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Is my boyfriend controlling or am I making this into an issue when it's no big deal?
July 7, 2012 2:00 PM   Subscribe

My boyfriend tries to tell me what to wear, he says it's his preference but insists that I follow it. I told him that it's controlling and inappropriate however he sees it as completely ok. Am I overreacting?

My boyfriend and I were supposed to go out today, we were going out to eat with his dad and his dads friend for dinner. This is not the first time I'm meeting his dad. We live in Florida where it's hot so I wore shorts, the shorts were not booty shorts or anything and was normal length, he said it was too short and told me to wear pants. I told him it's too hot for pants but I changed into longer shorts. Then I wore 1 to 1.5 inch heels with the shorts however he told me to not wear heels and that he didn't like it. I told him its the style nowadays to wear heels with shorts and that these heels were not even high heels however to avoid further argument I changed into flats and he was happy with that. Let me just say that even with the heels my outfit was completely decent and appropriate and looked sophisticated.

Then during the car ride I started getting mad and telling him that he was being controlling in telling me what to wear. I reminded him of last year when I wanted to take him out for his birthday and I wanted to look nice so I wore a dress with heels but he insisted that I not wear heels and I had to change to flats there too, he said that he didn't want to look like he was with an escort. My dress was not revealing that day at all and was respectful! He told me that he didn't like the combination of shorts or dresses with heels and that I was his girlfriend so I should understand. I got so mad that I told him to turn the car around and drop me off.

I'm at home right now and he just texted me "do you get my point?" and "you look at it as controlling for some reason while I look at it as I hold you to a certain level if awesome". The he called me but I ignored it. I'm kinda sad Bc I was looking forward to hanging out with him today and now I'm second guessing myself whether I got upset over nothing. Does he have a point? Is this not a big deal and Im blowing it out as an issue?
posted by CheeseAndRice to Human Relations (237 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
 
No, he absolutely does not have a point. He is being ridiculous and controlling. He is absolutely allowed to tell you in a non-coercive way what his preferences are, but it is 100% your decision what to actually wear when you start getting dressed. It is not OK of him at all.
posted by brainmouse at 2:01 PM on July 7, 2012 [90 favorites]


People get weird about partners hanging out with their parents and family friends sometimes, but I agree that his crap is out of line. Is this the first time something like this has happened?
posted by elizardbits at 2:02 PM on July 7, 2012


He thinks your choice of shoe makes you look like a whore, and he has no problem telling you so? What a charming man. This is absolutely NOT ok behavior!
posted by showbiz_liz at 2:03 PM on July 7, 2012 [116 favorites]


Next time wear what you want and see what happens. If he dumps you for wearing heels, well, that can't be all bad. You'll be rid of a guy who dumps girls for wearing heels.

"you look at it as controlling for some reason while I look at it as I hold you to a certain level if awesome".

He sounds kind of oblivious and like he has issues.
posted by bleep at 2:04 PM on July 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


Does he come from a religious family? It sounds like he's really harping on some modesty issues that some churches hammer into people. There's also a paternalism issue there, with him ordering you. He's out of line on this, of course, but it may be the tip of an iceberg.

You guys seriously need to talk.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:05 PM on July 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


and that I was his girlfriend so I should understand

If he has a problem with how you choose to dress, the better way to fix his problem is for you to no longer be his girlfriend.
posted by The World Famous at 2:05 PM on July 7, 2012 [52 favorites]


I'd say that trying to control what you wear certainly seems like an early warning sign for other emotionally abusive behaviors. I'd look at this as a serious red flag.
posted by itsamermaid at 2:06 PM on July 7, 2012 [63 favorites]


This is controlling. It's one thing if he said he preferred flats. It's another to tell you that you look like an hooker if you wear heels. He's not "holding you to a level of awesome", he's holding you to his preferences.
posted by jeather at 2:06 PM on July 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah, that guy has issues. Keep in mind, though, that he can attempt to be controlling, but you're only controlled if you change your behavior to meet his demands. How about the next time he tries this, you just tell him firmly and calmly "I like this outfit and I'm going to wear it." His behavior after you assert yourself will tell you all you need to know as to whether or not you should continue to be in a relationship with him.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 2:07 PM on July 7, 2012 [25 favorites]


Trying to "hold you to a certain level of awesome" is controlling and ridiculous, especially when coupled with a text that says "do you get my point?"

If this were isolated to one situation where you were having dinner with his family, it would be one thing. But it's not. He's making this into a thing. If he's just weird about this thing, it might be something you can work out with him. But if this thing is indicative of his other behavior, there are probably better boyfriend options out there for you.
posted by MoonOrb at 2:07 PM on July 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


He sounds super self-conscious and is trying to control you. As if controlling what you wear is going to help him look better or feel better. You're not some kind of prop or doll that he gets to dress for his pleasure or to ease some weird anxiety. Refuse to change next time. You can take two approaches: You can thank him for his opinion but say you're fine with what you're wearing. Or, tell him to cram his opinion.
posted by Fairchild at 2:07 PM on July 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


Um, that's some bullshit in my opinion. It's one thing if you ask his opinion because you're unsure if what you're wearing is flattering or if he knows the event's formality level better than you do, but telling you what not to wear because he thinks you look like a hooker? And "I hold you to a certain level if awesome"?? That's controlling, if he expects you to live up to some ridiculous standard that has nothing to do with you and everything to do with him and his weird hangups. If he loves you and wants to be with you, he should trust your judgement in what you put on your body.
posted by MadamM at 2:08 PM on July 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yes, this sounds weird and controlling to me. But more significantly I think any person, male or female, who puts you down by comparing you to a prostitute is a person afflicted with an ugly and misogynist worldview. "Prostitute" isn't an insult, it's a job. (And at any rate, most of the prostitutes in my neighborhood wear pajama pants.)
posted by milk white peacock at 2:08 PM on July 7, 2012 [28 favorites]


I think you should continue ignoring his texts and phone calls indefinitely.
posted by wreckingball at 2:09 PM on July 7, 2012 [65 favorites]


Is this the same guy you broke up with because he didn't treat you with respect? Because it doesn't sound like much has changed.
posted by chiababe at 2:09 PM on July 7, 2012 [8 favorites]


He's being controlling but trying to pass it off as "I'm just thinking of you, baby"? Hell no.
I think you two need to have a talk about clothing being off limits regarding his "opinion." Unless he's willing to let you look him over and make non-negotiable demands as well?

And reword that phrasing in your head, darling. You didn't -have- to change from heels to flats. That was your choice and it will always be your choice. No guy you're dating, even if he's otherwise sweet as sugar, has the right to tell you what to wear.

You're avoiding confronting him about this, which was fine until you confronted your own mind on why you were bothered. Now you need to confront him on his small-minded views about women, clothing, and apparently about women looking sexy. "Escort", really?
posted by DisreputableDog at 2:10 PM on July 7, 2012 [13 favorites]


Dump him. This is a horrible, horrible flaw on his part and it isn't worth your time or energy to fix.
posted by Hello Darling at 2:10 PM on July 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yeah, out of line. It's fine to express opinions about one's partner's fashion choices (though if one wants to keep the partner, those opinions should mostly be positive, or if critical, at least acknowledge the partner's fabulousness)-- but his *insistence* pushes it over the edge into controlling behaviour.

I wonder if he's sensitive about his height? That could explain his aversion to heels.
posted by Pallas Athena at 2:10 PM on July 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


This does not sound okay to me.

Even if his dad was, for some reason, weird about shorts, there would be a way for your boyfriend to express it to you without being controlling - "Hey cheeseandrice, you look great and totally appropriate, but my dad is super weird about shorts, could you do me a huge favor and change in to pants? it's totally his issue and nothing about how you are dressed, i would really appreciate it!" That would not be controlling. What you described, is.
posted by insectosaurus at 2:10 PM on July 7, 2012 [28 favorites]


You've been dating this guy for less than 5 months, it may be time to cut bait and run. I suspect that his telling you what to wear is just the tip of the controlling and perhaps abusive behavior you're going to see.
posted by HuronBob at 2:11 PM on July 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


Who cares if he has a point? He's embarrassed by you. Why do you waste time with someone who is embarrassed by you?
posted by discopolo at 2:11 PM on July 7, 2012 [9 favorites]


Um, he's telling you what to wear and telling you that you look like a slut -- and this is a pattern even when you're going out just with him, and not a one-off based on nervousness about you meeting the parents. When you called him on being controlling, he continued to insist he was right. That's not "holding you to a certain level of awesome," whatever the fuck that is supposed to mean. That's being a controlling douchebag.

You're a person, not his accessory. He owes you an apology and modified behavior.
posted by J. Wilson at 2:13 PM on July 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


I don't think you are overreacting. I don't think he gets to dictate what you wear. I think he might be allowed to comment when he thinks you might have missed on the appropriateness-level of the venue or when there is a big difference between your formalness and his, but that would be the absolute max.

One question, though: what do you wear when you are not out on the town? Are you a tank top and flip flops girl 99% of the time? It might be just a bit of cognitive dissonance for him to see you dressed up on these occasions and he doesn't know how to deal with it.

To share an anecdote from my own life, I don't wear makeup most of the time. But, when going to a wedding or to a really fancy restaurant, I will put some on. My boyfriend dislikes makeup, and he'll make a comment "you've put on makeup" and I'll say "yep" and that's the end of it because he knows it's my choice to make even if he doesn't really like it. If I were the type of woman who couldn't go out without my face on, then we wouldn't even be together because I wouldn't be the kind of woman he's attracted to.

Still, it's something you guys need to talk about.
posted by cabingirl at 2:13 PM on July 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


Here's the thing: you get to make your own standards of awesome.
posted by a hat out of hell at 2:13 PM on July 7, 2012 [60 favorites]


He is being ridiculous.

One question, though. Are you guys both from Florida?

I grew up in a similarly steamy and tropical part of the US, and we had vastly different standards of appropriate clothing than people in other parts of the country. In college my first boyfriend*, who was from the northeast, would lose it if I wore flip flops in public. Whereas in southern Louisiana flip flops are considered everyday basic footwear from March till November.

*That said, this dude was controlling as fuck. Just because there are different standards of dress doesn't mean one's boyfriend gets to tell one what to wear.
posted by Sara C. at 2:14 PM on July 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


What? No. This is not even remotely acceptable behavior.
posted by Ragged Richard at 2:17 PM on July 7, 2012


If someone tried to pull that crap on me, I'd be angry and astonished, but the one thing that would never occur to me would be to actually take their orders seriously and acquiesce. Why would you think that's okay? Dude is a jerk. of course, I can't STAND bossy people or sexists, myself.
posted by Occula at 2:17 PM on July 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is this not a big deal and Im blowing it out as an issue?

Your boyfriend is a ridiculous, insecure, controlling asshole. Is that a dealbreaker for you?
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 2:18 PM on July 7, 2012 [7 favorites]


Run run run. This is a huge red flag. HUGE. Because holding you to a make believe "standard of awesome" is about heels after five months. After a year, it's about what you can wear. When you get engaged, it's about who you can have as friends. It gets worse from there. Run run run.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:20 PM on July 7, 2012 [81 favorites]


Is he shorter than you? Maybe that's why he doesn't like heels. At any rate it's annoying and out of line.
posted by katypickle at 2:20 PM on July 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


Yeah, I'm sure Tom Cruise thought he was holding Katie Holmes to a "certain level of awesome" as well.

He is controlling, condescending, and is actively trying to diminish your self-esteem and independence. This is one of the hallmarks of a Bad Pony. Do not bet on him.
posted by scody at 2:21 PM on July 7, 2012 [29 favorites]


DTMFA. He doesn't get to tell you what to wear. He sounds like an ass. You can do better.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:22 PM on July 7, 2012


Why would you want to live your life like this? If this is the same guy from your last question, you need to cut ties and go to therapy to find out why you allow someone to treat you like that. It isn't going to get better and his behavior will only escalate.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 2:23 PM on July 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm a guy. If this guy was my friend and I knew he was doing this to you, I'd tell him in no uncertain terms that he's a douchebag and to man up and knock it off.
posted by klanawa at 2:23 PM on July 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


"I look at it as I hold you to a certain level if awesome".

Wow, what a condescending, controlling, and disrespectful thing to say and think. I wonder what makes him think it's appropriate for him to "hold you to" certain "levels" of anything? What will it be next? I bet holding you to a certain weight will be on the menu eventually. Maybe holding you to certain things you're allowed to eat, and not others? Maybe holding you to certain words you're allowed to use, and not others?

I think when people are condescending, controlling and disrespectful like this, they start out with these little things that you can maybe kinda live with most of the time, but it just gets worse, worse, and worse.
posted by cairdeas at 2:24 PM on July 7, 2012 [14 favorites]


He sounds completely controlling. He sounds like the type of guy who is emotionally abusive. He's trying to tell you that you look like a whore when you're dressing nicely -- this is something that people usually do because they're controlling and trying to cut you down so they can control you better. It's a gradual process, where the person says they're doing things "for your own good" or "to make you more normal" in some way. This is very possibly an indicator of the beginning of emotional abuse. Don't take it -- wear what you want to wear and let him know in no uncertain terms that he can't control you.
posted by DoubleLune at 2:24 PM on July 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


He just texted me "I apologize for how I made you feel" and called me twice, still ignoring him though. Thanks for everyones comments. I'm not sure if I should forgive and forget since he did apologize but I have a feeling this issue will come up again since he did not acknowledge in any way that his behavior is controlling.

To answer someone's question, I usually dress casual but I've been dressing up more these days and getting into dressing more trendy and fashionably however I always make sure I dress appropriately and present myself in a decent and proper manner for the occasion.
posted by CheeseAndRice at 2:25 PM on July 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'd have no reason to continue the relationship. Even the apology is likely from a controlling and manipulative stance. There's much better out there.
posted by kcm at 2:27 PM on July 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


He just texted me "I apologize for how I made you feel" and called me twice, still ignoring him though. Thanks for everyones comments. I'm not sure if I should forgive and forget since he did apologize

Oy. To be honest, I really really think the best thing you can do is cut ties with him now, if you're able to do so. Just cut it off. Why put yourself through the hassle of dealing with this?

If you don't feel ready to do that yet, at least don't base that on the "apology" he gave. He apologized for "how he made you feel," not for being controlling and disrespectful which is the actual problem.
posted by cairdeas at 2:28 PM on July 7, 2012 [9 favorites]


That wasn't an apology.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 2:31 PM on July 7, 2012 [87 favorites]


"I apologize for how I made you feel" is just the shittiest apology I've ever heard. The correct apology would be something along the lines of "I'm sorry I tried to control you and didn't trust your judgement and ability to dress yourself. This is something I need to work on."

I frequently request that my husband wear something different but frequently I think I have a good reason for it, like "OMG those two colors don't work together" or "please don't wear a t-shirt to this family party" or finally, "That shirt has ten massive stains on it did you look in the mirror before you dressed yourself?" I hope that this is not been a long term relationship or a very serious one, because yeah, whoa. DTMFA.
posted by two lights above the sea at 2:32 PM on July 7, 2012 [9 favorites]


In general it's ridiculous. Of course he can express his preference but that's it. However, with parents things can get weird, so maybe I would give him a pass on that one.

I would definitely keep an eye on this red-flaggish behaviour though.
posted by bquarters at 2:32 PM on July 7, 2012


My husband has preferences for how I look and dress, which I sometimes accommodate but frankly usually don't. He appreciates the times I take his preferences into account, but doesn't really make any mind of it if I don't. If he told me he was "holding me to a certain level of awesome" I would probably laugh in his face out of surprise, and if it turned out he was serious I would be scheduling counseling appointments for us posthaste.
posted by KathrynT at 2:33 PM on July 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


I am a guy who definitely has control-freak moments, including about how my partner dresses. But I know that it is my job to bite my tongue, relax, and be happy that I'm out with a beautiful woman who dresses way better than I do; it is not her job to follow my dress instructions especially when it's crazy.

In other words, he's way, way out of line. Great, he apologized -- the real question is, did he have a personal come-to-Jesus moment and get a clue, and will never, ever, ever do this again? Or is he just sorry that there was an argument and is relying on you wanting to avoid conflict to start following his dress rules?
posted by Forktine at 2:34 PM on July 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


Wear heels again next time you see him (if you see him again). His response will tell you if he's sorry he was being controlling or if he's sorry that you stood up to him. (I'd bet money on the latter.)
posted by jeather at 2:34 PM on July 7, 2012 [12 favorites]


he said that he didn't want to look like he was with an escort. My dress was not revealing that day at all and was respectful!
1) In other words he said "women that wear high heels are whores" (or at least look like whores) with all the misogynist baggage that comes with that statement (victim blaming etc)
2) Absolutely way over the line shaming and controlling
3) Further, there's nothing wrong with a woman who wants to wear a revealing dress or outfit doing so. I mean there are events/venues where there are dress codes, and there are things you wouldn't wear to work, but beyond that I personally don't feel that there's such a thing as "inappropriate" or "disrespectful". If someone likes the feeling of dressing sexy, they can feel free to do so.

Regarding your update: apologies only go so far. The worst most abusive of men "apologize" - what's important is acknowledging that his behavior was not ok, that his assumptions about women based on what they wear are 100% wrong, and then never trying to dictate your dress again.

And I make this post as someone that has to tell myself to back on up off my boyfriend's clothing choices from time to time. Or actually pretty frequently. If anyone was going to sympathize with your BF it would be me, and I absolutely do not. That "escort" bit was so far past the line it was starting to occupy Baghdad.
posted by kavasa at 2:34 PM on July 7, 2012 [9 favorites]


I apologize for how I made you feel

This is what is known in the internets world of utterly fake bullshit apologies as a Heidipology and it is basically the most worthless form of human communication. Kick his sorry ass to the curb.
posted by elizardbits at 2:34 PM on July 7, 2012 [44 favorites]


You have my permission to dump this guy by text message.
posted by alphanerd at 2:37 PM on July 7, 2012 [41 favorites]


Here's how it goes at our house (we're both women):

Her: These shoes, or these other shoes?

Me: Put on one of each? [I have trouble visualizing things like this]

Her: Okay, which, do you think?

Me: Left one. I think that red goes better. [She has many red shoes; one must specify *which* red]

/end

His behavior is bullshit; his apology, too, since he didn't manage to actually apologize for his behavior, and may not see it as a problem. Those are big flags.
posted by rtha at 2:40 PM on July 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


The fauxpology is classic douche move. "My dad is very conservative, and if you could wear something a little more conservative than what you've got on, that would be so great. I know this seems weird to ask, and of course Dad shouldn't be so judgey, but if you'd consider a different outfit I'd appreciate it" is how a non-asshole brings up their concern about their parent's bizarre issues about appearance.

Drop the zero, find a hero.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:40 PM on July 7, 2012 [23 favorites]


The subtext to boyfriend's "apology" is: "Jeez, don't be so sensitive! Just do as I say and don't give me crap about it, willya?"
That's exactly what he meant. If he said those very words to your face, you wouldn't let him off the hook. So don't do it know. Please, don't knuckle under. He's a controlling turd who doesn't hear you.
posted by BostonTerrier at 2:42 PM on July 7, 2012 [9 favorites]


Just in case this is one of those times when you need a lot of people saying the same thing to see the situation clearly: Yes, he's controlling. But his ideas are also bizarre. Don't get me wrong, it would be just as unacceptable to treat you like this if you were wearing, say, a see-through dress with no underwear and 4-inch lucite heels to visit his parents. In that case he could still talk to you nicely about it. But his "requirements" are really not the norm; even in this thread you're sort of defending your 1 inch heels - there's no need to do that! If he comes from some religion or culture that only accepts flats, then he needs to find a girl from the same background and not mess up your head about what is considered completely normal almost everywhere in this country.
posted by DestinationUnknown at 2:44 PM on July 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


I have been in a slightly less severe version of this situation. The shortest skirt I owned, which went to about mid-thigh, became known as the Harlot Skirt (or Whore Skirt, depending on the mood). I never actually caved in what I was wearing, but I did change my mind on getting a super-short haircut and wear glasses I didn't like on my own damned birthday because of similarly ridiculous objections. I don't know what the rest of your relationship is like, but in my case, it was just one symptom of many that he was emotionally unstable at the time and extremely insecure.

Honey, let me tell you—my life was better when that relationship was behind me. (And I happily wear my Harlot Skirt whenever I want. My soon-to-be husband approves.)
posted by divisjm at 2:44 PM on July 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't care if you thought wearing a thong bikini and 6-inch lucite stripper heels was appropriate clothing for a five-star restaurant: hell yes he's controlling. Shucks, you'd already changed from the shorts you were wearing to longer pants just to make him happier.

His "apology" was, at best, insincere. Go right on ignoring this dude, preferably for the rest of your life. Don't forgive, don't forget, just dump him.
posted by easily confused at 2:46 PM on July 7, 2012


Oh hell no.

text him back the following:

"let me know when you are ready to apologize for being controlling, misogynistic and rude to me; and to accept and respect me no matter what I wear. Otherwise do not contact me again."
posted by Tarumba at 2:48 PM on July 7, 2012 [54 favorites]


Go buy these fabulous shoes. They will looks excellent on your feet as you are walking away.
posted by oflinkey at 2:49 PM on July 7, 2012 [15 favorites]


"I apologize for how I made you feel," is only a fraction better than "I'm sorry you feel that way". It's a fauxpology designed to smooth things over without dealing with the actual issues. Together with the controlling behaviour and hints of misogyny, this sounds like a dude you ought to be wary of.
posted by hot soup girl at 2:50 PM on July 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


My boyfriend just asked what I was reading and when I told him, his response was, "Why wouldn't he want her to wear heels?"

There's no excuse for his behavior and I agree with hot soup girl about is apology - he's not saying sorry about what he did, but the way you feel about it. This is a huge red flag. I'd drop this guy right away.
posted by youngergirl44 at 2:54 PM on July 7, 2012


I was going to write about how sometimes, one partner is more aware of a set of cultural norms than another, and might be more invested in not crossing them (like how some churches, even in hot climates, have a no shorts dress code).

But dude telling you not to wear heels on his birthday, that sounds like something else. Super-self ... er other-conscious and disrespectful to you. Unless you were a super-conservative dresser when you first met, and suddenly switched to wearing thong bikinis to restaurants once the two of you became an item, your SO knew how you liked to dress, so has no reason to gripe about a change. (Not saying he would even if your style changed, but it's extra-weird to do so after the relationship starts).

I think you need to lay down the law with the dude that, in trying to uphold whatever imagined rules he has in mind, he doing far worse by disrespecting the very real and much more important person in front of him. If he continues to act this way, you would be treating yourself with respect by moving on.
posted by zippy at 2:57 PM on July 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


He just called again and I picked up this time. He then went on to explain that it was because of the situation and meeting his dad and his dads friend that he was so insistent that I dress a certain way. I then asked if his dad had an aversion to heels or something and he said no but overall that he thinks flats would be better. I asked about the incident last year where he again made me change into flats and he said that was a different situation Bc I was overdressed compared to him. I told him I can understand where he's coming from (regarding meeting his dad) but I didn't want this to become a reoccurring issue with control. He said it was all situational only and admitted that my heels were not high. Then we just hung up. Not sure how I felt about that conversation.

Btw he's not short. He's 5'11" and I'm 5'3".
posted by CheeseAndRice at 2:58 PM on July 7, 2012


"So, do you still think heels make me look like a prostitute?"
posted by rhizome at 2:58 PM on July 7, 2012 [24 favorites]


You are not over-reacting. Whilst I might not dump my boyfriend if he did this once, I would make it clear it is not respectful and Not Okay. If he ever did it again he could watch me walk away in whichever damn shoes I pleased.

Really. If he does this again, or is controlling in other ways, leave. It's so not worth it (and I say this as someone with an ex who said I "looked stupid" in skinny jeans and can't believe I put up with that shit for so long)
posted by stillnocturnal at 3:00 PM on July 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


He is just making excuses to explain his behavior. He is not apologizing. He does not regret what he did.

And honestly, those excuses sound like bullshit to me.
posted by Tarumba at 3:00 PM on July 7, 2012 [11 favorites]


"I apologize for how I made you feel"

Seconding hot soup girl - he is not apologizing in any way, shape, or form for HIS actions. He is expressing his remorse that you have such irrational feelings over something completely acceptable....

...in his opinion, of course. If he is this controlling now, when you're just dating, he is only going to get worse - especially if you give in.

Stand firm. If you are dressing appropriately by the norm (I don't wear heels with a sundress, but it's completely normal to do so), in a manner that's comfortable for you and he tells you again what to wear, break it off. Make sure you're in a public place (maybe arrange to meet him for a date or something).

Would you date a guy who asked you to wear three-inch stiletto heels everywhere? Telling you to wear flats everywhere is JUST as controlling, but more insidious as it's not as obviously wrong as the stilettos. In his own words he's putting you on a pedestal, which will be impossible for you to stay on. It's unfair to you.

If it was just the clothes and everything else about it was awesome, maybe you could work this out....but I highly doubt this is the case, is it?
posted by Lt. Bunny Wigglesworth at 3:00 PM on July 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


LOL, "situational" is such a weasel-word. "It only happens when it occurs to me to say something, which just so happens to be every time. Total coincidence." I'm guessing he didn't go out after the birthday thing and buy the kinds of clothes that would prevent him from feeling underdressed.
posted by rhizome at 3:01 PM on July 7, 2012 [10 favorites]


"So, do you still think heels make me look like a prostitute?"

This. As far as I'm concerned, it's an issue of attitude. There's a right way to approach these issues, and a wrong way. He's chosen the latter, and the lack of respect it shows as troubling. Still not sure if this is an issue in other aspects of your relationship, but if it is, I think you have some serious contemplation ahead of you. A relationship can't be truly healthy without mutual respect.
posted by divisjm at 3:02 PM on July 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


DTMFA. Ditch him, ditch him, ditch him. This dude is bad news, and every time you cave in to one of his little demands, he'll demand something else --- it'll never end. And his "excuses" are just that, excuses: he is not sorry for his actions and demands, and these are not in any way, shape or form valid reasons.
posted by easily confused at 3:03 PM on July 7, 2012 [12 favorites]


Why does he think flats would have been better to have dinner with his father? It doesn't sound like it is his father who cares, it sounds like he is the one who cares, and he's making bullshit excuses.

The next time you wear heels, it won't work because you're going out with his friend who is short, and the time after, it will be because you will be going on a cobblestoned street and might trip, and the time after that he just doesn't like those specific heels, and then after that you'll be escaping from a rabid manatee and who can run in heels?
posted by jeather at 3:03 PM on July 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


it was because of the situation and meeting his dad and his dads friend that he was so insistent that I dress a certain way. I then asked if his dad had an aversion to heels or something and he said no but overall that he thinks flats would be better.

Translation: Your boyfriend wanted to control what you wore with no underlying circumstances.

I asked about the incident last year where he again made me change into flats and he said that was a different situation Bc I was overdressed compared to him.

Translation Your boyfriend wanted to control what you wore with no underlying circumstances.

I didn't want this to become a reoccurring issue with control.
It already has.
posted by Lt. Bunny Wigglesworth at 3:03 PM on July 7, 2012 [31 favorites]


This is just the thin end of the wedge... Get out while your self-esteem is still intact. I wish I had when I was seeing someone like this...
posted by KateViolet at 3:05 PM on July 7, 2012 [13 favorites]


It sounds like he doesn't even get why his weird demands are offensive and inappropriate. Do you want to have to take on either changing yourself to accommodate an insensitive asshole or trying to make an insensitive asshole change? Or maybe not date an insensitive asshole at all.
posted by Occula at 3:06 PM on July 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ah. With your follow up, I think I understand the issue better.

Your boyfriend doesn't know how to express his feelings and ask for what he wants. Instead, he looks for a way to make you feel bad -- as a way of getting what he wants.

He may feel like it's humiliating to come right out and ask you to do him the favor of dressing more conservatively for his dad, to make things a bit easier on him. And when you resist, he (may) (unconsciously) feel like you're rubbing it in his face that he is weak enough to have a need.

I'm not doing a very good job of describing this. Basically, he's embarrassed to have a 'want' and does a bad job of indicating it to you.

That's potentially a really big issue -- keep an eye on it. Some people are trainable and can learn to have wants and express them to others and ask for what they want in a polite way.
posted by vitabellosi at 3:09 PM on July 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


"I apologize for how I made you feel"

THIS IS NOT AN APOLOGY. It is a non-apology apology. It is a dick move.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:10 PM on July 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


He said it was all situational only

When someone is looking to be controlling or behave badly in other ways, they FIND reasons and justifications. Every time he wants to change something about you, he will find a reason why it is "situational."

"I don't want to control what you buy all the time, it's just that you don't have very much money to be wasting right now."

"I don't want to control what you buy all the time, it's just that if we are going to get engaged I want to make sure we are financially stable."

"I don't want to control what you eat all the time but I just want to make sure we are happy with how we look in our wedding photos"

"I don't want to control what you eat all the time, but I just want you to be as healthy as possible since we're trying for a baby."

"I don't want to control your weight all the time, but I'm just concerned you will be one of those women who puts on way too much weight during the pregnancy and can't take it off after."

"I don't want to control your weight all the time, I just want you to be healthy now that we have a baby to think about."

"I don't want to control what you wear all the time, but now that we have a baby you are a mother and I don't want the other mothers to think badly about you."

On and on and on.
posted by cairdeas at 3:11 PM on July 7, 2012 [54 favorites]


"I apologize for how I made you feel" (on preview I see that the awfulness of this sentence has been partially covered) but the new thing that I want to bring to light is that he is stating that he has controlled your emotions. This is one step worse than "I'm sorry you feel that way" because he's taken away your agency about how you feel. You're not in charge of your emotions. He is. And I would bet you a dollar, no, TEN dollars, that he wants it that way. You shouldn't be happy or relaxed or confident unless he thinks it's ok. If he wants to get you upset, then he will. And his control of your emotions then controls your actions. If you feel guilty or slutty for looking smoking hot, then you will change your shoes. If you're angry about feeling guilty then you'll tell him about it and he can make a show about how you don't "understand his point." You're not a 4 year old. You understand his point, and that's actually the problem. This would be a lot easier for him if you didn't understand it and he could just subtly start eroding your self esteem. He's mad because you figured it out. And probably doubly so because you reached out for back up.

Then in your update:
he said it's all situational.

Here's the problem with abusive guys*. It's always situational.

You burned dinner. You stayed out late with friends and didn't call him. He's stressed about work.

He may very well be setting up a sick system, in which you are eventually supposed to know why you can't wear heels and he'll be very annoyed that you didn't remember that ....whatever, I can't think of any incredibly ridiculous excuse for a guy to ask a woman not to wear heels because a guy commenting on your footwear choice is bizarro unless you both know that a particular pair of shoes gives you blisters if you just look at them, and you happen to be headed out the door to run a marathon.

*My money is on this guy being an abusive one. But even if he's not, he's giving abusive jerks cover. By that, I mean, he'd be making it possible to brush off an abused woman by being the "perfectly nice guy" that people point to. Oh, mr cheeseandrice doesn't let his wife wear heels or shorts, but he's perfect.

Do not pass go. Just tell him you're done. Don't give him any chances to "make this up to you" or "show you how much he cares" or express that he "loves you so so much and he really screwed up this time."
posted by bilabial at 3:14 PM on July 7, 2012 [65 favorites]


Maaaaybe he is just really really bad at apologies. (I don't buy this, but whatever.)

Look, if you wanna continue dating this guy, just keep dressing the way YOU want. If he makes some comment about how he prefers something else, go "I like how I look in pants too, but I think this outfit looks cute too. I'm keeping it on, let's hit the ice cream store already! [or whatever]"

If he pulls any of this "it's my preference" crap, reply "I know. And this outfit is MY preference: I look and feel really awesome in these shoes/skirt/shorts so I'm keeping it on. Come on, ice cream awaits!"

In other words, don't get mad, acknowledge what he's saying, but assert that YOU get to choose what you wear, and then move on to something else. Lather rinse repeat a couple of times.

See how he reacts. If he gets over it, great. If he fumes and pouts and snarls... well, you know how that acronym goes.

[The thing about the "escort" ... here is the absolute most generous interpretation: he felt like a schlepp next to you, and when he sees schleppy guys with glam-looking girls it makes him think 'god, he must've hired her, no way she's with him for real.'

So maybe he's insecure or something, but that's HIS deal ... he needs to learn to SAY 'I feel underdressed!' and not say 'you look like a hooker!'. And then you guys can work it out from there ... maybe he puts on nicer slacks or you pair a more casual sweater with the dress, whatever. Insisting that you bend to his will, especially when you're trying to take him out to a nice dinner, is not a nice thing to do.]
posted by miss_kitty_fantastico at 3:16 PM on July 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


He just texted "are you just not wanting us"? I don't think he understands the issue at all or why I'm upset! I'm not even going to respond...

Thanks again everyone...it's just hard Bc it seems like he tries to be a good bf but he just doesn't understand me and thinks that what he does is normal and acceptable behavior and then I start second guessing myself but everyone's responses makes me feel more justified with my reason for being upset. Also he comes from a different culture than me so maybe thats what it is, his father is Egyptian but he grew up in the states. Overall he is very conservative though and I have caught him making misogynistic remarks before about women dressing or being sluts.
posted by CheeseAndRice at 3:20 PM on July 7, 2012 [16 favorites]


He then went on to explain that it was because of the situation and meeting his dad and his dads friend that he was so insistent that I dress a certain way.

Here's what it sounds like to me. He was really nervous about this lunch, and he's worried about looking bad in front of his dad and dad's friend. He then notices how you're dressed, and immediately reacts with shame and embarrasment at the idea of dad and dad's friend seeing him with someone dressed the way you were. (Again, this is not to imply that there was actually something wrong with how you were dressed! Just that he clearly thought there was.) So, recap: he was nervous, he was uncomfortable.

That's all okay. People get nervous. People have issues with shame and Public Faces and parents and all that. All of that is normal.

But now look at how he reacted. Because of how he felt, he said: "You're dressed like a hooker. You need to change clothes." His reaction isn't, "There's something going on with me, and I feel like this," or even "I'm kind of nervous, and it would really be sweet if you'd humor me by changing," or even "I'm worried about how my dad and his friend will think of your shoes, can you maybe change?" No, instead, it was just straightforward: "You are the problem, clearly you need to change." You got the blame, you got the burden of keeping him happy, you got the (impossible, stressful) task of ensuring he didn't have to encounter shame.

That is NOT cool. That is seriously messed up. And, it really would disturb me if I were you. You aren't responsible for his shame. But he's trying to make you so. He got angry and he verbally attacked you (he said you looked like a whore!) because he was feeling anxious.

This is a huge red flag. It's not an issue related to clothes. Instead, it's an issue about what role he sees you playing in his management of his own emotions--and it looks like he has a dangerous and unhealthy idea of what that role is.

"...I hold you to a certain level if awesome"

Others have picked on this, but I will too because it is seriously worthy of major consideration. Notice what this means: you, as you are, aren't good enough for him. He accepts that there is a standard, but it's a standard that you aren't meeting. The way he is thinking about the issue is as if there's an objective standard for you, and if you don't meet that standard, he gets to call you names and dictate your behavior. He wants you to feel like that objective standard is there, so that you'll "recognize" how appropriate it is for him to call you names and dictate your behavior when you fail to meet that standard.... And note how he knows what this standard is, and you don't. That means, if you fall into believe that this objective standard exists, you'll have to allow him to have the final say over what you do, say, and even think -- otherwise, you'll run the risk of failing to meet that standard that he understands and you don't!

But, of course, there ain't no objective standard like that. He's not justified in calling you names and dictating your behavior. His justification here is giving you some insight into how he sees the world and where you fit into it: and it's one in which you have to work to meet some standard, and you have to defer to him to make sure you're doing so correctly. That's not how two adults on equal footing interact with each other.

Again, please recognize that this is a major red flag.

What you describe here would really scare me. How much do you know about abusive relationships and how they form? You may want to read up on it before you decide how to deal with this guy any more.... It's worthy to note that no partner is ever controlling and abusive from the very moment they get into a relationship. Instead, there is a long process. And what you've described here sounds like, to me, the starting of that process. Take care of yourself. This isn't really about high heels: instead, it's about the developing dynamic in your relationship and where it might head.
posted by meese at 3:21 PM on July 7, 2012 [49 favorites]


He just texted "are you just not wanting us"?

And now we see him setting you up with a loaded question designed to absolve him of all responsibility for breaking up. Not only that, but it calls into question your desire for the relationship rather than your desire to deal with the issues at hand. "Oh forget about all that, just tell me whether or not you're going to dump me for caring about you."
posted by rhizome at 3:23 PM on July 7, 2012 [31 favorites]


I reminded him of last year when I wanted to take him out for his birthday
It sounds like this is the same boyfriend described in your previous question. You know, the one who didn't treat you with respect, and would chase after you when you spent 18 months trying to leave him, and who was also your supervisor at work.

DTMFA. If you have any doubts, call a domestic abuse hotline.
posted by feral_goldfish at 3:23 PM on July 7, 2012 [7 favorites]


I have caught him making misogynistic remarks before about women dressing or being sluts.

You know how he talks about other women? Sooner or later, that is EXACTLY how he's going to talk about you.

Put on whatever shoes you like and walk away. This will never get any better.
posted by scody at 3:23 PM on July 7, 2012 [49 favorites]


So, just to clarify: when you talked on the phone, he neither gave you a real apology nor committed to changing his behavior in any way. Is that correct?

It sounds like you're in for more "situations" like this. DTMFA
posted by dysh at 3:23 PM on July 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I apologize for how I made you feel. But if you'd just do as you're told when you're told, you wouldn't have to feel this way. Do you get my point? You did it to yourself, silly! Why are you so down on yourself? You know I love you; I'm just looking out for you. I only want what's best for you. You don't seem to respect yourself enough to know when you're demeaning yourself by the way you dress. I respect you. More than you respect yourself. Now watch this drive.
posted by likeso at 3:24 PM on July 7, 2012 [13 favorites]


[Folks, let's not turn this into a heels-or-not debate. Thanks. ]
posted by restless_nomad at 3:25 PM on July 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


So, he said "it was because of the situation and meeting his dad and his dads friend that he was so insistent that I dress a certain way." Did you ask him if this was the case, or did he just volunteer it?
posted by The Light Fantastic at 3:26 PM on July 7, 2012


Along with everyone else here, but especially DarlingBri. Right now it's controlling what you wear. Get engaged and it will evolve to choosing your friends. It's a downhill slope, and it won't get better. You are not making a big deal of this, your instincts are correct.

Your own level of awesome is better than whatever he thinks it might be.
posted by ambrosia at 3:27 PM on July 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


I have caught him making misogynistic remarks before about women dressing or being sluts.

This is not a good person. Get out of this relationship.
posted by chiababe at 3:29 PM on July 7, 2012 [18 favorites]


There are times when I think I've been right about telling a loved one or SO what to do--because I think it's in their best interest, or whatever--but the non-jerkish thing to do when they obviously don't want to take my advice is just to let the thing go, not to try to force them into a course of action and blame them for getting upset about it. If this guy can't even let things like differences in clothing preferences go, are you really looking forward to trying to discuss other, more important issues with him?

No normal adult likes to live under someone else's non-negotiable and arbitrary (situational, lol) rules.
posted by _cave at 3:33 PM on July 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


If he gets this worked up and controlling over something as silly as a one-inch heel, I really don't want to think about how controlling and worked up he might get over, say, a friend of yours who he thinks is 'inappropriate' or if you ever decide to make a career change to something he doesn't approve of.

Dump the guy.
posted by zennish at 3:33 PM on July 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


You know how he talks about other women? Sooner or later, that is EXACTLY how he's going to talk about you.

Scody is soooooooo right about this. One of the worst mistakes I ever made in my past was continuing in a relationship with someone who said insanely nasty and angry things about women who were being pretty reasonable, or were doing things that weren't all that bad. At the time, he was really wonderful with me and didn't treat me that way at all, plus we would talk about these things when they happened and he would eventually admit he acted badly, so I thought we were making progress. Even though those incidents still kept happening.

Down the line, as the relationship went on, I found out that I couldn't have been more wrong. Nothing had changed at all. Then, slowly, I started finding myself on the receiving end of the behavior.

To me, how a guy treats or talks about other women, even if he is 100% sweet with you, is one of the biggest warning signs there could possibly be. It will be you, eventually.
posted by cairdeas at 3:35 PM on July 7, 2012 [25 favorites]


[The thing about the "escort" ... here is the absolute most generous interpretation: he felt like a schlepp next to you, and when he sees schleppy guys with glam-looking girls it makes him think 'god, he must've hired her, no way she's with him for real.'

Actually I think you might be right with your interpretation. What he actually said that time was "I don't want to look like im with an escort".

He just texted me again with "you realize we both lost today. No one won". Referring to the fact that I'm now home alone with no plans on a Saturday night and I guess so is he. I responding with "the issue is I felt you were being controlling of me. Im sorry if i said some harsh words, i didnt mean them but I need to know that youre not going to try to control me in the future and that you understand why im upset.

Just for full disclosure i also said some harsh words to him in the car such as you're so controlling of me I can't stAnd you.
posted by CheeseAndRice at 3:36 PM on July 7, 2012


He just texted "are you just not wanting us"?

Also, he's defining "us" as "a relationship where the guy tells his girlfriend what to wear so she doesn't convey the wrong image (as decided by me)."

Sheesh, that question is just such a microcosm. Total by-the-book. Lastly, "are you just..." Not only do you not know how to communicate (questioning the clarity of your words), but also that you view the relationship as nearly worthless, and your answer to the question will involve a reason so small as to only surmount the little bit of consideration for the relationship he already posits that you do already. If he was forthright, he'd say "if you don't let me stay the same, I want to break up."

If you're still on the fence, turn the tables. Ask him, "what do you mean by 'us?'" Then ask him if he's really suggesting you two break up if he's not allowed to tell you what to wear.
posted by rhizome at 3:37 PM on July 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


I have caught him making misogynistic remarks before about women dressing or being sluts.
You know how he talks about other women? Sooner or later, that is EXACTLY how he's going to talk about you.
There's no "sooner or later" about it; he's already done that to her, months ago.
posted by Flunkie at 3:37 PM on July 7, 2012 [7 favorites]


"you realize we both lost today. No one won".

Wrong. If you walk away, YOU WIN. And he knows it.
posted by scody at 3:39 PM on July 7, 2012 [115 favorites]


I agree this is truly a case of dumping this guy for good. Just cut him off. No phone, no text, no facebook, no whatever. He is bad news.
posted by bleep at 3:40 PM on July 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


I have caught him making misogynistic remarks before about women dressing or being sluts.

Oh look, it's my surprised face! Seriously, he sounds like a tool. I'm sure he has redeeming features and you have had a lot of happy days with him, but you deserve to be with someone who loves you for who you are, respects you, and treats you (and other women!) with kindness and respect.

It's totally cool to comment helpfully on your partner's clothing choices. "Uh, do you remember that we are meeting my boss? And the invitation said formal?" is the right thing to say when they show up in their oldest and baggiest sweatpants, for example. Maybe they don't know their dress is transparent, that there is a dress code, or that their pants don't fit anymore. Making them feel bad (especially about their sexuality or appearance) is big-time crappy and is a total no-go zone.
posted by Forktine at 3:40 PM on July 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


I would've just laughed at him and stayed home.
There have been times when I've told my boyfriend what not to wear to certain events.. like dirty shirts, wrinkled dress shirts, pants that are falling off him, etc.
But he doesn't mind and welcomes the advice.. so, this would be different.

Although, I did date someone that made me cover up my tattoos when we went to his grandma's place. This required high neck shirts in Florida and pants. I did it because I also didn't want to hear it from Grandma .

Maybe his Dad has a heel fetish or has hit on your bf's previous girlfriends.
posted by KogeLiz at 3:40 PM on July 7, 2012


"you realize we both lost today. No one won".

Relationships aren't competitions. It sounds like he views his relationship with you as one, though.

Please, again, pay close attention to what he is telling you.
posted by meese at 3:40 PM on July 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Just for full disclosure i also said some harsh words to him in the car such as you're so controlling of me I can't stAnd you.

But he is controlling of you. You aren't a prostitute. I hope you see the difference there. Don't beat yourself up looking for faults. For all we know, this could be something he's trained you to do (or tapped into some low self-esteem).

"you realize we both lost today. No one won".

"Whatever you're feeling, it's wrong. P.S. I'm more awesome than you realize."

You have friends (and even if you don't): you have plenty to do on a Saturday night. Don't let him make you feel like you're dependent on him for a life. Cripes, every update just solidifies in my mind how much of a douchebag this guy is. I should probably stop here.
posted by rhizome at 3:41 PM on July 7, 2012 [15 favorites]


Being alone on a Saturday night isn't losing. It's totally fine and you are fine when you're by yourself. You don't need plans, or to dress a certain way, or to look a certain way in order to "be awesome".

The biggest thing that would bug me about this and his other comments are that he seems to value women based on how they dress. I would rather be with someone who values me for how I treat him, how I treat other people, my kindness, my work ethic. Not for how I dress, whether it's good or bad.
posted by the young rope-rider at 3:43 PM on July 7, 2012 [8 favorites]


If you have any further contact with this guy, DO NOT APOLOGIZE FOR ANYTHING.
posted by BostonTerrier at 3:43 PM on July 7, 2012 [11 favorites]


Relationships aren't competitions. It sounds like he views his relationship with you as one, though.

This. Domination is a zero-sum game.
posted by rhizome at 3:43 PM on July 7, 2012 [7 favorites]


He just texted me again with "you realize we both lost today. No one won". Referring to the fact that I'm now home alone with no plans on a Saturday night and I guess so is he.

Any time you get to spend without this guy is winning the freakin' jackpot, if you ask me.

The thing is, it doesn't matter what his intentions are. If they're "good," and he's just insecure, then he's shown that he's incapable of handling himself in an adult manner or communicating with you respectfully. If they're not good, well...
posted by DestinationUnknown at 3:44 PM on July 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


So. This seems to be boiling down to an all or nothing type of thing for him. You don't agree with him, and so that means that he thinks you want to break up?

That's some emotionally manipulative shit right there. His question translates to "Agree with me, do what I want, or I'm leaving you."

He's got a history of slut shaming women for the way they dress. He's got some boundary issues, in that what you wear is your business and not his, but he doesn't know that. He's got some communication issues, in that whatever he is feeling gets twisted up into being about what you are doing/wearing. He's got issues about making this relationship into competition.

Honey. He's got issues. And it's not your job to fix him. And it's not your duty to suffer through his ineptitude.

Being alone on a Saturday night isn't losing. Listen to the young rope-rider, amend this further.

Being single isn't losing.

Repeat that out loud. Being single isn't losing.
posted by bilabial at 3:45 PM on July 7, 2012 [52 favorites]


Also, I will say that wanting you to dress a certain way in front of his dad is fine. However, the mature way to handle it would be to say something like:

"Hey, hon, I'm really nervous about my dad because the women where he's from dress differently and sometimes he can be an asshole about it. I hate to ask this of you, because it's not fair, but could you wear pants and flat shoes when we go out with him?"

The reality is that he didn't say this because he doesn't see it as asshole behavior on his dad's part, he thinks it's totally justified to treat women poorly based on their standard of dress. Him trying to foist it off on his dad is not making complete sense, here.
posted by the young rope-rider at 3:46 PM on July 7, 2012 [13 favorites]


"You realize we both lost today. No one won."

Not quite: he lost, big-time, when he proved what a jerk he is.
You, on the other hand, very clearly won, when he proved what a jerk he is.
posted by easily confused at 3:47 PM on July 7, 2012 [11 favorites]


Being home on a Saturday night is not "losing" - especially if the alternative is being out with a controlling asshat. You can watch what you want on TV, dress how you want, eat what you want.

DTMFA because, as I say in such situations, YOU DESERVE BETTER.
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 3:49 PM on July 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


Blerg. He wants a girlfriend. And then he wants to make you into the girlfriend he wants so that he and his family feel comfortable about you. So, basically, you, as a living, breathing person are irrelevant in this. And because of the way he views women (and how he views men) he doesn't really understand why this is wrong.

I would just walk away.
posted by heyjude at 3:49 PM on July 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


Also, this "I don't want to look like im with an escort".

What the heck? He can dress himself, I presume? When I go out with my boyfriend in a strapless cocktail dress, he wears slacks and a button down shirt. If he's already dressed and wearing a tee shirt and jeans, then I either a) tell him I'm putting on something sexy and watch him dash to his closet for slacks and a button down, or b) wear a tee shirt and jeans. He has never once suggested that anyone might think he's bought my time. What he says is, "I am the luckiest guy here!"

Your boyfriend made that sound like he was making it about him, using an "I statement," but the correct expression of that sentiment is "you look like an escort." Even in it's most generous parsing, saying what he said is a major major red flag.
posted by bilabial at 3:52 PM on July 7, 2012 [9 favorites]


Further to heyjude, that description is exactly how MeFi's own TheLastPsychiatrist talks about narcissism as a method by which people use those around them as characters in their own movie. He's asking you, "what, you don't want to play the role of my girlfriend anymore? Because that's how it's written."
posted by rhizome at 3:59 PM on July 7, 2012 [17 favorites]


The correct response to his last text is "Actually, I'm feeling like I've got the better end of the bargain. Good night!"
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 4:00 PM on July 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


small correction, computech: that last pair of words should be "Good riddance!"
posted by easily confused at 4:02 PM on July 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's completely okay to have a preference, it's completely okay to get a little wigged out and/or insecure. What's not okay is insistence; what's not okay is a failure to recognize that his preference and his insecurities are his problem and not yours and they are something he needs to deal with on his own time.

Also, the way he's handled it has been shitty. Let me put this in the clearest terms I can: He thinks it is okay to control you sometimes if the situation warrants it, when in fact it is never actually okay to do. His opinion about this appears unchanged. What you do next is up to you but I would not date someone who thought this way, no matter how good things were at other times.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 4:09 PM on July 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


I have caught him making misogynistic remarks before about women dressing or being sluts

Before you dump this sorry piece of shit, do make sure to tell him that this right here is one of the reasons you are doing so. AS A PUBLIC SERVICE.
posted by elizardbits at 4:09 PM on July 7, 2012 [10 favorites]


Jesus, Lord, please stop texting and sit down and have an actual conversation. It's partly generational, but every time I read one of these conversations about "so HE texted...so I texted..." it seems like it's just an enormous recipe for non-nuanced miscommunication.

I think it's out of line to ask you to change. I think it's way out of line to intimate that you dressed like an "escort." I think the "no one won" is quite manipulative, as is the big leap to the threat to break up because you have for the first time asserted your position in disagreement.

But what really sends chills up my spine in the way only a big red flag can do is this:

"I look at it as I hold you to a certain level of awesome".

So what does this mean for the longer term? For a lifetime, maybe?

What happens if you slip below his prescribed "level of awesome?" It's fashion choices now; what about when it's your job, your weight, your haircut, your new friends or new pastime, your attention to your children, or any other free choice you might want to make that strikes his as the wrong choice, taking away from your "level of awesome?" What else might cause you to fall below the "level of awesome?" Why does he get to set this level? Why is it your responsibility to measure up to this level?

He's holding the bar up and asking you to jump. Is your response forever going to be "how high?"

For me, I'm afraid all this would pretty much signal to me that he was irretrievably far below my "level of awesome."
posted by Miko at 4:11 PM on July 7, 2012 [7 favorites]


His reply "I have certain things and opinions and they're not for controlling". I respond with "I value your opinions but opinions are one thing and telling me what I can and cannot wear is controlling". He replies with "right". He tried to call me but I'm done communicating with him today. It's too exhausting Bc it's like he refuses to acknowledge my concerns or assure me he'll try to change.

And everyone is right. Staying home is not losing at all. I'm going to make myself dinner and watch some tv then curl up with a book. My friend just lent me the "5 languages of love" which I've tried to get my bf to read but he dismisses it as silly. The five languages of love are words of affirmation, quality time, acts of service, receiving gifts, and physical touch which he summarized as "insecure, needy, useless gold-digging whores", when I got mad he told me that he was only joking.
posted by CheeseAndRice at 4:13 PM on July 7, 2012 [9 favorites]


The five languages of love are words of affirmation, quality time, acts of service, receiving gifts, and physical touch which he summarized as "insecure, needy, useless gold-digging whores"
DTMFA.
posted by Flunkie at 4:16 PM on July 7, 2012 [126 favorites]


I told him it's too hot for pants but I changed into longer shorts.

He's an asshole, but you're enabling his behavior by going along with it to an extent. In this example, you totally feel that your shorts are fine, but you go ahead and change into something closer to what he wants, for whatever reason. You should work on not doing that, otherwise you're going to keep staying in unhealthy situations longer than you should.

The guy is being an asshole. There is no question of that. This is not the first time he's been an asshole and you know that. You should ask yourself why you're tolerating this sort of behavior from someone who's supposed to love and respect you.

You deserve better than this in relationship. Everyone does.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:16 PM on July 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


...which I've tried to get my bf to read but he dismisses it as silly. The five languages of love are words of affirmation, quality time, acts of service, receiving gifts, and physical touch which he summarized as "insecure, needy, useless gold-digging whores", when I got mad he told me that he was only joking.

Seriously, this is not what relationships are supposed to be like. The other person is supposed to help you and support you and make you feel more alive, not less alive. Get out as soon as you can.
posted by StephenF at 4:17 PM on July 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


I'm done communicating with him today

You're right; ignore what I said about conversation being superior to texting, but probably the best thing of all is no communicating until you can shore up your own sense of things. If he's anything like some male manipulators I have known, the conversations are going to be further attempts to show you how you're wrong. Sometimes they can just plain wear you down because it's exhausting to bump your head against someone whose reality is just so different from, you know, actual reality.

he dismisses it as silly. The five languages of love are words of affirmation, quality time, acts of service, receiving gifts, and physical touch which he summarized as "insecure, needy, useless gold-digging whores"

Why on earth are you with this guy? He sounds really, just really terrible. And even without the misogyny, just having someone dismiss out of hand a relationship-improvement tactic you want to try signals a real lack of respect and investment. I hope you start spending more time with the books and girlfriends and less time with chumps like this.
posted by Miko at 4:18 PM on July 7, 2012 [16 favorites]


What... you ask him to fulfill your relationship needs and he tosses out "useless gold-digging whores"... I can't even.

You are going to look back at this relationship in a year and roll your eyes so hard over how long it took you to dump his ass.
posted by miss_kitty_fantastico at 4:20 PM on July 7, 2012 [14 favorites]


He hates women. You will always be a woman. Take whatever you want to from that.
posted by the young rope-rider at 4:20 PM on July 7, 2012 [84 favorites]


he dismisses it as silly. The five languages of love are words of affirmation, quality time, acts of service, receiving gifts, and physical touch which he summarized as "insecure, needy, useless gold-digging whores"

DTMFA. For the love of god, DTMFA.
posted by heyjude at 4:21 PM on July 7, 2012 [13 favorites]


He tried to call me but I'm done communicating with him today.

I would strongly suggest that you consider yourself done communicating with him forever.

Look, I just want to put this out here in very clear terms: there are millions -- literally, millions -- of men who do not behave this way towards women, EVER.

On some level, you may suspect that all men are like this to one degree or another, and therefore all relationships are like this to one degree or another. But you can have a better relationship in your life -- it's just that it will never, ever, ever happen with this guy. There is nothing you can do to make him stop hating women and therefore stop treating you like shit. The sooner you move on, the sooner you can feel better (while you're single) and find someone better (when you're ready to date again).
posted by scody at 4:25 PM on July 7, 2012 [20 favorites]


Run.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 4:27 PM on July 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


If metafilter still had the img tag, I'd post a fleet of little animated red flags. Dump this guy, block his number, block his facebook and cut all communication. There is no reason to continue dating a man who hates women.
posted by chiababe at 4:27 PM on July 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


I have an idea about what you can do tonight. Go volunteer at a women's shelter. Take a good long look. I can guarantee most of the women there are escaping from abusive relationships that started out something like yours. This guy is giving you a gift by showing you who he is early on. Believe it, then run, run, run.
posted by Jubey at 4:28 PM on July 7, 2012 [7 favorites]


Please ditch this guy before he starts physically hurting you, not just inflicting the insults and emotional pain he has already caused you. These kinds of relationships tend to escalate in a bad way, and eventually you will be "punished" for not following his orders, and he will feel justified in anything he does to you because you "made him do it."

Delete this jerk from your life. As an earlier poster said, he hates women and you are one, so get away while you can.
posted by mermayd at 4:29 PM on July 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I don't think he sounds like a good guy and your updates just make him sound worse. I'm sorry. It is absolutely controlling and weird and misogynistic to make you change clothes and imply, let alone FLAT-OUT say that you look like a whore. And it sounds like he doesn't really understand why that's not ok, he just wants you to not be mad anymore.

Also, you didn't BOTH lose. You're not hanging out with an asshole on a Saturday night, you're hanging out with your awesome self!
posted by Aquifer at 4:34 PM on July 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


Of all the things he's said, this:"You realize we both lost today. No one won." is the most bothersome to me. It just feels like somehow he is making this your fault, and that creeps me out. It's as if you getting upset over being told what to do is what ruined EVERYTHING.

He can actually "win" if he has a conversation with you, really listens to you, works it out, promises not to tell you what to wear again, and get support from you for working on his insecurities. That is what will make him win.

"Oh look, it's my surprised face!" Funniest line on the page!
posted by Vaike at 4:34 PM on July 7, 2012 [14 favorites]


Please ditch this guy before he starts physically hurting you

I was worried I was overreacting with my concerns about physical violence, but I got that vibe from this guy, too. He sounds like a stereotypical abuser. First he tells you what you can't wear to certain functions, then he tells you what you can't buy, then he slaps you for talking to a complete stranger, because she's wearing shoes he doesn't like. Each step will be interspersed with, "baby, you gotta understand...it was the situation.... you know me...."

You've only met his dad for the very first time - so how serious is it really, anyway? Get out of them and be happy with yourself.
posted by Lt. Bunny Wigglesworth at 4:47 PM on July 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


CheeseAndRice, listen to us hon. I know it can feel as if you're special if a guy who makes nasty remarks about women seems to exempt you. "Yes, those other women are bad. I'm not, I'm special. I'm better. BF sees that." No.

And maybe he makes you feel special for other reasons. Maybe the fact that most of the time you apparently meet his high standards - his level of awesome - feels affirming for you. "I must be special! BF thinks so!" No.

I'm guessing there might be a disparity in power or age or income level or education, though I could be completely off the mark. The reason I think this is that it might explain why you haven't clicked on his judgemental, controlling behavior until now. Did you feel that maybe he liked you in spite of who you are? Did you think that maybe he was justified in being a tad critical of you about some things? No.

But whether or not that is the case, the main thing is you are who you are and that is just fine. Please know that a true relationship is with someone who loves you because of who you are, not despite it.
posted by likeso at 4:50 PM on July 7, 2012 [13 favorites]


This behavior, in and of itself, is not as controlling as many might think, at least if you're still in the "getting to know you" phase with his parents. My SO was strict to the point that she bought me particular clothes to wear when I met her parents. Now that we're all thick as thieves, she doesn't care so much. She was terrified of her parents not accepting me. After seeing how they have treated some of her sister's boyfriends, I'm not surprised. They're not mean or anything, but not really friendly with the folks they don't like much.

If it extends to other situations or if he's being particularly rude or mean about it, that's a horse of a different color, but a quick read of your follow ups make it sound like you're both in the middle of a bitchy argument about what is probably something so utterly trivial in the long run that you should both be embarrassed for yourselves.

Feel free to listen to the DTMFA brigade, though. They are often correct, I just don't see it here with the story as presented.
posted by wierdo at 4:52 PM on July 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


The five languages of love are words of affirmation, quality time, acts of service, receiving gifts, and physical touch which he summarized as "insecure, needy, useless gold-digging whores"

This guy seems to call women "whores" a LOT. He doesn't respect women; he doesn't respect you. You can do better. And "home watching TV on Saturday night" is SO MUCH BETTER than being out with a man who would use "insecure, needy, useless gold-digging whores" in reference to ANYONE....but especially in reference to a book that you gave him to help him understand YOU better. That is so dismissive and so cruel and so full of hate. He was not "joking." That phrase isn't joke-y -- it's extremely telling of who he really is, which is why it's stuck in your mind.

I hardly ever say this, but DUDE: DTMFA. DTMFA SO HARD.
posted by Countess Sandwich at 4:54 PM on July 7, 2012 [24 favorites]


His reply "I have certain things and opinions and they're not for controlling". I respond with "I value your opinions but opinions are one thing and telling me what I can and cannot wear is controlling". He replies with "right". He tried to call me but I'm done communicating with him today. It's too exhausting Bc it's like he refuses to acknowledge my concerns or assure me he'll try to change.

If you want to dump him, quit answering his texts.

If you don't want to dump him (or don't know if you want to dump him), then tell him you and he need to have a talk about all this, because trying to pry a real apology (or any moment of him going "ohhhh, I get it now") out of him via text is going to be impossible. And when you have a talk, you're going to have to put him on the spot and tell him what kind of apology you want, AND you're going to have to set clear boundaries ("Hey boyfriend, if you can explain WHY you don't want me to wear something, I'll consider what you have to say, but I never HAVE to do what you say simply because you say it. Not once, not ever. I have no desire to be in a relationship like that."), because anything short of that is going to result in more of his controlling behavior.
posted by 23skidoo at 4:54 PM on July 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


So, at this point, it really doesn't seem like any apology or promises you hear from him are likely to be genuine. You've already told him what your (entirely reasonable) needs are. He continues to ignore them. I think it's an excellent idea to cut off communication for the night, but I really urge you to carefully consider your next steps.

Is there something he could say to fix this? What would it take for you to trust those words?

It is incredibly concerning that his last communication was about "winning" and "losing." This is a relationship, not a game. If that's the way he's thinking of it, what will stop him from telling you what you want to hear just to "win"?

This dude does not sound like a keeper.
posted by dysh at 4:54 PM on July 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Let's not weigh whether or not he had a point about heel height or skirt length or skirt vs. pants. Let's step back for a moment.

What kind of a partner do you want? What kind of a father to your children, if you intend to have any? What kind of uncle to your nieces? This is the kind of person you should date.

How do you want to spend your time? Do you want to spend time with someone who is proud to introduce you to his father no matter what's on your feet? Do you want someone who will tell you you're damn hot and he's proud to be seen with you? Do you want someone who will inspire you to lift your head high?

Those guys exist.

This guy is wearing down your defences, and if you stay with him, someday he will say the same about your daughter as she prepares for a date. If you can't push him out the door for your own sake, do it for hers.

Your time is worthwhile. Spend it with good people who enrich your life.
posted by heatherann at 4:58 PM on July 7, 2012 [20 favorites]


wierdo, did your so abuse you about your clothing choices with gendered slurs, or did she ask you if you would do her a big favor and accommodate her parents' odd judginess by wearing the outfit she selected? Because those are hugely different things, and I don't think conflating them is helpful in answering the OP's question.

There are absolutely respectful ways of asking a partner to do you the favor of conforming to someone else's expectations. Abuse and slurs aren't among those.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:00 PM on July 7, 2012 [14 favorites]


Guys who call women whores and do so in a serious way and not a hoooo-urs kind of way really are the worst kind of lady-hating cretins out there. Of all the things you've stated, I'd say that that's the biggest red flag for me. The other things can sort of be explained away situationally; the problem is that those same things cannot be explained away if this is one of those particular jabronis who tends to refer to women as whores and prostitutes.

Why do you like him? Does he fill you with love, encouragement, joy, reassurance, or some combination thereof?
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 5:01 PM on July 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


i'm confident you could leave your house walking right now and within 10 minutes or so find a nicer guy than this at the nearest gas station or 7-11. nothing he has told you is something a basically-decent-but-insecure guy would say, and everything is what an asshole would say.
posted by facetious at 5:12 PM on July 7, 2012 [7 favorites]


So far, based on your replies, you are the only one who has apologized for your actions. You've apologized for your harsh words and taken responsibility for behaviour that you're not proud of. He hasn't done that yet despite you making clear that his actions hurt you. Between that and his constant whore/prostitute/escort language and he's trouble.

Anyone can screw up especially when dealing with the stress that is mixing your family and your SO but he's not taking responsibility for his actions which says that this isn't a screw up. This is who he is and he's not a nice person.
posted by GilvearSt at 5:14 PM on July 7, 2012


Sidhedevil, not with gender-specific slurs, but with slurs nonetheless. Her parents had a particular standard which I would not generally meet. There's not really a nice and respectful way to say that because no matter how you do it you're implying that someone is presently slovenly or otherwise unacceptable in appearance.

I have yet to meet anyone that expresses every need and reacts to every problem in their life in an appropriate way. If that is to be the standard, you will find precious few people who meet it at all times. Some of the nicest and most respectful people I know have at times said things I would expect to hear from a comedian or a truly misogynist asshole. It happens, especially when people are in the middle of an argument and pushing each other's buttons.

I simply can't bring myself to condemn everyone who fails to have the patience of a saint or who has succumbed in some way to the toxic nature of our society as a whole, at least not without plenty of opportunity to see if they can be helped to come to a more reasonable understanding. Some people are irredeemable, others are not. This particular Ask does not have the details to say one way or the other, IMO.

Also, I think interpreting "we both lost" as some sort of controlling statement is utterly ridiculous. They did both lose. They're in the middle of an argument about what freaking shoes to wear. That's a relationship and communications fail on both their parts.
posted by wierdo at 5:16 PM on July 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


You look at it as controlling for some reason

Ugh, ugh, ugh, it's a good enough reason to dump someone for being a controlling asshole, but it's a REALLY good reason to dump someone for being the kind of jerk who minimizes and dismisses your valid and reasonable feelings.

DTMFA and go out with someone else next Saturday night!
posted by mibo at 5:17 PM on July 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


This guy is trouble. He doesn't get it and chances are he never will. You will save yourself much trouble and drama by stepping away sooner rather than later.

I would never TELL my wife what to wear. When she asks my opinion, I provide it. When she first moved to the south from a cold-weather climate I advised her that wearing a black tshirt and jeans on a sunny day in August was going to make her feel like she was walking around on the surface of the sun. But other than that, I'm pretty sure she's capable of dressing herself.

He is not treating you like you are a person. He's treating you like property. Flee.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 5:21 PM on July 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


I simply can't bring myself to condemn everyone who fails to have the patience of a saint or who has succumbed in some way to the toxic nature of our society as a whole, at least not without plenty of opportunity to see if they can be helped to come to a more reasonable understanding. Some people are irredeemable, others are not. This particular Ask does not have the details to say one way or the other, IMO.

Also, I think interpreting "we both lost" as some sort of controlling statement is utterly ridiculous. They did both lose. They're in the middle of an argument about what freaking shoes to wear. That's a relationship and communications fail on both their parts.


It doesn't really require the patience of a saint to refrain from calling women whores or gold-diggers. Every time I've heard that sort of language from a man (which hasn't been often) he's been bad news. Maybe he is redeemable -- but I don't see it as OP's job to fix him, when there are so many better prospects out there. She can do much better.

And "we both lost" is controlling, because it's a way of saying, why did you have to criticize me, see now we're both upset and you're sitting at home on Saturday night. If you'd just listened to me we'd have had a pleasant night together. That's probably true -- but it doesn't mean that the OP was wrong to bring up her legitimate concerns about his language and behavior.
posted by peacheater at 5:21 PM on July 7, 2012 [26 favorites]


peacheater, as best I can tell, whore was not his word. He had, what I think was unreasonable but clearly he thought was legitimate, feeling that others would think his SO was actually paid companionship due to the difference in their states of dress. I personally don't worry about what other people think, but I recognize that as being rare.

The gold digger comment I can understand raising red flags, but again, we don't know how the book was presented to him. If the OP presented it in a way that made clear that she had certain needs, that's one thing. If it was a "here's a book I enjoyed" thing, a jokey comment may not be as out of place. Again, I don't expect people to be 100% successful at preventing themselves from absorbing the stupidness they're exposed to in our culture.

Granted, that may be because of my own history. There was a time in my life I was perfectly happy to use even the worst slurs in a jokey way. Luckily, I have come to understand how and why that's not acceptable.

peacheater, we're just going to have to disagree about "we both lost." I see how it could be interpreted as controlling, but it can equally be interpreted in the sense I interpret it. The OP is the only person in a position to know, so I'm not going to continue to argue about it beyond saying that in a factual sense they both did lose at the "game" of communication.
posted by wierdo at 5:34 PM on July 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


There's a difference between "dress differently when you meet my parents" and "don't ever wear heels, you look like a hooker". Either can be worded nicely or cruelly, but even then.
posted by jeather at 5:36 PM on July 7, 2012


Buy yourself some sexy new shoes and ditch the asshole. That is my advice to you as a professional internet poster.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 5:43 PM on July 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


jeather: ""don't ever wear heels, you look like a hooker""

I think it's time for me to quit, but he didn't say that either, at least as far as the OP has stated.
posted by wierdo at 5:46 PM on July 7, 2012


Christ you're awesome. Good on you for standing your ground.

It sounds like you like him but he has some serious issues with a misogynistic culture that he was brought up in, and it's warped his mindset.

I hope you continue to approach this from the angle of "I'm gonna do things my way and if you don't like it, find a new fucking girlfriend. Also, hear me out when I say that you are talking and acting like someone who doesn't respect women."

What's he gonna do, break up with you and have to explain to people you didn't dress to his standards? Yeah right. Dude needs to read some fucking books and learn something.
posted by windbox at 5:48 PM on July 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


[Please stick to answering the question and take side debates to memail. Thanks. ]
posted by restless_nomad at 5:50 PM on July 7, 2012


Weirdo, I understand where you're coming from, I reason things out like you too because I try to see things from his perspective to make sure I'm not misconstruing anything. He never called me a whore, you're right. He said he didn't want to look like he was with an escort Bc I was dressed up whereas he was dressed casually. It still hurt Bc I was expecting him to compliment me that I looked nice so that comment was totally out of left field. And it was for his bday dinner so it wasn't like I was dressed up for a normal everyday dinner.

The way I presented the book to him was that it seemed very interesting and that we should both read it to improve since I hadnt at that point read it yet. I read him the 5 love languages since it was in the summary which is When he made that comment. I believed him that he was joking Bc it was said in a joking Manner but what I've come to realize is that he makes inappropriate comments a lot and always dismisses it as a joke if I get offended. One time I asked him to look at the bottom of my foot Bc I got a small puncture wound there and no memory of stepping on anything and wanted his opinion if I should have a dr look at it. We were on our way out and he dismissed it saying he saw it already. I asked him when and what he thought. He then admitted he hadn't seen it. I asked why he would lie and said he did and he said he was just joking! That made me so mad for reasons I can't really explain. How was that a joke??

Anyways in his culture the women have to cover their bodies and faces and are more submissive to the men and although he grew up here he vacations in Egypt a lot so I try to keep that in mind. However what I can't get past is that he doesn't try to see it from my prospective or acknowledge when he's wrong. He tries to argue or reason with me or twists things around to make it seem like I'm misunderstanding him or overreacting instead. I know it will never work out based on that fact alone.
posted by CheeseAndRice at 6:13 PM on July 7, 2012 [17 favorites]


wierdo - wanting your SO to look nice for your parents is one thing, but if you read one of the updates it's clear the boyfriend did this for himself - by the bf's own admission the father had nothing against high (medium!) heels.

No one will be perfect - NO ONE - and we'll worry about appearances, I get the point. But the OP's bf is:

1. controlling
2. fine with making blanket derogatory statements about women.
3. fine with making derogatory statements about the OP
4. unable to take responsibility for his own actions (her feelings got hurt by his actions...)
5. making the OP solely responsible for the relationship's outcome - she either takes his crap without a word or they "both" "lose"

It's not an isolated incident and it's not even an isolated type of event. This guy has been a jerk several times, in several different ways.
posted by Lt. Bunny Wigglesworth at 6:20 PM on July 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


The five languages of love are words of affirmation, quality time, acts of service, receiving gifts, and physical touch which he summarized as "insecure, needy, useless gold-digging whores"

You know, not only do adults need those sorts of things, children do too. I wonder what he would say about his future children, if someone told him that they needed those things from him.
posted by cairdeas at 6:24 PM on July 7, 2012 [7 favorites]


He said he didn't want to look like he was with an escort Bc I was dressed up whereas he was dressed casually. It still hurt Bc I was expecting him to compliment me that I looked nice so that comment was totally out of left field. And it was for his bday dinner so it wasn't like I was dressed up for a normal everyday dinner.

Whoa whoa whoa - so you dressed up for a special occasion?! And he got upset?

Chances are he wants to own you and doesn't want you to look nice - because then other men will get to look at you.

So it seems like he's from a different culture. Your bf might say he's not into that culture, but his actions don't agree with that. The fact that he has a "support" group for this type of behavior (his family) will make it easier for him to rationalize his behavior.
posted by Lt. Bunny Wigglesworth at 6:25 PM on July 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


OP, this guy is an asshole and every moment you spend with him is a moment where you could be doing something healthier with your time. Your follow ups come across to me as being overly willing to brush aside his utterly unacceptable behavior. The longer you stay with him the harder you will find it to leave.
posted by MoonOrb at 6:26 PM on July 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


I was going to write something about how if there is open communication on the issues that it might be worth seeing if something changes. Clearly you liked the guy enough to start dating him. However, your penultimate sentence in that last update is the biggest red flag that could possibly be waving unless after listening to him you see how he reasonably comes to the conclusion that you're overreacting and is actually trying to help you deal with that. I doubt that's what's happening, though.

My sense of things was off. DTMFA.
posted by wierdo at 6:27 PM on July 7, 2012 [12 favorites]


Hey, it sounds like your boyfriend "jokes" a lot. Maybe he's even funny sometimes!

But you need to make it clear to him that some things aren't a fucking joke all the time, and he needs to be respectful when you're trying to communicate with him. Also that joking about escorts and 'gold digging women' isn't funny (to you at least) and it never will be, so if he needs to make those jokes he can go find a new girlfriend who will put up with it. Someone in this thread said earlier that it sounds like he doesn't respect women, and you will always be a woman. That's the crux of this issue.
posted by windbox at 6:30 PM on July 7, 2012


Anyways in his culture the women have to cover their bodies and faces and are more submissive to the men and although he grew up here he vacations in Egypt a lot so I try to keep that in mind.

It may help, rather than thinking of him as an insensitive, dangerous asshole (which it sounds like he is), to think of your situation as his culture being fundamentally incompatible with your own culture. His culture is not going to change. Yours is not going to change either. This is a fundamental, irreconcilable incompatibility. Act accordingly.

It's also another way of saying that he's an insensitive, dangerous asshole, with the added fact that the cause of his insensitive, dangerous assholery is central to his identity and highly unlikely to ever change.
posted by The World Famous at 6:32 PM on July 7, 2012 [8 favorites]


I know it will never work out based on that fact alone.

That can't have been an easy conclusion to reach. You care for this guy and have invested a lot of time and emotion in the relationship. So I hope you realize the "level of awesome" you're operating at to realize this truth about the relationship in such a reasoned, thoughtful way. I suspect that once you break free of this guy you're going to be just fine.
posted by headnsouth at 6:35 PM on July 7, 2012 [14 favorites]


He said he didn't want to look like he was with an escort Bc I was dressed up whereas he was dressed casually.

I was waiting for the bus the other day. A cab pulled up next to me, at the stoplight. The woman was dressed to the nines in full 1940s style - hair, makeup, the works. The guy with her needed a shave, and was wearing a t-shirt with a meh blazer over it.

I didn't think she was an escort. I thought - hoped! - he was her roadie, and not her date.
posted by rtha at 6:41 PM on July 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


I just blew my favorite limit for the day on all the comments in this thread telling you that you need to lose this controlling jerk now now NOW.

Here's the thing: if dressing down and not wearing heels is HIS preference, guess what? He can dress down all he wants, and he never has to put on a pair of heels if he doesn't want to.

It's your body, so it's your decision about what goes on it. Hopefully you'll decide you like your autonomy more than you like this jerk, and kick him to the curb today.
posted by palomar at 6:54 PM on July 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Somewhere out there, there is a dude who thinks you look hot as fuck in heels. Somewhere there's a guy who says stuff like "Well, when you wear make-up it's really hot, but I think you're just as beautiful when you wake up in the morning and your hair is all sticking up on one side." Somewhere there's a guy who says "Are those shorts new? I haven't seen them before. Nice. You ready to go?"

You're never going to find that dude if you're stuck with this d-bag. Just saying.
posted by Juliet Banana at 6:55 PM on July 7, 2012 [16 favorites]


The most important thing to me is communication and compromise. He might have plausible reason to think I overreacted since we had plans, we were driving to those plans, I already had the flats on anyways and yet I made him turn around and drop me home. But a simple I see where you're coming from, im sorry if I acted controlling, I'll try to watch that in the future was all I wanted from him. He is incapable of a sincere full apology and the only time he apologizes is when I "overreact". I'm tired of overreacting and fighting; I just want someone to acknowledge my feelings when I voice them without the need to pull this "take me home" or ignore maneuver.

He can be sweet and nice but I don't know how to resolve our communication problem or if theres even a way how. Every time I try to get us talking, we end up fighting. I can't get him to see from my perspective.
posted by CheeseAndRice at 6:57 PM on July 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


There's not a single thing I can add to the above advice and I think I've just about run out of favoriting powers. But on an adjunct point, may I note that you don't HAVE to stay home tonight? Go over to a friend's. Go OUT with friends. Take yourself out for a delicious ice cream cone. Stay at home if you want, but if there's any chance you're not breaking up with him, make sure he knows (and that YOU know) that the options aren't going out with him or staying home alone. There's a whole world out there, and even if you two were problem-free and spiffy, you NEVER have to just stay home alone as the alternative to going out with "him" whoever the "him" may ever be.
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 7:00 PM on July 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I can't get him to see from my perspective.

It's not your job to teach him to be empathetic or kind.

Listen to what he is telling you about the kind of man he is.
posted by heatherann at 7:01 PM on July 7, 2012 [10 favorites]


CheeseAndRice, my husband teases me sometimes. Sometimes he jokes and hurts my feelings. When I tell him that, he apologizes, he doesn't try to "reason" or bully me out of having hurt feelings.

When my husband has a concern about whether I know what might or might not be appropriate for a family event (some of his relatives practice Orthodox Judaism, while I am Christian), he explains what the cultural boundaries are in advance and trusts my judgment.

My husband doesn't insult me for my clothing or grooming choices. Sometimes he says "I don't love that color on you," or whatever, but he doesn't do more than register his opinion, let alone shaming me with gendered slurs.

In fact, my husband has never used a gendered slur to me even in allusion. I've never heard him call other women "whores" or "b*tches". He's never dismissed a topic I've introduced seriously with a load of misogynist bullshit which he tries to pass off as a joke.

My husband isn't some shining superhero. He's just an ordinary, decent guy. Don't you deserve the same? Bei g treated with respect is so much better than being treated like crap.
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:06 PM on July 7, 2012 [12 favorites]


I don't know how to resolve our communication problem or if theres even a way how.

You can't resolve it, because he doesn't agree that there's a problem. Or, to be more specific, he thinks that the only problem is that you don't agree with him all the time, and do what he says.

There is no way to resolve this with him. He will not decide to become a kinder, nicer, more loving and less misogynistic person by virtue of your presence in his life. This is not a failing on your part; it just means that what's wrong is 100% out of your power to fix. Sticking around will not fix him, or convince him to see things your way, or somehow unravel the mystery of why he is the way he is.

The fact is, he is actually communicating VERY CLEARLY. He is showing you exactly who he is, and exactly how he will treat you. There's really no ambiguity here. Multiply the way you feel today by weeks, months, years, decades. That's your future if you keep beating your head against the wall of trying to "resolve" this with him.
posted by scody at 7:06 PM on July 7, 2012 [26 favorites]


How was that a joke??

It wasn't, "it's a joke," was just another lie in his chain of unserious interactions. From your updates, it seems apparent that he will never implicate himself in any of his reasons, to accept any responsibility, much less give you a real apology. You don't see how to resolve your communication problem because he's not giving a single inch. His entire concept of the relationship depends on that problem not being resolved and him being able to plod on his merry way, because resolving it requires him to no longer being a dick, which is apparently a core principle of his.

Of course he can be sweet and nice, but I bet it depends on you keeping yourself above his fully-arbitrary line of "awesome." Dip below that, and you've seen what happens.
posted by rhizome at 7:09 PM on July 7, 2012 [12 favorites]


He might have plausible reason to think I overreacted since we had plans, we were driving to those plans, I already had the flats on anyways and yet I made him turn around and drop me home.

I don't think so - he's going to think you are "overreacting" if you do anything, because you should just take his crap quietly. Anything you do that doesn't fall in line with that will probably be "overreacting" in his eyes. How "plausible" is that?

If you decided, on the way to plans, that you did not like how he was treating you - based on him demeaning you right before those plans - and you no longer wanted to spend the evening with someone that tells you how to dress that is completely your prerogative.

I don't think you overreacted in any way. There are hundreds of ways someone could have approached this situation, and yours definitely falls within the "valid" category.

Not to get schoolyard on this, but he totally started it.
posted by Lt. Bunny Wigglesworth at 7:15 PM on July 7, 2012 [5 favorites]



On some level, you may suspect that all men are like this to one degree or another, and therefore all relationships are like this to one degree or another. But you can have a better relationship in your life -- it's just that it will never, ever, ever happen with this guy. There is nothing you can do to make him stop hating women and therefore stop treating you like shit. The sooner you move on, the sooner you can feel better (while you're single) and find someone better (when you're ready to date again)>

I read and reread that. You're right, I do think that every relationship has its problems and what's prevented me from leaving him is thinking that there are worse guys out there, players, cheaters or abusers. Hes never physically abused or cheated on me and he seems to care about me. I am going to take your advice and think about all the nice guys out there who are willing to hear their gfs out and who respect their opinions and feelings.

posted by CheeseAndRice at 7:20 PM on July 7, 2012 [22 favorites]


The culture gap is kind of a big thing. He may consider himself more cosmopolitan than his peers, but it sounds like there are some embedded cultural values - unchallenged patriarchy among them - he has yet to shake. It may be a lifelong project to change those and it may never fully succeed. Are you the one to take that project on? Or would you rather be with someone who's ready, today, to see you as a capable, self-governing individual?

what's prevented me from leaving him is thinking that there are worse guys out there, players, cheaters or abusers.

and what's prevented me from stopping driving nails through my hand is thinking how much worse it would be to drive a spike through my hand.

Seriously, he must have many fine qualities or you wouldn't have given him the time you have. Sometimes it's just time to take stock. You wouldn't, presumably, be with any of the "worse" guys out there, would you? So why are you setting the bar this low? There are countless guys who don't come with this particular set of baggage.
posted by Miko at 7:27 PM on July 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


I can't get him to see from my perspective.

Don't buy into his need to see this as a game of changing the other person. It's not your job to "get him to see," it's his job to see it. He apparently can't, won't, and/or doesn't want to. His identity would appear to be oriented around his being able to tell his girlfriend/wife what to wear.

Here's a little though-experiment: In his eyes, do you remember him ever saying that you're "overreacting" when you weren't also asserting your independence? The importance he places on what it will look like to other people, on image, has everything to do with what kind of man he wants to be seen as, and if you threaten that at all, he will make sure you feel like a loser for putting him in that position.

More TLP, on The Abusive Boyfriend and Honor Killings.
posted by rhizome at 7:29 PM on July 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


Hes never physically abused or cheated on me and he seems to care about me.

But... that's a baseline expectation. That's an extremely minimum standard. That's not a reason to be with someone.
posted by desjardins at 7:30 PM on July 7, 2012 [39 favorites]


There may be worse guys out there, but there are so many many many better guys!!! I'm a cranky asshole who goes on and on about shit that is boring to 99.9% of humanity, and I found a good guy. You can, too.
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:33 PM on July 7, 2012 [7 favorites]


I am going to take your advice and think about all the nice guys out there who are willing to hear their gfs out and who respect their opinions and feelings.

Even before you do that, step back and take an inventory of how awesome you are. You. Just you. You don't need anyone else to be awesome or tell you that you are awesome. You rock. You are strong and fierce. Be proud. Be content to be alone until someone worthy comes along. It's worth waiting for.
posted by ambrosia at 7:34 PM on July 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


But... that's a baseline expectation. That's an extremely minimum standard

This times one million.

Your ideal mate is someone that makes you feel special - they should treat you better than they treat everyone else.

Not hitting or lying (aka cheating) to someone is someone is absolutely the baseline for standard human interaction - it's not even the baseline for a relationship.
posted by Lt. Bunny Wigglesworth at 7:35 PM on July 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also, I have two friends, both born in the US, neither of Arab descent, who married Egyptian husbands who have always lived in Egypt and neither has to deal with this crap. Yes, cultural differences can be tough, but not every Egyptian man pulls this stuff.
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:36 PM on July 7, 2012 [14 favorites]


This guy does not respect you, and every followup post that you've given us has confirmed this.

Please look elsewhere. You deserve someone better than him.
posted by alligatorman at 7:39 PM on July 7, 2012


what's prevented me from leaving him is thinking that there are worse guys out there, players, cheaters or abusers. Hes never physically abused or cheated on me and he seems to care about me.

You know, I hear you on that. Those guys are definitely out there, and that can be really scary. However, you don't have to totally take a leap in the dark when you get involved with new people. You can just take your time and get to know them. You can observe how they act towards their female relatives and female friends. You can observe how they act towards/talk about female strangers. You can see if they have normal, non-sketchy friendships with people who they have dated in the past (so you will see those exes don't hate them/aren't afraid of them.) You can see if they have longtime friends, or if they've never been able to keep friends. And you can also see what the person's friends are like (if he surrounds himself with a bunch of sleazeballs or not). You can see what they're like when they get angry. You can see how they handle frustrating or difficult situations. You can see how honest they are in general, towards others. You can see if they tell a lot of "white lies" or if they are honest even when that will cause them consequences they could avoid by lying. You could observe how often they keep their word in general.

Even though nothing is foolproof and it's always possible to be surprised by someone, you can actually weed out a lot of people with just simple observations as you get to know them. Just take it slow.
posted by cairdeas at 7:43 PM on July 7, 2012 [8 favorites]


Hes never physically abused or cheated on me and he seems to care about me.

If I may quote an old Chris Rock routine, he's supposed to. You don't get a cookie for this.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 7:50 PM on July 7, 2012 [8 favorites]


Hes never physically abused or cheated on me and he seems to care about me.

But he's compared you to a sex worker for wearing shoes he didn't like, and shamed you into changing to suit his desires. That's not something that a guy who actually cares about you would do. So I would have to disagree that he seems to care about you.

Also, I think it would be super awesome if you could adjust your yardstick of acceptable behavior, and hold out for a guy who OBVIOUSLY cares about you, instead of sticking with a guy who "seems" to care. Trust me, while there are worse guys out there than this guy, there are also guys who are about a thousand times better, and the longer you stay with this guy, the longer you'll prevent yourself from meeting someone who holds THEMSELVES to a certain standard of awesome.
posted by palomar at 7:50 PM on July 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


This is classic controlling behavior and you are not overreacting. I'm with the choir here: DTMFA.
posted by SisterHavana at 7:58 PM on July 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am going to take your advice and think about all the nice guys out there who are willing to hear their gfs out and who respect their opinions and feelings.

Good for you. I promise you, there really are countless good, kind, decent, fun, attractive, interesting, AWESOME men out there who see women first and foremost as fellow human beings.

Here's another bit of advice, stolen shamelessly from a book that really helped me radically revamp my expectations of relationships: "Once we love ourselves, people no longer look good to us unless they are good for us."

So as you think about the nice guys out there, take the time as well to think about the great qualities you already possess and which are worthy of actively being loved and respected -- not just by a potential boyfriend, but by ANYONE you choose to make a part of your life as a friend or romantic partner.

What are the best things about you? What makes you a wonderful daughter, sister, friend, citizen, human being? What are the personal qualities you value most, and would like to have more of in your life?

Get specific about those things in your life. Celebrate them. Make them your bottom line. It's pretty amazing that when we cultivate qualities like compassion and humor and resilience and kindness and loyalty in ourselves, it starts to become inevitable that we attract people who embody those qualities, too.

I wish you well!
posted by scody at 8:02 PM on July 7, 2012 [13 favorites]


Thank you for your advice and encouragement. I just texted him this (in response to his text that "he's not out to control anything") "I guess we can agree to disagree on this matter. But this enforces our incompatibility and I'm too tired of this. I want someone who respects my opinions and choices and I don't feel that you do". Ive had enough, this isnt really about him telling me I can't wear heels but of the fact that he wont acknowledge my feelings/opinions or admit fault in anything. I really want to discuss this on the phone with him but I don't have the energy to listen to his reasoning and him trying to convince me I have no basis for feeling upset Bc of such and such. I'm really debating just texting him goodbye tonight and cutting off all contact.

I've attempted this before (see my previous question) but he won't ever let me go. He's gotten a lot better than before but I want to move on. I don't know how to do this Bc he refuses to allow me to...I'd have to change my number and quit my job (we work together). Quitting my job is not an option so I'm planning to cut off all contact where I can (no phone, email) and behave cordially at work but leaving communication at absolute necessity only. In the past he has always managed to establish contact again, hard to ignore when I have to see him in person at work! Or he wins me back with some grand gesture. I can't allow myself to make the same mistakes over and over by settling though. Wish me luck in this endeavor!
posted by CheeseAndRice at 8:02 PM on July 7, 2012 [50 favorites]


The last (and only) time I dated a guy was in high school. In the 80s.

I know and have known tons of guys who would never dream of treating or talking to any woman this way, let alone a girlfriend. Pretty much all of them are straight.

Are there worse guys out there? Sure. If you break up with this one, are you required to get together with one of them? No!
posted by rtha at 8:04 PM on July 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also, I think it would be super awesome if you could adjust your yardstick of acceptable behavior, and hold out for a guy who OBVIOUSLY cares about you, instead of sticking with a guy who "seems" to care. Trust me, while there are worse guys out there than this guy, there are also guys who are about a thousand times better, and the longer you stay with this guy, the longer you'll prevent yourself from meeting someone who holds THEMSELVES to a certain standard of awesome.

Seconding this. If it's not abundantly clear that your partner cares about you, that may be the red flag that is all of the red flags stitched together. In a healthy relationship, there should be no doubt that your partner cares about you.
posted by dysh at 8:05 PM on July 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm struck that through all of this you haven't mentioned a single time when he accepted blame for something, anything, much less for his contribution to negative interactions between you two.
posted by wierdo at 8:06 PM on July 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


CheeseAndRice, take a look at these. They might help you stick to your resolution to break up with him:

Power and Control Wheel (particularly the minimize/deny/blame, using isolation, and emotional abuse segments)

Cycle of Violence
posted by runningwithscissors at 8:06 PM on July 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'm struck that through all of this you haven't mentioned a single time when he accepted blame for something, anything, much less for his contribution to negative interactions between you two.
posted by wierdo at 8:06 PM on July 7 [mark as best answer] [+] [!]

He did say "I apologize for how I made you feel". But others have pointed out that it's a non-apology. It certainly doesn't resolve anything for me...

Thanks runningwithscissors for the links!
posted by CheeseAndRice at 8:11 PM on July 7, 2012


add me to the DTMFA as well.

The thing with your foot that you wanted him to look at? You were possibly injured (even if in a minor way) and not only did he not want to bother to look at it, he kind of insulted your intelligence by thinking he could get away with saying that he had looked.
Someone that cared about you would take a minute and look at what is concerning you.
posted by krix at 8:12 PM on July 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


I've attempted this before (see my previous question) but he won't ever let me go.
That's something that he's going to have to deal with, then; it's not your responsibility to acquiesce.
he refuses to allow me to
He's not your commander. He doesn't get to refuse to allow you to do anything.
posted by Flunkie at 8:12 PM on July 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


I don't know how to do this Bc he refuses to allow me to...I'd have to change my number and quit my job (we work together).

Okay, CheeseAndRice, I think you officially get to call the Domestic Violence Hotline now. 1−800−799−7233.

They should be able to give you a list of resources. You think, wait. I'm not being physically abused. But you are being abused if you're not allowed to leave your boyfriend. You are being abused if you need to quit your job and change your phone number in order to get away from this relationship. Before we even get to the issue of what you wear -- just based on your situation -- I think it is an abusive dynamic and you may benefit from help extracting yourself from it.

Call these people. It won't hurt, and they can give you some referrals. They might be able to help you change your housing, phone and work situations all at once, if it comes down to it. They might take you through a checklist and help you identify abusive behaviors. Just call them.

1−800−799−7233.

Also, this is one of those times when you can lean on friends and family and whoever else you need. Reach out.
posted by brina at 8:20 PM on July 7, 2012 [34 favorites]


I don't know how to do this Bc he refuses to allow me to...I'd have to change my number and quit my job (we work together). Quitting my job is not an option so I'm planning to cut off all contact where I can (no phone, email) and behave cordially at work but leaving communication at absolute necessity only. In the past he has always managed to establish contact again, hard to ignore when I have to see him in person at work!

Be straight and tell him not to contact you. If he continues to contact you outside of work (or inside work in a non-professional manner) let him know flat-out you are considering it harassment. If he still continues, threaten him with police action.

Also, talk to someone (HR, a manager) at work about the issue (facts only, not therapy-style) so they know what's going on. Make sure it's documented you spoke to them.

You shouldn't have to change your entire life because someone wants to treat you like their property.
posted by Lt. Bunny Wigglesworth at 8:22 PM on July 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


His behaviour might have to do with the culture of his family but don't let the issue of Egyptian culture act as a shield for the real issues here.

My husband is Egyptian, born and raised, small town and everything, and he would not do the things your boyfriend has done. When I visited his family in his small town in Egypt, he politely asked me what I was wearing and explained that it might be better if I wore something conservative. Based on that, I chose my outfit and he offered no further opinions.

Like anywhere in the world, some Egyptian men are wonderful with the women in their lives, and some are not. And in fact in many Egyptian households, it is actually the matriarch who rules the roost.

This guy is just a jerk, plain and simple. It doesn't matter where his family is from.
posted by scrute at 8:23 PM on July 7, 2012 [32 favorites]


...the fact that he wont acknowledge my feelings/opinions or admit fault in anything.

He won't admit fault because he doesn't see anything wrong with what he's doing.

In the past he has always managed to establish contact again, hard to ignore when I have to see him in person at work! Or he wins me back with some grand gesture.

Yeah, so these are big red flags. I don't want to oversell the situation, but you might think about establishing some kind of paper trail, even if just a diary of your interactions going forward. If he blames you for showing him the reality of his actions, that his natural way of being means he's not a good boyfriend/husband/father, that there could be anything he should feel guilty about (rather than trying to turn it around on you as shame), it could get dangerous. The ultimate "grand gesture" of winning you back is "if I can't have you, nobody can." Just the fact that you work together means you should prepare for him to try to make things ugly, jobwise, so you should deal with him on the most professional terms you know how, and to involve HR if anything hinky tickles your sixth sense.
posted by rhizome at 8:23 PM on July 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


I've attempted this before (see my previous question) but he won't ever let me go.

You did such a good job sticking up for yourself tonight! Don't give up responsibility for your future actions. He does not control whether or not you want to be in a relationship with him.

Change your phone number. Find a new job.
posted by desjardins at 8:24 PM on July 7, 2012 [8 favorites]


"I can't allow myself to make the same mistakes over and over by settling though. Wish me luck in this endeavor!"

You can do this. You do not need him, or any other person to be the best you that you can be and to be happy. Go back and read the comments here that say that you are already awesome, and believe that. Because you are. You don't need luck, you need focus and confidence and I wish you both of those (as well as happiness).

Also, there are many, many AskMe questions about working with the ex, or dealing with relationship+workplace stuff which are full of great advice in dealing with that aspect of this.
posted by krix at 8:24 PM on July 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


"insecure, needy, useless gold-digging whores"

FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU

Seriously, the high heels where the tip of the iceberg with this diamond of a man. Leave him and send him the link to this thread so he may understand what a tool he is. Do this in the name of WOMEN.

You need to leave him, and you need to not fall for any of his poisonous, hateful bulllshit, which will undoubtedly come when he gets desperate because he's "losing".
posted by Tarumba at 8:49 PM on July 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Write out all of his most horrible comments on a piece of paper. Keep that paper on you: when he tries a grand gesture and you find yourself wavering, read those comments. If that doesn't work, read this thread: it will remind you that his behaviour is not fine, that this isn't some minor issue, and a whole raft of different people - both men and women - think this guy is a controlling, possibly dangerous, jerk and that you can do so much better.

Also seconding contacting HR if he attempts something at work/hassles you there. They will not consider it a minor issue, trust me, if he starts saying you look like a whore there.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 9:18 PM on July 7, 2012 [10 favorites]


CheeseandRice, you sound like a very thoughtful and sensible person and I would like to reiterate that there are so many men out there who will treat you so much better, but you will never find them if you don't get these asshole guys out of the way.

or twists things around to make it seem like I'm misunderstanding him or overreacting instead.

Just for future reference, there is an actual word for this kind of behavior. It is called gaslighting and it is abuse.
posted by triggerfinger at 10:00 PM on July 7, 2012 [9 favorites]


I wouldn't even wait to talk to HR until he contacts you--be proactive and go tell them ahead of time. Just explain that you were in a relationship with him and you've broken it off, but his comments have led you to believe that he may try to cause problems at work/with coworkers/with clients, whatever, and you felt that it was your duty to give HR a heads up. Then if something does happen, you've already got it on record that you're trying really hard to be the good guy here...and that his behavior isn't out of the blue.
posted by MeghanC at 10:04 PM on July 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


I wouldn't even wait to talk to HR until he contacts you

I didn't mean to imply wait until he's harassing you until you contact HR - just want to be clear MeghanC is right - contact HR/your manager as soon as you get back to work, even if he hasn't contacted you.

Even if you call him to break it up and he takes it unbelievably well - still contact HR.
posted by Lt. Bunny Wigglesworth at 11:26 PM on July 7, 2012


Anyways in his culture the women have to cover their bodies and faces and are more submissive to the men and although he grew up here he vacations in Egypt a lot so I try to keep that in mind.

No, they don't. I mean, yes, some parts of Egypt are more conservative than others and women wear headscarves and robes. In Cairo and other more metropolitan areas, you'd see women just dressing modestly in a way that would not be out of place in any US city -- shoulders covered (e.g. no tank-tops), no midriff-baring tops, skirts that hit below the knee, or alternately slacks that are not tight -- and they may or may not add a headscarf.

But regardless, why the heck is he yammering on about heels? If he's concerned about modesty and was up in arms about a miniskirt, I'd understand a bit, but his fixation on heels being indecent is just odd. I vote for controlling. Sorry.
posted by desuetude at 12:05 AM on July 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Anyways in his culture the women have to cover their bodies and faces and are more submissive to the men and although he grew up here he vacations in Egypt a lot so I try to keep that in mind.

Seconding what desuetude just said about this. I've had an Egyptian pen pal since we were 8 years old, and when we were in our teens, without my asking, she described to me how she'd reached adulthood and could choose whether to wear a veil or not. She chose to take the veil, and described her reasons for doing so. None of them had to do with being submissive... She's now an IT engineer, has two kids, married her teenaged sweetheart when they were 25.

In fact I'm curious – did this "info" about "how Egyptian women are" come from your boyfriend? That would be pretty telling.

You've shown a lot of strength and insight here. Give yourself permission to ask for help in real life too, by calling the help line posted earlier; by contacting HR. These exist specifically for situations like yours. It is not normal, it is certainly not acceptable, for your ex-boyfriend (I'm calling him that now) to control you even beyond your relationship. If it feels too personal to contact HR, think of it this way: he's made misogynist remarks. Those are about women. You are not the only woman in your office (I'm willing to bet, anyhow). Alerting HR with facts about his controlling, misogynist words and behavior in the office will also help any other women he's in contact with, as well as relieving any men he might be trying to reel into his "cause".
posted by fraula at 1:32 AM on July 8, 2012 [8 favorites]


I didn't have anything to add until now except enthusiasm for rejecting this guy and being strong and wise enough to move on so I didn't drop in.

But I have to echo MeghanC and Lt. Bunny Wigglesworth (I love the net) -- first thing you do when you get back into work is get a message into HR to alert them about possible boundary issues around your break-up with dude, and that while you will absolutely keep it professional, there still could be some fallout and you want to give them a heads up so they know the basis for whatever issues may crop up.
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:44 AM on July 8, 2012


I like lesbiassparrow's suggestion to write out all his most hateful, hurtful comments on a piece of paper you can keep with you and re-read as needed, but I'll take that even further: in addition to a nicely portable listing of his most horrible comments, make yourself a nice piece of wall art with his 'top ten' --- cross-stitched, embroidered, painted, wood-burned, it doesn't matter: what would matter is that the time and effort you put into creating such a plaque would really, really embed a deep understanding of his idiocy in your brain, and help you resist his future false lines like "oh but it was just a joke!" and the way he tries to control your every move.

Hold firm, and don't let him back into your like --- as so many other have said, there are some truly wonderful guys out there, waiting for a chance with a great girl like you.
posted by easily confused at 5:46 AM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


This guy hasn't got a clue. He's a loser. DTMFA and move on to happier times. You deserve better, such as guys who like what you wear and think you look great wearing it.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 8:29 AM on July 8, 2012


Hes never physically abused or cheated on me

My first thoughts on reading that were "yet". Another one for the choir here - DTMFA before either of those things happen, because it's extremely likely that given time that'll stop being true.
posted by talitha_kumi at 8:32 AM on July 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Before you go running to HR, make sure you can't get in trouble for dating a coworker.
posted by 23skidoo at 8:44 AM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


first thing you do when you get back into work is get a message into HR to alert them about possible boundary issues around your break-up with dude, and that while you will absolutely keep it professional, there still could be some fallout and you want to give them a heads up so they know the basis for whatever issues may crop up.

As a manager, I am skeptical of this advice. I wonder if any HR folk in the crowd here can comment.
posted by Miko at 8:50 AM on July 8, 2012


I think that it's super important to avoid romanticizing his behavior in your own head. It's not that "he won't let [you] go," or "he wins [you] back;" he bullies and manipulates you into accepting his totally unacceptable behavior. It's really tempting to write your own mental script in a grand romance style. This is not a grand romance. These guys are attracted to someone who allows them to act out their own worse selves...that's what you're providing him at the moment, not an actual relationship.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 8:50 AM on July 8, 2012 [18 favorites]


*by that I mean contacting them in advance of any problems. I do agree that if any problems surface you should pick up the phone immediately. But I think contacting them before any such thing has happened could draw unwanted attention to you as a worker.
posted by Miko at 8:51 AM on July 8, 2012


I want to move on

This is all you need to know.

This guy seems to have been putting insane amounts of pressure on you to accept his ways and stay with him. You're right to resist. It's gone too far for you. You don't even need a reason to break up with someone - you just need to be ready to move on - it just so happens that he ha given you some major reasons in addition to that. Get out of it. He sounds creepy and the more history you reveal, the more it seems he's been over the line for a long time. In your shoes, I wouldn't trust him to take things any farther with me.
posted by Miko at 8:56 AM on July 8, 2012


You said:

I do think that every relationship has its problems and what's prevented me from leaving him is thinking that there are worse guys out there, players, cheaters or abusers

Miko said:

You don't even need a reason to break up with someone


I have broken up /have been broken up with by several pretty cool guys just because we were better off as friends. You don't need to wait for guys to become threats to your mental/physical health to have "permission" to break up with them. You are perfectly entitled to not want to be in a relationship with a guy who's not imbalanced and dangerous.

Only in this case, the guy in question is essentially imbalanced and dangerous. So you have even the more reason to get him out of your life.
posted by Tarumba at 9:27 AM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


My ex was your man. I couldnt put a finger on it. He never abused or cheated on me.... so I thought. Turns out he did cheat and was abusive, afterall. His words and behaviors towards me was crazy making. He always turned the tables to invalidate my feelings. Nothing I did was ever good enough and I did everything. I didn't have the nerve to leave until I saw the story of Susan Still on Oprah. Seeing her video and the way her husband treated her... I swear to God, I said to myself "that's my boyfriend in 10 years". That was my cue to get out. Took about a year to break it off but I did. Now, I'm happier and though my relationships aren't perfect... they're respectful and honor who I am at the VERY least.
posted by InterestedInKnowing at 9:59 AM on July 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'd also be slow to go to HR. In many organisations their incentives are around preventing lawsuits rather than protecting employees, so the reaction may not be what you expect.
posted by StephenF at 10:30 AM on July 8, 2012


HR is not your friend or your police or your domestic abuse counselor. HR is there to protect the company, and while that does include protecting employees when the law says they have to, that doesn't include acting as an intermediary in an inappropriate employee relationship that is also abusive. But if there was a significant HR presence in the first place, it seems likely that one or both of you would have been fired or disciplined a long time ago.

You should rethink this thing about not being able to leave your job. You most certainly can leave your job if you find another job, and if you get fired you'll have to find another job anyway. You are - and have been all this time - one irritated coworker away from getting fired, regardless of whether you break up or not.

You've said yourself you have a willpower problem with this man. Willpower is not a stable force, you can't build a resistance on that alone. You need to structure your life in a way that makes it easier to make good choices than bad ones. Not seeing him at work every day would be one way to make it easier on yourself to make good choices.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:42 AM on July 8, 2012 [15 favorites]


what's prevented me from leaving him is thinking that there are worse guys out there, players, cheaters or abusers

Hey CheeseandRice, I can't help wondering if you wouldn't benefit from assertiveness training?
It sticks out for me that your mind defaults to believing you're automatically susceptible to this subsection of the dating pool --almost like you see no barrier between you and the male players/cheaters/abusers of the world. There should be a strong barrier there between you vs what you're not looking for. The trick is, it's put up and maintained by you. Assertiveness training would be like helping you put that barrier up, especially if you go in knowing what you're looking to get out of it. I'm sure the Domestic Abuse Hotline would be helpful in connecting you locally with this kind of resource.

Knowing you have specific skills for safeguarding your interests may help allieve some anxiety in navigating the future dating world. Its benefits would probably spill over into your professional life too.

Re: HR. I agree with Lyn Never. I wouldn't disclose your personal/relationship details to HR. IME you can't assume HR is your friend.
posted by human ecologist at 11:43 AM on July 8, 2012 [9 favorites]


The thing is, when he calls women whores and then says he's joking, it still means that THOSE THOUGHTS WENT THROUGH HIS HEAD. Do you want to be with a guy like that?
posted by never.was.and.never.will.be. at 6:51 PM on July 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


I can't allow myself to make the same mistakes over and over by settling though. Wish me luck in this endeavor!

Just coming back to say I, and am sure many other people on this thread, are thinking of you and wish you the best. I hope that everything is resolved soon and you can move on to leading a much happier, less stressful life.

And please do update--only if you want to, of course.
posted by dysh at 9:03 PM on July 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also here to wish you the best!

We accept the love that we think we deserve. People like him need you to believe that you deserve his bullshit. That you are being silly when he was "just joking"*. That you need him because you couldn't possibly get a better man. Better men are out there, but do you truly believe you deserve one? You do! But that's not what he needs you to believe.

*making you believe that you are silly/stupid when you are offended by something genuinely bad that he did, thereby exempting him from any blame when he does these bad things, and making you feel like an overly emotional nut job for not allowing him to do or say these horrible things. <-- slowly but surely, you stop questioning it because you don't want to be looked down on by "overreacting" to something "so silly". And slowly you believe it. That's exactly what he needs you to do. Don't!
posted by Neekee at 10:48 PM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, and there's nothing terribly inappropriate with him wanting you to dress modestly if he comes from a conservative background. But there's no good reason for him to humiliate you into it. If he had a good rationale, he would be able to state it without insulting you.
posted by desuetude at 11:14 PM on July 8, 2012


DTACMFA.

In other words, dump the abusive controlling MF already.
posted by strelitzia at 9:17 AM on July 9, 2012


Unless where you are going had a dress code, what you want to wear is up to you.

Next time, tube top, gold lame hot pants it with heels!
posted by stormpooper at 9:38 AM on July 9, 2012


In the past he has always managed to establish contact again, hard to ignore when I have to see him in person at work! Or he wins me back with some grand gesture. I can't allow myself to make the same mistakes over and over

You are a person with thoughts and feelings. YOU ARE NOT A PRIZE TO BE "WON." His "grand gestures" are not about wanting to be with you because he cares about you, they are 100% about his contempt for you and desire to control you, because how DARE you try to break up with him on your own volition. He'll SHOW you that your relationship exists on HIS terms alone by MAKING you take him back, because he thinks you're weak and don't know your own mind, and he'll bully you into submission because he thinks his "grand gesture" emotions are stronger, better, and more valid than your silly, weak emotions. And every time it works his contempt for you grows.

DTMFA. The people on AskMe are rightly scared for you and your friends and family would be scared for you too if they knew the details you've described here. Leave this man, leave your job if you must, go stay with friends or family as physically far away from him as possible while you focus on getting your head and your life together without him and WITH therapy. Read The Onion article Romantic Comedy Behavior Gets Real-Life Man Arrested and consider that you are living this article as a non-comedy, and that is very, very scary.

You deserve a partner who shows you love through small daily gestures of respect and caring that make you feel relaxed and secure. You don't deserve the punishment of a man who embroils you in histrionic drama, who hurts you where you're most vulnerable, who uses melodramatic emotional highs to disguise the gaping holes of his narcissistic lows. He has proven himself incapable of loving you in a healthy way, and his increasingly desperate acts to keep you will not be able to change that: whether he lies and says he will change, whether it stays this level of terrible with him and you are stifled and miserble forever, whether he escalates to "proving" his controlling "love" by getting you fired, stalking you, killing you in a fantasy-Romeo & Juliet-style murder-suicide, or any of the other real abusive tactics used by real men to control real women. RUN.
posted by nicebookrack at 10:42 AM on July 9, 2012 [5 favorites]


Thanks everyone for your continued encouragement. I wanted to give an update. Sunday I had lunch with friends, went to get a haircut and then caught a movie. He did try to establish contact by calling but I didn't pick up so he texted asking if I wanted to have dinner on the beach with him and I texted that I was busy. He later texted to ask why i was mad at him this time?? and I told him no, I'm not mad but I just think we're not right for each other. I'm going to keep it at that. I feel like ive tried to Break up so many times with an official declaration that I don't have the energy to attempt a proper break up anymore and it's not like he ever takes them seriously.

I saw him at work today and just ignored him and his call later on. I'm not going to go to HR or anything like that, I think that would just make a mess of things and cause me more trouble and stress plus I really dont want to get him in trouble, i still care about him. I admit that he can be emotionally manipulating, selfish and he is guilty of gaslighting me a lot (new term I learned, thanks to whoever pointed that out!) but I don't feel like he is dangerous or stalkerish. He just can't seem to let me go and It's like constant stress Bc I have to resist and push him away and that doesn't come naturally to me, I'd rather be left alone so I can sort myself out instead of stressing over this. We've had our good times, he can be reAlly good to me and overAll hes a nice guy but nowadays I feel like he only tries when he has to win me back and I'm tired and exhausted from not having my emotional needs met by him and the worst thing about our relationship is that whenever I get upset over something I have to present my case and he'll deny he did anything wrong and make me feel like I'm imagining things or making things up and I can't take not being heard or acknowledged anymore, it's the worse feeling in the world and after I read that gaslighting article someone linked to, it really hit home that what hes Doing is not a normal guy thing and it's not alright. Okay rant over. Have a good night everyone.
posted by CheeseAndRice at 6:58 PM on July 9, 2012 [26 favorites]


You're 100% doing the right thing and playing your cards right. Don't feed the beast, just move on.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 3:58 AM on July 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


CheeseAndRice: I think you're doing the right thing by cutting ties and I think for the most part you're handling it appropriately by refusing to engage with him. You don't owe him any kind of explanation

Something struck me in your update though. You mentioned that "overall he's a nice guy"; I want to dispute that statement. I consider myself an "overall nice guy" but I don't try to exercise some wierd kind of shoe control over my wife, I don't minimize her concerns, and I absolutely would never attempt to gaslight her.

I really, REALLY, feel that if you are going to be successful in keeping this jerk at bay, you need to get it through your head that HE IS NOT AN OVERALL NICE GUY. Nice guys don't pull that shit, ever. You can blame it on his culture, or his upbringing, or make any excuse in the book... but none of that matters.... the guy's a douchebag and how he got that way is irrelevant as far as you are concerned. How he got that way and how he moves forward is his problem to solve and not yours to care about.

Also, I would suggest that you have no reason not to say "Yes, not only am I mad at you I am disgusted by your behaviour. We are over, it's not up for discussion or negotiation, and I want you to leave me alone from this point forward". I am concerned that by saying "No, I'm not mad... I just don't think we're right for each other" you are leaving an opening (in his mind only) that he has an opportunity to "convince" you how right you are for each other. IMHO better to make a firm declaration in combination with your non-engagement strategy than one that's a little wishy washy and leaves him believing he can turn this around if he tries harder.
posted by Beacon Inbound at 6:30 AM on July 10, 2012 [9 favorites]


Hey, congratulations. I hope you feel a little stronger and saner today. It already sounds that way!

I'd rather be left alone so I can sort myself out instead of stressing over this.

This is good wisdom. Look ahead at your next few days and make sure you have things to keep busy with - friends, workouts, places to go, etc.

Beacon Inbound may be right that he could need a firmer declaration than what you gave, but honestly since things seem quiet it might not be a good idea to reopen communication just to make that point. Only if he does try again to get in touch, then consider responding with an email that's 100% clear and unequivocal about its being over. You don't have to be angry and accusatory, just firmly repeat that it's over. And not up for negotiation.
posted by Miko at 6:52 AM on July 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


One thing to keep in mind: you don't have to explain yourself to him. You don't have to justify yourself to him. You don't have to convince him of anything, at any time.

Sometimes, it can be really hard to remember that. He's all, "But WHY??" and then it feels natural to respond with, "Because x, y, and z." And then he responds with, "But x, y, and z aren't true!!!" and now you may feel down to the fiber of your being that you have to give some sort of reply, that you have to get him to SEE that x, y, and z are true... But you don't. And if you get caught into that trap, and if you start getting into an argument/debate with him about your reasons for breaking up, you're leaving yourself open to his gaslighting. You're leaving yourself open to him exhausting your defenses.

So, remind yourself often: you don't have to justify yourself to him. You don't have to convince him of anything. You owe him no explanation.
posted by meese at 12:49 PM on July 10, 2012 [15 favorites]


There is absolutely no need for you to return any of his phone calls, texts, emails or smoke signals --- cutting off all contact with him totally & completely will be easier and less stressful for you, and who gives a damn how he might feel about it?!?
posted by easily confused at 2:35 PM on July 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


I agree that cutting off contact is the best method and in all honesty, it's the only method I have energy for at this point. Meese, I know exactly what you mean! In the past, whenever he hurt me, I felt i had to explain to him why he made me so upset so that he can understand and we can work it out but he would tell me to relax and deny that he did anything and even make stuff up! I know now that explanation is futile. I'm pretty sure that even he doesn't know that he's gaslighting me, I think he's so intent on being right that he rewrites reality in his mind and truly believes it. In any case, I know I can't do it anymore Bc it's not healthy for me emotionally or mentally.

He came over to me during lunch today and we made polite small talk for a minute before he saw people approaching and left. He won't try anything at work Bc work policy is against dating supervisors so he would never risk ppl knowing that we have some kind of relationship. I ignored his call again after work so I'm still going strong. I'm so glad I posted my original question Bc it has really opened my eyes.
posted by CheeseAndRice at 8:29 PM on July 10, 2012 [11 favorites]


You must be exhausted by all this. Opening up to strangers like this definitely takes courage and you've taken a lot of good steps towards being free of all of this. I hope everything keeps getting easier for you. Best of luck.
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:19 AM on July 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


CheeseAndRice, it's been a few days since you posted this thread and I didn't comment at the time, but I have been thinking about you and wanted to add myself to the chorus of People From The Internet cheering you on for dumping this guy. So much about him reminds me of my terrible ex it's a little hard to believe, and I wish I had had the courage to reach out for help like this a lot sooner than I did. You've got so much good advice in this thread I wish I could second all of it, especially the gaslighting stuff. Good luck and well done!
posted by daisyk at 10:09 AM on July 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


cheese, how is it going? Hang in there!
posted by Tarumba at 4:51 AM on July 21, 2012 [5 favorites]


Hope everything's okay, CheeseAndRice.
posted by magstheaxe at 9:06 AM on August 8, 2012


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