In Which We Know Exactly Where We Originate

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.


Before I went off to college last fall I asked my mom some questions I had for a long time about my dad Glenn. He killed himself when I was two. A few years later my mom remarried, to a guy she had been with for awhile named Henry. We have been a relatively happy family since, but I never really understood what happened since I was so young.

Last fall my mom told me that my dad had been suffering from depression and she didn’t fully understand why he had done what he did. She also mentioned that she had been restless and had cheated on him with Henry and others. When he found out, that was when he killed himself.

I can’t help but feel a little angry at both of them, even though I realize cheating alone shouldn’t be a sufficient to leave your daughter.

Jean B.


I can’t really speculate on why Glenn felt the need to take his own life. It was his choice to do so, and he must have had a very good reason. You were lucky enough to have two people who didn’t want to abandon you so to be angry about that seems like a misplaced use of resources.

It sounds like your Mom is still managing a bunch of half-truths rather than telling you the entire story so you don’t end up hating Glenn. From her perspective this makes sense, since it is rather distressing to know your father didn’t care as much about you as he should. Still, if there are mitigating circumstances, you should know them, since it really does not matter in the end if we respect the dead.


The amount of time my girlfriend Harper spends with her friends is truly astonishing. It is like she is in a cult — they plan constant outings, talk on the phone every night, and their world revolves around each other. I have never quite seen anything like this. On some level I am probably jealous of Harper paying attention to other people besides me. It isn’t really the time it takes away from our relationship that is the issue, but maybe I’m just sick of these other relationships? What can I do about this, if anything? I love Harper and the feeling is mutual.

Brent D.

Dear Brent,

Wanting to change the people we love is the only valid use of the slippery slope argument. If you want to spend more time with your girlfriend, do it. She likely will not say no. If it conflicts with the attention that she pays to her friends, complain. But a general band-aid on this situation is not impossible without destroying your relationship. The only thing you can do is slowly arc her towards you over time by offering superior experiences. People do not have just one life.

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

“You’re Still A Mystery” – Bleachers (mp3)



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