Dear Readers,

Happy New Year, everyone!

Lately, I’ve been obsessing over the question, “What have I done today to change something in my life that I want to change?” Too many times, there are things we want to change, but we do nothing. I’m guilty, too. So, this year I’m going to do something about it. Every day, I’m going to ask this question and answer it. I’m going to do one thing to create change. And every single day I’m going to post it on Facebook (Facebook.com/HelpMeHarlan) and I’m going to Tweet it. I invite you to do this with me. Whatever you’re looking to find, fix or change, do it with me in 2012 and make this the best year ever. Wishing you and your family everything you hope and desire for the New Year!

Dear Harlan,

The issues with my roommate started because of the lock on our back door. At first, neither of us were able to lock the door, so we just left it unlocked. Because my roommate tends to lose the keys to the front door, she started climbing over the balcony to get into our room instead. Eventually I figured out how to lock the back door and proposed that we start locking it, which she refused without discussion. After a while, friends started using the balcony to get in uninvited, which freaked me out a little. If they could get in, then anyone could get in, not to mention my privacy was being violated on a regular basis. I proposed locking it again. She refused again, allowing for no discussion. The final straw came when the door was left wide open for everyone to see twice. I then told her that I was scared my stuff would be stolen and that that I would be locking the back door from now on. The next time I found it unlocked, I locked it. The next morning, I was met with a passive-aggressive “I see you’ve locked the door again, do you realize no one else locks their back door here?”, to which I replied “Sorry, I just don’t feel safe with it open — I don’t want my stuff to get stolen.” The next day, she told me, “Get out of my life.” She no longer sleeps in the room, but when she comes in to get stuff, it’s always awkward. I tried many times to talk to her about it, but she didn’t want to talk. She seemed quite irrational about the whole thing. I’m afraid if we have any other disagreements she’ll do something else destructive. Help!

Locked In

Dear Locked In,

You might want to keep the door unlocked — that will make it easier to run from your crazy roommate. When the biggest fear is the person inside the locked door, it’s time to move out. In the meantime, give her permission to be miserable and wrong. This will help you be nice. If you need to talk to her, nicely tell her that you know she doesn’t like you and you wish it could be different, but you are not comfortable with the door unlocked. Mention that you’re going to move out, but you want to keep the door locked. Tell her you’re sorry if you didn’t handle this the way she would have wanted. Then get out.

Write Harlan at [email protected] or visit online: www.helpmeharlan.com. All letters submitted become property of the author.