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.
Ever since my boyfriend Carl joined Equinox, he has been really proud of the work he is doing there. That's what he calls it, "work," and he is usually related a story of who has been observing the aesthetic improvement of his new physique.
I don't want to know who he is getting attention from at the gym, whether they be male, female, Anderson Cooper, Khloe, Scott Disick, the Mad Hatter. It's all the same and it all makes me feel terrible. I get that he should be able to boast about what he is doing to improve himself, but why must it make me feel worse about myself?
Bragging has become so absurdly common that people don't even know they are doing it. They just have an inborn desire to inform everyone else about how full of love, passion and fun their lives are. It is an aesthetic choice, since they are never referencing an inner beauty which would only become observable over time. It's more just "LOOK AT ME!" in the loud voice of a baby manifesting itself as an adult. Content-wise, it is no different from the way an infant screams at night.
In the case of someone close to you engaging in the humblebragging consistently in your vicinity, talking to Carl about it is completely out of the question, since communicating honestly about what a dick someone close to you is being usually backfires within mere moments of the development. Just get one of your friends — male or female, it doesn't matter — to go to an extreme even worse than Carl. Have her talk about all the guys she has picked up at the gym, detailing their five year financial outlooks and the textures on the head of their genitals. He'll never talk about the gym again.
In 2014 my mom started dating a guy, Peter. About a year ago he cheated on her with another woman. She walked in on him and his girlfriend having sex in his home, and my mom dumped him afterwards. In the ensuing months, Peter began a relationship with this woman. When it didn't work out, he told my mom he had made a huge mistake and spent the next six months convincing her to get back together with him. He was so persistent about everything, and my Mom does love Peter, so finally she gave in.
When I found out that Peter was cheating on my mom, I instantly hated him. They are a couple now, and I have told my mom that I can't really see or interact with Peter without thinking of this awful incident. Trust is very hard to get back, and I don't know if I could ever see Peter in the same light, even though my mom seems to be able to.
It feels like I was the one betrayed and it's hard to see my mother with Peter again. Is there anything I can do?
At times you have to value what a person is instead of focusing on what he isn't. Peter is not a person you can respect, trust, or value in any way at this moment. Time might change your appraisal of him; people have been known to make a mistake for reasons that seem sufficient at the time. Understanding Peter's actions are not within your abilities at this moment, but appreciating that your mother has chosen to be with him is.
This individual must have some other redeeming quality. Maybe he spends time at a local animal shelter, or he services the women of a local shelter. You never know everything that is inside someone until you search the internet.
Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.
"Faded Love" - The Saint Johns (mp3)
"Little Bit" - The Saint Johns (mp3)