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.
My boyfriend (of four months) Ian, and I were at a movie last week. He brought into the theater a massive box of popcorn slathered in butter and ate the entire thing himself. I could barely focus on the film given the show that was occurring in the seat right next to me. To make things even worse he offered his sticky hand to me afterwards and I was too shocked to vocalize my disapproval. I still feel like there is butter on my hand.
I know I'm nitpicking a little and other aspects of this new relationship are a lot more positive, but it is difficult to completely put this experience in the past. Am I overreacting?
A lot of binge-eaters prefer to do their most important work in the dark. The fact that Ian allowed you to view him in his natural environment was from his perspective, an important step. You can bet that Ian has serious issues with his food, all beginning when he was a young Ian growing up in the Hamlet of Saw City, Missouri. Children often escape domineering parents or uncomfortable home situations through the magic of cinema, and if they are not getting the requisite calories at home, a folksy theater vendor might slip a young boy an extra bucket of popcorn that some finicky theatergoer rejected for being too buttery.
Personally, I feel that butter is an abomination, a story that begins in Fountainhead, Montana....
There will always be things about other people we don't like or fully understand. Getting closer to our knowledge of others and accepting them constitutes some level of personal growth.
If you're not at that point yet, don't blame yourself.
As a heterosexual woman, I was wondering what the best way to give a guy your number and basically let you know that you are interested in is? In college I was used to meeting people naturally and developing a friendship. In my new city a lot of people are already in relationships and thus it's awkward. I just wondered if there is a simple way to convey availability without coming on too strong?
If you are talking about people you slightly know as acquaintances, the best thing to do is state plainly that you just broke up with your boyfriend. They will ask the reason, which is a decent conversation starter although you will quickly want to move onto other things, and so will they. The made-up reason that you should give for the breakup is usually, you moved here and did not want to do long-distance. If you have some other dealbreaker you can also mention that up front, e.g. "He wouldn't abandon his cat Meeples!" or "He wanted me to get a hysterectomy!"
If you are talking about randoms, it is usually best to get to know them in a general sense, after which you can use the dumped gag. Telling other people your own relationship status generally gets them to reveal theirs without a minimum of fuss. If they suggest they are single, then you can offer a friendly drink. When they arrive, they will quickly realize they are at the beginning of the most important sexual and emotional journey of their lives.
Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.