In Which No Communication Rivals This Key Technique

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 justhardtosay@gmail.com.

Hi,

My friend Davia broke up with her last boyfriend over two years ago. (He cheated on her with prostitutes.) Since then, she has compared every new possible mate with him, and usually found the new prospect unfavorable. She finds the littlest things to fixate on in order to dismiss me — they don’t text her enough, they text her too much, they use emojis, she doesn’t like their smell (ok that’s possibly valid). Often she says she they don’t share the same values, although I am a loss as to what that means since Davia doesn’t seem to have extraordinary values, and I say that as a friend. She is a good person though, and I want her to find happiness. Is there any way I can snap her out of this funk?

Ellen C.

Ellen,

Often men and women will think of reasons to reject potential mates that don’t necessarily strike at the core of why they are not pursuing the relationship. The fact that it has been two years of this on Davia’s part, however, indicates a greater problem. It is not simply that she is not finding anyone that she likes well enough to get serious, it is that she is in no position to have a committed relationship with someone to begin with.

For some people, cheating is a deeply troubling act that strikes at the core of how they value themselves and the opposite sex. This might come across as sexist, but I’m going to say it anyway. The reasons men cheat are sometimes, but not always, different from the reasons women cheat. I tend to have more sympathy for women who cheat on their partners. Maybe this is fucking stupid, but it’s what I feel inside.

If this guy was really stepping out just for sex, maybe Davia has some problems thinking she is decent in the bedroom. You can alleviate some of her concerns for her. Ask what her particular techniques are. What school of sex did she study at? Does she know all the most sensitive and erogenous zones on a man’s body? What about a woman’s body? Getting over whatever hangup is holding her back should end the nitpicking.

Hi,

I have been trying without success to meet people on various online sites. I think I’m an attractive guy, but I tend to stumble when I’m introducing myself and who I am. I just end up saying a “hi” or a “hello I’m Evan” since I can’t think of anything better. More often than not I get no response. How can I get better at initiating these troubling conversations?

Evan S.

Dear Evan,

It’s not my job to tell you what specifically you should say to meet women. Maybe the type of woman you should be with is the kind who responds to a simple “Hello.” She hears your cry in the dark and she reaches out for the echo of how boring you are.

Don’t be discouraged by the lack of replies. The fact that you are not receiving any replies is a warning sign you need to change things up, but think of all the possible reasons a woman is not replying to your message:

– she gets a million messages

– she’s not even single and likes the idea of getting messages from strange

– she forgot to delete her account

– she’s a bot

– she’s deeply bored by the fact you are the seven hundreth person she has seen on top of an elephant. Like, why would we care that you rode an elephant or touched a snake? Get over yourself.

– she matched with you by accident

– she’s upset with you and has chosen the silent treatment as her delicate revenge

With that said, a bare hello is never going to get the job done. When you’re writing something, throw out an introduction that can’t help but make her reply, and she’ll reply. Comedy is usually best, so hire ghostwriters. I’m not paid enough for that.

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.

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