In Which We Are Completely Honest With Everyone

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 got out of a nine month relationship that was really intense and satisfying. Unfortunately she had to move to Seattle for work, and my own job and my family are keeping me here in Boston. We decided we don’t want to ruin what we have by trying to make it work at such a long distance.

A month or two has passed since my ex moved, and she has now been contacting me (we said we wouldn’t do this). She is having some trouble making friends in her new city so she frequently calls or texts if she finds herself alone. I don’t know how to deal with this: I do still have feelings for her, but I was a bit upset she would want to stop seeing me in the first place – she had a good job here and I wouldn’t have done the same thing.

She is locked into her contract until mid-2017, and I don’t know if I really want to go through this until then. There was a reason we decided long distance wouldn’t work, right? How should I handle her apparent change of heart?

Joe P.


We all make mistakes, although some people are more prone to making them than others. The fact that she put her career before you is no big whoop, since it’s not like you sound particularly committed to this woman. If you were, believe me you would be ecstatic, not disappointed to hear from her.

On the other hand, it sounds like you were hurt in this process and you should take some time to get over that pain before arriving at a firm decision about how you should react to your ex’s current behavior. But how to create the space you desperately need to evaluate things dispassionately? Just tell her you lost your phone.

I am kidding, this is the rare time you will ever hear me advising anyone to tell the truth, which is usually painful and nuncupatory. You will have to expose your true feelings and it is best to request a discrete period of time before reporting your findings.

In the end, you will probably find that this angry decision is what is best: you can’t hang around and be the outlet for your ex’s predictable sadsies for the next year. If you want, visit her at some point, have sex, and see if you want to flee back to Boston on the next train. If you don’t, maybe it is worth the occasional drunk dial to keep this person in your life.

NB: The intercourse during your reunion should be tender yet opaque. Afterwards, light incense that smells of rosemary and penitent coquettishness.


I have been dating my girlfriend Kelly for about five months. When she is at home in Georgia, Kelly attends a conservative church with her family. She is new to the city that I live in, and she recently found a church that she is comfortable with here. 

At first it was, “Please come to church with me.” If I did, she was happy. Now, if I say that I don’t feel like or even if I have a plausible excuse, she is very disappointed. I don’t want to make her unhappy but I’m not a believer and I don’t see myself in church every Sunday. Once in awhile it’s fine. 

Is there any way to ameliorate this problem?

 Jean R.

Dear Jean,

Yes. First, start going to church every Sunday. Explain it is not as bad as you thought, and express how much you are enjoying it. Maybe attend a social function; Christians love pot roast as well as a number of vegetarian options. 

Next, you’ll want to firm up an ironclad obligation that will suddenly prevent you from going to church 90 percent of the time. Here are some possible reasons you aren’t available on Sunday mornings for this special time with Kelly: professional development, Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, you’re training for a marathon and it’s the only time your team can practice, your mother is in town that day… You see how flimsy these excuses are starting to seem?

You better have a damn good reason. Your next best option is to find a church with a shorter service.

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.

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