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Dockter Duval's Advice Column

I've got this problem. Whenever people ask me to hang out, or better yet, when guys try to pick me up, I have a hard time saying no. It's not as if I have to spend an inordinate amount of time with these guys, but occasionally it's even painful to have a conversation over coffee. I always feel really guilty if I decline and am afraid that I'll hurt someone's feelings along the way. At the same time, I don't like having to suffer through uncomfortable and boring talks either. What can I do to make things better?

Thanks for your help,

Can't Say No

Dear Can't Say No,

Well, I hate to break it to you, but you're going to have to learn how to say the word. Much to your advantage, it is only a monosyllabic two-letter word. Imagine if you had to say some 20-letter supercalifragilistic German word whenever you wanted to duck out of an unwanted situation -- that would be a challenge. However, "no" actually rolls off the tongue quite easily. This improves your situation immensely. The reason you may as well say no is quite simple. You can communicate the feeling that you're not looking for any further interaction with that particular individual in two separate ways. Either you can sit through a conversation of teeth pulling, odd silences and superfluous information that means nothing to you, or you can just look someone in the eye and say, "maybe next time pal." It may appear to be mean, but then again, is it any worse than attempting to mask your overall feeling of apathy? In the world of avoidance, you can employ what may be the single most empowering phrase that exists, "I'll get back to you." It doesn't set any restraints, time limits, and most importantly, it puts the decision in your hands. Regardless of whether you decide yea or nay to this party, you are now free to deliberate, or eliminate, at your leisure.

Dear Dockter Duval,

I feel that I'm pretty open-minded about having a new roommate off at school. However, at least two or three nights a week she brings home a guy and hooks up with him when I'm in the room. I've tried the civil approach of talking to her about it, but she says that it's as much her space as it is mine. She claims that it's her right to do whatever she pleases in the room and that I can leave if I don't like it. What more can I do?

Sincerely,

Grossed out

Dear Grossed Out,

Wow, that's absolutely disgusting and I first want to personally apologize for such a horrifying situation. Usually, people are open to the concept of respecting other individuals. However, it seems as though your roommate does not really care about your well being at all. It is still early enough in the year to request a change of roommates and I believe that you have a pretty legitimate claim. But if you do stick it out with her you can either just try to avoid her as much as possible, or to fight fire with fire. You shouldn't have to give up your room based on her rude, crude attitude. The one advantage you have is that it won't be hard to put an end to your roommate's intimate moments before they get started. You basically have a few minutes from the time she enters the room with her "friend" before they start their mambo number 5. During that time, there are a lot of things you can do or say to bring things to a standstill. For example, when they enter the room you could just look at the guy and say, "That's too bad, last night's was a lot better looking," or, be sitting there with Coke and popcorn anxiously asking what time the show starts. If none of that works, nonchalantly utter, "by the way, I picked up the cream you needed to get rid of those annoying crabs." You'll buy yourself another night of sleep without interruptions, show her that she's not going to walk all over you, and most importantly, get a few laughs in the mean time.

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