Is My Boyfriend Hypersensitive or Am I Too Insensitive?

I’ve Made A Million Mistakes and My Boyfriend Is Still Here. What Now?

We dated for 6 weeks and had a wonderful time. I noticed that he was very sensitive. He’s had a lot of emotional trauma in his life, there was abuse growing up, he had problems with authority, he acquiesced to his ex-wife all of the time and he said the single women at work were controlling so he doesn’t date them. One day I asked a question about the use of the word “minou” which is French for cat/kitten and also used as a term of endearment. I then joked that I could call him minou and starting saying the word as a joke, bit of overkill. He then got mad and said he didn’t like being called that.

About a week later I used it in a text message at the end of a sentence followed by a smiley face. He responded saying that it was “disturbing” to him that I used the word after he said he didn’t like it. Then proceeded to say that I’m controlling. I asked for examples of what I’ve said or done that is controlling so that I can modify this behaviour for the next guy I date. He said the way I speak sounds like it’s my way or the highway. I said just because I speak a certain way doesn’t mean it’s set in stone. I’m not the type who’s afraid to admit she’s wrong, I have no problems compromising, I can apologize and no BF has ever told me that I’m controlling.

He said that when someone asks him to stop something he does it and the fact I continued is indicative of a future behaviour pattern. He said we were getting along great but I didn’t let it go. All the good qualities I have and all of the good times we had together did not outweigh this one incident of teasing. As far as I know, most couples still tease or irk each other with something they know irritates their partner. Was this an over-reaction? I thought the adult conversation should have been something like this, “when you use that word, I feel teased. I was put down, humiliated and teased a lot growing up and I’m very sensitive to it. Could you mindful about this and I’ll be mindful not be so hyper sensitive.”

Am I way off base here? I was very upset.


I’m with you, Nora. 100%.

It’s not that I can’t empathize with highly sensitive people.

It’s that highly sensitive people expect the rest of the world to cater to their sensitivities and get upset when the rest of us fail to be as sensitive.

I can imagine how maddening it might be for this guy to feel that you’re OPENLY DEFYING HIS WISHES AND ACTIVELY TRYING TO HURT HIM – because that IS what he’s feeling.

But here’s the thing about feelings: they’re not facts. They’re not universal.

But here’s the thing about feelings: they’re not facts. They’re not universal.

And while everyone’s entitled to feel his/her feelings, such feelings don’t automatically override everyone else’s.

The current political correctness wars and cancel culture are a perfect example of this.

Should everyone strive to be more sensitive? Sure. Asians should be called Asian. If you have a different pronoun as a gender nonbinary person, your loved ones should endeavor to refer to you as you wish. But what we can’t do – what we have been doing – is having a zero-tolerance policy for decent people who fall short. That is unfair and short-sighted, as it demonizes your allies and lumps them in with your enemies.

You want to cancel Joe Biden? Stephen Colbert? Sam Harris? Do you really think that anyone who stumbles over the PC purity test or even has a contrarian point of view should be silenced and banished? If you feel that way, please, spare me the commentary below. This is not a safe space for you.

Everybody needs to learn to take a joke – yes, even historically oppressed minorities and hypersensitive people.

I am neurotic, intense, politically liberal, highly opinionated, frequently injured, and have a big nose and ears. I don’t have to love these characterizations but everyone I know and love can tease me about these things. I have no choice but to have a thick skin. The alternative is basically telling everyone to stop observing me objectively. You can say – in theory “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it,” but that’s not how the real world works.

Furthermore, there’s a big difference between saying something to be intentionally hurtful and something that is supposed to be funny or teasing. Friends/lovers/family can lovingly tease. YouTube comments? Not so much.

My wife and I once took friends to The Comedy Store in Hollywood. We had a great time. Our friends did not. Said one: “Why do comedians think it’s okay to make fun of people?”

My wife and I smiled and nodded – and never hung out with that couple again.

I’m not kidding. We take our laughter pretty seriously. Before our kids were born, my wife and I determined that we’d be fine if our kids weren’t gorgeous or brilliant or successful. All we wanted was kids with a sense of humor.

To have that sense of humor – the ability not just to tease others but to laugh at yourself – you need a deep foundation of unconditional love. We provide that for our children, just like our respective families provided that for us. We wouldn’t have it any other way.

We tease my temperamental son when he’s acting like Trump.

We tease my dreamy daughter when she’s off playing with her hair for hours.

We tease my wife when she is “as slow as a turtle with a parachute.”

And I better learn to play along when my kids pull my ears, honk my nose, and use, as a secret password “Daddy’s Big Belly!”

Listen, I’m sure there are some honorable dissenters who think that all teasing is inherently cruel, who believe that to make fun of someone is punching down, and that moral, sensitive people would never even make the justifications I’m making.

You’re certainly entitled to that opinion. But I don’t want to hang out with you.

You may be nice but you’re the death of laughter. I’d rather live in a world where we can joke about our foibles instead of pretending we have none.

And Nora, you should absolutely find yourself a boyfriend who can communicate his displeasure in the way you described in your last paragraph, rather than a guy who throws a hissy fit and acts like you’re some sort of monster for using a French word for cat.

I know another word for cat that is more appropriate.

P.S. A timely satirical video about cancel culture just popped up on the NYT today

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  1. 1

    This is so funny, Evan. Here, you’ve 100% sided with the woman – and mostly I agree – but on this occasion, I understand the man’s perspective and will defend him.

    In this case, I think, what seems like over-sensitivity on his part is commingled with issues of respect: specifically, the ability of people to respect when another person says NO to them. Previously, he told Nora that he didn’t like something, and he may or may not have told her to stop doing it – we don’t know that from the letter. But then she did it again, despite knowing that he didn’t like it. This seems like disrespecting him.

    In other cases, we would all feel for a woman who told a man NO, if he disrespected that and then kept doing whatever the woman had told him to stop doing. Shouldn’t we extend that same sympathy for a man who is in that situation?

    Of course, there might be over-sensitivity on his part in general. But just this one example doesn’t prove it. It might be more about basic respect. If he is over-sensitive about many things that aren’t mentioned in the letter, then I agree that it doesn’t sound like a good fit, and they should not be together.

    1. 1.1

      I agree with you. I think that yes he is oversensitive but he made very clear to her that he did not like being called that particular name and then she did it again. I am not oversensitive but if I asked someone to not do something and they did it again, I would be angry and I would feel like my feelings did not matter. I think what the LW’s issue is is that she thinks him not wanting to be called that name is overly sensitive, and so she disregards him asking her not to do that. What she needs to do is to understand that different people are sensitive about different things, and that just because she finds his reaction to be overly sensitive does not mean he’s not justified in feeling that way. Often we see the reverse in that men say “What I did would not hurt me, so it does not hurt her and if it does she’s just being overly sensitive.” And the advice to those men is often to acknowledge that others can be hurt by their actions even if they would not feel the same way if someone did it to them. There could be a very justifiable reason that he does not want to be called that name. Maybe she should work on figuring that out rather than just dismissing his feelings as not valid.

    2. 1.2
      Karl R

      I’m going to have to chime in (with so many others) against Evan’s point of view as well.

      God knows that I’ve developed a thick skin over my lifetime. When I was active on this blog, I made it a policy to never respond to a personal insult. When one person insulted my wife, I merely commented on how absurd it was for him to make such a statement without actually meeting her in person.

      But I have to say that Nora has a problem. Her boyfriend has a different problem. Back when I was dating, I would have jettisoned someone who was as hyper-sensitive as the boyfriend in a heartbeat. But I also would have jettisoned her, for the behavior that she’s trying to defend.

      I have a thick skin … because of my family. Physical violence was frowned upon. Words were weaponized. The biggest victory was to make seemingly innocuous statements, each targeted at your opponent’s known weaknesses. Make him or her lose it over something seemingly inconsequential.

      I have a thick skin … as a defense mechanism. And if someone says something that still manages to be hurtful, I under-react. There’s no point in advertising to my enemies where my weak spots are.

      I don’t advertise my sensitive spots. Certainly not to my blood relatives. I know better. Not to my coworkers or strangers. If they want to hit (or miss) my sore spots, they’ll have to do it at random. If I actually take a moment and tell you that something bothers me, then I trust you.

      I’ve been around for a long time. People have ingrained habits and reflexive behaviors … and they will repetitively do them without thought. They may apologize later (if they remember that behavior bothers you). But “minou” wasn’t a reflexive behavior for Nora. It was something she found funny … and her boyfriend decidedly didn’t. She weaponized a weak spot for a momentary grin.

      I don’t talk to most of my family often. They know the things that used to bother me three decades ago, and they still try to wield that knowledge like a weapon against me. My close friends will avoid verbal barbs that will actually cause pain … even though verbal volleyball is one of our favorite activities. It’s a game between us, so certain things are off-limits, or else it stops being fun. With my blood relatives, it’s still a war. So even if they hit a weak spot, I’ll make it a point not to flinch. No point in telling them where to aim next.

      Around the six-week mark in a romantic relationship, I might trust a girlfriend with a “weak spot” (not a serious one), just to see how she handled it. If she treated it like my trusted friends do, then she’s trustworthy. If she treats it like much of my immediate family does … well … I don’t talk to them much anymore.

      When it comes to sensitivity, I will admit that I’m like a bull in a china shop. (Figuratively speaking … literal bulls in literal china shops don’t do that much damage … and thanks to Mythbusters for that piece of trivia.) But I don’t deliberately target my friends’ weaknesses. Or neutral parties’ weaknesses. (Forgetfulness and bad habits may sabotage me, however.) Hell … I won’t even pull that crap with people I mildly despise. Pulling a Nora, where I deliberately hit someone where I know it will bother them, just for laughs … I’ll save that for my enemies … and only when we’re already engaged in hostilities.

      I wouldn’t pursue a serious relationship with someone like Nora. I might continue to have sex with her, if the sex was hot. But as much as her behavior feels like “family,” it’s not the family I choose to surround myself with. If I can’t trust a woman enough to confide in her (without it backfiring), why pursue a relationship?

      Both Nora and her boyfriend are destined for relationship troubles. Neither is a partner whom I would saddle myself with.

      My wife has a thick skin. (Good thing, given my obtuseness.) I have an even thicker one. Neither one of us will put up with the kind of crap mentioned in the original post.

      1. 1.2.1

        Hi Karl R,

        You said, ” She weaponized a weak spot for a momentary grin.”

        Thank you for chiming in on this; your comments are rare nowadays so they are highly valued.

      2. 1.2.2

        Margaret Atwood famously wrote that men worry women will laugh at them while women worry men will kill them. She was wise to point out the asymmetry from the female POV, but somewhat blind to the male. How many men throughout history have been harmed through the fallout of the laughter of others? How many men have injured, been injured, killed, died, remained in stressful situations that harmed them over the course of YEARS – because they preferred to feel physical harm rather than the burning shame that hurt them worse? Atwood’s assumption is that physical violence is less harmful than psychological violence. And her degree of correctness depends on a lot of things.

        One of the first things I learned in keeping an aquarium is that fish will die of nothing but stress. You can have perfectly clean water, feed perfect amounts of food, and create an environment YOU think should be perfect….but a fish will stop eating and die if it feels psychologically strained. A person who thinks of fish purely as ornamentation will simply keep buying more fish until one magically survives. Or will stop the hobby altogether when they feel they can’t succeed. But a person who loves and cares for the animals? Will take the time to learn what stresses them and be sure those stresses are minimized. With this in mind, I’ve kept many of the same fish for almost 10 years. They wag their tails at me when I come to feed them and nibble from my fingers.

        1. Rampiance

          @ Jeremy
          I found more context for Margaret Atwoods quote, and I do not get the sense that she necessarily was blind to the male POV. She wrote that she reported the opinions (of others) as she heard them. I did not see her editorialize on the relative importance of the two fears in the excerpt that I saw.

          Is it possible that our culture has so trivialized and/or suppressed the effects of male shame that you automatically heard mockery in Atwoods tone as an echo of our cultural tone?

        2. Jeremy

          I don’t think she bore malice or mockery. But I do think she was somewhat blind. Because whether or not she continued to editorialize about the difference, one would not make the comment in the first place if one understood the horribly violent potential of laughter. I don’t get the sense that she (or those that quote her) understood her statement to mean : “women worry that men will kill them directly while men worry that women will kill them indirectly.” It was meant to be an ad absurdum, a statement in contrast. Like saying that women worry men will just use them for sex, while men don’t have to worry that women will use them for anything. Absurd in its blindness.

        3. jo

          Rampiance, I agree with you. Yet even if Atwood had missed something re: what men vs. women fear, I feel the need to point out that this is an apples vs. oranges comparison. Even if women laugh at men, men still have a choice as to how to respond. They are not as helpless as fish in a tank. They’re blessed with insight, a whole wide world to explore, and the ability to choose a response (a la Viktor Frankl and Stephen Covey). But when men kill women, women are dead. They don’t have a choice of how to ‘respond’ next. So there’s no comparison.

          RustyLH, good insights below. I agree with you that this seems an issue of incompatibility. The great part about choice and a large world is the ability to look for people who are more compatible. We all have much more choice and agency than we often choose to exercise. I hope Nora got what she needed by reading these shared thoughts.

        4. Jeremy

          Yes Jo, dead is dead. Which is why I wrote that her degree of correctness depends on a lot of things. But tell me this: Regarding women who suffer from domestic abuse – why don’t they just leave the guy? The question is not rhetorical. Once answered, you’ll understand why I so disagree with your statement that there’s no comparison – with Atwood’s dichotomy and with my fish analogy.

        5. jo

          Jeremy, that topic has been addressed in multiple papers, articles, and videos. I’m not going to go into that on this board because it is becoming irrelevant (no one had accused either of these two people as domestic abusers), and could also be a trigger for women reading here. Surely you can find that information yourself, but the short tip of the iceberg is that leaving is when women are most at danger of violent death.

      3. 1.2.3

        Karl, I completely agree with the problem of weaponising words and appreciate hearing your personal story. But do you really think the man in this story was hyper-sensitive? As I also wrote below, I am not too convinced of that. Actually I thought he was good at establishing a boundary, letting others know in no uncertain terms when he did not like something; and what he did not like seemed universally understandable.

        1. Karl R

          You have asked a perceptive question, and one that I can’t answer. My response, and my target audience (Nora), aren’t based on an objective point of view.

          As I said, I’m thick-skinned … particularly compared to Nora’s boyfriend. He is more sensitive than me. More sensitive than the men I tend to hang around. And it’s highly probable that he’s more sensitive than average. But I’m in a poor position to judge when someone crosses a subjective boundary between “more sensitive than average” and “hyper-sensitive”. If he was a woman (and women, on average, tend to be more sensitive than men), he’d probably be too sensitive to date me. That’s not a “right” or “wrong” comparison. It’s just an assessment of what works in my relationships.

          I agree that he did a good job of setting a boundary … one which Nora trampled across.

          Frankly, I have less exception with him setting a boundary than with what came later…. Nora trampled across his boundary, and that was sufficient reason for him to kick her to the curb. He didn’t. And he probably should have. (Granted, my perspective is colored by being 10 years into a terrific relationship…. And the boyfriend’s decision would have been much harder during the middle of my dating days.)

          As part of a bigger picture, we all have to recognize the difference between the situations where we need to find a different person, and the situations where we have to change our outlook on the universe, because there aren’t enough people in the universe who would deign to tolerate our crappy attitude. I’ve heard Nora’s side of the story, and that suggests she needs to adjust her outlook. For the boyfriend, I haven’t heard his version of events.

          Responding to Evan’s comment below, I’ve always respected how you ban certain behaviors (insults and name-calling), but foster a space where disagreements are tolerated, and the well-thought-out disagreements are acknowledged and encouraged. Collectively, all of us are smarter than any one of us.

      4. 1.2.4
        Evan Marc Katz

        I love that you guys feel safe and confident in disagreeing with me on this forum. It’s a great atmosphere and provides valuable food for thought about my own blind spots. Thanks, as always, for your contributions.

      5. 1.2.5

        Your comments are always my favorite and I always learn so much from them! I hope you’ll still comment from time to time, because like Adrian said, they are rare nowadays 🙁

    3. 1.3

      Context is everything. First, it is entirely possible, and in fact, exceedingly likely that these two people simply weren’t right for each other, and this incident highlighted that fact.

      She wants to be free to “tease” a little bit, and I suspect that in her relationships, she is probably delighted when the man has witty replies, or when he teases her also. I’ve often felt this was something primeval, something women learned to incorporate into their interactions, as a way of naturally testing men, and sorting out the high functioning, from the slow of mind. It has not escaped my notice that men who are witty, tend to do better with women than men who are not.

      If this is the interaction she needs…a little teasing back and forth, then it should be obvious to all, that they are better off finding other people. There are some things we should not compromise on, when seeking a partner. I have known both men and women who do not like a lot of physical contact, and also, those who were just the opposite. Some can compromise a little bit on that, but I have learned that relationships rarely work out between the two polar opposites. The one who likes a lot of physical affection will feel unloved, while the one who doesn’t like much physical affection, will feel smothered. They would be better served by finding somebody who can meet their needs.

      Again, the context matters. I would not end a good relationship for something like this, if it was just something she did, once in a while, and it was obvious to me that she was just teasing. Was she just being playful? The only way I can see this being a problem for me, is if I began to feel it was a power play on her part. If she seemed to be doing it a lot, as a way to challenge me, I would probably let her know that she was taking it too far. If she persisted, I would end the relationship. But, if it was only an occasional thing, and it was obvious to me that she was just doing it to put a fun spark in the relationship, it wouldn’t bother me at all. I would give her what she was fishing for…fun, witty interactions.

      A relationship where everything is a strict litmus test of respect, would not be an enjoyable relationship to be in. This reminds me of the post Evan once made on why he and many of his Jewish male peers, were not marrying Jewish women. They were finding relationships with non-Jewish women to be “easier.”

      Be careful that you don’t make every interaction all about you. That’s selfish, and will drive good people out of your life. Relationships cannot survive a “pitcher-batter” framework, for very long. By this, I mean that a pitcher and batter have a relationship. They are interacting with each other. But it is a selfish relationship on both sides. Both sides are trying to win at the other’s expense. The pitcher wants to strike out the batter, and the batter wants to hit a home run. The interaction will always have a winner and a loser. If you are making everything all about you…you are doing the above. Brings to mind an old saying…when you win, you lose.

      We have to find that happy medium. Not allowing ourselves to be treated as a doormat, but at the same time, also not acting like a snowflake, or a bully. We don’t have to act like a doormat, to not be seen as a bully, but we also don’t have to act like a bully, to keep from being a doormat. And sometimes, you just have to accept that you and another person are not right for each other, even if the attraction is there, good sex is there, financial, spiritual, and political compatibility is there, etc… At the end of the day, you have to actually like each other…you have to like who the other person is. In this case, she is somebody who likes to tease her mate a little bit, and he does not like that about her. So he is not the right man for her, regardless of everything else that works between them.

      1. 1.3.1

        Rusty – this to me is the most sensible perspective in this entire thread.

  2. 2

    We all tend to think that the way we are is the way others should be. Oh, we know that everyone else thinks the same way….but they’re wrong and we’re right.

    Here’s something to think about, Nora: What is the purpose of communication? When you talk with someone, what is the main thing you’re trying to achieve? If you’d ask me that question when I’m not mentally-engaged, I’d intuitively answer that the main purpose of conversation is to exchange information. But if you’d ask my wife that question under the same circumstances, she’d tell you that the main purpose of conversation is to feel bonded, to seek accord. Which of us is right, Nora? I mean, obviously we both are – obviously in the pie-chart of reasons for communication, both of those factors are always present….but who is right as to what the main purpose is? Depends who you’re talking to, doesn’t it? And under what circumstances…

    On the one hand, I agree with Evan that on a societal level, we could all stand to lose some of our excessive sensitivity. But in the context of a relationship….we need to be sensitive to our partners’ sensitivities. At least until we’ve built enough rapport with them to intuitively KNOW they love us in spite of their teasing. You’d been with this guy, what – 6 weeks?

    Imagine for a second this man – this man who’s been taken advantage of (by his own description) for his entire life. In his prior marriage, and at work. He has made an effort to avoid being used, to avoid people who see him as overly bidable going forward into the future. And he meets a new woman whom he likes….and she sees him as so bidable that her first nick-name for him is “kitten.” Oh, you call him that in French to conceal it somewhat, but can you see how that’s kind of like kicking him in the crotch – exactly in the spot he’s most sensitive? Consider, Nora, why you chose to call him that again after he told you that he hated it. Were you simply trying to be playful, or were you trying to get him to see things your way, to BE the way you thought he should be? You know, like….YOU?

    The problem here is straight up incompatibility – like an anxious-avoidant mix. One lesson you might learn is to avoid men with anxious tendencies – you might not mesh well with them. But the other to consider – the other that we should ALL really consider – is that the notion that others should be the way we are, see things the way we do, that the way we see things is CORRECT – is toxic.

    1. 2.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Both good answers @Jo and @Jeremy. Maybe I woke up on the wrong side of the bed when I wrote this. It’s not that she doesn’t have a point; she does. We should all be heard and respected and seen. I think it’s more what Jeremy said – sensitive people are better off with sensitive people than to constantly complain that less sensitive people are bad or wrong. I think life is too short to feel constantly disrespected – either by an insensitive partner like the OP OR by a highly sensitive partner who takes everything personally. Just find someone more your speed.

      1. 2.1.1


        This past October I had an experience that really illustrated this point. There is a Jewish Holiday where we build little huts (called sukkahs) in our backyard and have family meals inside them. We had prepared and decorated and invited our extended family for dinner in our sukkah….and on that exact evening our backyard neighbor decided to throw one of his noisy jaccuzzi parties. He and his buddies sit in their outdoor jaccuzzi and blast music on his over-sized outdoor sound system. The kind you can feel in your teeth 2 houses away.

        I was incensed. The nerve of that guy! He saw us outside, knew we were having a family dinner outdoors, knew the loud music disturbed me (as I’ve expressed to him on other occasions), but still blasted his music full-blare. What an absolute asshole! When I expressed such at the dinner (over the music), my father (being who he is) turned it around and accused me of being the asshole. “I mean, here your neighbor is,” said my dad, “just trying to have some fun in his backyard! Who the hell do you think you are to tell him he should turn his music down? What gives you the right to tell him what to do?” “What gives him the right to blare loud music affecting others besides himself?” I countered. “Be less sensitive, Jeremy,” replied my dad, “We live in a free country and you have no right to impinge on the autonomy of anyone else.” “But can you not see how he’s impinging on mine? His actions affect more than just himself!” I countered.

        Mind-bending. Who is the asshole? In my mind, the asshole is he who fails to consider the wants of his neighbor. In my neighbor’s mind (and my father’s) it’s he who imposes his will on others to limit their autonomy. Each will believe the other is the asshole. It is a fundamental difference in base-assumptions. It’s not that people with conflicting opinions can’t get along – they can, but only if each acknowledges the validity of the other’s POV.

    2. 2.2
      Yet Another Guy


      ” What is the purpose of communication? When you talk with someone, what is the main thing you’re trying to achieve? If you’d ask me that question when I’m not mentally-engaged, I’d intuitively answer that the main purpose of conversation is to exchange information. But if you’d ask my wife that question under the same circumstances, she’d tell you that the main purpose of conversation is to feel bonded, to seek accord.”

      My girlfriend and I had this conversation last night. She had warmed leftovers from the Sunday football game and was getting ready to sit down and eat when she discovered that I was not in the room. I was in the office cleaning out my e-mail inbox because dinner is an optional meal for me. If I am not hungry, I do not eat. I have pretty much had to watch my weight my entire adult life; therefore, I do not ritualize eating (most people who are overweight and obese are ritual eaters). Eating is what I do to sustain life. Anyway, she got really bent around the axle for some reason, which had me completely befuddled. She knew that I often skip dinner. Yet, she was angry because I decided to clean out my inbox instead of eating with her. The reality is that she sees dinner as time to bond through conversation, something that I did not know before last night. I have never seen a meal as a way to bond through conversation because I am a guy. Guys do not go to lunch and bond through conversation for several hours. Bonding through conversation is foreign to men. We bond though activities such as playing golf or other sport. We also do not bond eye-to-eye because that is a dominance problem for men. What really got me hot about this difference is that my girlfriend attempted to invalidate how I felt about it. That I was somehow defective that I did not want to bond over a meal. I asked to her to watch the conversations that are flowing when couples are out with other couples. The women are usually doing most, if not all of the talking with the guys doing their best to hold it together until dinner is over. I then told her that we had the remainder of the evening over she ate to bond over conversation. That assertion went over like a led balloon.

      1. 2.2.1

        When dating a Greek, learn to speak Greek.

      2. 2.2.2

        YAG, do you mean that generally, men do not like going out to meals with women? Or that if they do, they would rather eat in silence than talk? This would surprise many of us who get asked to meals by men (including those with no romantic attachments).

        1. Yet Another Guy


          While I cannot vouch for every man on the planet, I can say that most men are willing to do the dinner + long conversation thing through courtship, but only a very small proper subset of men continues to want to do it after that phase is over (I believe that the difference has to do with the chemical flood that a man experiences during limerence). The reality is that the average man does not bond via conversation. We are not rewarded with the same feel-good neuropeptide (a.k.a. oxytocin) release that women enjoy from talking. I am constantly perplexed by the average woman’s inability to understand this difference between male and female biology. If a woman wants a man to bond with her, she should have sex with him. That way, both people are rewarded with an oxytocin release.

          As to platonic male-female friendships, I have no experience whatsoever with asking a female friend to dinner because I have absolutely no interest in it. However, I will ask a female friend to go cycling, a hike, or some other activity.

        2. Evan Marc Katz

          As always, YAG, you have an element of truth – based in real gender stereotypes. And, as always, you present things as a little too black and white, given that there are plenty of men – myself included who need to talk to feel a connection – especially in a long-term partnership. The idea that I could just be happy having sex and not talking to my wife is, on its surface, absurd. I would encourage you – a bright guy and valuable contributor – to think of all the ways you can possibly be wrong before issuing such black and white statements. It makes you vulnerable to counterattacks that you just don’t get it because you often seem to think that you’re representative of all men.

        3. Jeremy

          I love chatting over a meal. One of my favorite things. YAG, conversation doesn’t necessarily help men with their stress response the way it does women, but don’t assume that means men don’t like or benefit from conversation. We might communicate differently from women (on average) and some men might prefer different modes or contexts for conversation….but that’s pretty individual. And lots of women, women watching dinner conversations between other men and women, would tell you that the men do most of the talking, and it’s most often about themselves 🙂

        4. jo

          Three different men, three different responses. 🙂 It’s good for us women to know that many different types exist. Personally I’ve been in all three scenarios: the only talker, the only listener, and a balanced exchange. I like the last best, especially if it’s a ‘deep’ discussion – I’m less interested in gossip or talk just for sake of bonding (especially if it involves a lot of complaining).

        5. Yet Another Guy


          I did not say that I do not enjoy talking to my girlfriend. It just does not bond me to her, and it is not just sex that bonds me to her. What bonds me to her is the way are minds work. We are both INTJs. Most people do not get INTJs. She gets me and I get her.

          With that said, one of the things that I give Millennials props for is killing the dinner party, good riddance! I absolutely detest dinner parties. I would rather have my teeth drilled without anesthesia than sit through a couple of hours of forced small talk. I am so spent after that kind of experience that I need a few days of recover. I am not anti-social. It is just that like most introverts, I find small talk to be a mind-numbing, exhausting experience.

        6. Evan Marc Katz

          And I am looking to have monthly dinner parties because nothing brings me more joy than having a leisurely meal with people I like and having funny, interesting conversations that last deep into the night over a few bottles of wine. My point is: you’re not every man. You’re A man.

        7. ezamuzed

          I do prefer some activity for a date. But count me as one of the men who can bond over conversation. Especially if the conversation is fun, witty and full of banter.

        8. RustyLH


          You are an INTJ. My father was also an “I”. I’m not sure of the full code he was, but he was definitely an I. Now, it is not surprising that you would not enjoy dinner parties, as an introvert. I don’t think my dad got much out of them either.

          However, the defining characteristic in I’s and E’s is not just what, but who. Many introverts do like a good conversation…they just prefer them with a smaller number of people. Some have tried to say that introverts have fewer but deeper relationships, while extroverts have more, but shallower relationships. Yes and No. Extroverts can have relationships just as deep…they just have the ability to bond with more people. We also have more ability to bond faster. We also have the ability to let our guard down around other people, faster, which is likely why we can form more relationships. I saw this at work in my mom and dad. Nobody could ever convince me that my mom’s closest relationships were less deep than my dad’s. She just had the ability to get to know people much faster. She approached people with an ability to let her guard down, until you gave her a reason to put it up. My dad even acknowledged that, and said that he was just the opposite. He kept his guard up until you gave him the confidence to let it down.

          And while he would not easily chat with just anybody, like my mom…if you got him around his very large family, he was much more animated, and talkative. In fact, a weekend rarely went by without us visiting relatives on his side of the family. His family lived close by, while my mom’s lived a very long drive away. So my mom spent a lot of time on the phone with them. But make no mistake, family and friends were very deeply important to my mother, and my father also acknowledged that fact. In fact, she would talk more about her family, and her favorite memories of past family events, than my father did.

          There is one thing that I learned through researching the Myers-Briggs. Some introverts have a hard time dealing with extroverts. They don’t understand extroverts. Extroverts interrupt a lot. Introverts see this as being rude, and or, that the person isn’t interested in what you have to say. But, my professor explained that introverts have to get over that. He’s in introvert, married to an extrovert. He said that the opposite is true. If an extrovert isn’t interrupting you, they could care less about what you have to say.

          He likened it to two people walking down a sidewalk. This represents the conversation. He said that if the extrovert is interested in what you are talking about, it will spark something in their mind. A thought, or idea, or memory. They have to get it out right away. If they do not, it is as if they have stopped walking. If you keep talking, it is as if you have kept walking. He said that you have to let them get their thought out, so they can keep walking with you. Once they have gotten out what they had to say, you can now just keep going from where you were interrupted. Of course, tact helps. You can give them a dirty look, and keep going as if they didn’t say anything, but this they will interpret as hostility. Instead, you just say something like, “That’s interesting. So…where was I? Ah yes…anyway, as I was saying…” Extroverts thrive on the back and forth of a conversation.

          But, I suspect that you are pretty solidly in the introvert category, and so talking to extroverts is not pleasurable for you…so you surround yourself with other introverts. But this colors your opinion of what “most men” are, or want. Trust in this…there are as many men who are extroverts, as introverts…maybe more, and we do not just want conversation with a woman who we are bonding with, we NEED it.

      3. 2.2.3

        “If a woman wants a man to bond with her, she should have sex with him. That way, both people are rewarded with an oxytocin release.”
        Let’s play the devil’s advocate and say that if a man want a woman to bond with him, he should talk to her over a meal. It goes both ways, no?
        I read your message about expecting her to eat by herself because you weren’t hungry and thought it was odd that you didn’t think to at least sit with her. Expecting her to eat by herself because you weren’t hungry is a bit selfish, IMO.

        1. Mrs Happy

          The eating thing is so individual. ScottH, I think we’ve all been brought up as, “sit together to eat, it’s polite, and good for the family-or-other relationships”, but I wonder whether, to quote Tim Minchin in my favourite song, “just ’cause ideas are tenacious it means that they’re worthy”?

          My daughter takes 1.5 hours to eat her dinner. We sometimes all start out sitting together, but… we drift off, and frankly if I’m sitting at the dinner table I’m likely to eat just mindlessly/habitually, and my figure does not need more calories over 1.5 whole hours every night.

          YAG said he likes to skip the meal for health reasons. His lady love is not in the office sitting next to him while he goes through emails or whatever, so why should YAG have to sit next to her while she does something she wants to do?

          The whole world is tending to overweight/obese, so I think meals shouldn’t be some sacred bonding task during which your partner HAS to sit across from you while you are eating, if they have something they prefer doing then.

          But the “men don’t want to eat meals with women, they only do it under sufferance while courting” comment got me smiling. I have a handful of really close male friends of 20-30+ years duration friendships, and when in our teens/20s/30s all we did was active stuff together, running, cycling, mountain climbing, travelling, etc. But now we’ve all hit middle age, and all have money, and all that these men want to do now when we catch up, is eat at fine dining restaurants. Now I’m all for great quality food and service at waterfront restaurants, no complaints from me to partake of this every week, but I’ve personally yet to ever meet a man (and I’ve dated/known many more men than YAG has) who doesn’t like his food, and long drawn out 3 hour meals, enjoyed over non-stop talking. Either YAG is an absolute outlier, or I’m exclusively attracted to foodie chatty types.

        2. Jeremy

          “His lady love is not in the office sitting next to him while he goes through his emails…so why should YAG have to sit next to her while she does something she wants to do?”

          Because she WANTS to sit next to him and bond over the meal. In her mind, that’s what a relationship looks like, and a relationship without it is lacking. And YAG does not want her sitting next to him while he goes through his emails – has nothing to do with what relationships look like in his mind. Apples and oranges.

          BTW, tried to step outside model. Tried other models and being without models. For 2 wks and for 15 years. Chaos. Doesn’t fit with reality. Open to better explanations, just haven’t heard any.

        3. Mrs Happy

          J, YAG probably sits together with ladybug for some meals. Just not all meals.
          The (if I may say it) better viewpoint for your query is to stand at a different point on the table and ask, why would she want him next to her, under sufferance, knowing he doesn’t want to be there, knowing he has work to do, and he isn’t bonding, and he dislikes it?
          In his own home in his 6th decade of life the man is allowed to leave or not hang at the dinner table, even though someone else in his household is hungry at that moment and eating there.

          Meals shouldn’t be sacred. People shouldn’t feel psychologically coerced or forced into doing something they don’t want to do and have maybe grappled with lifelong. YAG and ladylove can spend other time together. Flirting with someone over a nice meal, or enjoying chatting to friends at a dinner party, is a different dining and emotional experience to what YAG would be having, and so that’s comparing apples with oranges.

          Just because one’s partner wants something, and that something is what “relationships look like in their mind”, surely isn’t enough reason for one to bend to their every preference. Else one would have little agency, little internal self motivation, be a little unsettled often, not feel quite right as time passed, and what sort of life is that? Freedom in the little things is important.

          My brain is literally smoke and adrenaline befuddled, so excuse me if I’m wrong, but who one is, and sometimes prioritising oneself, is of the utmost importance, so maybe after only a fortnight, something new should be attempted, rather than an abdication of hope and collapsing into a sorrowful failed faint. After 15 years, unhelpful habits are probably so ingrained one might need an outsider’s perspective and help to even identify them. The next step might be, find your table, and sit with the weird feeling being at your table gives you, until you can name the feeling more specifically than ‘chaos’. And then do what is best for you. You, not anyone else. And repeat.

        4. Jeremy

          Mrs H, you wrote, “Meals shouldn’t be sacred….”

          My whole life, my parents have been telling me what should and should not be. Even now, as an adult. My mother asks why my children have not had any musical training and I reply that it’s because they have no desire and are busy with other things we prioritize more. “Wow,” she says, “what a shame. Every child should have an understanding of music.” My father asks why I no longer paint as a hobby after all the lessons and camps he made sure I attended as a child. “Because I’m too busy to paint landscapes dad, ” I reply, “and because it’s just not a priority.” “That’s a real shame,” he replies, “Because in the end I think you’ll find there IS no higher prioroty.” “I doubt that very much,” I reply.

          The fact that they, or you, or I, think something SHOULD or SHOULD NOT be, does not mean that others should think the same. This fallacy repeats in so many of the comments here, on this very post. This man is “overly sensitive.” Compared to what? Compared to what the OP (and the commenters) think he “should” be. Based on their own personal values which they generously extrapolate to the world, like my parents.

          If YAG’s ladybug believes that meals are the vehicle for conversation – and if his attempts to convince her otherwise have gone over like a lead balloon – why does it matter what you think her priorities “should” be? Does the fact that you agree with YAG matter in the calculus of who should compromise with whom in this case? Or will one partner compromise with the other based on the calculus of power – who wants the relationship more, and who wants it less? Who thinks their priorities matter more and who is less rigid in their priorities? Who thinks their priorities are subjective and who thinks they’re objective? How close the compromise will approximate 50/50 will depend on the couple’s answer to those questions – not your logic nor mine.

  3. 3

    I think there is a little bit of fault to be assessed on both sides of the coin. I think the guy is likely traumatized from his marriage, and as a result sees very minor things at attempts to control him. I think he’s paranoid that this will happen again. I cannot tell from her writing if she is controlled or not. My fiance is what I would call hypersensitive as well and he too had a bad marriage that caused him to feel like this. I think that often men refer to a woman disagreeing with them as being “controlling,” and I think the lady here is dealing with a man with very low self esteem. That being said, she should also listen to what he is saying to her. When she tried to refer to him by that nickname he made it very clear that he did not like it. I don’t see how she could have taken his response as just teasing. So when she said that to him again it was wrong of her to do that. I like to tease and joke, my fiance is insecure and does not respond well to that, so I try really hard not to do that to him. And if he asks me not to call him something or not to do something I don’t.

  4. 4

    I usually agree with your advice Evan but I disagree here. If your boyfriend asks you to stop calling him a name then stop. She sounds extremely obnoxious.

  5. 5

    I agree with the conmenters. If he doesn’t want to be called by a certain name, then respect his wishes and stop calling him by that name.

  6. 6

    I’ve dated men who are hypersensitive and would take issues with things that I find trivial, but I always try to be sensitive to their feelings (and expect the same in return). I find that most of the time there’s deep-seated issues or baggage that has everything to do with his past. It was insensitive for the OP to keep calling him that nickname after he’s made clear that he doesn’t like it, but I’m willing to bet the real problem is something much deeper than the nickname itself, and his insecurity and self-esteem issues will strain the relationship in other ways. The OP is better off finding someone more compatible with her personality and communication style. That doesn’t mean the person will agree with her 100% of the time but can tolerate each other’s differences.

  7. 7

    This seems like an unconscious shit test gone wrong and the boyfriend failed in miserably.

    There is no doubt that the boyfriend needs to do a lot of work on himself to build his confidence to laugh at such things. But good for him for communicating his needs and calling Nora out for disrespecting him.

  8. 8

    Texting is a poor medium for teasing, particularly early in a relationship and when you are dealing with an insecure person.

    “As far as I know, most couples still tease or irk each other with something they know irritates their partner.”

    Humor is an essential part of a successful relationship. Deliberately irritating your partner, not so much. Maybe there wasn’t a lot of laughter in their relationship and she was trying to brighten the mood. Pushing boundaries is not an effective way to accomplish this.

    I agree with Jess that there was probably other stuff going on here. It seems like he was already becoming resentful about other things and this just brought it to the surface.

  9. 9

    Maybe some of the men reading this blog can comment here, because I’m not convinced that this man IS over-sensitive. Wouldn’t almost every straight man find it insufferable to be called ‘kitten’ by anyone, let alone a woman he’s dating? That’s so emasculating. What straight woman would be turned on by a man with kitten-like traits? Who would ever appoint a kitten-like man to a leadership position?

    Wow, this is getting to be a weird conversation…

    1. 9.1

      Thank you Jo. I almost wrote this several times above. My pet peeve is when people pathologize that which they don’t like. I keep reading the words “insecurity”, and “low self-esteem.” How about just simply not liking a certain thing, and not liking the fact that the person you’re dating doesn’t seem to care about what you do and don’t like? I disagree with Ezamused that this man necessarily needs to work on confidence and ability to shrug off comments like this. It’s one thing to shrug them off in general conversation, where the purpose of communication is the exchange of information. It’s quite another in intimate relationships where the purpose of conversation is rapport-building and emotional-connection. In the case of the latter, the better advice (IMHO) is just to find someone on the same page as you – who doesn’t pore over the DSM-V to find reasons why she doesn’t like you.

      1. 9.1.1

        Jeremy, the OP stated this “He’s had a lot of emotional trauma in his life, there was abuse growing up, he had problems with authority, he acquiesced to his ex-wife all of the time and he said the single women at work were controlling so he doesn’t date them.” Taking this into context, it gives the reader the impression that this man is dealing with a lot of insecurity, and defaults to seeing single women as “controlling” (unless proven otherwise). It sounds like a different situation than what you’ve described.

        1. Jeremy

          I tend to parse out the facts in the OP’s letter from her opinion about those facts. For example, let’s assume it is fact that he had emotional trauma in his life, that he aquiesced to his ex all the time, and he says the women at work are too controlling. Does that mean he is insecure? Or does it mean he’s learned what he wants to avoid in the future, and is secure enough to push back when he feels others are not treating him well? Where’s the insecurity?

          I think that when it comes to “controlling” behavior, men and women often don’t see eye-to-eye. Women worry about men controlling them through threats of violence and intimidation. But that’s not how women control men. Women control men largely through shame. Through accusations that they’re not “man” enough – a real man would behave the way I want. This man constantly acquiesced to his ex-wife and felt that she was too controlling – assume, controlling via shame. And then he met a woman who calls him “kitten”…and ignored his protests….and comments online about his childish reaction and what an “adult” would have done. Who takes what he told her about his past and arm-chair diagnoses him as hyper-sensitive and insecure, largely in an attempt to get him to act the way she wants. Jeez. Could it be that he sees certain people as controlling….because they are?

        2. Jess

          Jeremy, based on the OP’s letter it sounds like they have parted ways, and her intent is wanting closure and to avoid the pitfall going forward. “I asked for examples of what I’ve said or done that is controlling so that I can modify this behaviour for the next guy I date. “. This is not so much about who controls whom as it is a realization that someone is just not the right fit. Certain ppl are controlling, yes. But to generalize that single-women or women are controlling is a different story. The same way that men would be put off by women who generalize men to some negative attributes.

        3. sylvana


          exactly. This wasn’t about the incident of the name calling. This was about every women he encounters/in his life being “controlling”. Heck, he doesn’t even like the tone she uses in normal conversations.

          I’m sure she hears how other women are constantly treating him wrong all the time.

      2. 9.1.2

        Actually, isn’t it gaslighting to provoke him and then suggest that he’s insensitive?

    2. 9.2


      Nora clearly paints a picture of a submissive man, using words like “acquiesced”, “controlling women”, “very sensitive” and a history of “emotional trauma”. This sounds like a man who needs to work on himself if he hasn’t already.


      It is completely emasculating. But my advice for him would be to respond with something fun, witty and confident. Something like: “I’m a big kitten over text. But tonight let’s go to back to my place so I can introduce you to the Lion King.”

      1. 9.2.1

        ezamuzed – well, Hakuna Matata to that. 😉

      2. 9.2.2


        nailed it. The picture of a submissive man. The problem is, he’s not happy being a submissive man. So now he gets passive aggressive.

    3. 9.3

      Hi Jo,

      I agree with you 100%.

      Plus it’s about your tone. I don’t like being teased but I know when someone is doing it to be mean and when someone is trying to be cute or funny.

      Also the fact that she would use the things that he revealed about his past as a weapon against him to justify her behavior is a clear sign of the type of person she is.

      1. 9.3.1


        you have that backwards. HE is the one using what happened to him in the past as a weapon against HER.

        Was calling him the name wrong? I guess from his view. I’ll let that slide. But that’s not it. He also doesn’t like the tone she uses when they talk. It’s not what she says, but how she says things that he doesn’t like. It’s too “controlling”, just like all the women in his office, his ex, other women, bla, blah, blah. Everyone is trying to control him. No one is speaking in a low, quiet voice, choosing only the friendliest, most gentle words to make sure his feelings won’t get hurt.

        I’m the first to call people out for teasing or bullying others in mean ways. But this dude has serious issues.

    4. 9.4

      I think he should find the word “Hippo” in another language and call her that.
      or elephant.
      Could be fun and if she don’t like being referred to as one of those animals…he can just be like “don’t be so sensitive”

      1. 9.4.1
        Evan Marc Katz

        Yes, the “two wrongs make a right” theory. A total relationship saver.

        1. Seth

          But I will say in your response to her
          You didn’t see what she did as a wrong…you just saw him as not having thick skin…..
          So I don’t think that it is “two wrongs make a right” here.

        2. Evan Marc Katz

          Actually, if you read her last line about how he could have delivered his valid criticism differently, you can see that she would admit she’s wrong. And if you read my reply, I agreed she was wrong but the incident was way too minor to precipitate a lecture and a breakup. Like most situations, there is blame on both sides, but I like to believe that reasonable people can have a quick, rational, measured discussion to smooth things over. Least that’s what my wife and I have been doing for 11 years.

        3. Seth

          I read her letter and your response totally different from how you did and how you responded to her….which is fine.

          She comes to the “adult” way of handling the situation after the fact….after their relationship ended.
          On this issue though, it should not have been what broke them up.
          She admits to using the word in excess, “overkill”. So i am sure during that period of time, he most likely gave her looks of annoyance with the word being used and most likely mentioned to her as well that he didn’t like it. But she kept using it and pushing his button until he got “mad”.
          I would bet money that he didn’t get mad at the first time she used it. It was only after “overkill” use of the word that he got mad. So he handled it in the adult manner to begin with. She did not. She acted like a little 6 year old.
          I have read some of your posts for a while now and most of the time you tell women to be very direct on certain things. To tell the man what they expect or don’t expect.
          So to see your response to her be totally different then what you tell women to do…is just odd. He was direct with her.
          And probably multiple times. My ex treated me like crap on a lot of things. While I never got mad, I would tell her point blank “I do not like it when you do this…..” but she would go and do it again. And I would tell her again.
          And the last two lines that you speak of is her words, not his.
          It’s not up to him to read her mind and know what she wants him to say to her, so it looks like an “adult”. Simply telling her, “I don’t like that term, don’t use it.” Should be enough.
          Again, going with the absurdity route here…..If a woman tells a man “No, I don’t want sex”. Is there some other way that the man would prefer the woman say that in a more “adult” way….or would how she says it convey the point blank thought of “No, I don’t want sex”

          And in regards to your response to her, you say he through a hissy fit and she should drop him because he is a p*ssy…
          Wow, just wow. I would have expected better from you.
          And you want to respond to me by throwing a pox on both sides….I completely disagree with you. They clearly should not be together, but this isn’t what should have ended their relationship
          He communicated and she chose to ignore and then use it again. And as I said earlier, I bet he communicated it multiple times before it got to him getting mad.

        4. Evan Marc Katz

          Seth, you’re clearly conflating your experience with your ex with this situation. That’s your right, but this isn’t the same as your relationship. On the surface, this was a minor misunderstanding that he chose to turn into a dealbreaker. I’m not defending her behavior; I’m pointing out that if this is how you handle minor disagreements, you’re going to struggle in most relationships. Take that for what you will.

        5. Seth

          Roger that big man.
          Don’t see it as conflating.
          I just see it as one person telling another person they don’t like or appreciate what they are doing, and the behavior not stopping.

          But all good. 😉

        6. RustyLH

          Seth, the problem here is that relationships are two way streets. What you, and some others, seem to think is fine, is having a, “it’s my way or the highway” attitude about everything. If he will make such a huge issue over her teasing him a bit, what else will he insist on being his way.

          We live in a world now, where some people, not all…some people, have elevated being offended as automatic high moral ground. Thus we now have the professionally offended. Everything offends them.

          I went through a parenting class that taught you how to understand the motivation of your child’s behavior, based on how it made you feel. And this helped you more properly deal with the misbehavior. OK, so what you learn is that if you are feeling irritated, the child is seeking your attention. For instance, you are on the phone, and the child keeps doing something that it knows is going to make you respond.

          I then noticed that adults do this too. Especially women, with the man they love. Not all women, but some do. And yes, there are some men who will do it. But the question is, would you tell your child they are disowned, just because they are doing something that irritates you? What if your 18-year-old daughter gave you a nickname that you hated, and you told her not to call you that? What if she still did it, once in a while, to get a rise out of you…to get your attention…to tease you? Would you get all puffed up and make it all about you, and respecting your boundaries? Well…not if you are a good father, and lover her more than you love yourself.

          More than likely you are going to be the big St. Bernard, not a yapping little ankle biter. You are going to let it roll off your back. Maybe give her the attention she is looking for. But you aren’t going to get all whiny and make out as if you are a victim because she isn’t respecting your wishes.

          If you can’t do the same for your wife, or girlfriend, you obviously don’t love her enough, or you simply aren’t the right person for her.

          What about an 18-year-old son? What if he calls you Old Man? I have known men who hated that because they saw it as disrespectful? Imagine you are one of them. You tell him you don’t like that name and tell him to stop. So for the most part, he does, but for some reason, he occasionally likes to poke the bear, and calls you that. Going to disown him? Going to make him move out because of it? Somehow, I don’t think you are that callous.

        7. Adrian

          Hi RustyLH,

          You said, “What you, and some others, seem to think is fine, is having a, “it’s my way or the highway” attitude about everything. If he will make such a huge issue over her teasing him a bit, what else will he insist on being his way.”

          I want to say thank you. This is not sarcasm, I genuinely mean it. I have for years heard people throw around the term straw man fallacy, hell! I have even looked at dozens of papers on the subject to understand it when I see it.

          Most people use the term incorrectly but thanks to you for the first time in my life I can actually say, “Ah! So that is what a straw man fallacy is”

          Again thank you.

          I’m not sure how you came to the conclusion that if a person tells someone to stop do something to THEM (not stop doing it) because it makes them unhappy. I’m not sure how you see that as they are saying “it’s my way or the highway.” But I’m not here to argue that, You believe what you want to believe my friend. I’m just thankful for “eureka” moment you gave me.

        8. Evan Marc Katz

          Embarrassing post, Adrian. You seem to think there’s only one side to this story. There’s not – whether you choose to admit it or not. The guy is clearly troubled if two mentions of the word “minou” ended his relationship.

        9. RustyLH

          Hi Adrian,

          I’m happy I was able to provide you with a moment of enjoyment, but sadly, I did not provide you with a straw man fallacy. You said,

          “I’m not sure how you came to the conclusion that if a person tells someone to stop do something to THEM (not stop doing it) because it makes them unhappy. I’m not sure how you see that as they are saying ‘it’s my way or the highway.'”

          This is where you went wrong. You don’t appear to understand my point. Nowhere did I say that the man in the OP did not have a right to “tell someone to stop do something to THEM (not stop doing it) because it makes them unhappy.” Please point out where that is what I said.

          This is what I was saying.

          The man in the OP didn’t just “tell her to stop calling him something because it made him unhappy.” He ended the relationship because she did it, one more time. Many here are endorsing that. He told her what she had to do, and ended the relationship when she didn’t do what he told her to do.

          That is the very definition of, “it’s my way, or the highway.”

    5. 9.5

      Thanks to all the men who responded to my question. I can see that there’s some disagreement, at least in part because the letter was not clear as to who broke up with whom. I thought Nora broke up with this man, not the other way around, based on her statement ‘He said we were getting along great but I didn’t let it go.’ I also thought that he based his comment about her attitude of ‘my way or the highway’ on not just this one incident, but on her overall behaviour in the past. But unless she writes on here to clarify, we don’t know enough to judge strongly one way or the other, IMO.

      I feel as though Nora’s behaviour is somewhat immature and clueless, rather than having any ill-natured intent. If she’s reading, my advice is to be more thoughtful in the future: to really respect what people have to say, and not assume they’re joking just because she herself may have been in a light mood.

    6. 9.6

      @ Jo,

      I wonder if she said it in English, or French. If it was the latter, and he’s a native Francophone, I can see one problem already. In common usage, “minou” means something closer to “kitty” than “kitten”(It’s how you call a cat in French, as in “Minou, Minou, ici”), or “Pussycat”, when used as an endearment. “Mon petit Minou” is quite appropriate for a man to say to his GF. “Mon Minou” said by a woman to a man would get you some strange looks in some situations. Also, as slang, “Minou” is a slightly nicer way of saying “P*ssy” than “Chatte” which is a more crude reference to vulva. Probably not a word you’d use as a pet name in most cases. “Mon Chaton” (“my kitten”) would be better for that, as it’s more common usage and can be used by/to either gender. In French, being called “Mon Chaton” by your GF is neither offensive or emasculating, odd as it sounds when translated into English.

      If the actual word she used was “kitten”, whether a man would find that offensive is a matter of context. I had one GF who frequently called me “kitten”. The way she used it was as a sort of backward endearment, something of a joke, and I wasn’t the least bit offended by that. Had it been used as an emasculating insult, that would have been another matter, of course.

      There are a couple of lessons here. One, when using endearments from other languages, be sure you know exactly what it means, in what context, else you may be saying something to someone you recently met, which might be appropriate only in the boudoir. Two, when you use a new pet name for someone, and they say they find it offensive, believe them and stop using the word.

      1. 9.6.1

        Buck25 – haha, yes, I completely agree with your last paragraph! Ultimately, whether or not it would be appropriate only in the boudoir, if one party finds it offensive, the other should stop.

  10. 10

    It wasn’t that he was being insensitive. She clearly provoked and disrespected him, and doing so over text was extremely risky, as we all know. If you’re not straight up over text, be prepared for who knows what.

    What if you were called a mild racial epithet and then, after telling the person you didn’t like it, they said it again. How would you feel? I would feel disrespected, dishonored, and that my boundaries were violated. And that’s a lot different than a comic making fun of people.
    I get the other side too. Once I called a co-worker from South America “dude” in a playful way and he sure got pissed. Told me that where he was from, it was a rude and disrespectful thing to say. Being here, he sure should have realized the difference and that my intent was not to be rude or disrespectful. I didn’t appreciate how he handled himself and lost respect for him.

    I remember a long time ago at work, a guy used to say shalom to me in a rather loud voice and it annoyed me but sucked it up for a while and then eventually let him know that i didn’t appreciate it. He apologized in a very sincere way and stopped.

    And then there was the Canadian girl I dated who got offended when I mimicked their pronunciation of certain words. I think if they can’t roll with that, that’s their problem, sensitive Canadians. (I live just on the other side of the border)

    1. 10.1


      hang on… so you can make fun of a Canadian’s accent, but this girl using a name she thought was affectionate and cute is disrespecting her boyfriend?

      1. 10.1.1

        As a commenter pointed out, it could mean something close to female genitalia. And US pronunciation can also be teased.

  11. 11

    I think the bf is better off without her. He already said that he went through a traumatic experience.

    If she truly love him, she will be more understanding and sensitive towards his feelings. By calling him whatever he dislike, she is disrespecting him and hurting him.

    As the saying goes,”A tongue has no bones but strong enough to break a heart’. So it’s not the bf too sensitive but she’s insensitive.

  12. 12

    WOW! Am I the only one who noticed what her response was when he explained to her he didn’t like that name???

    She said ” I asked for examples of what I’ve said or done that is controlling so that I can modify this behaviour for the next guy I date.”

    The NEXT guy I date!

    And Evan defended her!!! Wow! Even worse if I ask someone not to call me something and they do that makes me sensitive???? If they like it but I don’t I’m the problem???

    > First she calls a guy a kitten (emasculating him)
    > Next she calls him sensitive (belittling his feelings on the subject)
    > Then how can I be better for the next guy (showing him how little she values the relationship)
    >Finally she says “I thought the adult conversation should have been” (passive aggressively degrading him by saying he’s not an adult)

    He was smart enough to see that this was an example of how their future would be.

    1. 12.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Pretty sure she said “the next boyfriend” after he broke up with her. It’s not stated but it makes little logical sense to say it before. I stand by my assessment. Maybe she shouldn’t have said “minou” a second time by text, but he should have handled it like an adult. His loss, not hers.

      1. 12.1.1

        I don’t think it’s either of their losses. It is a truism that when a reaction seems hysterical, the root is always historical. But all the therapy in the world will not alter the root. It may temper the reaction, but won’t eliminate the feelings. This man needs a woman who will cater to HIS needs. Not one who makes everything a battle – at least, as he perceives it. Because while Nora claims that her will is not set in stone and she is willing to discuss her opinions, I wonder if he felt that getting her to change any of her opinions was just too much of an uphill battle for his tastes – had enough of fighting such battles. And perhaps she wanted a man who was more willing to fight for his opinions, to fight that uphill battle, to pass her shit-test with flying colours – and be less of a…..minou.

        In my opinion, he behaved EXACTLY like an adult. A child would have lacked the confidence to break up with a woman who didn’t make him feel good about himself. Might have taken PUA classes to better manipulate her into bed with witty repartee, perhaps, and ignored his own discomfort. An adult knows when he is uncomfortable in a situation and extricates himself from it responsibly. Kudos to him. I wonder how much therapy and/or personal growth it took him to get to the stage where he could do so. Where the taunt of being too much of a “pussy” no longer bends him to the will of others.

        1. Adrian

          Standing slow clap that gradually gets picks up tempo and then crescendos.

        2. Rampiance

          I second your comment, Jeremy. It took me a long time to build up to standing up for myself, and now I tolerate no disrespect. Teasing me about something I declared as off-limits feels disrespectful to me, having lived through that situation for too many years, trying every avenue I could think of to deal with it.
          Some people LOVE rambunctious teasing, but I do not, so I match better with people who also do not.

      2. 12.1.2

        It sounds to me like she threatened to break up with him if he called her behavior controlling. That’s why the next sentence was “He said the way I speak sounds like it’s my way or the highway.” It also sounds like she omitted the part of the language discussion that minou is slang for pussy.

    2. 12.2

      Adrian, I had noticed that too, but concluded as Evan did that they had broken up before Nora said this. Evan, I thought it was the other way around though – that she broke up with him, because she wrote ‘He said we were getting along great but I didn’t let it go.’ In other words, he wanted to keep dating her despite the kitten incident, but she didn’t let it go – so she let him go.

      In any case, I don’t think either of them did anything too terrible. Hopefully they both learned how to be a little more careful with dates in the future.

      1. 12.2.1

        It was an ambiguous sentence. The other interpretation is this:
        He said: *We were getting along great until that nickname thing. Then you didn’t let it go. You kept bringing up that nickname.*

        This interpretation says that he stopped dating her as a result of her not letting go of the nickname.

      2. 12.2.2

        Hello Jo,

        You said, ” I don’t think either of them did anything too terrible.”

        I disagree with this.

        Though you may disagree with my reasoning why (^_^).

        As you have pointed out many times lately Jeremy has been bringing up the what about this person’s side or feelings in a lot of discussions. Now I know you and some women feel that he is only taking the males side while blaming women but I feel that he is representing those who rarely get represented because it is NOT seen as masculine for men to admit that they have feelings or that they can be hurt or that they need comfort and validation JUST AS women do. So we men remain silent for fear of what is happening to the original posters guy; being labeled weak because he spoke up for himself.

        Anyway, one of the things I’ve learned from reading all these conversations/debates Jeremy has had is that people who are selfish or bad partners usually think they are good partners. Many women like Nora are surrounded with people who tell them that it is the man’s fault, she did nothing wrong so therefore she never grows. How many men will she shame in the future and label as weak because they couldn’t take the joke that SHE wanted them to take? How many men will keep silent because they will fear being labeled as sensitive? They couldn’t take her teasing, THEY ARE THE PROBLEM not her?

        See for all the bad things people are saying about this man and calling him sensitive, saying his reactions were petty, and even saying he isn’t an adult. NO WHERE did she say that he can’t take jokes? NO WHERE did she say that he doesn’t like cute pet nicknames… No he didn’t like that particular name. BUT because he didn’t stay quiet and suck it up Nora got to get validated as being great and it’s his lost.

        So now what will she do… call another guy a weak chump if he doesn’t accept something that SHE thinks is petty… See that’s what I’ve learned from Jeremy. Many people think that if it is small to them it should be small to you and if you think something is big that they think is small then YOU are the problem… That is not a good ingredient for a healthy relationship. If you give but it’s not what they want to receive, however you love the things you are giving, then again, THEY ARE THE PROBLEM NOT YOU. Because all you see is that what you are giving is good, NOT that it’s only good in your eyes.

        To me this is what is happening when you tell Nora that her actions were justified. It’s NOT about the word being trivial or the fight being petty… It’s about a person who will not hear their partners wants and then shames him because SHE felt it was small and then she gets validated in her actions by people saying she was right it’s his lost or people saying BOTH did wrong….

        Just take a minute and look at how crazy the reply is to her. She is being told that “his” actions of saying he doesn’t like what she did after he told her how it feels is EQUAL to her intentionally doing something he asked her not to do… Think about that!!! People are saying that he is just as guilty as she is… But what did he do wrong? People are saying they aren’t a match, people are saying it’s his lost, people are saying he isn’t an adult, people are saying he is sensitive all because he didn’t like that she did something that he asked her not to do and yet they are equating her actions to his???

        Have you ever heard that song by Michael Jackson called “Will Be There?” There is a line that goes “But they told me a man should be faithful, walk when not able, and fight until the end, though I’m only human.”

        I honestly do believe that many people’s toxic view on how men should be is what is causing many men to hold back their true feelings. He’s not human he is a man and men don’t get offended over being teased, so he must be weak or hypersensitive. If a women speaks up she is strong if a man speaks up he is weak and hypersensitive. Man Up!

        1. Evan Marc Katz

          Dude, chill.

        2. jo

          Adrian, I don’t believe you’ve actually read my comments in this post, as you’re putting words in my mouth that I never wrote. I have been defending the man throughout this post.

          At the same time, I don’t believe that this one action on Nora’s part justifies so much anger or angst. As I’d written earlier, she seems young and clueless, and this is a good opportunity for her to learn about respecting others.

        3. Jeremy

          I agree with you here, Adrian. One commenter below wrote that she thinks it’s a shame to break up a good relationship over such a small issue. Question: Why assume the relationship is good? Because the OP thinks it is? Why assume the issue is small? Because the OP (and the commenter) thinks it is? If the guy doesn’t think the relationship is good – it isn’t. If the guy thinks the issue isn’t small – it isn’t. Period. Regardless of what others think he “should” think. If he was writing in for advice, I might suggest he really introspect as to whether he’s making a mountain out of a molehill – but that question is his to answer, not mine.

          This said, Adrian, remember the question I asked above. What is the purpose of communication? Always a good think to think about prior to communicating. Good to remember who you’re talking to….and in what context….and what your goal is.

        4. sylvana


          This whole thing wasn’t so much about him getting hurt over what she called him. She understood that was wrong, and most of us do agree. She did apologize for it.

          The problem was that he then went on to call her controlling. Which would have still been one thing, but she knows he also told her all the women in his office were controlling, so he won’t date them. And other woman are controlling.

          So now we’re heading into a whole other level of “dude, you have issues.” If it’s always everyone else, not you, there’s a good chance that’s is not everyone else doing things wrong.

          Since he has mentioned to her that so many other women are controlling, I’m pretty sure she hears him complain about certain things quite a lot. I think put all together, she’s reached the conclusion that he’s beyond helping or pleasing. This wasn’t just over one incident. And it wasn’t just her. It seems to be all the women in his life he has the same issues with.

    3. 12.3


      you missed some things. He told her all the women in his office are controlling. He told her his ex-wife is controlling. Then he told her she is controlling. That right there is a major red flag.

      Since apparently all the women he encounters are so controlling, I’m sure she is constantly getting ear fulls of how everyone is constantly wronging him. Which leads her to the conclusion that he’s overly sensitive. Then that incident happened between them. Which, in the end, she admitted she might have been wrong about. At which point, he know slaps her in the face with “well, you’re controlling too.” And that he doesn’t like her tone of voice when she talks to him.

      And she goes “eyeroll”. Maybe all the other women you encounter aren’t all that bad, after all.

      That’s some seriously passive aggressive behavior. Not to mention he’s actually the one trying to be controlling, it’s just not working for him. He said there was abuse in his childhood (I think). That would explain it. He always felt powerless, still feels powerless, desperately wants to be in charge, but does not have any self-esteem and zero natural dominance to help him get his way.

      That’s not saying she didn’t do anything wrong. But that man has serious issues.

  13. 13

    I thought the adult conversation should have been something like this, “when you use that word, I feel teased. I was put down, humiliated and teased a lot growing up and I’m very sensitive to it. Could you mindful about this and I’ll be mindful not be so hyper sensitive.”

    Yikes. Not everyone speaks the Official Language of Therapy, you know.

  14. 14

    I just simply don’t understand how or why it doesn’t bother this woman to continue to do something her partner asked her not to do. And then to try to make a case that he is somehow flawed because he had a reaction? Maybe he just didn’t like you enough to put up with it.

  15. 15

    It is sad to loose a potentially good relationship lost over a seemingly trivial issue. In reading the post, it seems the BF wanted empathy for his past-wounds and OP was not able to see or provide that. I don’t feel that OP did anything wrong, but failed to realize the significance of her actions – just sad that a good relationship was lost for a no-good reason.

    1. 15.1
      Mrs Happy

      I do not think they are a good match at all. Lifelong, he is going to be much more emotional work than she will want to provide, and less stoic than she wants a partner to be. Lifelong, she is going to be less sensitive, gentle and accommodating, and less malleable, than he wants his partner to be.

      It was 6 weeks, it’s nothing, they probably won’t remember one anothers’ surnames, possible even given names, in a decade.

      And on “… so that I can modify this behaviour for the next guy I date…” – is this a routine thing now? When I was dating, if a man had asked me how he could be better for the next woman, I doubt I’d have wanted to help him much.

      1. 15.1.1

        The question is, should she change? Maybe not. She has to look inward at herself. Was she just trying to have fun. Was it meant as a little tease in a light hearted manner? Or, was she actually trying to hurt him. Was she trying to manipulate him. Was it actually in her mind that this would really be a huge issue to him, and she felt delight in a malicious way, when she typed it and sent it.

        If it was just light hearted fun…then she should not change. She just has to find a man who has a thicker skin. Full stop. She should stay who she is, and look for guys who don’t seem to get bothered by little things. This man was not a good match for her. They are both better off having gone their separate ways.

        If she admits to herself that she was fully intending to disrespect him…intending to be hurtful, then yes, she should address this aspect of herself, and seek to change it. Based on what she said, I suspect this was not the case. It may have been possible that she had uncles, grandfather, friends of her father, etc… that would tease her in a light hearted way, and so she sees this sort of interaction as just the way people have fun with each other, from time to time.

        The problem with many of the comments here, is that you can see the pain of people’s experiences coming out in their comments.

        The reality is, just because we may be compatible on paper, doesn’t mean we are actually compatible. Me and my ex found that out. We were married for way too long. I grew up with a lot of physical affection. She grew up just the opposite. So the relationship was cold, but her opinion was that you pet dogs, not humans. Together we made mud. As a result, I acted dysfunctionally in the relationship.

        The best advice is to not try to force a square peg through a round hole. If the person does things you cannot live with…if they don’t give you what you need…find somebody who can…or be alone, because being alone is better than being with the wrong person.

        It isn’t that she was wrong, or he was wrong…it’s that they were wrong for each other.

        1. Karl R

          Rusty LH said:
          “The question is, should she change? Maybe not. She has to look inward at herself. Was she just trying to have fun. Was it meant as a little tease in a light hearted manner?”
          “If it was just light hearted fun…then she should not change.”

          I have to disagree. If she’s having lighthearted fun, then she needs to know how to keep it lighthearted. This is something that I alluded to above (#1.2). My friends and I like to play “verbal volleyball,” where we are constantly poking fun at each other. But that’s the operative word. Fun. If it stops being fun for the other person, then I’ve completely fucked it up.

          I know where my friends’ sensitive spots are. I don’t aim for those … because we’re having fun. If I hit someone in a sore spot, they can let me know, and I’ll do my best not to aim there again (barring memory lapses).

          However, as you said, some people are just wrong for each other. I agree that this was the case here. These two should not be dating each other.

          But if Nora thinks nothing of “teasing” someone about specific things where they have asked her not to … isn’t she sabotaging all of her relationships? Who is left for her to date? Some mythical man who is so unfeeling that he’s never bothered by anything? And if she finds this kind of man, would she be able to tolerate dating him?

        2. Mrs Happy

          Karl, I think she thought it was lighthearted. She seemed surprised he was so touchy about it. She can’t get her head around it.

          She does think oddly about how loving relationships work – “most couples still tease or irk each other with something they know irritates their partner”, she wrote. No, no they don’t, in my worldview, and people who do that are pretty unimpressive and often a bit nasty I think. I’d never knowingly repeatedly tease a partner, loved one or friend about something which irked or upset them, because then they would become, you know, upset, and why would I want someone I cared about, upset?

          I think the horror of Nora’s ex as a partner blinded me to how suboptimal she is too. It’s almost funny how badly these two suited – a woman who wants to repeatedly tease until irk stage, and a man who needs constant TLC and no teasing at all. Good grief, why did they last 6 weeks, I’m now wondering. What a train wreck.

        3. jo

          Karl R, I agree with you. What’s tricky is, in teasing others, the tipping point between fun and offense can be a steep drop-off. That’s why my teasing tends toward compliments or innuendos.

          Mrs Happy, your sarcastic comments are making me laugh. ‘No bow is too long’ – are you trying to usher us offstage? 🙂 Yes, we as a group do like to over-dissect short love stories.

        4. RustyLH

          Karl R, I 100% disagree. People are not your accessory. They are human. They have their own personality, and things that make them tick. You have to leave wiggle room for the other person to be themselves. You have to compromise.

          Some of you seem to be reading to much into this, maybe remembering a relationship with somebody who was very insensitive to your needs. Very selfish, and you are projecting onto this. For instance, Mrs. Happy is now saying she “repeatedly” called him this. No, she did it one time after he asked her not to. You are also glossing over how he thought all the women in his life are controlling. This is a combination of a man with serious issues regarding women, and the two of them just having incompatible personalities.

          All my life, I have seen loving couples…little girls up to young women, and men in their lives…mothers and sons…etc., all tease each other, and all of them have fun with it. If it doesn’t irk the target a bit, it’s not teasing. Teasing can be light hearted, between people who love each other, or it can be very malicious, used as a way to humiliate people, or bully people. The difference between the two is huge.

          There’s a big difference between a daughter teasing her father about his “old man” house slippers, and a group of people teasing to publicly humiliate a co-worker, about their choice of shoes that they wore to work. Huge difference.

          Once again, this is just a case of them not being right for each other. While you would not like a woman like that, I would. I like that kind of interaction. If I were the man in the OP, I would have said something like, “So you think I am a cat, eh? Well, this cat likes to bite. If I were you, I would expect to be pounced on, when you get home.” I would expect that this would put her in a playful mood, which would carry over into when we both arrived home.

          Everything is in the details. Does she like to tease, and also be teased? Sounds healthy to me. Or does she like to tease, but then is hypocritical about being teased. If so, that sounds like control issues.

          Is it something she only does occasionally, which would be OK, or does she do it a lot? If it is the latter, it may again, be a control thing.

          But you come across with this attitude that just because you say not to, that the person has to not, 100% of the time. I suspect that if you have a daughter, and you told her to stop teasing you about something, and for the most part she did, but one day, she does it again, you aren’t going to disown her. But would you fly into a rage and whine and cry about being disrespected? I hope not.

          Everything is in the details. Most people who love you, aren’t going to have malicious intent when they tease you. If you aren’t sure, just ask. You might be surprised when the answer is simply, “I was just having fun.” Or, “I was just trying to get your attention.”

          Do you not have daughters? Little girls often poke the bear…keep “irking” dad, just to get him to get up and chase them as they run away squealing in delight. In my experience, most women, even as they get older, still let that little girl out once in a while, with the men they love. But they have to feel safe around you in order to do so.

      2. 15.1.2

        Mrs. Happy,

        “so that I can modify this behaviour for the next guy I date…”

        I got a tickle out of that one. Sounded to me like she basically told him “dude, I’m breaking up with you.” But tried to phrase it in a way that wouldn’t sent him into another toddler hiss fit.

        1. Mrs Happy

          Toddler fit – yep. Even in walking away she had to not be her true self because of his extremely heightened sensitivities. At the info ‘every woman at work – every woman – controlling’ …I too thought, oh boy, run away fast Nora honey.

          He wants a woman who will bend over backwards and constantly walk on eggshells for him. I close my eyes in abject horror at the amount of emotional work and long-term energy drain, and just not being able to relax and be yourself, being such a woman would cost the average stable, emotionally okay female.

          He wants extremely malleable. That’s fine, but he’ll have to search a while, and let other wants on his list go, because super-malleable, to the degree he desires, (always think of him, and never do or say anything that triggers him, and he’s going to be triggered a lot) is rare inside Western cultures. He might actually be more successfully moving his relationship search to countries or cultures in which women are trained to fete, serve and see men as superior from birth.

          He’s actually really damaged and disadvantaged so I do have a small amount of pity for him. I don’t respect the way he projects though, it’s immature and mean. But my main emotion around such a character in any relationship setting would be wariness, and my main behaviour avoidance, and I bet in that I’d echo most female commenters here.

          Teasing and fun are pretty standard parts of courtship beginnings, RustyLH was completely right, and all the men who said they’d tease right back, or even take it up a level to innuendo, are going to be much more successful with women (and even people generally) than Nora’s ex, the poor lad.

          As an aside, I just love how this one story has everyone intrigued and hypothesizing to the tune of about 100 comments so far. I mean, we’ve even had nutrition and language lessons in amoung the usual volleys and positions on feelings. A few paragraphs of a tale and this group can go for weeks, no bow is too long, it’s great. I love this soap opera.

        2. Jeremy

          The conversation is going on because of people’s inability to take perspective. Like in the comment I wrote above about my backyard neighbor that most people ignored. Who is the asshole?

          I read your comments, and Rusty’s and Sylvana’s and others – they are like my father – “of course YOU are the asshole, Jeremy.” And I read my comments, and Karl’s and Adrian’s and others – “of course, my NEIGHBOR is the asshole, dad.” Fundamental difference in base-assumptions. The avoidant person perceives the anxious to be a child because her (the avoidant’s) base assumption is personal autonomy. The anxious considers the avoidant to be an asshole because his (the anxious’) base-assumption is care for the other. Who is right? BOTH. Not neither. Who should compromise? BOTH. Not neither. Or else avoid each other completely, realizing that BOTH are unable to stop themselves from being assholes around the other.

          Oh, and incidentally, regarding your comment above….consider that I know that already, have thought it through, have experimented with it over the course of years, not fortnights, and I UNDERSTAND. It’s not that I’ve failed to understand how human behavior works, it’s that I’ve succeeded. It’s funny how people think we understand ourselves. Then, when challenged, we suddenly become agnostic. And then angry. I’d judge it as a “toddler-fit” if I didn’t understand it to be quite adult.

        3. sylvana


          we did say that her calling him the name was wrong. Even she admitted it. If that was the only issue, I would firmly agree.

          The main issue here is him having a problem with every woman around him. Every woman around him is controlling. If every woman around him is like that, maybe the problem does not lie with every woman, but rather with the one single person who is the outlier here. .

        4. Jeremy

          We see what we want to see, Sylvana, or what we’re afraid we might see. The OP wrote that this man does not date the single women at his workplace because he thinks they’re too controlling. And how many women is that? 30? Or 3? Why are we so eager to extrapolate “all women” from “the single women at work”? If 30, I’d question the guy. If 3, I’d just assume he doesn’t want to date them because he KNOWS them. We have no information and therefore are making assumptions. Why assume we (who know almost nothing) know better than the guy (who at least does know the women somewhat)?

          Finally, you, Rusty, and Mrs Happy all admitted in some form that the OP’s behavior was somewhat questionable – but when put on a balance-scale it was his behaviors (not hers) that were the most…..child-like, ineffective, contemptible. None of those descriptors stand up to scrutiny. Child-like? No more so than the avoidant’s avoidance is the equivalent of a toddler-blanked for security. Ineffective? That assumes the man’s goal was to bed or continue a relationship with a woman he no longer liked. Was that his goal? If not, his behavior was not ineffective. Contemptible? Exiting an unsatisfactory relationship is hardly contemptible – no more than it’s coercive.

          I’m not trying to convince you (or anyone) that you’re wrong in thinking what you do. I’m trying to point out that any judgment that you make here (other than a judgment of incompatibility) is HIGHLY coloured by your own motivations, which you should take care not to extrapolate.

  16. 16

    They are BITH wrong. He TOTALLY overreacted the first time, GRANTED.
    And the fact that he sees controlling women everywhere says a lot more about him than those women, TBH.
    But I have to say when somebody clearly states he doesn’t like something and even has a somewhat neurotic reaction to it, why would you insist on doing it?
    That is bullying, not teasing.
    I don’t think she is controlling, I don’t think she meant any harm and she seems a decent person that wants to communicate and resolve issues.
    In this specific occurrence, she was somewhat wrong.
    BUT I do think this guy has serious issues with women in general and will most definitely project all of his baggage onto ANY female.
    He is trying to prove to himself that ALL WOMEN HATE AND DISRESPECT HIM.
    He sounds like a school project for a psychology student, sorry, I’d pass

    1. 16.1


      I fully agree. Unless he gets his way, everyone is controlling. Don’t just walk. Run.

  17. 17

    I’m firmly with Evan here. The first major red flag was that he called all women at his office “controlling.” That’s incel talk. One of their favorite terms, actually. But still, I gave him the benefit of the doubt.

    The calling him whatever thing, to me, was clearly meant in a joking/teasing way. But still, I see how that might have hurt his feelings. But it didn’t end at that. Here comes the problem:

    He now goes from “I ask you not to call me that” to you’re “controlling”.

    So the little pu**y boy (Evan was dead on with that term for cat) didn’t get his way, and now he’s stomping his feet like a toddler, calling everyone else controlling. So who’s the controlling one? He’s mad because he wants to be the one in control, but is way too submissive to be so. If I didn’t know better, I’d think he’s a woman.

    I don’t think he’s sensitive. I think he’s your typical omega boy, way low in the ranking of natural dominance, but not at all happy with being so far down the food chain.

    All the women in his office are controlling. His girlfriend is controlling. I’d bet he considers 99% of women controlling. And probably envies men who are the same. He’ll never be happy unless he either accepts his place in the natural hierarchy, or grows a set of balls. No sweet, submissive woman will date him because one of the two has to be the man.

    She’s definitely best off not worrying about this one and finding herself one with at least beta status.

    1. 17.1

      Sylvana, ‘your typical omega boy’ – Ha! I didn’t realise there was such a thing as a typical omega boy. 🙂 But I see your point. It isn’t wrong that he objected to being called minou against his express wishes, but that he called her and the women in his workplace controlling (inaccurately in at least one case) – and when you overuse that term, the problem might be you rather than most women.

      Since you wrote that all our comments reflect our personal experiences, might I say that from this post and others, Sylvana, you seem to despise a certain kind of man: non-alpha males who want women to be sweet and submissive, but refuse to pay for them or act in other manly ways. FWIW, I have no admiration for that sort of man either. They don’t seem to realise that it’s precisely behaving in those manly ways that pushes them upwards toward alpha, rather than hanging down toward beta or omega. Keep acting like an alpha and you become an alpha – at least for all practical purposes when it comes to interactions with others, especially women.

      1. 17.1.1


        lol, yes. There is such a thing. Everyone seems to think there’s only dominant or submissive. Those are just the extreme ends of the scale. Most people (and animals) are actually in the healthy middle — the betas. They can lead when they need to, and they can also happily follow a leader. I don’t know why beta has come to be associated with “girly” men. It’s far from the truth. Also, as I mentioned below, alpha, beta, omega applies to men and women alike.

        What I despise are people who lash out at others because of their own short-comings or own unhappiness. People who expect others to lower themselves to that person’s level or below just to make that person feel better. It completely goes against nature. Particularly nature of survival.

        That’s the equivalent of me walking up to a high-jumper and telling them they better not jump higher than 12 inches, because I can only clear 14 inches. Or telling a 100 yard sprinter they better snail-pace it so my ego doesn’t get hurt. It’s basically “let me win, or else.”

        As you said, those people have two choices: Step up their game, improve themselves, or learn to be happy with who they are. Stepping up is almost impossible to do. Confidence can be improved and learned. Natural dominance, not so much. Just like a naturally dominant person can’t really learn to be submissive to others who are not more dominant than them. I’m highly dominant, and just the thought of it sends me into a panic. We’re going to get EATEN. We’re going to get killed. What are you going to do? Ask the big bad wolf very nicely and polity to please not eat us?? Yeah, that’ll work. NOT.

        No. Just no. lol

        Now, LW’s boyfriend can still have a sweet and kind woman for a partner. But he’ll have to learn to accept that she’ll be the one who ends up getting things done in their life.

        I also actually don’t doubt that he does attract some more dominant women in his life. Since he is naturally more submissive, that’s what he’s naturally drawn to. That’s what makes him feel safe by instinct. He just doesn’t like not being in control. Survival instincts tell him to go for that type. His ego find that type “controlling”.

      2. 17.1.2

        Men need to stop taking this sort of romantic advice. Seriously. This shit is so harmful. It is not incumbent on a man to act alpha, to accept status as beta, or to worry about how women see him in any way. Rather, he must acknowledge his internal wants, take responsibility for his “shoulds,” and find the balance between them that leads to the most personal fulfillment for himself. And THEN find a woman who is attracted to the balance at which he arrives. Advice to do otherwise is not to his benefit, but rather to the benefit of others and to his detriment. Even if it might meet his short-term goals.

        People are not animals, Sylvana. Animals don’t have “shoulds.”

    2. 17.2

      You know, the guy in the letter does come off as a pu**y, and it was weird he thought so many women were controlling. I’d advise her not to date guys like that.

      Having said that, your comment (and to a lesser extent the one below it), seems as full of bile and classification of the opposite sex as any “incel” type talk does.

      1. 17.2.1


        How is it full of bile and classification? And btw, this does NOT just apply to men, but women as well.

        Alpha, beta, omega… it doesn’t apply to just men. Women are the same. It’s not an insult. It’s the natural hierarchy of dominance. You can clearly observe it in every animal in the animal kingdom, particularly obvious in herd/pack/group animals. Humans are no different whatsoever, except for the fact that money and title can buy us power we haven’t earned. Which is impossible in the animal kingdom.

        I work with horses and dogs on a daily basis. And guess what? When it comes to hierarchy and dominance, human behavior is identical to their behavior – male and female alike. The sex of the person/animal actually has nothing to do with dominance. There, too, you have alphas, the happy mediums who can swing and adjust either way (betas), and those on the bottom of the ranking, the omegas (leaning heavily in the naturally submissive category). Now among the omegas, you have two types: 1) the ones who are more than happy letting others leads, and find security, safety, and happiness in it. And 2) you have the trouble makers. Those unhappy with their status, but not physically or mentally strong enough to change it. So they get aggressive. Bullies, abusers (mentally/verbally), and passive aggressive people are best examples of such. And yes, incels usually fall into that category as well.

        That doesn’t mean that omegas (whether male or female) overall are bad. Most of them are extremely kind and giving and loyal. But these are the ones happy in their skin.

        The problem with this LW’s boyfriend is that he falls into the not-happy category, expecting women to submit to a person more submissive than them. Basically, he wants them to go against the laws of nature and suppress the instinct for survival. Good luck with that. While money has made those natural instincts somewhat obsolete, you’re talking about overriding the number one core instinct any living being has.

        1. BBQ

          We’ll it’s full of classification because you’ve quite literally classified people according to your human dominance hierarchy. This is not unlike incels or whatever other group using their version of evolutionary “psychology” to justify men being in control of women, or whatever other behaviour they wish to justify. They too do it with either the belief (of veneer) of emotionless, scientific logic which you’ve used.

          I’m not going to bother too much with this, you’ve obviously given your philosophy some thought and in your view it can be used to explain human relations.

          All I can say is good luck with dating and relationships if your espousing your theory on alphas, betas, omegas and submission and dominance on the regular.

  18. 18

    Sorry, Evan. I don’t agree with you.
    He got up the nerve to tell her what he did not like and to please not do it again, and then she did. This is not a case of teasing or not being able to take a joke. It is trust.
    Advice to her: listen and take seriously what the one you love requests. Otherwise, you risk not only hurting their feelings, but having them lose their trust in you..

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