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Entries in hard to say (170)

Wednesday
Aug302017

In Which We Devour Our Ingrained Habits

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.

Wednesday
Aug232017

In Which We Are Not As Excited As You Are About This

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,

Something has seemed off lately with my partner, Lynn. I haven't seen or heard any actual evidence that she has been cheating on me, and I'm afraid to confront her, entering a sour note into our relationship where previously there had not been any. I've been in a situation before where accusations led to distrust between both parties. Is there any way to bring out the truth without risking everything if it turns out I am wrong?

Sandra T.

Sandra,

Once someone has been unfaithful to you, it is more than natural to look for ghosts where there are not any. Knowing this, it is important that you mount a covert operation with substantially more discretion than a certain James Comey. Don't read texts or e-mails – that would just come back to bite you and it might really hurt your feelings in other ways.

Instead, look to innocently prove than Lynn is doing what she says she is doing when she says she is doing it. People rarely just lie about one thing.

Hi,

My friends Aaron and Jean have been making plans to have a child. (They have had issues conceiving naturally and are now moving onto conception with the aid of a health-care provider.) I have tried to be supportive throughout this process, but neither of them seems like they are exactly itching to become a parent. They both value their own free time quite a bit, and Jean has complained to me at various times of the distance she has felt in the relationship. On the other hand, she argues that 'now is the time' and that Aaron would be a dependable father. Is that a good enough reason to procreate?

Nadine R.

Nadine,

Substantially worse things can happen than being born to two loving parents. Relationships and people need to grove and evolve; maybe it is a dangerous cliche to think that having a child will bring Aaron and Jean closer together, but it is not like that has never happened before in human history. If your friends are devoted enough to the concept to go to this much trouble, there must be some part of them that believes it is the correct choice in their lives. I wouldn't go around judging what kind of parents they are going to be from their behavior as single people, either.

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.

Wednesday
Aug162017

In Which It Is A Torrid Kind Of Perserverance

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 recently got out of a nine month relationship that was really intense and satisfying. Unfortunately she had to move to Seattle for work, and my own job and my family are keeping me here in Boston. We decided we don't want to ruin what we have by trying to make it work at such a long distance. 

A month or two has passed since my ex moved, and she has now been contacting me (we said we wouldn't do this). She is having some trouble making friends in her new city so she frequently calls or texts if she finds herself alone. I don't know how to deal with this: I do still have feelings for her, but I was a bit upset she would want to stop seeing me in the first place - she had a good job here and I wouldn't have done the same thing. 

She is locked into her contract until mid-2018, and I don't know if I really want to go through this until then. There was a reason we decided long distance wouldn't work, right? How should I handle her apparent change of heart?    

Joe P.

Dear Joe,

We all make mistakes, although some people are more prone to making them than others. The fact that she put her career before you is no big whoop, since it's not like you sound particularly committed to this woman. If you were, believe me you would be ecstatic, not disappointed to hear from her. 

On the other hand, it sounds like you were hurt in this process and you should take some time to get over that pain before arriving at a firm decision about how you should react to your ex's current behavior. But how to create the space you desperately need to evaluate things dispassionately? Just tell her you lost your phone. 

I am kidding, this is the rare time you will ever hear me advising anyone to tell the truth, which is usually painful and nuncupatory. You will have to expose your true feelings and it is best to request a discrete period of time before reporting your findings. 

In the end, you will probably find that this angry decision is what is best: you can't hang around and be the outlet for your ex's predictable sadsies for the next year. If you want, visit her at some point, have sex, and see if you want to flee back to Boston on the next train. If you don't, maybe it is worth the occasional drunk dial to keep this person in your life.

NB: The intercourse during your reunion should be tender yet opaque. Afterwards, light incense that smells of rosemary and penitent coquettishness.

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.

Hi,

What is the right time to introduce sexting?

I don't ask this question because it particularly turns me on. The women I've gone on dates with recently seem to expect a great deal of texting before we actually meet. On one hand, I understand this is a decent if potentially misleading way to get to know someone. On the other hand, I feel like sometimes the conversation peters out or loses a spark because of a lack of physical presence. It's also tiring to keep up with some of these women, and I'm not sure how often to communicate with them.

I feel like if I introduce how attracted I am to them early on it will prevent me from getting friendzoned, so when is the best time to make that move?

Mike C.

Mike,

In my experience, there are three types of texters we need concern ourselves with to properly answer your question:

Women who don't seem particularly texty. Some women just don't love to text guys they haven't met yet too much, since they view it as a waste of time if they don't like you in person. Others are probably furiously texting other people and the fact that they don't have time to text you indicates you are not exactly a priority. You can still make yourself a priority from there, but it is tough.

The best thing to do if you are getting mediocre responses to your texts is change lanes. Just call her and see where it goes. If she doesn't call you back, she's not interested anyway. If she does, you can accomplish everything that texting does in a fifth of the time and spend the remaining hours watching Workaholics.

Women who will text you a lot. If a woman is texting you a lot, she probably is looking for a relationship with a guy who will answer her texts. If you don't answer her texts, you are not the type of person she wants to reproduce with. The positive side of this arrangement is that it gives you a lot of possibilties to flirt or as you call it, "sext." You should only do this with a woman you don't know in real life if you are (1) solid in terms of a connection or (2) you don't give a fuck. Otherwise just stay flirty but keep it light. Otherwise she's probably just interested in the attention you give her.

Women who will text you a little. The story of Goldilocks and the three bears is a homophobic metaphor for almost everything in our lives. Did you know that Goldilocks was originally a disgusting old woman? The point of the story in Goldilocks is that we can never truly know who is in our bed, and afterwards, who has been there. She may have eaten the porridge also, she may not have, but we have no way of knowing. The truth is, the food is gone.

Many women fall in love quickly and heavily like Myrcella Lannister, but others are not so apt to be entranced by the text you send that contains the words "how r u?"

It's important to know your strengths. If you're not clicking with this person over text, I doubt that will suddenly change when you start telling her how much you loved Gifted. Text communication is important, but it doesn't represent how much you might enjoy spending time together, or even how she would text you once she gets to know who was in her bed.

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.