Would this be a dealbreaker for you?
August 4, 2022 11:51 AM   Subscribe

First major conflict with boyfriend, and he's displayed what I would say are pretty toxic conflict behaviours and pulled the rug from under my feet just as I was starting to feel really invested. Would appreciate your views on the situation and what you would do.

Woke up this morning to text from boyfriend of 6 months saying I'd upset him with a (goodnatured) little ribbing last night about him spelling something wrong. Said he felt patronised, and that he's 'good at spelling' so it especially annoyed him. I tried to call him and he didn't answer, sent a text saying sorry, acknowledging he had the right to feel that way and saying I wouldn't have ribbed him if his spelling was actually ever an issue. I said I loved and respected him, and wanted to chat through in person. Tried calling again, no answer.

He then sends me a long text saying he's finding the way I talk about money a lot 'unattractive', that he feels I've 'lost sense of reality' because I earn more than the general population does (I'm London based though - and it's hardly millions!) and I'm still worried about money (I'd been talking about budgeting the night before as we were going to move in together in September, and I'm generally finding money hard at the mo as have taken a 50% paycut for a job with better longterm prospects than my last), and that I must think he 'shouldn't bother getting out of bed each morning' because of his wage (I earn double the amount he does). He also called me a 'plastic liberal'.

I felt really attacked, and disliked, and I said that over text, and that he should think about whether or not he actually does want to move in with me or not, or even be together, as it doesn't feel like it. He has expressed being insecure about earning less than me a few times, and money DOES come up a lot in our relationship (just as much led by him as it's this weird elephant in the room - it's not come up for me in other relationships so it's not just me) and I have done SO much to reassure him I don't care he earns less, there's different ways of bringing value to a relationship etc. I have said in the future I would see our money as OUR money, not mine vs his, etc to make him feel better and like it's on the same team.

He also can be bitter about his place in life, lack of career (he works quite a menial job in his late 30s), blaming his parents or having a go at 'people with deskjobs' (I have a deskjob!). Again I've been nothing but supportive, telling him I'm proud of him and would support him to retrain in the future if we wants as that's what couples do - they're a team.

Anyway he called, apologised, and we talked for a bit and he agreed he shouldn't have texted that and should have instead thought about what he needed from me (ie talk less about money) and then to me calmly to discuss it. I said it felt like sometimes he was bitter and it was affecting his behaviour, and he said 'oh women, they always like to call men bitter. Fuck off' and put the phone down.

He then instantly called back and apologised. I was very upset. I was honest with him that I felt I needed to walk on eggshells around him in the sense of it's really obvious he is very insecure about his status, and that I didn't like that he criticised people, bringing them down to make himself better, and had now done it to me. I said he hardly ever actually builds me up, or says he's proud of me (and I've worked HARD to have a house on my own in London, I grew up on a council estate, parents have no money and I've put myself through one of the best unis in the country etc all without any financial or other kind of support (I come from a very dysfunctional family). He knows this yet he seems to put me in the same box as all of the 'middle class' entitled people he criticises alot). That I feel I need to play down and pander to him.

He said he was glad I had said that, that he hadn't realised, and that he can see my point. He said he had been a dick, and that he was really sorry. That he had been feeling awful this morning and shouldn't have taken it out on me. He admitted he thinks he's pushing me away because he doesnt think he deserves me, that his friends say things like 'how did you manage that?' when he tells them about me / my achievements, but that he hadn't realised he never tells me how lucky he feels (I sometimes have to ask him for reassurance or praise). I asked him if he wants to be with me, and he said yes, and that he loves me, and that he 'just wants me to be happy' (I think this was code for 'I worry I won't make you happy and maybe breaking up now will mean I won't disappoint you further').

I said I needed some time, and he said he understood. He hasn't been in touch in since we chatted a few hours ago, and I wish he had at least texted to say he was really sorry. I imagine he feels ashamed.

The thing is, I'm about to be 38 and want a child. I have been dating for years, and had several boyfriends who are just not right, or don't want kids on the same timeline, or have issues, etc etc. Some of these people had lots of money, but with this guy I chose him for what I thought were the same values and was fine with the idea that we would never be well off and I would just have to work harder (freelance work on top of full time job) to bring money in when needed, as I am lucky enough to be able to do that. We had been planning a future together, which I feel very invested in, and I feel so hurt that he's said all this. I don't like his immature approach to conflict, I don't like the swearing and name calling, and I don't like the fact he takes out insecurities on me.

He has acknowledged these are his issues though. So maybe there's hope?

Obviously there are loads of good things about this man that it would take ages to list. I felt like I'd found someone who got me in ways others find hard to, we generally have a lovely time together and he's always made me feel very safe, unlike lots of other guys. He is very emotionally available usually, always there for me and generally good at talking things through. There have been no major conflicts other than this. And we both want to the same things, to the same timeline. Which is RARE.

posted by flimflamflop to Human Relations (61 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I would dump him. I personally would not be able to recover from my partner criticizing me in this way. I would always worry that it would happen again. I would take heart in the fact that there are other men out there who want what I want on my timeline (having found at least one!) And go out and start dating again.
posted by randomquestion at 11:58 AM on August 4 [40 favorites]

I would dump him immediately because being spoken to in that manner - any of it - is wildly unacceptable. Plus, on some level he hates you.

It's much better to have a kid on your own than with a guy whom you can't trust.
posted by fingersandtoes at 11:59 AM on August 4 [73 favorites]

Walking on eggshells is... Well, a sign every single time to stop, reflect, and see just how much smaller you've made yourself to fit the gloriousness of you in his life.
posted by Jacen at 12:03 PM on August 4 [60 favorites]

He is jealous and resentful of you because of your success. If you stay together I suspect he'll be happy to take full advantage of what you bring to the relationship financially while hating you for it. So he will undermine you as best he can because of it. I really think you would be better off having a child alone than with him. Plus the longer you stay with the wrong person the less chance you have of finding the right one.
posted by hazyjane at 12:04 PM on August 4 [23 favorites]

I'd probably demand he attend at least eight sessions of couple's therapy, and push back the question of moving in-together 4-6 months down the road. That he has acknowledged his complicity and responsibility, and has generally been good at talking things through with you, has the same life-goals/timeline as you, etc. would make me inclined not to immediately dump him. I do agree it is a red flag, and if the first couple of therapy sessions go badly, I wouldn't bother continuing. In short, I think you should aim to decide one way or another with this guy soon, but I don't think you need to decide immediately.
posted by coffeecat at 12:05 PM on August 4 [7 favorites]

Get out, not because he doesn't like you, but because he doesn't like *himself* and he's trying to diminish you so it makes sense in his head why you would be with him. You deserve someone who acknowleges and appreciates every bit of your amazingness.
posted by epj at 12:05 PM on August 4 [48 favorites]

The thing is, I'm about to be 38 and want a child.

I feel like you should really evaluate and consider all of his behavior in light of this particular goal. If you are planning to have a child, are you planning to be the primary caregiver to that child? How would having a child impact your career goals and financial planning? I'm specifically singling this out because based on what you've told us, if you have a child with this guy, I suspect his resentments and insecurities will only grow and fester more, and that he will not be an equal partner to you in childrearing. It is always, always a bad scene to be the high-achieving/higher earning partner who then takes on the additional burden of "doing it all" with kids and the household, while the other partner is desultory about it because of their own issues. Don't have a kid with this guy on nothing but the hope that he'll change. He's probably not going to, and unless he has a passion for being a stay-at-home parent that you haven't disclosed, I don't think he'll be an equal or even helpful partner to you in childrearing.

This is all very clearly about him and his insecurities, and you can't fix that. You shouldn't need to try. It's on him to deal with his shit, and you are under no obligation to stick around and wait for him to do so, not when you might have incompatible life goals.
posted by yasaman at 12:09 PM on August 4 [29 favorites]

This Internet stranger says dump him without reservation. He sounds like a very bitter person in general, and these reactions only underscore that. You aren't obliged to stay with him if he makes you feel less of yourself.
posted by Alensin at 12:11 PM on August 4 [6 favorites]

Do you want to be with him? Or do you want to avoid failing this relationship?

If you still love him and want to be with him, he needs therapy and you both might benefit from couples counseling.

If you want to make this work because you don't want to fail at a relationship, know that sometimes we meet people that have a lot of good things about them, but it's just not the right time/set of circumstances/or a dozen other things. It doesn't mean that either one of you aren't good people
posted by advicepig at 12:12 PM on August 4 [6 favorites]

Namecalling ["plastic liberal"] and misogyny ["oh women, they always like to call men bitter. Fuck off" and put the phone down] and you're only 6 months in?

This is not going to get better. You DESERVE better.

He sounds like he does not have good skills for handling conflict - he's going straight to attack, name calling, making generalisations about ALL WOMEN...

A man who cannot self soothe in order to handle conflict without verbally attacking/name calling is a man who is not safe to co-parent with. Because odds are the children will annoy him at some point and he will name call/verbally attack THEM.
posted by Carriage pulled by cassowaries at 12:12 PM on August 4 [107 favorites]

This is a reckoning, and all relationships need them to keep to center, between people who love each other. If you can't have a free range discussion, make mistakes, take breaths, learn about each other, then what's the point?

He has to value himself more, you can help him learn his value to you, at least. He has likely sinned, a little or in thought, and he is worrying he can't return to the center. Find each other and get back to happy.
posted by Oyéah at 12:14 PM on August 4 [2 favorites]

For me this decision would hinge on whether that person is willing to do some relationship counseling, and if recommended by the professional some individual counseling. It's so easy to say dump that person. But everyone has flaws. Every relationship will have elements not to our preference. I say that as a person that can write people off for much smaller reasons.

Change is hard, but not impossible. My partner and I have both changed a lot for each other, for the benefit of the relationship. People change if they see the value in it.

Unpacking gender role bullshit with someone that can be this sensitive won't be easy! I suspect that he will come across as narcissistic in conflicts sometimes because that's one of the only ways men are allowed to cope with feeling small, often lack the language to describe their experience with vulnerability, etc. Male shame is a real bear. Don't get me wrong, a relationship with someone like this will be work and will require patience on your part. You may not think it's worth it on balance.

It's very frustrating being a self aware person that can manage conflict and communication trying to relate to someone lacking those skills. It's very frustrating when someone only knows lashing out.

I wouldn't leave for this alone, but if my partner weren't willing to actively work on their issues in a clinical setting then no, I wouldn't stick around because this will be a real chore to deal with. It's not necessarily a forever dooming situation, though you may not have the energy to watch it transform.

I do have reservations taking this position when you're only six months in. That's still hormonal bliss time. If he is this nasty now, how will he act when the hormones aren't raging so much?
posted by crunchy potato at 12:19 PM on August 4 [6 favorites]

As a stranger on the internet who doesn't know you - in my limited experience, men who feel slighted by the success of the women they are involved with aren't a great choice for parenting children. Or, really, most other things. Some people are so interesting they're genuinely worth a huge amount of frustration and disappointment. He might be worth it to you. And some people learn and change. But, I'd suggest not choosing to stay because you want to have children. There are donors for that who won't make you feel bad for the next 18 years.
posted by eotvos at 12:19 PM on August 4 [13 favorites]

You will get better results from sperm banks or one night stands. If you move ahead with this man, you will be raising two children at once.
posted by kingdead at 12:19 PM on August 4 [51 favorites]

UGHHHH I can feel myself qualifying this with a bunch of "but it only happened once, you've barely been together any time at all, now things are all out in the open maybe it is worth it to see if he can get to a better place with therapy...and NO! AUGH.

You know that this is awful, you know that it isn't going to get better, you just hate the idea of starting over. But you know what's worse than starting over now, at 38? Starting over at 48, when you've sunk 10 years into shrinking yourself for this guy, and have either completely missed your kid window or now have to single-parent.

You're a hard-working, responsible, capable woman who's done a lot on your own. You can add "having a baby on your own" to that list, if you really want.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 12:21 PM on August 4 [32 favorites]

He sounds awful! Jealous and inferior, and actually he sounds like he's too busy being jealous and insecure about you to actually LIKE you.

You sound very high-functioning, and high-functioning women absolutely MUST be with men who aren't jealous, or else he'll cut you off at the knees again and again til you're smaller than him.

If you have a kid - imagine how he'll talk to them about you!!!

Get outta there!
posted by nouvelle-personne at 12:24 PM on August 4 [11 favorites]

I really don't like the way he spoke to you - I would have broken it off with someone when I was in my early twenties over the "women" comment, never mind in my thirties as a fully functioning adult.

If you feel that he actually does respect and love you and this was just dysfunction and stress talking, can you attend some therapy together and talk this through? That would be my condition for going on with the relationship. I think it is possible that someone who grew up in a dysfunctional home and has been in lousy jobs his whole life might in fact be emotionally kind of a late bloomer and be able to turn things around at a later point than might be expected - it's not like he has had a lot of headspace and money to work on this stuff before. If you feel like the potential is there for that kind of change, if you feel that he is someone who can change but has truly not had the support to do so in the past, you could be really direct with him and go to therapy together.
posted by Frowner at 12:26 PM on August 4 [5 favorites]

What year does he think he's living in? It so obviously looks like he can't cope with you being more successful than him at things society consider important. Better men exist.
posted by plonkee at 12:26 PM on August 4 [5 favorites]

Lordy, lordy. If he's acting like this at 6 months, get out now. At 6 months you're flooded with goofy lurv hormones.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 12:28 PM on August 4 [24 favorites]

Also, hrmph. OK. I don't want kids, so I don't have that pressure, I realize. But I did spend a lot of years in a relationship with someone who struggled a lot with self-loathing and resentment about his life and job, and around whom I often felt I needed to walk on eggshells or be smaller. And yeah, I was also 40 and thinking oh lord, what is left for me.

Well, what was left for me was a wonderful, supportive, incredible relationship. With a guy who's proud of me, and proud of himself (regardless of how much money he has), and secure enough to take the occasional "how'd you manage that" comment as the compliment it is.

Meanwhile a friend of mine has been making it work with a husband who sounds a lot like your guy. He can't bring himself to compliment her; all of her successes take away from him instead of enhancing him. They have kids and he undermines her relationship with them. Now, they're still married, sure, but it's hard. So hard. She's very lonely, and it takes all of her courage to keep succeeding at her job and building her career, because he absolutely does not want her to.

All I want in the world for my friend is for her to find someone who is truly in her corner and that is all I want for you, complete internet stranger, as well.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 12:29 PM on August 4 [23 favorites]

For the love, DO NOT MOVE IN WITH HIM! I'm begging you. I know where this goes and it doesn't go anywhere good. Break it off today and don't talk to him again.
posted by cakelite at 12:34 PM on August 4 [12 favorites]

Also: I asked him if he wants to be with me, and he said yes, and that he loves me, and that he 'just wants me to be happy' Does he know what that entails? Like, seriously, does he know what will make you happy? Not just in a generic way, but specifically. Or does he only have his own idea of what will make you happy, an idea that is almost certainly going to be shaped by regressive gender roles based on his offensive comments? Because you need to know and hash out, now, if his idea of happiness for you two is something like "I get a great job and earn more money than you and am respected by all, you have our baby and quit your job and are a stay-at-home mom," while yours is "I achieve my career goals and have a child with a loving partner who takes on an equal share of our parenting and household responsibilities."
posted by yasaman at 12:37 PM on August 4 [15 favorites]

This was a huge clue for me about what you were about to describe:

just as I was starting to feel really invested

Something to consider: you were getting along really well up to now because he was just saying what he knew you wanted to hear. Now that you're more tangled up with him, he can start to be his true self. This doesn't mean it's a conscious plan laid out by him but it's the way he operates and isn't likely to change until he decides to change it.

Couple therapy is not really good for stuff like this and he can use it to abuse you in a way that's a lot more powerful (by getting the therapist on his side) than what he's doing now so I wouldn't suggest you go with him. But I do think getting your own therapist would really help.
posted by dawkins_7 at 12:43 PM on August 4 [20 favorites]

in my limited experience, men who feel slighted by the success of the women they are involved with aren't a great choice for parenting children

Yeah. I was about to go the "it's not great behavior, but consider counseling, everyone has a really bad day once in a while" route, then I read that you were 38, not 24, and planning to have kids in the near future. Men with attitudes like this are not good caregivers, and how are you going to build your career while caring for a child without much in the way of help from a partner? Assuming you don't want to raise a child unpartnered, you unfortunately don't have a huge amount of time to find a good one and so can't doodle around with this guy. Clean break.
posted by praemunire at 12:47 PM on August 4 [6 favorites]

This relationship sounds like a lot of work.

The thing is, I'm about to be 38 and want a child.

Having a child will make your relationship harder.
posted by adamrice at 12:47 PM on August 4 [6 favorites]

(Also, I'm assuming he's about your age, and what might be immaturity in someone 15 years younger looks a lot worse when they're nearing middle age.)
posted by praemunire at 12:48 PM on August 4 [5 favorites]

People get married or have kids or become couples for many different reasons. The key once you do, is to grow and mature as a couple together. That growth is no always linear. There are ups and downs, learning curves, etc.

You ask what would I do. I would sit down with him and have a long discussion. An uncomfortable discussion probably. I would confront him on his feelings of inferiority or of valuing himself based on money. That issue is the key to your future as a couple. Perhaps, it will be productive to go to couples therapy and/or individual therapy to work through the issue or maybe you can work it out together.

Based on this discussion and the resulting plan of action, I would determine my future. I see this as a reasonable opportunity to grow together and give the relationship (him) a 2nd chance. This is the last chance. If this does not work out in the next few months, adios. If it does, happily ever after.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 12:51 PM on August 4 [2 favorites]

I can't believe anyone thinks that trying to drag this man to counseling is going to work, or is a project OP should consider taking on.

He is a grown adult. He is a grown adult so insecure about himself, and so resentful of his successful girlfriend, that he insults her and hangs up the phone on her.

And now she's supposed to take on the project of dragging him to the feelings doctor so he can be cured of his dickery? And this is likely to change him so much that she should trust him with her precious few remaining years of fertility?

OP: "I just want you to be happy" means "I do not believe that you're happy; because I'm definitely not." And now you know why: you make him feel small, just by being successful.

You know, a lot of perfectly nice people might not like having their spelling corrected by a partner. But NOT a lot of perfectly nice people resent their partners and lash out at them in the way he did. This is not the guy for you.
posted by fingersandtoes at 12:56 PM on August 4 [59 favorites]

Don't move together, don't have a child with him.

Just reading this account of what he says to you and language he used to you gives off major warning signals. I seriously doubt he would treat you well once you live together and you are pregnant and have a baby. Or any issues getting pregnant, or a difficult pregnancy.
posted by 15L06 at 12:59 PM on August 4 [6 favorites]

Contempt is the strongest predictor of divorce. And if you try to stick things out, it is a recipe for a miserable marriage and family. This man does not and will not respect you, and he wil not respect your children, and your children will see that and struggle with it for their entire lives. You are better off having children on your own than wasting another moment with this man.
posted by earth by april at 12:59 PM on August 4 [31 favorites]

I don't usually comment on relationship questions because I am not very good at giving that kind of advice. But I am compelled to say that in my own personal life I have seen several relationships (and to some extent lives) ruined because someone felt like they were "running out of time to have children" and allowed that to override the red flags in their partner. I can't think of a single case in my extended friend group where someone stayed with a partner primarily because they wanted kids, and it worked out well for them or the kids.
posted by primethyme at 1:06 PM on August 4 [22 favorites]

The longer term stuff ("walking on eggshells") seems like a bigger problem to worry about. People have really shitty, self destructive days every once in a while, where they feel compelled to say and do exactly what they know will piss off the people around them. It's their responsibility to separate themselves and not make it other people's problem -- just keep to themselves for a few days. But humans are humans and if it leaked through once a year it wouldn't be a deal breaker for me.

More than once a year would be a deal breaker.

It's tempting to view these episodes as some sort of deep reveal of someone's inner secrets, but a lot of the time it's more about precisely pushing your buttons whether they feel that way or not.

However, it's got you looking at the longer term and that doesn't look great. Insecurity and bitterness are really just not things that you need in your life. I suspect you will be happier if you move on.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 1:13 PM on August 4 [3 favorites]

SHEELZEBUB PRINCIPLE. This is the perfect application for it. How long would you put up with him if the behaviors you recount do not actually change? Because the consensus in this comment thread is that these behaviors are Not Okay and Need To Change for you to get your needs met.

If the answer is anything other than "indefinitely," GTFO now.
posted by humbug at 1:27 PM on August 4

Won't lie, only got a third of the way through and skimmed the rest because I was so exhausted by it. Nope. Move on from this.
posted by Crystalinne at 1:27 PM on August 4 [10 favorites]

he said 'oh women, they always like to call men bitter. Fuck off' and put the phone down.

Everything you wrote was already so not good that I literally gasped when I got to this part. That is such a horribly unhelpful and unkind way to respond, particularly in the middle of problem solving. In my experience people who make statements like this about "women" as if they are a monolith are not nice people generally and even worse partners.

Is he even trying to improve his life/job/station if he is so negatively impacted by them, and trying to work through these feelings, or is he just stewing in bitterness? I find it really interesting that he thinks the solution is for you to talk less about money when you're also discussing moving in together and both want a similar timeline of marriage and kids. Setting aside everything else, all of those things you both want, particularly in the short-term, are going to require a ton of practical discussion about money, likely on order of several times a day.
posted by anderjen at 1:32 PM on August 4 [9 favorites]

Best answer: I feel like the actions you describe put you on a 6-12 month minimal period of reassessing whether the relationship could even work. You sound great, I'm sure those are 6-12 months you can use finding a really rad guy to have a baby with who won't resent you for being a competent and successful woman in the world.
posted by kensington314 at 1:40 PM on August 4 [37 favorites]

In any circumstances, I wouldn't talk again to someone who told me to fuck off and put the phone down on me. I wouldn't expect any different if the roles were reversed.

Either way he doesn't sound like much of a keeper, and you've said very little positive about him.

Move on, you can do so much better and find someone who supports and encourages you
posted by tillsbury at 1:41 PM on August 4 [15 favorites]

Imagine how he behaves when he’s NOT trying to make a good impression. Imagine him under actual stress. Imagine him parenting. Imagine your boundaries and patience being eroded by the month.

This is the least worst he’s going to be!

You still have time - walk away! Sperm donation > this dude!
posted by cotton dress sock at 1:42 PM on August 4 [12 favorites]

I feel like there's a dichotomy in what you've described. You say a lot of lovely things about him, how everything's going great and you feel safe and like he gets you and all .... and then you describe some utterly beyond-the-pale unacceptable misogyny, lashing out and contempt.

Yet at the same time you don't express any surprise about this behavior, or describe it as a sudden Jekyll/Hyde switch.

This is clearly a DTMFA, and I'm sorry to have to say that because you are/were invested in him. But I think the more important thing here is that your perceptions of him and his behavior haven't been consistent. He's clearly not fit to be a good partner, but you could not or did not see that, and possibly still don't. I think that you, not him, is the person you need to worry about here.
posted by Dashy at 1:53 PM on August 4 [16 favorites]

Also anecdotally you do still have time. I met my wife online dating when she was 38 and now we have two wonderful kids
posted by tillsbury at 1:55 PM on August 4 [4 favorites]


This is an absolutely absurd way to treat a romantic partner and someone you supposedly really care about. Don't waste any more time on someone that wants to play these kinds of games.
posted by _DB_ at 1:56 PM on August 4 [4 favorites]

he said 'oh women, they always like to call men bitter. Fuck off' and put the phone down.

Nope. Fuck this guy.

I get that you want to have a kid, but I have an almost two-year-old right now, and it's hard! My wife and I make a really good team and it still sometimes tests our relationship. Does this guy really seem like someone who's going to rise to the occasion?
posted by Ragged Richard at 2:11 PM on August 4 [9 favorites]

If you have a kid with this guy you will have an infant and also a whiny baby.
posted by babelfish at 2:14 PM on August 4 [7 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks everyone. I can feel myself latching on to those who say I should give him a chance, but then I really liked what @kensington314 said about now needing to take another 6-12 months to reassess whether he's good enough, when I could use that to find a really rad guy who won't resent my success. I don't feel that staying would be a good use of my time, when I could just meet someone next week (wouldn't that be nice, haha) who I didn't have to deal with this shit with. I think chances of that are low, which makes me sad, as being late 30s can sure be lonely when all of your friends are coupled up, but also I have a history of giving people second chances, or more, and regretting it, and not ignoring my gut, and whereas this behaviour DOES feel like a surprise and a shock, it also kind of chimes with some anxieties I've had about this guy but quashed as there was no solid proof.

I also have to remember that even though every time I'm single I think 'shit! I'm old! I've lost my appeal and won't match with anyone because they all want younger women!" I usually meet quite a few guys who are interested and seem to always have options. I guess as I'm in a big city this will maybe always be the case? Although to be fair, the number of people who are dysfunctional in some way seems disproportionately high at this age, compared to my twenties, and I'm also bloody exhausted now.

I did go on a date with a hot banker shortly before boyfriend, who was interested in seeing me again but I cut it down as me and boyfriend became exclusive super early (I generally am bad at dating more than one guy).At least this guy wouldn't have the same money issues. I'll give it a little while and see if he's around ;)
posted by flimflamflop at 2:21 PM on August 4 [59 favorites]

This is how he treats you while you are able bodied and earning money that takes care of him.

What I would do in this situation is: Imagine what his attitude would be like if you became disabled and he had to pull it together to figure out how to take care of both of you. Then imagine adding a child to that?

Get short and long term disability insurance, and have a baby on your own, surrounded by a strong community of people who care unconditionally about you.
posted by bilabial at 5:32 PM on August 4 [4 favorites]

Hi. I was just wondering why you were making fun of his spelling to begin with, and why you put the phrase here in quotes to describe his reaction:

"Said he felt patronised, and that he's 'good at spelling' so it especially annoyed him."

Contempt is a funny thing. It often hurts just as much or more when it is subtle and always there in the background as it does when it is explicit and suddenly there at once in an outburst.

Contempt is the #1 killer of relationships and I gently suggest you might both be better off without each other in equal measure.
posted by desert exile at 6:14 PM on August 4 [3 favorites]

I would dump this guy. Combat the temptation to slide into the sunk cost fallacy here. Yes you’ve spent six months with him but those six months of your life are done and honestly, he’s displaying behaviors that show he is not a person you should have a kid with. Don’t continue to waste your time on him just because you’ve already spent time on him. There are many rewarding ways to mother that don’t involve terrible guys.

Definitely check in with the hot banker!!
posted by donut_princess at 7:16 PM on August 4 [4 favorites]

Team Hot Banker over here too. :)

But seriously, yes, this would very much be a deal breaker for me and it should be for you too. Call it off and move on.
posted by nayantara at 8:40 PM on August 4 [6 favorites]

Regardless of any other factors (which I think other folks have addressed well) if you’ll be moving in together and having a child, you need to be talking about money more, not less, to make that happen. If he doesn’t want to/can’t talk about finances, this can’t work.
posted by assenav at 10:14 PM on August 4 [4 favorites]

He has an issue with your discrepancy in income. He needs to do whatever it takes to fix that issue and make real progress on it before you even think about moving in with him.
posted by bendy at 10:37 PM on August 4

Never mind my last comment, I reread your post and this guy is a total shitgibbon. You can do better.
posted by bendy at 10:43 PM on August 4 [1 favorite]

If you asked me to guess who'd be a better co-parent in the next few years, this chap as described OR some app rando with a spicy profile... Team Rando represent here.
posted by away for regrooving at 12:59 AM on August 5 [2 favorites]

Trust your gut. Trust your gut!! You know the answer.
posted by spindrifter at 1:39 AM on August 5 [1 favorite]

Yet at the same time you don't express any surprise about this behavior, or describe it as a sudden Jekyll/Hyde switch.

This stuck out to me too! If my (also late-30s and male) partner said or did a SINGLE ONE of the things you describe, we'd be going straight to the neurologist to check for a brain tumor, that's how abnormal and shocking it would be.

This guy sucks. He's jealous, he's sexist, he has the conflict management skills of a mean teenager, and he's needlessly cruel because he wants to make you feel as small and inadequate as he does. And at six months?? Nah. Add me to Team Hot Banker. Or Team Sperm Bank and Single Motherhood. Anything but this dud.

And yeah, maybe someday he'll go to therapy and learn some good not-being-a-total-jackass-to-your-partner-who-you-allegedly-love-because-of-your-own-insecurity skills, but you don't have to sign up to drag him through that whole process like he's a sulky child who needs to eat a vegetable.
posted by catoclock at 9:02 AM on August 5 [8 favorites]

I am in a similar boat, in that I've just come off a few months of dating a guy who was super insecure about being short. I am 4'11" myself, and I literally could not care less how short my date is. But over the last three months this guy I was dating showed me he was completely unbalanced on this subject. Which would have been fine, even, because people are allowed to have issues, and this is an understandable one...but only if he hadn't spilled his insecurity all over ME. I broke up with him when he whined through a whole evening that I was wearing super high heels (which I almost never do, always wear flats) which made it look like I was only an inch shorter than him rather than several. He said "You could have just let me have this, but nooooo," and then he said, "What are you trying to prove by wearing those heels?" and that was the moment I walked away.

I have a first date lined up for the weekend, and I noticed earlier today that he's 6 ft tall. My first reaction was (as always) to cringe a bit, because it's fucking uncomfortable to kiss a person who is more than a foot taller than me. My second reaction was to think, "Whew, at least he won't be insecure about his height, I could use that!" This doesn't mean I treated my ex with contempt for being short, it doesn't mean my new date will be right to assume I'm only dating him because he's tall, it doesn't mean my ex's insecurity was my fault, and it does not mean there is something terrible about me because of the way I am describing my new date (as literally just "a tall guy"). There is no nefarious reason I am sharing here that I have a date with "tall guy" lined up for the weekend. It just happens to be relevant to the story I am telling and the point I am making - just like when you talked about "hot banker", which was relevant to your story and the point you were making.

So I disagree completely that describing someone you've been on one date with as "the hot banker" means there's something wrong with how you describe or view potential partners. After an experience such as this, where you have been so badly treated precisely because your partner is so insecure about his income, it is 100% normal, human, and un-problematic that you're in the mood to say, "whew, at least THIS issue will be averted if I date the hot banker." The fact that you're saying it doesn't show that you constantly and thoughtlessly make fun of people in lower socioeconomic classes. It doesn't show you hold people in lower socioeconomic classes in contempt.

I also disagree completely that you're showing any contempt for your partner outside the context of his outrageous behavior (he deserves your contempt for his outrageous behavior). I think your post makes it clear that you were playfully ribbing him, and your response to his initial anger (letting him know that you'd never make fun of his mistake if you'd known spelling was a sore spot for him) shows that your intentions were above reproach. Ribbing your partner playfully about a spelling mistake is normal and human. It does not make you unkind or contemptuous or wrong or bad in any way, not even to the slightest degree. A secure, healthy partner would not consider playful ribbing to be unkind, or evidence of your contempt. You have done nothing wrong at all.
posted by MiraK at 1:29 PM on August 5 [14 favorites]

When people show you they're mean in an argument, that's who they are. They'll do it again.

And it's not new, not really. You already felt like you had to walk on eggshells around him.

You want to have a baby. Soon. With the right partner. I don't think you have time to waste on this guy.

If you want to give it a try, I think he needs therapy and to work on conflict resolution skills. Part of him seems to resent you, maybe even hate you. For sure, he shouldn't be cruel to you just because you had a disagreement and he's in a bad mood.
posted by J. Wilson at 1:43 PM on August 5

The thing is, I'm about to be 38 and want a child

I know it seems like it will be so much work to have a child on your own -- but it will be SO MUCH LESS work than raising a child while you deal with this guy's issues for the next 18 years.

A huge blowup on his part because you teased him about spelling -- how would he react if your child teased him?
posted by yohko at 2:05 PM on August 5

I did go on a date with a hot banker shortly before boyfriend, who was interested in seeing me again but I cut it down as me and boyfriend became exclusive super early (I generally am bad at dating more than one guy).

Leave boyfriend and go on more dates, and not just with hot banker. This time, try dating multiple people at a time, or at least not just one. You don't have time right now for a long series of 6-month relationships. I also think when you are a serial monogamist and you get involved really fast, this attracts people who are not what you need right now. This guy is insecure and resentful and just bad news. Damp him and date more people with less commitment.
posted by BibiRose at 6:07 PM on August 5

It’s okay to not like being teased, or to not like being teased about certain things. Sounds like you know this and would’ve stopped if he’d asked you in a more mature way. It’s also understandable to have a chip on your shoulder about something like money—and you do mention it a bit—as long as you’re aware of it, take responsibility for your reactions, and treat people respectfully if they inadvertently trigger you about your sensitive issue.

All of that to say, I think I have more sympathy than many for how this guy may have been feeling. But his treatment of you is wrong!

It’s not just wrong, it’s actually scary, because now you know what’s just beneath the surface: misogyny, anger, resentment, blame, bitterness!!

This is also a pretty toxic fight dynamic, where the issue is ostensibly resolved and you should be back to lovey-dovey, or at least neutral, but then the fight turns into something else. Because the fight was never about the issue, it’s about some negative assessment of you that he still feels. I have never seen romance truly recover from that.
posted by kapers at 6:39 PM on August 5 [4 favorites]

Mod note: A few deleted, for different reasons. Please remember: 1) It is literally impossible for any poster to include every detail and nuance in their question; if it strikes you that OP might have done or said something insensitive, please frame your advice in a way that acknowledges this uncertainty, and is helpful, not scolding. We are here to help; that is the purpose of this site. If you are saying things like " I am going to guess you did [bad/wrong thing]," and then scold them about that thing you are guessing, you are definitely doing it wrong. 2) Do Not Argue / Debate Other Commenters. If you are arguing with someone else about their opinion, or talking with other people in the thread about OP in third person, then you are discussing or debating, and Ask Metafilter is not for this purpose. Just address the OP directly with your own helpful advice. Thank you.
posted by taz (staff) at 11:35 PM on August 5 [9 favorites]

I'm willing to bet money that when you break up with this guy, he will tell everyone that it is because he is poor and you are a snob. Please brace yourself for this story now and do not listen to it when you hear it. You will not be able to talk him out of it, no matter how wrong it is.
posted by equipoise at 3:02 PM on August 6

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