My girlfriend and I are both female, and she has always had some anti-male leanings, but she has become unhinged with the sexual harassment news in the last month. She posts things on social media like, “All men are pigs. Yes, I said all.”I pointed out that I have dear friends who are male and are wonderful to both of us, and that the single most important person in my professional life is a male mentor who has been nothing but kind and decent to me and every other person I’ve ever seen him around, man and woman alike. She says if there’s a man I don’t think is a pig, that’s because I’m “blinded” by them acting charming.Is there anything I can say or do to get my girlfriend to see things differently? Is your advice to me basically the same as your recent advice to the letter-writer with the racist fiance, that it’s a dealbreaker?Blinded by Male CharmNo, and yes.
There is a distinction to be made here, to be fair. The column you refer to was about someone on the power side expressing hatred for those traditionally oppressed, whereas the power flows in the other direction with your girlfriend. She is in the mistreated demographic and railing against the group that abuses its power. On that narrow basis alone, your girlfriend’s outrage is less of an outrage than the racist fiance’s.
But it’s a distinction without a difference. Her outrage is an outrage – perhaps consequentially so if your girlfriend is in a line of work that has her supervising, advising, teaching, coaching, defending, admitting, hiring, firing, serving, caring for, feeding, protecting or treating boys or men.
Your girlfriend has hatred in her heart, and has turned it upon just under half of the world. Worse, she sees nothing wrong with this. Worse still, she sees something wrong with people who see something wrong with this.
Worst of all, at least as it applies to the sustainability of your relationship, your own girlfriend has no respect for your judgment or worldview. Or you for hers.
These widely reported incidents of sexual harassment are crimes against the humanity of the individual women involved and against the humanity of women in general.
Your girlfriend’s fury likewise erases the humanity of men by denying even the possibility of individual culpability and innocence.
As someone who will defend to the last a person’s right to end a relationship over anything from bad kissing to reprehensible taste in pizza toppings – because if it matters to you then it matters – I have no hesitation in advising you to walk away from someone, promptly, who harbors such profound contempt. Contempt for you or for men, take your pick.
Or leave just for her utter failure to see the irony in her rage or to admit her own faults.
We measure one person at a time based on that person’s actions, or we’re wrong, sides notwithstanding.
As with the racist fiance, it’s time for your girlfriend to seek treatment for an anger so profound it’s distorting her judgment. I urge you to suggest it. I suggest you urge it.
But I don’t recommend you stick around to see whether she does.
I was talking with my wife, her brother and her mother, and the subject of DNA tests came up. My wife and her brother both said they were thinking about sending in a DNA test for their ancestry. My mother-in-law started getting very adamant that it would be stupid for both of them to do it because they both have the same ancestry so there’s no reason not to just have one of them do it.She was getting quite upset about it, and although neither my wife nor my brother-in-law seemed to pick up on this, I suspect my mother-in-law was reacting that way because perhaps they don’t have the same biological father, which I know would come as a shock to my wife. This is just my suspicion based on the way my mother-in-law was acting – maybe I’m wrong.My wife and her brother are now both planning to do the test. Should I say anything? If so, do I privately ask my mother-in-law why she’s so insistent they shouldn’t both do it? Or do I mention to my wife my suspicion? Or just keep my mouth shut and let the DNA test take care of itself?Revealing Too Much?Yikes. So much potential for disaster based on so little substance.
Here’s what you do have, and the only thing you have: You picked up your mother-in-law’s distress signal and her children didn’t.
Since the reason for it could be serious, please do intervene based on that distress, but limit your intervention to what you know and don’t put even a toenail beyond it.
Say to your wife, “When you and your brother were talking about the DNA test, your mom was not only adamant that only one of you do it, versus both of you, but also was increasingly upset the more you talked about it.
“It just seemed like you and your brother were both too caught up in the idea to notice your mom’s reaction. I have no idea what it might mean, but thought you should consider it before you do anything.”
Avoid your suspicions altogether and reveal just what you know – and therefore just enough. Let your wife take it from there.
My dad keeps oversharing about his relationship with my mom. He goes into extreme detail about their fights and how that makes him feel. When he is finished, he thanks me and tells me he feels more relaxed now that I know. I don’t want to be the one who takes that away from him, but I also don’t really want to hear this. Is that unreasonable?Therapist KidPlease, please be the one who takes that away from him. He’s hurting you and he’s hurting his relationship with you, and he’s at least indirectly hurting his and your relationships with your mom.
Just through prominence and proximity, most families already are highly involved in each other’s business. It can be difficult to recognize where one person’s business ends and another’s begins.
But it’s essential to, for the long-term contentment and cohesion of the whole. If people can’t live their lives with age-appropriate independence and without an earful of commentary from overinvested familial spectators, then they will typically do one of two things: They’ll contort themselves to earn more favorable commentary – thereby living someone else’s idea of what they should do versus their own, which is so unhealthy; or they’ll move away at their first opportunity, in a literal or emotional sense or both, as far as necessary to get away from the noise and live an autonomous life – which is the healthier option of the two but also a sad one. Disconnection is a poor alternative to the kind of intimacy families can build through mutual respect for limits.
You’re living the converse of the entangled dynamic: Your father has called on you to be his overinvested spectator, thereby handing you responsibility for a relationship you aren’t actually in. The result you risk is similar, though; either you’ll be drawn into your parents’ story in a way that interferes with your own, or you’ll tire of it and distance yourself from them both.
The good news is, it’s easier to decline to be overinvested than it is to encourage overinvested people to back off; you have more control and options. In this case, you need only to explain to your dad that you love him and wish you could help but aren’t comfortable hearing fight details – and then back that up by removing yourself from any conversation where he brings them up.
Easy concept, tough execution, I know.
You can be light and loving and fierce all at once: “Dad, you know how I feel about this”; “TMI! TMI! I’ll see you later”; “Find a new unpaid shrink, cuz I quit.” Do it while you still feel warmly enough toward your dad to express AFFECTIONATE exasperation, before resentment’s the only thing left.