In Which We Create New Memories At The Sight Of The Old

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.


I have been dating my boyfriend Pelle for around six months. (We met on Tinder.) Previously to this, I had a somewhat tumultuous thing with another guy who pretty much ghosted, leaving me with a lot of unanswered questions and anger towards him. I don’t feel any residual attraction or desire for this asshole, but it’s hard to not keep thinking about it, especially when we do things in the same city, in my same apartment. I find myself getting depressed because of this, and I am unsure how to explain it to Pelle without making him question what we have. Is there any remedy for this?

Lauren E.

Dear Lauren,

Jesus, this whole thing sounds like an Elliott Smith song, and didn’t his significant other stab him with a knife or something? I recall reading that in Spin.

Bad, failed past relationships haunt us all, especially Christie Brinkley. People will tell you it goes away with time, but for those of us with excellent memories, this luxury is more difficult to come by. Some of these horrid individuals from our past are not terribly effective at giving us closure, either, popping up out of nowhere for reassurance or penetration.

It sounds like you have a good thing going with your new boyfriend, By no means tell him about your ex for any reason, this would be disastrous. Everyone gets depressed sometimes, and most reasonable people find this an attractive quality, given that it allows them to do something for you; e.g. make you feel better.

If there are aspects of your current surroundings that remind you of your ex, change them. If they cannot be physically altered, replace them with a new specific memory — but not one with Pelle, since if you break up with him because he sleeps with your friend Justine, this would just mean the trigger would be doubly awful.



My girlfriend Mary has been struggling to meet new people after we moved to Denver. Since then, she has met a bunch of young women who enjoy rock climbing together. I thought I would appreciate the fact that she has found a hobby and people to enjoy it with, but there are a few issues I have with this. The first is that some of the “expeditions” she is going on seem rather dangerous, and people in her group have broken wrists and sprained elbows. Since our health insurance is a bit shaky at the moment, this seems especially concerning.

The second issue that I have with the rock climbing is that it sometimes involves going away for long weekends. I have tried to attempt rock climbing with Mary, but I apparently do not have the greatest balance and I immediately felt a strong sense of vertigo. I want her to have fun with her friends, and it’s not like I don’t spent a great deal of time with her to begin with, but it is a bit angsty to be missing her for a few days once or occasionally twice a month. Should I just get over it?

Leslie S.

Dear Leslie,

No one wants to be in a position where they are hoping someone they love takes a hard, but non-fatal fall so that they have to give up their hobby. I have a lot of hobbies — none involve ascending to great heights, except, you know, mentally and emotionally.

It sounds like Mary was an undercover adrenaline junkie, and you have awakened her addiction. Much like inserting a needle into the arm of a heroin addict, there is no going back or reversing this. Take advantage of this free time by developing your own hobby, e.g. eSports or reading. Then you can be doing your hobby while she is doing her hobby.

If you end up having to pay a hospital bill, I would bail.

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen. Access This Recording’s mobile site at


“Unbelievable” – Owl City (mp3)

“Bird with Broken Wing” – Owl City (mp3)


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