In Which We Never Knew That There Was Someone To Make Us Come Alive

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


At a party for a friend of ours, my girlfriend Joan and I got into an argument.  It was never really that heated, but we were both emotional and Joan was crying at one point. Things have been patched up since then; Joan and I are seeing a couples therapist and things are better than they were before. 

Maybe I am just paranoid, but I can’t help but think my friends view me as the bad guy for making Joan cry in public. It’s something that she does fairly often even when I feel like the situation doesn’t warrant it. I’ve told her this, and she tells me not to worry, but sometimes it is difficult to deal with when we are in a public place. I get a kind of fight or flight type reaction and I’m not sure what the best way of dealing with this is! Help.

Jarron F.

Dear Jarron,

As I was reading your question, for some reason, tears began to well up in my eyes. Possibly this is just an effect you have on people. You’re very overbearing, you always think that you are right, and your eyebrows could use an ample trim.

Crying is a part of life. It’s actually a wonderful thing to be so near to your emotions that you can feel something so intensely. People who cry often need to do so as a release. Afterwards, they feel better — usually. Your task is not to buy into gender norms. Also, it would probably help things along substantially if you were to cry in front of your girlfriend and your friends. Not only would she learn how it feels from the other end, you could throw in a bon mot like, “I’ll never be like you, dad!” or “We are not the same!” Sure, you might seem a bit unstable, but it’s better than being an asshole.

In general people have a negative opinion of crying though so I wouldn’t worry too much. Your friends on some level feel sorry for you and that could be part of what you are perceiving.


My cousin Marion is marrying an extremely handsome guy. My sister and I have thoroughly researched this dude on what you would call the internet. There is a site that shall remain nameless that has some reviews of him. We mentioned this information, but she has no concerns on that score.

Part of the issue is that Marion has been hurt by smooth talkers before, and now she wants to mate with one for life. Her husband-to-be reminds me a little of Dr. Frasier Crane with more hair. Do I push harder on how shit I find this whole deal or is it possible Dr. Crane has turned over an all new leaf?

Ian O.

Dear Ian,

People never change until circumstances change them. Men change least of all, since the patriarchy reinforces their demented view of the world and place in it. Now that your cousin is in the thrall of this man, it is going to take a hell of a lot to pull her out of it, but you must do your duty.

Find an ex-girlfriend of this charmer and make her into your best friend. Fete her with balloons and candy — have you ever been to Party City? It’s fantastic, although a bit ghoulish at times. This ex will most likely want to get revenge out of her own residual anger anyway, but just to be kind, slip the young woman a cool hundy.

Unfortunately, this kind of intervention has a serious chance of backfiring depending on the relative credibility of your witness and the circumstances where she is introduced to your cousin. Having ner meet the other woman unexpectedly is best for you all, and whatever you do, pretend to minimize Marion’s concerns and defend Dr. Crane. That way, you have set up a win-win. If it works out as planned,myou knew all along but wanted the best for her; if she takes the concerns as an attack, you were the only one by her side. Cousins are such fools.

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


“Undone” – Phoria (mp3)

“Saving Us A Riot” – Phoria (mp3)


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