In Which We Seek A Higher Power Than Our Own

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


For the past couple of months I have been dating a guy I’ll call Michael. So far, we get along really well and share a lot of the same values. There is definitely an intense physical chemistry between us also. 

A concern that I do have is that while are backgrounds are not markedly different, Michael is not as intelligent or educated as the guys I usually date. He’s not stupid or anything, and he also seems to recognize that sometimes I think about things in a more contextual way than he does. I don’t know if it worries him or not, but I could see it becoming a problem if we were to become more serious.

Am I the one being stupid or is this a valid concern?

Hayley U.

just plain afraid to fail


There are lots of different types of intelligence. No, I’m just kidding, there are only two types. Of people in the world. Of cats, or sandwiches. I hope this resolves your question.

At a very young age, this column was praised for its burgeoning intelligence. It was also very cute. Women appeared in large numbers, from which we can conclude that yes, intelligence can be attractive.

The caveat here is that by and large the most unhappy people in the world not suffering from any diagnosed mental illness are brilliant. I mean, look at Stephen Hawking. He’s got to be so pissed off. He even hates robots now, the guy is so miserable.

Hayley, I’m sure that some guy could come along and think he was more intelligent than you, and wonder whether your relationship could work on that basis. How would that make you feel? If annoyed and shocked is the answer, then you can probably detect whether or not you’re standing on moral high ground in your own situation.

Just be like, “Smarten up!”

hard to say mia nguyen


I have been dating my current boyfriend, James, for five months. I have started to question our long-term compatibility as well as the sexual side of our relationship. To explain a bit: my faith is really important to me, and James has shown no interest really. The sex is okay but not incredibly adventurous, which is what makes me come. 

I still like and respect him, and in a perfect world I’d love to be friends or at least stay on good terms. I also don’t want to hurt him with my rejection. What’s the best way to let him down easy?

Harriet H.

Dear Harriet,

No one reacts well to rejection. If he’s the excitable type, I would just tell him on the phone. If he’s not, you can do it in person. If you really want to stay friends and ensure he’s hung up on you for significantly longer, this is your choice. But don’t bring it up, except in passing, while you’re dumping him and make it clear that if he’s interested in that he should contact you later on.

Considering your reasons for moving on don’t seem so hurtful, why not just explain them? I think he’ll understand. It’s fairly rare that one person is sexually fulfilled when the other isn’t at all. It does happen. And he should know that the fact that he abhors God is responsible for his current misery and loneliness.

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.


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