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“My Boyfriend Thinks I’m Too Opinionated”

I’ve been seeing my guy, “Joe,” for four months, and it’s been great! But last night on the phone, he started talking about a TV personality who I don’t like, and I said “He’s such a fraud and an asshole.” Immediately, Joe goes silent (his reaction when I say something he doesn’t like, I’m noticing) and I asked what the problem was. He said I invalidated his opinion with mine, and that I do it all the time, and it’s getting to the point where he doesn’t know if he can “do this” anymore because I talk to people in such a way that makes them not want to talk to me. He proceeds to explain this about 30 different ways over the course of the next hour, and I started to cry. As I’m crying on the phone, he says, “It’s obvious you’re upset. Maybe you can try to talk to people in such a way that isn’t so aggressive and opinionated.” He followed that up by telling me that his friends have even pointed out how opinionated and dismissive I am, so he knows what he’s saying is valid.

He said that one of the biggest reasons he was attracted to me is because of my intelligence, wit, and the way I speak my mind, but now it’s becoming a problem. He said he doesn’t want me to feel like I have to dumb myself down or not talk — he just wants me to be nicer (I guess?) and less opinionated during conversations. So, now I’m wondering: when does compromise become compromising yourself? I really dig the guy, and we’ve had zero problems before this, but I don’t know if I should just call it a day here, or if this can be fixed. Please help! — Complicated Communicator

So, this guy feels his opinions are validated when his friends agree with him but they’re invalidated when someone (you, for example) disagrees with him, is that right? And he thinks you’re the one with the problem? He thinks you need to change? Here’s a thought: instead of you learning how to treat this man-child with kid gloves so he doesn’t get his poor feewings hurt every time you have a differing opinion, he grows some thicker skin and learns how to effectively communicate in adult conversations where not everyone is going to think the exact same way he does about something.

If it were me, I’d take enormous offense at someone coaching me how to express myself by basically telling me, “All my friends think you’re a meanie, too!” As someone who is quite opinionated herself and has never had a difficult time expressing her opinions, perhaps this is a topic I’m a tad more sensitive about than others, but your boyfriend’s reaction reeks of passive-aggressive machismo bullshit that I would never in a million years tolerate from someone I was dating (or anyone else, for that matter). It would be one thing if his comment were something you’ve heard from others before. If a number of people who care about you have said something along the lines of, “Hey, it’s great that you’re so strong in your convictions, but sometimes you come across as a little intolerant of other people’s opinions,” then that would be something you’d want to take into consideration. Self-improvement for the sake of self-improvement is a wonderful thing. But changing something about yourself that, to your knowledge, hasn’t been an issue with anyone else you’re close to, just to appease some guy who seems to have control issues is all kinds of uncool.

I don’t know that I’d MOA right away, but I would definitely sit down and have a heart-to-heart with this guy and tell him him that you are who you are, you’re totally comfortable with the way you communicate, and if he has a problem with it then he needs to decide whether you’re someone he can continue being with as is, because you have no intention of changing the way you’ve always expressed yourself since it’s never caused a problem in any of your interpersonal relationships before him. The ball will be in his court then. If he can’t deal with a strong woman, his loss. There are plenty of malleable ladies out there desperate for a man’s love and attention whom he can mold into the obedient girlfriend he seems to want. Somehow, I don’t think you’re one of them. And luckily, there are also plenty of wonderful men out there who don’t need their friends’ validation to appreciate the strength of a bold woman. Here’s to all of us finding our appropriate matches.

*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com and be sure to follow me on Twitter.


Comments on this entry are closed.

avatar PFG-SCR June 16, 2011, 3:10 pm

Pfft, dump his ass!!!

Oh wait…too aggressive and opinionated?

avatar PFG-SCR June 16, 2011, 4:05 pm

Relax, I’m teasing, thumbs downers!!

avatar melikeycheesecake June 16, 2011, 4:09 pm

Geez… some people are too sensitive :o) Only kidding and basically making fun of myself :)

avatar Robin June 16, 2011, 5:56 pm

I really disagree. My boyfriend can be like this girl. Basically, whenever I bring up something remotely controversial, his instinct is to disagree. It’s because he likes intellectual debates and likes to play devil’s advocate – both which are fine. But it gets really frustrating. Sometimes I find myself stopping myself from making comments to him because I know he’s just going to disagree with me – so what’s the point? We’ve talked about it and I’ve told him that it makes me feel like he doesn’t respect my opinion. When I say “I like x tv celebrity,” it would be great if he responded by saying, “huh, could you explain why?” instead of immediately putting me down with “No, that guy’s an asshole.”

It sounds like the boyfriend is asking the same thing of the LW. It doesn’t sound like he wants her to agree with everything he says – just that he wants her to listen rather than immediately invalidate him. It’s great to be strongly opinionated, but in a relationship, you need some humility and you need to remember that the other person also has valuable thoughts and opinions and that maybe you can learn something from them and change their mind. If you just stick to your thought that “X tv personality is an asshole” and don’t stop to hear your boyfriend’s perspective – then, yes you should MOA because it’s not going to work – but it’s definitely not only because of the boyfriend.

avatar Spark June 16, 2011, 10:07 pm

I agree with you, Robin. I think the problem is LW’s, not her boyfriend’s. There is a HUGE difference between explaining in reasonable, non-confrontational terms why you don’t like someone and forcing a brash and negative declaration on someone in response to, presumably, that person saying he liked something. I don’t think LW’s boyfriend is upset about her opinion–I think he’s upset about the way she presents it as being the ultimate opinion.

avatar Bree June 17, 2011, 12:33 am

While I can see your point, since I don’t like people who force their opinions down other people’s throats, I am concerned about the phone conversation where he berated her for an hour, even after she started crying. This says to me that he is controlling and trying make her feel bad about herself so that he can gain the upper hand. My ex did stuff like that, and it got to the point where I couldn’t show any sort of annoyance or anger without him yelling and me and me crying. She should be with someone who doesn’t have a problem with her being outspoken.

avatar jennifer June 22, 2011, 2:31 pm

Bree, while I see your point, women, and not to say all women, will use tears as a defense. Once you start to cry the man will stop, again not all the time but ususally, and apologize out of guilt. Nothing is really resolved. I am not commenting on your personal situtation. Overall I agree with Spark and Robin. As we get older there is a way to communicate and there is a way to dominate. I am a very opinionated person and often have to pause and take a break before I say things too harshly.

avatar Ash June 17, 2011, 10:26 am

I have to agree with you as well. My sister has a very strong & opinionated personality. She’s also smart. But when she meets guys (or anyone for that matter) they often feel intimidated and off-put by her personality. I’ve grown used to it after about 20 years, lol. My boyfriend has mentioned to me before that when he met my sister she came off as condescending. She also tends to disagree with people and it radiates in a very negative way.
I’ve told her straight-out the way LWs boyfriend did. There is ZERO problem with being who you are and being an opinionated person….but, not everyone can handle such a strong personality. And another thing to remember is it’s all in the tone of your voice! My sis gets this very “i’m better than you” tone when speaking to people and you can visibly see their faces drop and the conversation dies. LW should try toning things down when meeting other people.

avatar Rei June 17, 2011, 12:13 pm

I agree with you Robin. I knew a girl who sounded a lot like the LW, except she’d claim that the reason people didn’t like her was sexism. But the real problem wasn’t that she disagreed or had opinions, it was that she’d interrupt other people’s sentences with “No, you’re wrong.” It would be over stupid things too, like if someone didn’t agree with her that some commercial was objectifying female horses or something.
I wonder if the LW is like that too. Does she tell people that they’re wrong and she’s right all the time? Does she interrupt people to insert her opinion when she could just as easily wait until the other person’s done talking? I mean, like with tv guy, was the conversation anything close to, “That guy sucks.” “Well, I don’t think he’s that bad. He’s had so-” “No, he’s an asshole.
I also think it’s very valid to bring up what his friends said to show that it is not only him believing she’s like this, but she is kinda mean with her opinions to everyone. I didn’t like Wendy’s reaction at all. Most people don’t have a problem with stronger and talkative girls; they just have a problem with mean and douchey people in general.
No one likes being told constantly that they’re wrong about everything.

avatar Sabrina August 15, 2012, 9:31 am

How could one person “invalidate” someone else simply for having an opinion? As Eleanor Roosevelt said, no one can make you feel inferior without your consent. If he’s feeling “invalidated” that is HIS problem not hers. It’s manipulative for one person to tell someone else something like that simply because they don’t like or agree with an opinion. So the girl is suppose to change to suit him, suppress her feelings and opinions, and then what? That’s not fair.

avatar belongsomewhere June 16, 2011, 3:16 pm

For the most part, I agree with Wendy’s take on this. However, as someone who is sometimes a little “abrasive” and accidentally hurts peoples’ feelings frequently (apparently I have a “tone”–I don’t know what it is, but a lot of people have had a problem with it, so I am willing to believe that it exists even though I don’t know how to change it), I think the boyfriend may have just been trying to express a concern about the specific way she counters people’s opinions. In my own relationship, just the other day, my boyfriend and I were discussing the title of a TV show (neither of us has ever seen the show, but we both think the name of the show is terrible). I said, apparently rather firmly, that I didn’t believe one of the words in the title was a real word. He got really quiet, and I asked him why. He said he thought it was a real word, but didn’t want to say anything because he was afraid we’d have an argument about it. It struck me that he was scared I’d get upset about something SO petty. I don’t mean to sound argumentative in situations like this, but apparently this “tone” I have is argumentative/abrasive/aggressive, and it freaks him out, even though I don’t mean to use it. Part of it, I think, is that I think things through for a long time before I say them, so I speak very concisely and definitively, which reads as assertive. So, I’m guessing something similar is going on in the LW’s relationship. I’m sure she isn’t consciously doing anything wrong, but she should be careful and take cues from others in case this actually is an issue of her tone of voice or inflection or diction or something of that sort. It absolutely could be that this guy has a “strong woman problem” and just can’t handle a woman with opinions, but it could also be–in part–that she’s coming across as more argumentative than she means to be.

avatar belongsomewhere June 16, 2011, 3:20 pm

Also, from her description of the apparently offending conversation, I wonder if it’s possible that she got excited about the topic of conversation and interrupted him by accident. When a topic I care a lot about comes up, I sometimes jump in excitedly and interrupt people before I realize I’ve done it. I definitely don’t intend to be rude or dismissive of what others have to say, but it comes across that way.

avatar MsBorgia June 16, 2011, 3:32 pm

I have the same issues! A lot of people think I’m insensitive or dismissive because I am opinionated, and I tend to counter emotional problems with a logical or analytical response. While I can see how it’s frustrating for other people, it is also upsetting to me that I can’t apparently disagree with people without being called “bitchy” or “dismissive.”

While I definitely think that people like us and the LW maybe need to learn to be less, as you said, argumentative in voicing our opinions, I also think other people also need to learn to toughen up and not get so upset when a different opinion is presented.

avatar belongsomewhere June 16, 2011, 3:59 pm

To what you say about being unable to disagree with people without being considered a bitch–YES. I’ve wondered where my communication issues/accidental rudeness ends and where sexism/bros not wanting to hear me disagree with them begins. It’s a weird territory.

avatar MsBorgia June 16, 2011, 4:28 pm

I once had a guy tell me (he claimed jokingly—nice joke, brah) that I deserved to be told to go fuck myself, and then when I got mad he asked if I was on my period. I think “period blaming” should be its own feminist theory.

landygirl Landygirl June 16, 2011, 4:41 pm

I hate that. I know some men who are moodier than many women I know.

avatar MissChievous June 16, 2011, 5:48 pm

Wow, I think those moments call for the smart-ass remark like “It seems like you’re on your period too.” Or “Yeah, I am. And even on those days I still make more money than you.”

avatar jennifer June 22, 2011, 2:39 pm

I am the poster child for aggressive/opinionated behaviour that is fostered by my job. But there is a difference between having an opinion and being dismissive and bitchy. No one will fault you for having an opinion but you need to respect and acknowledge that other people have opinions.

avatar Bethany June 16, 2011, 4:29 pm

I do this ALL THE TIME, and I know if bothers my fiance, and I try to control it, but it’s realllllly hard!

MissRemy Ally June 16, 2011, 5:20 pm

Great response! I know I’m guilty of getting excited and interrupting, or not really thinking about the way I say something – I’m trying to work on it. Mr. Ally can get quite annoyed at me sometimes and often just goes quiet. I find it really infuriating that he won’t tell me what’s wrong/how I’ve annoyed him.

avatar melikeycheesecake June 16, 2011, 3:20 pm

Fantastic response and so true!

avatar LennyBee June 16, 2011, 3:27 pm

Great advice (Wendy’s too)! Yes, there are absolutely people who can’t take it when their little woman disagrees with their vaunted opinion, but another possibility is to look inside yourself and figure out if you give your opinion in a way that’s misconstrued as argumentative and condescending. From the letter, It sounds like it’s likely to be option A, in which case, this is probably not a relationship worth salvaging. But the LW may want to consider whether she’s heard this before. Several very close and trusted friends have mentioned that I have unintended bitch-face when I meet new people, and it’s something I’ve taken to heart and tried to fix. I don’t want people to view me that way.

avatar camille905 June 16, 2011, 3:29 pm

I totally agree with you and not entirely with Wendy.

Here’s the thing- I have also sometimes had this same complaint. Usually what I’m told is it’s not what I say but how I say it. After reviewing some instances in my head, I have come to see how the way I say things can be interpreted wrongly by other people.

I think what the real issue is not the having the opinion but that when he brought it up the LW didn’t listen to his opinion or what he had to say before expressing HER opinion and in a forceful manner I’m sure. He’s not being too sensitive if on repeated occasions when he expressed his opinion she disagreed with him to the point where he doesn’t want to bring things up anymore. Since the LW is “so opinionated” the boyfriend may feel that she is invalidating his opinions because of the way that she presents her views.

Thinking for 5 seconds before speaking your mind is not comprising yourself- it’s being thoughtful. It may be that there are other people in the LW’s life who feel the same way but don’t care enough to comment on it. If the LW really cares abut this guy, she’ll take a few minutes to sit back and think about her actions before dumping him. Or maybe she’ll find a guy who doesn’t have any opinions and won’t disagree with her.

avatar Christy June 16, 2011, 3:32 pm

OMG so true! My best friend has what I refer to as her “emphatic voice” and once I pointed it out to her, she asked me to tell her every time she talks like that so she can stop. Praise Jesus–it was getting so annoying.

avatar belongsomewhere June 16, 2011, 3:54 pm

I’ve been reading all of these comments to my boyfriend, and he’s going to start calling it my “emphatic voice” now. That’s a perfect term for it. :)

avatar LeahW. June 16, 2011, 3:32 pm

Yeah, as someone who (so I’m told) always has to be right, I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss his feelings. I think his going to his friends was just a way to check himself to see if he was overreacting. When your partner is doing something that bugs you but isn’t egregious, it’s hard to tell sometimes if it’s really their problem or yours. So, he asked his friends for an outside opinion and had his suspicions confirmed.

The LW only included one example, but it DID strike me as sounding pretty aggressive. Instead of saying “I think that guy’s a fraud and an asshole”, which leaves room for other opinions, she said “he IS a fraud and an asshole”, which implies that anyone who disagrees is wrong.

avatar Calliopedork June 16, 2011, 3:48 pm

Was the show “necessary roughness” on usa?

avatar belongsomewhere June 16, 2011, 3:52 pm

Yes! How did you know?! I hate that title so much. I recognize that “roughness” is, technically, a word, but I think they’re using it wrong. It really rubs me the wrong way.

avatar cmarie June 16, 2011, 3:51 pm

I really agree with this. I love, and I mean LOVE all the CSI shows, even Miami. Criminal Minds and I are secret lovers. If they came out with a Criminal Minds Investigation: City Dump, I’d watch it with a big bowl of ice cream and a gleeful smile. My partner has nightmares if Disney movies get too scary. One night I was watching CSI (not sure which one) and she came out and said to me in a very disgusted tone “Why do you have to watch such disturbing shows?” Ummm, because I like them. Even if she didn’t mean it, it came out in a very judgemental way that put me down and hurt my “feewings”. What is she implying about me because I like these shows? Maybe the BF is an ass who is afraid of strong women, or maybe, just maybe, the LW IS coming off as judgemental and off-putting. Sometimes it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it and if you make it seem like you’re looking down on someone feelings are going to get hurt. You should never not be who you are, but that doesn’t mean you get to disregard everyone else just so you can “express” your opinions.

avatar Quakergirl June 16, 2011, 3:56 pm

Agh I have the same tone!! My mother has insisted that it exists for YEARS and I had never known what it was. Once when we were having an argument and I was discussing later with Quakerboy that she accused me of having an abrasive personality, he said– totally nicely and not mean-spiritedly– “well, you don’t pull any punches with that tone you sometimes get when you’re trying to make a point.” The fact that he independently said the same thing– and he is not the world’s most perceptive person when it comes to tone of voice– made me start looking for it. I can usually recognize I’m doing it now because…and I hate to admit this…I know I’m using the tone when I think I sound just like my mother. I love the woman dearly, but knowing how much she drives me bananas sometimes, I can see how I drive her/others bananas with that tone. I make a conscious effort not to get that way now, and I seem to be doing better.

avatar Callifax June 16, 2011, 4:39 pm

I totally agree with you. One of my male best friends is a total sweetheart but sometimes has trouble expressing his opinions in a way that doesn’t sound dismissive. For example he’ll often start sentences with “no” or “actually” – it’s a nervous tic but makes it sound like he’s disregarding what you’ve said. My point being, you can be opinionated and respectful but be expressing it in such a way where it sounds like you’re being dismissive. Though I’m not saying this is definitely the case, the LW might want to take note of how she expresses her opinions and see if there are any behavioral red flags.

avatar LTC039 June 16, 2011, 4:50 pm

I have to agree with you. I’ve known my best friend for about 10 yrs, I love her to death, BUT she is EXTREMELY judgmental & when she talks to you, her tone is arrogant. There are numerous people that meet her once & don’t like her. She comes on too strong & idk if she’s really aware of it. We’ve had conversations to a certain degree about it, but only in the context of a problem between me & her, & the times that I’ve attempted to go into that arena have been unsuccessful, so I just let it be. She is who she is. Maybe the LW is that kind of person, maybe she does come off as her bf said. I don’t think he went about it the best way, & it was kind of a douchey thing to bring in his friends & make the LW feel him & his friends have been bad mouthing her behind her back this whole time…But, before she goes to battle on what Wendy suggested, she should take a look at her words & conversations with other people.
If at the end of the day she feels she is compromising herself & there’s nothing wrong in her opinions, then by all means, dump the guy! But I strongly suggest re-evaluating yourself before…Like belongsomewhere said, that DOES exist, there are people like that, & I have first hand experience with this.

avatar SpyGlassez June 17, 2011, 9:16 pm

And there is a difference between him bad-mouthing his girlfriend to his buddies, and his buddies bringing it up. If it’s the first, he’s totally in the wrong, but if his buddies are tired of her shooting down every discussion, it is a problem with her.

avatar DramaQueen224 June 16, 2011, 4:52 pm

I totally agree that she might want to consider this as constructive criticism (I can also be a little, umm forceful with my word choice over little things that don’t actually matter that much to me). However, I’m not impressed at all that her boyfriend scolded her for an hour about it, made her cry, and then continued to harp on it. Even if the LW is the most negative person on earth, that’s a jerky thing to do, surely he could have made his point in under five minutes. So maybe the LW should think about her word choice, but she should also probably think about if she wants to be in a relationship with someone who is willing to berate her for an hour.

avatar MsBorgia June 16, 2011, 5:54 pm

excellent point. the BF was kind of douchey about it. anyway, who just says out of the blue “you argue too much and I don’t think I can do this anymore” without bringing it up first? seems pretty drastic— my first thought was that he’s just looking for an excuse to bolt.

avatar SpaceySteph June 17, 2011, 10:58 am

who just says out of the blue “you argue too much and I don’t think I can do this anymore” without bringing it up first?

Um my ex? Some people really do just keep it all bottled up inside til they can’t handle it, then they surprise you will all these things you never knew they were unhappy about.

avatar plasticepoxy June 17, 2011, 11:48 am

I totally would.

I would feel put down if someone told me that someone I liked (even a TV personality) was a fraud and an asshole because it implies that I lack the ability to understand people as perfectly as the person who had to point it out to me. I would feel put down especially if I was told that in response to my statement about liking the person.

The first time I could discount as differing opinions. If this happened several times over multiple topics, with the same person, I would ultimately decide that that person wasn’t right for me. I don’t want to be told I’m wrong all the time, especially about things that aren’t a big deal at the end of the day and especially not in the tone that is implied in the letter.

I would give it time, but how else do you bring this sort of thing up other than to say, “I feel like you dismiss me and my opinions a large part of the time and I don’t know if I can continue in a relationship where I don’t feel like I, and my opinions, are respected”.

I can also see giving multiple examples to “defend” my position, and if my partner wasn’t seeing how they invalidated my position, the conversation could last quite some time. Doesn’t mean he berated her, put her down or is controlling.

My opinion here, of course, doesn’t mean that he didn’t or isn’t those things.

avatar MiMi June 16, 2011, 5:05 pm

A guy would probably appreciate it if he could get a full sentence out before his girl jumps in with her opinion expressed in ringing tones, dontcha think? Or maybe even express his whole thought uninterrupted? Hows about putting the brakes on the powerful self-expression long enough to let someone else get a word in..

avatar Spark June 16, 2011, 10:11 pm

Exactly. There is a difference between being bitchy and being opinionated.

avatar RavageMaladie June 16, 2011, 5:35 pm

Wow, what a great response!

I have something similarish, where I just get super excited about a project (I’m in an artistic field), but are sometimes perceived by others as dominating or ‘claiming’ the project. Have definitely learnt to sit on my hands and let others talk first. So this was my first thought too: there could be merit in what he said.

He could have said it much more maturely though, instead of taking an hour to saw you in half with his opinion on how you’re too opinionated. I know from experience these things can be pretty big blows to the ego, so I do think you deserve someone who respectfully approaches you when giving delicate or negative feedback. The ‘oh, and my friends all agree with me’-card is always going to be childish and unconstructive.

avatar Slamy June 17, 2011, 11:46 am

I have to work really hard to be aware of my tone/inflection. Otherwise I can come across as a whiny bitch.

avatar Brooklyn June 18, 2011, 9:56 pm

Ditto. Except I come across as a feisty bitch.

avatar sarita_f June 16, 2011, 3:19 pm

Reading Wendy’s first paragraph almost felt cathartic.

What a douche.

I’m just glad you consider leaving him to cry and over-analyze amongst his friends to be an option. Glad that you’re not taking his too much to heart and you’re not automatically tripping all over yourself to accommodate this guy. Glad that you’re gut-checking before caving.

Brava. You’ll be fine whatever you decide.

avatar sarita_f June 16, 2011, 3:22 pm

I just re-read and realized that you didn’t explicitly address whether you’ve heard this from other people or not. If you have, read belongsomwhere’s advice. If not, all Wendy.

avatar melikeycheesecake June 16, 2011, 3:19 pm

It sounds like he is too sensitive… I’m a very sensitive person ( and not very outspoken) and in the past I dated someone who was very blunt and opinionated.. I did not think he was a “meanie” but I did recognize we were not a good match. I just could not keep my feelings in check when he was so blunt. He is happy now with the right woman for him.

There is nothing wrong with being opinionated or being yourself… as long as you don’t disrespect the other person… and thinking that a tv personality is a meanie.. is not disrespectful.

Wendy is sooooooo right about not MOA’ing right away… def sit down and talk it out with him.

avatar Sarah June 16, 2011, 3:19 pm

It was Seacrest, wasn’t it? I bet it was Seacrest.

avatar SGMcG June 16, 2011, 3:33 pm

Actually, I figured it was either The Situation or Donald Trump. If it were any of these guys, it does not really speak well of Joe’s tastes. Yet that’s just my opinion.

avatar Christy June 16, 2011, 3:33 pm

10 bucks it was Glenn Beck

avatar NaturalBlue June 16, 2011, 3:41 pm

Ha! I am so with you on this one!

TaraMonster TaraMonster June 16, 2011, 3:51 pm

I see your Glenn Beck and I raise you Rush Limbaugh.

avatar Amanda June 16, 2011, 3:19 pm

This guy sounds so lame. LW, you deserve someone who appreciates you as is. Please don’t change for this guy. By your description, I would think that he was still in elementary school.

avatar MsMisery June 16, 2011, 3:21 pm

I dated a guy once who absolutely could NOT handle any criticism on the food he ate, the music or TV he liked, his car, his clothes, his favorite color, etc. But all my favorite things were open-season. He would send me music he liked, but I was never allowed to TELL him whether I liked it or not because it would “crush him” if I didn’t like his favorite things. But my favorite band was bullshit. And, like you, he was originally attracted to my wit and sarcasm, but once I made an offhanded remark about a complete stranger that we’d never see again and he reduced me to tears about how “mean I was.” I didn’t know how to handle him then and we broke up shortly after that.

Basically, guys like this exist. They want it both ways (aka- their way). And some doormat woman will be happy to do that. But don’t be that woman, because clearly you aren’t.

avatar melikeycheesecake June 16, 2011, 3:27 pm

Wow… now I’m not that sensitive.

avatar CG June 16, 2011, 3:34 pm

Um, wow. Did you date my ex? ;)

avatar Alittlelux June 16, 2011, 3:48 pm

I was about to ask the same question?

avatar Alittlelux June 16, 2011, 3:49 pm

Whoops– !

avatar Quakergirl June 16, 2011, 4:30 pm

Yep, been there. His hypersensitivity combined with my “tone” was definitely a match made in hell. Not to mention the fact that he picked fights over every word I chose. Once I said I had to go because I needed to do some work outside (I was living with my parents, then, and had an outside) and he’s like that’s not work, that’s fun, you’re doing something fun. Um, yes, I enjoy the outdoors, but I still have to do it and it is in fact physical labor. Needless to say it ended very, very badly.

avatar Kate June 16, 2011, 3:21 pm

Right on Wendy!

I’d dump him stat. He wouldn’t like my personality either, if it makes you feel any better.

“he just wants me to be nicer (I guess?) and less opinionated during conversations”: I learned a valuable lesson when I was kid, learning horse judging: what exactly does “nice” mean? Good, pretty, kind, malleable?

So if someone tells you to be “nicer”, I would say, could you please be more specific, because “nicer” doesn’t mean much at all.

avatar emjay June 16, 2011, 3:22 pm

If you need to change yourself for a guy to accept you then you know its time to MOA. Enough said. Just like women have to accept they cannot change who they are with, men have to accept the same thing. Find someone who is on your level not below.

avatar Desiree June 16, 2011, 3:22 pm

I’m torn on this one. She only gave us one example of her communication, and it didn’t seem so lovely. I am a very opinionated Type A dating a laid-back Type B. If I didn’t like a TV personality my boyfriend was talking about, I don’t think I’d say “He’s such a fraud and an asshole.” It seems…well, like pretty poor communication. I typically say something more like, “I thought it was hypocritical when he did XYZ, and I don’t particularly care for the way he treats others on his show.” Confident people express their opinions, but being abrasive about it doesn’t make a woman (or man) “strong.” Having said that, I didn’t care for the way the LW’s boyfriend handled the situation. Referencing his friends was just plain bad taste. If he has a problem with the LW, he should square off with her on his own like a man, not bring other people into the equation. (For instance, if I were complaining to my boyfriend about his being late for an event, I would never say, “My mother thought it was so crappy of you to be tardy like that.”)

avatar thyme June 16, 2011, 8:00 pm

I think yours is the best comment on this so far.

Reading the letter, I pictured the exchange like this:

Him: “I watched X on TV last night, and he said something interesting–”
Her: “X is an asshole!”

I get the impression that the LW IS overly abrasive, but her BF doesn’t seem too tactful either. He could have expressed his concern in a way less combative way too. They sound a lot alike, actually.

avatar Desiree June 16, 2011, 10:11 pm


avatar Meaghan June 16, 2011, 9:33 pm

I agree on this. Sometimes when people say that they are “opinionated” what it really means is that they are obnoxious and/or abrasive whether it’s intentional or not. I know a few of these people from class, and they make it very difficult to have even the smallest conversation with especially when they swear a lot in an attempt to get their point across I suppose. Maybe it’s because I tend to try not to swear unless I can’t help it or it’s a very spirited conversation, but the fact that she called someone an asshole just in a casual discussion might clue into the daily conversations with her. Swear words aren’t meant to be casual and friendly; they’re supposed to be aggressive and intimidating to add emphasis on something negative. Unless of you use them all the time then I guess they lose their meaning.

I’m tempted to side with the man here for the simple fact that people get into the mindset that “it’s just the way I am, and you have to love me this way” when it comes to faults rather than take the criticism and try to better themselves. Of course it is true he shouldn’t have brought his friends up in this since if my boyfriend did that I would immediately have the mental image of him and his buddies huddled together bashing me behind my back. No Bueno.

avatar Spark June 16, 2011, 10:15 pm

Well said! It really irks me when people use “opinionated” and “strong” and “confident” when really the word is “abrasive” or “bitchy” or “arrogant.” Having an opinion doesn’t mean that you can be a total bitch about it and then expect people not to mind.

avatar AKchic June 16, 2011, 3:23 pm


Okay, if HIS friends have a problem with it, why didn’t they call you out on it? Scared maybe? Didn’t have the balls to do it themselves? If you had a problem with being too bitchy/opinionated – why don’t your friends/family call YOU out on it?

I think this guy is the only one who has the problem with it and is using his friends as an imaginary excuse. Period.


caitie_didnt caitie_didn't June 16, 2011, 5:02 pm

Why so many thumbs down?? Downers, care to explain yourselves? I agree with AKChic…..unless this is something that other people have mentioned to you, I wouldn’t give any credence to his opinion. The very fact that you’re concerned enough to write to Wendy asking for advice indicates to me that you are NOT a person who always has to be right. If you were, you probably would have just dumped him outright.

I’m a pretty opinionated biotch myself, and I definitely have a “tone”. I’m careful to be respectful, but I’m definitely really passionate about a lot of things and if you can’t handle that, then you don’t get to handle me!

avatar Spark June 16, 2011, 10:17 pm

I thumbed this comment down. I would never call out any of my boyfriend’s friends for something like this. I don’t know them super well, they are his friends, and I’m just not in a position to get confrontational and judgmental to them. I might say to my boyfriend, “Nick was so rude tonight,” but I would never say, “Hey, Nick, you’re so rude.” It’s just not something I would ever dream of doing.

avatar SpaceySteph June 16, 2011, 3:24 pm

I think you’re gonna get alot of the opinionated DW posters who will jump on this guy right away. I am opinionated too, so thats my knee jerk reaction as well..
But I wonder if you are dismissive of him more than you realize. After getting into heated debates with my boyfriend, I always tell him at the end that I love that we can have these conversations. We disagree and have a good time going head to head over it… but we are always respectful of the other, don’t take cheap shots, etc.
Its possible that you are being so dismissive of him, in an attempt to prove your point, that he feels like he can’t have an opinion. OR, maybe he is a macho jerk who thinks his woman should be seen and not heard and who should never contradict him. I recommend you ask a close friend who you can trust to tell you the truth about whether you are being too harsh and dismissive. If thats the case, you need to work on that. If not, then I would follow Wendy’s advice to talk to him and give him the option to take you as you are or find a less opinionated girl.

avatar Meaghan June 16, 2011, 9:36 pm

I agree with you completely that it’s important to keep in mind being respectful of the other person’s opinion while expressing your own. It’s a hard thing to do unless you work on it, and maybe this is a problem with both of them; she’s dismissive and he’s soft-skinned.

avatar Yozi June 16, 2011, 3:28 pm

I agree with Wendy! I don’t know if it’s time to MOA, but I will say, I’m always happier when I’m dating someone who can appreciate my sarcastic sense of humor and my tendency to be a little critical. Thats who I am. And if opinionated is what you are, and he can’t handle it that HIS problem, not yours. What does he want, some kind of timid, brainless woman by his side always affirming everything he says and does? Sounds like he’s got a fragile ego. People who are confident in themselves and their opinions aren’t threatened when someone challenges those opinions. They are comfortable having adult discussions about differing points of view. Plus it seems like he relies on his friends to help him form opinions. That speaks to a weakness of character.

leilani leilani June 16, 2011, 3:38 pm

I can see saying that they aren’t a match because he’s more sensitive and she’s more critical, but I don’t see why that’s solely his problem to deal with. Its not like sensitive is wrong and critical is right. I think if they’re interested in making this work, they could try to meet in the middle a little bit. I also really don’t think he said he just wanted some brainless bimbo to agree with everything he said, just that she can be a little harsher than she may realize when stating her opinions.

avatar Yozi June 16, 2011, 3:50 pm

Well I was reading into it a little bit, and making assumptions based on him getting got offended about a comment she made about a TV personality. To me that says that he’s overly touchy about his girlfriend undermining his opinions. It’s just a show. I loooove Glee and my boyfriend makes fun it all the time for being shallow and whatnot. I can see his point but I still love the show. We have fought about this precisely never. I think being sensitive about TV show personalities is a little extreme. I think it was more about his ego than about actual sensitivity.

avatar Amber June 16, 2011, 4:33 pm

I don’t think the tv personality was really the issue – it was more of the straw that broke the camel’s back for him in how he feels about her criticalness.

avatar Yozi June 16, 2011, 4:40 pm

I think that’s a pretty weak bit of straw. Maybe Joe could get himself a sense of humor..

Caris Caris June 17, 2011, 1:50 pm

If her tone was a problem before then he should have said something about it before, instead of suddenly exploding in her face and make her cry. It’s not like she knew this was a problem and didn’t try to fix it. And he didn’t even bother to comfort her.

avatar SpyGlassez June 17, 2011, 9:22 pm

Maybe he has, and she overlooked it.

“Did you hear X from the Bob and Tom show?”
“They are such assholes.”
“Wait, listen, this one was funny.”
“Whatever. They’re total assholes.”

avatar justpeachy June 16, 2011, 4:05 pm

To me, it didn’t sound like he was relying on the opinions of his friends. It seems more like he’s worried that his friends will faze him out because they don’t like his girlfriend. If his friends can’t stand the girl because of her brashness, odds are he won’t be invited out as often. He brought it up to show that it’s not that he’s being overly sensitive, other people feel the same way. He did make a mistake, though, of bringing it up in the fight because now she’ll just think they talk all the time behind her back about how annoying she is.

avatar Yozi June 16, 2011, 7:43 pm

You’re right, Joe should make extra efforts to appease his friends so they won’t *gasp* exclude him from their company. It’s much better to be spineless than to lose your place in the bro herd.

avatar spaceboy761 June 16, 2011, 3:30 pm

Alternate explanation: The LW is truly obnoxious and this guy is a saint for dealing with her constant berating of anything she doesn’t immediately like. Just sayin’.

avatar SpaceySteph June 16, 2011, 3:42 pm

Now wait a minute, spaceboy may have something here.
We don’t know. There are people who are, maybe without intending to be, very very harsh. My grandparents are like that- they have an opinion and advice and a nitpick about everything. They mean well, they want us to be happy and healthy… but they mistakenly believe their way is the only way we can achieve that.

If the LW is being obnoxious, then she’s lucky her boyfriend has told her now, while she has time to fix it. Before she’s 80 and has made her kids and grandkids miserable and they are two browbeaten to do anything about it.

avatar SpyGlassez June 17, 2011, 9:25 pm

My maternal grandmother is like that. “You’d be so pretty if you weren’t fat,honey.” “I can’t stand that crap you listen to. Turn it off.” The woman thinks she’s being “honest” when really she’s being tactless. My grandpa WAS a saint for putting up with her, but I can still hear him saying, “Now, Mary,” when she’d get too carried away.

avatar Desiree June 16, 2011, 3:42 pm

I’m really glad you piped up on this one. Obviously it is hard to know much from the one letter, but I think jumping on the guy’s case here is easy but not necessarily correct. The LW could be (intentionally or otherwise) really unpleasant at times; I’m not saying she is, but it’s a possibility.

avatar Amber June 16, 2011, 3:47 pm

I agree spaceboy. you managed to say in one sentence what i said below in about three paragraghs :)

avatar silver_dragon_girl June 16, 2011, 3:52 pm

On that note…Wendy, you should do a “He said/She said” column every once in a while (if you could get both people to write in). That way we could all get both sides of the argument. I feel like a lot of these letters are really hard to judge because we only get one person’s perspective. :)

avatar MissDre June 16, 2011, 7:10 pm

Love this idea. ReginaRey vs JSW! Wendy, do it!!

Caris Caris June 17, 2011, 1:54 pm

If she is SO obnoxious then, why is he still dating her and why did it take him 4 months to bring it up?

avatar BoomChakaLaka June 16, 2011, 3:30 pm

Check yourself. For all of those examples that he cited, was that a case of you being a bit abrasive or was he just being overly sensitive? I define abrasive just as Wendy has done above, intolerant of someone’s else’s thoughts/opinions. In that case, I do think his choice of words were poor, but I think he was definitely right to bring it up. People that always shut you down without even listening to you first are ANNOYING. But if you’ve been respectful and he just doesn’t like someone who disagrees with him, then he’s being overly sensitive. A giant baby. With “feewings.” (THANK YOU WENDY FOR THIS!)

While I know that it might be tough to do an unbiased assessment of yourself, this might be a good time to talk to people that WON’T be biased. Close friends or family will do. A good friend will definitely take this opportunity to say either, “yeah, he has a point” or “you need to leave him fast.”

What I’m saying is, don’t rule his criticism out. Any way you look at it, this is a win-win situation. If he is pointing out a flaw, then this would be a great time for self-improvement. If he is just being a baby, then well, I don’t think you would want to be with a baby anyway.

leilani leilani June 16, 2011, 3:33 pm

I think its hard to say definitively that this guy is just being a wuss. Maybe the LW does have a tendency to steamroll over others’ opinions and be really critical. I have no desire to have an SO that agrees with everything I say, but if I felt like he was shutting me down every time I said anything, it might get old fast. He expressed that he doesn’t want her to be less opinionated, just to try to be a little nicer about it, and I don’t think there would be anything wrong with her compromising a bit here. Maybe she could just try to be a little more conscious of how she sounds when she’s criticizing things, and make sure his opinion is respected as well. If that doesn’t work, so be it, but I don’t think that it would be weak-willed of her to try to be a bit more sensitive.

avatar katiebird June 16, 2011, 3:33 pm

Screw Joe and every other guy that can’t handle a strong woman. Cut your losses at 4 months and MOA LW, you deserve better.

avatar _jsw_ June 16, 2011, 4:38 pm

Actually, she might be better off not screwing Joe and every other guy that can’t handle a strong woman.

avatar Monica M June 16, 2011, 3:35 pm

This is the first time I am going to disagree with Wendy. I think there is a difference between expressing a personal opinion and invalidating an opposing viewpoint. This LW reminds me of a couple of friends of mine. I am a very direct and honest person and I love that in others which is the why I have experience with this. However, my friends do what this LW seems to do which is belittling the other viewpoint. In the example given she says “He’s such a fraud and an asshole.” Where does that leave her boyfriend who likes this guy? You like an asshole? Are you saying I am an asshole? She should have said something like, “I don’t like him. To me he seems like a fraud.” What she did was not express her opinion but an absolute. It leaves the person you are talking to nowhere to go. I can also understand if he has not brought this up before. This guy goes silent because I imagine he hasn’t known how to address this because she is black and white. He probably for the longest time just knew that she was upsetting him but was not able to articulate it. He may have brought up that others felt that way because he needed to seek an outside opinion.

avatar Desiree June 16, 2011, 3:45 pm

I agree with you. My dad tends to express his views in “absolutes,” so there is really no room for discussion. “That musician’s work is complete trash,” etc. It has a way of really shutting down the conversation and making the other person feel uncomfortable.

parton_doll parton_doll June 16, 2011, 4:36 pm

Perfectly stated.

avatar bubbacatz June 16, 2011, 6:29 pm

One hundred thumbs up!

avatar Quakergirl June 16, 2011, 7:48 pm

THIS. It isn’t about her differing opinion or her being opinionated or her having a strong opinion. It’s about expressing a differing opinion as an absolute truth. She isn’t stating her own opinion when she disagrees, she’s saying his opinion is wrong. It makes him feel stupid and it brings any type of conversation to a halt.

This is especially true when the opinion is negative. If he had said “I think person X is a terrible host/presenter/whatever” and she said “He’s awesome!” that still leaves room for debate and it keeps the tone positive. When you express an alternate negative opinion as a statement of fact, you’re essentially telling the other person they’re wrong. If this conversation really went down as the LW describes it (which I’m assuming it did because it doesn’t put her in all that flattering a light), then yes, she was invalidating his opinion with hers. It doesn’t mean either of them is wrong to have an opinion, but the LW could express hers a little more nicely and considerately.

Dear Wendy Wendy June 16, 2011, 8:10 pm

I’m confused. Why is expressing a positive opinion that differs from someone’s negative opinion OK, but expressing a negative opinion that differs from someone’s positive opinion invalidating and wrong?

And why is it that if someone expresses a negative opinion (“He’s an asshole!”) then they’re expressing it as a “statement of fact,” but as long as it’s positive (“He’s awesome!”) then it’s still just an opinion that “leaves room for a debate”?

avatar PFG-SCR June 16, 2011, 8:23 pm

The problem becomes when someone can’t express that negative opinion without telling (explicitly or implicitly) others that their opinions are wrong. The problem becomes when it becomes a “competition” where the person has to “win” and let the other person know they “lost”. We all know people like this, and quite frankly, it’s exhausting.

Dear Wendy Wendy June 16, 2011, 8:28 pm

But, what’s the difference between saying “He’s awesome!” versus “He’s an asshole!” if both comments are opposing someone else’s viewpoint? Why does expressing a negative opinion automatically mean you’re telling someone else he’s wrong but expressing a positive opinion is just expressing an opinion? That’s what I’m confused about.

avatar PFG-SCR June 16, 2011, 8:38 pm

It seems like that’s where some of us are differing in our interpretation of this – I truly don’t think he’s upset that she disagrees with him. The issue seems to be that she’s abrasive, aggressive and insistent to the point where she won’t even consider anyone else’s opinion, and she does it in a way that is belittling to others and their opinions.

Dear Wendy Wendy June 16, 2011, 8:43 pm

Letters like these are interesting because they do leave so much open to interpretation. There are so many blanks we have to fill in, and it’s only human nature to fill them with our own personal experiences. I gather many of us have had to deal with abrasive, aggressive people and find it easy to sympathize with “Joe.” And then there are those of us who have had the misfortune of dealing with good’ ol’ boys who run in packs and can’t deal with women who dare to voice differing opinions. You can probably guess which personal experience strikes a bigger chord with me…

avatar PFG-SCR June 16, 2011, 8:52 pm

I agree that we are left to fill in the blanks and interpret what the LWs state – that’s why I like when the LWs add their own comments to answer questions that are raised by you and the commenters.

avatar AnitaBath June 16, 2011, 9:29 pm

I honestly didn’t see anything that suggested he ran with a back of boys that didn’t want women to disagree with them. Actually, the LW never even clarified the gender of his friends, so it seems like somewhat of a leap to assume that they’re all boys. Even more of a leap to assume that the reason they don’t want her to “disagree” with them is because she’s a female. She says the boyfriend even says that she talks to people in such a way that makes them not want to talk to her, so I just assumed that his friends (of any gender) brought it up because she is unpleasant to talk with. I might be misreading something, but I don’t see how this is a gender issue at all.

avatar AnitaBath June 16, 2011, 9:29 pm

Hehe, *pack* of boys. Running with the backs of boys would just be weird.

avatar PFG-SCR June 16, 2011, 9:31 pm

Agreed, especially when she shares this: “He said that one of the biggest reasons he was attracted to me is because of my intelligence, wit, and the way I speak my mind, but now it’s becoming a problem.”

If he was one of those guys who didn’t like women to have their own opinions, she’d have known about it long before four months into the relationship.

Caris Caris June 17, 2011, 2:08 pm

( I already posted this below, but )

The fact that he said that doesn’t mean he actually meant it. I have a fried who dated a guy who supposedly loved her for her friendliness, but then went ahead and asked her to stop being friends with certain ppl, or to not be friendly with guys, etc.

Caris Caris June 17, 2011, 1:58 pm

But then he goes ahead and says he IS right because his bros agree with him and goes on for a whole hour berating her and making her cry.

avatar Quakergirl June 16, 2011, 8:42 pm

I think it just makes people feel like they’re being put on the defensive when you say something negative about something they have a positive feeling/opinion about in a forceful way that’s more statement than opinion. When you defend your own liking/positive opinion of something, you’re sticking up for yourself– not putting another person down.

And I think it partially depends on how long you’ve known someone and how well you know them, as well as the context of the situation and how serious the actual point of debate is. For example, if I said “Hey Mom, I really love this dress, what do you think?” and she said “I’m not sure it’s the best color for you,” I wouldn’t be mad at all. But if she said “that dress is hideous,” that might sting because it feels like my mom is calling me ugly/insulting my taste. And if a complete stranger in a bar said “the Detroit Red Wings suck” during a game we were watching, I’d probably let that slide, even though they’re clearly the best hockey team ever to exist, because I don’t know him and am not trying to know him, and the point is relatively insignificant.

Joe may very well may have been WAAAAY too sensitive about the TV personality situation if it had been an isolated incident, but it doesn’t sound like it was. It sounds like the straw that broke the camel’s back and that this is a pattern he doesn’t like in the relationship he’s attempting to build with the LW.

Dear Wendy Wendy June 16, 2011, 8:45 pm

I get what you’re saying. It makes sense now.

avatar Quakergirl June 16, 2011, 8:31 pm

Sorry that was super unclear– I didn’t mean that all negative opinions are a statement of fact or invalidating, just in this instance. And it’s totally and absolutely okay for her to express negative opinions in response to his positive ones. It just seems like when she says “that guy’s an asshole” she’s being really negative and she’s stating her opinion as fact. And it’s invalidating because it sounds like she’s correcting him. If he said “I love Ryan Seacrest, he’s doing this great show I just clicked past” and she said “he’s an asshole and a fraud” it sounds like she’s saying he’s wrong and even sort of insulting him for thinking otherwise. Even if she had said, “I think he’s an asshole,” that sounds less like she’s saying he’s wrong and more like she’s offering her opinion. It also depends on the tone she used, but it just seems like she’s shutting him down when she makes a statement as opposed to expresses an opinion…especially when that statement is derogatory towards something he likes. What is he supposed to say to that?

A positive opinion just seems less likely to come off as mean or dismissive, although I suppose it’s possible, and people tend to express positive opinion using “I” statements. For instance, Quakerboy made a comment about the Backstreet Boys being overproduced and I said “I love them no matter what.” It doesn’t automatically shut down the conversation because it doesn’t put him on the defensive for having his opinion. If Joe had said “Ryan Seacrest has really stupid hair” and LW had said, “I love his hair!” then neither of them feels like the other one is shutting them down. Even if she said “he has the best hair ever” it’s not mean and doesn’t make Joe feel like he’s being insulted. But when Joe expresses that he likes something and the LW says it’s dumb– not that she doesn’t like it– that’s, well, mean.

Dear Wendy Wendy June 16, 2011, 8:37 pm

I really wish we knew the TV personality in question here, because it would make it a lot easier to take sides. ;)

avatar Quakergirl June 16, 2011, 8:46 pm

Haha, true indeed. I could be persuaded to the other side of this argument if it were certain people. Sometimes people are just assholes and it needs to be said, and if my potential partner didn’t think so I’d be out of there asap.

LW, if you’re out there, we’re looking for the tie-breaker!

Dear Wendy Wendy June 16, 2011, 8:49 pm

I mean, what if they were talking about Donald Trump? I think in that case, we can all agree the LW would be RIGHT.

avatar Yozi June 16, 2011, 9:10 pm

I was thinking the same thing. If it were Trump or somebody similar then it would be end of story, case closed!

avatar Quakergirl June 16, 2011, 11:56 pm

Agreed. If it’s Donald Trump, all bets are off and I rescind my commentary. Anyone who doesn’t think a man with a combover that horrid is an ass is immediately suspect in my book.

avatar LW June 17, 2011, 11:36 am

It was Bear Grylls. And I suppose I should have elaborated- I didn’t just cut him off and shout out ‘he’s an asshole!” I let him tell me his story about it first, and then I said (in what I thought was a sarcastic, joking manner) “I don’t know that I would believe anything that asshole says- I remember reading somewhere that he was staying at a resort when he was ‘supposedly’ out in the jungle for three days- dude is a fraud. And I think it’s a little weird for anyone to drink that much of their own pee!” This entire exchange I thought was just being silly, not overly convicted in a personal attack. He has a completely different perception of how I mean things to come across than I do. I certainly don’t intend to have a conversation about Survivor Dude that is setting out to belittle another person, as it’s just not a subject that I am passionate about in the least.

avatar SpyGlassez June 17, 2011, 9:34 pm

Wow. My boyfriend and I have been on opposite sides of the Survivor Dudes discussion before (he likes Les Stroud because he’s authentic; I like Bear Grylls because he’s cute). I hadn’t known Bear was a fraud, and in one of the conversations where I mentioned him, my BF was basically like, “but did you know he was a fraud?” Now, my BF’s opinion is closer to yours (fraud and asshole), and he’s a ginger so the concept of “shutting mouth BEFORE inserting foot” is usually foreign to him, but even he knew to dial it down a notch. Can’t you see how listening to the whole story and then basically telling him that “well, you’re dumb as shit if you listen to Bear Grylls” wouldn’t go over well?

We solved the Les/Bear debate by both of us liking Dual Survival, fwiw.

avatar Brooklyn June 18, 2011, 10:55 pm

Ha! I saw that show once and he was walking through a drainage pipe for no apparent reason, paused, picked up a giant frog, beat it against the side of the pipe, and took a few bites. He then walked out of the pipe and was immediately picked up by a helicopter. Made no sense to me at all.

I have been told something similar by a boyfriend in the past. In our case it was a mix of him being too sensitive, poor communication both ways, and me being a little too aggressive with my thoughts/opinions.
I hope everything works out for you.

avatar CG June 16, 2011, 3:36 pm

Yes! I don’t know what sitting down and having a heart to heart will accomplish. She already said he repeated himself 30 times over an hour about how she’s too opinionated and threatened to dump her. That doesn’t sound like someone who’s open to communication and compromise. As Dan Savage would say, DTMFA, girl!

avatar AnitaBath June 16, 2011, 3:37 pm

I actually disagree. It’s hard to tell from the information given, but if he’s trying to talk about someone he likes and then she cuts him off with, “Psh, that guy’s an asshole,” I imagine I would feel the same way. There’s a difference between being opinionated and speaking your mind and being overly abrasive and undermining everything that someone likes. Once again, it’s impossible to tell just how exactly the LW is from the information given, but people who are constantly negative Nancy’s and making mean remarks about people ALL the time really get to me.

Especially if his friends notice it a lot and have spoken to him about it, I’m getting the vibe that she is overly critical and negative about a lot of things. There’s a difference between voicing your opinion and making someone feel like an idiot and like they’re on the defense because your opinion differs from theirs.

avatar mf June 16, 2011, 3:42 pm

Good point. I had a friend who, whenever I expressed a positive opinion, would always undermine it in a negative way. It’s really not fun to hang out with people like that, which is one reason why I rarely see her anymore.

avatar jessielyn June 16, 2011, 4:17 pm

I also had a friend like this and it is a large part of the reason we don’t hang out anymore. It is beyond annoying to be chatting happily about some movie you enjoyed and for someone else to pipe in with “Oh I hated that movie. It was so stupid and the plotholes were a mile wide.” And they know you just said that you enjoyed it, so it does seem as if they are calling you stupid for that. There is a difference between having an opinion and cutting other people’s opinion down. I don’t think we can ever really know from this letter what the case is here, because there aren’t enough details, but I didn’t really jump to the machismo thing like Wendy did.

avatar AnitaBath June 16, 2011, 4:25 pm

And how do you continue talking about how you liked the movie after they threw that out there? It certainly is a great way to cut a conversation short…

avatar melikeycheesecake June 16, 2011, 3:42 pm


avatar AnitaBath June 16, 2011, 3:42 pm

I also thought the guy’s reaction was waaaaaaaay over-exaggerated in the advice, and find it a little odd nothing was mentioned about the way the LW does react to the things people say. People want to think that they’re perfectly justified in reacting whatever way and in whatever way they want, and everyone else be damned, but they have to realize that if they’re going to react like an asshole, they might be viewed as such.

avatar PFG-SCR June 16, 2011, 3:55 pm

I completely agree with both of your comments, AB. I found Wendy’s advice contradictory in that she thinks the boyfriend should just “man up” and accept any harshness that the LW doles out, but when it comes to hearing criticism about the LW herself, Wendy writes that if she (the LW) heard something like, “”Hey, it’s great that you’re so strong in your convictions, but sometimes you come across as a little intolerant of other people’s opinions,” from a few friends, maybe she should take it to heart.

Why the kid gloves for the LW, but not the same level of respect for her boyfriend?

avatar Melanie June 16, 2011, 4:31 pm

I think IS “manning up” for a guy to tell someone that they care about when they’ve done something to upset them. At least he didn’t take the backseat approach and continue to let her berate him. THAT would be acting as a doormat, in my opinion.

avatar thyme June 17, 2011, 12:38 pm

Yes, I really take issue with Wendy’s “feewings” snark, even though I know that many commentors were amused by it. We pretty much never berate a woman for being sensitive, so why the double standard? Personally, I WANT my man to be in touch with his “feewings.” I think it totally sucks that our society equates “manning up” with denying/suppressing one’s softer emotions. That’s why so many men are emotionally retarded: because our society tells them that the only negative emotion they are allowed to feel is anger.

Dear Wendy Wendy June 17, 2011, 12:44 pm

I just don’t equate getting worked up over a TV personality as being in touch with one’s softer emotions, unless by “softer emotions,” you mean acting like a big ol’ baby.

avatar _jsw_ June 17, 2011, 12:58 pm

The only person who got worked up over the TV personality was the LW. The bf was reacting to the LW’s reaction, as far as I can tell.

avatar thyme June 17, 2011, 1:31 pm

He wasn’t worked up over the TV personality. This was not an isolated incident; it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. He was worked up over the way she talks to him (and others, apparently) on a regular basis.

If it was simply about him getting butt-hurt that she doesn’t like his favorite TV personality, yes, I agree, that would be incredibly lame.

I also agree that he didn’t handle the discussion about her mode of communication well at all and is by no means totally innocent here. However, despite that, I think he has a point.

Dear Wendy Wendy June 16, 2011, 4:08 pm

I saw it like this guy hangs out with a bunch of good ol’ boys who can’t handle the idea of a woman having her own thoughts and opinions, let alone voicing them. Granted, this is pure speculation on my part (but so is you thinking she’s overly critical and negative about a lot of things), but given that the LW hasn’t heard this complaint about her personality from anyone else (that she mentions), it seems plausible and was an idea worth exploring. I think it’s also telling that this guy spent an hour berating the LW to the point that she cried and then didn’t even try to comfort her.

avatar Monica M June 16, 2011, 4:15 pm

I have friends who are like this LW and I would never mention it to them. I just know not to engage them because they are so absolute in their opinions. When someone is abrasive in the way they express themselves it discourages one from addressing it. For me I interpret that the boyfriend has been marinating on this problem and it just spewed out of him finally.

avatar Amber June 16, 2011, 4:19 pm

I don’t think it means so much that her friends haven’t mentioned it. Alot of the time your partner will tell you thinks that your friends wont, because it is more intimate relationship. If my friend is annoying me, I can just not call her for a few days or weeks. Can’t really get away with that with your SO.

avatar Yozi June 16, 2011, 4:48 pm

I also think it’s telling that this conversation happened over the phone. If this is such a big deal to him why can’t he tell her to her face? Over the phone he tells her, “well, my friends think..” This is screaming fragile male ego. Nothing is indicating that the LW has a personality problem. Nothing. That’s pure conjecture.

avatar Monica M June 16, 2011, 4:53 pm

This started as a casual conversation on the phone and then she made the statement about the TV personality and he went silent and she asked him what was wrong. I don’t think he meant to get into it on the phone.

avatar Amber June 16, 2011, 5:01 pm


avatar Yozi June 16, 2011, 5:06 pm

Eh he could have waited to discuss it in person. Bottom line, the LW could probably find herself a more compatible boyfriend. One that has enough humor and confidence in himself to not get hurt her opinions about tv stars for pete’s sake. It’s not like she’s trying to take down his mother or something. She just needs to find a crowd that gets her more. Maybe move to the East coast or something…

avatar Monica M June 16, 2011, 5:17 pm

Somehow I don’t think it would have gone well if his response to her asking what was wrong was to say, “I don’t want to discuss it over the phone. I’ll tell you when we get together next.” I think it is very telling that he has never brought this up before. He goes silent. That is not aggression or machismo. That is a reaction to someone being emotional shut down.

avatar Yozi June 16, 2011, 5:24 pm

Or perhaps the reaction of someone who has nothing to say because he’s not quick enough to keep up with his witty girlfriend.

avatar Amber June 16, 2011, 5:28 pm

holy assumptions. now he’s slow and she’s witty.

avatar Yozi June 16, 2011, 5:47 pm

He described her as witty. You prefer to think that he’s sensitive and she’s caustic, but that’s all assumption on your part..

avatar Nina June 16, 2011, 6:12 pm

I agree wendy!

My ex was this guy, and his friends were the good ol’ boys too!

She shouldnt have to compromise for someone who feels his opinions are validated when his friends agree with him but they’re invalidated when someone disagrees with him. Sure, we could all use a little introspection when being opinionated, but I dont think this is the case here. Personally, if hes starting this now, 4 months in, its showing exactly what kind of person he is. He needs to find a meek walflower who will always agree with him.