In Which We Have To Pretend We Are Letting Go

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 girlfriend Delia has obsessive compulsive disorder. When she is over at my apartment, I am expected to have things at a certain standard. If I tell her the place is too messy for her, she becomes upset and asks me why I have to live in such filth. I don’t truly thing I am that much of a pig; but she is unable to see beyond the foundation of her illness. She will suddenly start cleaning something that is bothering her in the middle of an activity, like Scrabble or sex. I try not to let it bother me or show that it does, but how do I deal with the more extreme behavior?

Bertrand S.

Dear Bertrand,

As with every relationship, there are things you have to accept, and absolutely cannot accept. If she wants to clean your apartment, curl up with a good book and let her go to town with the Swiffer. If she wants to actually shame or direct any blame at you for how you live your life, then immediately pursue other options. Not Tinder, because everyone is married there, but perhaps Christian Mingle? I’ve heard good things from my Anglican friends.

The important thing is to recognize when Delia’s issues have exceeded all common sense and reason. If she’s cleaning an apartment — well, that’s something everyone has to do eventually, so it seems like it’s only her timing that’s off. If her behavior crosses over to criticizing you or making you feel bad, just calmly explain the effect her comments are having on you, and excuse yourself to temple. She is allowed to be herself, but she is not allowed to make you feel bad for being yourself.


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! 

Janine L. 

Dear Janine,

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.

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.

“No Place In Heaven” – Mika (mp3)

“Staring at the Sun” – Mika (mp3)

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