Dear Harlan: My roommate and I used to get along really well - that is, until one day I quit the student-council board we were on. Then she just got mad and started slamming doors. She won't even stay in the room with me. She'll see I'm here and just grab her stuff and leave. What can I do? I need to talk to her, but I don't know how. - Blessed Be
Dear Blessed Be: She either hates doors or she hates you. Find out what happened. Make sure you approach the situation with an understanding and appreciation that she might not want to get along anymore. Give her permission to be your silent roommate. This will help you stay cool and avoid letting your emotions get in the way. Next time you see her, ask her if she can talk for a second. If she slams the door, enjoy having the room to yourself. When she returns, explain that you really do want to get along, and you get the feeling something is making her uncomfortable. If she continues to give you the silent treatment, tell her you understand and give her permission to be silent and immature. Then enjoy the silence. In fact, feel free to use her as a sounding board. Silent roommates make for the best listeners.
Dear Harlan: I am a commuter student at a college in my town. I live with my parents and it is hard to get to know people, especially guys. I have joined a few groups on campus, but still I find myself alone a lot. I met this guy over the Internet a few years back, and we have been sort of close ever since, but we have never met. He is in the Army and is being deployed to Iraq. My question is, do I hold on to him or just let it go? Because I don't have anyone for me here, I think that has made me want to hold on to him. But again, we have never met, so I don't know how serious he is. Please help me, Harlan! - Emily From Wisconsin
Dear Emily: I think you need to stay off the computer and stay on campus. I totally get it - commuters have to work much harder to make friends and create connections in college. When you're there and gone, it's hard to find connections on campus - this is why you hang out online so much. So, design a life where you are hanging out with people your age for longer periods of time. Get a job on campus in the middle of the action that keeps you on campus from sunup to sundown. Join others clubs or organizations (like student government) that keep you on campus after classes let out in the afternoon. Work out at school, study at school, eat at school, meet with instructors at school and hang out at school. Make it a rule that you will not go home until dinner or later. Force yourself to stay on campus and get a job with people your age that keeps you busy. Once you have a life that's busier, you'll see that you have options when it comes to dating. Then you can decide if you want to keep the imaginary boyfriend or find something real.
(c) Harlan Cohen 2010. Distributed by King Features Syndicate Inc.
Harlan is the author of "The Happiest Kid On Campus: A Parent's Guide to the Very Best College Experience (for You and Your Child)" (Sourcebooks). Write Harlan at harlan(at)helpmeharlan.com or visit online: www.helpmeharlan.com. All letters submitted become property of the author. Send paper to Help Me, Harlan! 2506 N. Clark St., Ste. 223, Chicago, IL 60614.