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Pretty used to being with Gwyneth

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Frank in all directions

Jean Cocteau and Jean Marais

Simply cannot go back to them

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Entries in hard to say (141)

Wednesday
Feb222017

In Which We Intrude On Your Private Space

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 think it is wonderful that my wife Sam has a really close friend. The two of them have been best buds for just over six years, which is longer than I have known my wife. However, the intensity of their relationship at times seems like overkill. I find I cannot tell my wife anything without her friend, who I will call Nikki, also finding out.

This would maybe not be quite as irritating if Nikki did not bring up these intimate details in front of me. Thankfully discretion compels her silence in mixed company, but I do not need my balls broken or advice, unsolicited, from this third party to my marriage. I don't really have a problem with my wife's behavior, but Nikki is single and her taste in men is far from quality. I don't know think I could reasonably take her advice about anything more serious than what gasoline to put in my car.

 

Not to compare, but none of the other married people I know have had this similar problem of their relationship being challenged by another intimate relationship. If I raise any of my concerns about Nikki to Sam, she blows me off saying her friend is harmless and that she doesn't believe in secrets. I don't think this is harming our marriage, but it is becoming a serious annoyance I am ready to be done with. Can you help me please?

Theo A.

Dear Terry,

It is always not very hard to break up one of your wife's friendships, but this comes with a million extra caveats when two people are as close as Sam and "Nikki." She'll obviously miss someone she can confide in, and we do not want her to resent the role you play in the events that dishonorably discharge Nikki from the service she performs for your wife.

At times our close ones become more friendly with villains that they ought to be. It does not really say much for your wife that she is fine with this, although even the most wonderful people have flaws. The first thing you must understand is that your disgust/hesitance towards Nikki is actually making her more sympathetic in your wife's eyes.

What you need to do is organically get Sam to view Nikki in the light with which she appears to you. There was this great scene in Stepmom where Susan Sarandon subtly makes her son run away from the stepmother (Julia Roberts) and she never even gets called out on it. You can put Nikki in very difficult situations without ever being called out for it.

For example, you might say, why would I want to go on a weird vacation with Sam and Nikki and another guy? You wouldn't, but couples vacations are a great place to have experiences that you will never want to discuss with anyone again, even your therapist, Dr. Harding.

Hi,

Is it a bad sign that I fantasize about other women in order to bring myself to orgasm during sex? I usually enjoy sex with my girlfriend, but sometimes I guess it gets repetitive since we know each other so well. I have no problem getting hard, but at times it will be difficult for me to achieve orgasm since it feels like we are going through the motions.

I'm worried this means we aren't especially compatible.

thanks,

Jean S.

Dear Jean,

No, this is not a great sign, although certain funks can be imploded through sheer force of effort/stellar communication with your partner. Some people's bodies can become so addictive and tantalizing that any kind of touching never really gets old. You obviously have nothing like that with your girlfriend, and you will never have it. Maybe you have never felt that attracted to a human being, though, in which case your current situation could be the best you can reasonably hope for. Do not tell your girlfriend that you have ever fantasized about anyone. Ask her what turns her on – if she cannot think of anything specific, try roughhousing and afterwards lecturing her at length regarding what turns you on. Don't say "other women", although at this point we would all have to admit it is the plain truth.

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.

Wednesday
Feb152017

In Which We Told An Exciting Half-Lie

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 made some mistakes in my friendship with a co-worker who I will call Jane. Although I am in committed relationship and I told her that, we both have not really brought it up too much since then. It is nice to have someone to talk to at work and if I am beginning honest, things in my relationship have been a bit stale — my girlfriend works long hours as well.

I have been sort of toeing the line with Jane and although I really do like her, I don't want to break up with my girlfriend. Is there anyway to reestablish boundaries? (Nothing physical has happening, although we have come close.)

Theo A.

Dear Theo,

Jane does not sound much like an innocent party either. She knew you were in a relationship and that was probably part of the reason the two of you became so close. There are so many different ways two people can derive sustenance with each other. The kind you have chosen is essentially unhealthy, since it lacks real intimacy with either party, but maybe that is just the sort of arrangement you prefer.

The real problem is in your primary relationship. Maybe you don't want to be with someone who works such long hours. Normally I would advocate a fresh lie, but telling everyone involved the truth is most likely going to lead to your best result. Half relationships can sometimes become full relationships, and it is possible either of these situations might be repaired to your satisfaction.

Hi,

It is always disgusting or skeezy to ask someone who you met while they are working? I have built up rapport with an administrator who is employed at a hotel I often visit for work. I don't want to make her uncomfortable by hitting on her, but there must be some way of letting her know I am really interested.

thanks,

Daniel S.

Dear Daniel,

She has to deal with this a lot in her job. Building "rapport" as you call it is really just an aspect of service jobs. You're a client and thus you receive this treatment because you have paid to receive it. It is really no indication of romantic interest on her part. 

It is OK to drop hints, but never intrude on her private space or well-being. If she really picks up on what you are broadcasting, maybe it is then OK to straightforwardly ask if something more is going on. Without that green-light, you are just being a dick.

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.

Wednesday
Feb012017

In Which We Have Recalled The Full Story Now

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,

Last March I had a brief relationship with a co-worker, who I will call Sam. The relationship ended when Sam was transferred to another part of the company - it's about an two hours drive away. I never heard that it was because another employee found out about us, and transfers are frequent. 

I miss Sam a lot, and I have thought about asking for a transfer or leaving my job so that this would not be an obstacle to us being together. When I talk to him about it, he is mostly focused on the repercussions for his career. He does say he wants to be together, but it seems impossible right now. Can you suggest any course of action?

Nadine A.

 

Dear Nadine,

A man is a beautiful thing. He smells of musk and Raisinets, and he always has a kind word for a tourniquet or bedfellow. A hour is not too far to conduct any relationship, but two can make it rather difficult on both of you. 

The facts seem to be these, though: if you did not tell someone about your relationship, then it is quite possible Sam did, which means he may not exactly want this relationship as much as it seems. It's a great cop-out, and we can add to the fact that if he wanted to see you on a regular basis, he probably would.

It can be tricky to get out of a work relationship, and Sam most likely felt trapped. This is through no fault of your own, but the fact that you are still pursuing this even when he has been transferred indicates the momentum in the relationship is entirely on your side.

Let me tell you a story. A man (Joseph Cotten) loved a woman (Ginger Rogers). When he found out that she had to serve three years in prison for murdering her boss when the man tried to drunkenly r her, he was like, "I will wait for you my darling." He was there outside the prison when she got out, and they had three wonderful children together, two of them addressed by their peers and parents as "Monsignor."

Instead of Joseph Cotten, who was also a war hero in this particular instance, you have targeted a mid-level functionary at your organization who has a lot of excuses that he can't be with you. He sounds like Scar from The Lion King, and while Scar's phallus was shaped like a can of tuna, Scar also had some pretty attractive qualities. Every single person in the universe can be the love of your life. Sam doesn't want to be. 

You can probably turn this around. Cut off all contact with Sam and start dating someone named Davidson LeGrue. Problem partially solved.

Hi,

My cousin Jeff is planning to propose to a woman he met on a dating website. (Not Christian Mingle.) A little bit about her:

- Her name is Sandy.
- She loves to surf, sunbathe and she is always cold indoors, no matter the actual temperature.
- She calls bicyclists "flappy nerds" and joggers "pinwheels." Sometimes my mom can't understand what she is saying.

Given everything, she doesn't feel like the best fit for Jeff. If she makes him happy I feel like I shouldn't interfere, but I think marrying this woman would be a tragic misstep. What should I do?

Anna S.

Dear Anna,

The vagaries of American slang are only of practical use to those who are in a long term relationship with John McWhorter or Noam Chomsky. At least she doesn't ride a bicycle, because our experience is that almost everyone who does thinks their poop smells like a delicatessen.

The phrase "if she makes him happy" has lost all meaning at this point. Charles Manson is currently making a woman happy. Happiness is just a brain imbalance — too much serotonin — and is not attributable to one person, unless that one person makes cat sounds while eating. I would, theoretically, find that very amusing.

You need to find out what things are like between Jeff and Sandy when you or your mom is not around. Asssuming she can bring him to completion and is able to tolerate his very basic first name, you may not have a leg to stand on. Everyone is annoying to someone.

Hi,

I went abroad for the fall semester in Paris. My boyfriend Tom and I talked and facetimed every day and I was missing him a lot. When I came back he cried and confessed that he had a emotional relationship with a girl in his dorm, but that they never touched or even kissed. I didn't really know what to say as the context of their thing seems kind of unclear to me.

Since we talked a lot while I was in France, I'm actually kind of amazed he would even have time or need to make a connection like this. On the other hand, since I was not actually there and nothing happened, there seems to be some doubt as to whether or not something dealbreaking occurred. He says that he doesn't want to talk to her anymore and only wants to be with me, and I believe him. I'm tempted to just forgive him considering the situation, but am I being too accommodating?

Raina C.

Dear Raina,

Some people are very good at telling lies, and others are not so good at it. You can work out for yourself which kind of person you would rather be with. What you need to know is that among those who are good at telling lies, many have learned the utility of telling half-truths.

The advantage of the half-truth is that is lessens a guilt compulsion that many people feel when they do something wrong, without exposing the liar to the reprecussions of the actual truth. Again, not all of want to hear the full truth all the time. If Tiger Woods' wife Elin did, she would most likely have run him over with that car, and his half-lie spared her decades in prison.

Now she's dating a great guy who is also rich, so his half-lie was the best thing that ever could have happened to both of them.

I don't know what kind of person Tom is. It's possible that he is telling you the whole truth, in which case you can forgive him and see where things go from there. Connections in college are unavoidable, and it can be very lonely to be by yourself when the person you love is away in the romance capital of the universe. But it might be best to dig deeper. Out of nowhere, shout at him, "DID YOU ORDER THE CODE RED?" and when he looks puzzled, whisper to yourself, "You're goddamned right I did."

Find out if what you are hearing is the whole truth, and get the full story from the other woman if you must. You might save yourself a lot of heartbreak later on.

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.