Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Roommate Wants Distance When Lease Is Up

DEAR HARRIETTE: I am 25 years old, and I live in Manhattan with a woman I’ve known since kindergarten. Growing up and throughout college, I considered her to be my best friend -- until now. Being her roommate and thinking about our friendship has made me realize how toxic it has been. She is selfish and self-centered. Whenever we get together, we talk about her. Never once has she congratulated me on my accomplishments or asked me about my life. When I do something wrong, she’ll criticize me and hold it against me for months. I know I have always looked at her as a best friend, but she is not a friend to me at all anymore.

Luckily, our lease is up in a month. Once it's done, I want to distance myself from my "friend" as much as possible, but I know she is going to reach out. I don’t want the negative energy in my life anymore; it’s been so upsetting. How do I remove her from my life when she’s been in it for so long? -- Lost a Friendship, New York City

DEAR LOST A FRIENDSHIP: There is a saying that people are in your life for a season, for a reason or forever. This friend’s season seems to have run out. Take small steps to extricate yourself from her now. Endings are often more important than beginnings because we can get messy and unthinking when we are trying to walk away from a situation.

Be mindful. Make sure your roommate knows that you do not intend to extend the lease. Tell her that you need to take a break, so you plan to go dark. When she calls, don’t always answer. If you think she will listen to you, tell her why you are distancing yourself. But if she is as self-centered as you say, she may never understand. In that case, you can be cordial, but stop taking her calls and be increasingly unavailable to hang out.

Be sure to speak to the landlord so that it is clear that you will no longer be on the lease and that you are moving.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My good friends have invited my husband and me to go on vacation with them three years in a row, but we have always declined. It’s secretly because my husband, who is not an American citizen, has lost his passport. To get a new one takes a lot of work -- including getting paperwork from his country. He has a green card. He is legal, but he hasn’t taken the steps to get a new passport. I am so frustrated by this. Since our friends don’t know our real reason for not joining them, they think we don’t like them. I didn’t want to tell them about my husband’s immigration and passport status as I find it embarrassing and irresponsible. What can I do to help solve this dilemma? Prompting my husband hasn’t worked so far. -- No Passport, Denver

DEAR NO PASSPORT: This is a tough situation because you can’t do much. All you can do is find out exactly what is needed to complete the passport process and present that to your husband. You should also talk to him about becoming an American citizen. Since he is married to you, it could be an easy process, even now. Finally, you might consider going on the trip with your friends without him. That might wake him up.

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