DEAR HARRIETTE: My girlfriend and I have moved in together and are discovering a lot of habits we didn't know the other had. For example, she is not a morning person, and she prefers not to speak before coffee. I tend to be messy and leave my belongings around the house. These aren't unlivable qualities, but my girlfriend told me that if she could tolerate me leaving my stuff around, I should be able to wait until she has her coffee to broach the day's topics with her. I thought that was so rude of her. I just have a bad habit of leaving things out. I try to clean up after myself, but sometimes I forget. Her "habit," on the other hand, is a demand. She can talk if she's awake! Is the right thing to respect her demand or tell her to get over it? -- Bad Habits, Atlanta
DEAR BAD HABITS: I hate to break it to you, but your habit is as bad as your girlfriend's -- and likely far more disruptive. Your girlfriend needing quiet time in the morning, likely not more than an hour, may be difficult for you, but after that period of silence, she is open to talk. Consider this time her meditation space. On the other hand, your mess lingers day in and day out and probably affects the overall appearance of your home at all times. I'm sorry, but my vote is for you to give your girlfriend her space AND clean up your mess. If you need help becoming tidy, you may want to ask her to help you create systems for cleanliness.