Hard to Say is This Recording’s weekly advice column. It will appear every Wednesday until the Earth perishes in a fiery blaze, or until North West turns 40. Get no-nonsense answers to all of your most pressing questions by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org or by dropping us a note at our tumblr.
Over the past six months I have been dating a girl named Katherine. She is really generous with her time when it comes to her friends and family, and sometimes they abuse what I consider to be her goodwill.
The situation recently came to a head when her friend Lance divorced his wife and needed a place to stay. Katherine felt she could not turn him away and has been spending a lot of time attempting to cheer Lance up, even throwing him a party.
I strain to emphasize that jealousy or lack of attention is not my problem. In fact, I sometimes feel relieved that Katherine has such a full life since it takes me off the hook, but I'm not sure I feel great about being okay with it. In addition, Katherine has told me that she is thrilled I am not controlling like her past boyfriends. How do I bring this up without making myself look bad?
As Ayn Rand put it in her classic 1964 essay collection, The Virtue of Selfishness, man is born with an innate... Just kidding, although casually leaving a copy of The Fountainhead atop your girlfriend's toilet tank is not going to hurt this situation at all.
Human women do things with three possible motivations:
1) They saw it on TV or in Diana Gabaldon's Outlander;
2) Their mother did it or forbid them to do it;
Sure, you can have it out with Katherine and she will resent you and probably start making Lance feel better in more predictable ways. Or, you can use a tried and tested process I call contamination.
Say that Katherine had a favorite restaurant. If they suddenly displayed health code violations in their window, would she not have to think twice about eating there? You want to subtly turn her good deed into a mediocre deed. For example, you could start eating at her favorite restaurant and pretend to vomit or get the shits afterwards. Alternately, in the Lance situation, you can leave her an anonymous note detailed all of Lance's probable misdeeds.
Just do one thing and find out if Lance has a big cock before embarking on this journey, and also check if it is a felony to forge someone's signature on an anonymous note.
I have a big problem. A couple of months ago I sent a nasty (anonymous) message to somebody I follow on Tumblr. I couldn't help myself - the person was so annoying! - and I immediately felt so much better. The problem is, I couldn't stop. I started sending nasty messages to a lot of people I follow. It always made me feel better, but now I also feel out of control. I'm also afraid that people are going to figure out it's me. I can't sleep, and I'm starting to have panic attacks every time I log into Tumblr. What should I do?
It sounds to me like you're the sort of person who has always abided by what was expected of you, so you find a sort of thrill in rebelling. That'd be okay if you got off on, I don't know, smoking weed or enjoying Kenny G, but instead you're being malicious. And you found the perfect forum for it, where you can shroud yourself in anonymity.
The shame that's flooding over you right now - the one that comes from feeling like you're a teenager I just caught with their pants down watching hardcore porn on their laptop - means that you have the ability to discern right and wrong. So that's good. You just need to stop seeing yourself as both the worst and best thing in the universe, and you'll be able to see others that way, too.
Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.