DEAR ABBY: Is nitpicking a poor trait to have? I see it as a positive thing as long as matters are brought up in a helpful way. If you want a healthy relationship with the person you live with, isn't it best to tell her what you think should be done and how?

Two examples: My girlfriend likes to take her socks off when she's lying on the couch. She rolls them off her feet with the opposite foot and they sometimes end up in the corner of the couch, but most of the time on the floor. Also, dishes never get rinsed off, washed or put away on time. The sock thing is gross, and the dishes end up stinking or the food gets stuck on them. Also, the dishes sit in the strainer, not the cupboard.

My girlfriend thinks I go overboard and bombard her with these suggestions. I'd like to know how you and your readers feel about nitpicking.

- Likes Things Neat in Louisville

DEAR LIKES THINGS NEAT: I find it interesting that you used the term "nitpicking." Is that what your girlfriend calls it when you tell her she's doing something that bothers you? Nitpicking encompasses more than asking someone to pick up her socks or not leave the dishes in the sink or on the counter. (If she washes them, shouldn't you put them into the cupboard?)

There are few things that a neatnik finds more upsetting than living with someone who is disorganized. You and your girlfriend appear to have some very basic differences. If you're planning to make this romance a lifelong commitment, I'm warning both of you in advance that you can't change another person. Got it?

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.