Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Roommates' Fighting Keeps Reader Awake

DEAR HARRIETTE: I just moved to New York City and into my own apartment -- well, sort of my own apartment. I share a two-bedroom apartment in the East Village with my best friend from high school and her boyfriend. When I agreed to the idea, I was primarily thinking about my finances and how this was the best move for me. What I did not take into consideration was our personalities mixing while we lived together.

One month in, I have realized that my friend and her boyfriend fight more than they don’t fight. They have screaming matches at 11 p.m. when I am trying to fall asleep. I have previously tried telling them to quiet down, but it happens almost every night.

How do I deal with this? I don’t know how I can approach the two of them, because it is their apartment as much as it is mine. -- Sleepless Roommate, Manhattan, New York

DEAR SLEEPLESS ROOMMATE: Sharing an apartment with a couple is typically challenging, even when the two of them get along well. What you are facing sounds harrowing. The only way you will have a chance of getting them to notice their behavior and consider curbing the fights is by talking to them. Schedule a meeting where you agree -- all of you -- to talk about your living arrangements. Start with something positive. If they are tidy, complement them on that and thank them. Anything else that works should be mentioned. Then express your concerns about their constant arguing. Acknowledge that you understand that couples may have disagreements from time to time, but they argue constantly. Tell them that you cannot sleep, and this behavior is disturbing. Ask them to pay attention so they notice how frequently they fight. Beg them to stop. Ultimately, you may need to move.

Read more in: Etiquette & Ethics | Friends & Neighbors

Should Baby Sitter Tell the Truth About Kids?

DEAR HARRIETTE: I baby-sit almost every weekend, and a lot during the week. My "regulars" -- the families I see every week -- have started giving my number out to other families. In addition to that, a lot of my father’s friends ask him if I am available to watch their kids.

One night, I was watching my dad’s friends’ children. There were two boys, ages 6 and 8. The boys were extremely misbehaved, and it was one of the worst baby-sitting experiences I’ve ever had. When the parents came home, they asked me how their children were, and I said they were fine, like I was on autopilot. My question is, do you tell the parents of the kids you are baby-sitting that the boys were bad? Do you think this will lessen my chances of being asked back? Also, does it matter that these are my father’s friends? -- ”The Kids Were Fine” Baby Sitter, Stamford, Connecticut

DEAR “THE KIDS WERE FINE” BABY SITTER: It is important for you to give these parents honest feedback about their children’s behavior. It could be that the boys were testing you, which the parents should know. It could be that this is normal -- which you should know so that you don’t go back to them. Call the parents and tell them that you have some information you feel you should share about your time with their children. Then stick to the facts. Do not get emotional. Be descriptive so they know what happened. Do not involve your father. This is your job.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)

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