Q: My New Year’s resolution is to lose weight by eating less junk food. Everything is going well in the dining halls, but the trouble starts when I get back to my room. My roommate stocks the room with chocolate chip cookies and Pringles, and sometimes she even brings back a box of Krispy Kreme donuts. When I see her snacking on my favorite unhealthy snacks — and even when I’m alone in the room and I just know that the food is there — I just lose my self-control and start munching. What should I do? I want to ask my roommate to stop eating in front of me, and to hide her food when she’s out of the room, but I am worried she will think I am weird. What should I do? Should I buy her a lock box and give her the only key?
— Incurable Muncher
A: Dear Incurable —
Before messing with your roommate’s eating habits, take a minute to analyze your own. Try to think about exactly what makes the dining hall setting different from that of your room. Does something about being around lots of people make you eat healthier? How does your mindset change back in the dorm? Think about how you are able to have self control in one place and not in the other. When you relax by lounging around your room in your pajamas, do you begin to relax your eating standards as well? Maybe if you can figure out what little mental tricks keep you from munching on apple cranberry pie in the dining hall, you can avoid the Pringles in your room.
If you absolutely cannot stop yourself from eating your roommate’s food, you will need to suck it up and reveal your problem to her. It’s not fair to ask your roommate to change her eating habits. If she’s eating her fatty snacks when you are in the room, and it’s driving you crazy, try taking a refreshing walk around the block to distract yourself — and burn calories in the process. Now, about those times when your roommate isn’t eating, and it’s just you and the cookies and donuts. This brings us back to the lock box option — not a bad idea; definitely an extreme measure, but also an effective solution. If it comes down to the lock box, you will have to accept the fact that, yes, your roommate probably will think you are a bit weird. But honestly, even you know it is a bit weird to ask someone to put their munchies in a lock box. If you provide the box and key for your roommate and have a good sense of humor about the whole matter, I am sure your roomie will happily lock up her treats.
Q: I have been dating “Joe” for almost two years. Everything is fine between us — we are totally in love with each other. There is just one problem. Joe is the most unromantic guy on the entire Yale campus. Last year he forgot Valentine’s Day. Not even one piece of chocolate for me. We never go on dates, or eat anywhere nice. He never gives me little presents, or writes me sweet notes. It’s not that Joe’s cheap — when I suggest an expensive place to eat, he’s happy to go (although I am sure he wouldn’t realize to pay for me unless the waiter put the bill in front of him!), and when I told him I wanted a Tiffany’s necklace, he got it for me. With Valentine’s Day so close, I am feeling really worried that Joe will forget again. Should I drop hints? How can I make Joe start being romantic on his own?
— Romantically Deprived
A: Dear Romantically —
You need to slow down and think for a minute! You just told me that you and Joe are totally in love with each other. How do you know that he loves you? Reflect on your relationship with Joe: He must be doing something to show you that he is in love with you! You may be missing out on candlelit dinners and Hallmark cards, but if being totally in love isn’t romantic, I don’t know what is.
Now, that said, there is the Valentine’s Day issue to consider. A boyfriend forgetting February 14th once is possibly forgivable. But ignoring it a second time is simply unacceptable. However, given Joe’s track record of responding eagerly to your prompts, there is an easy solution to your romance woes. Tell Joe you have a late holiday gift. Then, present Joe with a very special belated present — a personalized calendar! (If Joe forgets Valentine’s Day, I figure it’s a safe assumption that your man does not own a calendar.) Personalize the calendar by writing little instructive messages on the days that are most essential for Joe to remember — birthdays, anniversaries, special holidays. For instance, “February 14th: Valentine’s Day! The perfect day to bring roses and chocolates to your loved ones!” or “May 7th: 3-year anniversary with my girlfriend, who loves to go out for sushi on special days!” To make these conspicuous instructions blend in a bit more, you can write little messages on some random days — i.e. “March 2: On this day last year, we went skiing!” When you give Joe the calendar, tell him to check his calendar daily for messages from you. You will not have to remind Joe to be romantic or drop him any hints, because the calendar can do it all. Joe’s romantic gestures may not count as 100% his own — but at least he won’t be forgetting Valentine’s Day again!
Alison Bloom-Feshbach wants to answer your questions. Really. We’re not joking.