Is my boyfriend not treating me kindly?
May 26, 2015 11:19 AM   Subscribe

So I've been in a relationship for 7 months now. I am 22 (female) and he is 25. The other day I got a flat tire on my way to work right after I left his house (2 miles away from his house) and called him because I wasn't sure how to change my tire. I'd never had a flat and never learned how. He seemed very irritated and told me to try to figure it out and call me if I couldn't. Should I be angry that he didn't just come help me?

So I had just spent the night at his house and we both woke up pretty hung over. When I called him and told him my tire was flat he sighed and seemed irritated. He was back asleep and I guess not feeling good. I him I told him that I was trying to figure it out and look online but I really wasn't sure what I was doing. He said just try to figure it out myself and if I couldn't to call him back. That sort of made me mad because he didn't really seem to care that I was in that situation and didn't want to help at all. But I wasn't sure if I should be mad at all because it wasn't his problem. I said okay and tried doing it myself until a man walking by asked me if I needed help and I told him I really didn't know what I was doing. He basically changed the tire for me. It was very nice of him.

I told my mom what happened that night and she was furious that my boyfriend didn't come help me out. I thought about it more and was kind of upset too. I texted him and told him I was kind of upset with him because he just didn't come help me. He basically just said that he thought I could change my own tire and that he probably should have helped me and he apologizes, but that sometimes you can't count on anyone but yourself and he wants me to be safe and able to help myself when he fails to be there for me. And that he is going to have to teach me basic car stuff. I replied saying that I wouldn't have called if I was confident I could do it myself, and that he was just trying to excuse himself because he didn't feel like getting up and helping me and that if he really did care and want me to be safe and know how to change a tire he would have been there and helped me out. He said he did care and was just trying to have confidence that I could figure it out on my own. I said he just sounded irritated on the phone. He apologized and I figured I didn't think I was mad anymore mad anymore. I know it woild be annoying to get a call with someone wanting help from you when you are sleeping and not feeling good. I just don't want to tolerate behavior that really shouldn't be tolerated from a partner, someone who is supposed to be there for you and help you out when you need it.

I really don't think I am a needy or dependent girlfriend at all, we only hang out once or twice a week and just text every once in a while. I haven't asked him for any other favors before. Thinking back I just feel like his behavior wasn't very caring or gentleman like. What do you think?
posted by anon1129 to Human Relations (102 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
Did you ask him for a favor? The way you phrase it, it doesn't sound like you ever said "can you please come help me?" But rather you were just sort of like "I'm don't know what I'm doing" and passive-aggressively hoping he would volunteer to come help? The actual phrasing here matters a lot, in my opinion.

If you want something, ask for it. It is not his job to be a mind reader, and it is not nice of you to demand he guess at your needs and wants.

(Also, 100% off topic, but do you have roadside assistance? There is a good chance that between your car insurance, your credit card, etc. you have it already from someone. And the low-level AAA is pretty cheap. Totally worth it).
posted by brainmouse at 11:24 AM on May 26, 2015 [13 favorites]


He sounds like a selfish jerk. You were shown greater kindness and care from the stranger who actually helped you. Find someone like that to date.
posted by murrey at 11:25 AM on May 26, 2015 [70 favorites]


Best answer: "someone who is supposed to be there for you and help you out when you need it. "

This is really the whole thing. The specifics (flat tire, hangover, etc) don't really matter much. You literally called him asking for help and he refused for no reason other than that he couldn't be bothered.

Relationship Termination Event, for me.
posted by dirtdirt at 11:25 AM on May 26, 2015 [101 favorites]


he wants me to be safe and able to help myself when he fails to be there for me.

This is a good goal, and the way to achieve that goal is to help you change a tire.

What do you think?

I think he's showing you something valuable about his personality. People in relationships should help each other out, and it sounds like his version of helping other people is by ignoring them and forcing them to face their situations alone. That's not an inherently bad thing (some people really do learn well by facing problems alone!), but it doesn't sound like it meshes with your personality. That's also not a bad thing, and I would say most people work the same way you do.
posted by saeculorum at 11:25 AM on May 26, 2015 [9 favorites]


After watching your tire be changed and having had time to look up directions online after the fact, do you currently think you'd be comfortable changing a tire next time the occasion arises? Your boyfriend was absolutely a jerk, but if you still can't change a tire I can imagine that part of his hesitation might have had something to an air of cultivated helplessness that he was picking up on.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 11:28 AM on May 26, 2015 [3 favorites]


AskMeFi is a funny place sometimes. This question is very close to being asked and answered before. I think his conduct is a bad sign.
posted by craven_morhead at 11:29 AM on May 26, 2015 [10 favorites]


Response by poster: I just wanted to clarify that I really didn't directly ask for help, I guess I was sort of passive aggressive about it, I just wasn't sure if I could do it on my own because I wasn't sure how hard it would be. I should have just directly asked for help if I wanted it I guess.
posted by anon1129 at 11:29 AM on May 26, 2015


Best answer: 1) Get AAA. It's worth every penny.
2) DTMF. You date someone because they make your life better. He is failing in this regard.
3) Memorize this: I DESERVE BETTER. Act from this assumption and you'll get a better boyfriend or at least stay single and stress-free.

My new favorite term: Relationship Termination Event.
Great name for a band, too.
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 11:30 AM on May 26, 2015 [54 favorites]


Best answer: The time to make sure you can change a tire yourself, can be safe and take care of yourself is NOT in the middle of a crisis. It's in a no pressure environment on a Saturday afternoon in the driveway with him helping you to learn to do it yourself. He was a huge ass for not getting out of bed and driving 2 lousy miles to help you. (That said, get AAA!)
posted by cecic at 11:31 AM on May 26, 2015 [26 favorites]


Best answer: I think when a total stranger is showing you more concern, compassion, and generosity than your boyfriend of 7 months, it's time to move on.

You didn't have to directly ask the stranger for help, did you? He just offered, because you seemed like you were in a vulnerable, stressful position, and that's what decent human beings do.
posted by the turtle's teeth at 11:32 AM on May 26, 2015 [40 favorites]


Response by poster: And yes, I do think I could change a tire by myself next time now that I saw how to do it.
posted by anon1129 at 11:32 AM on May 26, 2015 [8 favorites]


Best answer: From reading your paraphrase of the situation, it sounds like your boyfriend was being lazy and selfish (putting his own desire not to get up and leave the house ahead of your need to get your tire situation taken care of urgently). When called on it, rather than apologize, it sounds like he doubled down and made up a story to make his actions sound more justified, hence the tale about how he was really just teaching you a valuable life lesson about how much ingenuity you really had without realizing it. So, in answer to your question, no, your boyfriend did not treat you kindly here.
posted by The Gooch at 11:32 AM on May 26, 2015 [18 favorites]


You were two miles away, and he didn't have anything better to do than sleep off a hangover?

Helping to change a tire (which would almost certainly have given you the confidence to do it yourself in the future; changing a tire is nbd but can seem that way if you haven't had to do it before) is such an easy, low-overhead way to be somebody's hero in a small way that yes, I do think it's colossally lame of him to have declined the opportunity. To me this speaks to either great selfishness or a lack of investment in the relationship.
posted by prize bull octorok at 11:33 AM on May 26, 2015 [11 favorites]


cecic has it. The proper response would have been coming to help you learn how to do it, not making you do it yourdamnself on the side of the road. He'll do this sort of thing again and again if you let him.
posted by Etrigan at 11:34 AM on May 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


Response by poster: And yes, I was working on getting the lug nuts off and didn't even see anyone around me when the stranger just asked if I needed help. I was just trying to do it myself but appreciated the help.
posted by anon1129 at 11:34 AM on May 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


Best answer: If someone called me and said "I have a flat and I don't know what to do", I would not have to be a certified genius to understand that they meant "please help me". I think "passive aggression" is a total canard in this case - it's not as though you were saying "I don't know what to dooooo and I think that if people really cared about me they would be helping me" or something.

If someone were two miles from my house and I knew how to change a flat, I would not necessarily be a giant mountain of graciousness about it but I would go and help them because that's what you do. It has nothing to do with your imagined "passive aggression" or with your current ability to change a flat.

If your boyfriend had said "oh, I was so hungover, I should have helped you, I was a dick", I would feel differently - but he's trying to pass off his behavior as somehow your fault.

Also this whole "I'm not demanding, we hang out and I occasionally text him" thing makes me think that he wants...how does one say it? The girlfriend experience more than an actual girlfriend, and you should let him go find that.
posted by Frowner at 11:36 AM on May 26, 2015 [113 favorites]


My husband and I have this mis-communication from time to time. Either I call for commiseration and he thinks I want help, or I call for help (but don't actually come out and ask for it), and he thinks I just want some encouragement. And sometimes our positions are reversed, too. Especially if we aren't feeling well (tired, hungry, hung-over) these miscommunications proliferate. However, his post-act justifications sound like bullshit. If he can't be an adult and just admit his real motivations, that would be a problem for me. That's not really a conversation to have over text, though.

(Also, in the future, if you have your car manual, it should explain in very clear detail how to do things like change a tire, check your oil, jump a battery, etc. If you no longer have your manual, it may be available online.)
posted by muddgirl at 11:36 AM on May 26, 2015 [10 favorites]


My ex-boyfriend did this to me. And all I have to say is that I should have taken it as a sign of worse things to come.
posted by elsietheeel at 11:38 AM on May 26, 2015 [19 favorites]


One other think to think of: is this part of a pattern of boyfriend treating you worse that he would a stranger? For example, if a stranger dropped a glass in my sink and broke the glass, I would not call the stranger stupid. If I saw a stranger having trouble with a flat, I would offer aid. One of my ground rules for relationships is that my partner cannot take me for granted to the point that I am treated worse than a stranger. How would this apply to the boyfriend?
posted by craven_morhead at 11:38 AM on May 26, 2015 [10 favorites]


Don't you DARE take responsibility for his selfishness.

Anybody with a halfway decent sense about them would have come to help you or called AAA for you (get AAA!!)

Dump him. He's not mature enough to have a girlfriend.
posted by jbenben at 11:39 AM on May 26, 2015 [15 favorites]


What an asshole. Seriously. You deserve better.
posted by ReluctantViking at 11:40 AM on May 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


Best answer: You don't have to explain. He didn't help you when you were in a precarious situation. He's not kind. You're not a child who needs to be educated while in a shitty situation. You asked for help, he wanted to stay in bed. This does not bode well for the future.

Strangers treated you with more kindness than somebody you're sleeping with.

No. Just...no. Dump him and find somebody who likes you.
posted by TryTheTilapia at 11:40 AM on May 26, 2015 [9 favorites]


Best answer: I think you need to learn how to change a boyfriend, not just a tyre.

It's pretty obvious that you wanted some help. So obvious, in fact, that a passer-by who didn't even know you managed to figure it out. Your boyfriend could have perhaps attempted to talk you through it over the phone, even if he was too lazy or whatever to go help his girlfriend. Instead of that, he literally left you stuck by the side of the road. Ick.

Learning how to change a tyre is indeed a very useful skill, if only because the next time it happens there might not be someone walking past. But there's a time and a place and the situation you were in was most definitely not it. If he can't figure out that it's not cool to just leave people you're in a relationship to struggle, then he needs lessons in how to be a halfway decent adult.

You can't rely on this guy to look out for you when the chips are down.
posted by Solomon at 11:43 AM on May 26, 2015 [18 favorites]


Best answer: "I'm stuck somewhere and my tire is flat and I don't know how to fix it" isn't a passive-aggressive way of trying to get him to offer, it's the socially sanctioned way to ask him to help.

"You might not be able to count on anyone but yourself" is, however, a coded way to say "don't count on me". It might not be DTMFA territory, but you should be keeping your eyes open for more of the same.
posted by jeather at 11:47 AM on May 26, 2015 [44 favorites]


Best answer: Also I agree this event is a harbinger of worse things to come.

He's just not nice. This was not a mistake or oversight, it's an indication of a lack of maturity or a character flaw. Maybe he'll grow up in another 10 or 15 years. However, he's not going to learn to be a better person if you accept this as OK.

That said, don't break up necessarily over the tire thing. That's not the point. Break up because there's a basic incompatibility between you. He needs a buddy or a FWB type to have sex with. You clearly want to be in a relationship that includes intimacy, kindness, generosity, and caring. See what I mean there? You're not compatible with each other. Time to move on.
posted by jbenben at 11:49 AM on May 26, 2015 [11 favorites]


Best answer: Oy vey! Dump him. I don't care how hung over he was, his response was completely selfish and immature. And his excuses after the fact make it even worse. What if you would've tried to change the tire yourself and didn't tighten the lug nuts enough or made some other minor error and driven off? You could've caused an accident or been hurt. His unconcern for your well-being in a vulnerable situation speaks volumes. It ain't gonna get any better if this is the way he acts after just seven months. DTMFA.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 11:52 AM on May 26, 2015 [8 favorites]


It sounds like both of you act badly towards one another, by the way you describe yourself being passive-aggressive toward him when you needed help and him brushing you off instead of helping. To me, that seems like a bad harbinger of things to come.
posted by xingcat at 11:55 AM on May 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


Best answer: but that sometimes you can't count on anyone but yourself and he wants me to be safe and able to help myself when he fails to be there for me.

Lol at this rationalization for indifferent selfishness (if it weren't manipulative and veering towards abusive). Wow. This is indeed a bad sign, a sign bad enough to dump him. No, he is not kind. You should be with a kind person.
posted by cotton dress sock at 11:55 AM on May 26, 2015 [18 favorites]


Best answer: I texted him and told him I was kind of upset with him because he just didn't come help me. He basically just said that he thought I could change my own tire and that he probably should have helped me and he apologizes, but that sometimes you can't count on anyone but yourself and he wants me to be safe and able to help myself when he fails to be there for me.

That's NOT an apology. That means "I'm sorry you're angry" not "I'm sorry I wasn't there for you when you needed me."

How is he going to behave the next time you "inconvenience" him by ending up in a situation that is beyond your control? A situation where your personal safety is at risk. I'm guessing he'll roll his eyes and tell you that you're on your own. This is not the behavior of a mature adult.
posted by futureisunwritten at 11:56 AM on May 26, 2015 [8 favorites]


I don't think you were in any huge danger--this wasn't a "precarious situation". If the stranger hadn't shown up, you could have called a towing service. I don't expect men to rescue me, even my husband. Next time you want a friend/lover to come help you, ask them directly. And get AAA.
I wouldn't waste another second on this clod, though. He's trying to justify lolling in bed with a headache rather than come help you. If you only hang out a couple of times a week--he's not a gentleman nor a boyfriend. He's just some guy.
posted by Ideefixe at 12:03 PM on May 26, 2015 [8 favorites]


but that sometimes you can't count on anyone but yourself and he wants me to be safe and able to help myself when he fails to be there for me

What is he, your father? Seriously, this is the sort of thing my dad says to me when he gets anxious about my future (both of his parents had passed away by the time he was 19). I barely accept it from him, and he's my dad; I would definitely not accept this from a partner.
posted by chainsofreedom at 12:09 PM on May 26, 2015 [6 favorites]


Best answer: "but that sometimes you can't count on anyone but yourself and he wants me to be safe and able to help myself when he fails to be there for me".

Um yeah. Okay. Sure. Whatever. This is such a crock of bullshit. Trying to rationalize his crappy behavior because it was for your own good.

This is sucky behavior, not gonna sugar-coat it. If anyone I knew (a friend, a family member, a lover, etc.) called me and told me they were stranded alone with a flat tire, I would go help them. Full stop. End of story.

A few months ago the same thing happened here. My son (he is 24) was home, here. His girlfriend called. She had a flat tire. It was night. It was winter. She was alone. She was about 2 miles away. She was scared and cold didn't know what to do. He seemed oblivious to the fact that maybe he should go help her. He knows how to change a tire. I taught him. I heard him suggest that she call a mechanic. Uh...nope. I told him to get his butt over there and help her. He ended up realizing he was being an asshole, and brought her a blanket and some hot coffee. They changed the tire together and now she knows how to change a flat tire. Maybe your boyfriend is like my son, and needs someone to tell him he's an asshole. Have him read this thread. That should do it.
posted by the webmistress at 12:10 PM on May 26, 2015 [43 favorites]


I don't want to jump on the 'dump him' bandwagon, so I'll just say that showing concern and offering to help in times of crisis are important qualities to look for in a significant other, and the consistent lack of those qualities is a huge red flag.

That said, we only know your side of the story. You yourself admit you may have been passive-aggressive in your communication with him. There's no doubt that he should have helped you out, but I wonder if you tend to be too dependent on him. You don't have to know how to change a tire, but you do need to be resourceful enough to figure out other options - call a friend, AAA, etc.

I'm not saying this guy didn't display asshole behavior, and think that you two need to redefine your "boyfriend" and "girlfriend" labels. It just doesn't seem to me that either of you are too mature in this regard and you both have some learning to do.
posted by Everydayville at 12:10 PM on May 26, 2015 [4 favorites]


Before you DTMFA, I'd give some thought: What's he like the rest of the time? Is he kind and caring and thoughtful toward you? 7 months isn't a really long relationship, but there are probably some examples of past behaviours that would help you decide if it's generally been going well.

I mean, yes, it's a jerk move to leave someone stranded by the side of the road with a flat tire.

But... people are not at their best when they're hungover and tired. You admitted that you weren't fully clear in asking for help (and some people are better than others at reading subtle statements that aren't phrased as actual requests). You didn't call him back to say that you couldn't figure it out (because the stranger happened along) so you don't know if the next call would have resulted in him leaping out of bed and dragging his hungover self to you.

He did say that he wants you to be safe, and be self-reliant (which can be read as "don't depend on ME" or can be read as "skills are good to have!") He is willing to teach you some car-related stuff. He did apologize.

My husband and I love each other very, very much. We have a great relationship. We also have different styles of communication. He is not the sort of person who readily asks for help - he sort of does this weird hinting thing that (90% of the time) doesn't seem like he actually needs the help. On numerous occasions I have missed his cue. It sucks for both of us when that happens.

Both of us have skills in certain areas that we sometimes forget the other doesn't - so when I ask for help with one of his skilled areas, he may not give me as much help as I actually need and then it's up to me to ask for more help. If I don't ask for more help, he has no idea that I actually need it. Etc. None of that is a red flag around here - we've just figured out how to communicate our needs better. Sometimes we do better than other times.

In the bigger picture of your relationship - this could be written off as "a crappy situation made worse by a hangover and poor communication" or it could be "big red flag". Without additional context, I wouldn't leap to "end it! end it now!" Just give a good look at the past. Sit down together and talk about what happened, what you both could have done differently, and how you'd like things to be different in the future.
posted by VioletU at 12:12 PM on May 26, 2015 [9 favorites]


The big question is, if you called up a close friend for help... what would a "friend" do?
posted by Nevin at 12:15 PM on May 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


One single incident like this when potentially he was feeling like shit is not enough for me to say he is a jerk and you need to dump him. Has he ever been callous toward you or selfish before? In this particular instance, maybe he was hung over and feeling like shit. Is that possible? I remember vividly being so hungover and feeling so awful that nothing else in the world mattered to me more than laying as still as possible in silence with my eyes closed.

For me, this single isolated incident is not enough to say he is a horrible person, but it is worth taking extra notice and seeing if he disregards your feelings and needs at other times. Your exchange afterward doesn't sound that awful to me, but I don't know your relationship. I would need more data, if I were you. But if this really bothers you, it's ok to decide it's a dealbreaker.
posted by AppleTurnover at 12:16 PM on May 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


Best answer: Oh, brother. This is not a kind move. But even worse is the rationalization. He was trying to help you become independent by forcing you to change the tire on your own? Under some circumstances it might be appropriate for a *parent* to impart "lessons" in this tough love way, but this is not how boyfriends and girlfriends ought to treat each other. It is paternalism masquerading as feminism. Really gross.

Please don't listen to those who are blaming you for being passive aggressive. You were perhaps being indirect, but anyone would understand that you were asking for help--no mind reading required here.

If you are still torn ask yourself how you would respond if your boyfriend got lost and called and asked you for directions because his phone died. Would you tell him to man up and figure it out himself?

You deserve to be treated with love and respect.
posted by girl flaneur at 12:17 PM on May 26, 2015 [15 favorites]


I could see myself doing something similar, but it's because I personally dig really independent people and am kinda allergic to helplessness. It drives me nuts. Given that he said to call back if you needed help, my guess is that he was annoyed and thought you were sandbagging a little bit, and that you'd call back if you did genuinely need help. Idk. It seems more like a stupid miscommunication due to hangover than anything terrible. At the same time, if you want to be with someone who would immediately jump out of bed and come help, maybe this isn't your guy.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 12:20 PM on May 26, 2015 [11 favorites]


The boyfriend's a jerk.

As for the flat tire: seconding the suggestions of joining AAA. You pay a membership fee (I forget offhand, but it's something like $40/yearly), and you get things like tire changing and other emergency calls for free. Car battery dead? Call AAA, they'll come out and give you a charge. Fan belt busted? No problem, they'll be right there. Stranded at the side of the road and need a tow? Call, and the tow truck's on the way. Want free maps or travel-agent assistance or 5-10% discounts at lots of hotels and repair shops? They've got you covered, no matter where in the country you are.

The thing is, the theory of tire changing is simple --- jack up the car, remove the lug nuts, swap tires, replace lug nuts and remove jack --- but the reality is, it can be a bitch to actually do. Either you're in an inconvenient place like the side of a busy road, or the lug nuts were tightened by one of those hydraulic thingies that make it physically impossible to loosen them by hand.

Join AAA, dump the jerk, you'll be glad you did.
posted by easily confused at 12:22 PM on May 26, 2015 [4 favorites]


Being a nice person is _learned_ behavior. He didn't know how. He should get a chance to learn before you dump/judge him. Try to explain to him _why_ he should come help you, and also include examples of times when you might go out of your way to help him, as you would go out of your way to help any good friend in need (and even more for a boyfriend).

Seriously - it's possible that a) nobody has previously explained it to him, and b) what he has heard is vague stuff about women being more independent these days, changing tires, earning more money, etc. So, let him know, kindly, that you'd still expect him to care enough to occasionally inconvenience himself even if he was your petite lesbian lover, and that you'd do the same for him, and if he's not into that kind of partnership to let you know.
posted by amtho at 12:22 PM on May 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


If you have a flat tire and you don't know how to fix a flat tire, you might consider yourself to be in a precarious situation and reach out to your sex/love/whatever person to help you. And if you don't and instead choose this as the best time to teach yourself how to change a flat, you should still know in your heart that that sex/love/whatever person would have helped you if you'd called them instead, if this is what you want in your relationship.

If you want someone who comes when you ask them for help, this is not your guy.
posted by TryTheTilapia at 12:23 PM on May 26, 2015


You deserve better. I don't know anything about changing a tire....but if my husband called me and told me he had a flat and didn't know what to do, I would calm him down and offer to call roadside assistance for him. And if I actually DID know how to change a tire, I would get over there and help him.

I don't think there's a good excuse for his behaviour. That being said, if he sounded genuine when he apologized then I would give him another chance. But I would explain how his response hurt you and that you expected more concern from him in that situation.
posted by barnoley at 12:25 PM on May 26, 2015


Best answer: You keep asking questions about this guy. Something about the way you're describing the relationship doesn't match with the objective behaviors your boyfriend is showing, and you seem to be dealing with a lot of anxiety about this relationship, or relationships in general, or maybe just everything in general. Are you getting some sort of help for that?
posted by jaguar at 12:25 PM on May 26, 2015 [7 favorites]


Jeez, I know how to change a tire and if I got a flat two miles from where my boyfriend (or any friend, really) was, I would STILL ask him to come help me because changing a tire sucks and is no fun and is easier with two people. And if someone called me and asked me to go two miles to help them change a tire (or bring them a gallon of gas, or whatever dumb thing), I would do that too. And I am NOT that nice of a person!
posted by mskyle at 12:26 PM on May 26, 2015 [4 favorites]


It's entirely possible for him to not go help you (for whatever reason) and still be kind about it. Like, you're not entitled to his help with your tire change, but common human decency would at least be for him to say crap, that sucks, are you okay?
posted by Lyn Never at 12:30 PM on May 26, 2015 [3 favorites]


Best answer: The thing that is problematic here in my view is his doubling down and treating you like his child ("I want to teach you independence!") rather than his equal. That aspect of this situation is the biggest red flag, in my opinion.

My advice is to pay attention to how he treats you in other similar situations. And don't expect him to jump to your aid for stuff. If you'd rather have a boyfriend that will come over and help when you have car trouble and he's sleeping off a hangover (I know I sure would, but I am not you) you may need to find someone else to date.

The fact that this is the first time you asked him for a favor - in seven months of dating - is telling. Why is that?

Finally, ignore people saying you were being passive aggressive. The fact that he didn't offer help and then doubled down is not your fault. I am sick over the idea that you just have to ask in the "right" way for the person that you are sharing an intimate relationship with to offer help. That said, it never hurts to be direct. But not being direct isn't always the same as passive aggression.
posted by sockermom at 12:31 PM on May 26, 2015 [45 favorites]


I don't know if this would be grounds for an insta-dump, but it definitely would be grounds for a good talking-to. But it also sounds like you did that, and he apologized.

Look, everyone has off days; maybe you could have been a bit more clear when you called to ask for help, and maybe he could have been a bit more on the ball with coming to help. The fact that he screwed up doesn't matter as much as what happened after, I think; and if you're comfortable that he meant it when he said he was sorry, then there you go.

I mean, if he does something like this again, I'd jump straight to chewing him out, but unless there's stuff you're not telling us, I don't see this as A Sign Of Base Level Jerkitude or anything.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:31 PM on May 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


He said he did care and was just trying to have confidence that I could figure it out on my own.
Hmmm. Clearly I'm bringing a very different set of assumption to this than most others, but that actually sounds like a pretty convincing reason to avoid immediately offering assistance. The "man to the rescue" default approach to any woman facing a mechanical problem is a vanishingly small slight in the scheme of things, but it's still ugly. (I'm assuming you're female here.) "You're not in any danger, now's as good a time as any to learn how to change a flat" seems like a perfectly reasonable and respectful response under the circumstances. Given a choice between that and "let me ride to your rescue, since you couldn't possibly figure it out for yourself," I'd go with the former any day.

A really nice guy would have shown up with road flares and donuts, given you a hug, and then stood aside and watched while you changed a tire. But, people who aren't really nice can also have valuable qualities that make them worth spending time with. Whether or not that applies to this guy is an independent question.

And, before you sign up for AAA, do spend a few minutes looking into their history of lobbying and political advocacy. It's worth making sure you agree with their politics before you give them money.
posted by eotvos at 12:38 PM on May 26, 2015 [6 favorites]


Nope. Relationship Termination Event...... confirmed. I say this as someone whose husband spent a solid 40+ minutes flailing around on ice trying to get one of my tires off when it blew less than 2 miles from our house and I couldn't even begin to solve the problem alone. Today it's a tire. Tomorrow it's something worse / more dangerous. It's not good to feel as if you can't rely on your partner for help.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 12:40 PM on May 26, 2015 [3 favorites]


Best answer: Are you asking if he loves you? If he is a good friend? Or if you are asking too much? My answers are: 1) No, clearly not. When people call to say they have trouble, as you did, people who love them GO HELP, hangover or not. 2) No. See above. This is also what good friends do, help. 3) No. I doubt he is in general a kind or gentlemanly person, but he certainly is not kind to you.

Honestly, if he wanted you to "figure it out" he would have showed up and showed you as he helped you. I think what bothers me MOST about this is that he doubled down on his decision not to help at all when you confronted him after he got over his dreadful hangover. I'm not even clear that he "apologized" for much of anything -- did he just say "I apologize" or did he actually recognize he used an irritated tone in addition to refusing to help you?

I am not normally into the DTMFA camp but I really think you can do better than this. And no, it is not demanding, passive aggressive, or too much to figure that if you get into trouble of some sort, your boyfriend is going to be trying to help you out -- by actually showing up to help out.
posted by bearwife at 12:40 PM on May 26, 2015 [5 favorites]


I was the person who asked this question referenced above. We got back together, but it took years of us not talking and him working on it alone. The issue was that he didn't actually give enough of a shit about me at the time to put me first. Now, if I need him, he is there in under ten minutes, no matter what. I would say as someone that this happened to: DTMFA. Don't talk to him for at least a year and a half. Proceed with caution when you do. Who knows?! Maybe it'll all work out for the good.
posted by SkylitDrawl at 12:42 PM on May 26, 2015 [9 favorites]


Best answer: Should I be angry that he didn't just come help me?

No, you should be relieved. He has showed you his true colors, and you should show his ass the door.
posted by gnutron at 12:43 PM on May 26, 2015 [13 favorites]


If you had called him back and he hadn't then come to help you I would agree with the dtmfa sentiment but I kind of love that he pushed back. It wasn't a stellar move but it didn't seem that you were in danger. Now if you called back, even just in frustration and he hadn't come then I would say forget him.

For what it's worth I had always vowed to learn roadside maintenance, couldn't find a course and then got a flat while leaving a bad long distance relationship. I had roadside assistance but couldn't get reception (it was 1998) and was aided by some nice passerby.
posted by biggreenplant at 12:44 PM on May 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


Start a new relationship. With AAA. That way if your boyfriend's a jerk, you can call AAA to help you with the tire for free.

Maybe don't DTMF, but that was really mean of him. Even if he doesn't know about tires he could at least offer to help you figure it out.
posted by tckma at 12:46 PM on May 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


Best answer: kind of love that he pushed back. It wasn't a stellar move but it didn't seem that you were in danger.

Oh come on, call me a white knight who has internalized patriarchal values, but if my wife phoned me up and asked for help fixing a flat I would drop everything and go help her out. If I didn't help her out (and there is no chance in hell that I would not help her out on the side of the road) it would irrevocably harm our relationship. Bad thing to do.

The OP has every right to be pissed. If she wants a partner who will help out when the going gets rough, that's what she wants, and that is the end of it. If she wants a partnership based on "self-sufficiency" and tough love, that's a different story.

Different strokes for different folks. You want what you want in a partner, and that's that.
posted by Nevin at 12:49 PM on May 26, 2015 [20 favorites]


(I have not read the comments above) Sister, get yourself a subscription to AAA. You need to be able to be independent When it comes to emergency tire/car repair. Your mom would have done better to spend time signing you up for AAA rather than getting mad about your boyfriend. But aside from that, he sounds pretty lame to not come and help. Not because he's "the guy" in the situation, but because he's supposed to care about you. I don't think I'd break up over it, but I'd be taking notes.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 12:51 PM on May 26, 2015 [5 favorites]


Best answer: I wasn't sure if I should be mad at all because it wasn't his problem

Your gut was trying to tell you something and you weren't sure whether to listen. Listen. If you were mad that's fine. He was a selfish, lazy asshole who was then condescending and sanctimonious when called on it. I'm rarely in the DTMFA camp but anyone who hears "I'm stuck at the side of the road and I don't know what to do" and can't get his ass out of bed unless he also explicitly hears "can you please come and help me?" is a fuckwit. Leave him to enjoy his precious sleep all alone and find someone who hears "I'm stuck" and has his shoes on before you finish the sentence.
posted by billiebee at 12:53 PM on May 26, 2015 [6 favorites]


So...can we flip this for a second? If he'd called you saying he had a flat tire and didn't know how to change it, would you have gone? Can you imagine a situation in which you would not? Different people have different expectations of involvement in their S.O.s' lives, especially this early in a relationship. I'm not sure I'd go so far as to agree that your indirect request for help was passive-aggressive, but I will say that the surest way to get the outcome you want, especially with respect to other humans with brains and ears and histories different from your own, is to be direct about what you want.
posted by mchorn at 12:57 PM on May 26, 2015 [3 favorites]


That convo you had with him was perfect. You have this situation under control. All I will add is one more vote that this is not boyfriend material.
posted by bleep at 12:58 PM on May 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


Best answer: What if the nice stranger who helped you out hadn't been so nice, and was actually a creep? As a fellow woman, I recognize this as a vulnerable situation, and I'm not sure whether to blame innocent ignorance or willful disregard on your boyfriend's part when he failed to recognize that. Either way, it's not great, and this guy sounds patronizing as hell on top of it all. Dump him and find someone who prioritizes your safety and well-being, and doesn't treat you like a hassle.
posted by delight at 12:58 PM on May 26, 2015 [21 favorites]


I think you are coming up on a mismatch of gender roles.

When I first got my car, I didn't know how to change a tire, and it was a cultural expectation for me that men took care of car maintenance - changing tires, etc. The first - oh, ten times maybe? I didn't change it, strange men who saw me stopped and looking helpless did. In those years, I would have been furious if a boyfriend didn't come help me change the tire.

But then I changed my expectations and learned my own stuff. Now I expect anyone who has a car to know how to take care of basic stuff like that. Hell, if my husband called me and asked me to change a tire, I'd be irritated.
posted by corb at 12:59 PM on May 26, 2015 [3 favorites]


I've woken up hung over plenty of times, particularly in my early 20s.

I like to think that even then, failing to come help my girlfriend change a flat tire would never have crossed my mind as an option. Some things are Simply Not Done.

As murrey said, you were shown more kindness by a random stranger. We all have bad days and failings, but his conduct is disappointing to say the least. No, his behavior wasn't very caring or gentleman like.
posted by Gelatin at 1:01 PM on May 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


Best answer: Dude, all this gender stuff is also a bit misleading - it's not about "manly he men fix car problems for ladies so the ladies don't need to know their stuff", it's about helping another human being who is in a jam.

Back in the day, I had a car. I got a flat one day and had no idea what to do at all - I, a gender non-conforming queer person frequently read as butch! I, the deal-with-er of problems for flinchier people! And I called....a lady. A friend who lived a couple of miles away and who, yea verily, came right on over and helped me out. Neither of us being - relevantly! - a man. That's just what friends do - someone is in trouble and you can help them without going broke or traveling a million miles and you do so. It's not about all this passive-aggressive stuff, or about Expecting Things From Men, it's about who is and is not a stand-up human being.

Friends who chose the moment when I was stuck and upset by the side of the road to teach me a lesson about "self-sufficiency" (not even, for fuck's sake, based on any kind of personal history with them of insufficiency or anything) would not be my friends for very long because that is the very definition of dick move.
posted by Frowner at 1:07 PM on May 26, 2015 [69 favorites]


Best answer: With all due respect, corb, I consider a woman stranded by the side of the road in an inoperable vehicle a dangerous situation. I do. And that includes any and all time that she may or may not be outside the car changing the tire she knows how to change.

It doesn't even matter, either whether or not you know how to or not change the tire, you asked for something entirely within reason and in a socially acceptable way and you did not get it. And then got a horeshit justification.
posted by oflinkey at 1:07 PM on May 26, 2015 [24 favorites]


Also, it sounds like your boyfriend thinks you're helpless, but won't actually help you when it matters the most.
posted by delight at 1:07 PM on May 26, 2015 [5 favorites]


He's a cad for not helping, regardless of the situation. 2 miles is hardly a cross-country trek for a bit of help.

(And to continue a bit on the roadside derail: AAA is not a bad idea. Certain credit cards have roadside assistance as part of their perks, ditto for some insurance companies. Changing a tire can be dangerous as hell if you're stuck on the wrong side of a highway. Best bet in that case is to phone the highway patrol for assistance, stay in the car, and wait. Some municipalities have roadside help guys who roam the interstates as well.)
posted by jquinby at 1:08 PM on May 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


Best answer: I would add that, bad as his failure to help you out was, his behavior after the incident was even worse.

He basically just said that he thought I could change my own tire and that he probably should have helped me and he apologizes, but that sometimes you can't count on anyone but yourself

He just told you flat out that he doesn't feel he should be there for you in the future.

and he wants me to be safe and able to help myself

The way one does that is to fix the damn tire, and tell you what he's doing in the process, not just cast you on the mercies of random strangers or presume you would eventually figure it out for yourself.

when he fails to be there for me.

Key word there being "when". Again, he's telling you that he expects to fail to be there for you, with a weaksauce excuse of couching it in the language of empowerment ("I wanted to show you I was confident you'd figure it out on your own! ....Eventually.")

As a one-off, unusual event, his failure to help you is deplorable but possibly forgivable. But one of the maxims of AskMeFi wisdom is that when people tell you who they are, you should believe them.

He told you who he is, and that isn't someone who will be there for you. I'd look for the exit.
posted by Gelatin at 1:09 PM on May 26, 2015 [9 favorites]


(Also, echoing the advice to get AAA. Knowing how to fix a flat is good; having someone you can call in a bad situation is even better.)
posted by Gelatin at 1:10 PM on May 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


So, you said that you didn't know how to change a tire, and then he said 'figure it out' ?? By watching YouTube videos by the side of the road? Yeah, no. Not ok.

(I call my husband when random lights on the car go on---just for reassurance! And if there's an issue, he's willing to give me advice! Your boyfriend wasn't even willing to talk you through changing a tire on the phone? (Although, yeah, he should've offered to come help---and at that point you could've said, no, I'm trying to be independent or whatever.))
posted by leahwrenn at 1:13 PM on May 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


And honestly, I think sometimes that issue is not that you cannot do something for yourself, but that you are in a shitty situation when you have a flat, and you just want HELP from somebody who cares for you, like, oh you know, your partner. This is a totally just fine need to have, and if he doesn't understand that and isn't by your side when you express that you need him, then he is too immature to be in a relationship with you right now.
posted by SkylitDrawl at 1:20 PM on May 26, 2015 [3 favorites]


Best answer: I don't know what is worse that he left you stranded when you needed help or that he tried to convince you that it was a growth opportunity. Giving him the benefit of the doubt that he really did think that he was helping you grow, his methodology was SINK OR SWIM. That is not my preferred method towards people I love.
posted by CMcG at 1:40 PM on May 26, 2015 [4 favorites]


He sounds like a jerk, but honestly I'd be irritated if someone called me about a flat tire too. And then I'd feel slightly like a jerk and point them to their car manual in case they didn't realize it has directions. It's not rocket science. (I am a woman in my thirties, btw, and changed my first flat tire on my own when I was 17, before everyone and their 6yo had a cell phone.)

If changing a tire is a major deal, then you need to have roadside assistance of some sort. If you don't like AAA's politics, one alternative is Better World Club.
posted by ktkt at 1:44 PM on May 26, 2015 [8 favorites]


Best answer: I'm usually a grumpy asshole in the morning when i'm really hungover. I would do something like this, possibly.

Every reason he gave and every reason he continues to give is bullshit and ass-covering.

I'd be willing to give him the benefit of the doubt if he ADMITTED later that day it was bullshit and he just felt too terrible. That would be somewhat ok. But that he continues to double down on it?

No, this guys an asshole.

How mad would you be if he just said he felt too terrible instead of lying? I know i'd be a lot less mad in that situation.

I don't know what you should do there, but this is assholey enough that i would regret saying it and apologize and admit fault later. I'd say confront him and see what he says at you calling bullshit, but he really needs to admit it on his own for it to mean anything imo.
posted by emptythought at 1:52 PM on May 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


If he genuinely thought you could change a tire, then this seems innocuous. Maybe not the most considerate, but it does not necessarily mean he doesn't care for you and will be a bad partner.

It's like you called him because something was wrong with your computer, but he didn't have the answer off the top of his head and thought it was in your grasp, and said, OK, trying Googling, then call me back if you can't handle it.

If you guys know each other well enough that it would be obvious that changing a tire would be a big leap for you, then he should have come by to help.
posted by ignignokt at 1:53 PM on May 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


Best answer: You know, you get used to the particular emotional temperature a particular relationship has, and it becomes your normal. And there you are, in this one, where it seems you think you shouldn't appear to be needy and he absolutely agrees with you. Or he thinks it and you agree with him, or something. And he's practiced at rationalising his lack of consideration towards you in terms of your own good - relationship bootcamp! - and you have a habit of thinking that's a fair point.

But do you know what, you don't go into a relationship in order to have a tough time, or learn about how awful the Real World is, or build up your intestinal fortitude. You go because you really like someone's company, you delight in talking to them and getting to know them, you're fascinated by their body and by having sex with them, and you feel so kindly towards them you'd be more than happy to fix them a meal, rub their back, cheer them up if they're sad, go dancing with them, help them out if they need it, etc. But that last stuff, the stuff without the sex and the fascination, friends feel like that towards each other. A friend would have come out to help you in that situation. Lovers and friends are the people who make the Real World so much nicer for us and easier to bear in spite of the awfulness of it. They don't go around making it worserer in order to show us what for.

So what is the point of sleeping with someone who wouldn't even treat you as well as a friend would? Why punish yourself by signing up for relationship boot camp? I'm sure there are lots of people in the world who wouldn't get out of bed with a hangover to help you - those are the people you needn't bother having a relationship with. Nor even a friendship.
posted by glasseyes at 2:03 PM on May 26, 2015 [50 favorites]


Best answer: I would say him not helping you when he's hungover can be forgiven. You didn't outright ask, and it's a skill to learn when someone wants support (over the phone) and when they want you to come over. (Or, if you're like me, you just ask, "What can I do to help make things better?" because I have a hard time telling when people want sympathy vs actual solutions.) Some people say, "I'm trying to figure it out" as in "don't bother me, I'm just giving you a status update." Some people say, "I'm trying to figure it out" to mean "I'm having trouble figuring it out, please help me."

But then you specifically said you would've liked help. He should've apologized and promised to try to accommodate that next time. Not cover his ass. That is defensive behavior and an inability to compromise in your relationship. I would dump him for that.

As far as gender roles... maybe, maybe not. I think that's not really relevant. There are lots of things that I used to think of as "things men do" that I don't any longer (yard work, construction work, moving around heavy/awkward things, etc), but for someone who supposedly cares about you to not offer help at all... and then to say it's for you own good... that's not a someone who cares about you.
posted by ethidda at 2:19 PM on May 26, 2015


I'm not great at changing tires, but if my friend calls and says I have a flat tire and I'm not sure how to change it, I'd be on the road to them in as soon as I brushed my teeth. See how this behavior fits into the rest of his behavior.
posted by theora55 at 2:23 PM on May 26, 2015 [6 favorites]


Best answer: First of all, good for you for recognizing the possibility that this is a red flag. I was not as perceptive at your age. You have a good sense of self worth, I think, to be asking this question.

This gets said a lot in these sorts of threads, but I don't think it can be repeated enough: if this guy isn't willing to help you when you call and obviously need help with a flat tire, think about how he might act if a bigger crisis presented itself. You don't want to be finding that out later. He's given you a clue now.

One of the purposes of a relationship is to know the other person has your back and vice versa. He doesn't have yours. I'm sorry. You deserve better.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 2:33 PM on May 26, 2015 [7 favorites]


I sympathize with your unhappiness, but going out driving knowing that you have absolutely no plan in the event you have a flat tire other than calling somebody else while you're standing by the side of the road and asking them what to do is very, very dangerous. Please never do that again. Please don't drive your car again until you either have AAA or some other roadside assistance or you've put together a list of numbers of people who can actually help you -- gas stations, taxis, whatever. Being left by the side of the road for a few minutes to figure out whether you can change the tire on your own isn't great, but going out driving with the understanding that if anything happens, you'll have to call someone to get you because you literally don't know of anything else to do in that situation is a terrible idea.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 2:51 PM on May 26, 2015 [6 favorites]


I can't imagine my boyfriend not helping me in that situation. I've had boyfriends in the past who acted like yours. They were consistently selfish and accused me of being needy and dramatic. Not every guy is like that. To me now, this would be a Relationship Termination Event (yes, great term. Let's make it a meme).
posted by Beethoven's Sith at 2:58 PM on May 26, 2015 [4 favorites]


But then you specifically said you would've liked help. He should've apologized and promised to try to accommodate that next time. Not cover his ass. That is defensive behavior and an inability to compromise in your relationship. I would dump him for that.

Yea i mean, to expand on my previous post now that i've thought about it more, and to say what i meant more concisely...

The problem isn't that he didn't help you, it's that he refuses to admit he was wrong or full of shit. He'd rather keep digging than turn around and ask forgiveness.

It's hardheaded, insecure, and kind of a power play. It's basically just keep pushing his narrative until you give up and move on.

Do you have a history of not forgiving him for minor things, i was going to ask, but this sort of unwillingness to admit wrongdoing really is a pretty(depressingly) typical young man thing that i've had trouble overcoming myself.

I've almost been dumped over this, and i've almost ended relationships over this. Honestly it should have happened both directions.
posted by emptythought at 2:59 PM on May 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


Best answer: Hi, I'm you. I had experiences very much like this and decided to overlook them because he's such a nice guy in most other ways! And I'm a totally independent woman and I can take on anything! And I married him and had his kids. And I can tell you that there is pretty much nothing more painful than being treated more kindly by strangers than your husband when you are upset and stuck and overwhelmed. And that when you have two kids and two working parents and all the adults are stretched to the limit, there are an awful lot of things you don't want to have to take on by yourself, and even after you do way more than your share the extra added resentment from your partner that he has to be arsed to do anything he doesn't like to do more than offsets all those other "nice" things about him.

DTMFA.
posted by Sublimity at 3:01 PM on May 26, 2015 [20 favorites]


Best answer: He said he did care and was just trying to have confidence that I could figure it out on my own.

Anyone who makes a poor decision while hung-over probably shouldn't spin it into a tough-love object lesson in self-reliance and empowered adulthood.

That's not to say he's entirely incorrect. Just because he was a douche about it doesn't mean he doesn't have a point. So tell him he's right, thank him and move on. Something like...Yes dear, you're right. I do have all the good judgement and confidence I need to take care of myself. In that spirit I've decided we won't be seeing each other again. Best of luck to you and thanks for the reminder.
posted by space_cookie at 3:02 PM on May 26, 2015 [18 favorites]


Jeez. When I was a freelance English tutor, a relatively new CLIENT called me from a gas station and said he didn't understand the instructions for changing his car tire--and I drove out there and helped him! He didn't ask directly, either. (And no, I didn't get paid for it. You know, I just wanted to not be a jerk.)

I like space_cookie's script.
posted by wintersweet at 4:41 PM on May 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


Best answer: The question of whether you ought to have AAA (yes) and/or learn to change your own flats (sure, if you can; that would be cool, but it's not typical) is unrelated to the question of whether your boyfriend is selfish and unreliable (unquestionably yes) and also dishonest when called on it (yes.) DTMFA today. Man this one was easy!!!
posted by fingersandtoes at 5:00 PM on May 26, 2015 [5 favorites]


If someone I cared about called me and told me they were stuck with a flat tire, I wouldn't expect them to explicitly ask me to come help them. I would assume that the fact that they called me and told me they were stuck with a flat tire was them asking for help! Unless they were, say, meeting me and just giving me a heads-up because they were changing their tire, or course. But if they called all "Argh, flat tire, don't know what to do!" I wouldn't wait for them to ask for help. I'd offer it.
posted by sarcasticah at 5:14 PM on May 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


Best answer: I'd've been irritated that a grown person didn't know how to change their own tire and called me to do something about it. I'd be a little peeved if you called me and clearly expected me to drop everything and come help without actually asking me to come help.

I'm a jerk.

So if you want to keep dating a jerk, keep dating a jerk. But know that you've made the decision to date a jerk and calibrate accordingly.
posted by winna at 5:38 PM on May 26, 2015 [4 favorites]


My dad, who was a WWII vet and old school all the way, has been gone for a long time. While he and I did not have all that great a relationship, I have often thought of how he would respond if I were asking him for advice on a tough personal choice like the one you're facing. I base what is essentially a "hologram" of my dad on some situations I experienced in grade school that he handled.

Suffice it to say that he would be completely bullshit over a guy not helping his girlfriend when she called from the side of the road in a precarious situation. Hell, if I were a GUY and my MALE friend didn't come out to help me, my dad would have told me to find some new friends.

Take my dad's advice. Find yourself the kind of boyfriend you deserve. This guy needs to grow up... on his own time, not yours.
posted by Sheydem-tants at 6:02 PM on May 26, 2015 [5 favorites]


Best answer: There's a lot of back and forth in this thread about what constitutes "appropriate" behaviour in a relationship, friendship, etc.

Personally, I don't think your boyfriend's behaviour was appropriate. I've been there - dated the guy who was less kind to me than strangers are. It's awful, and not something I will ever put up with again. This is okay.

BUT what I have learnt, is that some people ARE okay with this behaviour. You've seen above that some commenters are AGREEING that a grown-ass adult SHOULD know how to change their tire, and that they would be similarly annoyed by your call. That is also okay.

Here's the brilliant thing about human beings - we are diverse. We range in characteristics and behaviours, like the most awesome rainbow you've ever contemplated.

And we get to choose.

I realised after my ex, that I NEED a partner who is AS caring as I was. Who would drop everything when I needed help, JUST LIKE I WOULD. Who was as generous with love as I was. I would absolutely not judge someone for not being able to change a tire - perhaps it's not one of those life skills that person has learnt, just like swimming, or eating strange foods, or a language. Therefore, I shouldn't be with someone who would judge this innocuous things. And people who judge these things are okay too, they're just not people I want to be with. And that's okay, too.

The brilliant thing, OP, is that you get to choose. It doesn't matter what % of people here tell you that this is okay, or not okay. It has to be okay by you, because you're the only person LIVING with this behaviour. You choose.

And the secret?

You get to choose whatever you want.

If this is not okay, GET OUT.
If this is not how you want to be treated in the long term, GET OUT.
If this is not how YOU would've treated HIM, GET OUT.

You wouldn't be a bad person for doing so - you'd be releasing your boyfriend to find someone more suited to him, and you would be free to find someone more suited to you.
posted by shazzam! at 6:13 PM on May 26, 2015 [24 favorites]


I've had friends, and even friends of friends, call me in the middle of the night because of a car problem; if you don't have the money or knowledge to call AAA or a tow truck, you call a friend, right? I've always pulled on some clothes and gone to help, because that is what a decent person does.

And that's for an acquaintance. It's honestly unthinkable to me to leave a girlfriend stranded on the side of the road -- that's just plain shitty. Even if I didn't know how to change a tire, I would still go immediately to keep her company and help her problem solve.

I'm usually in favor of people trying to work things out, but in this case I say ditch his immature ass and find yourself someone who treats you the way you want (and deserve!) to be treated.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:42 PM on May 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


I have not changed a flat tire myself, but if a friend were stuck so close by I would go just for moral support so that they wouldn't have to be there alone.

You've been dating only 7 months, and he would rather stay in bed than be helpful? (And no, your request was not passive aggressive--you need to be more assertive in asking for help.) This is definitely an RTE.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 7:33 PM on May 26, 2015


Best answer: Yeah, don't feel bad about not asking directly. The generally accepted follow up to "I have a problem" is "do you need help?" He knew damn well you needed help and intentionally didn't ask that question because he knew the answer already and didn't like it.

Even without leaving the house, he had other options:
- talk you through it. He could both tell you how AND keep you company and feeling ok.
- man the computer and look up a tow truck so you wouldn't have to do it on a tiny phone screen, call for you, keep you company until it arrives

Even on my worst hungover wish-I-was-dead-instead-of-this days, I've been able to get the resolve together to endure the pain and do the bare minimum in between bathroom trips. Rescuing someone I love from an unfamiliar and scary situation would easily qualify.
posted by ctmf at 7:49 PM on May 26, 2015 [3 favorites]


Some times people have moments of total deafness as to what another person is asking, especially when the request isn't made explict. I'm thinking of the time I called my dad one evening to say that I'd sprained my ankle and it was getting worse and I think I needed to go to get it xrayed. What I meant was: I need *you* to take me to the hospital (he lived a mile or so away from me, I'm single, lived alone, no friends close by). His reply was along the lines of "oh dear, that doesn't sound good, let me know how you go blah blah blah". When we got off the phone I was thinking WTF? and called him back to say, you don't understand, I NEED YOU TO TAKE ME TO THE HOSPITAL! Dad was all ohhhhhh of course! and we worked out a time to go the next morning before he started work.

But he's my dad and I know him so well that there was nothing ill meant by his moment of dopeyness. And I'm a grown woman with my own life, he has other responsibilities and I wasn't explicit and quite likely had someone else taking me and I was just giving you an update. But your boyfriend should be at the stage where things like early morning airport runs and yes, helping with flat tires should be absolutely no trouble at all. Especially when he's 2 miles away and was merely hung over! It really doesn't bode well. I especially think his reply about helping you be more self sufficient is really bloody patronising. Not his job! In my example, sure I had other options too but I wanted my Daddy. If he'd replied to say "you know, you could just call a taxi/ambulance/a neighbour I'd have been really insulted because d'oh, no kidding. If he'd been unavailable but supportive, I would've moved on to plan b as grownups do. Your boyfriend was available but chose not to be helpful or supportive and was a jerk about it. It's not unreasonable to ask him for help; doing so doesn't mean you'd be stuck hopeless and sobbing on the roadside if you didn't have him.
posted by kitten magic at 8:11 PM on May 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


My friend offered to drive ~8 miles to give me a jump one evening. He had just arrived home from a cross-country trip that afternoon. I ended up having Triple A come out because that was an option, but...this is the sort of person I'd rather keep company with, personally, not someone who acts like your boyfriend.
posted by needs more cowbell at 8:50 PM on May 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think you should probably dump the boyfriend not because I think he's a horrible person or that are either but mostly because it doesn't seem like your that compatible.

You want a guy that will drive out to help you and pick you up...you're boyfriend isn't that guy. He (presumably) wants a woman who he considers to be more self sufficient and independent and from your description in his opinion that women isn't you.

There's nothing wrong with wanting a more openly devoted boyfriend or a more self sufficient girlfriend, it's really just a matter of preference and compatibility.

That said, assuming you don't have AAA he should have at least come and picked you up, but a part of me suspects that he wouldn't have asked you to do it for him so he didn't think he should do it for you. Even still, if that's not something you like you can totally choose to find someone who behaves differently.

Lastly, I'm assuming he knows how to change a flat tire? I don't know how to and id never call my boyfriend for help in that situation because I know he doesn't either. So is it possible that just didn't think he could help?
posted by CosmicSeeker42 at 10:01 PM on May 26, 2015


Best answer: Total jerk behavior.
He definitely should have come and helped you. Even if you knew how to change a tire he should have come. The road could have bene busy and a bit dangerous to be monkeying around on. You were on your way to work and may not have been able to risk getting your work attired ruined. Your car may have big honkin tires and you may strain to move them yourself. Total dick move on his part. I personally would break up with him, but if you don't want to you can be very explicit that anything that comes 10% close to that level of disregard is the end.
posted by WeekendJen at 10:04 AM on May 27, 2015


Is he a cad? Yes.
posted by SemiSalt at 12:48 PM on May 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


Response by poster: Update. So, after reading and considering all of your responses I became even more upset with how my boyfriend treated me. I was basically fuming all day. We planned to hangout and I texted him a few hours before saying that we needed to have a talk. I went over to his house and he knew I was mad at him. He immediately apologized when he saw me saying he had been a lazy, selfish jerk. He looked a little upset. He said that he had talked to a lot of people about the situation that day and he realized he had been a huge jerk. He said that he hadn't helped me when I needed it most and he was very sorry. I told him what my point of view had been. He told me his, saying that when I called he was still drunk from the night before. He wasn't really thinking clearly and didn't make the best decision. He said if he wasn't drunk he probably would have gotten straight up and came to help me, but instead he had been selfish. He also told me he really thought I could do it on my own. Also apparently he claims that I forgot to mention to him that I was only two miles away from him. I'm not sure if I did. Aftee I got the flat I called late into work and actually took a 30 min nap before trying to figure out my tire and calling him, because I was just so tired and not thinking clearly either. So he thought I was already really near work and home. He also said that after I called he waited a few minutes and then was getting ready to come help me when i texted him that someone had stopped and was helping already. We didn't really talk too much about how he tried to justify his actions afterward... He just said that in his family his dad kind of had a tough love, fend for yourself approach to him and his brother. He also said that he didn't have a lot of experience in situations with a significant other. I know his longest girlfriend other than me was only a three month relationship. He said that in hindsight he really had been selfish and lazy and that he didn't want to be like that. He said he was glad that I pointed it out to him. He said everyone makes mistakes and that he hoped I could forgive him, even if not right away. He said he wants us to learn from this. He really did seem sorry and for a second I thought he was going to cry. I told him that it was okay, that everyone did make mistakes and that I could forgive him. But I also said that if something like this happens again, that I just don't really want to tolerate that in a partner. We hung out the rest of the night and he told me a million times how he loved me and that he was sorry. I believe him.

TL;DR: After talking out the situation with others, boyfriend realized how he had been a jerk. We talked and he apologized. I told him that if something like this happens again, I would not be as likely to tolerate it.

Also, I will be signing up for AAA asap. :)
posted by anon1129 at 11:29 PM on May 27, 2015 [7 favorites]


Best answer: We didn't really talk too much about how he tried to justify his actions afterward

That's too bad, because his post hoc justifications were the worst part. But...

I told him that it was okay, that everyone did make mistakes and that I could forgive him. But I also said that if something like this happens again, that I just don't really want to tolerate that in a partner.

Good for you for establishing clear expectations. It does sound like he's young and may not have had good examples set for him. If he truly sees his error and uses this opportunity to grow, then he'll be a better person for it. (And, incidentally, a better romantic partner.) I'm pleased that you seem to have worked things out.
posted by Gelatin at 6:36 AM on May 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


Thanks for the update, OP. I guess young people of every gender can have a learning curve to do with what makes for a worthwhile relationship.

I know at least three different young women who have come to a crisis point in their relationship due to help or no help with transport-related things - and every single time a whole bunch of outside people were saying, 'WTF? this isn't how it's supposed to happen.'
posted by glasseyes at 7:20 AM on May 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


Best answer: That's a good update and it sounds like you handled the conversation really well.

One thing I notice there is that he mentions how his dad had a sink-or-swim attitude toward he and his brother... this in conjunction with his reflexive response to you that you just need to deal... Listen, people really deeply absorb the lessons of their upbringing. That reflex came out of him because it's deeply embedded in how he views the world (and allll kinds of other things, including how he views others as being willing and able to help him.)

All of us reckon with our upbringing as adults. The things that you learned to do to cope with your circumstances have their advantages (in his case, say, independence) and their drawbacks (in his case, say, callousness). I'm not trying to pile on to him as a specifically egregious case or anything, since every human has challenges like this particular to themselves and their life stories--and certainly people can and do grow and change, as well he might. But to expect something this deeply rooted to change on the basis of one conversation or even a few is way too optimistic.

Keep your eyes open about this kind of thing. If something like this happens again, don't let him talk you out of it. Really. Ok?
posted by Sublimity at 5:06 PM on May 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yeah, seems like the follow up conversation went as well as it could have. Worth keeping an eye out for a pattern though.
posted by craven_morhead at 8:58 AM on May 29, 2015


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