Ask Fiona: I feel pressure from my friends to smoke

Columnist and trained counsellor Fiona Caine offers her perspective on family dramas, emotional issues and dysfunctional relationships. This week: smoking, jealousy and taking your partner's surname

It's all too easy to become hooked on cigarettes and the damage can be irreparable

WHEN I was a kid I had asthma, but I've long since got over it. My parents always said it would be really bad for me if I smoked, but so many of my friends do and I was wondering if just an occasional one would really hurt?

I'm not likely to become addicted, but I don't like being the odd one out.


FIONA SAYS: Be strong – don't risk it

You think you're strong willed enough not to become addicted and yet you don't feel strong willed enough to stand out from your friends. Couldn't you be one of the few that shows some common sense?

While one cigarette might not harm you, in view of your past asthma, can you be completely sure? And could you really be confident you'd stop at one?

It's all too easy to become hooked on cigarettes and the damage to your heart and lungs can be irreparable. If you're feeling pressure from your friends to start smoking, tell them you've had asthma and don't want to risk it.

If your friends don't accept that and back off, you might need to consider if they are really worth having as friends after all.


MY FIANCE and I are due to get married later this year; I love him and he tells me he loves me. Everyone tells me he's never felt this way about anyone, but I just don't feel reassured and I feel jealous whenever I see another girl look at him.

I just can't shake the feeling that he will be tempted and I am so afraid of losing him.


FIONA SAYS: Believe in yourself

Jealousy is a horrible emotion that can destroy relationships, so you really need to find out what is causing you to react in this way. In most cases, people who are jealous have very low self-esteem.

You've been given plenty of reassurance that your fiance loves you and yet you fear there are other people who are more attractive to him than you are.

However much he tries to reassure you, it won't help unless you start to believe in yourself – believe that you're worth being loved. The root of this may be a lack of confidence, or it may be because you've been hurt before.

Either way, you are more likely to lose your fiance by being clingy or stifling him, than you are by showing you trust him.

A great book that might help is Overcoming Jealousy by Dr Windy Dryden (Sheldon Press). You could also talk to your GP about assertiveness training, which will help you feel better about yourself.


MY HUSBAND and I have been friends with another couple for several years now.

We're very fond of them; they're lovely people, a little eccentric and, like us, they've never had children. We used to see them regularly, but the problem is, they've acquired a dog and they are completely besotted with it.

They won't go anywhere without it, it sleeps on their bed, is so badly trained it can't be left alone for five minutes and all in all, is a complete pain.

I've never been a dog person and my husband's not that keen either, plus we're proud of our house and don't want animals in it. It's bad enough when we go to see them as the wretched animal leaps all over us and they just think it's cute and funny.

We don't and so we've not invited them to our house because we just don't want the dog in it. What should we do?


FIONA SAYS: Be honest with them

PEOPLE become very passionate about their pets and don't see them as others do. It sounds as if your friends have made their dog into the child they never had.

Whilst it might hurt them, I think it would be best if you were honest and said you are fond of them, want to see them, but not their dog as you're not animal lovers.

It is then up to them to decide what to do – if they won't leave the dog on it's own, they could arrange a dog-sitter for it or put it into kennels.

As couples, part of your bond was the fact that neither of you had children. By making a child out of their pet they have changed that bond between you and sometimes, when people change, it brings a relationship to an end.

I'm afraid that might be what is happening here. It is up to them to decide whether they want to put your friendship before their pet and leave the dog at home. They cannot, and should not, assume you want their dog around.


I'VE been going out with a guy for the last four years that I'm very much in love with. He wants to marry me, but there is one thing holding me back and that's his surname.

It's really awful and I know I couldn't bear to be called Mrs... He is a lovely man, but I sense he's beginning to get a bit impatient with me for not setting a date.

It seems too silly for words that a grown woman doubts the man she loves simply because of his surname.


FIONA SAYS: You don't have to take his name

Why do you have to take his surname? Many married women these days don't change their name at all.

If that is really all that is holding you back, ask your fiance how he feels about you keeping your own name after you're married.

If he has a problem with that, explain how you feel about his name – he's used to it but if it really is as strange as you say, he's probably used to people's reactions.

As he loves you I'm sure he won't have an issue with you not taking his name but if he does, you need to find out why. If there is any suggestion it's because he wants to feel he owns you, you might want to reconsider your relationship.

:: If you have a problem you'd like Fiona's advice with, please email


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