DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: I kicked my girlfriend out of our bedroom two days ago because she's such a slob. The whole place is a wreck and I can't find anything in our bedroom that isn't covered with cat hair or dirty clothes. I told her she could move back into the master bedroom when she smartened up. She said "Fine," which I didn't know the meaning of until later. When I went to work, she called friends with trucks and moved everything out that belonged to her. I was left with the expensive sofa which my mother bought for us to replace her ugly one. She took the bed, which she had bought and half the food is gone, too! All she left behind was a rude note that said: Get yourself a girlfriend who's as anal as you are because I'm not on the lease, you S.O.B. control freak. Now what? -- Holding the Bag, South End
Dear Holding: You and your mom are a tad high-handed, my friend. And that means two weeks from now, you're going to be responsible for all the rent. It's time to be practical. Rather than getting dinged for all of June's rent, put an ad on Kijiji for a "neat freak roommate" and/or consider sub-letting and finding a small place of your own to keep tidy. Messy and neat people can live together as long as they stake out some free territory to relax and be free. Some people like you think clean is right and messy is wrong and disgusting. Maybe you need to try to develop a more easygoing attitude about this. As comedian Joan Rivers says: "I hate housework. You make the beds. You do the dishes and six months later you have to start all over again."
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: With regard to In a Bind (the man who hates his boss, goes home and yells at his family), you missed an opportunity to deal with a common problem I call "kick-the-dog syndrome." Adults have not learned how to cope with the stress of the job by parking the problem where it belongs, at work by the time they get home. Instead they vent on their best friends i.e. the family/dog to release the stress. As an apprentice consultant I deal with this issue all the time by teaching coping skills for conflict resolution. We have become a society that flees from conflict. If we do not like a teacher, mom switches our class, if we don't like a coach, we quit hockey, if we don't like our boss, we switch jobs, and if we don't like our spouse, we get separated/divorced. We are not learning to deal with conflict and show a level of commitment that used to be a key trait of character -- Apprentice Consultant, Winnipeg
Dear Consultant: You have three-quarters of a point. Conflict resolution is best, and I'm forever steering people towards counsellors who can teach these skills. But, the skills can only be used when both parties are willing. You are supposing most bosses, teachers and coaches are open to conflict resolution. Some are, but many don't want their authority questioned, and bringing it up is cause for more trouble. As for relationships where the two people would (hopefully) have equal authority -- like a spousal relationship -- there's more hope.