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Entries in hard to say (183)


In Which We Discover This Is Onerous To Convey

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.


We have all heard the maxim, "Once a cheater, always a cheater." I have been dating my boyfriend David for over a year. Early on in our relationship, when we were not exclusive, he explained that he had also been seeing another girl, who we will call Serena. He told me that he was going to break it off with her and that was that.

Recently he told me he had plans to meet up with Serena again, and reassured me that it was only in a friendly context. Initially I had no problem with this, but my curiosity led me into a google rabbit hole and I viewed Serena's online presence in its entirety. She is a very, very attractive presence, in a lot of ways that I am not. For example, she has long blonde hair and a tiny waist.

When I brought this up to David, he again told me there was nothing to it and said all the right things. He offered to cancel, but I said it was OK. Now I am kind of worried though. Objectively I don't believe he ever cheated on me, but I can't help having that feeling in the back of my mind. What should I do?

Denise F.

Dear Denise,

If your relationship was strong and committed, the reappearance of Serena should not have a negative impact on what you share with your beau. If it was strong and committed, she would just be a faceless woman that was once a part of his past and now is not.

Speaking to the situation at hand though, you have two options: You can demand to be there when he meets up with her. You can make your presence known. You can publicly establish the boundaries to her. But all that does is shine a negative light on you. It makes you seem paranoid. If I was Serena, I would think that there’s something wrong within the relationship. And there’s no point in giving this other woman the upper hand by showing your cards of insecurity.

Instead, the best option is to ask David the nature of his past relationship. Was Serena just a woman he was dating casually at the same time he began to date you? What defines casually? And how long were they together? You can ask these questions in a to-the-point manner. It might seem confrontational (because it is), but it is better than worrying yourself over something that you ultimately can’t control. Be honest with how this makes you feel to him. Get it all out in the open, ask for honesty in his response, and trust that the strength of your relationship will provide a sufficient enough answer.


I am a 20 year college graduate who takes medication for my bipolar disorder. When I inform my dates of my condition or that I take regular medication, they do not react very well. Usually in their eyes I see a fight or flight response reminiscent of a young doe. When is the right time and manner in which to bring up my condition?

Nathan R.


Dear Nathan,

There is no set time when it might be appropriate to share sensitive information, but you will probably know when it’s right. Usually the other person will have shown you that it is okay to say these things, normally by sharing their own stories. This could be on the second date or in the second month.  Dating allows both people to test the waters. As the relationship grows, so should each person’s trust in the other. If you pull somebody into the deep end with you right away, you won’t know if they’re up to it. They haven’t earned your trust yet, and you haven’t earned theirs. Start small, like with a bowl of pistachios.   

It’s also possible that you are dating people who aren’t ready to be in real relationships. If you’re still rebuffed even when you’ve waited until it’s natural or necessary to share, then move on and don’t blame yourself. They are the ones who need to grow up.

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.

"Asleep in the Deep" - Mastodon (mp3)

"Ember City" - Mastodon (mp3)


In Which We Find This Impossible To Make You Understand

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.


My girlfriend Marilyn is a charismatic, loving and caring person. She does one thing that has grown to bother me over time. Whenever she is walking around the city, examining various buildings, she says one thing over and over again, "Who lives here?" with a quizzical tone.

I don't know if she genuinely wonders who is living in the domiciles, or if she just thinks it's a funny thing to say. I've told her in a nice way that she might want to give "Who lives here?" a rest for awhile, but she just thinks it's a wonderful inside joke between us. How can I make her stop uttering these words?

Randolph B.

Dear Randolph,

"Who lives here?" seems a perfectly reasonable thing to say. Your girlfriend harbors a wonderful curiosity about the world and its denizens, and you may never find her ilk again.

Still, even the most introspective and important questions can get a bit grating if repeated often enough. In order to get her to stop asking, each time that she poses the question offer an intricate analysis of the residents' socio-economic levels, day-to-day rituals, grocery shopping lists, possible medications and television viewing habits. Become accustomed to uttering the phrase, "Nielsen viewing patterns tell us..."

After a few times, she will never ask "Who lives here?" again. Did you know most sociologists are divorced?


My daughter recently became pregnant by her longtime boyfriend, Anthony. They decided that they should get married and had a bridal shower, bachelor party and a lovely wedding. The expense to our family was considerable, and even more so because my husband recently had to take a lower-paying job.

Last month I found out from my daughter that her and Anthony had not actually gotten legally married in this ceremony. When I confronted her about this lie, she blew me off and told me that "marriage means different things to different people." Am I right to be upset?

Louise F.

Dear Louise,

No. The American Wedding Industry exists to take money from vulnerable, naive individuals such as yourself. Did you know that in some cultures, such as those of the Incans, a married couple was required to administer blow jobs to everyone who showed up at their nuptials? A gift bag was also provided.

You gave a gift of your own free will. If it was conditional on something, you should not have given it. If it bothers you that much, ask for your money back. You won't get it, but everyone will know you're an insanely gullible person whose devotion to cultural norms will only be eradicated through shock therapy or divorce.


I recently got into a very bad argument with my fiance Steven. In the wake of it, I have asked a lot of different people for advice about the argument in terms of who was wrong and who was right, and I feel like I still don't know the right answer.

Most things are great with Steven, but one issue keeps coming up again and again with us, and that is his relationship with his mother. I try to understand how close he is with her, but I just feel he doesn't put me first at times. Things came to a head when she had one of her many doctor's appointments and he had to drive three hours so he would be there to take her.

While a serious medical issue is one thing, Steven's mother Dorothy seems to be a bit of a hypochrodriac. She is nearly always developing a new ailment, and I can't help but feel she does it to get attention from him, her husband David and even me at times. When I brought this up to Steven finally, he admitted that it might be true, but that his mom did have health issues and suggested she is understandably wanting to feel better.

I don't know how to deal with this and not come across as the bad guy or overly controlling GF. Help.

Melanie T.

Dear Melanie,

Deconstructing the relationship between a boy and his mother is always difficult. Keep in mind, he literally emerged from her uterus. "Well," you might say, "this was long ago." No, it was not. It feels like just yesterday he was in the womb, deriving nutrients from the quinoa she was eating during her pregnancy.

Telling a man to change that relationship is never going to accomplish your goal. You need to subtly tarnish her in his eyes. Does she have any racist or politically incorrect views you can bring to his attention? Perhaps she fears men who wear hoodies, or foolishly purchased an Xbox One? Any anachronistic behavior makes her look like a crazy loon who needs her son too much.

It's important to get a handle on this soon, Melanie. No one wants a Norma/Norman Bates type situation.

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.


In Which We Think It Is Important To Get This Across

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.


My boyfriend's name is Charles. Charles is a great partner and friend, but recently an issue has emerged in our sex life that I am not entirely sure how to address. Early on he said that due to antidepressants, it was not really easy to have sex more than once or twice a week. At the time I told him it did not bother me and it did not. While we still have regular sex, the frequency of these intimate moments is no more than once a week. The time we spend together is fantastic; do I have any hope? 

Jamie N.

Dear Jamie,

It’s fair to end a relationship if you’re not connecting sexually anymore, but it’s not fair to end it without giving the other person a say. It may be true that this didn’t bother you in the beginning, but it does now and you need to grow a pair and tell Charles.

Nobody’s sex life is perfect, even Gwyneth Paltrow’s. You have to be willing to work as a team or it’s going to get all weird and resentful at which point no, you don’t have hope. Not because of the sex, but because you’re working against one another. Make your decisions together - for example, maybe Charles needs to revisit his prescription (another dosage, another medication, etc.) Maybe you need to get sex therapy. Maybe you need to break up. That’s up to the both of you.

Most importantly, you need to spend time together learning about the different ways you can pleasure one another. These methods can include cunnilingus, sharing juice boxes, or the position we all know as the Downward Facing Meme. Even if "sex" is only happening once a week, various methods of pleasure can occur at other times.


My boyfriend Tomas comes from a religious family in Texas. Outside their church is an eclectic, graphic depiction of the crucifixion. He has told me that he does not feel he could ever commit to someone who does not have some kind of faith, since he wants to raise his children as Christians.

It's hard to know exactly how I feel about all this, since my parents never really mentioned religion at all to me, and aren't observant themselves. From what I know of his faith, there are aspects that I might struggle with, specifically instruction in abstinence before marriage.

Tomas is a wonderful person and when we do talk about God I find myself wanting to hear his views, even when I don't feel entirely comfortable airing my own. Ultimately, I don't know if I would want to raise my children in the style of his family. What should I do?

Tina F.

Dear Tina,

It sounds like you know a small amount about his church, but you should probably get to know more. At an appropriate time, like after sex or while you are choosing a new job, subtly find out details about his worship. Casually ask aloud, "Hey Tomas, would your church by any chance be the same church that the murderer attended in True Detective?"

You need to learn more about your boyfriend's faith before you can properly judge it. Does child sacrifice play a role? Every Sunday, do people put things in their mouth? Dicks or wafers? Check on that.

A lot of things are said in a relationship at a young age. Once you have his child in your tummy, he's not really going to be able to say no to you. He can't well force you to go to church. If he does, call the cops. He is not going to go by himself. There are plenty of places to worship in private, ideally in another state with no income tax.

You say you have trouble expressing your own views. Fine. There are many ways to influence his instead, changing them to become more like yours. Example: he strolls in from a hard day's work and you're casually reading On the Origin of the Species. When he asks what you are reading, remark that it is more spiritual than you thought it would be, and did he read that thing in the Guardian about how a girl raised in the church rebelled from its strictures and had unprotected sex in a kangaroo's pouch? Eventually he'll get the picture.


I read this advice column last week and thought I would seek some help from you. I have a very close friend who is an alcoholic. He has been to rehab twice before. He just got out of rehab and got together with his girlfriend. She swore to herself she would never get back together with him. One of the last times they saw each other he got really drunk and threaten to harm himself. The cops came and took him to the drunk tank, which landed him in rehab again. 

I don't see signs of him ever improving, but I want to be there for him. I feel like our friendship has exhausted itself. The only thing from holding me back is if I'm not there for him emotionally he will take his life. I really don't want to feel this burden anymore. What do you think I should do?

Evelyn A.

Dear Evelyn,

Whoa. Just kidding, Evelyn. Whatever you do, do not put your friend in the ground. Even justifiable homicide carries a short but emotional prison term with it that will include Jason Biggs at first visiting you every weekend but gradually becoming disinterested over time as your looks and general appeal deteriorates.

Still, Mike's point is sound. Half-measures accomplish little to nothing: if you have a problem the important thing is whether or not it gets fixed for good. Alcoholism, on the other hand, is a troubling disease that lasts a lifetime. If this "close friend" really provides no other useful functionality in your life, just cut him off, and make him feel as bad as possible that you are doing this. If he thinks the reason is that you don't care at all, he's far more likely to make an impulsive, irreversible decision.

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.

"Never Gonna Let You Down" - Colbie Caillat (mp3)

"If You Love Me Let Me Go" - Colbie Caillat (mp3)