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Q. Hi Raj, I'm in second year and I'm beginning to hate the path I've chosen. I want to pursue what I want to become, but is it worth it? Should I really start from scratch--losing all that money and experience I've built up for something that might be way out of my control? I need a sign, maybe you can be that sign.
Answered on July 4th, 2012 A. This is the holy grail of questions, I think, and I am so glad you asked. When you’re in elementary school, you have big dreams, but a lot of the time, they’re just that—childhood dreams. Ever since we were young, whether through books, movies or teachers, we’ve endlessly heard the ever optimistic ideal, “you should always do what you want in life and fuck the rest.” It nevertheless is a big decision to pursue what you want to and it is hard—but that doesn’t make it any less important. As we get older, we go to high school, we go to college or university or we start working, and what we want truly becomes more than just a dream, it evolves into fully formed objectives and goals.

Your future is always your biggest goal; it’s what you have to look forward to (or dread). And I think a lot of the time, while we’re toiling away in that anthro lecture or bio lab, the future feels so small and not really all that relevant. And it seems to feel as though it doesn’t really matter if we just pursue what our parents want us to, or what seems easiest or what will make us the most money. And then we spend our lives wondering “what if?” Take some time out on your own and actually think to yourself—are you on the path you want to be? Because you can be.

Yes, this may mean “losing” money and experience, but those things really haven’t been wasted. They were stepping stones to where you’ll be tomorrow, next week, next year or a decade from now. Those experiences added to who you are and who you want to be. They gave you character (whether making you miserable in the process or not).

And if what you want is difficult to achieve, whether that is to become an actress or go into medicine or become the next PM, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. You’ll never know unless you try. More often than not, pursuing what we want to and going against the grain is difficult. And I don’t believe in luck. Here comes the disgruntled future father in me: I believe in hard work. Work your ass off, be prepared, be relentless and you will get what you want if you truly believe you can do it. It will be really fucking hard, and the ones you love may not fully support you, but you need to support yourself to make yourself happy.

Do all of the things you want to do and imagined you would do. Not everything will work out the way you envision it now—but the challenge and experience in attempting it may just give you exactly what it is you’re looking for along the way or by the end. And while I usually give advice and shell out my opinion and suggestions with some cleverly tossed in wit here and there, this time I’m asking you to try.

Do you want this? Take it. It’s waiting for you, and now is the time.

Q. Hey Raj, I'm a girl and I have serious commitment issues. I mean - I'll go out with a guy and get freaked out by the second text message. As a result, I feel like I have no idea HOW to be anything more than friends with guys. Any advice on how to overcome this?
Answered on April 1st, 2012 A. The most important thing to be proud of here is that you’re aware you have commitment issues—that’s a huge step. Commitment-phobic people are extremely common; they are practically their own species. But where does that root from? Well, it’s never so simple and I can’t tell you in one witty little line. But that fear of committing to another person, more often than not, comes from a fear of having to rely/depend on another person and a horrible subconscious expectation of ensuing disappointment. Will he be a premature ejaculator? Will he be late for Pizza Pizza dates? Or, more commonly, will he hurt me?

And this is not just a girl thing. This is also a very common guy thing. And many people who are afraid of commitment often find themselves involved in relationships with said people, and they feel like they’re being lead on. Meaning you’re hurting yourself by not allowing yourself to see if this relationship can be a real thing and make you happy, and you’re hurting that other person by letting them think it could become something.

So my advice? It’s going to take some time to get comfortable in actually pursuing a relationship. It will be tough getting through to the second text, the fifth text, and hundredth text. But if you meet someone who you find yourself feeling something for, and then that moment comes—the moment where your stomach curls in on itself—and you want to let go, ask yourself: do I like this guy? It’s as simple as that. Do you have fun? Do you want to know him a little better? Do you want to maybe sneak a make-out session in there somewhere? If your answer is yes, then you do want to take it a little farther.

So this is what you do—you go on a second date and you tell him you don’t usually get this far because this is where you freak out. But you like him. And if he’s a decent dude, he’ll stick around and he’ll help you through it. Getting that off your chest will feel like someone just cleared the room—you’ll feel lighter and a little less scared and bottled up. He’ll feel good that he’s the guy you want to chase, the one who makes you want to try harder. Do comfort dates at first—movies at home, walks to the park, a coffee date, etc. And if you only get to the second date with him, that’s ok! Because with the next guy, you’ll get to the third, and the next one, maybe the fourth and the fifth…

Q. I really don't like people. How do I avoid them?
Answered on April 1st, 2012 A. I feel like – at one time or another – I was born to answer this question. Now, being the social butterfly that I am (barely half the time, let’s be real), I still have those strong and heavy flows of misanthropy sometimes. I know what you do, I can see it now: you get too comfortable being alone in your room, you spend hours surfing Tumblr, you ignore all your texts and emails for a day or so and you plow through your dinner in bed. And life feels good.

And you know what? There’s not a damn thing wrong with that! People can be shit—they really can. I think it’s fair to say we all go through bouts where we hate humanity, some of us more strongly than others. People disappoint us, they let us down, they don’t impress. Maybe it’s because those are the people we’re attracted to or because they’re all that Scarborough has to offer. You can’t find anyone who understands your immense and undeniable love for Zooey Deschanel or Battlestar Galactica and no one understands your sarcasm and the last thing you want to do is fake-enjoy yourself through a dinner with these “friends”. People you only hang out with to keep up appearances and remind the general population you haven’t completely withered away and become one with your mattress.

One day, when you move away, when you get a new job, when you go to grad school, when you try something new—yes, maybe then, you will finally meet someone, maybe even a few people, who get you. And it will make all the difference—because while an endless number of people can make you despise humanity, it really only takes one person to make you love it.

But for a foolproof way to avoid people without alerting the neighbours or your lab partner? Reply to texts, answer emails before the three day marinating period is over, fake mild enthusiasm, don’t feel the need to join extra-curriculars when you know it will make you want to peel your skin off, go to class, grab a coffee (standing in line at Tim’s will keep you at school long enough to give the impression you don’t mind lingering outside of class while still preserving your misanthropic dignity), go home or to work, take a ten minute longer nap in the break room than needed, cough or sneeze when someone who looks eager for conversation is beginning to approach you and go out to dinner once a month maximum. And that’s it. Soon, humanity will detach itself from you until you choose to come out again. And hopefully, it’ll be better than when you left it.

Q. How many video games are too many video games?
Answered on April 1st, 2012 A. This question gets a nice big (and polite) LOL from me. And also, damn! If you have to ask, odds are you’ve passed the limit. But as a major Skyrim (and Mass Effect…and Portal…maybe Uncharted) fan myself, and therefore, having spent many wasted days and weeks and months losing brain cells in front of my TV (much to the chagrin of my Lana Del Rey-loving girlfriend), I can say once you’re going past three hours a day, you’ve really got to get up and go outside and say hello to a live human.

Oh, and when I say three hours, I don’t mean per day. I mean three hours a day, 3-4 days a week. Yes, I have now likely lost my hard-earned Extremely Awesome Gamer sash and title in your eyes, but it really is the only way to keep some semblance of a grasp on your life and therefore, reality.

There was a time in high school when I averaged six hours a day of game play about five or six days out of the week. I didn’t work. I only studied when I absolutely had to. I was the unfortunate object of my parents’ many tears and concerns that I was becoming CTV News’ latest “high schooler to kill with a penchant for PlayStation.” I had no girlfriend. I had one best friend who competed in said games with me online with the following username (I kid you not): *_*#MuPPetMaSTeR_6996#*_*. (The inverted 69’s should’ve set me off, I know.)

So yeah. Don’t be like that. Having a nice mix of things in your life will make you a more satisfied and potentially happier person. Work, study, kiss some girls, make some friends, go see a movie, buy a new pair of shoes. And just remember this: absence makes the heart grow fonder. Your PlayStation? She will be there when you get back. ;)

Q. Should I drop physics?
Answered on March 14th, 2012 A. Hmm. Oh boy. Well, this requires a hell of a lot more information than you’ve given me, but I understand. These four words feel sad to me, shrieking with helplessness. And that is what I am here for. Cue maniacal wink.

There is really only one thing to consider when dropping a class, any class, whether it be physics or intro to film. Your grades! And I’m quite sure that’s why you’ve asked, because perhaps you’re not doing as well in it as you had once hoped or need.

Reasons you should not be dropping said class: you’re bored, you’re lazy, it’s just sooo haaaaard. I know, trust me, I know. I just passed physics in my second year, I mean really, it was by a hair, whatever that means. But there are a few things to verify before you get rash. Is this class a requirement for your program? Is there any extra credit work you can do? Is there room to work harder?

Granted, all of these things right now seem like a huge academic pain in the ass. Physics is not fun. But you may just need it, and right now, you need to focus on the bigger picture. If the class is a requirement, and you are not failing, stick with it. This is Raj’s humble opinion. You can always improve, even at least by a smidgen. Go to your professor (if the thought of this makes your hair fall out, scroll down to my tips on how to approach a prof—even the scary one), and let them know how you feel. They want to help you, because they want you in that class (well, most of them). It is their job requirement to help you. Tell them you’re worried about your grade, and ask if there is any way you can improve.

A few other options: tutoring (it may sound so fourth grade, but it’s so not, but then I myself have tutored, so my bias speaks for itself), daily/weekly study sessions or study buddies (someone you can study and share notes with—it can make a surprising difference).

Now, if you know there is no coming back from your current failing grade, do not be afraid to drop the class. There is no reason to feel like a wimp if you want to drop. That is your choice. But only make it if you’re sure, because trust me, the last thing you want to do is take physics all over again when you really didn’t need to. And if it isn’t a requirement, and you are below the 50% line, then sure, think it through. If that feels right, then drop. But always try to maintain a comfortable course load. Don’t start dropping left and right—that should be a decision you make down the line when you’re feeling a wee bit desperate. Now. Go forth. Go forth and prosper!

Q. Is it wrong to think that my boyfriend should pay half for my birth control?
Answered on January 18th, 2012 A. Yes. And no. Well. Hm. I don’t know? Sometimes? So, the reason I am being ambiguous about this is because this is another one of those things that is really only solvable via a couple’s conversation. You can’t make the decision to demand this on your own; the two of you need to discuss it.

But. You’re asking Raj’s opinion, and I am inclined to answer. Here’s the deal: if you’re in a long-term, committed relationship, then I don’t see the hurt in it. If you’re in more of a casual relationship, it doesn’t seem like quite the next step.

In most of my relationships and my friends’ (who I surveyed, and at which point was laughed out of the room, because believe it or not, being a guy and having an advice column does not really win you points with your friends who have a penis), the guys have been the ones to pay for condoms, while the girls shell out for birth control. Now, while this may be the standard, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right way to do it for you. Although, it seems like a fair split, no? You’re both doing your part.

But one thing my friends also told me is that they never even considered paying for birth control, because the thought never occurred to them. And the majority of them were open to it. So you are not even remotely wrong in thinking perhaps your man should be paying half. You both have the same intentions, and sex is a shared activity—it’s not solo.

Q. What is the best way of cooling down and avoiding getting angry over the little things?
Answered on January 18th, 2012 A. Great question! And a tough one, because while I’m more of a calm and collected man these days, I have toyed with my temperamental side once or twice (they were phases…).

I know the popular tips: count down from ten, drink a glass of water and take a deep breath, walk it off. Um, yeah. Those are the kinds of things that might help you clear your throat, but raging anger? No.

Raj’s Trusty Tips To Getting Past That Large Mountain Of Anger You Call Hell

  1. What you’re feeling is aggression. How do you get this out? Physically. Take a boxing class, go to the gym, go for a run and scream while you do it until your throat feels raw.

  2. Do something that makes your heart beat faster. Go skydiving, get a tattoo, envision your future daughter going on a date.

  3. Channel it. Create something, draw something, build something. Get work done, cook up a feast, have sex, dance, knit a scarf, repaint your walls.

  4. Let it out in the most basic and human way. Scream, cry, punch the wall, break a plate, kick the shit out of a hard object.

  5. Write down everything that’s pissing you off and why. Fold it up and burn it. Cheesy as hell, but it works. If you can put out the flames with your tears, bonus points.

Those little things? Yeah, that shit doesn’t matter. That’s what you remind yourself. Because all those little things—if you let them get in the way—will build up into one big, nasty thing. And then you’ll become just as nasty as that thing. So don’t just deal with it later. Angry? Ok. Fix it. Get it out. And move on, because you are way better than that.

Q. I want to do what you do Raj, I want to help people by answering their questions. Your job reminds me a lot about Yahoo Answers. I want my opinion heard, how do I do what you do?
Answered on January 18th, 2012 A. Hahaha, well. Aren’t you a smartass? Already, you’re taking after me! Well, you know how I got this job? By being a pain in the ass. I was friends with the editors and when I heard they were looking for an advice columnist, I thought, why not? An Indian, male advice columnist—pretty unexpected, no? I thought so. I used this to market myself. And with a little favoritism here, and a little flirting there, I got what I wanted!

Ok, let’s be serious. How did I get this job? I put myself out there. There was a market, there was an opening, and I dove head first (excuse the expression). I talk a lot. I’m annoying, I’m opinionated and I don’t hide my feelings. Does this sound like you? Perfect!

Because if you want to be giving people advice, you need to be personable but have an opinion and not be afraid to share it. You also need to know that you are not god, and your opinions are not the end all, be all for anyone who asks you anything from, ‘Boxers or briefs?’ to ‘How young is too young to get married?’ These people are looking for advice, they don’t know what to do (or they do, and need confirmation) and they need help. So you need to be certain the demographic you’re appealing to is one you understand, and preferably, one you are a part of by a factor or two.

Outlets? Look for job openings—online could work to your advantage, because anonymity for question-askers is so easy and accessible. Start a blog, a Tumblr or a Twitter! Promote yourself, and let people know you are someone they can trust. Get out there!

(Although FYI: I don’t like competition, and you are no match for me. -_-)

Q. Hey! How does one keep up with physical activity while at UTSC? Especially during the winter months when it's absolutely brutal to run outside? I'd like to be able to run outdoors, but is it safe in the valley? Is there a hiking club at UTSC? Thanks!
Answered on January 18th, 2012 A. As a Manchester U fan myself, and nothing else really, I may not be the best guy to quiz about getting physical (I mean, I just used the phrase ‘getting physical’). Though obviously, I like to think otherwise.

Nevertheless, if you know me, you know I don’t mind the occasional trip to the gym. Ha! Got you again. I am no juicehead. But, I do know UTSC like the back, front and side of my hand, so I may just be of service.

First off, the SCAA (Scarborough Campus Athletic Association) has several interhouse leagues and tournaments if you’re looking to let that competitor inside of you out. For a little more freedom, there’s the double gym, weight training room, cardio theatre, squash courts, yoga/Pilates/dance studios, tennis courts and The Valley playing fields.

Something a little more exciting is intramural team sports, which feature plenty of competition between the three U of T campuses.

During the winter months, if you’re looking to let off steam, take note: the recreation centre is open Monday to Sunday, from 7am to 10:30pm. And of course, instructional classes range in everything from yoga to belly-dancing to kung fu. For more info, click here.

Hiking, on the other hand, is yet to be made the focus of any group or athletic organization on campus, as far as I know. But if you’re interested in starting one up, or would like more info on athletics at UTSC, click here.

As for whether The Valley is safe in the winter? I’d say not when the snow really gets going and becomes higher than a couple of inches. You want to steer clear of the steep pathways buried in ice (some of which you won’t be able to spot), and the thick wooded area under a thick coat of snow. I don’t recommend getting your workout done through there more than on occasion. But as soon as the summer comes through, it’s your best bet!

Q. There are these guys in a few of my courses where, whenever they see me, they will look at each other and grin/smile. Why do guys do that whenever they see a familiar but unknown girl? Is there some sort of inside joke going on there?
Answered on January 8th, 2012 A. I read this, and I admit, I chuckled a bit to myself. Thank you for this question, because well, it’s kind of a good one. This shit happens, because not only have I seen it, I’ve, well, participated in it. I know, I deserve to be stoned. But listen up ladies. It’s nothing to take personally (not most of the time, anyway).

This group of guys, they are essentially a group of halfwit dorks. They get off on snickering and quietly making obnoxious jokes about each other and whoever just happens to walk by. It is, how you say, ‘for the lulz.’

I can’t tell you exactly why they may have made you a target, but it is most definitely because of one or more of the following: one or a few have a weency bit of a crush on your lovely self, they are indeed making a joke, likely an inside joke, and third, they’re just having a laugh.

All of these reasons are terrible reasons, and none of them are flattering. Guys can be assholes, I say this because I’ve been one, and oh, how stupid I feel thinking about that now. But I can assure you, nearly every guy you can imagine has had a moment like this, and every time, it means nothing.

This is what you have to remember whenever you see this group of commoners: they’re trying their hardest to give themselves an ego boost by targeting a girl on her own, who to them, appears vulnerable and harmless. They don’t know you, but like to think they do. And all this roots from just having a bit of fun. When a group of guys gets together, they suddenly feel a ton more special and cocky than they actually are. At the root of it, they mean nothing by it, they don’t even think about it, and yet it can hurt your feelings.

So my advice: feel free to tell them off. Walk right up to them, and tell them what you think. Or my personal favourite: sit right where you are, and smile and laugh right back (manically, if possible), and be sure to make eye contact. They’ll never do it again, because what you’ve done there? Kicked them off their pedestal and taken it for yourself. Well done.

Q. Should I upgrade my iPhone now or wait for the iPhone 5? What's up with that?
Answered on October 24th, 2011 A. What is up with that, indeed! As an iPhone user myself, who is currently in line for the new iPhone, I can say I have a lot to say on the matter. (Yes, my geekdom is showing.)

Long story short: If you have an iPhone 4, don't upgrade, wait for the iPhone 5, unless of course you’ve got pockets full of money, Mr. Warbucks (or Miss!), in which case, Siri awaits. And this is no stylish Suri Cruise, my friends, this is Siri – a real woman.

If you have an iPhone 3G or 3GS, then, um, YES, YES, YES, do yourself a favour and get that motherfucking upgrade! Repeat after me: I am not my grandmother. No offense to your grandmother, but I think you see my point!

Now let’s breakdown the MAJOR changes: Basically, the iPhone's biggest improvements are in its OS, which is available to any iPhone owner as an upgrade. iOS 5 boasts 200+ new features (according to Apple) and the upgrade is totally worth it (let’s just put it this way, I said adios to my precious, sweet, gorgeous little jailbreak for this… ok? OK?!). iOS 5 comes with notifications, reminders, newsstand, Twitter integration, iCloud backups (5 gigs of free space anyone?) and wireless sync! And don’t forget iMessage! Are you tired of hearing your Blackberry friends gloat about their fancy little BBM? (If I hear an exchange of “pins” one more time…) Well now, us Apple-ites have the iPhone/iPad/iPod exclusive iMessage, which allows message transfer over data and WiFi. You don’t even need a phone number if you want to message your iPhone friend from your iPod.

As hot as Siri is, she’s only available on the iPhone 4S (Gimmick? Maybe, possibly, we don't know, but either way, if you want Siri, you need the 4S.) Siri is different from other voice control apps on phones in that the girl is way smarter. She’s kinda like your own personal assistant; she knows what you want and how you want it. She can pull up maps, make appointments, type and send emails, you name it. We’re talking no embarrassing enunciating incidents where your phone calls your mom when you want your girlfriend (Oedipus, much?), or your friend George, when you actually said Bartholomew (Haha, you have a friend named Bartholomew?)

It may look just like the 4 (and with the same packaging! By golly, Jim!), but 4S is definitely an upgrade. The 4S features a dual-core A5 chip—which basically just means everything is A LOT faster (you have double the processing power), graphics are better, games run smoother, everything feels snappy—and you feel happy.

The other major 4S selling point is the 8 megapixel camera and it's larger f/2.4 aperture (which allows the lens to capture and focus more light). This basically means you can leave your point and shoot at home. Forget it exists. Toss it aside. (Or give it to me…) Don't forget the 1080p HD video recording. 30 frames per second, guys!

Bottom line: If you have an iPhone 3G/3GS, upgrading is a no-brainer, since the speed and graphics improvement will be unbelievable once you switch. If you own an iPhone 4, wait for the iPhone 5 unless you really do need that speed boost and handy personal assistant. Trust me, guys. Have I ever let you down…?

Q. Is dating someone in the work place a disaster waiting to happen?
Answered on October 24th, 2011 A. This is one of those fully loaded questions we hear people ask, but never think we’d ask ourselves, until the situation does arise and we find ourselves conflicted. I have a friend who is currently dating someone he worked with, and their relationship is moving swimmingly (so far… hahaha). Note: they don’t work together anymore. But I also have another friend sleeping with someone from work. It not only makes her nightlife ultimately awkward, but also her work life.

Most people will tell you never to do it, never even consider it! But I personally think there may be situations where it’s worth it, however, this can depend on multiple factors. How often do you work with this person? In what capacity? A CEO or an assistant to the CEO may not be the best idea, for example. But when you are, for all intents and purposes, co-workers, I’d be more inclined to give you the go ahead.

Let’s say you already know each other, via water cooler chatter at least. You’re comfortable with each other and have common ground for conversation starters. AND you feel a sexual attraction. Act on it if you’re interested in a relationship. If you’re interested in just sex, I would advise against it. As you learned from my anecdote of Friend B – it’s not going so well. More often than not, ‘just sex’ relationships often result in half the pair craving a real relationship. And there’s no way you’ll be able to escape that person anytime soon if that’s not what you want.

The reason people warn against dating co-workers is that, the second you break-up (ok, if you break-up), shit is gonna hit the fan and things are gonna get awkward, fast. But you’re an adult, and if you can handle that emotionally and mentally, then go for it. Weigh your pros and cons. Be honest with yourself, what do you want with this person? Is it worth the potential discomfort in the workplace if things don’t work out?

Q. Help! My friend is constantly down and negative, how can I tell them to lighten up without hurting their feelings?

Hey Raj. I'm starting to resent everyone for everything and it's turning me into an ugly person. What do I do? Am I terrible?

Answered on October 24th, 2011 A. I’m going to tackle both of these questions at once, because I think they go hand in hand. Person A, this is what you need to tell your friend. Person B, this is what you need to hear. What I can definitely say is I’ve been there, in both your shoes, and most people have. Especially once you’re at the age where you’re taking classes, possibly have a job on the side, friends, enemies, lovers, family, well, the list goes on, doesn’t it? My point is, I’ve noticed this is the age where things get emotionally difficult. It’s not quite a mid-life crisis, but more of a quarter-life crisis.

You’re not terrible, this is not your fault, and you’ve done nothing wrong. Sometimes, things just feel like shit. And we feel like shit. And it feels like you’ll never come back from it, and there’s nothing anyone can do. What you have to remember, as cheesy and lame as it sounds, is that it will pass. This feeling won’t last forever. It’s like high school—it feels like the worst thing you could ever feel, like your life is over, but this time in your life will eventually be over and your life will go on.

Surround yourself with people who make you feel good, who make you laugh. Here’s another token cliché from lovely Raj: laughter is the best medicine. It is! Watch a good movie, listen to music you love, eat exactly what tastes good to you, drink, have sex, write if that’s what you do, read if you like that, sleep if you love that: have a good time. It’s that easy. Do what makes you feel good! Maybe while you do these things, they won’t feel like they did before, but gradually they will. You’ll go back to being who you once were.

Blaming others for the way you feel is wrong, but it’s also not something you should hate yourself for. You’re projecting because it’s easier, because when you feel like a dark cloud all the time, particularly when a happy cloud of rainbows and unicorns walks by, you instinctively lash out; it hurts somewhere inside to see someone else blissful when you feel nothing like that. You need to hurt something or someone, as though it’ll lessen your own pain. Chances are, if you talk to your friends and your family, and you explain your reasons, they’ll understand.

Lashing out is hurtful—while you shouldn’t keep your emotions inside, you should find someone to talk to about them. The more you can get off your chest, the better you’ll feel! It all probably sounds like you’ve heard this before, but it’s not bullshit. Listen to this advice, and take care of yourself. Your emotional health is just as important as your physical health or how your GPA is doing or whatever it is that’s important to you. It will get better!

And if you’re the friend in this situation: just be there for them. They need you, so don’t lash out, don’t get annoyed, just let them know you care and you want to help.

*A suggestion: whether this is a 24 hour mood swing, or something you’ve been feeling for a while, take a trip to the Health & Wellness Centre. It’s free and confidential! Click here to visit their website.

Q. I am paying for my education, however, my parents help out with what they can and have co-signed my loan. But I feel that because of this involvement, I feel guilty wanting a better (more expensive) place to live. How can I approach them by saying, “I'm an adult, and even though I appreciate your support, it's my life, my money, my choices as the loan will end with me”...?
Answered on October 24th, 2011 A. Ahhh, the parental units. What a tragic web we weave.

First off, your parents are fantastic for helping you out and being willing to co-sign your loan. A lot of parents like to discontinue any kind of help or contribution the second their spawn turns 18, but some also like to take full control, and thus keep you on a leash and make your decisions for you because they just love you so much. Yours seem to be a happy medium. However, I see your problem. You don’t want to hurt their feelings, but you need to take a stand.

Yes, they raised you, yes, they clothed and fed you, but you’re at the age where it’s time to move on, grow up and take care of yourself. They know this, trust me. They just want to hold on longer, and not let go of that control. You should not feel even remotely guilty, because it’s your right to choose where you stay, especially when you will ultimately be footing the bill. It’s your money! You’ve earned it, and it’s your life. You’ve answered your own question, my friend! You know what to do.

Repeat after me: “Mom, Dad. I love you guys. And I really appreciate everything you’ve done for me. I would not be here without you. But I need to make this decision on my own, and I know you can appreciate that. I know what I’m doing, and I have considered all the pros, cons, etc. I need you to trust me.” In a way, you’re telling them what you’re doing, you’re not asking. You just want their blessing.

Don’t be harsh and heavy, be gentle and understanding. This is your life. Take control of it.

Q. I have a friend who wants to move in with me to share rent but I just don't trust them financially, how can I break it to them easily without ruining our friendship all together? Help!
Answered on July 28th, 2011 A. Well, well, well. What do we have here? A question I have far too much experience with. One might even suggest I won’t be able to answer without all that, what’s the word? Oh yeah, bias. And oh, how bitter my bias is…

If there’s one way to destroy a friendship, it’s by living together. And this applies whether you are male, female, or in between. The person you choose to live with has to be someone you trust, are comfortable with, and, oh yeah, someone you trust. This does not necessarily preclude friend, but friend does not equate roommate, and vice versa. Some of my best roommates I never spoke more than two words to.

The point is, darling Harvey over there may be a great guy, and probably your best friend if you had to think about it, and generally pretty damn reliable. But don’t be so quick to assume he’ll make a great roommate. Roommate means rent. Rent is money. Money means a job. A job means a consistent, steady occupation you are aware Harvey has. From which he will be keen enough to pay rent from every month. Keeping you (his friend), in mind - considerate as he is.

But what if, besides his steady job at Burger King, you just know in your heart of hearts, Harvey will be a bad roommate? Ok, ‘bad roommate’ is a bit strong. Let’s go with your words, you don’t trust him financially. Fair. You’re already way ahead of the ballgame. How do you let him down? This is a toughie. You can be a sneaky weasel and explain you’ve already been looking for roommates, and may have already promised a person or two a gander at the place before he gets a chance.

Or, you can be honest, take Harvey out for drinks and say, “Hey Harv. You know I think you’re the shit, right? Right. Well, about this roommate thing. I’m just not sure it’s gonna work out. I know you’re not doing too well financially right now, and you know how anal I am, right? Right. God, it sucks, though, eh? It would’ve been so much fun to live together!” And really, as you can see, there is no easier to way to let Harvey down.

Telling a friend you don’t feel comfortable sharing a space with them will likely never be taken lightly. Put yourself in Harvey’s shoes. But you cannot, ever, by any means, cave in and ‘just try it, and see how it goes’. Because, remember your heart of hearts? It said this wouldn’t work and it won’t. Trust your gut! There is a difference between having a friend crash on your couch for a few nights and taking advantage of you, living in your apartment for a year. Harvey is a disease waiting to spread. Do not get vulnerable - be ruthless (but kind)!