1. In all the time we have been together he has only said “I love you” once. He says he has a hard time saying the words even though he feels them. It makes me sad, but he is more loving in his actions than anyone I’ve ever dated who has actually used those words on a regular basis and he doesn’t say “I love you” to anyone — not even his mom–so should I just let it go?
2. He seems to have a hard time doing common courtesy-type things and it causes fights between us. For example, he gives me the bare minimum of advance notice when he makes plans, whether or not I am included in them. We then have arguments when he tells me we are invited to something 45 minutes before we are supposed to be there and I don’t want to go because I made other plans/don’t have time to get ready, causing our mutual friends to think I don’t want to participate as he will always show up without me. If he makes plans without me, he will tell me right before he leaves so that, if I had things planned for us, I have to cancel them. (He’ll say, “Sorry you made dinner, but I have band practice and have to leave right now and don’t know when I’ll be back.”) He will also show up late to EVERYTHING, no matter what, and not just 5-10 minutes but rather 30+ minutes late almost every time. It gets embarrassing for me, but most of his friends and family just accept it as “how he is.”
3. He has a tendency to tease in a way I find hurtful and juvenile, such as saying, “You’re gross” when I kiss him and “Don’t touch me” when I hug him, cracking jokes about me “not being his girlfriend” and taking cheap shots at my intelligence level and life choices. (We are not teenagers! I’m 27 and he is 32). I know he doesn’t mean this stuff and, if I call him out, he will apologize and stop; however, I’d like for him to just not do it at all. He does it to his friends and family, too, but they just say that’s “how he is.”
Whenever I bring this up to him (or even friends and family), I’m usually told that I “need to lighten up” and “stop being so emotional” and “not let such small things get to me.”
Is the problem really my inability to “go with the flow”? If not, what is a good way to stress the importance of adjusting some of these behaviors? I left the good stuff in our relationship out for the sake of brevity, but I assure you there is a lot of good and I don’t want to MOA just yet. Any advice you and your readers could give is greatly appreciated. — Not a Teenager
My question for you, before I answer your question, is: are any of these issues deal-breakers for you? Like, if your boyfriend never, ever changes — if he keeps making plans without telling you and he keeps being chronically late and he continues teasing you in a way you don’t like and he never says, “I love you,” can you accept this behavior and be happy with him or is your relationship happiness and satisfaction contingent on him changing his behavior? If these issues are indeed deal-breakers, I guess I’m confused about why you moved in with him. Did you think he would change AFTER you moved in together? Were you hopeful that these issues would just go away? Or, did you not realize how much they bothered you until you signed a lease together?
For your sake, I hope that none of these issues is so great that you would end the relationship if they don’t improve. Because they may not. There’s a reason why, when you mention the things that bother you about him, your boyfriend’s family and friends keep saying that that’s “just the way he is.” They have accepted him as he is. The issues that bother you may bother them too, but they apparently aren’t deal-breakers. If they are deal-breakers for you, that’s probably going to be a problem because it’s doubtful that your boyfriend is going to make dramatic and long-term changes just because you want him to. It’s possible… but not probable, especially if you’ve already expressed to him how much these issues bug you AND THEN you moved in with him. Where’s his incentive to change now?
So, what would I do if I were you? Well, first, I would ask all your mutual friends to start including you — or just bypass your boyfriend completely — in all invitations so that you don’t have to rely solely on your boyfriend to relay the social plans. That’s easy, no? Then, going forward, I would check with him before doing things like cooking a nice dinner or making plans or accepting invitations for the two of you. Try: “Hey, so-and-so invited us to play pool tonight. You didn’t make any other plans, did you?” Or: “I thought I might make that chicken casserole you like so much for dinner tonight. You’re going to be home, right?” That way, you don’t go to the trouble of cooking meals or making plans you then have to cancel because your boyfriend is doing something else. Easy, no?
Also, if you know he’s at least 30 minutes late for EVERYTHING, start white-lying about the start time for things that are particularly important. If you have plans at 8, tell him your plans start at 7:30. Boom, done. Also easy, right? And if it’s not terribly important that he/you guys be somewhere exactly on time, try not to give such a fuck. Enjoy a glass of wine while you wait for him to get ready. Get in the habit of having something to read. If no one else really cares that he’s so late and they aren’t going to blame YOU, then, you know, get over it.
As for the lack of “I love you,” I suggest you come up with a secret-couple phrase that means the same thing but is easier for your boyfriend to say. Like, “Swiss Cheese Cantaloupe,” or “Butternut Squash” (Um, I may be a little hungry as I write this) or something equally as nonsensical that only you two will know the meaning of. Words are just sounds with meaning attached, so if there are certain words that are hard for your boyfriend to utter, find words that are easier for him to say and attach your own meaning. And if that sounds silly to you, maybe that’s exactly how your boyfriend feels about the the big deal you’re making about him saying three words that he already expresses through so many actions and behavior, you know?
The juvenile teasing, though — I’m with you; it needs to stop. There’s no reason a loving boyfriend in his 30s, for Christ’s sake, should be telling his girlfriend that “she’s gross” when she kisses him. I think you need to be much more explicit in telling him how hurtful those words are and that it may be ok for him to treat his friends like that, but you aren’t his friend. You are his girlfriend, and it’s absolutely NOT ok for him to mock you when you express affection. It sounds like he understands that — or at least understands that it bothers you — but because it’s such a natural part of his behavior, he may need constant reminding that it’s not ok until he finally internalizes the message and changes his behavior. I have no idea how long that might take, but I do know that you have to be firm in getting your message across. Every single time he makes a mocking comment, you have to tell him how much it bothers you. Eventually, he will get sick of being reprimanded and he’ll stop. And if he doesn’t? Well, you just have to decide if it’s a deal-breaker or not. And that goes for all of the above.
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MissDre October 15, 2013, 9:24 am
#1. It took my boyfriend 3 years to say “I love you” and I’ve talked about it many times on here. It really hurt me probably for the first year and a half because I really wanted to hear it, but ultimately I decided that it wasn’t a deal breaker and to let it go, because he SHOWED me in so many other ways that he loved me. He’s the kind of guy who will carry the groceries, put my pj’s on the edge of the bed before I get to his place, make sure there’s a diet coke in the fridge for me, take out the garbage, pick me up from the mechanic, and on and on and on. How does your boyfriend SHOW you that he loves you? Is this enough for you? That’s something you need to think about and decide what’s more important. Hearing the words? or having a supportive partner who you know always has your back? For the record, even though it took my bf 3 years to say it, he says it all the time now.
#2. My boyfriend runs late for a lot of things and doesn’t really plan in advance either. But this is just one of those things that I made a conscious decision to let go. I thought, how does this really affect me in the grand scheme of things? It doesn’t. I used to get anxiety over not having everything mapped out a day in advance, because I’m the type of person who plans my entire life out 5 years in advance and I tend to have anxiety when I don’t know exactly what the plan is. I decided that it wasn’t worth giving myself anxiety and starting an argument over, so this is one of his quirks that I decided to just let go (and I’m sure there are things about ME that he’s decided to get over too, it’s not like I’m perfect and I’m putting up with a guy who’s late all the time). Like Wendy said, is this a deal breaker for you? Something to think about.
In regards to him not including you in plans with friends and stuff, follow Wendy’s advice.
#3. The teasing – WWS. That’s just not ok.
kerrycontrary October 15, 2013, 9:25 am
I agree with Wendy that you have to decide if these things are dealbreakers or not. They would be for me since I see people who are chronically late as people who think their time is more important than others.
But the belittling and teasing is a BIG deal. Like a huge red flag. It’s enough for me to say that you should break up with him. Maybe he is just teasing, but he’s insulting your intelligence and your lifestyle. That isn’t OK, ever. Sometimes my boyfriend and I say “don’t touch me” as a joke, but we’re both in on the joke. But I could not be with someone who actually put me down. He’s wearing down your self-esteem by doing so. And when you express your dislike of it he gaslights the hell out of you and says that you need to lighten up or learn how to take a joke? Again-not OK. Clearly he can’t respect you enough to take your concerns or wishes to heart.
Addie Pray October 15, 2013, 9:29 am
Man that was pretty much perfect advice. Well done, Wendy. This could have been an easy one to get side tracked on or react based on personal preferences if that makes sense.
For what it’s worth, I don’t like that kind of teasing either. Also i generally hate sarcasm. Just as an aside, but people always lump humor and sarcasm together and the latter is but a subset! You can be funny with sarcasm. That’s my deep thought on that, though not really related at all to this letter though, sowwy.
Also what is Swiss cheese cantaloupe? Is that a real dish? I’d say drop the cantaloupe. And Swiss. No need to limit it. CHEESE is good. I’d drop my pants for that. I mean, well, no that is what I mean.
Christy October 15, 2013, 10:20 am
What happened to vegan AP? Do I not pay enough attention on here?
Addie Pray October 15, 2013, 11:42 am
I’m cheegan (a vegan who eats cheese…). I’m full-time vegetarian though. It’s too hard to go cold turkey with the cheese. My new MO is going to be to try to eat vegan most days of the week and just, you know, sneak in a pizza or three here and there. So everybody, that’s the new rule!
Christy October 15, 2013, 11:47 am
Gotcha. Thanks for clarifying, lol!
Addie Pray October 15, 2013, 12:04 pm
Happy to clarify – I shudder to think you guys are not up-to-date on my newest rules, the horror!! 🙂
Addie Pray October 15, 2013, 12:07 pm
ugh, I meant you can be funny withOUT sarcasm, geez, whatever, at this point everyone gets me or doesn’t but hasn’t for ages so it’s all good. but, can we go back to my tangent about sarcasm for a second? why does saying “i generally don’t like sarcasm” feel like you’ve just said “i hate puppies” or something – based on people’s reaction? i feel that way every time i say i generally am not a fan of theater, live music, or sarcasm. but i can splain! see, theater, well, it’s just not my preferred form of art; i like cinema much more and i have a hard time appreciating it. Live music? Well, in small venues it’s fun. But I always think it sounds better in my car or at home, and when I go out with friends I want to socialize, not watch a concert. And sarcasm? Well, generally the point is to make others feel uncomfortable and embarrassed and confused and that’s not nice. Best to just do that behind people’s back. Ok, there you go. Now back to the LW.
Addie Pray October 15, 2013, 12:12 pm
i mean, i want to get and like theater, i just don’t. i have to get back to work though so I will continue this debate with myself in my head.
Fabelle October 15, 2013, 2:51 pm
I don’t really like sarcasm, either. It tends to either be a mask for cruelty, or else a catch-all for “witty humor” when really the witty humor being used doesn’t even involve sarcasm?
Addie Pray October 15, 2013, 3:57 pm
Agreed. I used to work with this partner who was a complete ass under the guise of being funny. He used to LOVE to play this game designed to embarrass and belittle poor, scared associates in front of other people. They’d walk into his office for a meeting or whatever, and he would say “hey, I bet you don’t know who ‘so and so’ is, do you? Who is he?” – and it could be an actor or a politician or a musician or whatnot; or sometimes he’d make up a name and say “duh, it’s a well known judge” and the associate would say “oh the name is familiar,” then he’d admit he had made it up and all the partners would laugh and say “Oh Bob, you are so funny.”
No, he’s an ass!
Or if you were working on stuff with him he’d pretend to be seriously mad about something but then laugh and say just kidding when you apologized for whatever he was seemingly pissed about. But then he was also seriously mad half the time and *would* get pissed at people so really it was not unreasonable to assume he was seriously mad.
And he did it with everyone. Once I was in his office and his wife called and he took the call and had her on speaker and but didn’t say anything. So she was like “hello? Bob?” and then he’d sometimes respond in a weird voice or just say weird nonsensical things and she would be like “what?? am I on speaker? what is going on?” And he’d then laugh.
Oh that Bob, a real great sense of humor that one. NOT. (Oops, sarcasm.)
Yet, if you called him out on stuff he had absolutely NO sense of humor. Not for a second. Ass. I’m not sorry I don’t work with him anymore.
katie October 15, 2013, 4:11 pm
im pretty sure none of that is sarcasm…
Addie Pray October 15, 2013, 4:54 pm
He was also super sarcastic. But that tangent was about being “a complete ass under the guise of being funny.” Read the intro, Katie, get with the program, it was a tangent to a tangent, geez.
TECH October 15, 2013, 9:33 am
I would like to think that when it comes to the teasing, the boyfriend doesn’t realize how much it really bothers the LW. Some people tease and have no idea how obnoxious they’re really being. Here is something that’s true of all relationships — if you speak up, and have a legitimate concern that’s really bothering you, and your partner does nothing to address it, it’s time to move on. LW, the real question is, is your boyfriend willing to work on these issues? Only he can answer that.
Lyra October 15, 2013, 10:05 am
But she has already asked him to stop on multiple occasions. He stops temporarily, but then does it again. That’s just juvenile and rude in my opinion.
TECH October 15, 2013, 10:25 am
Agreed. I reread the part where she says he only stops temporarily.
lets_be_honest October 15, 2013, 10:45 am
You would HATE me, haha. Some people are just teasers by nature. If I take it too far, Peter will tell me and I’ll apologize. I think if you are the type that can’t handle teasing though, ever, you really will have trouble being with a person who teases (captain obvious over here, I know!).
Fabelle October 15, 2013, 10:56 am
I tease, too. My boyfriend sort of got used to it, but I’m also more respectful with my teasing now. Like, one time early on when we dated, he was telling me this story that seemingly had no point (something he does a lot, just starts a story & adds all these tangents & unnecessary exposition) & I kind of made the “wrap it up” motion with my hand, in a teasing, but sort-of-serious way? And he got SO OFFENDED. hahaha.
lets_be_honest October 15, 2013, 11:00 am
Mine is pretty much cool with it, I try not to when we’re out with friends though since he’s said I can go too far sometimes. But pretty much everyone I know teases.
Fabelle October 15, 2013, 11:05 am
He got better with it, at first he just really didn’t understand how my sense of humor was? But now he lets me joke about it, & he’ll joke with me (because I do the opposite with my stories in person, like I get sapped of energy just using so many words, & I’ll start a story at the end, & then just stop talking. And he’s like, “What are you even saying?”)
lets_be_honest October 15, 2013, 11:08 am
I think we’d be perfect for each other, Fab. Just sayin’
muchachaenlaventana October 15, 2013, 11:30 am
there are different ways to tease though, i am a teaser too (sort of more sarcasm heavy) but when i cross the line and hurt someone i am close with be it a friend or a significant other and they have told me that teasing in that way upsets them, I absolutely will not do it again.
Nookie October 16, 2013, 5:38 am
I pretend to fall asleep if the Cockney’s spinning his wheels without getting to the point.
Christy October 15, 2013, 10:56 am
I’m like that, though. Gf will ask me to do something on a fairly consistent basis (say, keep the counter clean so she can cook) and I’ll do it when she asks, but I won’t realize that this is a thing that she’d always like. And then sometimes she’ll say something, only intending it to be a one-time thing, like “Don’t bite my lip, [it’s chapped]” and I’ll think it’s totally off-limits forever.
I think LW needs to have a conversation about the teasing with her boyfriend wherein she says that this is a macro-level issue. Because it appears that she only addresses the teasing in the moment, and it could help to address it as a whole.
Fabelle October 15, 2013, 9:40 am
“try not to give such a fuck” haha Wendy, I love you. But anyway, to the LW— for ME, personally, all of these things combined would be a dealbreaker. Maybe not individually, but combined? However, since you want to try to work things out, WWS.
And I can help you with the late thing— my boyfriend is also chronically late. And yeah, it’s annoying, but sometimes I’m late, too, so I let it go. I’ll have wine while I wait, or do my makeup more extravagantly, or call back a friend I didn’t get to call back earlier in the week. I also have no qualms about badgering him, which maybe you do? Maybe you need to to find a nice way of telling him something that means “okay, you’re just way too fucking late now”? Same with the making plans thing… are you already doing the things Wendy suggested? Because I would be.
Like, in regard to the dinner thing— when my boyfriend & I first started dating, he would want to have dinner with me MOST nights, & then some nights he randomly wouldn’t. We don’t live together, but it still kind of bothered me because I was like, “well, what the fuck am I doing tonight? What are my plans? I would like to have dinner with him, but my friend is asking me to hang.” After being passive for so long, I was finally like, “Okay, this isn’t working” (especially because he was equally passive at times, getting disappointed some days when I “ditched” him, when he actually never told me he was planning to have dinner with me). Finally, we got into a rhythm of communicating throughout the day. One of us would be like, “are we seeing each other? are we doing dinner?” & then go from there.
Basically… you’ve only been dating a year & half. These issues may be growing pains.
HOWEVER, if he’s the type of person who responds to ~any~ kind of plan-making language with, “we’ll see how it goes” (& it sounds like this could be the case?”) then you have a bigger problem, & might have to have a bigger talk.
The rest, yeah, the teasing sounds juvenile.
Fabelle October 15, 2013, 9:46 am
Also something I picked up on— when he has band practice, is he on time? Because if he is, & yet always late to things he’s doing with you, that’s sort of a sign you’re lower on his priorities list. Someone who has legit issues being on time, will be late to everything & anything. When they’re on time, it’s usually just a happy accident, not a pattern. So if there’s a pattern, it’s not just a habitual thing (as counterintuitive as that sounds)
theattack October 15, 2013, 9:43 am
These would be deal breakers for me when put altogether. It kind of sounds like your personalities aren’t compatible.
GatorGirl October 15, 2013, 9:50 am
Yes. My gut reaction was why are you with him? This would be too much for me.
Addie Pray October 15, 2013, 10:13 am
Put together it sounds like a lot, but I think these are things they can work through, either by LW “trying not to give such a fuck” – haha – or by speaking up and BF learning to treat his girlfriend a little nicer. Meh, it sounds like just “learning to be in a relationship” stuff that people eventually get the hang of, right? None of it sounds like major deal-breakers, unless BF is a complete insensitive ass when LW addresses all this stuff. I guess if they can’t work through this, it seems like they will have a hard time finding someone they’re compatible with.
lets_be_honest October 15, 2013, 10:48 am
I have to agree with both you and TA. Can I do that? If she really can’t get over these minor things, maybe they really are just incompatible, but none of them seem like huge issues. Then again, I feel like my boyfriend could’ve written this about me, so…
Christy October 15, 2013, 10:59 am
No, I agree with you. And gf’s the chronically late one, and we both tease. So it’s an issue close to me too.
Also, I’m really bad at reading cues from gf, and she is too. Like, we have to talk about EVERYTHING to make sure we’re on the same page.
Addie Pray October 15, 2013, 12:09 pm
No, you cannot agree with me *and* TA, we are mutually exclusive. Kidding. … I see your point.
GatorGirl October 15, 2013, 10:49 am
I think my reaction is such because, IMO, it sounds like she’s tried to work through it and he’s not receptive. So now they are at a point where either she “lightens up” and puts up with behaviors she doesn’t like, or they break up. I’d just break up.
I will say, if I was the guy I’d be feeling pretty shitty if my GF came at me with 3 big things “wrong” with me.
Christy October 15, 2013, 11:29 am
My theory is it’s better to discuss big dealbreakers than to break up without discussing them. Seriously, that’s my #1 anxiety rule with gf – I’m not allowed to break up with her because of [reason] without discussing [reason] with her first.
Because I just get it in my head that “we have to break up, we have to break up, this is too big an issue, it’ll never be resolved.” But then we talk about it and it’s fine. So even though I frame conversations as “listen, I don’t want to break up over this” she takes the conversation seriously, because she knows I don’t want to break up. And she knows the alternative is being blindsided by a breakup. Because that’s how my anxiety works, and we talk about my anxiety.
GatorGirl October 15, 2013, 11:34 am
Wait…doesn’t she say she’s told him who it makes her feel and he stops for a little and then goes back? I’m not saying people should just breakup when they hit a bump…but if one person isn’t receptive to working through it (which it really doesn’t sound like he is) then what’s the point?
Christy October 15, 2013, 11:55 am
Let’s pretend I’m giving him the full benefit of the doubt here. (I’m not sure where I stand on LW’s boyfriend in particular, but I think I can tackle the issue at large.)
I conjecture that LW is addressing the teasing in the moment, and her boyfriend always immediately stops teasing when she asks him to, but he doesn’t realize that it bothers her on a macro level. Like, I think he’s just oblivious that she keeps asking him to stop teasing. And I think that if he’s trying to stop teasing, it’s such an ingrained habit that it’s hard for him to stop.
And I think LW needs to do a better job of expressing her need for him to stop. If she consistently calls him out on teasing, and reminds him that it’s a macro-level problem, and he STILL doesn’t stop, then he’s a jerk. But if he keeps trying and actually gets better, then I think it’s a workable issue.
GatorGirl October 15, 2013, 12:07 pm
I can agree to that. I think I’m just picturing that they are already farther into the process.
Christy October 15, 2013, 12:18 pm
Probably. And here’s the thing – LW could have given this a lot of thought and anxiety but not actually discussed her macro-level feelings with her boyfriend. I’m like that. I’ll get to the internal “yup, if this conversation doesn’t work out, I’m breaking up with gf” feeling before actually discussing the issue with gf. And then it ends up fine. So I’m projecting myself onto the LW.
kerrycontrary October 15, 2013, 12:15 pm
My issue is that when she tells him to stop, even if he does, he tells her to “lighten up” or learn how to take a joke or stop being so emotional. Those are monster-truck sized red flags in my opinion.
Christy October 15, 2013, 12:19 pm
Definitely. I keep kind of skipping over that, because I think it’s an interesting series of issues to debate, even if LW’s boyfriend is likely a jerk.
muchachaenlaventana October 15, 2013, 12:40 pm
yeah my issue with the teasing is more, i think we can all acknowledge when something we think of as teasing really hurts someone, because they tell us in that moment in hurts them. one of my exes was really sensitive about his name (it was spanish and once I teased it into something dirty-sounding) and anyways he got really really upset about it and it was obviously a not okay thing to tease him about. this is a one-time thing. i never teased him about his name ever again. if i had kept doing it, I would have been a dick. This isn’t about just teasing and not knowing what is going to upset your partner, but knowing that this particular teasing really upsets her and continuing to do it. another time I made a teasing joke about something sexual with my most recent ex, and to me it was a total joke but it really really upset him, so I knew okay don’t do that type of teasing again. its not hard, its called being a considerate person. if your gf was sensitive about her intelligence level or what she does and you know that, then you would stop I think.
Miss MJ October 15, 2013, 12:42 pm
If it were just him, I’d agree, but it sounds like the LW is complaining about this to her BF’s family and friends, and they’re all telling her to lighten up and that he’s just joking. I have a hard time believing that everyone the BF knows is gaslighting the LW. It’s possible. But it’s also possible that this is just an incompatibility issue. He likes teasing. She does not. What he sees as playful, she sees as hurtful or offensive. And, if she doesn’t like it, then she absolutely shouldn’t stay with him. But, I’m not sure he’s necessarily being a bad guy here.
theattack October 15, 2013, 3:22 pm
Yes! Everything you just said! 🙂
theattack October 15, 2013, 2:47 pm
I agree that it could be solved by trying to just work it out together and adapt. My understanding was that she had already tried that, he didn’t respond well, and the LW is learning that this is just who he is. She can either deal with it or she can’t. Some problems are easier to handle for a person than others. Maybe the LW can learn to deal with this, but it might just be that they are too different to make this work, and she could go on to find someone who has a set of problems that’s easier for her to accept.
Imsostartled October 15, 2013, 12:24 pm
Idk, I think if we lump all of our SO’s faults (or even our own) together, most people would be like OMG that’s awful dump him/her!
Fabelle October 15, 2013, 12:25 pm
This is a good point.
katie October 15, 2013, 12:54 pm
if you want to be in a long term relationship, you have to learn to live with another person. and people are shitty at large- it follows you will have to learn to deal with shitty behavior. yes, it is well within your rights to find someone who does or doesnt do a bunch of stuff, and leave someone if you dont like them, but there will always, always, always be *something*.
Theattack October 15, 2013, 1:03 pm
Absolutely. That’s why you have to find someone whose baggage is compatible with yours. This seems like a personality clash to me. I think LW needs to find someone with different problems.
iwannatalktosampson October 15, 2013, 1:30 pm
Find someone whose baggage is compatible with yours. That is so funny and I kind of love it. Find someone who even on your worst day still thinks the sun shines out of your ass.
KMJ October 15, 2013, 9:51 am
The #1 I wouldn’t think was such a big deal if it weren’t for the #2 and #3. In what way do his actions show he loves you if he’s totally inconsiderate and teases you?
I think actions speak a lot louder than words, so I could live with fewer “I love you”s and more loving actions, but his actions sound like he’s kind of an immature jerk.
MissDre October 15, 2013, 10:03 am
I was wondering that too. She said he doesn’t do anything considerate for her, so I was wondering how he SHOWS that he loves her??
SasLinna October 15, 2013, 9:52 am
I like the distinction between dealbreakers and “prices of admission” for being in a relationship with someone (see Dan Savage on youtube for the price of admission thing). Everyone has flaws, there’s always a price of admission, you just have to lay it out and decide whether the price is too high for you. Admittedly this is almost entirely subjective and only you can decide if stuff like being late falls into the dealbreaker category. Personally, for me the teasing thing would. It really depends on how it makes you feel.
Even if you’re not sure that something is a dealbreaker to you, I think you can absolutely try to say “this doesn’t work for me” and see if the bf is able to adapt his behavior. I did this recently with being late (“more than 30 minutes late without notice is something I’m not cool with”). It’s sometimes easier if you know it’s NOT a dealbreaker because then you don’t come into the conversation with the heaviness of “and if you don’t change, this will be the end of it”, making it easier to speak up in a more light-hearted way. BUT, you have to be ready to attach consequences to what you’re saying if you want to set an incentive for him to change. Like, the next time he’s late, you’re upset. Or you’ve left without him. Sometimes, for a limited number of behaviors, you can “train” someone to change. It won’t work if you have to do it too often because it’ll create resentment then. So a bunch of smaller conflicts might be too much to bear cumulatively.
SasLinna October 15, 2013, 9:59 am
So, for LW this would be. The price of admission for this relationship is:
– Bf somtimes insults my intelligence level
– Bf tells me I’m gross when I kiss him
– Bf says that I’m not his girlfriend as a joke
– Bf is chronically late
– Bf cancels and makes plans very short-term
kerrycontrary October 15, 2013, 10:09 am
Yeh, that price would be way too high for me. He just sounds like an inconsiderate jerk when you spell it out.
lets_be_honest October 15, 2013, 10:49 am
-boyfriend teases playfully
-boyfriend is a lousy planner
-boyfriend is late a lot
Could go both ways.
LadyinPurpleNotRed October 15, 2013, 10:54 am
It depends on the person. Teasing playfully is one thing, but insulting her intelligence regularly along with her life choices and calling her gross? Too far for some. Lousy planner…eh alright. Being late depends on the person. I find it incredibly disrespectful and a power play if someone is constantly super late…especially without letting the other person know. Being late is probably my biggest pet peeve, so it would eat at me a lot. Clearly this is one of her main issues and it bothers her.
lets_be_honest October 15, 2013, 10:59 am
Being late totally depends on the person, I agree. My family and friends are cool with it, but I’m sure if you and I were friends, you wouldn’t be.
I guess I’m imagining the “insulting her intelligence” as something like her making a silly mistake and him just teasing her about it, not actually thinking she has low intelligence. Its funny to see how some of these are huge deal breakers for commenters and others are all NBD. Like, I’d tell someone to lighten up if I playfully teased them about something tease-worthy. Others on here are shouting gaslight. Different strokes I guess.
LadyinPurpleNotRed October 15, 2013, 11:01 am
Well I guess my things also depend on if she’s told him it bothers her AND to the extend it bothers her. If not, then that’s on her. If she has and he hasn’t tried to be conscious of it and think of her, then that’s a problem. But it’s not fair if she hasn’t told him.
And I agree…it does depend on how often and what he says for teasing, but that also depends on my first paragraph if she should MOA or talk to him first.
Liquid Luck October 15, 2013, 3:22 pm
LBH, I’m totally with you on this whole discussion. J and I are hugely sarcastic people, and he has told me I’m gross so many times I can’t even count them. Sure, on some days when I’m already in a bad mood or have just had a shitty day, I get pissed and ask him to cut it out, and he does. But he never takes it as (and I never mean it as) a blanket statement to never tease me again, ever. It’s possible that this LW’s boyfriend doesn’t realize she doesn’t want it to happen at all, rather than her just not being in the mood at the moment she asks.
As for the lateness, for me I only get pissed if someone’s late to one-on-on plans all the time. Then they ARE just wasting my time and I get fed up. But if he’s just late to group hangouts or family parties, well, I’m sure they just start without him and when he shows up he joins in, so it’s not a big deal. I have a good friend who just cannot be on time to things that aren’t school/work related. But I know she’s like that, so I don’t schedule plans with her that will cause me to be upset if she isn’t there on time.
I think a lot of the issue in this letter are about personalities matching or clashing, and without actually seeing the LW and her boyfriend interact in person it’s hard to tell if he’s being an asshole or if she’s just not communicating her feelings clearly. They may simply be incompatible, but they may be able to get over this if they each discuss their needs and feelings and can find some compromises.
lets_be_honest October 15, 2013, 3:27 pm
Everything you just said! Especially not taking it as a blanket statement.
Haha. In responding to snarkymarc’s forum post, I just remembered that last time I got really upset about my dad, my bf got teary seeing my so upset and I looked up at him, me all sad and snot/red-faced from being upset, and said ‘crybaby.’
Yes, I called him a crybaby because he was so upset that I was upset and trying to console me. I’m sure everyone is horrified over that, but we both laughed. Its just teasing and how we are. Lightened the mood. I guess the key is still knowing the love is there while you tease?
iwannatalktosampson October 15, 2013, 3:36 pm
Bhaha. I love talking shit to people while they’re being nice to me and I’m crying. It’s like why enable me? I’m a mess right now.
Liquid Luck October 15, 2013, 5:56 pm
Yeah, my whole family is like that, and luckily J fits right in. He’s just as much of a jackass as any of us. It’s one of the things I love most about him. I know that some people don’t like being teased or are negatively affected by those types of comments, but to us it’s another way of showing love, as backwards as that sounds. I would be pretty worried if we stopped ribbing on each other, because we only aren’t “mean” to each other when we’re actually mad. It just works for us.
Lyra October 15, 2013, 9:59 am
For me, that type of immaturity (the teasing) is a huge deal breaker. Maturity is something that you can’t force. You can’t make someone grow up — and sometimes they NEVER grow up. You really have to accept who they are as they are if you’re going to be with them.
My first ex is incredibly immature. I’ve talked about it a lot on here. I was so fed up with it, but I kept on hoping that he would grow up a little bit more. He never did. Since him, I’ve been on dates with lots of guys — lots of MATURE guys — and it’s been great. I see a world of difference.
I guess my point here is that this type of teasing isn’t normal and personally I don’t think it’s acceptable. If he hasn’t changed since you asked him to stop, he probably won’t ever change.
Lianne October 15, 2013, 9:59 am
Love all of your advice, Wendy! Sometimes you just have to make minor changes to your own behavior to help your SO not bother you so much!
Miss MJ October 15, 2013, 10:03 am
Okay, so this guy isn’t going to fundamentally change. He’s just not. The reason everyone else in his life keeps telling you that’s just how he is is because that’s just how he is. So, like Wendy said, if any of these are deal breakers, go ahead and MOA. He’s a man, not a puppy. You can’t train him. That said, there are a few things you can do here. First, Wendy’s suggestion to have mutual friends tell you about plans is a good one. Take over social planning duty since him telling you about things is an issue. I’d also get a joint calendar – electronic or paper – and have him put things like band practice, drinks with Jim, whatever on it, so that you know. Also, like Wendy said, just ask him before you do big time-consuming things if he’s got plans. Yeah, it’d be great if he would participate in the planning on his own, but, part of dealing with people is working around their annoying quirks such as never filling anyone in until the last minute.
Second, about the ILY and the teasing. My husband is a teaser. And, sometimes, if I’m in a mood, it pisses me off. So, I tell him. And when I tell him to back off, he’ll stop. But, in 14 years, he’s never quit entirely because teasing is part of how he is. What he has done, though, is start seriously telling me good things he thinks and feels about me much more often. Part of my irritation with the teasing is that sometimes, I feel like “Really? Why am I with someone who says this shit, even joking around. There somebody out there who would tell me how wonderful and beautiful I am, not that I’m gross (or whatever).” For me, the real problem isn’t the teasing, it’s when I don’t feel appreciated or valued because all I am hearing is the teasing. And, I explained that to him. So now, he still teases, but he also tells me that he really thinks I’m beautiful and wonderful and he appreciates me and loves me and all of that much more frequently, too. And, the teasing becomes just that. Teasing. Annoying at times; funny at others; but not a big deal because it really is just how he is (and how his family is). So, that was a long-winded way of saying I think the combination of the lack of ILY and the teasing may be bothering you more than the teasing alone? And, if it is, the most effective way to fight that is to tell him that you need more positive things from him, be it ILY or something else. He’s not going to stop the teasing, and if it bothers you that much, I’d MOA. But, if he, say, said two nice things for every teasing one, would that help put the teasing into perspective? You can even tell him “Hey, you owe me two nice things now, funny guy.” when you need to remind him instead of complaining about the teasing, which is gonna fall on deaf ears after awhile. He can’t argue with that. (Well, he can, but if he really can’t say anything nice about you, it’s a clear MOA situation. That’s not annoying teasing, that’s asshat behavior all the way.)
Christy October 15, 2013, 10:28 am
I think this is a great response. Gf and I tease each other a fair bit, but we more than make up for it in nice, positive, loving things we say to each other. We always say “I love you, have a good day” “Thank you for cooking, it’s delicious” “Thanks for picking me up from work”, shit like that. The verbal expressions of love and appreciation are always there, so the teasing isn’t an issue. And we both tease, and we’re both ok with the teasing. That’s the big difference here.
Morgan October 15, 2013, 10:49 am
Likewise. We both tease each other, and we both know what things we’re never serious about. And I think you’re right that the big difference is both being okay with it, and balancing it with wonderful, positive things.
starpattern October 15, 2013, 2:57 pm
That’s a good call about the teasing + ILY maybe being the real problem there. My boyfriend (and friends, and family) and I tease each other pretty mercilessly, but one of the things I really like about my boyfriend is that he is very generous with compliments, too (and I try to do the same). If all I ever heard was the teasing stuff I would probably not be very happy, either.
rachel October 15, 2013, 10:07 am
Ross teases sometimes, more often earlier in our relationship. He hadn’t really been in a relationship before me, and was used to his friends who he had that kind of teasing relationship with. So he would tease me, and I would tell him he’s being mean. And he would say he’s as nice to me as he is to anybody. And I told him, I’m his girlfriend, he’s supposed to be NICER to me than to anybody else. It was kind of a light conversation, he never said anything that was actually cruel or I wouldn’t have put up with it, but we rarely have that conversation anymore. He learned where the line usually is with me, and he respects it. You have to call your boyfriend on his shit.
kerrycontrary October 15, 2013, 10:13 am
Yeh my boyfriend and I tease, but he rarely crosses the line because I’ll say “that was mean, take it back”. We use the phrase “I take it back” pretty frequently and we mean it and the other person forgives.
Sue Jones October 15, 2013, 10:14 am
I am someone who needs things planned way in advance, my husband not so much. It gets more necessary if you have kids. One way we worked it out was that I made my plans for my life and didn’t let him make the plans. If friends wondered why I wasn’t there, I would say something like “Oh you know Joe, he never tells me anything, so I didn’t know about the party. And Joe is terrible at scheduling, so if you want us there, you should contact me, not Joe”. People get it. And I think if people know that your BF is like that they will eventually “get it” that you are the one to arrange things and the administrator of the relationship. That is not uncommon. That is why all men used to have secretaries telling them where they needed to be. But I agree that if you have made a nice dinner and made plans and he changes them on the fly all the time, that would annoy me. But that is why we have texting! Texting solves a lot of those issues. And if you cannot deal with him and his ways and nothing ever changes, I would say MOA. Because that shit really bothers me too. Luckily I was able to train my husband.
parton_doll October 15, 2013, 10:16 am
I feel like it was fate today that I read the response to this LW. I am currently in a situation like this. All the stuff that Wendy said about deciding if these items are a deal-breaker or not really hit home with me. At first, none of the things listed here … making plans at the last minute, being habitually late (but for me it would be hours not minutes) were deal-breakers. I tried the things that Wendy suggested. I was open about how these things upset me and we tried to come of with ways together to fix things. I tried to act like none of it bothered me (the whole fake it til you make it). And then I realized that I was really the one with the problem. The other person was just being who they were. And things that weren’t deal-breakers in the beginning of our relationship or aren’t deal-breakers in other relationships became intolerable in this one. So LW, please be honest with yourself about your boundaries and what your needs really are with your boyfriend. And thanks again Wendy for some great advice this morning!
quixoticbeatnik October 15, 2013, 10:33 am
Yes, exactly! That was how I felt in my last relationship, too.
Lily in NYC October 15, 2013, 10:18 am
This might be the first time I am shocked by Wendy’s advice (OK, I just re-read the letter and see that the OP asked for advice because she is not ready to MOA. Wendy’s answer makes more sense now).
Sure, he’s not abusive, but he sounds like an immature prick. You are not married, you don’t have kids together, this guy is NOT going to suddenly because the guy you want. Dump him. I spent a few years with a guy like this, but when I was much younger. I use that relationship as a yardstick of how I will not allow someone to treat me. And there’s the crux: you are allowing him to treat you like this. Find someone better. Seriously. You will end up cringing when you look back at your time with this guy.
KMJ October 15, 2013, 10:20 am
I was surprised by her take, too.
kerrycontrary October 15, 2013, 10:28 am
Yeh I’m with you Lily, this guy just sounds like a jerk.
jlyfsh October 15, 2013, 10:37 am
I think that was the point of Wendy’s first question though. You read this letter and your knee jerk reaction was no way. Someone else may read the first few things and be like, eh that’s my boyfriend and it doesn’t bother me at all that he’s always late or that he’s better at showing his love than saying it.
Wendy agreed and I do too that the teasing has to stop. But, I think that’s a separate issue. If there was no teasing and just the first two issues existed, whether or not they bother you or you dump someone for them is a very individual thing.
Lily in NYC October 15, 2013, 12:32 pm
Yeah, but my point is that these things taken together shows a lack of respect towards the LW and to me, they SHOULD be a dealbreaker when looked at as a whole. The “mean joking” shouldn’t be a separate issue. It’s part of a larger pattern showing that this guy is immature.
jlyfsh October 15, 2013, 1:05 pm
That’s what I was trying to say. If it was just the first two issues it’s different. I get that when you add in the teasing the other things take on a different tone.
CG October 15, 2013, 11:07 am
I had the same reaction. I was also in a relationship with a guy who was a mean teaser and I totally look back and can’t believe I wasted two years on someone like that. I also use that as a “this is how I WON’T be treated” measuring stick going forward. I know LW said she doesn’t want to MOA yet, but sometimes it’s better to cut your losses than continue to stay in a relationship where you’re miserable.
othy October 15, 2013, 10:29 am
Mr. Othy was chronically late when we first started dating. And he seriously failed at informing me of his plans (dude went to Canada for a week and a half without telling me). It drove me nuts and I was about ready to be dumb. Then I started communicating with him exactly why I hated it. I thought it was inconsiderate and rude for him to tell me he’d be somewhere at 7, only to come over at 8. I told him that I didn’t feel like an important priority in his life when he didn’t inform me of his plans. When I was able to express exactly why it bugged me, I did see a change. Yeah, it took a while to have him break his bad habits (he still runs 5 minutes late to social plans, but can get to work on time now), but because he realized how inconsiderate he was of me, he made an effort to improve.
quixoticbeatnik October 15, 2013, 10:30 am
I wanted to chime in because my recent ex had the same problem with #2. It wasn’t that he was always late, but it was the fact that he could never communicate with me about what he was doing if we had plans. If we had plans, I would expect him to be at my place earlier but a lot of the times he wouldn’t be able to come over until much later and wouldn’t tell me that until like 45 minutes before he could come over. It always pissed me off because it took him 45 minutes to get home from school, then an additional 30 minutes to get to my place from his place. So many times I sat at home, fuming, while waiting to hear from him. That was probably one of the biggest reasons why I broke up with him, but he wasn’t a bad person. I don’t hate him, and we are trying to be friends. I think it was more of a mismatch than I thought it was. it was important to me to make plans in advance and be on time, and so his inability to do that sometimes really pissed me off. And I did talk to him about it several times, but I don’t think he really did anything to try and change it. Really, the biggest reason why I broke up with him was because I felt like he was taking me for granted. He loved me and wanted to marry me, but he did take me for granted. And I had told him while we were dating that I felt like that, but I think he just wasn’t able to change until it was too late.
And I said all that because I feel like you might have the same problem. You feel like you aren’t appreciated enough. And like Fabelle said earlier, you might not be his first priority. Like, my ex loved me. But his schoolwork and his dreams kinda came first, and they would always come first. I didn’t mind that at first because I thought that was great – this guy has ambition and drive and works hard! However, it impacted our entire relationship. I didn’t really realize how much I resented his schoolwork until the end of our relationship. And I get the feeling that you are starting to resent the things that make him late in your relationship. And you have to choose eventually whether or not that is a dealbreaker. It was for me.
TLDR; communication is key. Communicate your feelings! It may not make the relationship better or save the relationship, but at least you would have tried.
quixoticbeatnik October 15, 2013, 10:36 am
It sounds like my ex loved me but I never loved him, haha. But I did love him! I just fell out of love with him towards the end when I realized that we were definitely not the right people for each other.
Kate B. October 15, 2013, 10:35 am
I am in the taken-together-these-things might be deal-breakers camp. My thoughts:
1. This isn’t too bad as long as he shows his love for you in other ways. Some people just aren’t talkers. However, I do have to wonder how true this is in light of #3.
2. I had a friend who was chronically late, and I did the same thing Wendy suggested. I would tell her things started half an hour earlier than they really did and she was on time. The not telling you about plans thing is annoying and you may have to work on that. Maybe he’s having trouble grasping the communication-as-a-couple thing?
3. This is my biggest problem, and frankly the one thing on this list that might cause me to end the relationship. I had a boyfriend who did this all the time and I finally figured out that it was his immature way of expressing his real feelings. Being told you’re gross is not acceptable. You need to be very firm on this and tell him how much it bothers you. Just because it’s “the way he is” doesn’t mean you have to put up with it. In the end, though, people are the sum of their parts. You have to decide if you can take him as he is, because he may not change.
lets_be_honest October 15, 2013, 10:41 am
“He says he has a hard time saying the words even though he feels them.”
I guess I don’t understand this. You tell him you are sad he won’t say it. He says he feels it, but is unable to actually speak the words? What’s so hard about just using words? Idk. Sounds dumb.
I’m one of those a-holes that’s late everywhere, so can’t help you there. But if you’ve asked him to give you a heads up about plans and he still can’t, still dumb in my mind. Such an easy fix.
Again, this teasing thing is another dumb issue with an easy fix in my mind. So you are not one who likes to be teased. And still he refuses to stop? Yea, I’d lighten up.
If all of these “minor” issues are bothering you to the point of writing in for advice, maybe they are deal breakers for you.
GatorGirl October 15, 2013, 10:45 am
I’m late to everything too, but I would have a serious problem if GGuy was “joking” I was gross every time I went to kiss him. Picking gets REALLY old after a while, especially when it’s coupled with a lack of verbal declarations of love and just a general life attitude brining with a lack of consideration for others.
kerrycontrary October 15, 2013, 10:48 am
See I was OK with the teasing thing until I read the part about him insulting her intelligence and life choices. That’s where it crosses a line.
lets_be_honest October 15, 2013, 10:54 am
Here’s an example how things could be seen differently though…bf comes home with bad haircut. I tease him about. He could laugh along with a sense of humor, or say that I have deeply insulted his looks and am not attracted to him. I think its just how people take things.
GatorGirl October 15, 2013, 11:04 am
I think there is a huge difference between a one time pick about a bad hair cut and consistent day after day shit talking. GGuy picks at me sometimes, he makes fun of my OCD cleaning and obsessiveness about like everything, but he also knows the line. This BF clearly doesn’t know, or doesn’t care what the LW’s line is and has shown he has no desire to stop his behavior.
lets_be_honest October 15, 2013, 11:07 am
Fair, but if her line is too short (?) then they just aren’t a good match because there may be nothing wrong with his amount of teasing, but she’s just an extra sensitive person when it comes to a little teasing. It shouldn’t necessarily be on him to completely change that part of his personality.
GatorGirl October 15, 2013, 11:27 am
Oh I definitely agree it’s not all on him to change, I just think this is one of those situations where they aren’t a good fit.
kerrycontrary October 15, 2013, 11:48 am
I’d be fine if someone mocked me about my haircut. But if someone insinuated that I was stupid or made fun of my career choice? No way, jose.
lets_be_honest October 15, 2013, 11:57 am
So I have a friend who joined the police academy a few months ago. I keep telling him to admit he’s only in it for the donuts. I guess he could say I’m making fun of his career choice and be highly insulted, but he laughs, because its teasing. Its not serious. If I said you will suck as a cop and only idiots become cops, then I could understand being highly insulted.
kerrycontrary October 15, 2013, 12:06 pm
See when people are all like “oh are you a sexy librarian” or call me a bookworm or say that I can’t talk to people, yeh that’s funny. But teasing that she’s stupid? I dunno, it just sounds like he’s putting her down. Only the LW can tell what type of teasing it is.
lets_be_honest October 15, 2013, 12:08 pm
True. I just assumed it was real teasing, not flat out insulting.
GatorGirl October 15, 2013, 12:04 pm
I’m with you Kerry, and I don’t know why this is up for debate really…LW is feeling hurt/offended/under appreciated etc. She is allowed to feel like that.
lets_be_honest October 15, 2013, 12:06 pm
why its up for debate? isn’t that all we do here?!
Addie Pray October 15, 2013, 12:11 pm
everything is up for debate, even the question of whether everything is up for debate is up for debate. and the question of whether everything is up for debate is up for debate is up for debate too.
man i need to get back to work.
GatorGirl October 15, 2013, 12:26 pm
haha, it is. I just feel for this LW. it really sucks to be told to lighten up all the time on top of being told you’re not smart and/or your career choice is bad. Like, Christy said above, I’m definitely projecting my own experiences onto this letter, but this is exactly the shit my crazy ex did to destroy my self esteem. And that sucked.
kerrycontrary October 15, 2013, 12:29 pm
Yup, this letter immediately reminds me of my college boyfriend who would do something verifiably mean or disrespectful (or embarrass me in front of our friends) and then say “learn how to take a joke” when I actually have a good sense of humor. It’s gaslighting. They tear you down.
GatorGirl October 15, 2013, 12:45 pm
Ugh he used to purposely embarrass me in front of just about anyone. Worst feeling ever. He’d also call me stupid to make himself feel better. Gah. It was the worst.
lets_be_honest October 15, 2013, 10:55 am
I had to assume that he doesn’t say she is gross every time they kiss, or even close to every time. That would be bizarre.
SpaceySteph October 15, 2013, 12:10 pm
It’s hard to tell frequency from the letter, but I can’t imagine anyone would call a person “loving” if they called them gross every time they went in for a kiss. I wonder if it’s an extreme aversion to PDA on the bf’s part, that maybe he calls it gross anytime she hugs or kisses him in any kind of public scenario.
I was really weird about PDA when I started dating my ex, because I was always annoyed by my roommate and her boyfriend constantly being PDA-y in the common areas of our apartment. I didn’t want to be “that couple” like they were. It took me a long time to ease up on it, that a peck on the lips was not the same as a full on makeout session at the front door.
Alternately, maybe she is really overly PDA-y in public and is being a little gross. Hard to say.
Laura Hope October 15, 2013, 10:56 am
I don’t think he can change how often he expresses his feelings verbally or his inability to arrive somewhere on time. But I do think discounting plans you’ve made is disrespectful to you, and mocking you is hurtful. I wouldn’t play games. I’d sit down and tell him, from my heart that it hurts you be called “gross”. If he says “get over it”, I’d say, “I really can’t. It hurts me. Can you understand that?” If he says no, that tells you that he doesn’t have compassion.
muchachaenlaventana October 15, 2013, 10:56 am
Everyone has offered really great advice, but to give some perspective- I am chronically late, like just always, even though I do most times try to be on time. Or if larger plans depend on me being somewhere on time, I will make it there. My friends know this so usually tell me a time a good hour before when things get going, and my family does the same (or just nag me relentlessly) which works! (so try this re Wendy’s advice) However, there is a caveat: the last guy I dated really put a lot of stock into being on time places and so I would try really really hard to be on time when we did things together because it stressed him out to be late. So maybe instead of my normal 30 minutes late for something it would be like 5-10 at the most. Just to say that I think when your sig other really places a high value on something you don’t really see as important or get, if you love or respect them enough then you can compromise, if its not a personality thing. For me being late isn’t because I am inconsiderate, its more that I am spacey and like 10 minutes before i have plans will be like oh shit I have plans!
Also this may sound hypocritical but on the flip side I dated a guy that was like 2 hours late to everything. I would even tell him a time earlier and he was still late. This ended up being a reason we didn’t work out, not because he was a late person but because after I told him, when I tell my family we are doing dinner at 7 and you show up at 9 this is not okay, he never worked to changed it. He really didn’t respect me enough or care enough for the relationship to do so, like just thought I should get over it and it was how he was and he wasn’t going to change. I think there is a difference between being a late/spacey person and just having no regard for someone else’s time or them really. IMO it sounds like your boyfriend has no regard for your time/plans/you. Which to me is the bigger issue, not all of these other things, they are just how this one thing is manifesting itself. Finally, I really wouldn’t be okay with someone who didn’t tell me they loved me. One guy I dated straight up told me if we were to get to that point, he would tell me once and that would be it, because he just didn’t express himself like that. And I was like well then we can’t date because I need that (we had been together on and off over a year).
Like everyone has said , you need to figure out if these are deal breakers or something you can live with if they never change, which they most likely won’t.
Fabelle October 15, 2013, 11:02 am
Ugh I think I need my boss to chastise me, because he SAW me walk in 20 minutes late today, & didn’t say anything. And intellectually, I’m like, “Alright, cool he didn’t say anything, but Fabelle, you REALLY need to leave earlier tomorrow” but subconsciously, my brain will be like, “that means it’s okay! Be forty minutes late tomorrow!!” (Sorry, not on topic, but your first paragraph reminded me because of the altering-behavior-when-someone-important-places-a-high-value-on-it thing)
And yeah, above I complain about my late boyfriend, but he’s even worse than I am. haha
muchachaenlaventana October 15, 2013, 11:09 am
haha I do this at work too. I was like 5 minutes late at first and now its like if I am up to 20 minutes late I think, well no one has said anything, so it probably doesn’t matter right? And I try SO hard to be at work on time, if I am less than 5 minutes late I feel so proud of myself. Pathetic.
Fabelle October 15, 2013, 11:25 am
Yeah, haha, 8:06, I’m all, “Whooo, I’m on time!” when, nope, that’s still technically late. But it’s so bad that it FEELS on time. At least I’m not the only one!
Holly October 15, 2013, 11:02 am
This all comes down to – and this is something I’m working on in my own relationships – …. is arguing about one or more of these the “hill you want to die on”? Meaning, are you willing to walk away from this relationship because of one of these issues?
I know the lack of words bugs you, but look at his actions too. If he does things that show that he loves you, you might have to accept that as being just as good. Or, you can develop a different way of doing it, like Wendy said. For me and Tim, it was putting one of our hands over our heart, then smiling and putting that same hand over their heart. It originated when I had tonsil surgery and couldn’t speak the words.
muchachaenlaventana October 15, 2013, 11:18 am
yeah I agree with your situation and opinion but in this case, its not just little things like not putting down the toilet seat, or being late. its that he is so inconsiderate. if your bf constantly cancelled on you 30 minutes before you were scheduled to do something, or never even told you he made plans and expected you to go with 30 minutes notice (not just a one or two time oh sorry I forgot and thought i told you, but constantly) that isn’t just something to argue about. it shows IMO a total lack of consideration/ respect for the person you are with, especially when they have communicated to you how upset it makes them IDK I think the I love you thing is different, for some people it is just REALLY hard to say and that is okay with some people and not with others–>that I wouldn’t say you should waste your time arguing about, but the other things just added together are painting a picture of a not-that -nice or considerate or respectful boyfriend. Saying “that’s so gross” when you kiss your significant other isn’t teasing, it is mean and rude especially knowing it bothers them. It would really eat into my self-esteem.
Holly October 15, 2013, 11:34 am
I should’ve clarified about the teasing – I do think that’s out of line, for sure, and it would bother me considerably if it was happening. The late thing is.. I mean, it is completely inconsiderate, but there are ways around it (starting with fudging the start time or just not inviting him, because if he cared enough about it anyway he would’ve been there on time.)
Diablo October 15, 2013, 11:17 am
Nobody makes plans for my time without consulting me. Not my wife, not my parents. This would be a dealbreaker if it happened frequently. My time is my life, and you don’t get to claim it without me being in the loop.
MMcG October 15, 2013, 1:19 pm
But I make plans for us all the time… maybe this is why you’ve never shown up!?! 🙂
Diablo October 15, 2013, 1:38 pm
That and the fact that you’ve never mentioned these plans to me before OR after the fact. It would appear that our secret internet affair is a secret to me too.
Lemongrass October 15, 2013, 11:53 am
Unless you have a speech impediment or have suffered some form of trauma then I really don’t understand what is so difficult about saying “I love you” to someone you feel that way about.
jlyfsh October 15, 2013, 12:01 pm
Well the LW says he doesn’t even say it to his Mom. Which would insinuate that he didn’t grow up saying I love you. I don’t think the LW’s bf is alone in showing love with words is not a strong point. For you maybe (and I mean I grew up this way as well) saying I love you was normal. It’s kind of like people who grew up not hugging each other. There’s nothing wrong with being one way or the other, except when people with opposite view points get together and that creates conflict. So is it ‘difficult’ for him, maybe not, but that doesn’t mean it’s something he’s used to doing or that it comes easily to him.
lets_be_honest October 15, 2013, 12:04 pm
But once someone tells you it upsets them, isn’t the easiest thing in the world to do is just say it? Seems like it to me. I’m not a hugger really, but I just hug people that like hugs. Easy peasy.
jlyfsh October 15, 2013, 12:13 pm
Easy peasy to you, doesn’t mean it’s easy for everyone. Solutions aren’t one size fits all. Different ways of showing love come up as issues all the time on here. With one person being more verbal and another showing it through gifts, etc. Do both people need to compromise some, yes. But, it doesn’t mean that it’s ‘easy’ for the other person to change the way they show love. Or that they won’t show love the way they’re used to the majority of the time? I mean both sides need to recognize what the other is going through in order for it to work. If she’s dismissive of his issues and thinks it should be easy for him, then she’s not really helping the situation. I think understanding where the other person is coming is always good in a relationship.
lets_be_honest October 15, 2013, 12:16 pm
I know, I know. You’re probably right. I’m just not seeing this as a whole love languages thing. Just spit the words out when she says she wants you to say I love you. Fine though, your answer is much better than mine. 🙂
Lemongrass October 15, 2013, 12:38 pm
Just because you don’t grow up doing something then it is hard to do. It may not come naturally and it may feel awkward at first but that doesn’t make it difficult. My husband asks me to double check that I closed the shower curtain properly so it doesn’t drip water on the floor. I didn’t grow up doing that but it isn’t difficult to do and I do it because I love him. I see no difference between that and saying I love you.
jlyfsh October 15, 2013, 12:52 pm
Honestly this all comes down to that being a deal breaker for you and sounds like potentially the LW. But, I think that talking to him more about it and trying to figure out what his difficulties with it are, couldn’t hurt. I mean she obviously also has other issues separate from this one. But, if this was the only thing we didn’t see eye to eye on, I would find it hard to leave without first trying to understand where they’re coming from and working on it. But, each person has their own deal breakers and things they’re willing to work on and aren’t. That makes us different not right or wrong.
GatorGirl October 15, 2013, 12:32 pm
I don’t say I love you to my mom, or my family. I didn’t grow up like that. But I know it’s important to GGuy that I express my feelings verbally, so I make a point to. He makes a point to show me love in other ways, since verbal isn’t my #1 way. It’s just what you do, IMO, for people you truly love.
jlyfsh October 15, 2013, 12:47 pm
And I agree that he needs to compromise as well, by learning to say I love you. But, to assume that because it’s easy for you, it should be easy for him is dismissive. Now if it’s something that he’s never willing to work on and dismissive of her, then no that’s not ok either. But, both sides the more verbal and the less verbal have to work together to understand each other.
GatorGirl October 15, 2013, 12:32 pm
I don’t say I love you to my mom, or my family. I didn’t grow up like that. But I know it’s important to GGuy that I express my feelings verbally, so I make a point to. He makes a point to show me love in other ways, since verbal isn’t my #1 way. It’s just what you do, IMO, for people you truly love.
Fabelle October 15, 2013, 12:40 pm
Yeah, my family is close & they say “I love you” but I’ve always been a little weird about it (I say it back, but not usually not first). I’m different with romantic loved ones, though— I say it all the time. (And my boyfriend’s the same, now that I think about it. I doubt he’s ever said “I love you” to his parents, but he’s extremely verbally affectionate with me? So, I guess, the point being; it’s not always how you were raised)
Fabelle October 15, 2013, 12:45 pm
Oh, & I say “I love you” back & forth to my friends, too, in a familial getting-off-the-phone-now “love ya” kind of way. Even though I feel weird doing that with my family— I think it’s because I was such an odd child who never said it, it carries over with them in a way that it doesn’t with my peers? Whatever. Sorry. I’m just exploring this out loud now. ha
HmC October 15, 2013, 12:32 pm
Really great, practical advice Wendy, I love how you broke it all down. Everyone on earth has got flaws and finding the right relationship for you isn’t about finding someone without flaws or who never bugs you- it’s about finding someone with flaws that aren’t deal-breakers for you. You’re perfectly entitled to decide that a juvenile sense of humor or chronic lateness are dealbreakers and make the relationship not worth it to you. You’re also perfectly entitled to not know yet whether something is a dealbreaker and stay with someone to try and figure that out together. But you’re not perfectly entitled to expect someone to change for you. That’s just asking for unhappiness and it’s unfair to you AND to him. Sometimes things are in a grey area and you can compromise and adjust and you can both be happy. But I wouldn’t advise moving in with someone (assuming you eventually want to get married or stay together indefinitely) with so many big question marks hanging over your relationship.
sophronisba October 15, 2013, 12:36 pm
Just the way he is, huh? Well that’s just 50% of the equation. Makes plans in advance, is on time, says I Love You and doesn’t do hurtful teasing is just the way you are, LW. How come that doesn’t get equal credit and importance in how things are run? There doesn’t seem to be any compromising going on here – it seems he’s free to be a passive-aggressive thoughtless asshole and your point of view, preferences, and requests are beside the point. I think it’s time to access your Inner Bitch. If ever there was a man who deserved a good kick in ass, this is the one.
kerrycontrary October 15, 2013, 1:12 pm
Yes I agree. It’s like the entire goal is to find ways on how the LW can adjust to HIS personality and quirks, not the other way around.
meadowphoenix October 15, 2013, 12:38 pm
Before I say anything, can I just say that it’s totally possible to find someone for whom these same things either aren’t annoyances or for whom they aren’t annoyances to you. I know you love him, but like Wendy said, it’s really important that you figure out if you’re just annoyed or if it’s impacting your elf-esteem or general well-being. If it’s doing the latter, I would consider whether you’re willing to keep feeling bad just because loving him feels sorta good. If you could be happier, you can try to find that.
1) If you feel loved, then what about him not saying it bothers you? Can you get your needs met another way? If you want spontaneous affection, are there other things that would do the same as “I love you” for instance? Like hugs? Hand-holding? Are you really asking that he just express himself at all? So if he told you how good you were making him feel, would that work too? Like do you need “I love you” or will “I love spending time with you” or “I really enjoyed doing this with you” or “I’m so happy you’re with me” work too? Find out and then ask for that.
2) People do not think of time the same way. It’s valid to find punctuality too strict or it’s valid to find punctuality just respectful. Some cultures don’t think being “on-time” is even a thing. My question to you is whether if he is left waiting does he care? Or does he get upset? If he does, then no offense, but his lateness is probably a control issue, and that’s a bad sign. If he doesn’t, then yes this is something you have to get over. I would actually not lie to him, unless that is something you think he would think was justifiable by his lateness. I would just leave without him, if it was something important for you to be on time with. Just tell him that beforehand. “Hey this is important for me to be on time to, so I’m going to leave with enough time to be on time. If you’re not ready by then, can you find some other way to get there?” And let the non-important times of lateness go.
Absolutely do what Wendy says and tell your friends to give you invitations personally. And if you’re really invested in doing something together, tell him in the morning, and ask him if he had any other plans. But to be frank, why don’t you do what you originally planned? Eat dinner without him. Go to the movies without him. Don’t cancel your together plans, just because you now have to do them solo. You are under no obligation to wait until he’s ready to do something, especially if that’s causing you upset.
3) To me, there are at least 3 types of teasing
a)Ha Ha What a Funny Human Quirk!
This is normal teasing, in which someone behaves in a way you wouldn’t behave but it is amusing, and they also think it is amusing, and hey isn’t human diversity great? LOL. Only works if everyone is in on it, and everyone thinks the behavior is amusing (so for me, teasing me that I’m Rip Van Wrinkle, because I will sleep all day is cool. Teasing me that I might be a lesbian because I never date is not. I am not in on that second joke).
b) Social Fiction Teasing
This is when something actually annoys you/you don’t like something, but you don’t want to start an argument/make them upset, so you “tease” them about it in hopes they will get your non-verbal picture or so that you can express annoyance without upsetting the status quo, because hey you could be teasing like type a) teasing.
c) Ha Ha You seem Annoyed/Sad/Upset, How Hilarious!
It’s just being mean. The enjoyment is in making someone emotionally vulnerable. THIS IS A BLOOD RED FLAG. It usually takes the form of teasing who you are instead of what you do.
To me personally, at no point is “lighten up” an appropriate response. Some people need type a) teasing to connect with people and that’s alright. But if you keep teasing people even when they’ve expressed that they’re not in on the joke (maybe that’s an insecurity they’re not comfortable with, or they’re having a bad day, or your being actually offensive, or they don’t like teasing), then you’ve slipped into type b) or c), and those are not okay. Either you aren’t using your words with them or you’re being mean or both. When type b) or c) teasing happens, it can greatly impact a person’s well-being or self-esteem. That’s not okay, even if you think you could handle it. To find out which your boyfriend is doing, ask yourself if there is some teasing you’re more uncomfortable with than others, and ask him to stop those things. But if you’re okay with other teasing, tell him that you are. But honestly, get upset if it upsets you. That’s the best way to figure out if it’s type c) teasing, because someone who just likes seeing you upset won’t care. Ask him if something bothers him, to figure out if it’s type b). Basically ask him what’s going on.
Honestly, it seems like your boyfriend has problems expressing himself in way you understand or like. That’s not going to be something you can change if you’ve already told him how you would prefer him to talk to you. Your boyfriend doesn’t have to change any of himself, but if you have to change yourself into a pretzel to love unreservedly, is it really your best you loving him?
meadowphoenix October 15, 2013, 12:47 pm
…so I had a lot of feelings, I guess
Fabelle October 15, 2013, 12:53 pm
haha meadowphoenix, I read it all & thought it was all very on-point!
meadowphoenix October 15, 2013, 4:46 pm
Thanks for reading it all, haha
Addie Pray October 15, 2013, 2:51 pm
That’s awesome. And I like your “teasing” categories. I generally like categories, rules, and theories. Well done, well done.
meadowphoenix October 15, 2013, 4:49 pm
Thanks Addie! Rules make everything easier.
Addie Pray October 15, 2013, 4:52 pm
Well, I don’t like all rules. I like rules of law, physics, logic, etc. … Arbitrary, outdated, and illogical wedding rules? Not so much…. but duh that’s understood. Ha.
katie October 15, 2013, 12:39 pm
its so weird to me how the comments are so divided- and shit, i guess i should check up on if im in an abusive relationship? jake’s a teaser for sure.
also, jake has started to use the “pretending plans are 1/2 hour earlier then they really are” thing on ME. but thats a different issue, im not actually late all time. most of the time. haha
and im the one who doesnt say i love you a lot. i mean i say it, but i always say it in response to him, and i know that he doesnt like that.
basically, this letter is my life. its very weird.
my advice to you specifically though is to either toughen up, accept your boyfriend the way he is, or dont and leave. like, there really isnt an in-between here. even if you get him to understand your side on the issues -say, the teasing, for instance- he will absolutely still do it sometimes. i dont think that any of these issues are going to go away 100% no matter what you do. so you need to find a level of acceptance or just leave.
iwannatalktosampson October 15, 2013, 12:48 pm
I reserve the right to make fun of everyone for everything at all times. I am also abusive.
lets_be_honest October 15, 2013, 12:51 pm
GatorGirl October 15, 2013, 1:42 pm
Just to be clear- I don’t think this guy is abusive based on what’s given here. I do think that constant teasing/put downs/dismissing of feelings can be part of abusive behavior.
I actually can relate a lot to this letter too. GGuy teases me a lot (but he’s figured out the line), I don’t verbalize my love often (but I’m working on it), and I’m late to f-ing everything (so is he- we pretend we have to be places 1/2 an hour before too). So, LW, talk to you BF! If he isn’t responsive then it’s not worth it.
katie October 15, 2013, 2:23 pm
oh ps- jake tells me im gross if i kiss him all the time. like, just happened yesterday all the time.
CatsMeow October 15, 2013, 6:29 pm
Yeah! This could be written about me too. I am chronically late, and I make fun of everyone. The more I love you, the more I will tease you. And I am not big on I Love You’s. Unless I’m drunk. Then I love EVERYONE.
But what it boils down to, like Katie said and like Wendy pretty much said is…. love it or leave it. Right? It’s just who he IS, and if you don’t want him AS IS, right now, then just let him go rather than trying to make him change.
I’m obviously late to the convo because I had a really stupid long day. But I wanted to give my two cents anyway. Also, I ordered Thai food and I’m really excited about it.
Samantha October 15, 2013, 12:44 pm
Oh man, I have been there, LW.
My dude is really bad about making last-minute plans and doing things I would consider rude like inviting friends along to other people’s houses and taking liberties with time. Punctuality and politeness are super important to me, so it took us a bit of time to adjust to each others scheduling preferences.
We have a shared Google calendar for certain things – parties, movie dates, etc., and I try to be more flexible about spur of the moment type adventures. It helps clarify time constraints. And I made sure to state, time and time again, how important being on time was to me (it’s an anxiety thing), so eventually, he mostly came around.
He’s also very much a teaser, and sometimes, he gets mean without meaning to. You’re smart to call him out on it. As long as you accept that it’s probably something he always does, and as long as he doesn’t continue with a mean moment or does apologize if he says something that crosses a line, you’re fine. It’s definitely a compromise on both sides, but it’s one that is probably worth it if he’s as kind and loving as you say.
People never change entirely, but part of being in a relationship is learning to adjust to another person’s quirks and habits. It takes a lot of communication and compromise, but Wendy’s advice is spot on. Good luck!
KKZ October 15, 2013, 1:05 pm
This has been a good reminder to me that I’ve been dropping the ball on reminding my teasing husband when he’s taking it too far. Especially since a lot of his teasing gets physical – things like coming up behind me and tucking my shirt into my underwear, or trying to get me to spill my drink by tapping the bottom of the cup when I take a sip, or doing the last-second kiss dodge to kiss my chin or whatever. I mean, written out like that, that almost crosses the line from teasing to bullying! I know his love language is Touch, and in his mind almost any touch is an expression of affection, even if it feels less like love and more like an ice cube down my pants.
I’ve noticed in the past when the teasing thing has come up between us, telling him I felt bullied or like it was a manipulative power play just did NOT sink in with him, and in fact lead to that “you’re overreacting” response. Like, it wouldn’t be an overreaction if, in the moment, I said “knock it off, you’re bugging me,” but treating it as a macro-scale issue with all sorts of underlying meanings (SUCH a woman thing to do, amirite?) was making too big a deal. It took me a bit to realize that he doesn’t see the pattern in his behavior, he just sees each individual opportunity to mess with me and acts on it impulsively. It’s incidental manipulation, not intentional manipulation – he really does see it all as just playing, and it’s not intuitive to him that other people wouldn’t see it that way. And because he certainly didn’t see himself as a bully, trying to tell him I felt bullied was, to him, an overreaction.
So I’d say go with Wendy’s advice to keep reminding him, when it’s happening, that he’s bothering you. Keep it short and pointed to that specific behavior, rather than turning it into a big “you’re always teasing me” issue. At least based on my own experience, this might have the better chance of actually affecting his behavior in the desired direction.
MMcG October 15, 2013, 1:27 pm
Here’s my 1 word response on the teasing thing… since asking him to knock it off seems to get you either nowhere or gaslit: CONSEQUENCES!
He says you are gross when you kiss him. Stop kissing him. I mean why keep stepping back up to the plate to be hit by a pitch when you don’t have to?? When he comes in for some lovin’ push back and say something along the lines of “Sorry I’m too gross today to kiss.” When he gets huffy – tell him to lighten up. Turn the tables around. It may sound passive aggressive (hell it may be passive aggressive) but at the same time it may be the only thing that makes him realize that there are consequences to behaving in a way that your partner doesn’t like. And stop trying to get friends and family on your side with everything… this isn’t a group project it’s your relationship. This is not a gameshow where if you can get 10 people to agree with you then you win the prize. The only person that matters is your bf and his response to your feelings, not whether other people validate you or not.
I don’t think this is necessarily a MOA situation, but if you are still bothered by these things after trying numerous different ways to resolve them, well you may have found a dealbreaker you didn’t even know existed. There’s nothing wrong with that. You are allowed to say – you know what I don’t enjoy this aspect of my relationship and it isn’t worth me feeling this way or trying to get over something.
Lucy October 15, 2013, 5:29 pm
Yes. All of this.
Bittergaymark October 15, 2013, 3:12 pm
Do what far too many do. Go find a someone that says “i love you” at the drop of a hat — but constantly treats you like shit. After all, words are ALL that matter to the needy and insecure…
Addie Pray October 15, 2013, 5:14 pm
I predict that soon you are going to fall head over heals in love with The One God Has For You and you’ll turn into a sappy mushy “love conquers all” kind of fella. And you’ll be all “omg, I love him so, I love you, I love everyone, hurray for love and hurray for saying “I love you” and isn’t life swell”! And then I’m gonna call you out on it. I can’t wait! Hurry go find him and come back insanely, irrationally, and hopelessly smitten.
bittergaymark October 16, 2013, 4:11 am
I, uh, wouldn’t exactly hold your breath on that ever happening, Addie. I am officially DOA as far as lovers go. There is only sex/love for gays north of 40 in LA if they can fucking buy — or at least rent — it…
Northern Mermaid October 15, 2013, 3:47 pm
Boo. I typed out this really long sweet thing about how my boyfriend is a lot like this guy, but it got eaten by the internet. The bottom line for me though is. My boyfriend is not an “I love you” kind of guy, and his way of saying “I love you” is saying “You’re gross” followed by something physically affectionate. Basically I would be content in your relationship, but it’s ok if you’re not. Except for the late thing. That’s so douchey, but probably something you can’t change about him, so adjust accordingly.
Tinywormhole October 15, 2013, 5:03 pm
FWIW, I’m not big on the “I love you” verbalization either. Probably because when I was a child my stepmother would belittle me for not saying it often enough to my dad, and set a requirement that I had to say it 2x per day. And I do love my dad, but that kinda took the authenticity out of saying it.
Now I’m married and I’ve said it every so often to my husband but 95% of the time we say it (which isn’t much), he says it first. However, we love each other very much, and show that in our actions and affection to each other daily. I also have a twin sister and she and I are super close. We have never said “I love you” to each other ever and it’s a complete non-issue for us.
Everyone feels differently about this of course, but I wanted to give you the perspective of someone to whom the words don’t hold a lot of meaning as long as the actions are there.
Lucy October 15, 2013, 5:27 pm
Your bf will continue to be chronically late, inconsiderate, uncommunicative, and mean as long as there aren’t any consequences to his behaviour – and you getting mad at him and then accepting his apology over and over and over again doesn’t constitute consequences; that’s the famous definition of insanity.
Personally, I think your bf sounds like a spoiled, entitled, juvenile ass and I’d certainly have dumped him long before I moved in with him. But if you can indeed accept him as is and not slowly accumulate resentment against him for his behaviour, then carry on. You can be certain, though, that if you continue as you have been, he will never, ever change. He has no reason to, after all. He acts as he pleases and gets what he wants anyway.
Leslie October 15, 2013, 6:08 pm
My mother always told me “Don’t let someone piss on you and call it rain.” If you’re not getting good vibes from your boyfriend or if he tells you that you need to “calm down” or “don’t be so uptight” don’t believe him. Your feelings are YOUR feelings. If you don’t feel good about a situation, that’s a big sign.
Lindsay October 15, 2013, 10:47 pm
If you have so many bad things to say about your boyfriend that you have to cut out the good things for brevity, then that’s too many bad things.
Nobody should treat his girlfriend like that, and if at this point, you’ve not been able to express this to him and have him listen to you, then I don’t see how there’s any hope. And the fact that you aren’t sure whether this is OK or not implies to me that his behavior has either damaged your confidence enough or at least perpetuated an already-existing low confidence.
RachG October 16, 2013, 3:48 am
Aww, I think he should say “I love you”. We’re human, we all need it.
bittergaymark October 16, 2013, 4:16 am
PS — This letter gets hilarious bonus points for clueless irony.
“My boyfriend keeps making plans without telling me and I am so over it as it keeps fucking up the plans I make without telling him…”