Bad Joke or Insensitive Boyfriend?

by pbsmitty

Smitty,

I’ve been seeing a guy who is an expat living in my economically growing yet logically going backwards country. Our government–bear with me here–is revamping our outdated book of criminal code and they are mulling to regulate cohabiting couples, criminalize adulterers, and sexually active singles may get jailed.

Upon hearing such reports, this guy was like “maybe i should start dating my own people for the rest of my time here.”

He said he was just joking and apologized after I became upset. But I was infuriated and we ended up w/ a huge fight.

He said I was overreacting and taking out my frustration at the govt on him. Maybe he was right. But I stand my grounds and think he could have been more sensitive, especially knowing that these issues strike my angry cord.

What’s your perspective on this?

– You Know Who

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Dear You Know Who,

Very interesting question for our first submission! Before we get to the relationship question, I want to encourage you to do your best to stay safe and sound given the rather draconian laws the country seems to be considering.

As for the guy, it certainly could have just been one ill-considered joke. The main thing to consider here is whether this is a pattern of behavior.  Will this happen again?

I think by nature men tend to be less empathetic than women. You say this guy knows that “these issues strike my angry cord” but honestly this guy may just not be picking up on how much the situation with the government upsets you.  I think you need to (as non-confrontationally as possible) communicate how deeply these potential laws distress you.  The goal shouldn’t be to castigate him for his joke, but explain your reaction to it.  If he cares about you he will listen to your concerns and work to understand how his actions affected you.  Then he will do his best to avoid any future jokes on the topic.

However, if it does happen again he is showing that he is either unable to listen to your concerns or unwilling to change his behavior to account for your valid feelings – especially if he continues to say you are “overreacting” and “taking out your frustration.”

In a nutshell: Guys often need things spelled out to them so explain how this is a sensitive issue and that you would appreciate it if he didn’t joke about it in the future. If it happens again after that you will need to address the fact that he doesn’t seem interested in understanding and respecting your feelings.

– Smitty

Ask Smitty your questions!

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