In Which We Mean Well At The End Of Our Line

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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


I recently began dating a guy I’ll call Allen. Allen is somewhat different from my previous boyfriends but not in a bad way. He did not grow up in the U.S. and is sort of acclimating to being here, I would say. My family and friends at first were apprehensive about Allen, but those who have gotten to know him really enjoy his company and don’t mind the different ways he sometimes goes about expressing himself.

My sister and a few friends have made it clear they do not really like Allen, and this is where the problem lies. I’ve asked them not to badmouth Allen when I’m around, but I know it is something they talk about, and they do passive-aggressive shit because they liked the last boyfriend I had. Is there any way to get people close to you to change their mind about someone you love?


Isao C.

Dear Isao,

Think about how rare it is for two people of different ages and backgrounds to get along with each other, and you will realize it is probably pretty natural that not everyone is going to immediately like a person who takes away time previously spent with you, who comes from a different place, and who probably smells like hot bologna.

This really is not about Allen — there is no perfect human being you could be with that would please everyone in your life. If Allen makes you happy, it was naturally going to upset other people you care about. In discussing this with the people close to you, be sure not to defend Allen or make the issue about him at all. If your friends and family care about you and want to be part of your life, they will accept and support your decision. If they don’t…

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.


My girlfriend, who we will call LeAnn after legendary country-western singer LeAnn Rimes (sp?), has put on quite a bit of weight over the past year. It has definitely affected how attracted I am to her even though I have tried everything I can think of not to let that happen. But I need to be honest — when I look at her, she doesn’t look like herself.   

I haven’t mentioned this at all to LeAnn, but she is definitely aware of the weight she has put on and she talks about it quite a bit. Drawing attention to the change has not made it go away, and only serves to remind me of the stress that caused it and that things are different.

I have mentioned working out together and stuff but LeAnn’s schedule is not really conducive to this and she does exercise, but it is not really helping at this point. Is there any conceivable solution to my issue?

George M.

Dear George,

Over time, it is completely reasonable to change your view of a significant other. You are not going to be able to have the novelty of sexual discovery you possessed when you first met LeAnn. Sure, some people are so easily stimulated that the mere presence of a woman is enough to express lifelong devotion, but in most relationships you have to work to have that stimulation come from within and not the surface.

Whatever the reason, getting to know LeAnn better has no doubt thrown a wrench in your view of her. Extra weight is not the entire story; you will find that even if she suddenly discovers hot yoga, things will never quite be exactly how they were.

I would try finding the thing that is holding you back from loving LeAnn as she is. Once you find whatever that thing is and remove the obstacle, you probably won’t care very much about the weight, and you will need further therapy. Maybe get out of this relationship now before it’s too late.

“Automatic” – Wolf Parade (mp3)


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