Boyfriend's a hero, I'm grossed out.
July 27, 2010 10:40 AM   Subscribe

This is one of those questions where I really don't know if I have something wrong with me or not. My boyfriend, who I've been dating about five months and totally adore, very recently saved a woman's life. I think it's crazy and obviously I'm incredibly proud of him. The negative, if it can be called that, is the fact that his sister called one of the newspapers in town and he agreed to do an interview. For some reason, I don't like that; I feel that when you do charitable acts or heroic acts, you should keep it to yourself.

I mistakenly made this point right when he told me that it was in the newspaper and he's understandably angry with me. I do think I have a valid point, but when I was told that he did an interview with the paper, my stomach dropped and I haven't felt good about it ever since. This is a guy I'm incredibly close to and have had an excellent relationship with until this point. Seriously, what's wrong with me that I can't just be happy for him? Any guesses?

(Sorry for rambling. Still a little upset.)
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (71 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I do think I have a valid point...

You really don't, and I think that's the problem. It's not about what you think. The next time you save someone from drowning, you get to decide whether or not to do an interview. Simple as that.
posted by milarepa at 10:45 AM on July 27, 2010 [98 favorites]

If you ever find yourself drowning in a harbor, you will probably be happy that the newspaper (by offering to run stories on people who save people) and your boyfriend (by providing them an example) have incentivized people jumping in to save you.
posted by 0xFCAF at 10:46 AM on July 27, 2010 [23 favorites]

I feel that when you do charitable acts or heroic acts, you should keep it to yourself.

If you're looking for a way to reframe this, I'd say that your boyfriend did keep it to himself, but his sister didn't. I'm someone who is sometimes in the media for various things ranging from something I did to something I was involved with. I also live in a place where the professional culture is pretty heavily weighted towards being part of a group and not drawing specific attention to yourself. My take, on the times when this comes up, is that once something big happens like this, whether it's going to be in the paper or not is outside of my control. My choices are: be involved with the story, or have people write the story without my input. I usually choose to include my input even though sometimes this means being involved with media outlets and/or stories that I don't overall agree with.

And as to your "what's wrong with me" question. Hey, you feel what you feel. However, I sometimes feel that these sorts of jarring conflicts--where a person you care for and respect does something that your moral code doesn't care for and/or respect--are a great time for self-exploration. That is, your boyfriend did something that goes against your moral/social code. In re-evaluating that incident, do you think that means that you might need to reinvestigate a) your feelings for your boyfriend or b) your moral/social code surrounding this sort of thing. As an outside observer, I'd say you have pre-conceptions about how people deal with charitable/heroic acts that may not withstand scrutiny and it might be worth untangling them some. I'd also consider using this as a starting point for having a conversation with your boyfriend, since he may be feeling weird about what went down.
posted by jessamyn at 10:47 AM on July 27, 2010 [28 favorites]

Imagine what the world would be like if we never heard about any charitable or heroic acts, and we all had to conclude that every single other person was motivated only by selfishness.
posted by amtho at 10:48 AM on July 27, 2010 [40 favorites]

I do think I have a valid point


"This is how I would do it if I had done it" does not make for a "valid point" quite like that. The problem here is entirely your own, and I'd parry from the use of "grossed out" that you do not care for him as much as you think you do. It seems odd that this coming from someone you are so close to, totally adore, etcetera, would not force you to re-evaluate your own beliefs on this?
posted by kmennie at 10:48 AM on July 27, 2010 [4 favorites]

For some reason, I don't like that; I feel that when you do charitable acts or heroic acts, you should keep it to yourself.

I would delve deeper into this. *Why* do you feel you should keep it to yourself? Do you think it's vain? Do you feel unrecognized for all the good deeds you do? Really try to dismantle the unspoken "should" behind your thinking. Your feelings may or may not change after that, but at least you'll understand why you're having this reaction.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 10:49 AM on July 27, 2010 [12 favorites]

I'm with jessamyn. It would be one thing if he was tooting his own horn; it's another thing entirely if other people are tooting it for him and asking for his response. As long as he keeps his ego in check during the interview, and doesn't boast or gloat about the act to other people in his daily life, I see no problem here.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 10:49 AM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

I feel that when you do charitable acts or heroic acts, you should keep it to yourself.

I hate to be pithy, but why? It was his sister who called the paper. You're putting him in the impossible position of choosing to go along with his sisters instincts or yours, one side thinks people should be told, one side doesn't. If I were you I'd apologize profusely and tell him that he can do whatever he wants because you adore him. Or, you can make this a dealbreaker. What other alternatives are there, that he should go back in time and not do the interview? That the next time he saves someone's life he should tell his family to keep their traps shut about it?
posted by rhizome at 10:49 AM on July 27, 2010 [3 favorites]

You've only been dating five months, so there are things - deep core things, like the value of 'if you do something good, you keep it to yourself and don't parade it around town' - that you don't know about him yet. Things have probably been going well, and it's early in the relationship, so you probably haven't had any big moments of dissonance that cause you to take pause and evaluate things. And then this comes around, and it's a BIG one. It represents a core value you hold dear, and you probably just assumed he did too.

I'm not going to tell you that you're a monster for not just being all OH GOD MY HERO, although I'm sure others will. I think you can try to tell him that you're incredibly proud of him, but you've always believed that acts of charity should be private, and you're trying to reconcile that value with the real-life accomplishment of someone you care about. That he shouldn't correlate your reaction to his agreeing to be interviewed to your feelings about his heroism.

When my brother enlisted, my response was, "I disagree with the war and will continue to do so, I wish you hadn't done this, but I respect your decision and am proud of you for serving." Not entirely similar but not that far from it. I couldn't just say "Oh you are so brave and awesome" because I did not agree with that war, but I also wanted him to know that I could separate the two.

And also, maybe you just opened your mouth and made a mistake when you should have waited for another time. You're human.
posted by micawber at 10:49 AM on July 27, 2010 [3 favorites]

I understand a little of what you're saying... it was your boyfriend's sister that contacted the paper, and not the victim's sister, right? That seems strange to me.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:51 AM on July 27, 2010

Charity and heroism can be left unstated as can unsolicited opinions as to what others should do. I doubt if there is anything wrong with you--forgive your self for being upset with him, do not try and make yourself right or him wrong and enjoy what the relationship brings you. If you can let this go I am sure that in a day or two your being upset (with him and your self) will be a thing of the past.
posted by rmhsinc at 10:51 AM on July 27, 2010

You're welcome to judge him all you want. However, don't expect him to agree with you.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:51 AM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

Do you feel like giving the interview is "bragging"? That might explain part of the disconnect and uncomfortable feelings, if you've got an ideal of "humble hero" and he fits it - until he goes to the newspaper. I think it's worth exploring the root of these feelings. So the publicity feels wrong to you. Why?

What Jessamyn said about being involved with the story, since it's going to be written with or without input, is very sound. He has a chance to represent himself, instead of being talked about, and that's valuable.
posted by lriG rorriM at 10:52 AM on July 27, 2010

You've overly-identified with his actions because he is your boyfriend. Obviously, we feel good when our significant others accomplish awesome stuff. You have a pretty dead-set idea of how one goes about doing good works. Your boyfriend's sister, your boyfriend himself, and probably the woman he saved do not share this view.

Now, if your boyfriend called the paper himself and told them to do a story on him, yeah, that's weird and self-obsessed. But, he didn't, and if he's the sort of guy to save a woman drowning in a river, he's the sort of guy to make his sister happy by giving an interview about it. And he probably feels good because a) it is awesome to be a hero, and b) he made his sister happy. Your view is, unfortunately, an ethic minority. You feel bad because he violated your ethical standard and because everyone feels happy except you.

So, what do you do? Explore your ethical standard. Why doesn't it match the general one you've encountered? Why do you think he should have kept it to himself? You'll get plenty of ideas for why his actions -- both the saving and the interview -- were an absolute good for the individuals involved and the community at large. For instance, it is good for the community because they know that there are people out there willing to save their lives even though they're not getting paid for it. And that is a good feeling. It bonds people together. That's just one example. Do you disagree with it? Maybe. I don't share your view and can't see into your head. Why would you disagree with it?

As rational, thinking adults, it is our duty to re-assess our views when we come into such a serious conflict with a status quo as you just did. That doesn't necessarily mean change them, but if the situation is "everyone is happy but me," you cannot go on without at least exploring the idea that your views may be the issue.

Good luck.
posted by griphus at 10:53 AM on July 27, 2010 [2 favorites]

There's nothing wrong; you just have what is a rare and undervalued commodity in today's society - modesty. And you have a different sense of how to be modest than your boyfriend does.

The timing was bad, but there's nothing wrong per se in stating how you feel about this. It just happened to coincide with him expressing his good feelings about the event by talking with someone. So naturally this bad timing would make your two sentiments clash at maximum force.

If I had to guess I'd say what's wrong is that you have a lot invested in being right (statements like "my stomach dropped" and "I do think I have a valid point"). Maybe you should look at whether this wanting to be 'right' is a pattern for you, and explore that a bit. Has it caused problems in the past? Are there ways you can work on just accepting that others' opinions and choices differ from your own?
posted by Hardcore Poser at 10:54 AM on July 27, 2010 [4 favorites]

I understand why you feel the way you do, but your mistake is thinking others should do this, too. Your boyfriend deserves to be lauded for the selfless thing he does and I don't think his sister was wrong for being so proud of him that she got the local paper to do a story on him and I don't fault him for doing the interview.

Most of us only get to be in the paper twice. Once when we're born in tiny print as a birth notice and then again when we're not even able to read it because we're already gone. Let him have this.
posted by inturnaround at 10:55 AM on July 27, 2010

so he saves a woman from drowning, it gets in the paper, he tells you about it, and you, after it was already in the paper and at the exact moment he shared this news with you, chastise him for it?

if you were my girlfriend of five months i'd be wondering if you weren't good at being happy for other people.

you feel how you feel, but i think you owe him an apology for how you behaved.
posted by nadawi at 10:56 AM on July 27, 2010 [22 favorites]

It is tacky to seek out attention and praise after doing something good, but your boyfriend didn't do that. His sister called the paper because she was proud of her brother and that's that.

You made a mistake when you castigated your boyfriend for agreeing to an interview in the paper. It's okay, mistakes happen. "Everyone else makes mistakes, why can't you." But, part of having made this mistake involves you having to make some amends.

Look into why this bugged you so much. It's one thing to toot your own horn, but it's another thing entirely to agree to an interview when you participate in something newsworthy. Why did the interview upset you so much? Are you afraid that he's being disingenuous? Arrogant? Are you jealous of the positive attention? Has your boyfriend changed since the incident? Is it weird having this sort of thing happen so early in a relationship?

Talk to your boyfriend about how the interview gave you a weird impression of things. Separate what your boyfriend did from what happened as a whole.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:57 AM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

Do you perhaps feel jealous of the attention he's receiving, or insecure about your own successes? Be honest.

Your perception of what constitutes "bragging" does not match his, or really almost anyone else's, in this case. Holding him accountable to your standards when those standards are obviously well outside the mainstream is a little unreasonable. Jessamyn's advice here is particularly wise.
posted by hermitosis at 10:58 AM on July 27, 2010 [2 favorites]

I would have declined any publicity. So I think your feelings are spot on. But it doesn't mean he's not a good guy, though.
posted by L'OM at 11:03 AM on July 27, 2010 [2 favorites]

How about this - if every person who did a good deed kept his/her head down, then there'd be nothing nice about the news. You'd only ever be exposed to the crap that goes on in the world. This kind of thing inspires me to feel better about the world in general, and encourages me to also go out and do good things for others - because it's noble, not because I want to get into the papers too. If I never heard of anyone doing good deeds for others, I wouldn't be able to possibly follow by example and I would be a far less charitable person, I'm sure of it. So long as he's handling his 15 minutes of fame with meekness and modesty, I say it getting into the news does more good than harm.
posted by lizbunny at 11:06 AM on July 27, 2010

I think we as a society have a tendency to be incredibly critical of those who commit selfless, heroic acts. We're all so cynical. We don't really believe that people will do these good things, so we look for some sort of underlying motive to invalidate the good act. We can't let people profit from their good acts. We can't let people be admired for their good acts. We can't let people feel good about themselves for their good acts because this somehow invalidates the good act. Because then the good selfless act isn't entirely selfless. And this is totally ridiculous. Life shouldn't be all misery and unrecognized suffering. People who jump into harbors to save perfect strangers from drowning should be applauded. There is nothing wrong with getting a little positive recognition for your good acts.

I hate this idea that all our heroes have to pass some sort of purity test. We aren't all saints or sinners. You can be the kind of selfless person who jumps into a harbor to save someone and then after the fact enjoy seeing yourself in the newspaper. It's like when someone rich gives a lot of money to charity and then someone is quick to point out their million dollar home. See they aren't really a good person, they aren't living in a studio apartment. Their life isn't constant suffering so they weren't actually generous and giving. There is this impulse to make any good deed, not about the deed, not about the effect of that deed, but about the person and the motivation of the person performing that deed. You have warped this from the fact that a woman's life was saved into the after the fact motivations of your boyfriend. Your boyfriend jumped into a harbor and saved someone's life. He did a good thing and there is nothing wrong with him feeling good about himself because of it.
posted by whoaali at 11:07 AM on July 27, 2010 [25 favorites]

Your boyfriend did a heroic thing, and from what you've told us, he did it for all of the right reasons. He didn't seek the publicity. The newspaper came to him after somebody else contacted the paper.

What I would suggest keeping in mind is that just because your boyfriend agreed to talk to a reporter to tell his side of this very compelling and heroic story in no way makes your boyfriend an attention hog or immodest, nor should it diminish his actions on that day at the harbor. An inquiring reporter asked him about his role in saving a woman's life, and he answered the reporter's questions. The result was likely a heart-warming article that told the newspaper's readers what you already know: Your boyfriend's heroism saved a woman's life.

If I were you, I'd frame the article and hang on to that guy.
posted by TBoneMcCool at 11:08 AM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

What you would do when you saved someone from downing will probably be different to what someone else would do when they saved someone from drowning. You've run up against the fault of ascribing your own moral code to other people. You're perfectly entitled to not seek attention for this sort of thing for yourself, but you don't really have much of a right at all to expect other people not to do it, just because you're in a relationship with that person. Being in a relationship doesn't mean you get to b upset when the other person does something that doesn't affect you in any way, shape or form.

Your boyfriend did something really heroic and noble. He deserves a pat on the back for that.
posted by Solomon at 11:09 AM on July 27, 2010

For some reason, I don't like that; I feel that when you do charitable acts or heroic acts, you should keep it to yourself.

If it's not about you, don't make it about you.

Your boyfriend did an awesome thing and his sister is proud of him. You are overreacting about a human interest story in the newspaper, and I don't blame him for being angry with you.
posted by crankylex at 11:11 AM on July 27, 2010 [2 favorites]

It's really ok to react differently to these types of situations.

There are the people who drop gold coins anonymously into Salvation Army kettles, and there are people like Bill and Melinda Gates who stick their name on a lot of stuff that they do.

They both do good - one chooses to have their name attached to it, the other doesn't. When you do something like this, you can choose to turn down the notoriety if you'd like.
posted by SNWidget at 11:12 AM on July 27, 2010

Seriously, what's wrong with me that I can't just be happy for him? Any guesses?

Total shot in the dark, but were you raised in a family where calling attention to yourself was discouraged, even if it was for something good? I only bring it up because I was, to the point where I was encouraged to always say "no" if someone offered me something to drink at their house.

It's a weird "afraid of the world" mentality that certain parents have, and it can definitely stick with you into adulthood. Doing a newspaper interview in itself is not "immodest," it's simply talking to a newspaper. If he tells them he is the best swimmer of all time and rescuing the girl was easy, then I could see you being upset. But if what he says to the paper is a humble, straightforward restating of the facts then no, I don't think you have much reason to be angry.
posted by drjimmy11 at 11:12 AM on July 27, 2010 [11 favorites]

For some reason, I don't like that; I feel that when you do charitable acts or heroic acts, you should keep it to yourself.

On the one hand, I agree with this general sentiment. I don't tend to brag or self-promote about anything, and I tend to keep charitable things a secret from others.

But for me at least, if I had saved someone's life it would have been one of the most important events in my life. We all try to be good people, but saving someone who might die is one of the most unambiguously good things you can do in life. So from that perspective, I probably wouldn't even consider the idea of declining an interview about it, just like I would accept an interview about pretty much anything else I did that I was proud of. I wouldn't care about my image as a hero versus my image as a guy bragging about being a hero, I would just be excited to be telling a story of something I did that was important.
posted by burnmp3s at 11:13 AM on July 27, 2010

He might be going through a lot right now. Someone almost died, but for a number of split-second decisions he made. He risked his own life to save someone else's. No matter what he's saying, he might be going through a lot of turmoil himself. Have you asked him?

Also? So he's going to be in a newspaper article. So what? What do you think will happen after that? A reality show? The presidency? And what do you think he's going to say?

OK, if the article turns out like this, then your boyfriend has a personality problem and you may have a point. Is he kind like that anyway? Are you worried because you're afraid he might be a dick? I could understand that.

If he's just an awesome guy who did an amazing thing, please don't get on his case and just let it go. He is having complicated feelings right now and doesn't need to add to them, "and my girlfriend things I'm a putz..." Please keep your opinion to yourself on this one, until you pull someone from a burning building or whatever.
posted by Buffaload at 11:13 AM on July 27, 2010

OP: You might contact a mod and have them remove some details. You seem publicity-shy, and this seems pretty easy to Google.
posted by purpleclover at 11:15 AM on July 27, 2010

I'm not nearly as good a Jew as I should be, but my understanding is that Judaism teaches that acts of charity should be done anonymously, so as to not make the person who received the charity feel beholden to the giver. And that it's only truly an act of charity when you receive nothing in return; not even gratitude. This sounds like it might be what you've got brewing in your head. I agree with that sentiment completely, but look at it this way - when your boyfriend made the (probably split-second) decision to rescue the person, he wasn't thinking about the acclaim he'd get afterwards. He did it as a totally unselfish act.

The fact that he's angry with you may have to do with the way you presented your feelings. He might have ultimately ended up agreeing with you, but possibly the way you presented your feelings in the heat of the moment may have put him in the position of feeling he had to justify himself, or at the very least, not let you tell him what to do.

So if it was me, I'd explain my feelings in a little more depth, and then apologize. Because as I said, when he actually made the decision to save her, he wasn't thinking about possible rewards.
posted by MexicanYenta at 11:17 AM on July 27, 2010 [2 favorites]

Seriously, what's wrong with me that I can't just be happy for him? Any guesses?

The very common human flaw of simply not grasping--down deep, down below the surface intellectual "of course I know that!" level, but down where it matters--that very few things are actually about you. Even the people close to you, that love you and that you love, are not all--or even mostly--about you.

Someone you really care about being a Big Damn Hero is actually a really cool opportunity to internalize that lesson. Embrace it!
posted by Drastic at 11:18 AM on July 27, 2010 [5 favorites]

Just an idea, see if it fits: I am wondering whether you have been brought up to be very modest. Perhaps your parents got similarly upset whenever you were at the center of attention and perhaps, had you saved the woman and gone on to do the interview, they would have reacted with the same knee jerk revulsion?

If this is so then know that you are allowed to enjoy attention and publicity, and that this does not cheapen your value. Nor does it cheapen your boyfriends heroism.

You got yourself a great guy. Don't let your internalized eew! reaction spoil your view of him.
posted by Omnomnom at 11:23 AM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

This strikes me as jealousy, and I say that as someone who would be jealous in this situation. I'd be proud of my boyfriend too, and definitely NOT proud of feeling jealous, but there you go. And I think it's a fairly common reaction even if most people wouldn't want to admit it. Someone else committing a heroic act often makes us feel selfish, or reminds us that we don't do enough to help others -- or in a case like this, maybe makes us feel that we do a lot to help others, but the kind of charitable acts we do aren't as noticeable as pulling someone out of a river.

drjimmy11 also makes an interesting point about attitudes toward calling attention to oneself. One of the traits I hate most in anyone is cockiness -- understandable enough. What I've noticed, though, is that my definition of cocky is very broad. I can interpret a perfectly normal sense of pride as someone being full of themselves, and part of the reason is that I have trouble taking pride in myself and my own accomplishments.
posted by spinto at 11:24 AM on July 27, 2010 [3 favorites]

I feel that when you do charitable acts or heroic acts, you should keep it to yourself.

Yeah, you feel that way. It's not an objective truth. Other people feel differently, including your boyfriend and his sister.

I suspect that you're embarrassed because you're worried someone will see the interview and think your boyfriend is immodest and for some reason that outweighs the fact that he saved someone's life for you. I'd suggest reexamining some of those values.
posted by callmejay at 11:29 AM on July 27, 2010

Reading this made me think of two principles near the beginning of Harry Browne's "How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World" (a very flawed but VERY thought-provoking book). They are, to summarize:

#1: Own your feelings - truthfully acknowledge what you feel and that it's okay to feel it.
#2: ... but DO NOT be RULED by your feelings. Use your head, heart and gut - not just one of 'em - before you speak or act.

I think you did #1, which is admirable - you didn't try to convince yourself that you were actually happy/proud (or any of the other things you're generally "supposed" to feel). However, you DIDN'T do #2. You were admittedly put on the spot, which makes emotional "due diligence" a bit harder.

Which is to say: there's nothing wrong with you other than speaking hastily... before you had a chance to really examine your own motivations. As someone who has occasionally blurted out WILDLY inappropriate responses (and suffered anger/embarrassment as a result), it doesn't hurt to bite back most negative sentiments until you know - REALLY know - why you might be saying 'em.
posted by julthumbscrew at 11:34 AM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

If your boyfriend hadn't called the paper, maybe someone else would have. Maybe the woman he saved. Maybe her family. Someone out there would have wanted to know who this guy was so he could be thanked. Odds, during the confusion and panic of the drowning, no one went around exchanging information.

I think what your boyfriend did is a very brave thing. I don't think he sought out the attention. What was he supposed to say when the newspaper called him? "No comment?"
posted by zizzle at 11:34 AM on July 27, 2010

If I were your boyfriend, I would be pissed. Your reaction seems pretty selfish. So he gives an interview to a paper. So what? He didn't call up the paper himself. If you can't be happy for him, then don't say anything at all. I don't think its your right to be upset with him for violating your standards of humility. I agree with nadawi — I think you owe him an apology. I get that it can be hard when people you care about do things you think are wrong or out-of-line, but this isn't an egregious offense.

Personally, I think refusing to comment would be far, far weirder.

Also, this is really, really easily Google-able, so you might want to get some identifying details removed.
posted by good day merlock at 11:41 AM on July 27, 2010 [2 favorites]

I sort of understand your point. I would not do the interview even if I had a sister who called the paper after I had done a heroic act. I certainly would never toot my own horn when in comes to charity. But, I have no issue with your boyfriend doing the interview; I think the real important point here is how he answers the questions. Is he bragging or saying "aw shucks I was just in the right place and was lucky."? My concern would be with the type of answers given not the interview in and of itself.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 11:45 AM on July 27, 2010

The various comments about potential jealousy or just a different conception of modesty are interesting and good starting points for some self-exploration.

But the first thing I thought when reading this was that I would much rather deal with people bragging about real heroic acts than the other ridiculous concept of "fake heroes" like professional sports stars or musicians or whatever. Even if such "real" heroism is colored by cynicism in that said hero wants the attention or anything else, if that encourages other "less well-meaning" folks to do actual deeds, then perhaps the ends justifies the means... (And yeah, that's a very cynical way to look at it!)
posted by Ky at 11:49 AM on July 27, 2010

I agree with Ky. Even when you take the least charitable view toward the events described, I think there are worse things than saving peoples lives in the pursuit of publicity/celebrity.
posted by rhizome at 11:59 AM on July 27, 2010

Well, and it's unlikely that he somehow set up the incident. So the actual saving was a natural act [right time, right place] and he did the right thing. Even if he himself had sought out a newspaper article, I think most people would consider that fair enough given what he did. It's not quite the same as bragging about charitable donations [where you might be doing it solely for the publicity - it sounds extremely unlikely that he was thinking about the publicity when he saved the woman] -- although honestly, even that isn't so bad -- most people do none of these things. If getting publicity makes some people help others, I don't have a problem with that -- most people don't do that sort of thing for any reason.

Now, I could see your point if he went around introducing himself as John Doe, Hero from now on. That would certainly be annoying.
posted by wildcrdj at 12:10 PM on July 27, 2010

This is a bit of a long shot, but are you jealous because of how the story was framed? The story connects your boyfriend with this other woman in a heroic sort of way that suggests a relationship beyond what they had as strangers. That'd gross me out too, to see my husband called a hero and the rescued person called a damsel in distress.

I get it if you are uncomfortable with the story itself (especially the romance speculation). Or maybe his line in the midst of the rescue. It puts the woman at the center, and you're jealous.

Or does it seem crass or tacky because you usually hate these kinds of rescue stories?

But, if your reaction is really truly just about him talking to the paper, and only that... well, then, yeah, I think you need to think carefully about why he needs to behave as you would. This is not a big deal.

(Yeah I found the story. Trying to be vague in referring to it, but you might want to do as an earlier poster suggested and have the mods remove some details.)
posted by bluedaisy at 12:11 PM on July 27, 2010 [2 favorites]

In my fire department, there are officers (like mine) who believe that if you're lucky enough to be involved in saving someone, that's its own reward. They tend to feel that you shouldn't get special recognition for doing the right thing. I am largely in agreement with this philosophy. Other officers are aggressive about promoting their crews' accomplishments, and they get awards and recognition as a result.

It can be funny to see the same names come up again and again when it comes to commendations, but I'm not cynical enough to think people are doing their jobs particularly well in order to get attention. I doubt your boyfriend considered the attention he might receive before he went into the water. Nothing changes the moment in which he chose to act.
posted by itstheclamsname at 12:21 PM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

Man, I'd be proud as hell to be involved with this dude. He did something amazing, and someone else wanted to tell people about it. I honestly don't see the problem.

If I wasn't engaged, I'd be all "I can has instead?", but I'm already with a dude I'm super proud of. :D
posted by two lights above the sea at 12:23 PM on July 27, 2010

There's nothing wrong; you just have what is a rare and undervalued commodity in today's society - modesty.

I'm not sure modesty is the right word for what the author is feeling. Maybe a kind of forced anonymity? I agree with those who think that the author is working through some issues related to a value system she was raised with which -- while valuable under the circumstances -- really carries with it a lot of baggage that is causing some difficulties.

Which, do you think, is the greater offense-- answering questions about an event when asked or refusing to answer the polite questions of someone asking about said event?

Is your boyfriend a good person? Does he do good things? Is he generally a down-to-earth guy? If so, maybe you should consider the ways in which doing an interview about the rescue doesn't change who he is and that maybe it's not a moral offense to talk about such things when asked about them.
posted by deanc at 12:29 PM on July 27, 2010

Mod note: comment removed - folks, putting it in small text doesn't make a major derail not a major derail.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:41 PM on July 27, 2010

To be honest, if my girlfriend did something like that to me I might have to rethink the relationship. And if we had only been together for five months I would probably take it as a major sign that we might not be right for each other.

I think that criticizing him for this is pretty selfish and petty. Count yourself lucky that he's only angry with you and hasn't ended it.
posted by fso at 12:49 PM on July 27, 2010 [2 favorites]

Doing the interview itself, meh. The issue for me would be what did he say in the interview. Was he humble or bragging?
posted by JohnnyGunn at 12:57 PM on July 27, 2010

Quick: how would you feel if he had saved a 10-year-old boy from drowning? Or a 70-year-old man? Exactly the same?

What I'm getting at is that you might be more jealous of the woman than of your boyfriend. But either way, it's pretty clear you're acting out of jealousy and not some abstract principle that no good deeds should be publicized.
posted by Jaltcoh at 1:03 PM on July 27, 2010

He's up on the pedestal and it sounds like your response was something like "you look foolish, don't be a braggart, how embarrassing." Of course he's a bit mad about that. It's not you who's up there. Support him.

I can understand where you're coming from, but what you might be overlooking is that he's been thrust into the limelight, and that's a vulnerable place to be. He needs your support. That's true even if you would have acted differently. The decision that you're responsible for now is how you act toward him.
posted by salvia at 1:07 PM on July 27, 2010

I'm with the vast majority here who see the man as blameless but I suppose there can be a downside of being a hero.
posted by jeffen at 1:11 PM on July 27, 2010

The sense of modesty that lead you to criticize your boyfriend is a women thing, and it's not a healthy one.

Women are socialized to hide from the stage, to not draw attention to themselves, and to not display too much ambition. If you believe in equality, if you believe in feminism, I invite you to inspect where this extreme sense of modesty came from, and make adjustments.

I can offer you the follow book on the subject, to jog your reflection:

Necessary dreams: ambition in women's changing lives, by Anna Fels

I found it quite eye opening -- and I'm male.
posted by gmarceau at 1:14 PM on July 27, 2010 [2 favorites]

You owe him a big apology.

You passed judgement and tried to make him feel badly about responding to a request from a newspaper writing a story about him saving a women's life?

Get a grip. Can you think of a more selfless act? Do you think he risked his life to save this women thinking wow maybe I can get my name in the paper?

posted by stealabove at 1:17 PM on July 27, 2010 [5 favorites]

Doesn't strike me as jealousy at all. I would likely react the same way. The old 'aw shucks just doing my part' citizen-hero shows up in news stories so often that it's become a cliche. An Onion-style 'Area Man Rescues Girl' story. There's a role already waiting to be filled and everyone, especially the press, expects you to fill it. By agreeing to be interviewed, your BF is allowing himself to become a character in the media narrative and kind of implicitly buying into it, thus, acknowledging his own heroic acts, which is what makes you feel gross, because heroes shouldn't gloat.

However, there is another side to it. If you do something incredibly nice for someone and they really really want to reward you, it is selfish of you to refuse all rewards, because you leave the person you helped feeling indebted and frustrated. Thus there is a certain self-righteousness in refusing acknowledgment as well. Public recognition and thanks are society's way of rewarding selfless acts of heroism and a small token gesture of acknowledging and accepting these thanks would be the polite thing to do. So, frame it in your head as not acknowledging his own heroism, but rather acknowledging people's gratitude for the debt they owe him, and maybe it won't gross you out as much.

P.S. The sense of modesty that lead you to criticize your boyfriend is a women thing, and it's not a healthy one.
WTF?? No.
posted by PercussivePaul at 1:17 PM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'd also like to point out that had I been saved by someone, I would certainly want them treated like a hero. The woman who was drowning might have an interest in the public knowing about this man's selfless (yes, selfless, because he was thinking about risking his own safety to save someone else's life, not about being interviewed in the paper) act.
posted by fso at 1:28 PM on July 27, 2010

"I think it's crazy and obviously I'm incredibly proud of him."

Interesting choice of words (italics mine).

Anyway, maybe the reason why he saved the woman was the same reason why he did the interview; he didn't feel like he could say no.
posted by fantasticninety at 1:30 PM on July 27, 2010

Do you have any issues with his sister? maybe that's why you felt uneasy about it?
Do you feel jealous that his sister reacted in a more "excited" way and you didn't?
posted by KogeLiz at 1:43 PM on July 27, 2010

My husband gets quoted in the paper now and then (to do with his involvement in politics) while I am, believe it or not, pretty private in real life and am uncomfortable with that sort of thing. I just understand that a) it's him, not me and b) there is nothing morally or intrinsically wrong with being quoted in a paper or being interviewed, etc.

I'm with those who say it matters more WHAT he says in the interview rather than him being interviewed to start with. And do remember that by the time the reporter and then the editor get done with it, he might not even recognize the interview...heh.

As for you, it is not your place to shame your boyfriend for agreeing to this interview. And that, I am afraid, is what you seem to have done. Perhaps you should apologize for that and then let him be him.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 1:46 PM on July 27, 2010

I feel the same way as you, it makes me feel uncomfortable. I think it varies by culture and person.
posted by meepmeow at 2:29 PM on July 27, 2010

Unless he sent out a press release, I see nothing wrong at all.

The newspaper asked for an interview, he's obliging them. One would imagine that the paper's audience is curious. Nothing wrong with that.

It's not like he's Batman.

posted by Sara C. at 2:32 PM on July 27, 2010

Stop judging. The man risked his own safety and saved a woman's life, that should be enough. You should ask yourself why you need to find that flaw in that.
posted by victors at 2:32 PM on July 27, 2010 [2 favorites]

I just want to echo bluedaisy and others above -- if I were you, I'd contact the mods and have them remove details from this post ASAP. I'd hate to see this post work its way into the media coverage of this story. That would undoubtedly make you way more uncomfortable than you already are.
posted by jennyjenny at 2:36 PM on July 27, 2010

+1 ask mods to remove details
+1 be proud of your boyfriend and apologize for chastizing him. He did a brave thing, and his sister was proud of him. He was probably just "wow, they really want to talk to me?" or something, not "omg I am the awesome!" I'm just speculating, but that's how I read it, and I don't think that warrants chastisement. I'd say you should apologize and be thankful that you're with a guy who's nifty enough to put himself in at least some danger to help a random stranger. I don't know anything about your relationship, but if "slightly less completely humble than I'd ideally want after doing something kinda awesome" is the biggest problem here, trust me, you're doing okay. Now if he gets an ego about it, THEN you're entitled to "hey, chill out," but until then, relax?
posted by Alterscape at 2:51 PM on July 27, 2010

Are you worried that this is going to change your relationship? That women are going to start throwing themselves at your boyfriend once they realize that he was the guy in the interview? Would you feel better if the paper had included a statement from you about how proud you are of him?

You haven't been dating that long, so I'm just wondering if your response was more about insecurity than charity.
posted by lucysparrow at 3:00 PM on July 27, 2010

Mod note: edited the question slightly to make it less identifiable, could people who have already linked this to real-world events please leave that out of this thread? thank you.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:21 PM on July 27, 2010

I can see where you're coming from. But think of it from a big picture perspective. It's important to have good news in the newspaper. Not fluffy bunny "OMG kittenz!" stories, but "Man saves woman's life" is definitely newsworthy. Aside from balancing out all the evil in the world, it's important that we see that people do good things.

It's important to hold those people up for acclaim. Too many people are held up for acclaim for doing bad things, or for doing nothing at all, or specifically because they are messed up and sad. Lindsey Lohan, the Kardashians, the Barefoot Bandit, Michael Vick - what did these people do to deserve so many inches, feet, miles of column space?

It's easy to get discouraged sometimes. Then maybe you see an article about a regular person who did an awesome thing, and you feel a little bit better about life. You realize that heroic things are possible, even for regular people. Maybe the next time you're in a situation where someone needs to be saved, you will jump in and do the saving, because you know that it is possible.

And in the end, what is more newsworthy than someone's life having been saved in a heroic and dramatic fashion?
posted by ErikaB at 4:42 PM on July 27, 2010

I don't think he did a bad thing, in fact, more people who do things like this should be applauded out in the open.

In May of this year the 18 year old son of a friend of mine, fell off the local pier, he drowned, was revived but died several days later after being removed from life support. His young friend screamed for help but, all the people around him, ignored him. Had someone, anyone, gotten off their ass and helped, this young man might still be here, he could have walked across the stage at his high school graduation instead of his cap and gown sitting in a chair and his Mom getting his diploma.

Yay for your boyfriend and I hope you can understand that he did a good thing and it is other people that are applauding him.
posted by SuzySmith at 7:01 PM on July 27, 2010

I feel that when you do charitable acts or heroic acts, you should keep it to yourself.

I understand what you are saying, and even agree with you to a degree - don't advertise your accomplishments, your work will speak for itself. I would agree with you if your boyfriend had made a donation or performed some charitable work, but really, acts of valor in which a persons life was saved are in another category. Plus, your boyfriend did not seek out the press, a third party did.
posted by mlis at 10:04 PM on July 27, 2010

Is this the first time this kind of thing has happened to you? If not, my suggestion would be: when someone says something and your immediate response is negative, bite your tongue for a bit. If you do this repeatedly you are going to come across as having a lot of hostility, no matter what the subject is or whether you have a valid point.

posted by BibiRose at 4:14 AM on July 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

Despite being very late to this thread I would like to comment.

I am absolutely amazed by the volume and intensity of the comments that are chastising you. I guess that's because I must have a similar "value" system to yours; there's no way I'd speak to a newspaper about having saved a woman's life whether I'd called them myself or not. To do so would seem so, I don't know, cheap?

But what also strikes me is the fact that you reached out to try and understand the situation you'd found yourself in. You are self aware enough and value the relationship enough to want to understand what happened and fix it and learn from it. To me this makes the comments about you being "selfish" and the ones intimating that you're not worthy of this guy just plain dumb because it seems to me the very opposite is true.

That's not to say you shouldn't apologise; perhaps not for the way you feel but certainly for how these feelings were expressed and the timing. Events like these, as painful as they can be at the time, are perfect opportunities for exploring the differences between you and your partner, and thus deepening the relationship, in spite of those differences.
posted by chill at 2:48 AM on August 13, 2010

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