In Which We Ascribe A Lot Of Importance To Things

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 a troublesome situation on my hands. For the past four years I have been dating Jana. We met a coffeeshop near my apartment. She moved in after we had begun dating for a few months because she needed a place. Things were great; in some ways, they still are. But the relationship seems to have run its course.

I fear that it is a bit of a grind to be around her and we argue quite a lot. I’m sure our disagreements – mostly over trivial things – are as much my fault as hers, but it makes me worry we don’t mesh well as a unit. I want to break up, but at the same time I still care for Jana and would like the parting to be as pain-free as possible. Is there any good way to get her out of my life without crushing her? 

Gerhard W.

Dear Gerhard,

The most tried and true way to break off any long entanglement is to come out as gay. While this might still be hurtful to her and make her question her sense of the world, it is also a dilemma familiar to her from the culture and there are ways to cushion the blow, with cutting edge phrases like, “I am attracted to women, but when I think of a relationship I think of being with a big, burly man reminiscent of a hairier Hugh Jackman.”

After four years it is more difficult to make this excuse work if you still have an active sex life. This would make you more of a candidate for a more subtle plan: crying. When women see a man cry, they have a very complicated reaction and any explanation that follows the literal outpouring is likely to be held in a different light. Offer to stay elsewhere for awhile while she moves her things oht of your place, or better yet, find a cute sublet for her where you have neatly placed all of her possessions. Burn the photos of you together. Maybe allude to thr possibility you’re gay without saying it outright. Whisper “Hugh Jackman”?


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.

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 only 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.

“I Ain’t Around Much (alternate mix)” – Frog Eyes (mp3)

“Two Girls (One For Heaven and the Other For Rome) (alternate mix)” – Frog Eyes (mp3)


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