In Which There Is No Going Back On This One

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 fiance and I recently went on a cruise to the Bahamas. While we there I noticed him looking at other women and their bodies quite often. I don’t say I have never noticed him doing this before, but the extent of it was troubling. I worry that this means I’m not good enough for him or that he has a wandering eye. Do you think I should be concerned?

Jennifer D.

Dear Jennifer,

The vast majority of men think they are in a John Le Carre novel checking out the women that mar their vision of the world. Each time a female enters their field of vision, they have no choice but to observe her, to take in all that she is and wonder, ‘Would I be a happier individual if she was my everything?” It’s gross.

Men need to feel they are slightly viable to other women, that they are not simply an emasculated husk of penis parts. By noticing women they wish the object of their attention to return the favor of a momentary appraisal. Then they can reject the advances: I already have one of your kind, but thank you for noticing my mere existence.

You might ask yourself if this simple interplay is necessary. Would you rather your fiance be quietly checking out what’s happening on the Tind? At least he feels comfortable existing in your presence. Let that be enough for you.


My girlfriend Lacy has been spending a lot of time with a gay man named Jess. They talk throughout the day on their instant messaging platform of choice and she is always chortling at one of his bon mots. Their closeness has begun to rankle me a bit. It’s not that Lacy isn’t making time for me, but should I be concerned about the increasing primacy of this relationship?

Jack B.

Dear Jack,

It sounds like you are no longer No. 1 in Lacy’s eyes, which would make you, I suppose, No. 2. No one wants to be No. 2, but imagine how humiliating it was for Jennifer Garner when her nanny was actually No. 1. At least in your case, it was a gay guy and not an attractive young woman who excels at caring for the offspring of older people.

No. 2 is no place to be. It does not matter whether Lacy’s friend is gay, straight or asexual like Michael Cera. The only thing that matters is that you have been cast aside for presumably no reason. Bail.

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


“Time, As A Symptom” – Joanna Newsom (mp3)

“You Will Not Take My Heart Alive” – Joanna Newsom (mp3)



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