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DEAR HARRIETTE: I’ve been dating the same guy for a year now. I adore him, and I really enjoy spending time with him. We go to the movies and on walks together. We go out to dinner together and volunteer at a local hospital. We know each other’s favorite foods and what to do when each other is sad. But we haven’t said “I love you” yet. To me, it seems like a big deal, and I want to say it only when I’m ready. The problem is, I’ve never been in love, so I’m not sure how I’m supposed to know if that’s what I’m feeling. How do you know when you are in love? How do I know when I’m ready to say “I love you” to him? – – The L-Word
DEAR THE L-WORD: How you treat each other, how you feel when you are in each other’s company, how you care for each other can all be signs of love. In our country, we make a big deal about saying the L-word. Honestly, what it comes down to is your connection with this person. Ideally, you want the connection to be reciprocal so that each of you chooses to be in the relationship and to care for the other. It sounds like that is what you have. Instead of trying to label it, why not just enjoy it?
If you want the relationShip to be more committed, what would that look like? I ask because your description already sounds committed and naturally intertwined. But if you want to label it, talk to your boyfriend about that. Talk to him about how much you enjoy being with him and treasure your bond. Listen and see where that conversation goes.
DEAR HARRIETTE: My college roommate and I seem to be very different. She is a little messy, often leaving clothes on the ground and her bed unmade. I have diagnosed OCD, and so my side of the room is always spotless and perfectly organized. It bothers me when she doesn’t care enough to clean her part of the room because we are sharing a fairly small space, and it triggers my OCD. We’ve been living together for only a week, so I don’t want to cause unnecessary conflict, but I’m scared it will just continue to bother me. What should I do? — College Roommate
DEAR COLLEGE ROOMMATE: You probably can’t make your roommate become neat like you. You can ask her to be more mindful of tidying her space. Agree to set ground rules about chores in the room. And tell her about your situation. Trust that it may be uncomfortable for her to be in the room with someone who is perfectly organized. If you let her know that you suffer from OCD and how hard it is for you to be in a messy space, she may make the effort to be tidier.
But don’t get your hopes up. You may want to invest in a room divider screen that you can put up between the two areas. In that way, when you are in your room, you don’t have to see her clutter. You can just see the screen and your side of things.
Harriette Cole is a lifestyl- ist and founder of DREAM- LEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and acti- vate their dreams. You can send questions to askharri- firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.