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 email@example.com and be sure to follow me on Twitter.
PFG-SCR June 16, 2011, 3:10 pm
Pfft, dump his ass!!!
Oh wait…too aggressive and opinionated?
PFG-SCR June 16, 2011, 4:05 pm
Relax, I’m teasing, thumbs downers!!
melikeycheesecake June 16, 2011, 4:09 pm
Geez… some people are too sensitive :o) Only kidding and basically making fun of myself 🙂
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 June 16, 2011, 4:41 pm
I hate that. I know some men who are moodier than many women I know.
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.”
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.
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!
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.
melikeycheesecake June 16, 2011, 3:20 pm
Fantastic response and so true!
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.
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.
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.
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. 🙂
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.
Calliopedork June 16, 2011, 3:48 pm
Was the show “necessary roughness” on usa?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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..
Spark June 16, 2011, 10:11 pm
Exactly. There is a difference between being bitchy and being opinionated.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Brooklyn June 18, 2011, 9:56 pm
Ditto. Except I come across as a feisty bitch.
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.
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.
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.
Sarah June 16, 2011, 3:19 pm
It was Seacrest, wasn’t it? I bet it was Seacrest.
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.
Christy June 16, 2011, 3:33 pm
10 bucks it was Glenn Beck
NaturalBlue June 16, 2011, 3:41 pm
Ha! I am so with you on this one!
TaraMonster June 16, 2011, 3:51 pm
I see your Glenn Beck and I raise you Rush Limbaugh.
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.
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.
melikeycheesecake June 16, 2011, 3:27 pm
Wow… now I’m not that sensitive.
CG June 16, 2011, 3:34 pm
Um, wow. Did you date my ex? 😉
Alittlelux June 16, 2011, 3:48 pm
I was about to ask the same question?
Alittlelux June 16, 2011, 3:49 pm
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.
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.
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.
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.”)
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.
Desiree June 16, 2011, 10:11 pm
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.
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.
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_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!
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.”
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.
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.
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’.
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.
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.
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.
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 🙂
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. 🙂
MissDre June 16, 2011, 7:10 pm
Love this idea. ReginaRey vs JSW! Wendy, do it!!
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?
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 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.
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.
_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.
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.
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 June 16, 2011, 4:36 pm
bubbacatz June 16, 2011, 6:29 pm
One hundred thumbs up!
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.
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”?
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
AnitaBath June 16, 2011, 9:29 pm
Hehe, *pack* of boys. Running with the backs of boys would just be weird.
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 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 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.
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.
Wendy June 16, 2011, 8:45 pm
I get what you’re saying. It makes sense now.
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.
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. 😉
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
LisforLeslie January 11, 2017, 5:48 pm
Thanks for jumping in LW. So if I get the sequence, your bf said “Bear is awesome” and you pointed out that there’s some controversy and that he’s not a bag o’ chips and the bf got all weepy pants and then berated you for an hour until you cried and told you that all his friends think your obnoxious and a contrarian who doesn’t know her place? Did I get that right?
If I got that right then just start calling him Summer’s Eve because he is a gigantic walking douche.
If I get the convo you expressed an opinion and backed it up with a few facts. But because you didn’t agree with him you “invalidated him”. He’s a fool and he wants someone who won’t challenge him. You are not that person. Be your challenging thinking self.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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…
melikeycheesecake June 16, 2011, 3:42 pm
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
_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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Amber June 16, 2011, 5:01 pm
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…
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.
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.
Amber June 16, 2011, 5:28 pm
holy assumptions. now he’s slow and she’s witty.
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..
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.
Valerie June 16, 2011, 3:37 pm
In my opinion, a healthy relationship should be one where you shouldn’t be afraid to share your opinions about things. I do agree that there are different ways to express your opinion, and that tone is definitely important, but it sounds like that maybe this isn’t the best match. Especially when Joe is getting all up in arms about something as silly as disagreeing with him about a TV personality. What happens when he finds out that you two disagree about much more important topics?!!
Valerie June 16, 2011, 3:54 pm
Also, I’d like to add that regardless of how the LW has been expressing her opinions to Joe, to me, the real red flag is the way Joe chose to handle the situation. It would be one thing if he sat her down and had a calm conversation and explained how he was feeling. But for him to tell her, for an HOUR, all the different examples that he can think of, followed by making her cry? That’s not constructive AT ALL. If this is how Joe is going to handle all other arguments and disagreements in the future, I’d say better to MOA sooner rather than later…
thyme June 17, 2011, 12:56 pm
Yes. I don’t think we need to decide that one of them is completely innocent and the other person is completely guilty here. Neither of them seem to be bursting with tact, and both could use some serious work on their communication skills.
Vathena June 16, 2011, 3:38 pm
I’m definitely familiar with the abrasive/brash/opinionated personality (which can read as charming or aggressive, depending on the situation!) I agree that if the LW has a tendency to interrupt people with her opinion, she needs to work on that. I myself am trying to curtail my tendency to do this, especially to my husband. Everyone likes a good listener! So it’s possible that the bf had the makings of a valid point. HOWEVER, he went about expressing it in a terribly hurtful way, unfurling a large red flag… he nagged at her for an HOUR until she cried? And then didn’t feel bad for making her cry?? Massive communication fail. That’s not how you treat someone you care about, whether they’ve been behaving badly or not.
mf June 16, 2011, 3:39 pm
Yeah, he could be right about her aggressive style, but he doesn’t exactly get a gold star for communication either!
justpeachy June 16, 2011, 4:09 pm
I’d agree with you but I have a feeling if we got his side of the story it would be A LOT different. He probably snapped and brought up the abrasive thing and the argument just spiraled. She must have cut him off so many times that it took him an hour to make a 5 minute statement. And honestly, if I were him, I probably would have thought the tears were just dramatics to get an apology. My ex-boyfriend (yes, my male ex) used to pull that all the time in arguments to try to force an apology.
mf June 16, 2011, 3:38 pm
I agree with Wendy’s advice. This guy sounds like he can’t deal with a strong and confident.
However, it might be a good idea to discuss this issue with one or two friends–specifically someone whose opinion you trust and who will be very honest with you. Some people do have an abrasive communication style. I’m sure they don’t mean to sound aggressive or mean, but the way they say things (not necessarily what they say) can be very off-putting. If you are one of these people, it might benefit you to know it. Sometimes it’s very beneficial (say, when dealing with a difficult coworker or family member) to know how to be diplomatic when you communicate.
I’m not saying that that you should change yourself for this guy–just that it’s really helpful to know what kind of impression others have of you.
Amber June 16, 2011, 3:43 pm
I think Wendy and several others here are jumping on her side and calling him a douche prematurely.
It doesn’t sound like its about him trying to keep his woman down or whatever. He has an issue with her. He brought it up. Sounds like he had been bottling it up for some time, hence the several examples he gave.
And about saying how his friends noticed it – people are not always perfect when having these types of discussions! Maybe it was the wrong thing to say, but maybe he was just feeling frustrated and trying to get his point across. We all have said the wrong things or said childish things in arguements.
It sounds like some self-reflection on the LW’s part is due. If she decides that she doesn’t need to change and is comfortable with herself, then maybe they just aren’t compatible and she should MOA. Or maybe he has a point.
AnitaBath June 16, 2011, 3:49 pm
I know I’m going to have people jumping down my throat, but I don’t even see much wrong with the way he presented it. He tried to communicate with her about it. I don’t think he said it in a “My friends think you’re a meanie too!” kind of way, but rather pointing out that his friends are noticing and she is also offending them. We have little details about their actual conversation, but I really think this is far more than just her disagreeing with him. If you’re trying to talk to someone about something, and they immediately cut you off to tell you that they think the guy is an asshole or forcefully interject their own opinion, it really kills the conversation.
Amber June 16, 2011, 3:59 pm
I agree with you. I will go one step further in the “people will probably jump down my throat” category by saying that I think that the feminist tendencies/beliefs/bias of the frisky/DW readers are causing them to automatically attack the boyfriend, because how dare he try to silence this strong, independent woman!
CMF June 16, 2011, 4:34 pm
I agree with you both! I think there’s a lot to be said for taking a moment to judge whether an opinion needs to be shared. If you don’t particularly care for someone, but the person you’re with does and wants to talk to you about it in some way, keep your opinion to yourself unless asked. Just because you think or feel something, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s worth sharing. It’s not always about you.
Also, if this had been the other way around and the boyfriend had interrupted with the same comment the LW made, I’d be willing to bet the commenters here would be jumping all over him for negating her feelings and not respecting her opinion.
Bring on the purple thumbs.
Amber June 16, 2011, 4:37 pm
CMF June 16, 2011, 5:05 pm
Amber June 16, 2011, 5:09 pm
I didn’t mean yep to the purple thumbs, i mean yep to agreeing with you 🙂
CMF June 17, 2011, 12:42 pm
Haha, yeah, I was surprised that you agreed! I’m used to being the odd opinion in situations like this. Having back-up is kinda new.
thyme June 17, 2011, 1:01 pm
“If you don’t particularly care for someone, but the person you’re with does and wants to talk to you about it in some way, keep your opinion to yourself unless asked. Just because you think or feel something, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s worth sharing.”
YES. I happen to have several family members who really need to hear that!
SpyGlassez June 17, 2011, 9:38 pm
I don’t particularly care about every StarCraft match my boyfriend plays, but I don’t flat-out tell him “just shut up about your hydralisks already!” every time he starts talking about it.
NOLAGirl June 16, 2011, 5:48 pm
Totally agree with both of ya’ll. And it really bothers me that when we talk about strong and opinionated women coming across as boorish and somehow that’s ok . One can be strong and opinionated without coming across as demeaning or boorish. In fact, you’re considered a stronger, more intelligent person if you don’t come off as boorish. It’s called thinking about other people and how they feel. You’ll be a helluva lot more persuasive doing that too.
I’m very opinionated, but I also LISTEN, which is something that can keep you from coming across as an ass. A lot of women I know who think that any criticism from a man is somehow directly tied to his feelings about his penis or masculinity. But sometimes it’s actually something he’d tell another dude. Believe me, I’ve known plenty of guys who say “quit being such an ass.” I doubt they think it’s an attack on their individuality.
I expect my S.O. to pull me aside (on the phone or in person) if I hurt his feelings. Otherwise, you’ll just be walking all over whoever you’re with and that is never a recipe for a happy relationship. You should be confident enough in a relationship to be able to tell each other how you feel, even if it means the other person might not like hearing they were an ass. It happens.
Monica M June 16, 2011, 5:08 pm
It takes a lot of courage to contemplate telling an abrasive person they are abrasive.
brendapie June 16, 2011, 3:47 pm
LW says that “Joe” was attracted to her wit, intelligence and strong opinions so I don’t think this is a case of machismo but respect. I have a pretty strong opinion on things but I’ve learned to be sensitive to my audience and aware of their needs. I would never censor myself but I do believe there is a way to make your opinions known without coming off as abrasive or dismissive of others’ opinions.
Honestly, I think LW was a tad rude interrupting “Joe” when he was started talking about the TV personality; it came across (to me while reading this) that LW didn’t take the time to listen to Joe’s opinion without making hers known. And I’m torn on this because a healthy and respectful discussion can involve a lot of back and forth, but cutting off another person with such a strong opinion comes across as though you don’t respect their opinion enough to listen to it.
I do think “Joe” is a big jerk and he should have been able to express his discontent to LW without putting her down and making her cry. If he wants LW to be respectful of his opinion, he should be respectful towards her while making his opinion known.
silver_dragon_girl June 16, 2011, 3:47 pm
Ok, here’s my perspective from being in your boyfriend’s shoes…
My bf and I fight about politics a lot. He’s a conservative, I’m a liberal, you get the picture. Now, while we are perfectly capable of having some really interesting, enlightening debates and conversations about our stances, sometimes things get really heated really fast. In the past, there has been yelling, a little name-calling, and some totally over-the-top reactions on both our parts.
We have talked about it a lot, and realized that we both need to improve the way we communicate, and especially the way we argue. He’s used to arguing with people who are dead-set on proving him wrong and/or changing his mind, and I’m used to only discussing politics with people who agree with me, so we’re both prone to making generalizations and using the Left/Right rhetoric that we hate so much from the other side. So we’re working on not taking the other person’s political viewpoint so personally, being very specific when discussing things, and backing up our arguments with specific evidence. I’m a die-hard Democrat, but honestly, he has some really, really good reasoning for why he votes for certain things. Likewise, he agrees with me on most social issues, which are more important to me than fiscal ones.
Anyway, back to you, LW. Yes, it’s entirely possible that this guy is just a douche who doesn’t like being argued with. However, it’s also possible that you’re being so general and blunt and dismissive with your opinions that it’s making it difficult for him to express his own. For instance, “he’s such a fraud and an asshole” isn’t a very constructive complaint. Why is he a fraud? Why is he an asshole? What, specifically, has he said or done to make you dislike him? Was your boyfriend praising a quality that you actually disliked?
I would do what some others have suggested and ask a good friend or two what they think. Are you maybe expressing your opinions a little too bluntly? Or is your bf just overreacting? Has anyone ever said anything like that to you before?
You shouldn’t change your opinions for anyone, nor should you stop yourself from sharing them. What you should look at is the WAY you are doing so. Word choice, tone, inflection, timing…little things make a BIG difference.
cmarie June 16, 2011, 4:07 pm
I know exactly what you mean about arguing from different viewpoints. I’m a somewhat Christian (more agnostic than anything else) and my partner is an atheist. Normally we get along quite well. One day we got into an argument about that billboard that got put up a while ago “You know it’s a myth…”. I took offense to that and thought that while the argument was valid, it was wrong they way the did it. She got angry and defensive and started to attack Christianity, calling it “unreasonable” and a “fantasy”. It eventually devolved into her questioning how I could believe in God after everything I’d been through, namely losing my mother 6 months prior to the argument. It is completely possible to have a discussion when you disagree but you need to be respectful and check your tone, your body language. If someone feels you’re being dismissive or condescending expect trouble.
Melanie June 16, 2011, 3:48 pm
Your main problem is that he’s intolerant of your criticism. The irony here is that you’re being intolerant of his criticism in return and wondering if it’s “dump” worthy. Did anyone else notice that?
AnitaBath June 16, 2011, 3:51 pm
Definitely noticed that. Everyone is jumping down Joe’s throat because he supposedly can’t deal with a dissenting opinion, and yet everyone’s like, “THAT JERK! HOW DARE HE DISAGREE WITH YOU DISAGREEING WITH HIM!?”
Wendy June 16, 2011, 7:29 pm
No, her main problem is not that he’s intolerant of her criticism; it’s that he’s intolerant of her having differing opinions than him. There’s a huge difference. He’s basically telling her to stop disagreeing with him so much because he can’t handle it. And THAT’S her main problem.
_jsw_ June 16, 2011, 9:13 pm
I gathered instead that it was the aggressive way in which she stated her opinions as fact and as “end of discussion” that was the issue, not the opinions themselves.
NaturalBlue June 16, 2011, 3:50 pm
I totally understand. I tend to be very outspoken and have very little filter between what happens in my head and what comes out of my mouth. In fact, oftentimes something has popped out of my mouth before I’ve had time to really think about what I’m saying. This was a real stumbling block early in my relationship with my fiance as he is the sensitive type. I, too, was told that I was “dismissive” and “argumentative” when I thought I was just expressing what I thought about the situation at hand.
It’s very possible that he’s a douche who needs to put on his big boy pants and stop being so sensitive. It’s also possible that you are what he says you are. I think it’s probably a little bit of both. In my case, I made a concerted effort to say things is a nicer manner and in exchange, my (then) boyfriend made an effort to not be so sensitive. As I told him at the time, you both need to assume a position of love. Meaning, he needs to understand that you are probably NOT trying to “invalidate” his opinion or cut him off or whatever it is that he thinks you’re doing. So, rather than getting his panties in a twist, he should tell you that he’s sure you didn’t mean to come off the way that he took whatever you said, but that saying “x” in “y” manner is hurtful to him. And you, in turn, need to take note of what he says and do your best to keep that in mind in your future communications.
If that’s not possible, then definitely MOA and find someone more suitable. There are so many men out there that appreciate strong women! My fiance has come to love the fact that I’m so assertive and outspoken now that he’s used to it and knows I’m not trying to be mean.
LW June 17, 2011, 11:50 am
part of my letter was omitted in Wendy’s editing, in which I admitted that I can be brash– “Wendy, I know I am not flawless, and I can be a bit brash, but anyone who knows me knows that I don’t intend to offend anyone when I’m just participating in conversation! I explained that to him, and he said he thinks I offer a differing opinion on things for the sake of argument (I do not) and that I try to make people feel intellectually inferior to me (I do not).”
So, basically, I tried to explain that how I am coming across is completely not how I intend to be interpreted, and he basically said “yes it is, I know it.” That’s the part that has me twisted up- if I’m trying to explain my intention, and you tell me I am wrong about what my intention is, what am I supposed to do? He clearly didn’t want to hear me out, or give me a chance to explain, apologize, etc.
leilani June 17, 2011, 12:10 pm
I can actually relate to you in that my ex-boyfriend used to always get on me for “debating” when we argued, which I was not trying to do at all. He wasn’t very good at expressing his feelings in words sometimes, where I was, and he would often think I was arguing for the sake of arguing when I was really just trying to express how I felt. It was infuriating at times when I felt that he wouldn’t listen to me because my response seemed too well-reasoned. I did, however, try to grow from what he said. I tried to stop focusing on the fact that I thought that I was right and he was wrong, and attempted to shift my goal from proving my point to having open, honest dialogue. That didn’t solve everything, though. He still sometimes accused me of “debating” when I definitely wasn’t.
Charlotte July 29, 2012, 11:13 am
Yeah this sounds exactly like me and me ex! Always accusing me of arguing when I absolutely had no intention of arguing
Yozi June 17, 2011, 12:24 pm
To me, LW, it just sounds like you’re smarter than him and he is intimidated by it. Tell us who the tv personality was!
_jsw_ June 17, 2011, 12:26 pm
She did already – Bear Grylls.
Yozi June 17, 2011, 12:30 pm
O thanks, I missed that!
SpaceySteph June 17, 2011, 2:37 pm
Agree. If you truly feel and others tell you (as it seems from your comment this is the case) that you are not overly dismissive of people’s opinions/harsh in stating your own when you get into debates, then I think the majority of the answers on here suggest your boyfriend needs to go find a more submissive girl and you need to keep being your awesome self. You will find someone who appreciates you for you!
Caris June 17, 2011, 2:44 pm
So, apparently he knows your intentions and you don’t! pft…. Id leave him, he is not hearing you out, and doesn’t accept your explanation/apology….
Brooklyn June 18, 2011, 11:06 pm
Hi LW, I feel for you. I am having a similar issue with a close guyfriend of mine. He takes my sarcastic statements/actions as me acting out or being upset about something. For example: he says something as a tease, I roll my eyes or tease back, he tells me I can take a joke, I tell him I did and made a joke back and he tells me that isn’t what I was doing and gets weird because he thinks I’m being dramatic.
The entire thing is confusing and frustrating because I’m constantly on guard and feel like he doesn’t have faith that I’m honest with him.
From what I can tell you didn’t really do anything wrong. Don’t let him make you feel bad about yourself. You didn’t mean to offend him and he didn’t seem to treat you very respectfully during that conversation either. I hope you are able to work it out.
Amy June 16, 2011, 3:53 pm
She also said that she really digs this guy and there haven’t been problems before. If he wanted an unopinionated minion, she’d have noticed something before 4 months. I think she should evaluate her interactions with him. Sometimes when you are comfortable with another person or really excited you can lose some of the tact that you’d normally have when you communicate with everyone else.
kerrycontrary June 16, 2011, 3:55 pm
I also mostly agree with Wendy’s advice, but I think that the biggest problem here is that the guy’s delivery was all wrong. Obviously this has been bugging him for a while and he just exploded (hence the telling her what she’s done wrong for 30 minutes). I have the problem of being labeled or “opinionated” or “confrontational”. Just because you HAVE opinions doesn’t mean that you are either of these things. It just means that you’re NOT a boring person who has no personality and no opinions. The LW should talk to her BF and explain how hurtful that conversation was. Then explain to him what you said in this letter: that he was attracted to you for your intelligence and wit and now you feel like he is annoyed by it. Sometimes we don’t know how we appear or come off to other people, so you COULD take this is an opportunity of self-improvement, but only if you want to.
AnitaBath June 16, 2011, 4:01 pm
It may be the pessimist in me, but I wonder if the conversation lasted an hour (which I think is probably an exaggeration anyway) because the guy was just unloading all of this onto her and didn’t stop to catch a breath, or because it turned into an argument and she didn’t see any problem with the way she reacts to things? That’s obviously entirely speculation, but it’s something to consider.
LW June 17, 2011, 11:52 am
It was him unloading. I said nothing until he was completely finished. That it lasted an hour was not an exaggeration.
_jsw_ June 17, 2011, 11:57 am
I’ll replay here, LW, to your various comments (as of when I started writing this). It would seem as though your bf is perhaps a little too sensitive and that, if it took him an hour to stop castigating you over past ‘transgressions’, he’s clearly one to hold onto things too long and too dearly. On the other hand, I also suspect that you come across differently than you think you do. I say that as someone who has been told similar things in the past and who took a long time to realize the validity of those comments.
The truth is probably somewhere in the middle of what he said about you and what you believe to be true.
_jsw_ June 17, 2011, 11:58 am
Er, “reply here”.
Ebony January 30, 2018, 2:08 pm
You don’t need to always run your mouth about everything to be an interesting person either.
Budjer June 16, 2011, 4:07 pm
Being someone that can come off as abrasive I would recommend voicing your opinion with facts and not speaking in absolutes as that puts people immediately on the defensive / shuts them down. Unless, of course, they agree with you and then it becomes more like a mob mentality riot except replace the burning cars and broken shop windows with burning opinions and broken self-esteem….
This sounds like “communication fail” between you both and working on your “stating of opinions” skill.
Turtledove June 16, 2011, 4:09 pm
Ok, so I’m probably a lot like the LW. I am opinionated, direct, and about as subtle as a freight train. I get accused of being bossy because I don’t use the words “I think” or “I feel”, things simply ARE. Being one of these people and still wanting to maintain relationships with others who aren’t necessarily as stubborn as I am, I’ve had to learn how to not steamroll others while still being true to myself. Part of that is paying attention to language– for instance, if someone suggests an activity I’m not interested in, it’s upsetting to say “That’s stupid.” Rather you should say something like, “That’s not to my taste, perhaps XYZ instead.” The first is dismissive, the second gets the point across without making it a personal judgement on the other person. So, this may be an opportunity for the LW to really look at the language she uses. If that needs a tuneup, then now’s as good a time as any.
Also, I will say that the LW and her boyfriend may just not be well suited. I married someone as opinionated and direct as I am for a reason– neither one of us are afraid to speak up about our opinions and feelings whereas people who are a little more withholding I find a little tiring to be around (they probably feel the same about me). It’s true she may need a language tune-up but it’s also true that if he’s the type to sit on his feelings until they explode, she may find it exhausting to need to ferret them out before that point or that he lets it get that far. It’s also true that he may just not be someone who likes to be contradicted at all. Either way, it helps if two people have similar communication styles or styles that can easily mesh and I’m not certain that these two do. If he feels at any point that she’s being dismissive of him, he ought to be able to say in the moment, “Wow, that was harsh.” or something to that effect rather than storing it up for later. The fact that she’s very direct and he’s not will lead to difficulties for them both.
Leigh June 16, 2011, 4:09 pm
It’s hard to judge these situations when we obviously only get one side of the story, but I don’t necessarily agree with Wendy’s assumption that Joe is being immature and overly sensitive. He very well could be, but the LW sort of reminds me of my ex. He was very opinionated, and about irrelevant things like celebrities too. There were a lot of times that he would have a strong, negative opinion of someone like that, and if I didn’t agree, he just made me feel like I was dumb. I guess what always got me was not so much that he was opinionated, but that his opinions were nearly always negative. I’m a generally positive person, and nice almost to a fault, and it was difficult to deal with his constant negativity, and ever more difficult to be made to feel like my opinions were wrong or didn’t matter. It’s fine to have opinions, and to voice those opinions, but a lot of it is about the way in which you do it, and being able to hear other peoples’ opinions. My ex’s constant negativity was one of the many reasons we didn’t work out, although we did split pretty amicably after realizing we just weren’t right for each other. Maybe the LW and her boyfriend simply aren’t right for each other either.
bad tempered sparrow June 16, 2011, 4:09 pm
yeah but- just coming out and calling someone an asshole is a bit abrasive. I mean some people talk like that and some people don’t, and the people that don’t find that kind of language aggressive. No judgement from me for either side but some people can take it and some can’t.
haggith June 16, 2011, 4:17 pm
since when opinionated equals strong and sensitive equals a wuss?
Amber June 16, 2011, 4:34 pm
If I could green thumb this 10 times I would.
_jsw_ June 16, 2011, 4:17 pm
For the record, the “TV Personality” was Mr. Rogers. I mean, come on.
AnitaBath June 16, 2011, 4:23 pm
Valerie June 16, 2011, 4:25 pm
Seriously, I’ve never liked that guy.
AnitaBath June 16, 2011, 4:29 pm
Joe or Mr. Rogers?
Valerie June 16, 2011, 4:29 pm
Oh my goodness! I was KIDDING! I KNEW I should have added the winky face after my comment.
AnitaBath June 16, 2011, 4:31 pm
Ha, I like how I got two thumbs up, and yet you get two thumbs down for virtually agreeing with me.
_jsw_ June 16, 2011, 4:33 pm
That’s because people assumed you were calling me an asshole and that Valerie was calling Mr. Rogers one. 🙂
Valerie June 16, 2011, 4:37 pm
Hahaha, actually I assumed that AnitaBath was jokingly saying Mr. Rogers was an asshole, and I was jokingly agreeing with her! Oh conversations on the internet 😀
Firegirl32 June 16, 2011, 4:46 pm
This totally made my day? Why are people even purple thumbing an imaginary conversation? Oh lord, help us all.
Firegirl32 June 16, 2011, 4:47 pm
Oops. ! not ? 🙂
spaceboy761 June 16, 2011, 4:27 pm
I actually had the honor to meet him in person in 1999. I cried.
_jsw_ June 16, 2011, 4:28 pm
I know! I still remember that, you cryb… oh, wait, you meant Mr. Rogers.
spaceboy761 June 16, 2011, 4:41 pm
It’s a little known fact that Mister Rogers was the original hipster: He wore sneakers with cardigans and horn-rimmed glasses, he was both straightedge and a vegan, and he made his living as a musician and visual artist. All you uppity punks in Portland are just doing a weak impersonation of him.
PFG-SCR June 16, 2011, 4:45 pm
Hm, might you be from Seattle, spaceboy?
spaceboy761 June 16, 2011, 4:54 pm
Hey, Portland. Brooklyn just called. They said they want their 2003 culture back and to feel free to join the rest of us in 2011 anytime. Omaha says hi.
Mainer June 16, 2011, 4:48 pm
That’s Portland, Oregon folks, just to eliminate any confusion. The uppity punks in this Portland do weak impersonations of high schoolers stuck in the 90s.
Firegirl32 June 16, 2011, 4:52 pm
spaceboy761 June 16, 2011, 4:56 pm
There’s a Portland in Canda? Weird.
PFG-SCR June 16, 2011, 4:58 pm
Haha…in the Midwest, we say that about Minnesota.
Mainer June 16, 2011, 5:05 pm
That would be a safe assumption to anyone who visited – it looks like everyone just looted a Salvation Army that happened to have a bunch of Old Navy on hand.
Valerie June 16, 2011, 4:25 pm
I have to wonder if the way LW expresses her opinions has come up before by other men men she’s dated or if this is the first time she’s hearing it. I think that would tell us a lot about whether a) the LW might need to work on how she discusses her opinions, b) Joe is too sensitive and/or doesn’t like opinionated women or c) a combination of the both.
natasha June 16, 2011, 4:27 pm
I actually have to DISAGREE with Wendy. (which isn’t often)
but as someone who is also very aggressive and opinionated (i am colombian and italian) I have been told since my younger years that the way I speak sometimes really turns people off. Since not just one person has said this to me it opened my eyes to see that maybe it is true. People have said to me “if only we had a camera so you could watch yourself”.
I disagree with Wendy because someone who don’t know what you look like or sound like from the outside. This guy seems nice and likes you so maybe it is time for you to take a look at yourself in the mirror. See if your own friends/family think that sometimes you come across too aggressive.
_jsw_ June 16, 2011, 4:27 pm
On a more serious note: I used to react in a way that I think is similar to the way the LW does to pretty much anything I didn’t agree with. It took a few people pointing it out, and one actually recording me, for me to truly see the way I appeared to others.
There’s a big difference between being confident in one’s opinions and actually verbally bullying others, and I did the latter whenever I’d disagree. I felt I had to win… and it was so ingrained that I didn’t even realize I was that way.
Now, I’m just as confident in my opinions, but I’ve learned to be more tolerant of others and the way they think about things (even when they’re so, so wrong), and it’s made my life so much easier. My online persona hasn’t yet caught up completely with this change, mind you.
AnitaBath June 16, 2011, 4:30 pm
“…and I did the latter whenever I’d disagree.”
Why is that past tense? 😉
_jsw_ June 16, 2011, 4:32 pm
Well, now I do most of it textually online. I rarely actually speak to people.
bagge72 June 16, 2011, 4:35 pm
Yeah I can kind of feel for the guy in this situation. My fiance loves to absolutely disagree with everything little thing I say, and it can get annoying, and her family has pointed it out to her that she does this, but she doesn’t stop. She also has to give her opinion on everything to her friends, and some of them have gotten to the point where they have actually stopped hanging out with her, because they want to do their own things in life, and don’t want to be judged all of the time, just because they are hooking up with a random guy at a bar. So I would say I would need examples of what you are saying to people before I can judge this guys reaction. You could be one of those people that thinks everyone loves you, because you are keeping it real, and always telling the truth, but in reality everyone just wants you to agree with them every once in a while, because they were just looking for somebody to listen to their problems. Those people usually cant handle when you tell them the truth like this letter writer couldn’t handle how other people view her.
I’ve learned that in relationships sometimes you have to keep your moth shut, so you don’t offend somebodies interests and likes. Doesn’t mean you always have to do it, but it is nice to pick and choose which ones.
Libby June 16, 2011, 4:46 pm
I guess I keep thinking what everyone would be saying if this had been written from the flip side:
“Dear Wendy, every time I try to talk to my boyfriend about something I like, he dismisses it with a short sentence about how dumb it is/wrong I am/how he thinks that is a waste of time. Even my friends are making comments about how abrasive and dismissive he is, but I fell in love with his intelligence and wit. Should I MOA??”
SpaceySteph June 16, 2011, 4:50 pm
Boys aren’t allowed to take issue with their gf being opinionated. Its common knowledge that an opinionated woman is strong and beautiful while an opinionated man is a controlling dickwad.
Firegirl32 June 16, 2011, 4:53 pm
Before you get purple thumbs…should I sense the sarcasm for you? 😉
Yozi June 16, 2011, 4:58 pm
I would see it exactly the same way if it was a guy saying something honest about a tv personality and a girlfriend freaking out about him being too opinionated. Either way, it sounds like one person trying to silence the voice of the other.
SpaceySteph June 16, 2011, 5:11 pm
Yes, please. I took my chances by omitting the winker.
Valerie June 16, 2011, 6:10 pm
I took a chance by omitting the winker too, and it backfired miserably. *shakes head* 🙂
Amber June 16, 2011, 5:04 pm
Well, in Dear Wendy land, anyway 🙂
Monica M June 16, 2011, 5:39 pm
I love your example!
sarolabelle June 16, 2011, 4:00 pm
My advice to you would be to hear him out. Respect his opinion that you are agressive and opinionated and try to become a better person (if you want to). If you don’t want to then perhaps y’all aren’t a match.
LW June 17, 2011, 11:54 am
why does being opinionated imply that I need to “try to become a better person”? People are not “bad” because they are abrasive at times.
Spark June 18, 2011, 9:51 am
I get what you’re saying, LW… but I still tend to think of abrasion as a negative personality trait… I think sarolabelle simply meant that it wouldn’t hurt to present your opinion more gently around someone to whom it would really mean a lot.
Sarah June 16, 2011, 5:01 pm
Here’s my thing:
Guy who is genuinely hurt by girlfriend’s abrasive nature and let’s her know that it makes his point insignificant= not a douche.
Guy who who drives this point in for an hour until she cries, threatens to break up with her until she changes, and tells her all of his friends thinks she’s a bitch too so she’ll feel isolated and wrong= DOUCHE.
If you actually feel you’re making a healthy point, why the hell do you need to back it up by telling how much other people think she’s wrong too? Is her feeling like a piece of sh*t for finding out that people around her talk about how awful she is, INCLUDING her boyfriend, behind her back worth it?
If your point is valid, you don’t try to put the other person down by having more people on your side than hers. That’s a bitchy click thing to do.
Instead of berating her for continuous communication problem all at once like she’s this awful person to everyone she knows (for a TV celebrity, for God’s sake), maybe I don’t know, bring it up every time it offends you in a calm reasonable manner instead, so she can understand the pattern. I tend to be an abrasive person, but I rely on my friends and family to let me know when I rub them the wrong way. To think everything is fine with my relationships and then all of the sudden hear from one person that this whole group of other people think I’m a bitch is a tactic meant to make me feel hurt and alone, not actually solve a problem.
Talk to trusted love ones to see if you have a habit of making people defensive about their opinions, but don’t trust this immature dbag to contribute anything healthy unless it strokes his own ego.
Amber June 16, 2011, 5:06 pm
It really just sounds like this conversation went a bit sideways on his part due to him keeping to himself for 4 months. I think we’ve all been there.
Yozi June 16, 2011, 5:08 pm
Um, actually no we haven’t, Amber.
Amber June 16, 2011, 5:22 pm
AnitaBath June 16, 2011, 5:13 pm
Amber, you fool! Suggesting other people are mere mortals and don’t always adhere to perfect communication standards? Bah!
Yozi June 16, 2011, 5:15 pm
Pfft. Keeping stuff to yourself for four months and then errupting over a jab at a tv star isn’t just failing to meet perfect communication standards…
Amber June 16, 2011, 5:20 pm
Sarah June 16, 2011, 5:14 pm
But that’s exactly it! Why is it fair to call her on 4 months worth of problems without any kind of indicator that he doesn’t like the way she communicates?
1st time it happens: Hey, I don’t know if you noticed this, but sometimes when you react so negatively against something I like, it makes me feel like you don’t value my opinion.
4 months in with no warning: YOU’RE A LOUD BITCH CHANGE OR ITS OVER.
Which way would you respond better to hear about a potential flaw in your character?
A caring boyfriend would have been honest, but gentle. It seems like this guy was way more focused on making LW ashamed of a personality flaw (she did not even know about) instead of creating a healthier pattern.
Yozi June 16, 2011, 5:17 pm
Yes, thank you Sarah!
PFG-SCR June 16, 2011, 5:22 pm
In the beginning of a relationship, people tend to overlook things, but as time goes on, it gets more difficult to do that. That’s why whenever I read a letter that says, “OMG, I’ve been dating my boyfriend six months, and I can’t stand when he [insert mildly annoying behavior],” I think, “If it bothers you at six months, it’s going to drive you freakin’ insane in a few years.”
Did he communicate it to her in the best way possible? Probably not. But, she needs to look past that and take heart of the message (not the delivery).
Amber June 16, 2011, 5:22 pm
Monica M June 16, 2011, 5:35 pm
Sarah June 16, 2011, 5:33 pm
Ok 4 months is NOT the beginning of a relationship. Something has been bothering him, potential every time they spoke for 4 months. And he said nothing. Giving her the false sense of security that she is communicating properly and then lowering the boom that she’s actually awful (potentially). And seeing that he’s threatening to dump her unless she changes, it seems more like the end of their relationship.
What’s funny is the heart of the message IS the delivery. Why are her communication errors so irrefutably bitchtastic when his communication errors are no big deal and something that she should look past?? Dou.ble. Stan.dard.
Amber June 16, 2011, 5:41 pm
I never said she should past his communication errors. I said that she should not look past his message, just because of those communication errors. Big difference.
Sarah June 16, 2011, 5:45 pm
My comment was a response to PFG-SCR who said,
“Did he communicate it to her in the best way possible? Probably not. But, she needs to look past that and take heart of the message (not the delivery).”
Amber June 16, 2011, 5:51 pm
Well, she would in a sense have to look past his poor delivery to listen to what he is saying, but that doesn’t mean she shouldn’t then talk to him about perhaps not keeping things bottled up for 4 months and then unleashing them over the phone.
plasticepoxy June 17, 2011, 1:10 pm
also, she’s noticed he goes quiet when she says something “he doesn’t like”, so she’s noticed a response from him but maybe hasn’t looked at what that response means or how her behavior could be playing into that response.
I go quiet when my feelings are hurt by others. I shut down a bit, look inside and try to decide how to respond. Sometimes there isn’t a response.
As someone who has been told they were too sensitive, I tend to try to sit on issues before bringing them up, to make sure it’s not an issue of sensitivity. It could be that he was trying to learn her communication style and when he felt he had a handle on it, he tried to articulate how he felt about it, with devolved into a mess over the phone. Just a guess.
Valerie June 16, 2011, 5:27 pm
I’m totally with you Sarah. I think it’s the way Joe handled the situation that really rubbed me the wrong way.
LW June 17, 2011, 12:08 pm
Thank you, Sarah- this is absolutely helpful- because when he just listed one after another of examples, I mean, they were conversations I don’t even remember, thus had zero context to what he was pointing out to me. Since I didn’t realize this was even an issue, I felt completely broad-sided by his whole argument. If in the future I have him point out to me what I’m doing, as I do it, odds are I will be able to determine if I really am being abrasive vs. him misinterpreting me. And at the least, I will be able to clear up any confusion in my intent vs. his interpretation, if that is what the problem is.
Sarah June 17, 2011, 1:39 pm
Thank you! It means so much to me that you said I was helpful :). I just have been in the exact same situation as you, and I know that getting all of the sudden slapped in the face with the news that you have been doing something intolerable for months without remembering when and how just makes you feel hurt and defensive, a place that you’re least likely to want to perceive your own actions from.
No matter what, it takes two people to effectively communicate. If he really sees this as a problem to change (if it even is a problem) then he should recognize that his failure to let you know until threatening that its too late and using other people as witnesses was the wrong way to handle it, and he should work towards proactively (and kindly!) approaching it so you can learn from it in the future.
eelizg23 June 16, 2011, 5:38 pm
Well, like many of you, as I was reading this, I came to a totally different conclusion than Wendy, and I agree that some self-evaluation is probably necessary on the part of the LW to see if he has a point before she decides to dump him or not or whatever. I have been in a relationship with someone who was exceedingly negative about practically everything that I didn’t even want to talk to him anymore. It drove me so CRAZY, but nothing really changed despite my trying to talk to him about it reasonably. We’re not together anymore, and he’s got a new girlfriend now who doesn’t seem to mind his communication style nearly as much as I did. In the end, my advice would still probably be the same as Wendy’s (minus the condescension toward the BF). If you find that he did have a point, I guess you could check yourself, but depending on how willing or not you are to modify your behavior, it might still be best to MOA and find someone more suitable to your temperament and personality.
cdjd0523 June 16, 2011, 5:49 pm
There is a scene in the movie Lake Placid where Oliver Platt’s character says to Brenden Gleasen’s character “When friends and family tell you things they tend not to register so it helps to hear it from a complete stranger…” While the BF of 4 months is not a complete stranger he does not have the level of familiarity with the LW as her friends and family. Things could have been said to her before about her tone or the aggressive way she states her ~opinions~ but because those people are closer to her she wrote them off as something petty or not worth her attention to the matter.
I have a more aggressive approach and tone in general and while yes there are people who are not thick skinned and cannot take it, there is also a way to check yourself before spouting off. It has taken me awhile to temper my aggressive nature but does not mean I have changed ~who I am~, it’s about being more aware of ~how I am~. It might behoove the LW to take this into consideration and begin to apply it her interactions with people.
Sarah June 16, 2011, 6:09 pm
Ok, so I switched the roles of the first part of LW’s letter. Here it is:
“I’ve been seeing my guy, “Joe,” for four months, and it’s been great! But last night on the phone, I started talking about a TV personality that he doesn’t like, and he said “He’s such a fraud and an asshole.” Immediately, I go silent (my reaction when he says something I don’t like, he’s noticing) and he asked what the problem was. I said he invalidated my opinion with his, and that he does it all the time, and it’s getting to the point where I don’t know if I can “do this” anymore because he talks to people in such a way that makes them not want to talk to him. I proceed to explain this about 30 different ways over the course of the next hour, and he started to cry. As he’s crying on the phone, I say, “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.” I followed that up by telling him that my friends have even pointed out how opinionated and dismissive he is, so I know what I’m saying is valid.”
If an LW had written this letter, she would’ve gotten torn apart on here! Why is his rudeness so excusable where hers is so damning??
Amber June 16, 2011, 6:20 pm
I don’t think anyone is saying it’s exusable. She just should not dismiss what he was saying because the way he chose to bring it up was ridiculous and mean (if it indeed happened as written in the letter).
She should first: listen to what he is saying. Second: decide whether she thinks it has any merit. Third: Go from there. And if she decides to stay with him, she should tell him how hurt she was by how he brought it up, and work out a way with him to discuss any future issues.
Frankly I think they’re both idiots. But that’s neither here nor there.
sarah June 16, 2011, 6:33 pm
Lol, she’s an idiot now? Why?
Yozi June 16, 2011, 6:37 pm
Ya, Amber, that’s pretty opinionated of you. I’ve been meaning to talk to you about that…your opinions. How you have so many…
Yozi June 16, 2011, 6:22 pm
Exactly. For some reason people want to believe that this girl is negative and caustic to the point of being a social pariah, but I’m not getting that from her letter- she puts an exclamation point after “it’s been great” when describing her relationship with Joe. Super negative people don’t do that. Take my word for it. Why is she being imagined as this joy-sucking, puppy-kicking, party-ending Medusa? Because some dude, 4 months in, breaks silence to tell her he thought she was too opinionated and his friends agreed?
dinoceros January 11, 2017, 7:28 pm
People who are super negative are capable of being happy about some things. They don’t just live under a dark cloud all the time. Believe me, I know a really negative girl who uses her share of exclamation points.
PFG-SCR June 16, 2011, 7:21 pm
If you notice, the LW isn’t denying that she’s aggressive and opinionated. Instead, she’s asking, “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.” We can focus on his delivery, but it’s not what she’s focusing on – instead, it’s whether or not she can – and should – change the way she interacts with others.
In many instances at DearWendy, the commenters automatically assume that what the LWs have provided is completely accurate, including no omissions. But, the letters are only one side of the story, and it’s subject to not only faulty recollection but misinterpretation and possibly even that natural human reaction of making ourselves look a bit better in a contentious situation. Additionally, many automatically assume that the guy is at fault, and the only “question” is whether she should 1) stay with him or 2) MOA. Sometimes when the LWs need to hear is that they’re in the wrong (not the guy), or they need to view the situation a bit differently. It’s much easier to blame someone else than to accept responsibility for our own behavior, but that’s not helping any of these LWs in the long run.
Sarah June 16, 2011, 7:45 pm
So instead of taking the LW’s word that her version of events is what happened, we should automatically assume that her bf is right about her? Even if she did deny it I doubt it would change your view about what happened, only that she’s in denial. I just feel like there is an overwhelming desire in these comments to assume that her boyfriend is spot on, even when we all would jump all over her if the tables were turned. What is it about a woman who may/may not be too opinionated to a man that gets commenters so against her when a man who is just as rude to her is given a pass? That is what bothers me. Is it the fact that she wasn’t dying to change herself for a guy who was recently a complete ass to her?
To be honest I have no idea whether she really is rude or not. None of us know. None of us can know. Even if she is, even if she’s the biggest bitch on the planet, it does not justify her bf’s rudeness towards her as if she should know that everybody hates her when nobody, including himself, felt like discussing it to her face before it escalated. A flaw in a character does not damn her, I think we all know of points in our life when we discovered we were not sending the right impression towards others. But think about it, how would you like to have dealt with it? Either being let known in a healthy communicative matter so you can work constructively on changing your attitude, or instead have people threatening to leave you in the same breath you become aware of the issue and then be villified here?
PFG-SCR June 16, 2011, 8:10 pm
As I’ve mentioned above, I think the boyfriend could have handled it better, but that’s easy to say when we can sit here and read the letter and play “Monday morning quarterback” when we comment. Not only do we have time to process the situation, but we’re not in the moment, nor are we emotionally vested. She says that other than this situation, they’ve not had any issues. So, let’s just assume that he handled it completely wrong – is he not allowed to make a mistake? Or, should we hold him to some unattainable standard that we ourselves couldn’t live by?
Yozi June 16, 2011, 8:31 pm
This standard is not unattainable…Anyway, when someone tells you that they don’t want to hear your opinions anymore it’s not really a mistake or a “whoops” moment. It’s a pretty deliberate way of making you feel small and essentially telling you to shut-up.
Sarah June 16, 2011, 9:29 pm
Ok, I just don’t understand this mindset. Him being completely out of line and cruel to the LW is just “making a mistake”, yet LW’s comment about a TV celebrity is somehow indicative of 4 months of a aggressive and opinionated persona?
PFG-SCR June 16, 2011, 9:37 pm
A few of us, including Wendy, addressed this a little bit above these comments – instead of copying and pasting, I’ll just direct you to them since I’ve already addressed this.
Sarah June 16, 2011, 9:49 pm
Yeah, I read that, I still don’t understand. He said that her statement “He’s such a fraud and an asshole.” is “aggressive and opinionated”. Therefore, he feels that disagreeing with him, about as something as silly as a tv celebrity, is “aggressive and opinionated”. Unless she screamed it at him while holding a glock to his temple, I just don’t see why he would jump on this as an example of her verbal bullying. Could she be rude to him not including this? Yes, of course. But that fact that he chose THIS to rip her a new one does not say much about his version of “aggressive and opinionated”
PFG-SCR June 16, 2011, 9:52 pm
He’s not saying this is an isolated situation – this is the “straw that broke the camel’s back”.
AnitaBath June 16, 2011, 9:56 pm
He didn’t jump on it, he got quiet and she asked him what’s wrong because she noticed she said something he didn’t like. He didn’t even say that comment was aggressive and opinionated, but instead that the way she says things seems like she’s undermining his opinions with her own.
It seems like people are just making up their own reasons for this guy now.
Amber June 17, 2011, 3:56 pm
I what a lot of people who were kind of on the boyfriend’s side were reacting to Wendy’s initial response to the letter. Her response was very much on the LW’s side, so some people, including myself, were kind of like “hold on here, he may have a point, don’t dismiss him as a jerk right off the bat”.
lk June 16, 2011, 6:22 pm
I’m sassy as hell. I just found someone who could give it right back, though, & it’s going great. Neither of us get worked up – just get good jabs in there – & when one person crosses the line, it’s been pretty easy because we’re both used to being honest & so apologies are exchanged & the banter goes on…We’ll see.
YouGoGirl June 16, 2011, 7:13 pm
I have another view of this situation. My husband was emotionally abusive and he acted just like the boyfriend. He would always say I was too opinionated whenever I disagreed with him or else give me the silent treatment like the LW’s boyfriend.
Emotionally abusive men do not show their true colors immediately in a relationship. They behave well until the women is emotionally involved and then gradually show their true character. It is easy to be fooled because the warning signs of an emotional abuser are subtle. The boyfriend’s behavior has me concerned. Even if the LW does come across as too opinionated, her boyfriend is not very loving in expressing his concern.
blackbird June 16, 2011, 7:37 pm
Man… I was dating a guy a year ago who, when I defended him in conversation, told me I was too aggressive and opinionated, and that I would “get shot in El Paso(his hometown)” if I were to speak like that. And I was telling a girl who was blatantly hitting on him in front of me that he did not look like Jacob from Twilight.
Needless to say, I dropped his ass and I’m so thankful I did so early into the relationship. Had I waited a few months, it would have been a lot more painful. He’s showing you his true colors now!
Quakergirl June 16, 2011, 8:09 pm
In this situation, it sounds like both of you were in the wrong in different ways. LW, you very well may come off as abrasive and dismissive. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad person or a mean person or in any way trying to be abrasive or dismissive. Intelligent people are often very direct and to the point, and are taught to argue vehemently. You probably don’t interpret your tone, wording, and timing as abrasive, at all, but other people might. I say this as someone who has this problem, and trust me, if you don’t get it under control you will piss off a lot of folks. Clearly, you already are unintentionally hurting Joe, and you probably have done it to others before.
Look, there’s nothing wrong with having a strong opinion or voicing that opinion. What’s problematic is the way you present your opinion. Your opinion is not a fact, it’s your view. And when you say things like “that guy’s an asshole” you’re leaving no room for another interpretation. You are– just like Joe said– invalidating his opinion. I’m sure you don’t mean to, but that’s how it comes off. This will likely be an issue going forward with Joe or any other guy you hope to date or friend you hope to make, so if you see even the remotest possibility that you’re doing this, try to work on phrasing things in less absolute terms and make sure your tone isn’t argumentative, dismissive, or accusatory. A conversation with your boyfriend is not like prosecuting a murder trial– you’re not trying to win an argument here.
That being said, Joe clearly should have drawn the line at stating his case and then let it go. Making his case over and over again to the point where he made you cry is not cool. At all. He probably felt hurt/annoyed and was just venting, but it’s hurtful to you to act that way, too. I would say to him that you see the point he was trying to make and will try to work on being less dismissive in the future, but that you were really hurt by his actions and didn’t appreciate being berated. If he apologizes genuinely, I’d try to move forward and give it another shot. If he starts in again or is anything less than sorry, I’d MOA.
dobby June 16, 2011, 9:00 pm
Wow – is this like the longest Dear Wendy comment thread ever???
Mr.44 June 16, 2011, 11:04 pm
Why is it so freakin difficult for the two sides of this discussion to reach a concensus? If there’s one thing EVERYONE in a relationship knows: different people have different communication styles.
He obviously felt that, over an extended period, that he was being put down. Like (many) guys, instead of openly talking about it from the begining, he let it build up and boil over. Come on girls, combined you’ve dated many guys, and you know many of us avoid emotional discussions as long as possible.
She RIGHTLY feels that there is nothing wrong with her communication style, and expects her BF to explain when something is bothering him.
They BOTH need to decide whether this relationship is important enough to compromise their communication styles. He needs to decide whether he wants to be more open with his feelings. She needs to decide whether she wants to make an effort to be more sensitive.
Whatever they decide, no biggie. Really simple.
SGMcG June 16, 2011, 11:08 pm
Wendy, is there a way you could write to the LW and get some clarity about what happened during her exchange with her boyfriend? I read her letter and all the comments that followed and I can understand how LW was hurt by her boyfriend’s rude approach with his concerns. At the same time though, perhaps they are addressable concerns that have been never been voiced before. I feel more context is needed with regards to what was said. Yet so far, I think everyone has brought up valid points so far.
Wendy June 16, 2011, 11:46 pm
I let all LWs know that their letters have been published. If they want to stop in and elaborate on details they’re welcome to, but I don’t push it.
Bree June 17, 2011, 12:06 am
He’s an asshole. Dump him!
Lindsay June 17, 2011, 1:50 am
I don’t know. This is one of those situations where it could easily be seen two completely different ways by each person. Yes, he should be able to handle when someone disagrees with him. But I’ve also known people who thought they were just being normal, when I felt they were shooting down everything I said without listening to me. I say the LW and her boyfriend should talk about specific examples so they’re both on the same page about what the problem is.
evanscr05 June 17, 2011, 8:03 am
The solution to this is neither “MOA, he’s obvs a douche!” nor “You need to change your entire personality, you’re totes a bitch!”. We all get settled into “that’s just how I am” and when someone points out to you something about your personality that is not so flattering, it hurts your feelings. I’m rather frank, myself, and I certainly pride myself on being bold and forming my own opinions, but when I was told by a couple of friends that I can come across as harsh and bitchy, I took that as an opportunity to work on my communication skills some, and you know what? My relationships with them improved.
I don’t think either of you handled it particularly well, but I also think both of you have some good points. Like some other posters have said, you should definitely talk to some trusted friends/family and see if the way you approach disagreements is as harsh as he says. If you get other people telling you something similar, use that as an opportunity to better yourself some. Every human being is a constant work in progress, and working on the way you communicate doesn’t necessarily equal giving in to someone else. Perhaps your boyfriend is a pig who takes issue with a woman having an opinion (in which case, definitely MOA), or maybe he’s just a guy who doesn’t feel his opinions matter to his girlfriend and he doesn’t quite know how to tell you. You need to talk to him about the way you come across and figure out what the actual issue is he has (HE has, NOT his friends…) and see if you can find other ways to express your opinion without dismissing his, if that is the case. Don’t change yourself for him, but do be willing to address how you communicate with him if that’s truly the issue. All relationships are built on a give and take, and you can’t be successful in them without being willing to accept that your way may not always be the best way. Good luck!
LW June 17, 2011, 12:31 pm
I’m trying to figure out how my boyfriend telling me that I invalidated his opinion means that I must be the most negative person walking? I wrote that up until this conversation, things have been going great- this is literally our first disagreement. I didn’t say “I should dump his ass,” I asked if I should call it a day- what I want to know is if someone apparently misinterprets your tone/verbage/opinions for being condescending and you have had no intention on making that person feel badly, can it be remedied, or is it a deal-breaker? I clearly care about the man, otherwise I would’ve just bit his head off and split.
AnitaBath June 17, 2011, 12:34 pm
I think what some other people mentioned sounds like good advice. Tell him to just (nicely) point it out to you when he believes you’re doing it, and that he’s not allowed to talk about it for more than five minutes. Don’t immediately get on the offensive when he does so and discredit what he says, but try to listen to it and play back what you just said and how it sounded. I agree with Joe in that things are probably in the middle of the way both of you see them. You probably don’t think you’re coming off abrasive because that’s not your intention, and your boyfriend probably thinks you’re coming off extra abrasive because he might be looking out for it.
I 100% think it’s something that can be remedied, if you *both* are willing to work on it. If either of you drags your feet or is uncooperative, you’re going to have a lot harder time.
AnitaBath June 17, 2011, 1:28 pm
Oops, when I said “Joe” I meant “jsw.” That could make things confusing.
Yozi June 17, 2011, 12:41 pm
I’d say you guys could probably get around it if he was willing to discuss your communication issues more. But from what you posted above it seems like he’s not really willing to hear you out or to see things from your perspective. Maybe with some time he’ll come around. It seems like he doesn’t get your sense of humor though, and I don’t know if you can change that about a person. This wouldn’t bother me as much if he didn’t seem like he was *threatened* by your opinions. He sounds kind of anti-intellectual.
AnitaBath June 17, 2011, 1:02 pm
Wow, you are REALLY rooting for this guy to just be an emotionally stunted idiot, aren’t you?
Yozi June 17, 2011, 1:05 pm
Are you kidding? Someone who can’t handle a jokey conversation about Survivor Man? I’m not rooting for anything, just working with the evidence that’s been provided for us.
_jsw_ June 17, 2011, 1:08 pm
I’m not sure why you – or, it seems, Wendy – think this has much to do at all with the LW’s particular opinion of one particular celebrity. It has to do with the way the LW expresses an opinion.
Also, for the record, Survivorman is Les Stroud. 😉
AnitaBath June 17, 2011, 1:12 pm
“This is screaming fragile male ego.”
“Or perhaps the reaction of someone who has nothing to say because he’s not quick enough to keep up with his witty girlfriend.”
“To me, LW, it just sounds like you’re smarter than him and he is intimidated by it.”
“He sounds kind of anti-intellectual.”
Working with the evidence? You’re making HUGE assumptions about this guy.
Yozi June 17, 2011, 1:31 pm
Thats like, your opinion. You are assuming that Joe has the emotional fragility of Bambi and that his soft virginal ears cannot bear to hear attacks hurled at the precious BearGrylis..
AnitaBath June 17, 2011, 1:39 pm
_jsw_ June 17, 2011, 1:47 pm
Don’t do a “*headdesk*” here – if you disagree with what Yozi is saying about your assumptions, you should have made comments that indicate a different perspective instead of defending his pain at hearing insults to Bear, a man with whom he clearly is in love.
Oh, wait, you did. All over the place.
_jsw_ June 17, 2011, 1:05 pm
“Non-confrontational” is not the same as “anti-intellectual.”
Yozi June 17, 2011, 1:07 pm
I’m sorry but non-confrontational does not apply to conversations about tv shows. Maybe discussions about race or politics but not this…
_jsw_ June 17, 2011, 1:09 pm
“Anti-intellectual” doesn’t apply any better.
Yozi June 17, 2011, 1:12 pm
Someone who can’t have a mature adult disscussion about the pros and cons of Survior Man seems like the definition of anti-intellectual.
_jsw_ June 17, 2011, 1:21 pm
Really? You consider the ability to discuss the pros and cons of a celebrity (who isn’t on Survivorman, as previously mentioned) to be a mark of intellectualism?
Or, more specifically, you define anti-intellectual as “[s]omeone who can’t have a mature adult disscussion about the pros and cons of Survior Man.”
Our definitions obviously differ.
Yozi June 17, 2011, 1:25 pm
I don’t have a tv but whatever Bearwhathisname…I think someone who is threatened by someones opinion about a tv show personality and refuses to discuss it with her is absolutely showing signs of being anti-intellectual.
_jsw_ June 17, 2011, 1:28 pm
I work with MIT PhDs who have done astonishing work and who have been published many times in multiple esteemed journals but who would not care to talk with someone who so forcefully represented an opinion. And yet, they are pretty much – to paraphrase you – the definition of “intellectual.”
I think you might want to look up the term before you continue to use it improperly.
Yozi June 17, 2011, 1:32 pm
That was hilarious.
Yozi June 17, 2011, 1:11 pm
What do Anita and jsw talk about with their SOs? I mean, you can’t talk about movies or spring time allergies or cats because that would be too controversial- too in your face confrontational. Better just stick to pizza and ice cream so no one’s feelings get hurt.
AnitaBath June 17, 2011, 1:14 pm
Personally, I usually tell them that they’re idiots and I’m smarter than them and they’re not witty enough to keep up with me, so I don’t even bother conversing. For some reason they never return my calls…
_jsw_ June 17, 2011, 1:25 pm
…which is why AnitaBath and I are romantically involved, because neither of us pays any attention to what the other is saying, so we never have a chance to feel insulted.
AnitaBath June 17, 2011, 1:27 pm
Wait, have you been in this conversation this entire time? Somehow, I didn’t even notice…
_jsw_ June 17, 2011, 1:32 pm
I know. It’s amazing that both of us can do what we’re doing now and still post on a website. I chalk it up to being intellectuals.
AnitaBath June 17, 2011, 1:34 pm
Could you move your foot though? It’s really digging into the small of my back.
SpaceySteph June 19, 2011, 3:21 pm
Can I just say this is the best DW conversation ever?
Or is that being too opinionated?
_jsw_ June 17, 2011, 1:23 pm
Yes, you’re completely grasping the essence of our point, which is that it’s absolutely wrong to ever disagree with someone. Truly, you are an intellectual to have gleaned that from our comments, because most people would have anti-intellectually assumed that we meant it just wasn’t cool to be a complete ass when stating your opinions.
Yozi June 17, 2011, 1:27 pm
In what way was LW being an ass when stating her opinion? That’s what I don’t see.
_jsw_ June 17, 2011, 1:30 pm
“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.'”
Really – you don’t see any issue with that? He started a conversation, and she leapt in and interrupted him with a negative opinion of the person he was discussing and, even better, stated it as a fact because she’d “read somewhere” that he stayed in a resort instead of being on location.
Yozi June 17, 2011, 1:36 pm
Perhaps in your cloistered ivory tower people do not use such uncouth language, but down here us commoners talk like that all the time. And she clarified above that she did not just “jump” in with the asshole comment..
_jsw_ June 17, 2011, 1:43 pm
I’m really surprised that you’re defending such anti-intellectual behavior.
LW June 17, 2011, 1:53 pm
Actually, jsw, if you’d have read what I said, you’d see that I made my opinion after he told me his story. It was not that I “leapt in and interrupted him with a negative opinion.” :
“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.”
_jsw_ June 17, 2011, 1:58 pm
Nevertheless, you were calling someone he had just finished talking about an asshole and a fraud based on something you read somewhere. It’s not like you’d ever personally been confronted by the guy, and it’s not like you needed to say he was an asshole and fraud – you did it just to interject something that had the effect of devaluing the story your bf had just been telling. If you cannot see that, then you need to look at it again. Whatever story your bf had told, you’d basically just called him an idiot for believing it.
Yozi June 17, 2011, 2:06 pm
It’s called having a conversation jsw. Come on, do you feel devalued everytime someone disagrees with you or offers an alternative perspective?
_jsw_ June 17, 2011, 2:07 pm
@LTC039: Of course I have. I’ll do it now: George W. Bush is an asshole.
However, there’s a difference between insulting a public figure and insulting the person that someone has just finished telling a story about, for the sole purpose of invalidating that story, and especially so if that behavior is typical for you.
_jsw_ June 17, 2011, 2:09 pm
@Yozi: If I did, I’d never be on here or The Frisky. I don’t mind disagreement, but, again, it’s the manner in which the disagreement is expressed, and, as well, there’s a difference between disagreement here and a condescending insult thrown in right after your SO has said something.
_jsw_ June 17, 2011, 2:18 pm
I don’t think it was the LW’s intention. I think it’s the way the LW’s comments come across to others.
Yozi June 17, 2011, 2:18 pm
I just can’t imagine getting upset about my SO saying something to contradict my opion of Bear Gryllis. Your implication is that she was making fun of him for believing a story about Bear, right? Even if she was, I don’t see how that is a big deal. It’s harmless joking between people who are dating each other.
Caris June 17, 2011, 2:28 pm
Based on what the LW explained here, I say the guy is a big ol baby. So what if he had just finished talking about this tv person? Is there a waiting period before you can give your own opinion about someone/something?
She said what she said based on something she read. He formed his opinion on the dude based on what he sees on tv. What the magazine said could have been bs or not. What he sees on tv could be heavily edited or not edited at all. So what?
She gave her opinion in an ironic/silly/non serious way and he took it as if she had stabbed him or something.
Caris June 17, 2011, 2:36 pm
Also…. You cannot ask someone to be nicer and less aggressive on their opinions when you are being aggressive yourself to the point that you are making the other person cry……
_jsw_ June 17, 2011, 2:41 pm
Many of you are treating this like it was an isolated incident. If he could spend an hour giving other examples, it wasn’t. This seems to be the LW’s MO. That is the issue, not one isolated comment.
Wendy June 17, 2011, 2:50 pm
If his other examples are anything like the one we know about, then he’s a big ol’ baby.
_jsw_ June 17, 2011, 2:54 pm
If he had an hour’s worth of similar examples, then he’s a saint for waiting that long to explode.
Yozi June 17, 2011, 2:57 pm
Ah yes, Saint Joseph, patron saint of television adventurers and mushy feelings..
_jsw_ June 17, 2011, 3:02 pm
It amazes me that you still think the incident had anything whatsoever to do with how he felt about a TV celebrity.
Sarah June 17, 2011, 3:12 pm
If it isn’t about a tv celebrity, then maybe he should have grown a pair and commented to her about the issue when it would actually happen, not throw a damn hissy fit when he hears something bad about BEAR GRYLLS. She’s already said she didn’t interupt him or was disrespectful, she just said she didn’t like a celebrity that he liked. Why is that an example of her being a bitch??
Hey I like ketchup. What’s that, you hate ketchup? You thinks its disgusting? GET AWAY FROM ME YOU RAGING BITCH.
For. God. Sakes. I know 90 year old women that don’t need this much delicacy when they’re spoken to!
Wendy June 17, 2011, 3:20 pm
This times 1000.
Caris June 17, 2011, 9:06 pm
I agree with you. The LW already explained to us how the conversation went about.
She gave her opinion on the subject AFTER he was done talking. Like in any NORMAL conversation. She also said she said it in a sarcastic/non serious way and that she was just being silly about it. If the dude can’t distinguish a silly/sarcastic tone from a serious aggressive one, then it is his problem.
Also, why explode in that way? Accumulating things that annoy you instead of just mentioning the problem when it happens is being passive aggressive.
Caris June 17, 2011, 8:59 pm
Instead of exploding, he should have brought it up the first time he found it bothered him; then she could have had the opportunity to change the way she says things. Also, if he is complaining about the way she says certain things, shouldn’t he have said that it bothered him in a non berating way? Instead of just making her feel like crap about it?
Yozi June 17, 2011, 2:46 pm
We are using our reason to extrapolate that the other incidents weren’t a big deal because this particular incident wasn’t a big deal at all.
leilani June 17, 2011, 2:49 pm
I doubt any of the other instances were “big deals” either. I think it just has to do with her communication style. If he feels like she’s always belittling his opinions, it doesn’t really matter if those opinions are just about TV shows or types of cheese or something.
Yozi June 17, 2011, 2:51 pm
Negating someone is not the same as belittling their opinions. Joe could have jumped in and defended his position but he didn’t.
leilani June 17, 2011, 3:00 pm
I said “if he feels like”. I really don’t think the LW means to do that in the slightest. And true, in this case, he could’ve just responded in kind, and they’d converse about it, and they’d go about their day as normal. But obviously, he has not been at ease about the way she talks to him sometimes. He usually just holds his tongue about it, but it bothers him. I think its important to keep in mind that not all people find verbal sparring fun. Some couples love to playfully debate and bicker, and some find it rude and stressful. If he feels like every opinion he has is shot down by her, conversations might not be too enjoyable for him if he doesn’t feel like debating all the time. I’m all for differences of opinion, but I’d like for my SO to be excited about a good portion of the things I’m excited about, and not only point out what’s dumb about them.
LTC039 June 17, 2011, 2:03 pm
@ _JSW_ I’m pretty sure you’ve called a public figure an asshole or any other negative comment at least ONCE in your life. It’s not something unheard of.
LTC039 June 17, 2011, 2:15 pm
Yes, but, that’s entirely speculation. You don’t know for sure that was the LW’s intention. & from the way she’s explaining it, it wasn’t her intention.
See, I don’t like that you called George W. Bush an asshole, but I’m not going to sit here for an hr & scream at you for doing so.
I totally get the basis of your arguement, I just don’t think it’s right to accuse the LW of something that’s purely speculation. It’s a possibilty, but you have no way of confirming that.
Caris June 17, 2011, 1:30 pm
“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.”
I have a friend who used to date a guy who “loved” her because she was so friendly and nice to everyone, but then went ahead and told her he didn’t like the fact that she was friendly with guys. He turned out to be a controlling, jealous and abusive guy.
I’m not saying your bf is all of that, but he does sound a little bit controlling, and I don’t like the fact that he didn’t stop berating you even after you started to cry.
_jsw_ June 17, 2011, 3:08 pm
Hmm. Many here would seem to think that her crying because of some opinion he had would make her a big ol’ baby. Right? I mean, he was just speaking his mind. Surely she should have just calmly refuted his points.
Wendy June 17, 2011, 3:22 pm
There’s a pretty big difference between stating an opinion vs. berating someone for an hour and telling her your friends don’t like her behavior either.
_jsw_ June 17, 2011, 4:00 pm
Likewise, there’s a pretty big difference between expressing an opinion and doing so in such a consistently belittling way that your boyfriend is able to spend an entire hour listing, off the top of his head, other times you’ve done so that were hurtful.
PFG-SCR June 17, 2011, 3:19 pm
“…and I don’t like the fact that he didn’t stop berating you even after you started to cry.”
Maybe because he thought her crying was done to try and manipulate the situation?
Yozi June 17, 2011, 3:34 pm
_jsw_ June 17, 2011, 3:58 pm
Or maybe because he’d been so hurt so often that he wanted her to appreciate the fact that words can, in fact, cause emotional pain.
Caris June 17, 2011, 9:14 pm
That would be kind of petty from him don’t you think? Especially when she tried to explain that how she is coming across is not how she intends to be interpreted.
And she apologized to him, while he instead dismissed her when she tried to explain herself.
demoiselle June 22, 2011, 4:06 pm
Sign of an abuser!
Maracuya June 17, 2011, 3:25 pm
Here’s my opinion: He’s not a baby for feeling hurt and she’s not a shrew for having an opinion. I can say that I’m friends with people who often have pretty negative reactions when I’d tell a story, “Oh, that’s a dumb guy, I hate her, look at what she’s wearing!” It would wear on me, not because I cared about those menial things but because constant negativity is draining. I’m not saying that the letter writing is doing this on purpose, but maybe that’s how Joe feels.
But he should’ve been more mature dealing with his feelings. Absolutely. It’s unfair to her to blindside her with his pent-up frustrations. I think we’re all characterizing people as one thing or the other when it’s just a disconnect in communication. Joe acted immaturely because he probably felt rejected when he would constantly tell stories and she’d react negatively to him. Yelling at someone for an hour is childish. Even listing things for an hour is childish. But the LW may benefit from taking his feedback on her communication style. Four months ISN’T a long time to bring this up. You’re still figuring out if you want to be long-term. Is it worth saying, “Hey, you can be kind of harsh without meaning it?”
I think the LW should take Sarah’s and belongsomewhere’s advice. Realize that people may take your words with the wrong intention, but also stand up for yourself and don’t let him rail on you like that. That’s all.
Now seriously, can we stop the personal attacks on one another? They’re completely unhelpful to the letter writer.
Yozi June 17, 2011, 3:32 pm
Everytime one of my friends says something negative about Bear Grylls, it’s like I feel a little piece of my soul die.
Maracuya June 17, 2011, 3:49 pm
That’s what I mean. Funny, but of no value to the LW. I doubt she wants to see you and JSW have a long bickering match over calling or not calling someone an asshole. And for the record, I have 😛 But it’s clearly not about that, what he perceived to be a general trend. He was in the wrong, but it’s not like she shouldn’t communicate with him about it without failing to let him know he was in the wrong about how he talked to her.
Yozi June 17, 2011, 4:01 pm
The point I’ve been making is that I don’t buy that the LW has a general trend of being too negative. I don’t believe that’s the case. Yet you and others continue to repeat again and again that negative people are hard to deal with. Honestly, if you can’t deal with the kind of negativity we’re discussing here (Bear Grylls disses) then how the heck do you cope with real life?
_jsw_ June 17, 2011, 4:03 pm
And, again, you seem to think that this has something to do with Bear Grylls. It doesn’t. It has to do with the way the LW seems to constantly feel that it’s OK to interject her contrary opinion whenever and in such a way that it makes her boyfriend upset. He had many, many, many other examples. This was just the final straw.
Yozi June 17, 2011, 4:10 pm
Of course it doesn’t have to do with Bear Grylls. If he had a thousand examples like the one we know about he still wouldn’t have a case.
silver_dragon_girl June 17, 2011, 4:17 pm
There’s a big difference between “not being able to deal with it” and “not wanting that quality in a romantic partner.”
He doesn’t like the way she communicates when she disagrees with him. Clearly, she doesn’t like the way he communicates when he disagrees with her, either, or she wouldn’t have written to Wendy. This is NOT a case of one of them being a jerk/douche/asshole/bitch. This is a case of problems in communication.
Now it’s up to them to decide whether it’s something they feel is worth working on or not. I think it’s going to require both people to change, because if just one does it’s not going to solve the problem.
Maracuya June 17, 2011, 4:19 pm
Okay, see I think this is something we can converse about. We’re all definitely letting our personal experiences color this. My personal experience is that people, who I like and are genuinely good folks, sometimes can slip into a pattern of being negative about things. They’re not hard to deal with, but sitting around listening to that kind of this is less-than-pleasant. Furthermore, since they don’t do it on purpose, they’re not aware and you feel kind of lame bringing it up (I never have.)
I can’t know one way or the other really if the letter writer is too negative without knowing or this Joe guy is hypersensitive so I’m taking a conservative stance. That he definitely was in discussing his feelings (yelling for an hour?) makes me think he is. I would be kind of wary about continuing a relationship with him based on that really. (Who acts like that?) But most friends won’t tell you if you’re too negative because it’s not really worth the fallout in making someone defensive. I think it’s a good thing to consider self-reflection–the letter writer has, she sometimes knows she can come off brusque even though she doesn’t intend to.
To me Bear Grylls has totally nothing to do with it. And ‘real life’ doesn’t either. That is real life. Some guy you run into on the street or in the office saying, “Hey, your shirt is ugly” or “Wow, that idea you have is stupid,” doesn’t merit feeling bad about. You don’t care and aren’t invested. But if you’re talking about sharing your whole life with, it may be something you want to address. Hopefully not with a guilt-tripping shout fest. But everyone does something stupid once in a while and if their relationship was great before, maybe it’s just a bad occurrence.
I think Wendy’s last paragraph is right. Have a heart to heart. Make your feelings known. I don’t think she should have to compromise who she is, but if she really *is* negative then she might take a step back and fix that. If he really *is* being a douche, then she needs to address that and give him a chance to fix it or move on and find someone more compatible. All our advice is, is general guidelines based on assumptions.
SpaceySteph June 18, 2011, 5:32 pm
I think you have a good point here: “I would be kind of wary about continuing a relationship with him based on that really. (Who acts like that?)”
Regardless of whether the LW did something wrong here (which we clearly have debated long and hard), her boyfriend had a completely disproportionate reaction to it. He clearly bottles up his feelings and then let loose on her when he was pushed over the edge.
At some point in your life you will make more mistakes and, whatever they are, you don’t want to be subjected to another hour long vent session because you’ve been doing X, Y, or Z wrong for all these years and he can’t take it anymore. This guy’s inability to handle issues that arise do not bode well for a happy relationship that weathers the ups and downs of life.
Amber June 17, 2011, 4:03 pm
Is Bear Grylls the one that neve wears shoes?
_jsw_ June 17, 2011, 4:04 pm
No,he’s the one that makes them out of shark gallbladders after killing them with broken sea shells.
Amber June 17, 2011, 4:03 pm
Is Bear Grylls the one that never wears shoes?
Miss MJ June 17, 2011, 8:03 pm
I’d say the fact that the LW’s posts consist of her defending her actions, as opposed to her actually listening and responding to the constructive criticism in the majority of responsive posts is pretty telling. Some people just have to be right and just cannot listen to what another person has to say without pointing out how the other person is wrong and they are right.
The LW has noticed her BF gets quiet when she states her opinion a lot. Her example is that she thought told the BF that the guy he was telling a story about was a fraud and an asshole. I’m admittedly guessing that the BFs story didn’t end with asking the LW her opinion about Gryllis or whether she thought Gryllis was a fraud or an asshole. (If it did, she should have mentioned it.) Which means that her “brash” response to his story wasn’t part of a conversation, but the LW just throwing out her opinion that the subject of the story is an asshole. I’d be annoyed, too. Because that’s what annoying people do. They make every conversation about their opinion, even when it has nothing to do with the conversation at hand, and don’t listen to anything anyone else has to say.
The fact that his friends have noticed means the LW does it all. the. time. Since she’s only interested in justification for her behavior and not impartial advice, I’d say this relationship won’t last. While the LW may be a lovely person, in conversation, she’s clearly a bore. Her BF apparently isn’t interested in dealing with her boorish behavior. He will MOA.
TrixyMinx June 17, 2011, 10:50 pm
I think there are way too many opionated people commenting on this article. Stfu.
mego June 18, 2011, 1:31 pm
my sis sounds just like the letter writer–her opinion is the only one. she’ll say anything to win, too. and no, no one ever calls her on it because she also happens to be hyper sensitive about being criticized and will tear you a new one WHILE she is crying. i often don’t like expressing an opinion about anything because if she disagrees it won’t be, “really? i can’t stand (fill in the blank)” it goes “oh, no, i hate _______” and then she cuts me off to insist on her point, using vulgarity, if necessary, until I just stop talking about my opinion. this is what she considers “debating” topics.
once, a guy she was interested in said she played too many games and he couldn’t deal with it. when she asked if he was right, i thought i would suck it up and tell her the truth–she does. she then defended herself instead of actually hearing me. she did this until i told her i was only answering her question and didn’t care one way or another how she treated the men in her life.
Leigh June 18, 2011, 1:44 pm
It’s funny to me there are so many heated comments on this letter. Apparently we’re all very opinionated about opinionated people..
kdog June 21, 2011, 3:16 pm
I dunno. I am coming from this as someone who used to get the whole you’re too abrasive and opinionated thing a lot. I started to realize that I really could get hung up on the fact that I was right about something (that was an OPINION) to the point where I would invalidate other people’s and come off as condescending. I decided to look at the reasons I felt I needed to be right all the time and I just mellowed out a lot. I still have lots of opinions that I express frequently, but I hardly ever get a negative reaction anymore. Maybe look in to it. And P.S. just because she cried doesn’t mean she’s nice.
jOjO July 17, 2011, 11:43 pm
It sounds like the LW and the guy she is dating don’t see eye to eye on a lot of issues from what she wrote. Makes me wonder what they DO have in common.
Charlotte July 29, 2012, 10:55 am
This is a late response but I was dumped by a guy recently who was like LW’s boyfriend.
He had a problem with some comments I made, which I didn’t really think much of as he didn’t tell me; until after at least 6 months! They were little things I could easily have left out if I knew they were bothering him.
And of course he was attracted to me for my wit, strong character and opinions etc, but in the end he just hated that about me.
Everyone I spoke to said he sounded very controlling and other words I won’t repeat. He always accused me of starting arguments when I never really did. He would always have a go at me and reduce me to tears and then carry on. Accused me of cheating on him once because we were on skype and he thought he heard someone else when I went to the toilet, made me cry because he was going to leave me there and then. I really don’t know why I stayed with him for so long.
He was always making ultimatums and threatening to leave me. Never really said why.
I think if every couple just set aside a time per week/fortnight/month depending on how often you like, to talk to eachother, let everything out without blaming or judging and having no fear of reprisal and anger.. we’d all stay together and be happy forever 🙂
Shame most people tend to just bottle things up and choose to break up rather than make things work!
Sabrina August 15, 2012, 9:22 am
That guy sounds like a passive aggressive jerk who want to try to control the girl. She’s better off without him.
Jean December 30, 2012, 1:34 am
I agree with the boyfriend; I know people like this girl. It isn’t bad to have strong opinions and share them, but one can do so nicely and without being so confrontational.
Instead of saying: “he’s such a fraud and an asshole”
Go with: “I think he’s peddling special interest groups for funding instead of forming genuine, well-informed opinions”
Both are strong statements. The former is so general that it’s a personal attack attack on the talk-show personality, and by extension everybody who likes him. The second is a specific, addressable criticism that encourages conversation and debate instead of shutting the other person down with your disapproval.
The second is still a solid opinion given by a “strong woman.” Strong doesn’t have to mean rude.
SallyS January 4, 2013, 12:00 pm
What many people don’t realize is that there’s a difference between being opinionated and vocal, and being dismissive and rude.
Hurting people’s feelings is a legitimate concern. The boyfriend should be able to stand to hear a differing opinion without feeling invalidated – especially about something as impersonal to his life as a celebrity – and if he can’t, he needs to get a handle on himself. But there’s a possibility that this girl really is coming off as mean, especially to this guy who may be on the mild-mannered side anyway.
I’d say you guys need to talk about which types of comments, exactly, get (mis)interpreted in which ways, what the true intent was, and what works better for both of you. Maybe find someone to help you who’s actually heard you interact and can make a fair assessment.
Mary January 11, 2017, 10:36 am
Absolutely LOVE your response Wendy!!!!
bittergaymark January 11, 2017, 11:28 am
Interesting letter. Personally, I thought the BF was less bothered by her having an opinion than he was by how bratty she was about it. And the assumptions made about the LW’s BF were downright odd. He was some good old boy surrounded by assholes who hate women? Eh — seemed a real stretch. Hell, the friends in question could have been a mixed group of guys and girls… If he really took her to task on this for an hour — it seems excessive. Then again — if he had THAT many examples to run through… YIKES!!! I’d love an update…
PS — Even way back when everybody HATED Forrest Dump.
SpaceySteph January 11, 2017, 11:57 am
I can’t believe this 6 year old letter has folks talking trash about Trump. How did we come to this?
bittergaymark January 11, 2017, 3:16 pm
How did we come to this? A combination of two things — really.
1) The general population of the US (along with much of the planet) is largely made up of people that are at there very core… Eh, simply NOT very bright.
2) The DNC was both delusional and corrupt. They foolishly foisted a mediocre candidate upon us. One who ran a shitty campaign and stumbled constantly and unnecessarily. HRC has pretty much ensured that we will NOT see a woman running for President for the next twenty or so years. Just wait.
RedRoverRedRover January 11, 2017, 3:26 pm
I disagree about another woman running. If Elizabeth Warren were younger, she could have run in 2020. I think HRC broke an important barrier.
Now, maybe no woman will *want* to run after they saw the level of sexism aimed at her. But hopefully one will, and then another, and then it will become relatively normal for a woman to run and the “there’s just something about her” shit will stop.
bittergaymark January 11, 2017, 3:43 pm
Women will WANT to run. But no major party will back them. No way — no day. The Republicans will NEVER nominate a woman. And the DNC will be running too scared of losing again. Rightly so, as HRC shed a light on how sexist most americans are. That said — I blame her loss on her own failings rather than sexism. I always said she was a terrible choice. And sadly — I was more than right.
Kate January 11, 2017, 3:54 pm
I’m afraid they’re grooming Ivanka to run for president.
RedRoverRedRover January 11, 2017, 4:06 pm
Yeah, she made a bunch of stupid mistakes. So have many people who have gone on to be President. In my opinion, if she’d been a man, she could have done the exact same things and still won. That’s the thing – women have to be pretty much perfect to achieve the same thing as a not-perfect man.
And I disagree that the Repubs will never elect a woman. In fact, they may be the first to do it. Remember Palin, and how any hint of sexism against her was called out and shut down? They protected her. They shielded her. And they’ll do that for anyone who is their “own”. It’s only the Dem women that they’ll go on the all-out attack for.
Ron January 11, 2017, 4:25 pm
Red Rover —
I know you didn’t mean it that way, but you just gave a perfect argument for the major parties to reject any woman as a presidential candidate. Parties are in the business of winning elections, so that they can advance their agenda. Breaking glass ceilings for one demographic or another doesn’t rise to that level of urgency for them.
I think Hillary lost because of things unique to Hillary, not because of her gender. Or perhaps partly because of how she felt she needed to behave as a woman running for president. I don’t think the path that she chose is a necessary one for a woman to choose and am very certain that Elizabeth Warren would have chosen a different path.
Clinton stayed squarely within her personal comfort zone. As in the 2008 primaries, she chose to emphasize her views as a defense hawk, because she felt that is how she got around the commander-in-chief as a woman problem. This decision hurt her a lot both times, because it turns off the young and progressive voters — a big part of the Obama constituency.
Second, she is far more comfortable at fundraisers than on the campaign trail. Those who know her say she does well in small groups, but she is a bad, boring speaker to large crowds. This is partly driven by the fact that she likes to adopt the mantle of inevitability and play a full-election prevent defense, in which she tries to be as bland and noncontroversial as possible, giving the image of someone who doesn’t care strongly about anything beyond her traditional womens’ issues.
Both elections she has relied upon highly paid campaign staff who put together a poor strategy and ran rather lame ads. Neither the ads or her speeches ever generated much enthusiasm.
I voted for Bernie and Hillary in the general. I fully understand why the DNC backed Hillary. It is their job to back Democrats and even in the debates, while running to be our presidential candidate, Bernie rarely described himself as a Dem. The kids loved this, but it cost him a lot of support among older mainstream Dems. Hillary won the nomination with the older vote. In the general election, she failed to come close to breaking even among white women and married women of all races. That was supposed to be her core constituency, she defined herself as progressive and not status quo based upon breaking the glass ceiling for women and pushing womens’ issues, but did not get the necessary support from that constituency as Obama did from minorities and youth.
Her campaign staff must have sensed something seriously lacking in the appeal of Hillary and her agenda, or else they were as stupid as her 2008 campaign managers, because her campaign was unique in the history of modern campaigns by how much her ads focused upon discrediting Trump the person and how little they focused upon Hillary and any aspirational elements of her platform. There used to be a political rule that you generally want to avoid mentioning your opponent by name, but the Hillary ads were all Trump almost all the time.
You know someone is a bad campaigner when they are the prohibitive favorite three times in a row and have a record of lose, struggle to win, lose.
ktfran January 11, 2017, 5:07 pm
Ron, I think you make great points and I completely agree with your assessment. I don’t Hillary lost because she is a woman. I think she lost because she is Hillary. There are so many people who truly detest her.
I was really hoping she would have learned and corrected her mistakes from the 2008 campaign. She didn’t. And it cost us big.
bittergaymark January 11, 2017, 5:07 pm
Also, it’s hard to rail against how somebody is so corrupt when you yourself are surrounded by dubious incidents.
The email scandal made her look so fucking stupid. WTF was she thinking?
The foundation donations were typical government bullshit — but its all pretty gross.
And then there was Bill and his IDIOTIC tarmac meeting in Phoenix. That looked SO bad.
Bottomline — why anybody thought having a candidate run who was under an FBI investigation wasn’t a recipe for disaster I will never know. Especially when said candidate has all the charisma of a moldy can of SPAM.
But I stand by my statement that HRC has killed off any chance of a woman in the White House for the next twenty or so years. Witness the gap between with Palin and Ferarro,
ele4phant January 11, 2017, 6:30 pm
Look, HRC has issues with transparency, no one would disagree with that. Like, an almost nonsensical and pathological need to for privacy even when it’s not necessary and time and time again this tendency has proven to hurt her more than help her.
That said – I love how everyone thinks they are super experts and “OMG how STUPID was she to set up a private service! What sort of idiot would have done that?!”
That server got set up in 2008. 8 years in technological years is light years ago. For God’s sake, some of her recent predecessors barely used email, so it’s not like there was a well known standard she was willfully deviating from (also – they may have used email less but they also set up private servers, so you know, again, not like she was going rogue here).
Our understanding of cyber security has so greatly advanced in the past years. People (including the experts) were doing all sorts of crazy stupid shit back then that we would now think goes against all common sense.
bittergaymark January 11, 2017, 7:48 pm
It wasn’t just setting up a private server (which was FUCKING dumb, by the way. Email wasn’t THAT new 8 years ago. Hello! I had my first account in 1995!) it was the way she handled the fallout.
Lie. After Lie. After Lie. Honestly? She could NOT have possibly made herself look worse here. She dropped the ball big time.
ele4phant January 11, 2017, 8:00 pm
Yeah – I agree with you that she bumbled the handling of the email situation. My whole first paragraph said as much.
But while email has been around awhile – the standards and best practices have not. Truly, they have not. You may have had an email address in 1995 – but what were your security practices at that time? Pretty non-existent right?
And government is that much slower than private sector, because, government. As stated, her direct predecessors didn’t really use email that much. That was in the early aughts!
Obviously in today’s world, setting up a private server as a cabinet member is verboten. But in the context of 2008 when this server was set-up, she was just following the lead of her direct predecessors.
bittergaymark January 11, 2017, 8:21 pm
Please. She was SPECIFICALLY warned against it (STRONGLY) by Powell and yet in her hubris did it anyway. It was beyond boneheaded. And she fucked us all while she rides off into the sunset to give shitty speeches for which she is paid millions. If she had any shame — she’d disappear forever. But as she is shameless and beyond dim, she will probably try to run again in four years.
Kate January 11, 2017, 8:28 pm
Oh, she will not, stop it. I’m telling you, ivanka will.
Ron January 11, 2017, 8:27 pm
I think the e-mail was a whole lot of not very much, but BGM is correct that 1) there were federal rules requiring the use of government rather than private e-mail. This would have been explained to Hillary when they told her she had to stop using her not-sufficiently-secure Blackberry. A memo was sent out to the new State Department staff, over Hillary signature, reminding the staff of this requirement and 2) rather than get all the bad news out at once, Hillary stalled and lied and stalled and lied some more, allowing this story to be big for many months. That violates the cardinal rule for dealing with a political crisis but is vintage Hillary.
I say the e-mail was a lot of nothing, because it seemed clear to me that Hillary and her staff tried quite hard not to put classified e-mail on that server. Out of all the Hillary e-mails, just a few were classified at the time and most just a paragraph buried within. E-mails were classified after the fact, but the CIA is crazy on the drone issue and likely abused their classification authority retroactively.
What most ticked me off about Hillary was the very deliberate speaking tour to big banks and other big corporations for big $ in the time when she was already informally running for president but hadn’t officially announced. This was not even political fund-raising. These were $ straight to her and they were the sort of naked influence selling which Trump has been involved in since his election. If you are running for president, you have to be careful of appearances and avoid lining your own pockets. This was especially damaging in a change election, in which Hillary tried to pretend to be the new standard bearer for Bernie’s campaign against the big banks and income inequality. Her influence peddling made all of her campaign comments on these issues ring hollow. I know quite a few young and old progressive Dems in this swing state who refused to vote for her in the general election over this issue. Trump carried my state. Obama won it both times and Hillary claims familial ties to one of our grittier cities.
Ron January 11, 2017, 8:42 pm
What ticked me off most about my choices in this election was that between the primary and general election I had no choice other than virtually 70 and older. After the vigorous and gifted Obama, this was a harsh change.
They say 70 is the new 60, but I’m not buying that at all, not for the strenuous physical and intellectual challenges of heading the White House for 4 – 8 years. And don’t call me an ageist. I’m almost 70 myself and know full well that my physical and mental capabilities are far less than they were at 40-50. I see the same diminution in just about everyone of my age cohort. Even those of us who seem mentally sharp aren’t nearly as good at adapting to change as we once were and a president needs to handle change extremely well.
Kate January 11, 2017, 8:47 pm
I’m just a few years older than the minimum for president and I don’t handle change well. My parents (67) are handling all this shit a lot better than I am and are way smarter.
dinoceros January 11, 2017, 7:27 pm
This is a tough one. I know people who are like what your boyfriend is describing. I have two family members who are super critical, and I feel like for every topic we talk about or every person we see on TV, they have to say something mean about them. They tell me stories about “dumb” neighbors or people at the store or whatever, and then we watch TV, and they have to nitpick on how some woman’s hair looks bad, or all the celebrities they hate. We got into an argument because they started talking about how dumb it is to look up your ancestry “because who cares,” and when I told them that I had done it, they debated with me over why it’s actually dumb. I’m not saying you’re like this, but without knowing you, I don’t feel like I can immediately say that your boyfriend is a jerk.
That being said, if he does in fact just get upset when someone has a different opinion than him, it’s a problem. I agree that you may want to have a conversation and explain how you perceived his thoughts and what his feelings are. I think that may give you some insight as to whether he’s just being rude and controlling or if maybe you do have a critical streak. It seems likely you may find that you’re not compatible, though.