How do you tell someone they're so easily offended, without offending them?
September 25, 2009 5:17 PM Subscribe
How do I address my (probably ex-) boyfriend's tendency to be easily offended without offending him again?
posted by anonymous to human relations (52 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
We've been dating for four months, but I've become less and less interested in him, and had been thinking how to best break up with Mr Sensitive. Luckily (?) in the meantime I offended him so much by not being able to spend the night (I had to prepare something for work the next day, at my own place) that he pretty much told me it was over earlier this week. He's off to a conference now, but I told him we'd talk about things when he comes back (because it was such a spur of the moment thing to say that I didn't really have a response at the time, and it seemed like it needed a response!)
The problem is, we have never been able to talk properly, because he is always offended by everything. Even non-offensive things.
He loves animals so much that he doesn't kill insects, and once stopped the car to let a grasshopper off so it wouldn't get lost. Yet he does eat meat, so I curiously wondered why, and asked. OFFENDED! (Basically, if you're curious like me, he tried and got sick after 3 days. Nothing to be offended about. That's a good reason.)
And you know the movie posters for District 9? The ones on bus stops that say "This bus stop for humans only"? He thinks they're offensive, against non-humans. ("But only humans use the bus stop anyway, and only humans can read the sign! It's a joke!" "Yes, but the message is very offensive. I don't want to see that film." And yes, that was serious.)
He also can't laugh about himself at all, and I've had to seriously cut back on my tendency to be sarcastic and snarky. That being said, I'm probably less snarky than the average MeFi user. I have a job that involves managing an online community and solving conflicts, and many of my friends describe me as "sweet", so I think I'm not over-the-top offensive at all. (In other words: it's not me.)
Now, the whole easily-offended thing is not at all attractive, and that is why I have been gradually pulling back, not saying anything about it, and trying to be understanding, but then the pulling back became offensive in itself, and I really need to explain things as we end everything.
Should I just uncork my bottled up frustrations, or is there a non-offensive way to tell someone he shouldn't be so easily insulted by everything? Or should I say nothing at all? (At this point I could even get away with never talking to him again, but that's kind of weird. And offensive.) Or am I meddling too much, and should I just go with his story (in which I am antisocial and don't understand relationships) and leave it at that?
Already not an option: showing this post.
Possible way I've been meaning to try but so far failed at: bringing him along to meet my delightfully sarcastic friends to get a taste of the kind of friendly insults I'm used to (and enjoy). We've had some scheduling issues lately, so he's only met my sweet and well-behaved friends so far.
Further info: No, I don't want him back, I just want him to know why I've been evasive. It's kind of an obvious trait of his, that nobody has pointed out to him because he has no siblings, no coworkers (grad school), very few friends, and too-doting parents who would never want to hurt his feelings.