In Which We Will Appreciate Your Honesty

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 justhardtosay@gmail.com.

Hi,

It’s been almost four months with my new boyfriend Steven. Every time I try to quantify or talk seriously about our relationship, which is rarely, Steven feeds me this stuff about how it is best to take things day by day and not put labels on it. In the meantime, he has introduced me to his friends and some family (not his parents) and we spend a lot of time together on a daily basis.

I really don’t understand why he is so uncomfortable with labels. My family lives farther away and while I would love for them to meet Steven, I hesitate to mention this to him because of his attitude towards talking about the idea of us. What do you think I should do?

Althea R.

Althea,

Normally I would say that Steven’s actions speak louder than words, but the more I thought about that expression, the more like garbage it really sounds. If he really cares about you, he should either articulate that in whatever form you desire it, or articulate why he is unable to articulate it.

The reason Steven is not OK with talking about things is because he has some essential reservation about you. The reason he introduced you to his friends and family is to see if that reservation disappears or if his feelings change. In the meantime, he is basically using you until he finds something better. In order to gain the upper hand, simply tell him that while you’ve enjoyed being with him, you’re interested in something more serious. If he doesn’t immediately reassure you, you have your answer.

Hi,

I have a problem. I had already been in a relationship with my girlfriend Tess for about a year when an ex, Ana, moved back to New York. We had already been really close when she was transferred to London for her job. Initially I did not tell Ana about Tess, but it all came out once she got back to the city. I said that I didn’t want to break up with Tess, so she suggested not telling her that we were having sex.

I know I should have said now and ended things with one of them, but I didn’t. It has been six months of being with these two women, and it is the happiest I have ever been in my life romantically. Things have gotten so much better with each of them than they ever were when I was in a relationship with one alone. Normally if I am focused on one person I get a little bit clingy, but having both of these wonderful women in my life makes things with Tess a lot better, and screwing around with Ana is about a hundred times more exciting than it was when we were exclusive.

I honestly believe I could conceal this from Tess for a long time, and since she says she is happy, I don’t see how it is really hurting our relationship. I’m tempted to simply keep this up for as long as it can, and if it all blows up, it will have been worth it.

Dave D.

Dear Dave,

I’m glad you’re happy, but if you need the idea of “screwing around” to enhance your main relationship, there is either something deeply wrong with that relationship, or something deeply wrong with you. I would say that at the conclusion of this effort you are probably going to be left alone, but since Ana seems interested in being with you no matter the circumstances, maybe you will still have her. You won’t ever have her respect, or her full attention, and you will have hurt someone you claim to care about in the process, but you might still have her.

It is hard being with one person, but if you want your best chance at actual, verifiable happiness, end things with Tess and try them out with Ana on a full-time basis. If you only broke up because she left the country and she’s now back on a more permanent basis and you couldn’t resist her, it sounds like you really care for her. If things don’t work out, Tess may still be there as a viable option, and you won’t ever have to deal with the detonation of her anger that is likely coming when she eventually finds out that you’re a piece of shit.

Hi,

I have been seeing a girl named Shanda for a few months. I met her through a friend of a friend. Shanda is very focused on taking things slowly when it comes to the physical side of our relationship. It seems to be having the effect of making me want her all the more, but at some point the lack of sex does seem frustrating. I really like her, but this is starting to feel like a waste of time. Should I just bail?

Arlin B.

Arlin,

A few months is extreme unless she is a religious person and maybe just doesn’t want to tell you that she has no plans to be with you.

If you are a man, it is best to have sex as quickly as possible. You will know if you are compatible, and feel more connected. If you are a woman, it is best to wait a bit. If a guy can’t wait a few weeks to be with you, he is most probably human garbage. Any longer than that, and she most likely does not want to have sex with you in general.

I would take a hard pass, but make sure she knows exactly why you are ending things.

Hi,

I am running into a problem in my relationship with a guy I will call William. William has a group of friends from his college that he spends a lot of time with. This in itself is no problem; I also enjoy being with my girlfriends although our activities and outings aren’t as focused on drugs and alcohol.

The issue is the astonishing amount of discussion between us about each other’s lives. Did you see that episode of The Mindy Project when Peter Prentice pretended the plotlines of Grey’s Anatomy were his real life at the hospital in order to make his wife think he was still working? Well, the incredible amount of storylines revolving around these people usually concerns the most mundane shit posturing as intense drama. There is no drama, but I am having to hear about it a lot more than I have ever wanted to hear about anything.

Any suggestions for bringing this annoying practice to an end?

Ally K.

rrhtndc

Dear Ally,

Some people talk out of nervousness, or just to fill the pauses between the penetration. While on six or seven various types of drugs, Benicio Del Toro once talked for ten straight days without stopping. You can bet all of it was not super-interesting.

If your boyfriend is this much of a chatterbox, maybe you can emphasize to him that, “Isn’t it great when you’re close enough to someone not to talk all the time?” This is grade-A bullshit, but William doesn’t sound very intelligent, so you can probably get away with it.

If this doesn’t work, attempt to create an actual schism between William and his friends. Best practice is to claim one of them hit on you.

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.

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