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Pretty used to being with Gwyneth

Regrets that her mother did not smoke

Frank in all directions

Jean Cocteau and Jean Marais

Simply cannot go back to them

Roll your eyes at Samuel Beckett

John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion

Metaphors with eyes

Life of Mary MacLane

Circle what it is you want

Not really talking about women, just Diane

Felicity's disguise

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Entries in advice (157)

Wednesday
Sep272017

In Which We Wait Longer Than Is Really Necessary

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,

I recently met a great girl who I will call Lauren. Eventually we got around to talking about past relationships. At first she became somewhat quiet, and then explained something that was difficult for her.

She said that she was engaged to a guy named Kevin until she found out he was gay. When confronted, Kevin confessed and the wedding was called off. This was all fine if a bit unusual, but Kevin is still a big part of her life. She also shared he was not the only gay guy she has been involved with.

I don't know exactly what kind of red flag this is, but I sense that it is one. Can you parse this better than me?

Lane R.

Hiqfo2C

Lane,

If this is something that happened when she was fairly young and didn't know any better, then I'd be inclined to give her a pass. It is completely reasonable to have a boyfriend who isn't demanding of you sexually if this is an area in which you are hesitant or possibly sensitive.

Imagine some guy places himself inside you and it hurts like hell. On a conscious ir subconscious level you might think about dating a gay, too.

If this episode in her life is occurred at a later point, it is likely reflective of some larger dysfunction. The fact that she still has a relationship with this person isn't the greatest sign, but maybe she just doesn't have many friends.

If you see the two of them together, you'll know quickly how much of a problem it is. If you are still concerned, then you can blow the whistle. So early on it's probably not the best to demand she cut off important people in her life she might need if and when you bail.

Hi,

Recently I was seeing a guy named Javier. Things seemed to be going well until we had sex. After that he ghosted me but very slowly, making up an entire litany of excuses before finally not responding. We waited a month before fucking and it seemed like forever. What is the best way to handle sex in the early stages of a relationship?

Kyoko E.

Dear Kyoko,

If a guy isn't interested after sex, there could be a variety of reasons for this. It is best to not fixate on any particular one. Of one thing we can be completely sure: if you had waited another two months, it is extremely doubtful the result of the relationship would be different.

It is usually not the sex so much as how it happens. If Javier was coming off a relationship, intercourse that approximates this will remind him of his past. In this case it is better to have sex spontaneously in an unfamiliar place. If he is more of a flighty kind of guy, make him express some significant emotion before getting more intimate. Many people don't know what exactly they are feeling until they articulate it.

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.

Wednesday
Sep202017

In Which We Return The Favor Almost Constantly

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.

Hi,

I have never enjoyed performing oral sex due to a bad experience I had with a previous boyfriend.

It seems like a lot of guys expect this and if I'm not into it, they think I'm not into them. It's just a personal preference, but I can't seem to find a way to express my revulsion towards the act in a way that makes them feel accepted.

Can you advise?

Harley B.

Harley,

You may want to first consider the fact that people do not usually repeat experiences they do not find pleasurable. It is what entered you into this situation, and it can probably quite easily get you out of it.

Still, for some people even a bad kumquat is delicious, and we can only hope you have not met one of those.

An honest conversation, preferably one where you sob at length, is ideal for defusing this situation. If you need to make vague promises about getting comfortable and revisiting things down in the future, feel free. It sometimes takes people a substantial period of time before they learn to accept the fate life has bestowed upon them.

Hi,

Is there anyway to know if you should give up on an on-again, off-again relationship. It seems like we always find our way back to each other, but at the same time the instability is a bad sign, right?

Teresa P.

Dear Teresa,

No.

Wait, what was the question?

Yes. Instability is a terrible sign. It's just when I hear someone explaining away some defect in their relationship with a romantic notion they probably digested from a Jane Austen novel or Friends, I reflexively shout no. It is the same thing I do when someone tells me that they are really excited for Wisdom of the Crowd.

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen. Access This Recording's mobile site at thisrecording.wordpress.com.


Wednesday
Sep132017

In Which For The Most Part We Consider Ourselves Lucky

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.

Hi,

I have been dating my new boyfriend, who I will call Sauron, for about six months give or take a week. Recently I received a message from an ex-girlfriend of Sauron's that was rather spiteful in nature. I showed it to my boyfriend and he became very upset, at first, mainly at the idea that someone from his past was trying to sabotage his current relationship. He hasn't brought it up since, but I have to admit the idea of being discarded by someone not interested in a relationship brings up some of my trust issues and I have found myself holding back more. It's hard not to ask about the full story but I don't want to make it seem like I'm jealous or petty. Is there a way of getting over this without screwing up or making a wrong move?

Emily H.

Emily,

I send out spiteful messages all the time, often to people who I never even dated. Here are some examples:

Hi, I miss you and I love you. Do you know where you put my slippers?

Hey, what's up. Did you see that video where the guy drank the entire cup of hot coffee? Classic.

Hi, is this Tim? Where is Tim? I miss you.

These kinds of strange messages are sure to contribute to an underlying instability at the center of the world. You seem to think that because you received a message from the past, it needs to affect your future. No one wants to see someone they care about moving on with anyone new. A facebook message is about the most mediocre expression of rage that exists, so consider yourself lucky that you were not run over by this woman's car. If things are going well, just forget it ever happened.

Hi,

I recently met a woman through some mutual friends. Dee is a social worker who is very devoted to the people she helps get on their feet. She is great at her job. 

Frequently, our dates or hangouts are postponed because things come up unexpectedly. Dee doesn't have a lot of faith in the people with which she works, so she feels like she has to handle these things herself. I try to accept that I am not always going to be her number one priority, but I am starting to worry it might be this way forever. She is apologetic and feels really guilty when she cancels the plans, and I try not to make things worse. I don't feel comfortable bringing it up to her since we have only been dating for four months. Should I give up now, or is it possible things will change in the future?

Henry P.

Dear Henry,

Dee probably is balancing a lot of things on her plate at one time, and since she deals with people who are used to letting her down and feeling bad about it, she is reflexively adopting their behavior. A good psychologist could probably fix her in a month or two.

We don't have that kind of time. It seems like she likes you because you are the one person she can disappoint, which means you may be very special to Dee. The irony seems to be lost on you.

Your instinct to wait until further in the relationship to make this an issue seems sound. By six months she will have bonded to you further, and you can influence her decision-making without her openly wondering where you got the nerve to tell her what to do. Four months in, you're just another aspect of the patriarchy holding her back.

Hi,

In September I am planning on marrying my boyfriend of four years, Darren. Recently the wedding preparations have begun in earnest and while I don't have any hesitation about my decision to get married (I hate the expression tie the knot, it is gross), I am a bit worried about how many people seem to be involved in the ceremony. Both of our parents are contributing financially to the event, and understandably they both expect to be a part of the process.

The wedding already seems like it will have to be much larger than I ever imagined it - over 100 people! - and the amount of money and time that is going into one day is starting to bother me. Should I just suck up my feelings or should I try to do something about it?

Jamie P.

Dear Jamie,

Many weddings and genocides share a common trait - they both involve over 100 people. I have attended many weddings in my time, and the only one I really truly enjoyed the bride got incredibly drunk and slept through most of the reception. Basically, as a bride, you are allowed several common expressions that will curtail a lot of this chicanery without coming off as a party pooper:

- "I always imagined a small wedding."

- someone suggests inviting Aunt Helen. "Didn't Aunt Helen once say ADHD was caused by grapefruit juice? She is not welcome on my special day."

- "Whose wedding is this?"

- "Darren and I need to talk that over."

- "Whose special day is this?"

- "Aunt Helen once thought my Armenian friend was a terrorist."

- "They had that at the Katie Holmes-Tom Cruise nups. Remind me how that special day worked out."

- "You're not my mother."

- "You might be my mother, but this is not your special day."

- "I need to talk that over with Aunt Helen."

Above all, lie, prevaricate and postpone any decision you feel the slightest bit uncomfortable with. No one ever looks back on a bride's behavior before a wedding and says, "She was just so indecisive, Shelia!" It's just par for the course.

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen. Access This Recording's mobile site at thisrecording.wordpress.com.


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