Dear Agony Aunt: Your Advice and Etiquette Questions Answered

Telling Roommates to Go Take a Hike

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By Aunt Agatha on 7 January 2021
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Many American and British magazines and newspapers run advice and etiquette columns ranging from Miss Manners to Dear Abby to Savage Love. The columns are not there, as you might have hoped, to offer solutions for everyday living.  More frequently, the questions range from “How can I get my annoying seatmate on this flight to shut up and let me watch my movie?” to “Where should I seat my ex-husband’s illegitimate gay son’s ex-lover at my daughter’s fourth wedding?”

Sherlock Holmes, as alert readers might know, regularly consulted the “agony columns” (the British term for such advice columns) and agony columns, of course, are written by agony aunts.  I am this publication’s agony aunt and will address readers’ issues of all types.

Dear Agony Aunt, written by yours truly, Aunt Agatha, will address all manners of travel and tech etiquette and life issues for you.  Simply send your troubles to and I will try to get to yours as soon as possible.

Dear Aunt Agatha,

What gives? I see all my friends traveling to Tulum. Is this something everyone is doing now? If so, does that mean it’s okay for me to do it? I relocated to my parents’ place to save some money when the pandemic hit, and I’m feeling suffocated. I could really use some time away. I don’t really care about getting sick, however, they’re older and I worry that my need to decompress could be detrimental to their health. I feel like I’m going crazy though.

–Tempted by Tulum

Dear Tully,

Something you must consider is that since you are staying in your parents’ home, you are subject to their rules and what they’re comfortable with you doing. You are sharing a space, so it’s important to be mindful of the other people within it (especially when they’re doing you such a big favor). Mexico has the fourth highest death rate from the coronavirus. If you’re really concerned about their well being, I would say now is definitely not the time to go. Alternatively, may I instead suggest going on a long walk or meditating in a park instead? Thesee are less risky ways to escape and practice self-care and you can reflect during these walks on my many times you used the first-person singular pronoun “I” in your note to me then as well.

Love, Auntie

Dear Aunt Agatha,

Help. Please. I have been stuck with my roommates for months. They are always home. I’m the only one who ever seems to go outside for a daily jaunt of fresh air. How do I politely tell them to take a walk (or to take a hike, for that matter)? I need some alone time. They’re always out in the living room and it feels like I am an intruder when I enter. My bedroom is not enough. I know we must all make sacrifices right now, but I feel like I’m about to explode. I want to feel at home at home.

–Suffering with No Solitude

Dear Sol,

The pandemic has affected everyone in different ways. Each person fights their own battles and has their own coping mechanisms for getting through this time. It seems like your roommates are seeking the social aspect that has been lacking the past year. An honest conversation about your needs is not something that you should be afraid of. You all are sharing a confined space and are all entitled to it. If they’re not responsive to what you tell them, keep in mind that this is a temporary situation and you may just have to accept that it’s you who is going to be taking long walks for a while.

Love, Auntie

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