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Entries in advice (140)

Wednesday
Jul262017

In Which We Give And Receive At Different Times

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.

Hey,

My friend Sally often asks me for advice. We discuss the issues in her life at extreme length, as she does not operate on anything like a "gut level." Frequently, and especially with relationships, she has gone against not only what I recommended, but also what she herself agreed was best. I can accept that people I care about will sometimes be hurt of their own doing, but she seems to step willfully into situations that are obviously flawed in their premise.

It's gotten to the point where I am not sure what to say to her about such things. Maybe if she experienced deep horror firsthand, it would change her decision-making process? Do you think people do learn from their mistakes?

Also, how do I tell her I can't be this kind of sounding board because of how painful it has become for me

Dana S.

Dear Dana,

It is natural for some of us to become emotionally involved in the problems of others, especially of friends and family we know and care about. Sally has developed the same respect for you and your thoughts that anyone does for a tiny, impotent angel who sits on their shoulder. In other words, she strongly believes that you are no longer the least bit real.

It is at this point you should decide how much you really care abour Sally. If you are pretty distant from her troubles, I think receding into the fabric of heaven is more than your right. But if you really care for and want her to avoid doing something she'll regret, take it the whole way and really impose yourself on the situation. If she ends up resenting you, who cares? It's not like she is your wife.

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen. 

Hi,

Through an online dating website I recently met a woman, Ellen, who has just gotten out of her marriage of two years several months ago. At first I was hesitant to pursue things with Ellen thinking it would get complicated. We have a great connection, but it is not easy to handle the presence of someone else in her life with whom she has a long, shared history. Further complicating the situation is the fact that he actively tries to get her back. More recently, she spent an entire night sobbing when he sent her a long letter.

Honestly, I'm tempted to tell her to contact me once these issues sort themselves out. On the other hand, I do feel something with her I haven't with other women so sticking it out does have its appeal. What should I do?

Michael S.

Michael,

Participants in the degrading, sexist institution we call marriage have every incentive to stay in their committed, legal union. The tax breaks are just insane, and the thrill of unprotected sex pretty much never goes away. I am sort of joking, but sort of not.

When a woman leaves her marriage, it means that she is really not having it. There is one key exception to this situation — when her husband cheats. Then things are kind of up in the air because forgiving him is very possible and you could end up on the outside of this situation rather quickly.

Assuming that is not the cause of the divorce, you're probably in a far more stable situation than you imagined. Most women aren't going to jump into another relationship after something this serious goes haywire, so if she is sticking around, she isn't just experimenting and probably has actual feelings for you. If you are there for her during this difficult time — and not just as a pillow — she will remember that kindness.

On the other hand, if she starts having all night talks with her ex, you are free to express your disapproval and disassociate until she does.

Hi,

I recently met a guy, Aiden, through some mutual friends who is attractive, confident and fun to be around. The only concern I have is that he insists on meeting up at concerts that are frequently loud. He usually drinks to excess, and while he is great fun under these circumstances, the entire night is rather exhausting for a weekday. 

Maybe this kind of thing would have appealed to me when I was in my early twenties, but we're both in our early thirties and the idea of being a sweaty mess every time I see Aiden is a disturbing project. On occasion we will do other things, but it seems this is his idea of fun and he goes to two or three shows a week.

Marjorie W.

Dear Marjorie,

Compatibility means that you enjoy doing the same things at the same times, like going to shul on the high holidays, or interchanging each other's limbs so you can feed each other bagels chock full of gluten. Couples require these shared activities, or else they will begin to resent one another. The fact that you are already resenting Aiden's choice of fun this early on in the relationship is maybe not the best sign.

You will then wonder, will he grow out of what he enjoys? It's not impossible to do so, but since music is a wonderful expression of the soul, it would be hard to imagine he will suddenly enjoy listening to it performed. Maybe if you got him a really great stereo.

Wednesday
Jul192017

In Which We Accept Almost Every Situation Imaginable

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.

Hey,

I have two older brothers who are very protective of me. I haven't been the most assertive person in the past — it is just part of my personality. So when they asked my boyfriends difficult questions or made them uncomfortable, I argued to myself that it was all in my best interest. I even recall telling someone I was very close to that they would have to accept the presence of my brothers in his life.

Now this seems stupid, since they are both married and I am not. Despite having families of their own, they are still deeply involved in judging whoever I am with at the time. Well, I have met someone new, and this time I plan to approach the situation differently. I sat them both down individually and asked them to back off, but I don't think I am getting through to either of them. I'm at my wits end. Do you have any ideas?

Thanks. You're the absolute best.

Chelsea M.

Dear Chelsea,

Often when people are determined to finally be honest about something, they do not take it far enough in one direction. Calmly and calculatingly asking these people to behave differently is humming when you require yodeling. 

Fortunately, it sounds like you have built up a lot of credit with these deplorables, so some cursory sobbing should be able to get through to them at a level honesty cannot. Since they have been oblivious to your desire so far, we cannot count on being able to react them in this fashion. If you still struggle to disabuse them of their sexist notions, then you must begin returning like for like and sabotaging their lives in a similar fashion. Soon they will realize what a disastrous fucking imposition they are.

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen. 

Hey,

I have a friend we should call Charlie. He recently broke up with his girlfriend of three years, Nora. He met someone else and really hit it off, so he told Nora that things were over.

I have always liked Nora and we get along great. Before she was with Charlie, she had admitted we were attracted to each other but I was going into the Peace Corps. I would like to at least try being with her now, but I sense that Charlie would be angry about this and she might be reluctant since Charlie and I are friends. I don't want to ruin my relationship with either of them.

What's the best way to clear the path?

Dan Y.

Dear Dan,

The best thing to do is have her make the first move. This solves several problems for you.

1. It puts the impetus on her to explain to Charlie that she is now with you and not him. If she does not tell him, all the better. The longer you can delay speaking to Charlie about this the better.

2. Her reluctance about getting with you is strongly diminished if she eliminates your potential questionable motivations for being with her from the field of play.

3. It's easier.

If Charlie confronts you about it, tell him you did not want to hurt him, but she is the love of your life. What is he going to say to that? No?

Wednesday
Jul122017

In Which We Would Have So Much In Common

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.

Hey,

My sister Asri used to live nearby me in Upper Manhattan. We saw a lot of each other because of this and became very close. She recently moved to New Jersey because of her boyfriend and new child and I haven't seen as much of her. She constantly complains about this, expecting me to be the one to always travel. Well, it's not a short trip and not a fun trip either, and expecting me to be out there more than twice a month simply isn't reasonable. How can I make Asri see the problem with her expectation?

Theodore M.

Dear Theo,

In such situations, it is best to just go ahead and tell a white lie. Claim there is a problem with your knee, nose, or ring finger. Unfortunately, our family members can sometimes catch us in a lie and when you do see you sister, she may sense that a physical ailment is not present.

Still do not be honest with her, because, really, where has that ever gotten you? No, you must find a new, better lie. One which can never be questioned and holds up under the most intense possible scrutiny. When you figure things out, write us so we can use it as well.

What's a fun trip? To the drugstore? Bali?

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen. 

Hey,

I have been seeing a woman who I will call Ellen for about two months. We have never talked at all about being exclusive, which I know is probably my fault. She never mentions going out with other guys, although I guess why would she? I am still seeing someone else, though, and I sense that if I tell her about it, it might not go very well. What's the best course of action in my situation?

Michael M.

Dear Mikey,

If she wanted to know, she would already know. She doesn't want to know. Perhaps she is hopeful that she is with someone who sees her as a candidatef or a monogamous relationship. She actually might be a lot more accepting of your situation than you believe. Maybe the two of them would hit it off. Think about how much they would have in common: they both enjoy the ethereal thrill of your company, the way your clothes smell before and after a wash, and share a similar, mediocre taste in men.