DEAR HARRIETTE: I want to visit my boyfriend in college for the weekend. My cheapest option is to catch either a bus or a train down and back. Even though this is the "cheapest" option, it is still pretty expensive, and out of my budget. My boyfriend knows that I don't have money coming out of my ears and that I work hard for the money I do earn, yet he has not offered once to put some money toward the travel. I would usually not mind paying for expenses like this, but every time I travel to see him, I always end up paying.
Is there a way I could kindly ask my boyfriend to pay for a portion of my transportation? And if he says he can't afford it either, should we just decide not to pay for transportation any longer, and wait until we are both home? -- Broke Girlfriend, Cincinnati
DEAR BROKE GIRLFRIEND: The red flag is waving right now! Beware of the precedent that you are setting. Since the visit to see your boyfriend is beneficial to the two of you, you both should be discussing how to afford it. The cost should not rest solely on you. It could be that your boyfriend is oblivious and just hasn't thought about it. Or he could be manipulative. Either way, you must say something to him. Be direct. Tell him that you cannot afford to pay to visit him and that the two of you need to figure out options. Request that he share in the cost of the trip or that you agree to wait to see each other until he comes home. The way he responds to this will be important for you to evaluate. You don't want to be with a partner who is selfish and insensitive.
DEAR HARRIETTE: My younger brother has recently moved in with me. I live in a two-bedroom apartment with my long-term boyfriend. Initially, when I agreed for my brother to move in, I thought it would be temporary, therefore I did not ask him to pay rent. It has now been almost two months, and he is still living in our spare bedroom. My boyfriend and I are getting pretty fed up with him lying around the house all day, and we want him to get a job. I keep bringing it up to him and threatening that we will kick him out if he does not get a job. It has gotten to the point where we are no longer speaking, but the situation hasn't changed. I know that he is family, but what should my next step be? -- The Last Straw, Richmond, Virginia
DEAR THE LAST STRAW: Call a meeting with the three of you and lay down the rules. Tell your brother what your expectation had been for his stay at your home. Give him a deadline by which he either finds a job and starts contributing to the household finances or moves out. Stand as a united front with your boyfriend so that your brother understands that this is not an idle threat. It is real. When you reach the deadline date, be prepared to evict your brother if he has not lived up to the requirements.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I was cleaning my son's room, and I found a stash of weed under his mattress. I am so mad. I have talked to him about drugs many times. I am no prude, but I know that my 16-year-old son has no business smoking marijuana. He has not been doing well in school, and he spends way too much time hanging out with his friends who don't seem to have any goals. I believe that some people can smoke weed and manage their lives; my son cannot. How can I get him to know this is a bad idea? -- On the Brink, Washington, D.C.
DEAR ON THE BRINK: Talk to your son about his goals and dreams. Ask him what he wants to do with his life. Encourage him to talk about what his life might look like when he graduates from high school. Does he want to go to college? What type of work does he want to do? Do your best to get him to talk about his vision. This positive approach may help to open the conversation about the obstacles in his way.
Once he has opened up about his future, ask him what may be impeding his realizing those dreams. If he doesn't bring it up, point out that smoking weed can be distracting. Tell him you think that he smokes too much and that it is affecting his school work. Suggest that he reconsider how he spends his free time. Smoking weed is known to slow people down. Ask him what is more important: his habit or his future. Keep reminding him of his dreams. Work to guide him in that direction.
Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to email@example.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106