"All of your friends think you need to grow up"
May 2, 2014 9:22 PM Subscribe
How do I tell my responsible boyfriend that his behavior is more similar to a fifteen-year old and could be professional disastrous for him?
My boyfriend will turn 21 in August. For a 20 year old, he has quite a bit of responsibility—he works full-time in a leadership position and has paid his way entirely through college. However, he isn’t actually all that mature. The only way I can really think of describing it is Harry Potter in the fifth book—basically, like a fifteen year old. He doesn’t always act like this, but when he does, it goes beyond what is acceptable adult behavior.
I think it is a combination of him being overly confident about some things, but actually very insecure. He gets very extreme and dramatic. Everything is black and white. He refuses to back down from an argument and can be very passive-aggressive during it, and will attack the other person, not the other person’s thoughts. He has very strong morals—and if someone is violating those morals, he lets that person know, regardless of that person’s feelings, and not in a kind way. He refuses to tell white lies to protect someone's feelings. If someone disappoints him, he calls that person out, and if that person is hurt by that, he then calls that person out for being hurt. Of course, this is very belittling. Quite honestly, it’s unacceptable.
The problem is that we are starting law school in the fall, at a school where working for a V50 white-shoe law firm is virtually guaranteed for the top three-quarters of the class. At its worse type of behavior could lead to him not getting an offer after his summer associate position, or being pushed out before his fifth year in the firm. More likely, it will lead him to not having the opportunity to clerk. So far, he only acts like this to his friends, but I can easily see him arguing with other summer associates, holding moral rulings about partners or judges that lead to him not taking work seriously enough, or speaking back against well-established professors, especially when he is criticized (see: overconfidence masking insecurity). If it continues, this behavior will be magnified due to his age.
Some mutual friends—with legal experience—recently asked me to talk to him about his immaturity, specifically because it could potentially affect his career. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to bring this up, and what to suggest? More empathy? I’ve told him to look at the world on a spectrum, but he seems to have difficulty doing that. I have also suggested he defer his start for a year or two, but he absolutely does not want to do that. I’m looking for specific wording suggestions. What would you say if your best friend’s behavior could negatively impact their career?
Note: This is anonymous for a reason, so if everyone could avoid mentioning specific law school names, that would be great. I don’t want him—or any of the other 0Ls—to accidently come across this.
Throwaway email: firstname.lastname@example.org (can you believe no one had taken this?).