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Entries in advice (123)

Wednesday
Mar222017

In Which There Are A Variety Of Simple Ways To Fly

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.

Hi,

At the company I work for, new employees are brought into the flow in groups. My group had a lot of people around the same age and we all bonded and became friends quickly. (My company allows relationships in the workforce as long as they two people aren't in the same section.) In those early months I became close to Becca and we started to go out. After around a year, we decided to break up.

Recently Becca has started dating another employee who I work closely with. I have tried not to let this bother me but I think my true feelings are starting to show. In the end, it seems difficult to see her every day and I feel that I have not really gotten over the relationship even though I pretend otherwise. Do you have solutions to this issue?

Craig A.

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Dear Craig,

The idea of someone we were with being with someone else is always a traumatic situation. When Becca's new relationship turns into a steaming pile of garbage, you will perhaps be somewhat reassured, but the pain will never fully go away. That fact that Becca is moving on in front of you is what John Ashbery termed a blessing in disguise.

Moving on is difficult, but until you have accomplished that long term goal, there are some things you can do to alleviate this present pain. Conventional wisdom would have it that the less you know about the situation the better, but considering your circumstances, that is never going to be possible. Take things in the entirely opposite direction: be incredibly supportive of your co-worker's relationship and try to establish a friendship with Becca, if possible. This will take the edge off until the pain eventually just fades away.

Hey,

Lately I find that I am really quick to anger. When passengers were very slow to disembark a recent plane I was on, I felt myself wanting to lash out at them. This is balanced against a deep desire not to enter into open conflict with others, especially strangers I do not know.

I'm starting to think that there must be something wrong with me, to be made so angry but such routine and common frustrations.

Jackie R.

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Dear Jackie,

Such anger feels like the fancy of a negative moment, but it is in reality a product of prolonged frustration, bubbling to the surface. If you travel a lot, you can see how people let off their frustrations in various ways. Recently, I watched a man who missed his flight throw a temper tantrum by stomping and crying in front of the flight agent. A security guard covertly approached from the rear, sensing that a further breakdown was perhaps in the making. Eventually the guy settled down - his feelings were completely out of his system, and he had moved on to the next way he made other people's lives as unhappy as his own.

I am not saying you should throw a tantrum, but it is important to let people know if they have annoyed you in a specific way. You might as well start becoming the kind of person who frequently tells other people how the world should be, and it is better that you make this change in the company of people who you will never see again in your life rather than your close friends and relatives.

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.

Wednesday
Mar152017

In Which We Appear Every Wednesday In Our Hearts

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.

Hi,

In three months, I will be getting married to a woman I truly believe is the love of my life. As we have planned the wedding, I have been gripped by the desire to tell my fiancee about a weekend I cheated on her when she was on vacation with her family.

This mistake happened about eight months in our relationship. An ex-girlfriend named Delia was in town and we slept together one night. Delia and I have talked since, but only as friends.

I hate the idea that I would be going into the rest of my life without being completely honest with the woman who will be my wife. What should I do?

Omar B.

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Dear Omar,

I honestly can't think of a worse idea, but as with all situations, I try and see the other side of things. There is the possibility you will be forgiven for your behavior, but what is the point of ruining this poor woman's big day?

Perhaps on some level you wish to sabotage your wedding and your life. Many people believe that they do not really deserve happiness, and work to those ends in order to prevent themselves from achieving their desires. Having suffered sufficiently, you will no doubt have to attempt to gain some other woman's trust by behaving better.

Why not just have this with the woman who already wants to be your wife? One mistake is no big deal. We have all done something we regret. Making a habit out of it is the true sin, and maybe you wanted to stray once to see that it really isn't as much fun as it looks.

Hey,

I am in a bit of a precarious situation and I'm looking for a way out. I know that I should not have done a lot of this, but I am trying to make the best of what I do have.

I developed an online relationship with a guy who I will call Terence. I think at first I just liked the attention, and then our connection grew. At the same time, I was dating, but not very seriously, a guy named Gary who lives in my small city. We were not exclusive but I never told him about Terence still neither relationship was exclusive in my eyes.

Well, Terence is moving here and I want to pursue this relationship. We have met once in real life and I think there is a strong possibility he's the one. I wasn't sure this would ever happen, so I did not think of how Gary would take this.

I need to get Gary out of the picture, but I know if he finds out the real story he will be very angry and try to sabotage what I have with Terence. Also, I would prefer if Terence did not know about my relationship with Gary, but I can accept I may have to tell one of them more of the truth to make this work. What is my best course of action?

Sandra R.

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Dear Sandra,

I believe a similar situation occurred in a little book I like to call The Bible. As I recall, everyone died at the end of this sordid tale. We would not want this to happen to you, since you are the rare kind of person who can make two men happy without basically even trying.

Fortunately, there seems to be a variety of simple ways out here. You should tell Terence a heavily edited version of the truth, since he will most certainly find out something. Leave out the parts with penetration. After all, you did nothing really wrong here.

In order to confuse Gary as much as possible before he suddenly starts seeing you around with another men, find something you can identify in his behavior that you can use to make him ashamed of contacting you again. If he thinks you are the villain, he is probably going to want to broadcast it. You want to make him at least equally culpable in what is sure to be a difficult breakup. Wait for him to say something slightly inflammatory and then blow it up out of proportion. If he tries to apologize, advise him that your therapist told you it is best you not talk for awhile.

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.

Wednesday
Mar012017

In Which We Broke Several Mirrors In The Process

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.

Hi,

In recent weeks, my girlfriend Maria and I have begun talking about getting engaged, a conversation that she initiated. In the course of our discussions about whether it is the right step for us, she mentioned that she has no interest in taking my name or having our potential children take my name. I was a bit surprised but I said nothing.

After thinking about it more, I can't help but feel a bit bothered by this. She has no professional reason not to do it, but my main concern is that kids would find it confusing to be called by different or hyphenated names. Should I bring up this concern to Maria and how should I do it?

Roberto T.

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Dear Roberto,

Modernity has equipped us with a phenomenon called concern trolling. It's actual a quite ancient method. It allows people to offer a series of hypothetical statements intended to shit all over a topic without actually saying what is meant. In your situation, a concern troll might suggest, "Is it really the best for a child to be concerned about her name?"

Nothing actually has a name. These are simply made up designations. You are no more a Roberto than you are Matzoh Ramshackle. You're just a thing that exists, a thing that spends hours and hours concern trolling yourself, asking, "What should I call things, and what should I call myself?" in a high voice that sounds like Minnie Mouse.

If you really loved Maria, you'd take her name. However, she has not asked you to do this. If you offer, she might take yours, but probably not, because Maria Ramshackle sounds like the name of a prostitute. If you ever have a child, let your wife name it. It came out of her body after all. You can give your most raucous bowel movements your last name.

Hey,

My girlfriend Andrea takes so many showers. Like so many. Whenever we leave our apartment for any extended period of time — when we come back, the first thing she does is shower. Maybe I would understand this if we lived in a particularly dirty city or if she had the same level of obsessiveness about her clothes, which actually touch chairs, couches and seats where other people's bodies have been.

I know for a fact that she is not OCD about anything else in her life, so this passion for showers is inexplicable to me. When I ask her about it, she just acts like it's no big deal and she enjoys the private time or whatever. But I mean this is like ninety minutes every single day just holding yourself under running water.

Jessica C.

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Dear Jessica,

Given that your girlfriend does not seem terribly worried about making herself clean, it is probably something that she is hiding in the shower. It is at least conceivable that she is using drugs in the shower, or maybe just devouring a giant sized cupcake. I once ate a chicken sandwich in a bathroom; it is not a time in my life I am particularly proud of. She probably could hide both of these habits in easier ways, and there is a simpler explanation: masturbation.

A lot of people feel they can't masturbate in front of their partner. They don't want their significant other to feel like because they enjoy pleasuring themselves that it makes the other person inadequate. Many people masturbate within the context of relationships, either because they have a higher sex drive than their partner or more likely because it is an ingrained habit of dealing with stress or anxiety.

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.