Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole


DEAR HARRIETTE: I am starting my second year of college. I have been talking to my future roommate, and I've enjoyed our conversations thus far. However, I found out that she has living habits that I am not completely fond of. She stays up really late, and she likes to throw parties. I don't think that is going to be very good when we actually do room together. What should I do? -- Skittish Roommate, Philadelphia

DEAR SKITTISH ROOMMATE: Part of the beauty of being able to talk in advance of school starting is that you and your roommate are getting to know each other. Feel confident about sharing who you are with your roommate. Speak up and tell her that you value your studies a lot and think that you two will probably need to compromise on some of the activities that occur in your room during the school year.

As far as her staying up late, tell her you go to bed early and that you hope you two can figure out how to keep the sound down so that it works for both of you. Party time needs to be on the weekend, and not every weekend. Tell her you would like to participate in the planning of having multiple guests over. In general, describe to her how you live and what your hope your dorm experience will be like. Then negotiate with each other. This negotiation, by the way, will last for the duration of your stay together. It is a fluid experience.

DEAR HARRIETTE: About a month ago, I broke up with my boyfriend of two years. It was a long-distance relationship, and I didn't see him often. But his sister and some of his other family members still live in my city. I have gotten very close to them, and they say they consider me a family member. When we broke up I was afraid that I wouldn't have the same relationship that I had with his family. I called his sister and she still feels the same way. How can I deal with this change? -- Bridging the Divide, San Francisco

DEAR BRIDGING THE DIVIDE: Welcome to the reality of long-term dating and breakups. It is natural that you became close to your ex's family. The natural progression of a committed relationship is that both partners become close to both families. When people marry, it is extremely helpful for the families to be bonded.

The challenge when you break up is that those ties are often still binding. In this case, you are still fresh out of your relationship. Yes, you can remain friendly with his family. No, you should not talk to them about the breakup or any intimacies between you and your ex. But over time, if both you and his family members continue to want to be in communication with each other, you can. I would add that out of respect for your ex, you should let him know that you continue to be in touch with them.