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Alex Carnevale

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Mia Nguyen

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Entries in hard to say (176)


In Which Some Of These Questions Occupy Our Time

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.


Lately I have been getting into a lot of fights with my mom about my boyfriend Tim. Even though Tim and I live together in an apartment about twenty minutes away from my Mom's house, she frequently asks him to come over to help her out with tasks around the house. The chores are menial but I resent that she feels she can occupy his time. He feels he can't say no to her but is far from eager to pitch in.

There is another complication to my problem. My dad left when I was four after cheating regularly on my mom. My mom likes and appreciates Tim, but she also continues to encourage me to monitor his comings and goings so that the same thing doesn't happen to me. It makes me paranoid and sometimes I find myself wondering. I've explained this to Tim and he says he doesn't find it out of the ordinary, but I'm worried these two things will drive him far away - possibly to Alaska or the former Soviet Union. How do I handle this ticklish sitch?

Lake T.


Dear Lake,

At first it may seem like these are really two separate problems, each requiring their own unique solution. In reality, one complements the other quite well. If your mother actually believes Tim is cheating on you, she will stop asking him to help out around the house.

Maybe you're not comfortable lying to your mom about Tim's "fucking around." After all, she raised you, presumably by herself. Why not be vague and say that you and Tim have been having some problems. When she asks what kind of problems, you must select the only problem that couples have that no one would ever want to get involved with, even your mom: religion. Inform your mom that Tim really doesn't mind helping her, but because of these problems it's hurtful to you to have him spending time there when you need your space. Cry during this, and if the moment strikes you, weep. I once saw a friend sob like a baby while simultaneously sucking fluid from a juicebox full of Juicy Juice. I assure you I never was able to forget it.


I spent the weekend with an amazing guy. It was my first time meeting him in person after a few online interactions. He filled me with excitement about dating again. I felt an immediate connection with him after our dinner date and we went back to his place, but nothing physical happened.

It was a tiresome weekend for the both of us since we were tied with obligations, but we tried to spend as much time together as possible. We spent one evening watching a movie. I wanted to make a move the entire time, but was too nervous. I didn't want him to think it was a one time hook-up. I haven't dated anyone formally in two years and didn't know how to behave myself. I was taken aback. I want to let him know I feel without ruining what we have. I want to know how he feels, but I don't if I should bring it up the next time I see him or through text. We have a 10-year age difference, but it doesn't feel that way. What should I do?

Lacey M.

Dear Lacey,

During an extended, awkward first encounter like the one you are describing, some men will not make the first move. If you do not reciprocate, then their entire weekend is kind of unpleasant. Also, you might reciprocate just to smooth through the weekend rather than some genuine attraction. In our experience, people are most hesitant to pounce on a woman when they actually do like her, so there may be hope for you.

The fact that you didn't make a move is probably viewed by him as a sign of disinterest, though. I mean, you were there and hanging out for awhile. You probably watched The Grand Budapest Hotel and he empathized with Tilda Swinton and wondered if you were only interested in him for the heady bequest you would receive from his will. Never watch a Wes Anderson movie when sex is in the offing; it makes legs flaccid as well as penises.

There is nothing wrong with being the initiator, as long as he doesn't feel it is expected. Keep him on his toes by entering and exiting rooms very quickly. Perhaps too quickly? And use emdashes, but not too many emdashes. Guys don't like that.

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.

"Glory" - John Legend & Common (mp3)


In Which We Feel Very Crushed By Her Decision

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.


I recently was dumped by my girlfriend of two years. While she was in med school, I was always there for her. She says that she has met someone in her school who she has really clicked with, and although nothing happened yet, she realized it wouldn't be fair to either of us to continue the relationship when she is having doubts and feeling more attracted to someone else. She wants to take a break and reevaluate things in three months.

She also says that she doesn't know how she is going to feel in the future. I was her first serious relationship, so I understand she might want to explore other options. At the same time I think about how good we are together and don't understand her decision. I feel very crushed and can't stop thinking about how I could have made this work. Am I wrong to think that some time apart could make her realize what we have?

Andrew B.


Dear Andrew,

 There is only one possible way to regain a woman's interest when you have lost it, and that is by dating a more impressive woman and flaunting it before her very eyes. This strategy has worked throughout history - remember when Rachel on Friends was jealous of that British girl Emily even though Em was a personality b-minus? Ross unwittingly woke a dragon.

You need to start showing this young female Doogie Howser that you have moved on extremely quickly and that women desire you.  Post pics of your new relationship on every social media. If you cannot find a woman, hire someone to play a credible stand-in. This ruse will drive your ex crazy.

In addition, immediately after doing this, call up your ex and be like, "I met someone else. I'm sorry. What we had was great, but I'm too much of an alpha male to ever wait in the wings. My penis is shaped like a scimitar. Goodbye forever. I have had you, and now I move on to greener pastures." Then stroke a small dog (a Yorkshire terrier named Kale, perhaps?) and enter a helicopter.


I’m actually trying to start my own advice blog and I was hoping you could give me a few tips to get an audience and how to be good at giving advice. I just want to help people and I think a blog is the right way to go.

Betty R.

Dear Betty,

1. Nobody wants advice; they just want to know they're not alone. 
2. Check a lot of self-help out of the library.  
3. Get a therapist. 
4. Listen especially to what the person is not saying. 
5. Avoid whatever's a truism, whatever's trite, whatever's tired. 
6. What would you want to hear? 
7. It helps to have an orgasm before you start writing. 
8. As long as you make people feel understood, more will come.
9. "Start a blog" is the answer to more queries than you know. 
10. The person asking is rarely right.

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.


In Which We Find Ourselves At A Loss

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.


Last week, I was at a party, had a little too much to drink, and started flirting with my best friend’s boyfriend. Nothing happened  we were just sitting close on the couch, joking around and I think my hand was on his arm, but when my friend saw us, she got super angry and hasn’t spoken to me since. Neither has her boyfriend. I think she’s being super irrational, and have told her so  it’s not like I want him, they’ve been together for months, and she always has guys fawning all over her, but no dice. She won’t return my texts or calls. What should I do?

Becca J.


Dear Becca,

First of all, your friend was not being irrational. You crossed a line, and no matter what did or didn’t happen, she deserves a sincere apology. She sees this as a betrayal and you need to acknowledge her feelings. Call her up and say, “Patsy, I’ve been a cad.” Grovel a little, or maybe even a lot.

Second, you need to address the resentment that lives at the core of this friendship. BFFs don’t go around muttering, “You always have guys fawning all over you, Patsy.” They don’t say, “You’re being super irrational.” They don’t flirt with the other person’s significant other even when deep down they probably know they’re pissing the other person off. That’s not a friendship; that’s a competition, and an ugly one.

You need to figure out whether the drinking gave you the courage to act on this resentment or — and think about this one carefully — the courage to act on some itsy bitsy attraction to this guy that you’re not admitting. If it’s the former, you need to come clean with Patsy and renew your friendship vows. If it’s the latter, you need to back away from her bae until the only touching you’re doing is a friendly handshake.


I feel like my life is nowhere where I want it to be... How do I get my life together?

Ashley R.

Dear Ashley,

Simple: you make your life what you want it to be.

Okay, it’s not that easy, but it almost is. One of the most important lessons to learn while you’re still young is that you’re responsible for your own happiness (that is, the 75% that Benedict Cumberbatch isn’t responsible for). Stop blaming your circumstances, make a list of goals, and see what you can personally do to make them happen.

You’ll be surprised how much better you’ll feel once you’re proactive. Even when you have to leave little things up to fate — and you will, because we live in a cosmic cluster — you’ll rest easy knowing you’ve done your best. That’s all anybody (you) can ask for.


Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.