Hi, Harlan!

I’m about to be a freshman in college, and I have a question about roommate etiquette. How does a courteous roommate typically deal with needing to wake up early in the morning without annoying a late-sleeping roommate? This question especially is applicable when living in a noisy dorm building. If a courteous roommate needs earplugs to fall asleep because there’s a party in the next room over, then needs an extra-loud alarm to wake up the next morning, is the other person just expected to deal with the extra noise? — Paige

Dear Paige

Being a good roommate is about common courtesy and clear communication. Common courtesy is never expelling gas in a common area when you’re unsure if it’s stinky. Clear communication is making it clear that you’re sorry after accidentally expelling gas in a common area. Common courtesy when getting up in the morning means setting an alarm and being as quiet as possible (vibrating alarms are ideal). It’s never hitting the snooze button (snoozing is a slap in your roommate’s face). It’s not making a lot of noise when you wake up. It’s not using the microwave, a hair dryer, your laptop, Skype or cellphone. It’s taking the bed closest to the door. It’s not slamming the door. It’s not turning on bright lights. It’s constant compromise and communication. No two people will always get along. Married couples, roommates and cellmates don’t get along all the time. But people who want to get along will always find a way to get along. Check with your roommate to make sure she knows you are trying to do your best.

Just acknowledging that you care can make all the difference.

Dear Harlan,

I’ve been in a relationship with a guy for almost a year now, and honestly think it could be a great, long-term thing. I love him a lot, and he’s everything I could ask for in a guy, but there’s a small problem. He’s currently living at home with his family, is nearing his 20th birthday and isn’t satisfied with what he’s accomplished so far. Between working two jobs, he’s decided that college isn’t right for him, at least right now.

I’ll be going away to school soon and am committed to him, but in the event that we do or do not stay together, how do I help him to get on a better path?

His parents have not been the most supportive, and think all his problems will be solved by going into the military. I think the service could help him, but don’t think he’s considering it because of the potential distance it could put between us. Help?

Looking for Direction

Dear Looking,

Your job isn’t to motivate, save or guide him. That’s his job. More than a girlfriend or the military, he needs strong mentors. He needs people in his world that will guide and support him. He could have found them at school, but for some reason, he didn’t reach out to them.

The military will force him to find strong leaders, but it’s not a permanent fix. If you want to help him, encourage him to do something that will help him find people who can guide him – people who have direction, focus, passion and a willingness to help. Whether he goes back to school, gets a job or goes in the military, he needs direction and strong mentors to guide him.

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