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 or by dropping us a note at our tumblr.
I recently received an anonymous message through social. The sender was a woman I did not know, and it said, I apologize for doing this, and linked to this Dear Abby column about cheating.
I’m fairly sure my boyfriend Jon is not cheating on me. At least I could think of no feasible time he would be able to accomplish this feat, since we spend most of our days together.
For various reasons I don’t want to bring this up to him. I’d like to find out more without him knowing or invading his privacy in any way. Help!
Mention the girl’s name in an innocent context and watch for his reaction. He need not know about the message.
If he says, “That’s this crazy girl I used to work with,” ask for more information. Why does he call women girls? Does he realize crazy is a trigger pejorative often imposed on women who simply don’t accept sublimated roles in a patriarchal society? Has he read tumblr?
If this does not resolve your problem, then go to Plan B, the morning after pill. Just kidding, instead wait for the right drunken moment to have the “wild” idea of placing a location tracker on both of your phones.
This part is important: once you have placed a tracker on his phone, if you yourself are cheating, remove the tracker from your phone. The point of this is to catch him, not to expose your own peccadilloes.
My friend Judy Liederschmidt recently split up with her boyfriend of five years. They went around the world together and took lots of photos in exotic places, such as Bali, the Alps, Papua. New Guinea and Mindy Kaling’s birthplace.
These photos are very prominently displayed in the home they used to share, and everytime I go to see Judy Liederschmidt, who is not dealing with this situation all that well, I feel like her ex is staring a hole in my gullet. He cheated on her and it doesn’t seem healthy for her to be reminded of it at all times.
How can I broach this subject with her and what do I say?
You have a few options, each with its own drawbacks.
The first of these strategeries involves heavily complimenting her appearance in a way that conveys the idea that these photos are an outdated, disgusting version of her and she requires new snaps to convey the current state of her gorgeous repose.
Failing that, find a friend who is purportedly single and bring him over to her house. She will probably hide the photos before the young man’s arrival, but they may reappear upon the suitor’s departure.
At this point, it would be time for full measures. Has she read John Berger’s Ways of Seeing?
JK, although someone once gave us that book and said it changed his life.
No, instead you have to pretend it is you who has a problem letting go of someone. Be casually having a thing where you throw romantic letters and trinkets into a fire for some reason — it doesn’t have to be the possessions of a love interest, it can be anyone in your life. Heck, it could even be Judy Liederschmidt if she doesn’t straighten her fucking shit out.
Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.