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He wasn't trying to hurt me, but is this a clue of inconsiderate attitudes?
September 8, 2010 10:53 AM   Subscribe

Seeing a guy who's a little socially awkward. He hasn't initiated any physical affection, and tonight he revealed that he said something disparaging about me to a mutual friend. How to proceed?

What he said was demeaning and trivialized something I'm going through.

He used the fact that be is seeing someone with this trait to deprecate himself in a situation that sounded unrelated. I wasn't there, he told me about this comment out of the blue. He also told me that out mutual friend defended me.

I'm stunned that he thinks of me this way, and that this thing bothers him as much as it does.

Not sure if I want to bring it up tomorrow or just bail altogether. Part of me wants to use this relationship as 'practice' and enjoy the nice parts, another part of me wants to explain to him that he's done something hurtful and see where that goes. A third part of me wants to just tell him I'm not interested, because it's not my job to make guys with training wheels track ready. (I'm mid 20s, he's late 20s/early 30s)

Recycling an email from my previous AnonyMe*: itchy.girl.parts@gmail.com (seems fitting because part of me is itching to get laid, but maybe not at the expense of my self esteem.)

So, am I over reacting? Under reacting? Not considering some other potential way to get past this comment?

*for those of you who remember that question; I bought a clipper, use it every now and then. Thanks!
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (37 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
Wow, your description is short and vague, but none the less he sounds like a real winner. Drop the douchbag. There are plenty of decent men out there that are willing to scratch your itches without being assholes.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:57 AM on September 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


Social awkwardness is no excuse for being a dick.

Part of me wants to use this relationship as 'practice' and enjoy the nice parts

I can tell you from experience that doing this never ends well.
posted by Zophi at 11:00 AM on September 8, 2010 [13 favorites]


It's tough to offer advice without more specifics. I'm not even sure I understand what actually happened.

I don't think "use the relationship as 'practice'" is good for either of you. Do you *like* this guy? Is any part of the relationship fun or enjoyable? It's not sounding like it is. If you saw promise in this guy, it might be worth helping him through the socially awkward part.

But unless you can give an update with some more detail I don't know whether to tell you to do 1, 2 or 3.
posted by micawber at 11:02 AM on September 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


I read this a few times and still can't make any sense out of it. That might be because all I can think about is eating lunch.

in any case:

Not sure if I want to bring it up tomorrow or just bail altogether. Part of me wants to use this relationship as 'practice' and enjoy the nice parts, another part of me wants to explain to him that he's done something hurtful and see where that goes. A third part of me wants to just tell him I'm not interested, because it's not my job to make guys with training wheels track ready. (I'm mid 20s, he's late 20s/early 30s)


Doesnt even sound like you're interested in the guy - just kind of using him.
So just move on.

As for whatever he said, who knows. I've offended everyone I've come in contact at one point or another. I'm socially retarded and rarely edit myself - so I guess that combination gets me in trouble sometimes. He will just have to find less sensitive people to date and befriend. that's what I did.
posted by KogeLiz at 11:02 AM on September 8, 2010


He sounds like an asshole and you already think he's an asshole. Don't date assholes. If you really want to get laid, you'd be better off with an anonymous one-night stand with a stranger than sex with someone you know disrespects you.
posted by grouse at 11:02 AM on September 8, 2010 [9 favorites]


"Part of me wants to use this relationship as 'practice' and enjoy the nice parts"

Also, using the guy is probably way more inconsiderate.
posted by KogeLiz at 11:03 AM on September 8, 2010 [4 favorites]


it's not my job to make guys with training wheels track ready

This is something that everyone in the habit of dating adult men should repeat over and over to themselves.* If he's late 20s/early 30s and is putting down his girlfriend in order to pal around with the guys, he's more than "a little socially awkward." He's an emotionally stunted man-baby and you should tell him to get lost.

*Things I Wish I Knew When I Was 20 #7,493
posted by phunniemee at 11:04 AM on September 8, 2010 [47 favorites]


it's not my job to make guys with training wheels track ready

I love, love, love this. We used to call it "requires too much training." But this is more than training - there may be a character flaw, and you're not going to be able to change it. Don't waste your time on someone who is unkind. The farther into the relationship you get, the stickier it is to get out.
posted by Knowyournuts at 11:05 AM on September 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


What he said was demeaning and trivialized something I'm going through.

Maybe it is trivial? Maybe it isn't? I don't know how you expect people to have any idea whether you're overreacting without more specifics.
posted by ripley_ at 11:07 AM on September 8, 2010 [5 favorites]


In my experience, dating someone who is socially awkward gets tiresome. On top of that, you say he hasn't initiated any physical affection, and he's been a douchebag. No matter how socially awkward someone is, saying something demeaning about you to a mutual friend is NOT okay.

Dating him does not seem like a wise choice - it doesn't look like you're too emotionally invested in him right now, so maybe you should bail before he does something to really hurt/upset you.
posted by Everydayville at 11:09 AM on September 8, 2010


So he said something unflattering about you to a friend, and then told you about it?

Sounds to me like he's testing you see how much shit you'll take. Don't pass that test!

DTMFA
posted by cottonswab at 11:09 AM on September 8, 2010 [9 favorites]


Part of me wants to use this relationship as 'practice'

it's not my job to make guys with training wheels track ready

With respect, respect cuts both ways. If you've got to the stage where one of your options is to use the guy as a life support system for a penis then perhaps it is better to cut your losses.

It's hard to tell from your question what this guy's done, but the fact that he told you would suggest that he mistakenly didn't see it as a big deal. In which case his main error is being inept, not being callous.

On the other hand, it also reads like you are also annoyed at the lack of physical affection. It might be worth addressing if that really is the deal breaker because one reading of your askme would suggest that it is.
posted by MuffinMan at 11:10 AM on September 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'd move on. Although this post is a little vague, if whatever it is he said is still resonating with you in a biting, negative, and/or irritating way this early in the game, then it's only a predictor of what's to come. Your self-esteem is an incredibly valuable commodity - don't risk it at the expense of a "practice" relationship.

I'd cut him loose, then get laid elsewhere.
posted by floweredfish at 11:13 AM on September 8, 2010


So, am I over reacting? Under reacting? Not considering some other potential way to get past this comment?

Honestly, it's impossible to say without details. He could be an ass, you could be overreacting or it could be a misunderstanding. Try talking about it with friends who've met him and give all the details to them and see what they say.
posted by nomadicink at 11:13 AM on September 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


So he said something unflattering about you to a friend, and then told you about it?
Sounds to me like he's testing you see how much shit you'll take. Don't pass that test!
DTMFA


This confused me too. Was he apologizing (ie. "I was joking around, and said something I shouldn't have to your friend. I'm really sorry"), or was he bragging? One of those things is passably OK -- the other isn't.

If it's the first, and he's got a loose tongue, he's probably not a bad person. Maybe not compatible with you... but not necessarily a bad person.

My advice: Confront him directly, let him know how you feel, and give him a chance to explain himself. If you're not satisfied with what he has to say, or this sort of thing keeps happening, dump him. Don't use him as a "practice" boyfriend -- nobody deserves that.
posted by schmod at 11:16 AM on September 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Instead of a practice relationship, practice saying no to people who don't treat you well or make you happy. Start with getting rid of this guy.
posted by Metroid Baby at 11:17 AM on September 8, 2010 [5 favorites]


Maybe you are overreacting, maybe you're not. It's hard to say without knowing what he said and why he said it.
posted by inturnaround at 11:18 AM on September 8, 2010


Sounds like he is socially awkward as you said, he made a mistake and manned up and told you. Did he apologize or just tell you? I would tell him that what he said hurts but I would take his disclosure as a sign of good faith and give him another chance. If he is that awkward, he may learn from you telling him what he did was a no no.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 11:23 AM on September 8, 2010


The fact that he told you about this conversation himself probably means that he did not consider it to be insulting to you - if he actually wanted to insult you, he would do it in a more direct manner. How is it possible that something which you find to be terribly insulting may not seem insulting to him? People can be very idiosyncratic in their interpretation of statements or events. I can't even say whose interpretation is more reasonable, his or yours, since I don't know what was actually said. I agree with schmod that this should be clarified by discussing it with him. If you are not satisfied with the outcome, you can end the relationship then.
posted by grizzled at 11:26 AM on September 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think you should probably just break up, but just how bad the remark is may matter.

"Yeah, well, look at a me, I'm dating someone who..."

(1) still lives at home
(2) bites her fingernails
(3) still gets into huge dramatic arguments with her girlfriends about [insert immature whatever]
(4) wets the bed
(5) has X medical condition

etc.
posted by Pax at 11:30 AM on September 8, 2010


He's apparently inconsiderate about some trait you have that you are particularly sensitive about, and you're apparently inconsiderate enough to consider 'practicing' how to date on a fellow human being without letting them know that's what you're doing. Maybe you're both socially awkward. It sounds to me like neither of you have a whole lot invested in it, so why not just enjoy what it is for as long as you find it enjoyable. Best to be open about this with each other though.
posted by modernnomad at 11:31 AM on September 8, 2010 [4 favorites]



The fact that he told you about this conversation himself probably means that he did not consider it to be insulting to you - if he actually wanted to insult you, he would do it in a more direct manner.


I'll disagree with at least half of this (the first half). In my experience, there are men/women who will repeat hurtful things others have said about you for manipulative reasons. Even if he just repeated it as someone who is clueless and insensitive, is that a dynamic you're willing to deal with?
posted by availablelight at 11:33 AM on September 8, 2010


Bail.

Even if he is not "the one", you deserve to get your sexin' from someone whom you feel respected by.

You have a right to your feelings. You shouldn't have to feel like you have to fight for them! Honestly, who cares if his judgment is right or wrong, he isn't really expressing it to you in a particularly respectful way.

Baaaail!
posted by pazazygeek at 11:50 AM on September 8, 2010


Maybe it's not your job to make the world a better place by "training" the guys you date, but I don't see any reason not to explain *why* you're breaking up with him.

(Also - you don't have to date people you don't like, but I do think we all are responsible for educating each other, a tiny bit at a time -- but not a Fulbright scholarship at a time, to be sure).
posted by amtho at 11:54 AM on September 8, 2010


Huh. Lots of responses, all over the place. Well.

So he felt bad about what he said and thinks enough of your as-yet-nonphysical relationship to want your forgiveness for saying it. This is better than your hearing about it from your mutual, but certainly not as good as if he'd never said anything. So he's not a total douche, but he does need some more practice. So, this is a "strike" not an "out."

If he has other redeeming features (funny, good conversations, shares hobbies, etc), and hasn't done anything else quite as douchey, I suggest you keep going with him until he's used up his three strikes on similar things. Yes, he's old enough that he should know better, but I do think we all should be able to realize that not everyone is going to be an eagle scout all the time and to deal with some screw-ups in a modest and enlightened fashion.

Which doesn't mean you have to be a doormat, it just means that you should be upfront about how you feel and be sure some guidelines are in place so that continuing douchey behaviour will absolutely result in a dump.

Also, it's your responsibility in your adult relationship to ask your partner(s) for things you need, if you aren't getting them. This is fair dealing. They may not wish to provide those things, which is also fair, but then at least you both know that there's a mismatch. Sitting around and being wistful just sucks for both of you. If you want to get boned, say it. And then find out immediately how he feels about that.
posted by seanmpuckett at 11:56 AM on September 8, 2010 [4 favorites]


FWIW, my standards for hitting the sheets even in the most casual way are:

1. More or less knows my name
2. Treats me nicely
3. Behaves in a manner that telegraphs their attraction to me.

You only have one out of three there, and my standards are not high.
posted by DarlingBri at 11:57 AM on September 8, 2010 [17 favorites]


another part of me wants to explain to him that he's done something hurtful and see where that goes

Yes. This. ASAP.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:09 PM on September 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I read this a few times and still can't make any sense out of it.
This. Without specifics, it's impossible to have any opinion on your question, and the inclusion of this line:

Part of me wants to use this relationship as 'practice' and enjoy the nice parts

makes me think that maybe the problem isn't with him at all.
posted by coolguymichael at 12:43 PM on September 8, 2010 [5 favorites]


another part of me wants to explain to him that he's done something hurtful and see where that goes

Being honest about what you want is a good thing.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:50 PM on September 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Part of me wants to use this relationship as 'practice' and enjoy the nice parts

He can probably tell.
posted by setanor at 1:17 PM on September 8, 2010


Heh, apparently my reply crossed a boundary of some sort. I thought it was fair enough, frankly, but at any rate I'm rather adamant the gist of the message doesn't bear censorship, so I shall assume the issue was with how I phrased it, and rephrase it more tamely.

What I take from this: "Part of me wants to use this relationship as 'practice'... I'm not interested, because it's not my job to make guys with training wheels track ready" is that you do not appear to either respect or truly desire this man. Yet your complaint is that he doesn't respect and desire you enough?

Disparaging comments are demeaning, but so is wanting to "use" someone as "practice", and the infantilising nature of your metaphor for his shortcomings in social intelligence.

So, in my view, regardless of how bad these comments were, which is rather impossible to judge given the extreme vagueness, you should move on from this guy. It does not read like you have the mutual respect and attraction necessary.
posted by Slyfen at 1:53 PM on September 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


I understand using someone for sex, companionship, or their cable tv, but I don't understand using them for practice. If it's a bad relationship with someone that pisses you off, you'll just be practicing and learning all the wrong things, no? I don't know if you're over- or under-reacting since I don't know what he said, but it sounds like neither of you respects the other very much. I wouldn't want to be in such a relationship.
posted by frobozz at 2:14 PM on September 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


So you two aren't really connected, you'd only want to consider keeping it going to use him for practice, and he's unsupportive of something really important you're going through? This isn't a relationship, it's an anti-relationship. The longer you wait, the worse it will end.

By the way, be sure to tell your mutual friend that you appreciate them backing you up.
posted by davejay at 2:27 PM on September 8, 2010


I get what you mean about practice, actually, meaning that sometimes you have relationships that are fine for what they are and you know they're not "going anywhere", and as long as no one is deceived about that, whatever.

The issue here is that if you want to be monogamous with this guy, or even if you spend a significant chunk of your time with this guy, you're wasting time and energy that could go towards better things, and you're missing out on opportunities for other, BETTER relationships.

Imagine that there's a great guy out there who you'd have a lot of fun with, who would be polite and easy to get along with, and who would obviously want to sleep with you. He's out there. He's single right now. You'd get along great.

But too bad for him, because you're hanging with this guy. Is it worth it? I don't think so.
posted by the young rope-rider at 4:15 PM on September 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Part of me wants to use this relationship as 'practice' and enjoy the nice parts, another part of me wants to explain to him that he's done something hurtful and see where that goes.
Tell him he's done something hurtful. That's how you practice healthy relating.
posted by TruncatedTiller at 4:21 PM on September 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Only you can know if you are over-reacting because only you know what he said. Only you know your situation.

The real question is: What do you want? Forget about the stupid thing the guy said. Ask yourself if you see any future with him. If you do, then you have to decide if that potential is reason enough to forgive him. If you don't see a possible future with him, the point is moot.

Moot! What a fun word that is!


"Part of me wants to use this relationship as 'practice' and enjoy the nice parts"

Be careful there. Use is a tough word. How would you feel if you were reading his thoughts about you and he said "I'm just using this relationship as 'practice.' Nobody wants to be used. Don't do to him what you wouldn't want done to you.
posted by 2oh1 at 9:33 PM on September 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


From the OP:
have resolved the issue by telling the fellow in question that a relationship is not in the cards for us. He didn't ask why, so I didn't feel compelled to list the reasons. I did this over the phone, and it felt like a huge weight had been lifted from my chest.

Some background for the folks who might be interested:
I had addressed the physical affection issue with him already, but he hadn't made a move yet. In fact, he had dodged a kiss.

Immediately after he related the conversation with our friend, I agreed with our friend and said that the comment wasn't something I was comfortable with. He didn't apologize, and suggested that I was being jumpy. Even though this thing is something we've talked about and he knows it bothers me. I don't try to laugh this thing off like it's no big deal, though it is temporary. I don't whine about it, and my tone wasn't angry with him, just disappointed.

Yes, pointing out the verb "use" was very helpful in getting me to assess what I want in relationships. I don't want to be in a relationship waiting for a better (more affectionate, more respectful, more comfortable, more anything) thing. I want to be in an enjoyable relationship.

Thank you all so much for taking my AnonyMe seriously.
posted by mathowie at 7:16 PM on September 10, 2010


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