boyfriend and logic
February 9, 2014 9:58 AM   Subscribe

I am dating a really wonderful guy who also thinks that he is always logical about everything. I'm looking for ways to talk with him about this.

I've been dating this guy for about 5 months (I'm a woman), and he's really great in a lot of ways. He makes me feel safe in a bone-deep sort of way. He is a good listener and one of the kindest people I've ever met. We spend a lot of our time together laughing like lunatics, because I feel good being completely open and honest and ridiculous with him.

There is one problem. He values being logical above all other qualities, and he, naturally, thinks that he is always logical. This would be frustrating but okay, except that he also tells me jokingly that I am illogical very frequently. It stops feeling like it's a joke after a while. I've talked to him about it a little and told him it hurts my feelings. He was immediately and sincereley apologetic and the jokes receded for a while. But then they started creeping back. I feel like he has a loop in his head that goes like this: "I am always logical, so any behavior I don't understand is illogical. I don't understand that behavior, therefore it is illogical." I think I do a lot of things that he doesn't understand.

I need some strategies for talking to him. I know I can't change him completely and I don't want to. But I need him to change his behavior with me about this issue, or I can't be with him anymore. And he's a really good guy, so I would like to try a little bit longer with him before giving up.

If you have had experiences with people who consider themselves super logical, do you have any reccommendations for getting them to let go of this frame of reference a little? And do you have any strategies for explaining to some one like that why it is so hurtful to be labelled "illogical" all of the time, when from their perspective it is just the logical conclusion from their experience? That might seem like a funny question to need help with, but I get so wound-up about it that I can't articulate myself very well.
posted by colfax to Human Relations (63 answers total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
I need him to change his behavior with me about this issue, or I can't be with him anymore.

Change the word "him" to "you" and say those exact words to him.

A more roundabout strategy: ask why he wants to be with someone who is so "illogical" all the time. I mean, that's not logical, is it?

This would be a dealbreaker for me too; you're not wrong to feel hurt and wound-up.
posted by desjardins at 10:06 AM on February 9, 2014 [25 favorites]

Can you share any examples of your "illogical behaviors"? I think I have a bit of your boyfriend's personality, but I could see this going in two VERY different directions (for example, "I think it's illogical that my SO keeps the salt and pepper inside the cabinet even though she uses them everyday" vs. "I think it's illogical that you're upset that your friend is sick, because being upset about that isn't going to affect her prognosis").
posted by telegraph at 10:06 AM on February 9, 2014 [14 favorites]

You might suggest that he read about Antonio Damasio's work.
posted by Ideefixe at 10:07 AM on February 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

There is an awesome comment by Nattie in another askme thread where she touches upon dealing with this personality trait in an SO:

Now, since I had a lot of self-respect, I blew up at him one day and told him pretty much everything I wrote here. I told him people have relationships in part so they have a source of comfort when things upset him, that his expectation that people always behave rationally was far more irrational than me being upset over something every now and then, and that he made me feel like shit when I already felt bad because he looked so disgusted whenever I cried, and how exactly was that rational behavior on his part? I told him if it was rational, that if he intended for me to feel bad, he could go fuck himself because I could get a boyfriend who would show me sympathy like a normal person.

posted by alphanerd at 10:13 AM on February 9, 2014 [70 favorites]

I get wound up about this kind of response, also. Emotions and intuition and other "not logical" ways of analyzing the world have a lot of value and it sucks to have someone be dismissive of that value. What helps me is talking about how I personally use emotions in a logical way. Like, an emotion isn't "logical" but I actually am capable of being very analytical about emotions, and gathering insight from my emotional/intuitive response to things that I then can feed back into my logical framework. Then my logic is informed by my experience, and can be more finely tuned in the future. There are a lot of aspects of life where logic alone isn't an adequate tool. For me, using a system that integrates logic with interpersonal skills, intuition, self-reflection, emotion, etc. is much more, well, logical.

I wouldn't want to do this all this time, but a conversation or two that breaks it down for him in analytical, dispassionate terms might help him understand your approach better.
posted by aka burlap at 10:14 AM on February 9, 2014 [3 favorites]

I've talked to him about it a little and told him it hurts my feelings. He was immediately and sincereley apologetic and the jokes receded for a while. But then they started creeping back.

But I need him to change his behavior with me about this issue, or I can't be with him anymore.

I don't have strategies for you, but change is hard. Especially with something that is fundamental to someone's identity as being "logical" is to this guy. So, it's not going to be a one and done thing, where you have one (or even several) conversation and his behavior is changed forever and always. If you get him to work on this, then he is going to slip up a lot. Whether you want to deal with that is up to you, of course.

And do you have any strategies for explaining to some one like that why it is so hurtful to be labelled "illogical" all of the time, when from their perspective it is just the logical conclusion from their experience? That might seem like a funny question to need help with, but I get so wound-up about it that I can't articulate myself very well.

It's dismissive. To the person be called illogical, it sounds like the other person is saying that your opinion and/or feelings on this doesn't matter, because you are just being emotional.
posted by nooneyouknow at 10:14 AM on February 9, 2014 [6 favorites]

Disapprove logic with logic - have him read books like The Switch which is about decision making and how the different sides of the brain work together.

Also catch him in a logic loop. Show him when his "reason" has paralyzed him into inaction for example. Show how emotions like to pretend they're logical and then catch him in one of these false-logic beliefs.

And don't put up with this teasing - instead of saying that you're hurt, show that you are hurt but enacting your emotion. Sad face, pain etc.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 10:15 AM on February 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

I always liked the Radiolab episode about choice for highlighting the fallacy of the purely logical mind. WARNING: Must be able to tolerate Radiolab.
posted by mykescipark at 10:16 AM on February 9, 2014 [4 favorites]

Tell him its illogical for him to believe insulting his girlfriend is acceptable, especially after he has already been asked to stop ;)
posted by missmagenta at 10:22 AM on February 9, 2014 [28 favorites]

Looks like another job for Ding Training.
posted by flabdablet at 10:27 AM on February 9, 2014 [7 favorites]

Adding to what missmagenta said, you may need to explain to him (though it seems SO obvious to everyone but him) that calling you illogical is insulting, not necessarily because it's an inherently insulting description, but because he himself values logic so much, and is describing you in a way that indicates that you lack something he finds to be exceedingly important.

You might also point out the ways that the cultural value of "logic" is heavily gendered and involves a certain kind of logic that's really one-dimensional and unrealistic, and that generally fails to account for all the factors in any real-world situation. Moreover, assuming that it's possible to act logically in any given situation means believing that you know all of the factors at play, which is hardly ever the case.

(also: ugh, I am sorry.)
posted by dizziest at 10:32 AM on February 9, 2014 [8 favorites]

Why make the bed if you're just going to mess it up again? Why be alive if you're just going to die?

"Logic" like you describe is probably just simplified abstraction. He's probably not incorporating enough factors (fundamental human drives, the importance of how actions are interpreted by others with incomplete information, the basic impossibility of knowing all inputs to a system) to arrive at a true "right answer".

That he _thinks_ he is using all the factors, or that he _behaves as though_ he is incorporating all the factors, exemplifies possibly the greatest fallacy to which man is prey.

It is this that we mean when we say "pride goeth before a fall", and it is this that makes us so angry at people who behave and speak as he does. Often people have to undergo tragedy or long periods of lonliness to get beyond this, so I hope he can listen.

You have to approach this issue sympathetically, though. Otherwise he won't listen (as you well know), and the reason for this is the reason for sympathy: He probably grew up being right most of the time, more often than his peers, and probably believes this is because of his use of logic -- and it may well be so. Now he's left that world, though, and can use his mind to learn about new things.
posted by amtho at 10:38 AM on February 9, 2014 [6 favorites]

If you memorize a half-dozen cognitive biases, you might have some good opportunities to fight fire with fire. His assertion that you're illogical itself smacks of confirmation bias, illusory superiority, and the illusion of asymmetric insight. Your boyfriend also needs to understand the fact that his judgment is likely tainted with a cultural bias associating women with irrationality, making him not only arrogant but sexist.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 10:46 AM on February 9, 2014 [37 favorites]

Counterpoint for you: I'm a 'logical' person, and in my current relationship, frequently my SO does things that don't make any sense to me, ranging from telegraph's examples of "salt and pepper put away" to "getting upset in situations where that doesn't help" and beyond.

I don't know that she's any more or less logical or rational than I am, but we have very different processes for arriving at a decision— I'm very efficiency- and results-oriented, she's more prone to organizing things by category.

It's not foolproof, but we can reach a compromise by explaining our reasoning behind a decision where we differ, and typically that conversation starts by someone saying "I don't understand this choice you're making at all, can you explain it?"

None of this excuses his behaviour of making you feel bad for thinking differently, fyi.
posted by a halcyon day at 10:58 AM on February 9, 2014 [8 favorites]

I advise you not to argue with your BF at all about this. But he should read Thinking Fast and Slow. Kahneman is an extraordinary scientist and a sympathetic teacher. He values logic just as highly as your BF does - enough to allow himself to be humbled by the evidence.
posted by nixt at 11:03 AM on February 9, 2014 [3 favorites]

What I'm getting from your question is that your boyfriend insults you on a regular basis and pretends like the insults are a joke. I wonder if the answer on here would be any different if he was insulting you for a physical characteristic. For instance, if you were overweight and he kept making little jokes about your weight, would you put up with it?

The big issue to me isn't that he's logical, but that he's insulting you. You probably aren't going to change his logical nature, but he needs to stop being so judgmental and insulting. Perhaps if you bring up this issue in terms of him being insulting and demeaning towards you, he might think about things differently.
posted by parakeetdog at 11:09 AM on February 9, 2014 [28 favorites]

You have said here that his behavior is a deal breaker if it continues. You also mentioned that you did talk about it with him a little, but did you tell him this is a deal breaker? Just tell him how much you love being with him but this one thing really bothers you seriously enough that if he continues doing it you can't be with him. If he really wants to be with you, then he will check himself. If he doesn't, then you have your answer.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 11:10 AM on February 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

telegraph, one side of it is like your salt and pepper example. Like, sometimes I read on his bed in the evenings and I get so comfy that I fall asleep before I've put my pajamas on, so then I have to wake up again to put them on. He doesn't understand why I don't just change into my pajamas at the very beginning of the evening. And with this and other similar examples, I usually have reasons why I do something the way I do, but it gets tiring to explain why all of the time to someone who holds himself up as the grand arbiter of all logic.

The other side of it is more complicated. Like, we were having a goofy conversation about something, and I asked him a question that he refused, jokingly, to answer. I think it was something about carrots. When he refused to answer, I said without really thinking about it, "Ok, then I'll just assume you disagree with me [about carrots] and don't want to talk about it." And he said, "That's illogical!" So I explained that I know a couple of people--including an ex--who do exactly that (refuse to talk about something but secretly disagree and then simmer over it for a while), so I tend to assume that's what declining to answer means. It also makes me nervous when people do it. And he told me, basically, that that makes sense, but it's still illogical. I have trouble understanding that way of parsing the world, frankly.
posted by colfax at 11:14 AM on February 9, 2014

Sounds like he really does not know much about logic, which is actually typical for this kind of person
posted by thelonius at 11:16 AM on February 9, 2014 [82 favorites]

About your second example, introduce him to another part of logic known as inductive inference. It's not deduction -- which might be what he has in mind by "logic" -- but not everything can be accomplished by deductive logic. There were philosophers in the 20th century who worked on the project of trying to make scientific reasoning come out as a form of deductive inference. To oversimplify a little maybe, that project failed. We need induction to make our way in the world. He probably uses it all the time himself.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:21 AM on February 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

I just read the post that alphanerd linked to, and I'd suggest it because there's more of value there than what was quoted directly. Nattie goes on to elaborate on the boyfriend's relationship to his over-emotional mother. Once he was aware of the root of his bias against emotion, he was able to change his perspective.

I also have a boyfriend whose past behaviour towards me has been hurtfully dismissive in the face of too many feelings. He grew up in a houseful of women only and for a long time was put off by any behaviour that reminded him of his environment as an adolescent. He felt oppressed in that environment and only after being away from home for a few years was he able to acknowledge respect for the women who raised him.

It doesn't sound, from your reply, that your boyfriend is reacting to emotions [vs. logic] specifically so it may not be a past trauma. But there is something that's causing him to repeatedly call you out, despite your presumably asking him not to. Have you asked him why he does that?
posted by onehundredand80 at 11:22 AM on February 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

Let me try "madlibbing" this, so to speak, and see if it clarifies anything for you:

There is one problem. He values being superior above all other qualities, and he, naturally, thinks that he is always superior. This would be frustrating but okay, except that he also tells me jokingly that I am inferior very frequently. It stops feeling like it's a joke after a while. I've talked to him about it a little and told him it hurts my feelings. He was immediately and sincereley apologetic and the jokes receded for a while. But then they started creeping back. I feel like he has a loop in his head that goes like this: "I am always superior, so any behavior I don't understand is a mark of inferiority. I don't understand that behavior, therefore it makes that person inferior." I think I do a lot of things that he thinks demonstrates I am inferior.

I was in a "serious" relationship with a guy like this. He thought he was better than everyone. (He even told me so once and was very skeptical when I told him point-blank "you're not.") If you have to tell a grown man the right way to treat someone, you're wasting your time with him. As you said, the "jokes" kept right back up.

I remember when we first started dating how we had so much fun together, he took me out on the town all the time, we seemed to share all the same viewpoints and hopes for the future. I felt so safe with him, he really seemed to listen to me, etc. - basically, and strikingly, all the exact same things that you are saying about your man. Then I moved in with him and it was like the mask came off. He was not the person I thought I was dating.

Is there anything else about him that unsettles you in any way? Any moments that kind of pinged your intuition? Does he make sexist remarks a lot? Are his friends misogynists? Does he think his mom or sisters are weak/stupid/need his protection in any way? This "kind" man, does he go out of his way for other people, and demonstrate the value of kindness in his life, or is it just for you? Is he frequently critical of people who are not you?

You can't change his behavior. As you've noticed, it might change for a little while but then he goes back to his old ways. In some way, that is because his "logicalness" is working for him. Perhaps it protects him from thinking he may be flawed in any way. Who knows. But if you have to lecture someone to try and get them to empathize with you, it's not going to work. It's just not in their nature. It's like trying to get blood from a stone.

I say these things, and I don't mean to be harsh, because my relationship with this guy was a total wreck; it ended only somewhat recently, but it still really hurts. He turned out to be abusive and controlling, but I stuck with him because I had nowhere else to go (unemployed, family was also abusive) and, in the beginning, I believed him when he said he was so sorry and yadda yadda yadda. Eventually, he would say really hurtful things to me and would try to "logic" himself out of having behaved like a jerk: "you shouldn't feel that way"/"you asked for the truth and so I'm giving it to you"/etc. Save yourself any future hurt, and I say "future" because, from what you wrote, his behavior is hurting you already.

There was one point where he wrote to me, verbatim, "You have proven yourself to be a logical person," in a discussion where I asked him why is he even with me, seeing as I was in kind of a low point in my life. In retrospect, do you want to know what I think he really meant? "You believe that you're wrong when I tell you that you are." We only have so much to go on from what you wrote, but this situation seems so familiar to me, and for all of what I wrote above, please be sure to put your well-being first and don't waste time making excuses for his bad behavior. All this energy you're putting into analyzing his behavior could be spent doing much more fun, productive, life-affirming things for yourself. And something tells me that if you stay with him, you're going to be putting more and more of your time and energy into trying to figure out what in the heck is going on in his head as time goes on.
posted by sevenofspades at 11:30 AM on February 9, 2014 [39 favorites]

There's something about this that rubs me up the wrong way, I understand why you feel frustrated.

First of all, the idea of 'logic' is very difficult to define when it comes to a lot of day to day stuff. Sure there are some instances when people directly contradict themselves, but most of the time the decisions that we make depend on a huge range of personal and societal factors, a lot of which are very difficult to account for.

It seems to me like he's really using the word 'logical' to mean 'right', i.e he's assuming that the personal, societal, cultural and moral factors that he uses to make decisions also form the basis that you should be using. If you replace the word 'logic' with the word 'right' in your example above, it already sounds (more) ridiculous:

"I am always right, so any behavior I don't understand is wrong. I don't understand that behavior, therefore it is wrong."

Also, by using the word 'logic' over any other he's making it difficult to argue with him, even though, in effect he's expressing his opinion. Though the word isn't really applicable, logic carries the weight of academic connotations, so it feels like if you disagree with him (or when you act 'illogically') you're stupid and wrong in a definite sense. Obviously this isn't true, and in fact he's just making an argument to authority (this nebulous logic).

I don't imagine he sees it in this way, and I doubt he's trying to be unkind or manipulative, but what he's doing is controlling. Whenever he calls you illogical he's simultaneously dismissing your opinions or actions, and bigging himself up by letting you know that his way of doing things is the only correct (logical) option. This would piss me off too.

In terms of how the conversation should go, I'd point out that every time he makes a claim about something being logical, he's referencing a huge amount of implicit data, that may be true for him, but isn't necessarily true for you. I'd also go on to tell him that criticising or dismissing your actions based on his personal ideas of how the world works is unacceptable, or even abusive.

Finally, from your description I'm sure he is a lovely guy, and my guess is that his ideas on this front come from a sort of unexamined male privilege, rather than maliciousness. So sorry if the tone of the rest of this message is critical: I'm only trying to criticise these actions, not the person.
posted by Ned G at 11:31 AM on February 9, 2014 [11 favorites]

And with this and other similar examples, I usually have reasons why I do something the way I do, but it gets tiring to explain why all of the time to someone who holds himself up as the grand arbiter of all logic.

I think there are two ways you could handle this, depending on how severe the situation is.

First tactic, if everything is otherwise great, and it's mostly just the term "illogical" that grates on you:

When he says "illogical", hear "silly". It can be slightly problematic to be called silly, but nobody is going to defend themselves from such a charge. Don't hear that as an indictment of your character (since he obviously knows fuck all about logic), hear it as just a word. Like he's calling you "quirky", or "unique", or "random", or "odd". I still think it's not great that he calls you "illogical", but you can just choose not to wrangle with it if the wrangling is what creates problems. No more reasons about why you do what you do. If he says "You're illogical for not putting on your pajamas", you say, "Yep. I'm illogical that way, I guess!" and move on.

Second tactic, if you think this has deeper implications (which, frankly, I sort of do):

Tell him that constantly questioning every aspect of your mundane behavior (pajama strategy, stance on carrots) implies that he doesn't respect you. It's not that it "bothers" you, it's that it implies something important about how he sees you as a person. You don't want to be with someone who feels the need to instruct you on proper pajama use.
posted by Sara C. at 11:46 AM on February 9, 2014 [13 favorites]

i got tired just reading what you wrote here.

it is exhausting to try to communicate like an adult with someone who thinks they are always right or are the more logical and sensible one, especially when they get into fights with you about little arbitrary things like when you want to put on your pajamas (man, who cares!). this is definitely a sign of disrespect, which is why it bothers you so much.

if you tell him it's a dealbreaker and he doesn't change the way he interacts about this stuff, then i think you should treat it like the dealbreaker it is, and leave him.

life is too short to be with someone who doesn't respect you over little things and isn't willing to admit they are wrong or that there is more than one way to do something properly, instead of just the Most Logical Way.
posted by zdravo at 11:54 AM on February 9, 2014 [16 favorites]

Have you asked him, in a neutral context, what he actually means by this? Will he actually admit that he gets a sense of superiority out of claiming that you're not being "logical?" Is he trying to control you into doing things his logical way? Really... try to get him to actually tell you what outcome he seeks by telling you this.

I would also remind him that logic is only one positive quality of being a good adult human. Maturity is also a big part, and if he's not mature enough to understand and respect that

1) other people have different ways of seeing the world, and that

2) there are many circumstances where logic simply doesn't really matter (leaving your pajamas on? who cares? Is there really any measurable outcome to this other than his being able to point out your lack of logic?)

Yes, he can then say that logic matters "to him", but back to point one... different people have different values. If he's not a MATURE enough adult to get that, then I would say you have a bigger problem: you don't have matching values if he thinks logic is everything / the only thing and you don't.
posted by nakedmolerats at 11:59 AM on February 9, 2014 [3 favorites]

Hi, semi-reformed "logician" here. The only way I got better was that I was willing to listen to the woman I was (and am) with when she told me I was wrong. I don't have a recipe for you to change him, only confirmation that people do change, incrementally. What helped me was recognizing three really basic things, most of which have been said above.

(1) If I valued my partner and wanted to stay in a relationship with her, I would drop the "logic" thing and just listen to her.

(2) Often what I called "logic" was actually just me making a decision based on emotions and rationalizing it after that fact. That I'd been able to do so for most of my life made it easy to continue to do so.

(3) That I didn't want to be with somebody who was exactly like me, and that what keeps our relationship interesting is when my partner does something unexpected (what I used to think of as illogical) - those quirks are what keep us interesting to each other.

Five months is probably a good time to evaluate how things are going. If you really think you have a future with this guy, I'd advise you to put in the hard work to help him change. My partner helping me overcome this thing made me love her even more, made me appreciate that she stuck through it with me, and I'm reminded of that fact every time I'm confused by her behavior, or we have a disagreement. In other words, overcoming a fairly big problem made our relationship stronger, and continues to do so. I guess that's called bonding.
posted by one_bean at 12:01 PM on February 9, 2014 [20 favorites]

Your boyfriend is just being a jerk and using "logic" as his cover.
The solution can be as easy as telling Spock to knock it off, or you're going to dump him. You're only five months in, there's no reason to over think it. You do not need "strategies" to talk to someone you are dating.
posted by BabeTheBlueOX at 12:49 PM on February 9, 2014 [9 favorites]

colfax: "He doesn't understand why I don't just change into my pajamas at the very beginning of the evening. And with this and other similar examples, I usually have reasons why I do something the way I do, but it gets tiring to explain why all of the time to someone who holds himself up as the grand arbiter of all logic."

"I just like to give you these little puzzles to solve, Sherlock." (My husband can sometimes get into a habit of grilling me about why I do things in ways he wouldn't do them. I used to bicker about it with him but now I just refuse to answer and tease him.)

So, there's a lot of male/female logical/emotional stereotyping in a lot of the relationship interactions that go that way. This is part of what makes it frustrating/upsetting and part of why it feels dismissive. I would have a talk with him and make sure he understands that his "logic" is frequently fully as emotionally driven as your decisions, the difference being that you're better at recognizing your emotions and understanding how they affect your decision making. (In my experience, the men who are the MOST fixated on how logical they are and most likely to tell romantic partners how illogical they are are the ones who are these TIGHTLY WOUND BALLS OF EMOTIONALITY who have spent so many years "not being emotional" that they are totally incapable of realizing that they are like a walking id and that most people in their lives who know them well see them as highly emotionally reactive, and they have no idea. They're an id in a superego costume.) So have this conversation about how when he says "illogical" it feels like he's being dismissive because you're a woman, because you have a different way of thinking, etc., and that you don't like the joke because even when he's joking it feels hurtful. Talk about how his "rational" way of being requires him to ignore some inputs (emotional responses of others, say) or how it makes him turn things that are frankly preferences (how to hang the towels) into "logical" processes, and that while you admire his ability to reason through a problem, he sometimes uses that same skill to belittle you or to try to ignore or explain away times when his behavior has been bad. (Conversation I had a million times with my husband: "I did XYZ because ABC, it was perfectly rational, there's no reason for you to be upset!" "But I AM upset! And now I'm getting more upset that you're trying to tell me that my emotions are wrong!" Don't worry, he got it eventually, we haven't had that conversation in like five years.)

Then, my best strategy has been simply to laugh it off. When he's trying to rationalize away some emotional situation, I'll say, "Okay there Mr. Spock!" or when he's rationalizing an emotional decision, I'll just give a snort of laughter and say, disbelievingly, "okay." ("Dude, if you want to buy a video game, just BUY A VIDEO GAME, you don't have to convince me that this is a rational time to buy a video game!")

Let me be clear that the laughing off and teasing is for when he's being a dork about it in everyday, low-stakes situations. He'll smile and say, "Well, okay, maybe I DO just reeeeeeeeeally want this game." In difficult or emotionally-charged situations (like say with an illness in the extended family), I listen to him reason things out for a while, and then I'll try to be the voice of his emotions, because it's hard for him to listen to them when he's upset and retreating into rational decision-making. So I'll try to give voice to his desires that he thinks are irrational (like, flying out just to be with his mom when his grandma was ill, which was rationally not necessary (and not at all convenient, work-wise), but turned out to be something that he really wanted to do, even though it was irrational), and to reassure him that while they might not be rational feelings they are legitimate and that it's okay to accommodate them. (Or to be completely logical, that's okay too!) People who feel obligated to be really rational can sometimes give their own emotional needs a very short shrift, so I feel like one of my jobs being in a relationship with Mr. Logic is to try to listen to the emotions he's NOT expressing and make sure he's getting the emotional care he needs.

That's a bit of a tangent, sorry. But being in a long-term relationship with a Mr. Logic type involves not just getting him off his high horse about being Mr. Logic (because that's some stupid shit that'll poison a relationship), but also, long term, helping take care of his emotional side because he's not going to be very good at it.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 12:53 PM on February 9, 2014 [26 favorites]

this is a problem i have - not the insulting or thinking i'm always right and logical - but there are some things where my ocd has convinced me that i have the absolute right and logical answer to something and when someone does something different i get frustrated - not necessarily at them for being "wrong" but because it ticks my anxiety about going against that sureness that i rely on. luckily, my husband is incredibly good natured and will just laugh at me when i tell him he's taking the wrong entrance to the grocery store or whatever. but there are times when i'm spiraling into the ocd too much or he's not in the mood to laugh it off. it's up to me in those times to dial it back and be more giving about what's right and what's important.

if my husband came to me and told me this was a problem i'd ask him to give me an unambiguous sign when i did it to help remind me to watch for it - for instance a word or phrase or hand motion - maybe even make it silly to help disengage any bad feelings. i wonder if your boyfriend would be up for that? you say he was better right after you told him so he might welcome reminders as he works to change his behaviors.
posted by nadawi at 12:55 PM on February 9, 2014 [3 favorites]

I am always logical, so any behavior I don't understand is illogical. I don't understand that behavior, therefore it is illogical

These are the least logical two sentences I've read in a long while. The problem lies in "so" and "therefore." Because even the most logical mind needs to take its limits into account. Nobody should assume that, only because he is used to thinking logically, he has no limits of understanding.

What I'm saying here is that this isn't a very difficult thing to think through, so I'm worried.

(Your carrot example made me worry even more. It's nice that he's kind and all that, but some intellectual pushups wouldn't go amiss, I feel)
posted by Namlit at 1:00 PM on February 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

Please listen to everything that sevenofspades wrote.

If this guy is honestly willing to work on this issue and admit that it's a problem, then great. But if he says he'll "work on it" just to humor you (which is patronizing), but he isn't truly listening to's not your job to help him learn how to respect his partner's feelings, opinions, and intelligence.
posted by cardinality at 1:05 PM on February 9, 2014

Yeah, I'm sorry, but can I take a wild guess here and suggest that your boyfriend doesn't have the slightest damn clue what logic is? I.e. that he's never taken anything beyond at most an undergrad philosophy survey in life? And that what he means by "logical" is in fact "in accordance with my own priorities"?

Because that's what that pajama example is. That is ALL that it is. Your priority is to not have to bother putting on your pajamas until you are already in your ready-to-sleep zone. His priority is to not have to wake up to put pajamas on.

If you had salt and pepper in the cabinet, it would be because your priority is to have a neat countertop and you're willing to take the extra step to get the pepper. Or, because you grew up with salt and pepper in the cabinet and that's what feels familiar and comfortable to you, and your priority is to feel comfortable. Whatever. But there is no "logic" that says the pepper needs to be on the counter, other than a very limited and flawed syllogism. And your boyfriend needs to STFU. God.
posted by fingersandtoes at 1:10 PM on February 9, 2014 [51 favorites]

And by the way, in case that sounds harsh -- here's an example of teasing that I'd say IS ok. There are times when my husband gently teases me about being a mysterious moon-woman, but it's in the context of, for instance, having lots of pairs of indistinguishable black shoes. And he owns it when I point out that he has many funny T-shirts. The "I'm befuddled by your femaleness" jokes are never a put-down, and it's never a suggestion that my decision making process is inferior to his own.
posted by fingersandtoes at 1:17 PM on February 9, 2014

I feel like he has a loop in his head that goes like this: "I am always logical, so any behavior I don't understand is illogical. I don't understand that behavior, therefore it is illogical."

When he's doing this, you can tell him he's being illogical, and that he is coming to false conclusions as a direct result. Before he can be logical, he has to be able to acknowledge that logical things exist outside of the set of things he understands. (And the words "Godel incompleteness theorum" should not need to even be mentioned, because this is people, not formal logic)
posted by anonymisc at 1:19 PM on February 9, 2014

I would say highlight your own logic.

For example, one of the things my wife and I both differ on is when to do the dishes and clean the kitchen. I have A System that, when cooking, means I wind up with a clean kitchen and clean dishes as soon as I finish eating whereas she regards THE COOKING as a very different step from THE CLEANING and to mix the two things at once is tantamount to heresy.

My logic, such as it is, is that cleaning isn't a pleasant task but if I'm in the kitchen anyway, I may as well do it and get it over with and have the evening free.

Her logic is that cleaning is unpleasant and should be put off as long as possible because spending any minute cleaning that doesn't absolutely NEED to be spent cleaning is a minute wasted not doing something more fun than cleaning, that being anything at all.

Who's right? Obviously, I'd say I am but my tongue would be firmly in my cheek. But it makes sense if you think about it from her point of view. There is no correct answer. And that's what he needs: a way to see things from your point of view.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 1:24 PM on February 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

"Honey, it seems like you put the word logical in front of everything you say to bolster it, whether or not we've really worked through it to determine what our best course is."
posted by Ironmouth at 1:30 PM on February 9, 2014 [4 favorites]

What I'd be concerned about is that even if you train him to bite his tongue and not point out when he thinks you're being "illogical," you'll still know he's thinking that. He's set up a foundation for you to feel insecure, disrespected and criticized even if he stops doing it out loud.

I say this because I've been in a similar relationship - with someone who always thought his judgement/opinion/taste was objectively better than others, including mine, when it differed.
posted by amaire at 1:34 PM on February 9, 2014 [9 favorites]

Partly I have been called the "logical" guy by SO multiple times and i feel the other side. Logical in my mind means a realistic outlook and words supported by evidence. Its always helpful to outline when his logical...ness (that's not a word) does not make sense to you and together you should figure out the problem; not his logical reasons.

Also even with Mr logical ,make him realize when he is not logical. Helped when SO pointed out mine.
posted by radsqd at 2:26 PM on February 9, 2014

Your example clarified a lot; I had been assuming he was reacting to situations in which you were highly emotional. (My advice does not change.) Towards the beginning of my relationship with my husband, I was somewhat like your partner, in that I would tell him "the right way to do something" when he did something that confounds me (like your pajama example).

Now, when I feel like I want to say something, I ask myself Craig Ferguson's three questions:
There are three things you must always ask yourself before you say anything, which are:

1. Does this need to be said?
2. Does this need to be said by me?
3. Does this need to be said by me now?
99% of the time, the answer is no, and I quash my UR DOIN IT RONG impulse. I grew up in a house where knowing the correct answer was highly valued; he grew up in a family where teamwork and effort mattered more than being right. It took a while for me to get that even if my way was faster or more efficient or whatever, it wasn't necessary that I say that, and saying it made him feel bad.

If you're disturbing his sleep when you get up to put your pajamas on, then he needs to say that. He can also say (only if he's sincere) "would you like help remembering to put your pajamas on before bed?" (And you can say no.) Just saying you're doing it wrong or that you're illogical is not acceptable. Is it possible he's being passive aggressive and not saying what's really on his mind?
posted by desjardins at 3:10 PM on February 9, 2014 [10 favorites]

One tactic that I haven't really seen mentioned explicitly yet that works very well in the face of this kind of behavior is to very pointedly laugh at it. It will very likely make him discomfited and angry and then you can point out how illogical and emotional he's being.

It's not especially nice, but it is very effective, and hopefully you'll only have to do it a couple of times before he gets the point that dismissing people outright based on their perceived mode of thought is shitty and unfair.
posted by zug at 3:11 PM on February 9, 2014 [4 favorites]

I usually have reasons why I do something the way I do, but it gets tiring to explain why all of the time to someone who holds himself up as the grand arbiter of all logic.

Ah, I missed this - stop explaining. Your only response should be an arched eyebrow and the words "does it matter?"
posted by desjardins at 3:17 PM on February 9, 2014 [9 favorites]

I'm with parakeetdog here. The problem is that he's insulting you.

I agree with the advice not to argue with him at all.

If you argue with him, the argument will go on FOREVER and it will be on his terms. Forever. He will have lots more opportunities to insult you and watch you struggle to convince him to treat you with basic respect.

DON'T argue with him. Here are some phrases from Patricia Evans about responding to Undermining:

- I certainly don't feel supported when I hear that kind of talk.
[this is rather embarrassing, there were more phrases and I can't remember them]
- cut it out!
- what?
- nonsense.

Seriously, you cannot productively argue about logic with someone who doesn't understand logic, in the role someone who doesn't understand logic. You'll have intelligent arguments, he'll have stupid ones - there's no way you can win this game.
posted by tel3path at 3:49 PM on February 9, 2014 [10 favorites]

I suggest you ask/challenge him at every opportunity to explain his logic and your illogic. Show him you are interested in this topic and see what you can learn about him, and he about you, from the conversations that ensue. You may find yourselves changing and adapting, or you may find yourselves to be incompatible. I can tell you personally I tend to value logic and it bothers me when people say things that I think are illogical because it makes me feel they aren't using their noggin (cognitively speaking). Maybe he's like me in that regard and maybe he feels you aren't thinking certain things through (but I wouldn't agree with him about the falling asleep example, so I don't think he's entirely like me in this regard - to me that's not a question of logic, it's a question of habit or lifestyle).
posted by Dansaman at 3:53 PM on February 9, 2014

In my experience, anyone who constantly claims that they are super anything and uses it to say that the other person is not as good as them in some way, is a super douche.
posted by at 4:40 PM on February 9, 2014 [6 favorites]

It's not the logic that's the problem, here. It's that he's deemed himself "the grand arbiter of all logic."

I think of myself as a pretty logical person, but I also understand that other people weight their decision making in a way that can be different *without being any less logical.*

My husband just closed the curtains because the sight of long winter nights get him down. He left them open a crack because he knows staring at the same 4 walls gets *me* down. That's how mutually-incompatible decision making ought to happen. If your partner's not accepting that your unique experiences inform your decisions, that seems like a pretty big relationship problem.
posted by tchemgrrl at 5:11 PM on February 9, 2014 [4 favorites]

I used to be like this, and what really bothered me about people who "weren't logical" was that they wouldn't tell me what their reasoning was to get to a conclusion. If you don't do that, there is no way he can understand what you mean and why you think a certain way, which is really disrespectful (TO HIM) if you think about it.

So, in your examples:

- Why DO you want to fall asleep in your clothes? Is it more comfy? Do you just forget that it happens each time? Do you not want to think about it? Are you engrossed in your book? Explaining that would make it "logical".

- Assuming that someone doesn't agree because they decline to talk about something IS illogical. It's an unwarranted assumption. So maybe when he declines to talk about something, say to him, "Well, since I need your answer about carrots in the next 6 hours, I will assume you don't want to do it unless I hear otherwise." Or, if it's not a decision but more of a discussion, say "I'm curious why you don't want to talk about carrots."

I think people are often perceived as illogical when they don't explain their reasoning. So, just tell him what's going on with you.

If the whole point of this is really to feel superior to you (and not to understand each other's reasoning), then he's a jerk and you should dump him.
posted by 3491again at 5:22 PM on February 9, 2014

Hi, I'm a logic person!

In my experience there are two types of logical people. One who says "but this is logical" to mean "but this is my way". They usually don't have extensive experience in formal logic or analyzing cognitive biases. (They are usually men.) They use it as an exercise in superiority or a passive bludgeon against their loved ones. It is Awful.

However, there is an other type. Those who operate better on logic and analysis, and have to stop and consider deeply to grok an emotional chain of thought. These are not red-flag people. (Though it can also be annoying!)

You can usually tell the difference because the former says "but that's not logical" with a sneer and the latter says "but that's not logical" with total confusion. They're actually asking for an explanation or trying to help.

Like with the pajamas, I could see myself asking that question. A behavior has been observed and response configured; why keep bothering yourself by having to get up again while you could just be comfortable immediately? So I'd be asking to genuinely understand if there was a reason I wasn't seeing (one that could be very important) like, "it reminds me to brush my teeth" or "actually my pajamas are getting pretty scratchy". (My wife likens it to explaining Earth Customs to a friendly but bewildered alien anthropologist.)

I'd also be offering that suggestion as a method to help: I don't want to see you have to clamber out of bed and disrupt that beautiful sleep-transition. I might keep asking if I didn't understand the answer or if the response was just a shrug, because sometimes we need a solution pointed out repeatedly before it's accepted or a new habit is formed.

HOWEVER. My wife is welcome to:

* Generously explain the strange Earth Custom
* Point out my annoying behavior with a joke. "Well, Spock, you see..."
* Tell me "it just is, and drop it."

And if the last I so do. Immediately! Forever! Because it's not worth it to bother her! Logically, her sense of security, comfort, and love is far more important than increasing the efficiency of a happenstance ritual.

We determined these rules in a difficult conversation and deal with them ongoing by just a friendly reminder from time to time. I get my occasional Sherlock rants, she organizes containers by color instead of content.

IF you think your boyfriend is in the latter camp, I think it's worth a similar conversation. He is genuinely trying to understand and help you - though the result may be obnoxious.

(If the former, he's just trying to insult your intelligence and you can do better.)
posted by blue_and_bronze at 5:53 PM on February 9, 2014 [27 favorites]

This can be so, so, so tiring. I dated a guy for two years who was like this. He was logical, I was illogical. He was supremely rational and I was all emotions. Of course, this wasn't true. I'm perfectly capable of being logical, and as noted above, he was often a walking ball of id wrapped in a disguise of superego. And I got so tired of explaining myself, because often my explanations weren't "logical", so therefore invalid.

"Why do you grow tomato plants? You don't eat tomatoes."
"My Dad always grew tomatoes, so the smell of the plants reminds me of him. And it's easy to give away homegrown tomatoes, and my friends appreciate them."
"Still, it's a waste of money and garden space."
"Why do you care? It makes me happy."
"Because you could be growing something else we eat in that spot."
"You're welcome to grow whatever you want in the rest of the garden."
"Yeah, but still. It's a waste of space, money, and time. It's not logical."

And on, and on, and on. About goddamn near everything.

So, I get it. I really do. There's been some great advice above, which I'd recommend following, especially:

- Don't defend yourself.
- Point out that he can't possibly know all of reality, and that despite his best efforts, he himself has emotions and is not always logical
- Point out that your need to feel loved and respected is AT LEAST as important as his need to be right/logical.
- Let him know that if this doesn't change - and change fundamentally - it's a dealbreaker for you. DO NOT get into a side discussion on whether or not this dealbreaker is rational or logical! It doesn't need to be rational or logical, he just needs to understand that he's looking at a breakup if he doesn't get it together.

The comments to this Captain Awkward article might be useful to you:

My sympathies to you.
posted by RogueTech at 7:40 PM on February 9, 2014 [11 favorites]

Reading your question is kind of painful for me because on one hand, your boyfriend sounds like a jerk, and on the other hand, your boyfriend sounds like me.

I mean, surely I'm projecting, and maybe he's just an un-fixable jerk, but I immediately identified with this feeling that you really love someone and enjoy them, and have a great time with them, and feel admiration and respect for them, and at the same time, you're kind of unconsciously but semi-constantly criticizing the person with your know it all ways. And when I say "your" know it all ways, I mean mine.

I mean, I know that I am very frequently saying things that are undermining or critical about stuff that seems small or big to me. But just on some core level, I am not an "accepting" person. Some people are, but I'm not.

There are good things about this trait! I have great critical thinking skills! I will not be scammed! I am smart! However, there are lots of shitty things about this, namely, my girlfriend feels criticized a lot.

One thing I can say is that I have absolutely made a lot of progress about this stuff. I am way, way, way more open to different ways of being in the world than I used to be. When people around me make choices that I wouldn't make, I am way less likely to care than I used to (what a relief!) and when I care, I am more able to put a sock in it and just say nothing.

However, I still have this part of me. It feels like such a deep temperament thing that even though I am a kind, generous person who is curious about other people and full of love for the people close to me, I know this will never go away all the way.

I think how we work this out, my current partner and I, is that I work hard to get better about this stuff (in the past have used meditation, also use things like exercise to calm myself, or just going and focusing on something else if I'm feeling like pontificating or judging).

For her part, she lets a certain amount of this just roll off. She's an accepting person (unlike me!) and has a wonderful capacity to just roll her eyes or ignore me if I'm being annoying.

And then sometimes we have to talk this stuff out and we argue about it or talk rationally about it and that's helpful. Couple's therapy may be useful to you two eventually - it has been for us.

It's important for our process and for my personal development that she does call me out when my criticizing ways feel bad to her, and it's also important that I take my own responsibility for it, and we both do our best, sometimes working better than others.

So in conclusion I would suggest, if you want to keep seeing this person, to come to him with a heart full of compassion for who he is at his core, and say clearly and unequivocally that this behavior is hurtful to a degree that you cannot tolerate it, and you need him to show you concrete steps he is taking to change this (going to therapy? Reading some relevant books? Something he can demonstrate he is actually doing). And then, if he does really put effort into this, and you do want to stay with him, then have compassion and patience for his limitations as a human being.
posted by latkes at 9:47 PM on February 9, 2014 [4 favorites]

This quote might help : "You seem to be displaying an irrational passion for dispassionate rationality"
posted by knapah at 4:01 AM on February 10, 2014 [2 favorites]

I didn't read all the other comments, so my apologies if this is redundant. I would absolutely not engage him on the topic of logic and whether you are illogical or not. I would not try to explain your feelings or delve into his ideas about what logic and rationality mean. Instead, I would just say something like:

"Hey boyfriend, remember how we had that talk about you calling me 'illogical' and how I don't like it? Well, I meant it, and it seemed like you understood at the time -- but lately it's been starting up again. I really like being with you, and I know you don't mean to aggravate me, but I should tell you that it's a deal-breaker. As in, I'm going to break up with you if you keep doing it. Knock it off already, OK?"
posted by feets at 5:17 AM on February 10, 2014 [3 favorites]

I agree with Ned G that your boyfriend may broadly mean that when you disagree, he's right and you're wrong. This attitude could make important disagreements impossible to resolve in a way that's satisfying to both of you. It matters so much to my husband and me that we made it part of our wedding vows a dozen years ago:

"I promise that when we have differences, I will take a critical view of my own side, and a generous view of yours. I will remember that, because of who I know you are, your motives and intentions are good, and your thoughts are rational, even if they are the opposite of my own. When what we want is in conflict, I promise I will seek a balance that honors your needs, my own, and ours as a family."

Will your boyfriend be able to do that? Not just to catch himself before he says out loud that you're illogical, but to believe in the difference between his perspective and the One True Perspective? If not, I think you're right to consider this a dealbreaker.
posted by daisyace at 6:03 AM on February 10, 2014 [7 favorites]

I need him to change his behavior with me about this issue, or I can't be with him anymore.
Change the word "him" to "you" and say those exact words to him.

I should tell you that it's a deal-breaker. As in, I'm going to break up with you if you keep doing it.

I think if your boyfriend has a shred of self-respect, he'll break up with you over this kind of ultimatum. Break up before resorting to threats.
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 6:05 AM on February 10, 2014

There are a lot of directions you can take this before full-on aggression against the man you love.

Why don't you start by trying to get to the bottom of why he keeps harping on about logic?

Maybe he's trying to put you down out of his insecurity? But are you sure?

Maybe he is drawn to your mystery? There are many men who pursue the excitement of what they'll call "crazy women" — what they really mean is someone whose intuition stretches beyond the map of reason as aka burlap notes in her comment.

Maybe he finds your emotional side daunting and wants to prevent it from defying his logic?

Maybe it's a bad habit, or something to do with his parents or upbringing.

If you want to drop the hammer, you can just ask "is this fun for you? — because it's not for me…"
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 6:25 AM on February 10, 2014 [2 favorites]

Thank you all very much for your thoughts. You've given me a lot to think about.
posted by colfax at 6:28 AM on February 10, 2014

The next time he goes all logical on you, ask him to list the context and facts that support his conclusion and to describe how he was able to exclude other facts.

Not to be snippy - just as an exercise in his understanding the world in his head is smaller and possibly at odds with the world we all actually live in.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 10:31 AM on February 10, 2014

I've tried imagining myself in your shoes and could not come up with a serious response to a SO who called me illogical. At best I heartily laughed and laughed, because it is a ridiculous thing to say, and at worst I fired back something crude about what he could do with his logic.

There is a particular behavior that has been a "death knell" in all my relationships. In my case, it's been when my SO rearranges my body to suit him when I am sleeping. I have some trouble with insomnia. All my exes, for some reason, would want me to be in a cuddlier position and would move my limbs and sometimes my whole body, like I was a doll, to force us closer. This would instantly wake me up, but I would pretend to still be asleep, mostly because I didn't want the hassle of making a fuss. In the moment I could not articulate why it bothered me - it seemed like a small thing - but it stuck with me over time as the moment when our relationship was marked to end. I realize now that it's because my ex was ruining my state of comfort and rest (which he would know was difficult for me to achieve) to make me fit what he wanted. It says something about his priorities and ability to empathize. It is not THE reason why I broke up with them, but it is one domino in a chain of fallen dominoes.

This is a domino. You probably won't break up with him over this, but it is a troubling thing, to say to a person you supposedly care for that their way of doing things is invalid. Next time you want to read in bed and you consider changing into your pajamas first, and will you do it because you want to be in pajamas, or because you don't want your boyfriend shaming you for not being in pajamas? And what other things will you avoid saying/doing because you don't want his judgement weighing on you?

It doesn't mean your boyfriend is a bad apple. It just means he doesn't yet have the life experience and emotional experience to be a genuine mature adult and understand that other people's way of doing things is no more logical/illogical, better/worse, superior/inferior to his own. He's a child, emotionally. His kneejerk response isn't to be open and see why you might do something differently, but to judge you based on his internal standards. This is totally the guy who will argue that you can't break up with him unless you have logical, valid reasons that he approves. And of course, none of your "feelings" will count as valid.

You just aren't going to be able to win an argument playing by his rules. Your chances of convincing him that your way of doing something fits his definition of logic are slim to none. Your best option is just to not waste the energy explaining yourself or getting drawn into debates when he wants to you to defend your actions. Just stick to your guns and let him know that you do not have to justify yourself.

Him: "That's not very logical of you."

You: "Can I borrow your copy of that universally approved ISO 9000 Logic Certification Manual, so I can make sure I'm in compliance with approved specifications? Oh, it doesn't exist, except in your fantasies? Gee, seems convenient."


You: "My invisible logic manual says your invisible logic manual is full of shit. Right there. Page 121, subsection B."


You: "You know, some people think that homosexuality is illogical. but try talking them out of it. Hey smartypants, maybe people have different ways of doing things."

You get the idea.

It's not your job to "open his mind" or try to make him a better person by gently ridding him of this logic preoccupation. He's only going to mature when he's forced to do so - which might not ever happen. Don't stick around in a semi-good relationship waiting for the matured version of him to show up so it can be a for reals good relationship.
posted by griselda at 11:08 AM on February 10, 2014 [7 favorites]

It's telling that rather than assuming "girlfriend is perfectly capable and intelligent, and therefore this outcome that seems strange to me must make sense in a way I'm not grasping," he'd rather conclude and state conclusively that "girlfriend is illogical."
posted by nicodine at 11:10 AM on February 10, 2014 [7 favorites]

Being different from him /= illogical.
posted by spindrifter at 12:09 PM on February 10, 2014

I can't read all the comments here, but I dated someone like this for 2 years. Also very charming, funny, loving, caring, etc. A "perfect boyfriend" in may ways. However, part of how he thought of our relationship was that he was the smarter one.

What finally broke the spell for me was when we were arguing about something very important that we had a fundamental disagreement on. He wanted to move in together, and then decide whether or not to marry after a few years; I was not willing to move in with someone I was not 100% planning to marry. At a certain point he told me--flat out--"You are not making any sense. There isn't a single person in the entire world who would think that your argument makes sense."

At that moment--when I realized that he thought he spoke for "the world" in his argument on an important issue--and that I was essentially crazy--I realized that I deserved better.

"You're illogical" outside of an academic class on logic is as insulting as "You're ugly," "You're stupid," or "You're fat."
posted by tk at 11:08 AM on February 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

Sorry to be so late to the party, but I once saved this comment by reenka because it seemed so insightful and rang so true to me, and you may also find it helpful.
posted by spelunkingplato at 6:55 PM on February 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

Here's an update: things are going much much better with him.

We had a bunch of conversations about it, and he was surprised and a little scared by how much he'd been hurting my feelings. He apologized right away and he told me straight up that he doesn't think I'm illogical and he does think I'm really smart. He just comes from a family where teasing and affection are all tied up together, so teasing is a sign of affection for him. I have noticed that: at the moment we are having a play-argument about whether or not I'm actually a lion, because my hair is lion-colored and because I like to take naps in the sun like a cat (I maintain that this does not make me a lion, but he disagrees). And I think he's definitely a bit of the Mr. Spock-type (in terms of understanding humans sometimes), so he thought it was clear that his jokes about logic were as obviously silly as his jokes about me being a lion.

As some of you mentioned, I do think some of his jokes were also sort of tied-up with ideas about male/female stereotypes, and so we've also been talking a lot about those, and about gender roles in general, and about the ways in which I, as a woman, still deal with sexism on a regular basis. We've also talked about how gender stereotypes and gender roles are harmful to men too, not just to women. Those have been good conversations, and they have made it clear to me that his actual opinions about all of that stuff are very reasonable. Which means that I'm not afraid that he's paying lip service to us being equals without actually believing it in the depths of his heart.

As a result of those conversations, he said he would work on not making jokes about me being illogical, and he also asked me to Ding him if/when he messed up. And I asked him to ask me if I was doing something he didn't understand, rather than making a joke about it being illogical (with the caveat that if I don't feel like explaining something, then he'd accept that too), and he agreed to that too.

Anyway, since then, he has completely stopped joking about me being illogical. Like, full stop. So I'm feeling a lot better our relationship. Thanks again for all of your advice; it helped me have the conversations I needed to have with him.
posted by colfax at 4:51 AM on April 5, 2014 [20 favorites]

« Older The ring-on-it pun goes here   |   Books to help me hone "soft skills" Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.