Emma Barnett has been dishing out advice over the airwaves for years, and now has taken up the gauntlet to be an official agony aunt

This is a photo of Emma Barnett

Hello Emma! Who do you work for, and for how long have you been an agony aunt?

The Sunday Times, and eight months!

How old are you?

I’m 32.

Do you have any agony aunt qualifications?

No, but having hosted radio shows for the last six years, I’ve listened and given informal advice to a lot of people.

How did you become an agony aunt?

Eleanor Mills, editor of the Sunday Times magazine, invited me to become one, and named the column after my no-nonsense but kind approach to problems, hence the “Tough Love” column was born!

How big is the ‘Tough Love’ mailbag?

A few sincere ones a week.

Do you take your work home with you?

I carry their problems the whole week and then write my answers by Thursday.

Do you get more letters from women?

I think marginally more women. But only just.

Are there some topics you find more difficult than others?

Yes – where there is no clear answer, and also where it’s not my right to say – such as: “should I keep my baby?” Plus, a lack of detail in the letters can be a real problem.

Do women and men tend to ask different types of questions?

Men ask quite graphic sexual ones, and women go deeper with their emotions.

Have you noticed any ‘trendy’ subject matters of late?

Career issues, general confidence issues, and entrenched family rows.

What have you learned about human relationships?

They are messy, brilliant and damn cruel at times. People need to be braver about asking for what they really want from another human being.

So, what happens to all those letters that don’t get answered?

They linger in my inbox, because you never know.