What can I do to deal with my boyfriend's bad memory?
February 1, 2011 5:46 AM Subscribe
My boyfriend has the worst memory I've ever encountered. Can we hack it? If not, what are my coping mechanisms?
posted by pineappleheart to human relations (52 answers total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
My boyfriend has really poor short-term and long-term memory. It doesn't seem to affect anything other than our relationship: He has a steady job that never seems to suffer for his inability to recall conversations that happened the day before, and he's a bit of an introvert, so other people don't notice it, or don't comment if they do.
Usually, his memory problems are not my problem. For instance, he gets confused when we watch TV and can't remember what happened in the previous episode, even if we watched it a half-hour ago. He needs a reintroduction to the characters each time we start watching again. ("No, that one's Doctor Who. Yes, we've seen him before. For the past five episodes. The show is named after him. Yes, I'm sure.") I used to think he wasn't invested in whatever we were watching, but now that I know him well, I can tell that isn't the difficulty he's having. He's the one who chooses what we watch, after all. And I can deal with that sort of thing; it can even be endearing.
He does the same thing with books. He can't remember what we're cooking while we're cooking it or whose wedding we're attending while we're attending it. He can't remember my friends' names and confuses details about his own friends. Once he forgot where I go to grad school.
Sometimes it leads to small fights. I'll ask him if he wouldn't mind choosing a recipe for dinner because he's a pickier eater than I am. He'll insist that he suggested and planned the last five dinners we cooked over the past week or so, even though it's absolutely untrue. But he's completely convinced he did and gets annoyed when I gently try to correct him because his false memory is so clear to him.
Recently it lead to a large fight. He was upset that I'd gone to dinner with an old ex-boyfriend and told me he was worried I'd cheat on him. I was hurt that he didn't trust me and so waited until I was less hurt to talk to him about it. I approached the subject two days later. He swore up and down that he'd never said such a thing, enough that I doubted my own memory even though I have documentation of it in text messages I sent to my best friend right after the initial conversation happened. This lead to a large blow-up because I brought up his bad memory, which he doesn't think is a problem at all. He doesn't even think he has a bad memory. He doesn't get that the majority of people can remember the conversations they had earlier in the day or the day before and is skeptical that I do.
For the most part, this isn't a problem, but we're moving in together soon, and I don't want to spend time fighting when he can't remember agreements we've made or disagreements we've had. I don't want to document everything we talk about and then show it to him when we argue; shoving that sort of "proof" in his face seems unkind when he has a genuine recall problem. More often than not, I shrug and say, "Oh, hm, maybe you're right. Who knows," and move on to something else, since I'm not really one to stand on principle, but for more practical matters, I need ways to handle his inability to recall important things.
Has anyone dealt with a significant other who has a really, really poor memory, or does anyone out there have a poor memory? Has anyone had success in pointing it out to you and showing you examples? Are there tricks you can use to improve your recall? How do you cope with it, and how does your partner cope with it? What happens when it leads to disagreements?
I'd love any suggestions that help me prevent this from becoming a subject of discord between us when we combine houses and I'm up against it every day.