In Which We Turn On This Nancy

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 Satchel has a female best friend who I will call Nancy. I never really get the sense that Nancy is overly interested in Satchel – she runs her own business and tends to date older guys. On a regular basis, however, she will come up with some semi-dire emergency where she will require Satchel to pick her up or help her move.

When I think about it, it’s no more than some friends do for each other, and it’s not like Satchel is ditching me to be with her. At the same time the fact that he comes at her call can’t help but rankle me a bit. Am I wrong to be upset, and what should I do about this fiend Nancy?

Sara U.

Dear Sara,

It sounds like Satchel has some feelings for this Nancy. Unfortunately saying anything about it is likely to exacerbate the situation, and this is the rare situation where reverse psychology can backfire greatly. You cannot be pushing them closer together and you cannot be separating them more apart.

All you can do is subtly alter Satchel’s view of her with descriptive language. Nancy is

– desperate

– needy

– you feel ‘sorry’ for her (omit this if your boyfriend is a bleeding heart I Want To Save Her type who is creepily turned on by the suffering of others)

– escort

– awkward

– “hanging all out”

You also should by no means keep your anger completely inside. The key is not to annoy or carp at him. Instead, address one specific situation and never mention that there is a larger problem. Suggest Nancy is manipulating him this one time and act surprised, like you didn’t think either of them had this sadistic of a friendship and he’s a shithead for running to her.

Whatever you do, don’t make them address their friendship. This could turn out badly for you. And if you are the kind of woman who has troubling asking for help, you had best shed that particular inhibition, because that is a quality Satchel enjoys in other people. Escort.


My girlfriend, let’s call her Olive, has a group of friends. These women love to go out together and get dressed up. They want Olive to go with them at least once a weekend. This kind of boozing just is not my thing, nor are the places that they go any fun at all – they look like the cocaine hangouts of Patrick Bateman.

I care about Olive, but having this lifestyle be around my own life — I am very career focused and prefer to spend my free time going to movies or museums — is a real drag. Plus, it seems clear her friends don’t really like me, probably because they have detected my disapproval of them. I don’t want to be the person who holds my SO back, but I can’t love these people or like what they enjoy doing.

Bernard T.

Dear Bernard,

I think the very same thing happened to Romeo. Juliet went going to trashy bars and he killed himself because of this. That should be a cautionary tale for you.

It sounds like this is a phase Olive will grow out of, probably sooner than you think. She may keep being influenced by her friends, however. You don’t have to love her friends, or even like them, but maybe she would see things from another perspective if she disliked the behavior of one of your obnoxious friends. However, this strategy is useless if all your friends are wonderful.

If that is indeed the case, you need only make your friends her friends. Then she won’t need her old friends.

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.

“Operate” – ASTR (mp3)

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