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 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.

sigh mwah nguyen

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 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)


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