Highlanders Anonymous: Bad body odor, being in the closet and annoying roommates

I need advice on how to tell my roommate that he smells. How do I let this sensitive guy know he has some BO?

Body odor is a subject that needs to be approached very carefully. If you go about it in the wrong way, you could seriously alienate him and it likely won’t change anything. The fact that he’s a college-age guy makes it a little worse, since the average guy tends to develop a sense of hygiene at a much slower rate than women of the same age.

It could be that the BO you’re smelling is a result of the expensive college laundry machines. Does he have enough money to do laundry? Can he find another place to do it? If not, there may not be much he can do aside from buying a bottle of Febreeze and letting it loose on his clothes.

If he’s not showering, try to avoid mentioning that factor. It’s not your business why he smells; bringing up the odor should be enough to get him to try to fix the problem. He’ll likely be embarrassed and try to change his ways. A gentle reminder should suffice.

Try to be understanding and sensitive to his problems. If he lashes out, he’s crossing the line from “sensitive” to “mean,” and you need to be able to advocate for yourself.

He needs to know if he stinks. Image from antiperspirant info.
He needs to know if he stinks. Image from antiperspirant info.

My roommate is starting to get really annoying. I used to just let it go, but it’s starting to be an ongoing thing. How do I talk to her about it without sounding mean?

How exactly is your roommate annoying?

Is she bringing guys over every night? Does she hold gigantic keggers? Is she loud when you’re trying to sleep? Is she an insomniac? Is she a slob? If any of these things are true, you have the right to address them. Talk to her and make sure she knows what’s bothering you. Avoid being confrontational or deliberately mean, but also avoid watering down what you’re trying to say for her sake. Advocating for yourself has to come before your roommate’s feelings.

If her personality’s annoying you, you need to take a step back and ask yourself if you’re trying too hard to be her friend. You don’t have to love your roommate. You don’t even have to like her (although it helps). All you have to do is coexist. This is much harder to do when you’re in a dorm and don’t have any real privacy, but you can avoid being around her for long periods of time.

So I’ve been hiding the fact I’m gay from my older brother for a while now. I don’t know how, or if, I should tell him. I’m afraid he’ll just disown me. Help?

Does the rest of your family know you’re gay? If so, why doesn’t your brother? Are there any repercussions to him knowing you’re homosexual?

If the rest of your family already knows you’re gay, keeping it a secret from your older brother is kind of cruel. He likely already knows. The only power he has is the power to cut you out of his life, and if he’s the kind of person who’d do that just because his sibling is gay, maybe he’s not the type of person you need influencing you at this delicate stage in your life. Keep in mind that in this scenario there are no real world consequences for his disapproval.

If the rest of your family doesn’t know you’re gay, or if he’s your only family, you might want to keep the secret until you’re not reliant on their/his approval for support. The closet is a very lonely place to be, but a harsh reality is that more than 40% of homeless young people are gay. You could potentially lose everything if they disapprove.

Keep your secret for the one to four years of your remaining time here. Maybe find someone who’s friendly and of the opposite sex to be a beard for you (though make sure they know they’re a beard)! If you’re not comfortable doing that, just sit tight and tell your family you want to have a little bit of fun while in college. They’ll understand, even if they disapprove.

If you find someone you really love while in college, you might need to come out – but only do it if you think that person is worth it.

Just remember: you don’t have to be ashamed of who you are. You just have to understand that things can get a little hairy, so protect yourself.

Here’s the link to Highlanders Anonymous!  We answer three questions every week. I look forward to seeing your questions!