In Which We Miss Chantal Almost Every Day

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 completed my first year of college. In April I met a girl we will call Chantal for anonymity’s sake. We really clicked but were only together about six weeks before the end of term. Chantal is going home to California for the summer, whereas I will be in London, so we won’t see each other until the fall. We’re both sad about that, but it’s only a couple of months.

It would seem weird to be exclusive and we haven’t really talked about what we expect. I don’t want it to come across like I am taking things so seriously. I sense that I will be asked whether or not I’ve hooked up with anyone in the UK when August rolls around. Should I just not pursue anything and tell Chantal as much, or see what happens? If I do connect with someone else, should I tell Chantal?

Brett M.

hard to say mia nguyen


Usually it would be nice to talk things over with Chantal, but there are two possible reasons she has not brought this up to you. The first is that she has someone she will be seeing over the summer so it would be pretty dumb to say you couldn’t pursue anyone. The second is that she realizes making demands on another person after a short period might not come off well.

The important thing to remember is that whatever does happen will come out unless you start thinking from day one that this is something you want to conceal from her. Don’t start up with, “I met someone but nothing happened,” this is a long dark road with you impaled on a spike at the end of it.

But why even bother lying? It’s time-consuming, confusing, and unnecessary in this situation. If you meet someone, fantastic. Tell Chantal you made a connection but you have a superior one with her. She’ll be gratified that she isn’t your girlfriend by default.

just plain afraid to fail


Last March I had a brief relationship with a co-worker, who I will call Sam. The relationship ended when Sam was transferred to another part of the company – it’s about an two hours drive away. I never heard that it was because another employee found out about us, and transfers are frequent. 

I miss Sam a lot, and I have thought about asking for a transfer or leaving my job so that this would not be an obstacle to us being together. When I talk to him about it, he is mostly focused on the repercussions for his career. He does say he wants to be together, but it seems impossible right now. Can you suggest any course of action?

Nadine A.

Dear Nadine,

A man is a beautiful thing. He smells of musk and Raisinets, and he always has a kind word for a tourniquet or bedfellow. A hour is not too far to conduct any relationship, but two can make it rather difficult on both of you.

The facts seem to be these, though: if you did not tell someone about your relationship, then it is quite possible Sam did, which means he may not exactly want this relationship as much as it seems. It’s a great cop-out, and we can add to the fact that if he wanted to see you on a regular basis, he probably would.

It can be tricky to get out of a work relationship, and Sam most likely felt trapped. This is through no fault of your own, but the fact that you are still pursuing this even when he has been transferred indicates the momentum in the relationship is entirely on your side.

Let me tell you a story. A man (Joseph Cotten) loved a woman (Ginger Rogers). When he found out that she had to serve three years in prison for murdering her boss when the man tried to drunkenly r her, he was like, “I will wait for you my darling.” He was there outside the prison when she got out, and they had three wonderful children together, two of them addressed by their peers and parents as “Monsignor.”

Instead of Joseph Cotten, who was also a war hero in this particular instance, you have targeted a mid-level functionary at your organization who has a lot of excuses that he can’t be with you. He sounds like Scar from The Lion King, and while Scar’s phallus was shaped like a can of tuna, Scar also had some pretty attractive qualities. Every single person in the universe can be the love of your life. Sam doesn’t want to be.

You can probably turn this around. Cut off all contact with Sam and start dating someone named Davidson LeGrue. Problem partially solved.

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.

“Still Getting Used To Being On My Own” – Tom Odell (mp3)



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