Welcome to Tough Love. Every other week, we’re answering your questions about dating, breakups, and everything in between. Our advice giver is Blair Braverman, dogsled racer and author of Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube. Have a question of your own? Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
My soul dog is almost 12, and my new pupper is almost five months. I really want to do a getting-to-know-you hike with just the pup this spring, but it hurts my heart to leave old Ms. Limpy-Legs at home. What do I do? Also, will I ever love my new dog as much as my old dog?
Take your puppy for a hike and offer Ms. Limpy-Legs a delicious soup bone to gnaw in your absence. The pup will have a blast, and your old girl will enjoy the peace and quiet.
You’ll never love your new dog in quite the same way as your old dog. But you’ll love her differently, and with time, she’ll be just as much a part of your heart.
My partner and I have lived in mountain communities for many years, and guests continue to visit and ski. When they do, we feel we must show them around and show them a good time. I’m kind of getting tired of guests, though—is there a kind and gentle way to opt out of having people stay?
Ah, yes. The plight of destination homeowners. First off, when you do host someone, keep in mind that your hospitality is gift enough; you’re not required to entertain people, too. Some of my favorite times have involved sitting around in pajamas with visitors as we all slurp hot chocolate and ignore each other. Which isn’t to say you should host people when you don’t want to; just remember that you can set their expectations low.
Now, as for how to get out of it altogether? If the people inviting themselves are close friends, be honest: “We adore you guys and want to see you, but we’ve been really worn out lately and have promised each other that we’re not going to take in any new guests this fall. I hope you understand. If you’re coming this way, I recommend staying at [insert lodging here], and we’d love to meet you for dinner.”
If the people inviting themselves aren’t close enough friends that you can be honest with them, then you owe them very little in terms of social duty. This is the situation that white lies are for. “Sorry, but we’re really busy then and can’t have any visitors” is direct, polite, and leaves no room for negotiation.
I’m an incredibly active (marathoner, triathlete, Ironman finisher) woman in my late twenties. Running and experiencing new active adventures are big parts of my identity—though I also love kicking back and enjoying a beer or a Netflix marathon in my downtime. Is it worth dating men who aren’t necessarily as active as I am?
Absolutely; in fact, it’s unreasonable (and limiting) to seek out a partner with your exact passions. You find a guy who celebrates what you do and has his own separate interests? Jackpot.
Why do some travel partners lose it when things don’t go as planned? That’s the best part of traveling.
Because they’ve been managing their anxiety by picturing a predictable future in which everything works out. When that imagined future changes, it feels like all the horrors they’d kept mentally at bay rush back in on them. Even if you don’t understand their anxieties, a little patience and reassurance can go a long way toward helping your companions have fun again—which means you’ll have more fun, too.
What’s the best follow-up question to “I don’t think you can do that hike/paddle/etc.”? I tend to get that because I am an XL outdoor girl. I want to know if it’s because it’s legit impossible, or if it’s because I am fat/a girl, without sounding rude if it’s the former.
First off, who are these people who think they can predict your abilities and experience by glancing at your body? Jesus. None of you Tough Love readers would do that, right? Y’all know that people’s bodies are their own business?
Your best follow-up question is neutral: “Why?” If it’s because the trail caved in, they’ll say that, and you can thank them for the warning. If it’s because of your size, they’ll stammer and possibly backtrack. Sometimes the best way to call out rudeness is to corner people into committing to their own bullshit.
My ex writes about sex and relationships and recently wrote that, after we broke up, all my pictures were just me “in the woods” and likened me to Bon Iver. I hike all the time, so it wasn’t Justin Vernon–esque escapism. Is it OK to feel indignant?
Of course you can feel indignant. Just like she can feel indignant that you subtweeted her to an advice column. Consider yourselves even. And in the future, avoid the temptation to read her writing; nothing good can come of it.