Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Girlfriend is a Little Dumb. Should I Break Up With Her?”

My girlfriend of four months is attractive, kind, and morally upstanding. She’s easy-going and has many friends. She’s a great kisser, she has a nice figure, and the sex is great. She doesn’t smoke or do drugs. She has a lovely voice and dresses well. She’s warm, caring, supportive, affectionate, nurturing, and thoughtful. She doesn’t seem to have a big ego and wouldn’t hurt a fly. We’re both around the same age (middle-aged) and get along well… And she’s crazy about me. She even suggested we should get married (she denies saying this but she said it). She thinks I’m very intelligent (I’m not). She’s a sweetie pants. There is one problem though. She sometimes comes across as a little dumb.

Here’s an example of her being a little dumb: She’ll say something like, “I brought a brand-new dress.” I’ll correct her by telling her it’s “bought” not “brought.” I’ve explained the difference and she understands, yet she still continues to use the wrong word. I told her that when I’ve gone on vacation, I keep my money in the safe at the hotel. She asks me is it safe? I thought she was kidding, but she wasn’t. I took my mum to the hospital for a check-up and she asked me what were they researching. Again, wrong phrasing. She told me her cousin is gay but not “practicing.” Wrong choice of word again. What she means is, he’s not sexually active. She thinks her house is “unhealthy” because it’s not painted. Again, wrong word.

We went to a party a couple of weeks ago. I introduced her to some of my friends and I was listening to some of her comments. I was laughing on the inside. Because I had a smirk across my face, she asked me why I was laughing and I had to come up with something. To be fair, it was the first time she met my friends so maybe she was a little nervous and shy. When I went to her work function, she seemed so much better. She has a favorite band, but she hardly remembers any of the song titles though she remembers the album cover. Just the other day I met up with her for lunch and she told me she had bumped into her friend Emma on the way to meet me. “Have you met Emma?” she asked me. I’ve never met Emma. She should know I’ve never met Emma. So why ask the question?

On another occasion, we were watching TV and she made some comments which I found a little boring and I became distant. It was like the TV was more interesting than what she had to say. The next day she asked me if she was boring me. I couldn’t say yes because I didn’t want to hurt her feelings, so I said no.

While shopping together, we were having a normal discussion and I jokingly told her that she doesn’t make sense. She started crying and said, “You think I’m stupid.” I apologised to her and, truthfully, it was never my intention to criticise her at all. I was just kidding.

She’s had a sheltered upbringing, being very protected by her parents, and she only recently revealed to me she had lost her virginity at age 27. I wonder if all this is a case of her being nervous. Or maybe it’s shyness? Could she be intimidated? She is capable of having a really good conversation and she gets my jokes. We can have a laugh. We can have a discussion on some topics. Then she lets herself down by asking a silly question or making a silly comment. Then I’m like “oh my god” and I just cringe. It can be frustrating.

She’s revealed that some people think she’s dumb and that she’s struggled with some roles at her previous work. She’s quiet in an office environment. Because of this, work colleagues think she’s dumb. I’m not very intellectual or very intelligent by any means. I have an average IQ. But I’m much more knowledgeable on topics than she is. She’s realised this herself and asked me if this would be an issue, to which I replied no. She even asked me about what can she bring to the relationship. “I’m a dummy compared to you,” she recently remarked. I wish she were a little more confident. But most importantly, I wish she were more knowledgeable on more topics and a little more curious and insightful. I’d like us to have more intellectual conversations. I’m the sort of person who will analyse a documentary, film, TV show, or an album to a certain extent, but I don’t think she is. The thing is, I can teach her. I can explain things to her so she can increase her knowledge and that’s not a bad thing. I can pass on my knowledge.

Having said all this, my girlfriend allows me to relax and be myself in her presence. Maybe there is a real advantage in being with someone with whom I’m not competing. I know you can’t get everything you want from a partner and I don’t want to terminate the relationship because she has many good qualities. However, I wonder if, when the passion fades, there will be something to fall back on. How important is intellectual compatibility in a relationship when everything else is good? I’m worried that we won’t have enough to talk about when we’re both old and can’t do much more and then that I won’t find her interesting. I’m worried that i’ll become even more frustrated and lose respect for her.

Is this really an issue or just something I need to tolerate? Should I discuss this with her? — More Intellectual Than She Is

Obviously, intellectual compatibility is important to you, which is fine! What isn’t fine is stringing this poor woman along and pretending to be interested in her when you clearly think she’s dumb and boring and are embarrassed by her. She sounds like someone who has some lovely qualities and could be a perfect match for someone else — someone who would really appreciate her for who she is and not want or need her to change in order to be satisfied. Forget about your own needs for a minute; If you’re a decent person at all, you’ll let this woman go so that she has a chance to find that match and so that her confidence doesn’t continue to suffer in a relationship where she feels like her boyfriend thinks she’s a dummy. When she ask why you’re breaking up with her, tell her the truth: You don’t feel the kind of spark with her that will sustain a relationship long-term.

***************
Follow along on Facebook,  and Instagram
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.

59 comments… add one
  • avatar

    dogmom October 4, 2019, 9:43 am

    Jesus, bro, you wrote seven grafs about how she’s not up to your standards intellectually. Please break up with this poor woman already. Honestly, I wish she had higher self-esteem so she could break up with you first, because smirking at your girlfriend in front of your friends and making her cry when you “jokingly” told her she doesn’t make sense are dick moves, regardless of her intellectual prowess.

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  • bittergaymark

    Bittergaymark October 4, 2019, 9:49 am

    Yeah. You are not a match. Especially as you seem far more condescending than she does dumb.

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  • avatar

    Essie October 4, 2019, 10:11 am

    Sweet Jesus on a skateboard.

    Break up with her, today. Even though you find it “relaxing” to have a girlfriend who makes you feel superior. She deserves much, much, much better than a boyfriend who keeps a mental record of every minor verbal mistake she makes and looks down on her for it.

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    • avatar

      dinoceros October 4, 2019, 10:49 am

      Yeah, I’m disturbed by the fact that he seems to think she’s a prop in his life or something. He needs to consider more than just whether she makes him happy — he’s got a negative effect on her life. Save her some time and misery, dude.

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  • Copa

    Copa October 4, 2019, 10:34 am

    OMG. Do you keep a log of every gaffe your girlfriend makes? She sounds like a good person with some great qualities and deserves a boyfriend who does more than tolerate her!

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  • avatar

    Vathena October 4, 2019, 10:43 am

    There’s nothing wrong with wanting intellectual stimulation from a relationship, but there IS something wrong with making your girlfriend feel like shit all the time. You’re lucky she didn’t dump you on the spot after YOU embarrassed HER in front of your friends – who she was nervous about meeting for the first time! Instead of helping her feel at ease and being a buffer between them, you left her hanging out to dry. And constantly correcting her is a dick move too. She sounds charming, and someone else out there would find genuine delight in her word choices. I actually love “non-practicing” in reference to sexual activity, I got a grin out of that one!

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    • avatar

      csp October 4, 2019, 11:42 am

      Yea, I get that some people are smarter than others. But the LW’s low opinion is so clear that it made her cry. I just can’t imagine.

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    • avatar

      anonymousse October 4, 2019, 12:27 pm

      That’s a legitimately funny comment! Reality bites, anyone?

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      • avatar

        ktfran October 4, 2019, 12:41 pm

        I loved that movie back in the day.

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  • avatar

    dinoceros October 4, 2019, 10:46 am

    Yikes. It’s ironic that you are considering staying with her (despite writing multiple paragraphs about how dumb you think she is) because you can be yourself around her, but when she’s herself around you, you make it clear you feel like she’s stupid. You don’t need a bunch of internet strangers to tell you whether to date someone or not. You should be dating someone if you think so little of them. You’ve barely been dating and you already have a huge list of things you don’t like about her, you make her feel bad about herself, and you find her embarrassing. Move on.

    I think you also need to keep in mind that you’re probably not going to find someone who never uses the wrong word or who is never boring. So, at some point, while you’re looking for the perfect person, you need to learn to accept that and learn not to judge people so much.

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    • avatar

      Vathena October 4, 2019, 11:22 am

      Oh yeah, the “boring” thing really rubbed me the wrong way. The LW seems self-aware enough to admit that he’s of average intelligence, but he requires his girlfriend to be “on” for him at all times. If she makes some offhand comment while they’re watching TV, he gives her the silent treatment over it. That’s bizarre, and cruel. Like…can a lady not actually chill while watching Netflix? Take it down a notch, dude.

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      • CurlyQue

        CurlyQue October 4, 2019, 11:55 am

        Yes! She was talking to him and he was “bored” so he tuned out and it’s her fault for not being intellectually stimulating enough to keep his attention? WTH. You’re not a child you’re middle aged, definitely old enough to give someone you care about your attention even if it’s not a topic you find very interesting.

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  • avatar

    Kate October 4, 2019, 11:47 am

    “She’s a sweetie pants” … I’ve never heard anyone say that, and I hope I never do again. Speaking of sounding a little dumb.

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    • Dear Wendy

      Dear Wendy October 4, 2019, 12:10 pm

      Yeah, I left that unedited on purpose (after editing quite a bit of the rest of the letter). LW, the phrase you meant is “sweetie pie” not “sweetie pants.”

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      • avatar

        Essie October 4, 2019, 3:51 pm

        Yeah, but she’s the one who uses “wrong words.” Right.

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    • avatar

      anonymousse October 4, 2019, 12:28 pm

      That comment creeped me out a little bit. Who says that? Grandparents. And they mean sweetie pie.

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  • CurlyQue

    CurlyQue October 4, 2019, 11:53 am

    LW, honestly you sound insufferable. It’s not so weird to ask if the safe in a hotel is really a safe place to keep your items (fyi those get broken into), using the wrong word (brought vs bought) isn’t a sign of low intelligence for goodness sakes. I hate that you correct her as it’s condescending and patronizing. She has low confidence in her intelligence because of how YOU treat her. Let this woman go, and realize you need to work on yourself.

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  • avatar

    Fyodor October 4, 2019, 11:59 am

    Honestly, I don’t think that she sounds dumb, so much as not having a super sophisticated vocabulary. The LW sounds like an insufferable snob. I mean, everyone knows what she means when she says her gay cousin isn’t practicing. Even though a the locked container at the hotel is called a “safe” that doesn’t make it automatically secure. Break up with her and let her find someone who appreciates her and doesn’t look down on her.

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  • avatar

    saneinca October 4, 2019, 12:05 pm

    Breakup with your girlfriend! Someone who keeps a list of their partner’s shortcomings is not boyfriend material.

    Stick with shallow relationships like FWB. They are a better fit for your nature.

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  • avatar

    Allornone October 4, 2019, 12:09 pm

    I’m a writer for a living (grants for non-profits) and while I consider myself reasonably skilled at at the written word, I often can’t speak for the life of me. When I’m nervous, it’s a lot worse. I am constantly misusing and forgetting words (and taking long pauses while gesticulating near-wildly with my hands as I try to remember them). It doesn’t actually mean I don’t know the words, I know them, I just have a hard time getting my thoughts from my brain to my mouth. If my significant other got annoyed or corrected me every time I did it, he’d be out of my life real quick. Good partners lift each other up? You? You’re bringing her down. Like others have said, yes, you should break up with her, not because if her intelligence or perceived lack thereof, but because you are not good for her.

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    • avatar

      Allornone October 4, 2019, 12:12 pm

      Dang it. I wish we could edit posts. “Good partners lift each other up” was meant to be a declarative statement, not a question. So much for being reasonably skilled. …

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    • avatar

      Part-time Lurker October 4, 2019, 1:35 pm

      Ditto. And the more tired/nervous/stressed I am, the worse it gets. My highly intelligent, creative husband adores and respects me anyway.

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      • avatar

        Sea witch October 4, 2019, 4:24 pm

        My dyslexia isn’t anywhere near as noticeable as that of my brothers, but it definitely comes out when I’m tired.

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  • avatar

    csp October 4, 2019, 12:28 pm

    I am pretty sure this post was written by Henry Higgins.

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    • avatar

      anonymousse October 4, 2019, 12:39 pm

      Ha! Good one.

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    • avatar

      Fyodor October 4, 2019, 3:04 pm

      The Magnum opening theme is stuck in my head now, you jerk.

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  • avatar

    anonymousse October 4, 2019, 12:38 pm

    Quite honestly, you don’t come off quite as intelligent as you think you are. Some of her comments weren’t wrong. The bigger issues are, you see her quirks as “wrong” and have chosen to believe her small gaffes are a sign of her lack of intelligence. Many people would have no issue with any of the things you’ve listed. I think you’ve been a pretty rude/borderline cruel partner to her. And your entire post is “is she right for you.”

    You aren’t right for her. You’re condescending, a little mean and believe you are superior. She deserves better than you.

    Many, many people value kindness over supreme intellect. As you get older, you’ll notice even very intelligent people use the the wrong words sometimes, or forget which friends you’ve met. That doesn’t mean they aren’t smart.

    Please think about how you treat the people around you, especially romantic partner. You haven’t treated her with much respect and I’m sure were not the only ones who’ve picked up on that. And that doesn’t reflect badly on her, it reflects badly on you.

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    • avatar

      csp October 4, 2019, 12:50 pm

      So it is good you mention this. My husband uses the wrong word but it sounds close to the right word. He is smart and an accountant but it is just something that happens. Now, what happened in front of friends once that I didn’t realize we did as a couple was i was reading a magazine and he was talking to a friend. He said rigorous instead of righteous. His friend got confused and my husband said” honey” then I said righteous. The friend laughed and said “you guys do that all the time don’t you?” It didn’t occur to me before but obviously we do because he didn’t even ask me what word he meant, he just said honey. But my point is ” so what.” He is a smart, good man. Maybe not the most eloquent. I just think this LW is more concerned about the appearance.

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      • avatar

        Kate October 4, 2019, 1:13 pm

        So many people do this. I’m an English major and I use wrong words sometimes.

        Also, not everyone wants to “analyze” stupid TV shows. How about just enjoying your shows, why do they have to be analyzed?

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      • avatar

        Allornone October 4, 2019, 1:38 pm

        Ugh. I hated that analyzing T.V. shows comment, too. While I certainly watch intelligent and/or quality things, I have quite a few guilty pleasure shows that require no thought, simply provide just pure mindless enjoyment, and I make no apologies for them. Does my boyfriend judge? Nope. He even seems to find it charming, and will often watch with me, and the only thing getting analyzed is how hideous that outfit on Project Runway was.

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  • avatar

    Danielle October 4, 2019, 12:53 pm

    There is nothing wrong with wanting a certain level of intelligence in a partner but you are SO CONDESCENDING towards your girlfriend. She’s a grown ass woman, not a puppy you are trying to house train. It’s so nice you feel as though she allows you to be yourself; it would be even better if you extended her the same courtesy. Honestly I hope she breaks up with *you* because you suck

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    • avatar

      Salli October 4, 2019, 5:01 pm

      She is doing something dumb by staying with LW. Somehow he missed that in his paragraphs of her infractions.

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  • avatar

    quokka October 4, 2019, 2:11 pm

    Wow, Wendy was so much kinder to you than you deserved LW.
    If you actually exist, you are a total jerk Nothing you wrote says anything good about you. You are a sad man who tries to boost his pathetic ego by nitpicking and correcting his GF’s grammar and vocabulary as if she was a child and he were her teacher, or by smirking at her ‘mistakes’ in public, or by making her feel so stupid she breaks down and cries. You might be more knowledgeable than her about some things, but you certainly don’t know how to be a decent human being, let alone a decent boyfriend to your ‘sweetie pants’ (gag).
    You say you wish she was more confident: I say bullshit to that. Your nitpicking, your corrections, your smirking laughter, and your, ‘I can teach her’, statement make that clear. That statement, incidentally, makes me want to reach through the computer and slap your patronising smirk right off your face.
    And too right you’re not very intelligent: if you had even a modicum of intelligence you’d realise that none of your petty little examples of how dumb she is actually ‘prove’ anything. I’m a criminal lawyer with a doctorate and I can never remember the names of songs; my partner is an biochemist with a PhD and sometimes he says ‘me’ when he should say ‘I’. Intelligence doesn’t equal flawless.
    And, by the way, he doesn’t mock me because I have a terrible memory or smugly name the songs I’ve forgotten. And I don’t correct his grammar and think ‘oh my god’ and smirk . Why not? Because we care for each other, and because we can feel confident about our intelligence without belittling others and making them feel stupid.
    Scrape together a smidgen of decency LW, and set her free – she can do so much better than you. She deserves so much better than you. And you can go revel in the joy of being able to watch TV without the horror of having to tolerate a ‘warm, caring, supportive, affectionate, nurturing and thoughtful ‘ woman making comments that are a ‘little boring’, or go shopping without the horror of having to listen to an ‘attractive, kind’ woman say ‘brought’ instead of ‘bought.

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    • avatar

      Sea witch October 4, 2019, 4:20 pm

      There are so many different kinds of intelligence. The LW just doesn’t understand that being smart at this one thing – knowing the right words – doesn’t mean being smart at other things.

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  • avatar

    ron October 4, 2019, 3:37 pm

    You could always move on and try to find a more intelligent gf. Of course, then you might find your self with someone who looks down on you for being dumb and also isn’t sweet, thoughtful, caring, and totally into your dumb ass.

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  • avatar

    Part-time Lurker October 4, 2019, 3:40 pm

    My Fair Lady 2019. All of the smarm and none of the charm.

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    • avatar

      Essie October 4, 2019, 3:52 pm

      LOL!

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  • avatar

    Sea witch October 4, 2019, 4:18 pm

    I’m beginning to understand why the LW is still unmarried in middle age, ha ha.

    She could very well have some quirk similar to dyslexia. In any case, I’ve worked with a number of very intelligent engineers over the years who weren’t good with words at all, their talent lay with numbers and design.

    I remember one engineer trying to dictate a long wordy note to put on a drawing, then stopping and asking “What am I trying to say here?” My reply: “You want the rails for the overhead crane to be mounted flush with the bottom of the helicopter deck.” He gratefully replied “Yes, that’s what I’m trying to say!”

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    • avatar

      Liz October 4, 2019, 4:59 pm

      Smartest person I knew couldn’t spell, not even the number four.

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  • avatar

    Liz October 4, 2019, 4:56 pm

    OMG! LW you are “middle age.” Ask yourself how many of your past girlfriends have you been able to say, “my girlfriend allows me to relax and be myself”? She is your gold, your brass ring, she will give you happiness the rest of your days. Why are you being a jerk? Let it go, stop trying to teach her things and kiss and hug her and be yourself! Stop trying to to find Mrs Right because you have already found her. Just except her. Except the fact you are happy when you are with her. Take her to museums if you must.

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  • bittergaymark

    Bittergaymark October 4, 2019, 8:09 pm

    The gf does sound awfully dim. Like Trump supporter dim…

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    • avatar

      Leon October 4, 2019, 9:34 pm

      She sounds as interesting as a child’s party in McDonalds. Not bad at all, but dull for certain people.

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  • avatar

    Leon October 4, 2019, 9:31 pm

    I´m not sure if the GF is the kind of goddess of happiness and supreme realization, as most of the commenters have written, but what I’m sure is that you are not the right match for her, and she is not the right match for you.

    She sounds as a very good person. And sometimes very good people is boring, so I’ll give you that. But I don’t think is cool from you to think of her in such condescending terms.

    It’s Ok if she doesn’t fit what you expect from a partner. What it is not Ok is to stay in a relationship with someone you think as a lesser person than you, as you seem to imply in your letter.

    Move on and allow both to find better partners.

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  • avatar

    SubbyP October 5, 2019, 1:33 am

    The “unhealthy” and “practicing” things makes me think that this woman is autistic. I’m autistic, and I often describe things with unusual words. (And, for what it’s worth, I have an IQ of 149, and my specialist subject is storytelling, meaning I can analyze a narrative just as well as if not better than the LW because I’ve had a lifetime of practice. I say this not to brag but to clarify that I’m “intelligent” as the LW conceptualizes it.) When I say, for example, that an inanimate object “lives” in a specific place instead of “belonging” there, I don’t literally think the object is alive, nor have I forgotten what “belonging” means. I’m not being stupid–I’ve got a nonstandard brain and a nonstandard point of view.

    The LW honestly seems to be mistaking, if not autism, then eccentricity and scatterbrainedness, for stupidity. But even if his girlfriend were stupid, she wouldn’t deserve a partner who thinks of her as a child and of themself as her indulgent schoolteacher.

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    • Dear Wendy

      Dear Wendy October 5, 2019, 7:34 am

      Absolutely, the LW is not at all accounting for neurodiversity and the different ways people’s brains process information. Some of the most brilliant people in history had brains that worked differently than typical brains and may have resulted in atypical behavior or speech that some less than enlightened people could have perceived as “a little dumb.”

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  • avatar

    CET October 5, 2019, 7:14 am

    LW, you are not kind. Let her go because she is not a good match for you. You are making her feel bad. Let her go and find someone who you don’t belittle or think poorly of because although you try to hide it, it comes out.

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  • avatar

    lw October 5, 2019, 6:47 pm

    I’m interested to know what Wendy would do in this situation?

    Would you be able to tolerate your boyfriend if he was a little boring and dumb?

    Would you focus on his good qualities instead?

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    • avatar

      Tiara October 6, 2019, 8:37 am

      Dude just break up with her. You clearly look down on her and no one deserves to be with a guy who thinks so little of them.

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    • avatar

      anonymousse October 6, 2019, 9:15 am

      Do you want to be with someone who tolerates your superiority? Or someone who loves you, warts and all?

      She clearly told you to break up and allow her a chance to find someone who appreciates (not merely tolerates) her.

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    • avatar

      golfer.gal October 6, 2019, 10:01 am

      You have repeatedly lied to your girlfriend. She has asked you some pretty perceptive questions, multiple times, about what you think of her intelligence. And you have blatantly lied. You laughed at her in public and then lied to her face to “spare her feelings”. Despite this she picks up on your tone, body language, and behavior enough to know you think she’s dumb and boring. No, you shouldn’t “tolerate” her and focus on her good qualities. Wendy told you, point blank, to break up with her. Why are you still curious what Wendy would do? She’s just told you. Do you lack reading comprehension? Good lord. You seem to want to stay with her while being validated for treating her poorly to the point that she is in tears.

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      • avatar

        Kate October 6, 2019, 10:55 am

        And get martyr points for it too. Dude, you’re not a good fit for her. Break up. You must know deep down you can’t do better, or you wouldn’t be still pushing this.

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    • avatar

      HannaMarin October 10, 2019, 6:08 am

      lw, what baffles me is how she tolerates YOU. Poor woman. She sounds genuinely wonderful and sweet and so what if she uses the wrong word every once in a while yet she has this highly judgmental, insufferable bf. Break up with her so she can be a guy who actually appreciates her. She deserves so much better than how you treat her.

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  • avatar

    Kate October 6, 2019, 8:43 am

    No. Wendy clearly told you you should break up with your girlfriend so she can move on to someone who will appreciate her. She absolutely did not say you should “tolerate” her and “focus on her good qualities.” She said you should both move on.

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    • Dear Wendy

      Dear Wendy October 6, 2019, 8:51 am

      Yes, please do your girlfriend a favor and break up with her. She deserves to be with someone who appreciates her and sees her as an equal.

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  • avatar

    Sylvie Fox October 6, 2019, 7:44 pm

    While the LW may be more intelligent than his girlfriend (I’m going to leave that premise unquestioned), I think she far surpases him in emotional intelligence. She deserves to be with *her* equal in that.

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  • avatar

    Ms.Vader October 6, 2019, 10:54 pm

    You sound really patronizing. And cruel. It actually sounds like your girlfriend might have a learning disability. I don’t think any of the things you started specifically states “dumb” in my books. I have a friend who consistently misuses the word “borrowed”. She’s still quite smart. Word use isn’t always a sign of intelligence.

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  • avatar

    allathian October 7, 2019, 7:48 am

    She sounds like a real sweetheart. The LW sounds inhuman. Break up with her already, you two aren’t suited. You’re being really condescending towards her, and that’s a horrible foundation for a relationship. The only sign of dumbness I’ve noticed from her is that she hasn’t dumped you yet.

    One of the smartest people I know talks like Mrs. Malaprop.

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  • avatar

    Teri Anne October 7, 2019, 5:01 pm

    I do not think the girlfriend is dumb at all, because she is perceptive enough to realize that he looks down upon her, and is making fun of her in front of her friends. The very minor “mistakes” the LW describes could be due to a learning disability or social anxiety. He sounds like an insufferable jerk, and for her sake I hope he breaks up with her.

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  • Pheebers

    Phoebe October 9, 2019, 9:52 am

    It did not take long for me to cringe while reading this letter. She sounds perfectly normal. And she will never be happy until she is out of the relationship.

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