In Which We Find This Impossible To Announce

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 or by dropping us a note at our tumblr.


This started eight months ago when I met a guy who I will call Jeff online. We really hit it off and we were talking quite frequently despite living in different cities. Eventually we decided that I should come and visit him. Our first meeting was great and just seemed like a continuation of our online communication.

Jeff makes references to past relationships, although since we were just getting to know each other, I did not wish to pry. After that weekend, Jeff confessed that he was divorced and that he was not interested in getting married again. I asked him what he was interested in and he said that he wasn’t sure, that he had done the long distance thing before and wasn’t very successful at it. At the same time he expressed a desire to keep seeing me.

In the intervening months, I have tried to be more protective of our feelings. Jeff has come to my city to visit me and for the most part we have a great time with very little meta-relationship talk, as he seemed to request. Am I right to be taking this at his pace, or should I just bail?

Andrea R. 

Dear Andrea,

Learning all about someone from the person themselves leaves many blind spots open, Andrea. You need a third party who can give you a better view of Jeff. See if you can make up a reason to have a conversation with one of his friends: maybe a buddy is an industry peripheral to yours, and you can claim you are only looking for some general advice.

With that said, you can’t necessarily assume there is any foul play involved. Men will say a lot of things; just because he’s not considering marriage now doesn’t mean the idea is permanently dead to him. Even lemmings have to be coaxed into heading for a cliff, but once they build up some momentum, death is a sweet release.

Demanding a commitment is the surest way not to get one. Make sure Jeff knows you are exploring other options and he will quickly ask you not to be if he cares that much. If he doesn’t ask, then you know he doesn’t care.


As you know, recently a bunch of private photos of female celebrities and models leaked across every cavern and hidey-hole of the internet. My fiance Craig downloaded these photos and he and his friends sent them back and forth to each other.

I am completely creeped out by this. Are these guys actually masturbating to photos of Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton and Sybil, or is it just some harmful/harmless fun? Am I judging Craig and his gross, mouthbreathing friends too harshly?

Jackie C.

Dear Jackie,

There appears to be something of the Streisand effect at work here. How turned on can someone really be by watching Lady Mary’s little sister opine about the residual odor of her boyfriend’s balls?

We’ll never truly know why Sybil left Downton Abbey. Did she have a lunch date? Was the guy who played her Irish husband tickling her savagely between takes? Did Elizabeth McGovern shit in her catering as a practical joke? A certain amount of curiosity as to what greener pastures Sybil is occupying strikes us as natural.

If he’s still talking about this disturbing breach of privacy long after Kate Upton’s tan lines have faded from the cultural memory, then I would say you had a right to be perturbed. Novelty fades rapidly: even Bradley Cooper barely even bothers to look down in the shower anymore.

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.

“Possibility Days” – Counting Crows (mp3)

“Cover Up The Sun” – Counting Crows (mp3)


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