In Which We Come Back From The Dead Partly Alive

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


An ex-boyfriend of mine who I will call Eamon recently became single after a relationship he was in that lasted just over a year. I still think about Eamon a lot but my girlfriends have encouraged me to put the past behind me and suggested that if I approach him now, he will just be on the rebound.

The reason Eamon and I broke up in the first place was mainly due to fighting. I was far less mature and I think I could communicate a lot better now after a couple of years in therapy.

Is there any good way to handle this or should I just forget about it?

Priya D.

Dear Priya,

Forcing a man backwards is a tricky situation, so it’s a good thing you asked us about this before doing something stupid like messaging him on facebook and saying, “I see u not w/ur gurl anymore, sup?” That would have been tragic for so many reasons.

The best course of action you can possibly pursue here is to get Eamon involved in your life for some peripheral reason. You need his “help” with something. Depending on what his job is, there is no end to the kind of fake advice you can fake solicit from a man. After he “helps” you, thank him profusely and promise him dinner or a nice bottle of wine or something. He will get the hint after that if he is interested. It will give you a chance to suss out his feelings as well.

There is no such thing as a rebound relationship; only a woman insufficiently interesting to demand real commitment.


Is there any way to permanently change the destructive behavior of someone you love?

I really want to spend the rest of my life with my girlfriend, who I will call Marjorie. But when I think about the next forty or so years of my life spent with her being ten minutes to a half an hour late every time we plan to meet, I want to throw myself off the Empire State building. I realize the problem may be partly in myself as well. Even when I try to show up the same amount of late so that we will arrive somewhere at the same time, I inevitably am there substantially before her arrival.

If I could fix this one thing, everything would be perfect, I swear.

Marc J.


Dear Marc,

Can you train a person as if they were a dog? Absolutely: but a dog will never resent you for the instruction, she will just give you soft kisses and ask for a treat. It is more likely that a human being might cock their head askew and ask what is so wrong it should be fixed in such a fashion.

As with any bad behavior, it is better to catch this early. If you are not there a half hour after you said you would be, Marjorie would never have learned it is OK to be this late with someone.

You should probably find out if she does this with other people or if it is just you whose time she has no respect for.

Now that the behavior is so thoroughly ingrained, she is never going to change it consciously. You can try no-showing a few times and see where it gets you. When she asks you where you went, just say that you figured she forgot and went home. Or you decided to do something else. She won’t get upset — how can she? It is so obvious that this is all her fault, for being ten minutes late.


Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.

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