Saying the Hard Things

Saying Hard Things to someone is often tough, but not as tough as you might think. Often the anticipation – the worrying about how someone will respond or what will happen after the words fall out of your mouth (or after you push them out of your mouth, one difficult one at a time) – is worse than actually saying The Really Hard Thing. It might be that the Really Hard Thing is that you are no longer in love or you need to break up or you need to move out or you need them to move out or you want a baby or you don’t want a baby or something else. It might feel big and scary to say it but you can do it.

A brief, personal story:

Years ago, a masseuse/spiritual guru of mine told me “The truth will set you free” as she rubbed oil over my  body and rubbed bad things out and good things into it. It seems a New Age-y thing to say, even though I knew it was true, and at the time I was figuring out how to tell someone that I was never going to get back together with him. That it was over. But I knew, too, that once I said it, it would be done with. And we would both move on with life.

So I said it and I moved on and he moved on and life went on. And it was all actually good. It (and I) turned out just fine.

Then there’s today. 

Today I gave a talk to undergraduates about love and relationships, touching on what we know from science, what we know from personal experience, and what we all have to learn the hard way. And I tried to suggest that there are ways to say the Really Hard Things. That life and love are messy. And that they can do it.

If you guys are reading this (you were a great class, by the way – thanks for having me join for the day!), I really believe you can do it.

xo Debby

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About Dr. Debby Herbenick

Dr. Debby Herbenick

Dr. Debby Herbenick is a sex researcher at Indiana University, sexual health educator at The Kinsey Institute, columnist, and author of five books about sex and love. Learn more about her work at

  • Kait

    I love this post.  In fact, I’m loving all of your more personal posts.  Thank you for sharing this side of yourself with us.  :)