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 firstname.lastname@example.org or by dropping us a note at our tumblr.
My cousin Jeff is planning to propose to a woman he met on a dating website. (Not Christian Mingle.) A little bit about her:
– Her name is Sandy.
– She loves to surf, sunbathe and she is always cold indoors, no matter the actual temperature.
– She calls bicyclists “flappy nerds” and joggers “pinwheels.” Sometimes my mom can’t understand what she is saying.
Given everything, she doesn’t feel like the best fit for Jeff. If she makes him happy I feel like I shouldn’t interfere, but I think marrying this woman would be a tragic misstep. What should I do?
The vagaries of American slang are only of practical use to those who are in a long term relationship with John McWhorter or Noam Chomsky. At least she doesn’t ride a bicycle, because our experience is that almost everyone who does thinks their poop smells like a delicatessen.
The phrase “if she makes him happy” has lost all meaning at this point. Charles Manson is currently making a woman happy. Happiness is just a brain imbalance — too much serotonin — and is not attributable to one person, unless that one person makes cat sounds while eating. I would, theoretically, find that very amusing.
You need to find out what things are like between Jeff and Sandy when you or your mom is not around. Asssuming she can bring him to completion and is able to tolerate his very basic first name, you may not have a leg to stand on. Everyone is annoying to someone.
I went abroad for the fall semester in Paris. My boyfriend Tom and I talked and facetimed every day and I was missing him a lot. When I came back he cried and confessed that he had a emotional relationship with a girl in his dorm, but that they never touched or even kissed. I didn’t really know what to say as the context of their thing seems kind of unclear to me.
Since we talked a lot while I was in France, I’m actually kind of amazed he would even have time or need to make a connection like this. On the other hand, since I was not actually there and nothing happened, there seems to be some doubt as to whether or not something dealbreaking occured. He says that he doesn’t want to talk to her anymore and only wants to be with me, and I believe him. I’m tempted to just forgive him considering the situation, but am I being too accomodating?
Some people are very good at telling lies, and others are not so good at it. You can work out for yourself which kind of person you would rather be with. What you need to know is that among those who are good at telling lies, many have learned the utility of telling half-truths.
The advantage of the half-truth is that is lessens a guilt compulsion that many people feel when they do something wrong, without exposing the liar to the reprecussions of the actual truth. Again, not all of want to hear the full truth all the time. If Tiger Woods’ wife Elin did, she would most likely have run him over with that car, and his half-lie spared her decades in prison.
Now she’s dating a great guy who is also rich, so his half-lie was the best thing that ever could have happened to both of them.
I don’t know what kind of person Tom is. It’s possible that he is telling you the whole truth, in which case you can forgive him and see where things go from there. Connections in college are unavoidable, and it can be very lonely to be by yourself when the person you love is away in the romance capital of the universe. But it might be best to dig deeper. Out of nowhere, shout at him, “DID YOU ORDER THE CODE RED?” and when he looks puzzled, whisper to yourself, “You’re goddamned right I did.”
Find out if what you are hearing is the whole truth, and get the full story from the other woman if you must. You might save yourself a lot of heartbreak later on.
Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.