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Alex Carnevale

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Mia Nguyen

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« In Which We Can Come To No Other Conclusion »

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 justhardtosay@gmail.com or by dropping us a note at our tumblr.


I recently spent a semester abroad in France. I did not have the best experience for reasons too numerous to detail here. Before I left for France I hooked up with a friend named Alex. We kept in touch throughout the time I was away and with the prospect of my return to campus nearing, things took a different tone in our texts. 

There was a lot of talk about being physical, which I did enjoy — it was great feeling close to Alex and I genuinely care for him. My concern is whether or not this represented a sincere desire on his part to be in a relationship. I'm not sure I know what he expects is going to happen and I feel weird bringing it up on skype or through text. 

How should I approach this?

Karen C.

Dear Karen,

Alex seems genuinely interested, but this is not surprising in itself. Straight men want to be with women, and setting up a expectation of a relationship through texting is a great way to make that happen. 

The ensuing relationship will take whatever form you want it to. If you act cool towards Alex, he will not assume you are going to hop into bed with him, and how he behaves from then on will tell you everything you need to know about what intends for you two. It's quite probable that he did not spend an entire semester pining after you, so find out what he was up to while you were away. I mean, don't hold it against him. A private detective gets pricey quick, so start reading his e-mails while he is in the shower. Most people hide their passwords in plain text in their browser's settings. Fucking idiots.

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen. 


My girlfriend, who we will call LeAnn after legendary country-western singer LeAnn Rimes (sp?), has put on quite a bit of weight over the past year. It has definitely affected how attracted I am to her even though I have tried everything I can think of not to let that happen. But I need to be honest — when I look at her, she doesn't look like herself.

 I haven't mentioned this at all to LeAnn, but she is definitely aware of the weight she has put on and she talks about it quite a bit. Drawing attention to the change has not made it go away, and only serves to remind me of the stress that caused it and that things are different. 

I have mentioned working out together and stuff but LeAnn's schedule is not really conducive to this and she does exercise, but it is not really helping at this point. Is there any conceivable solution to my issue?

George M.

Dear George,

Over time, it is completely reasonable to change your view of a significant other. You are not going to be able to have the novelty of sexual discovery you possessed when you first met LeAnn. Sure, some people are so easily stimulated that the mere presence of a woman is enough to express lifelong devotion, but in most relationships you have to work to have that stimulation come from within and not the surface. 

Whatever the reason, getting to know LeAnn better has no doubt thrown a wrench in your view of her. Extra weight is not the entire story; you will find that even if she suddenly discovers hot yoga, things will never quite be exactly how they were. 

I would try finding the thing that is holding you back from loving LeAnn as she is. Once you find whatever that thing is and remove the obstacle, you probably won't care very much about the weight, and you will need further therapy. Maybe get out of this relationship now before it's too late.

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