In Which We Run And Swim And Jog The Whole Time

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.


Things were going very well I thought, between my boyfriend Charles and myself. Even though we have been together for six months, he feels that it is too soon to meet any of my family. The reason, as he explains it, is that he grew too attached to the family of his ex-girlfriend and when she dumped him it was like losing his entire life. He says he wants to take things slow.

I think this is probably bullshit but I wanted to check.

Anna C.


Meeting the family is an important time in any young boy’s life. For a man, however, it is no big deal.

This entire sob story may well be true, but that doesn’t change the fact that it is a story. It sounds like Charles had quite a positive experience with the last family he met, and we can presume he has no such strong familial bonds of his own. It is indeed inappropriate for a family to become too close to their in-law before he is properly made their in-law. You can tell Charles this.

Not wanting to meet your family is a major red flag: it signals he is probably going to dump you and doesn’t want the extra guilt of knowing the people who sired you before he does so. I would just end things now.


A friend of mine who I will call Nancy absolutely refuses to return any of my calls or texts. We did have an argument over her current boyfriend, but we have been friends for over ten years and it has never gotten this bad.

Even though the argument Nancy and I had was not my fault in any way, and she was the one who I asked my opinion, I regret giving it. I don’t like conflict and I want to resolve this. How can I get her to listen?

Gillian R.

Dear Gillian,

Some people are very stubborn, far more stubborn than you or I could ever be. They realize they are vulnerable if they open themselves up the slightest bit, so the only solution is to ward off the doorway to that soft inner part. If you can’t get through the door, you’re unable to access what’s inside. I spent around thirty seconds crafting this metaphor, but I think it gets the job done quite well. The door represents…nevermind.

In the context of a dismantled romantic relationship, just showing up somewhere is pretty creepy, although it definitely can work. In the context of your friendship, it is not nearly as threatening so you should probably just do it that way.

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.


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