant incidents and I’m now frightened to close my eyes at night.

My colleagues are no help at all and think it’s hilarious, but I’m shattered and need a good night’s sleep without the worry.

I have tried sleeping tables and alcohol, but they only seem to make my dreams more vivid. It’s not something I could go to my doctors about, so any ideas? Chad.

Dear Chad, this is indeed a problem, and not as uncommon as you may think. Of course, it sounds funny to everyone, but I guarantee the chuckles would disappear if it happened to them.

Lucid dreams are different because sleepers are aware they are dreaming and, in some cases, sleepers can even exert control over their surroundings. Some people, like you, wake up and because their experience is so real, they feel sadness, pain, anxiety or fear. This is a new experience for you, but there are ways to control or waken from these dreams, but it takes practice. Check out YouTube video tutorials on this subject which should help to give you a better understanding of your situation and how to wake yourself from these dreams.

If you are in a good physical and mental health state then you shouldn’t worry about these dreams. Alcohol and tablets are certainly not the answer, so keep a dream journal and see if it matches up with your stress levels, as stress has been known to exacerbate lucid dreaming. If so, perhaps it is wise to take a good look at what’s going on in your waking life. Good luck.

Dear Janice, my friends are booking a long weekend to Tenerife in December and after such a long period of lockdown, I was excited at the thought of going abroad. However, my boyfriend is adamant that if I go then he won’t be here when I get back. I’m torn. Suzie.

Dear Suzie, go and enjoy every minute and make sure you hold your boyfriend to his promise. Threats like this are designed to control, and if you give in now, this will be your future. Adios amigo!

Dear Janice, I have been “going out” with a lovely lady for 12 years. I am 62 and she is 52. We message each other every day and get together at weekends taking turns at staying at each other’s house.

She is a wonderful lady with a great sense of humour and a well-paid job, but I made it crystal clear to her from the offset that we could only ever be “friends with benefits”, and that I had no intention of marrying again or moving in with her.

She has never been married, but I have twice before and both times it ended badly leaving me heartbroken.

However, recently my lady friend has been making remarks about how she is “left on the shelf”, “will die an old spinster”, and “always the bridesmaid, never the bride”.

I ignore her comments, but my daughter says I should “wise up” or I will lose her.

Why can’t two adults just have a relationship without commitment? Jonathan.

Dear Jonathan, you made your position crystal clear to her 12 years ago, but anybody with an ounce of emotional intelligence knows that an “adult relationship” requires regular, nourishing and encouraging droplets of commitment.

Ten years together is longer than many marriages, so clearly you both have a connection, but from her comments it appears she now wants more.

Approach the subject without full body armour and discuss openly what she now expects from you. Keep in mind that her needs matter too, and that she shouldn’t have to pay for the aftermath of your ex-wives.

Don’t forget, she may be under pressure from others as to why she is in the same situation 12 years on, and perhaps this is her way of reaching out. If she just wants some sort of commitment (and most people do), then whisk her off for a romantic break and buy her a non-engagement ring in the interim until you decide the best way forward.

But, if she clearly wants marriage and you don’t, you have a problem. That said, I’m not sure either of you could cope with a hasty marriage and full-blown togetherness, so compromise seems key. Suggest spending more time living together, as this is the only real way of knowing if a marriage would have a fighting chance.

Bear in mind Jonathan, spending more time with you might be enough to send your “friend with benefits” quickly back-peddling to the comfort and unmarried life she has become accustomed to.