In Which We Consider This Problematic To Discuss With You

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.


My boyfriend recently updated his iPhone, and a lot of his settings were reset in the process. One of these settings is the ‘Read Receipt’ option for text messages. Now I can see when he has read my text messages and how quickly he responds after he receives the emojis in question.

This is driving me completely crazy. Why does he sometimes wait an hour to respond to a simple question – for example, “Did you pick up the tickets?” What is the purpose of making me wait to find out the answer? Is it unethical for me to be profiting/suffering from this information without telling him?

Daisy L.

Dear Daisy,

First of all, your boyfriend is eventually going to figure out that he committed this magnificent technology faux pas. When it does, you want to be prepared with a semi-plausible answer, such as, “Oh, everyone has their read receipt on! Who cares when you answer a text?” If he buys this, you are well within your rights to judge him for being a moron. If he doesn’t, move on to the next most useful excuse: “What? You had read receipt on? I thought only people over 50 didn’t turn it off? Idiot.”

Secondly, it is probably best not to inform him that you have secretly been seething about this since iOS 8. There’s a bunch of reasons he doesn’t respond in a timely fashion.

1. He doesn’t care enough.

2. He’s with another woman, probably an NYU grad named Cheyenne.

3. He’s fumbling with all the Christmas gifts he’s purchased for you and your mom and he can’t reach his phone.

4. Since he doesn’t know how to use read receipt, he probably is afraid of using his iPhone lest he accidentally dick pic a family member.

5. You’re overwhelming him with your neediness.

These possibilities have one thing in common: you should pick a more tech-savvy partner next time.


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?

Frederick R.

Dear Frederick,

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. Access This Recording’s mobile site at


“Are You The Matador?” – Black Whales (mp3)

“Red Fantastic” – Black Whales (mp3)


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