In Which We Do Not Really Know Your Life

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 or by dropping us a note at our tumblr.


After nine months with my girlfriend Vanessa, she recently told me she is planning to transfer to her firm’s London office. She doesn’t know exactly how long she will be there, but it will be no longer than a year. She wants to stay together and Skype; also we could probably afford to visit each other twice during this period.

My worry is that I feel I will be very lonely without Vanessa in-country, and I will probably be inclined to see other women and not tell her about it. I really would like to stay with Vanessa — do you think she would be amenable to taking a break while she is in London and getting back together when she returns or is that dumb?

Bob N.


If you want to stay with your girlfriend, you should never announce a break for any reason. When women hear the word “break,” something breaks deep inside of them. Even a small rejection is still a rejection on some level.

A year can be difficult, but at least there is a firm date when she will return. What will probably happen if you break up is that you will regret it and she will meet some British guy whose command of the language not only rivals your own, but exceeds it. He will be tangentially related to Winston Churchull and the two of them will snuggle together over long marathons of Poldark. If this is really what you want, break up with her now.

It sounds instead like you are pouting because life isn’t going your way. Either you’re an active part of this relationship or you’re not. Decide meow.


My boyfriend Sam has taken his exercising to the extreme. When he wakes up in the morning he immediately works out for three hours, including a long run and a swim afterwards. After getting home from work, he immediately begins lifting before dinner. The amount of time he spends on this is excessive, and I am worried he will injure himself. Recently, it has become clear that exercise is his number one priority in life above and beyond me.

Should I just throw down an ultimatum or what?

Ariana R.

Dear Ariana,

Addiction to exercise and the corresponding adrenaline rush is no different from any other drug addiction, albeit with somewhat less deletrious effects.

Have you ever seen Legends of the Fall? Those guys ran through fields a lot, and it was enough for them. Maybe show Sam that movie, and then afterwards break things down with a hard talk. Be aware that an addict will do anything to explain away his addiction, and say goodbye to those tight abs in any case.

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.

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